Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Psalm before the 23rd Psalm

The Psalm before the 23rd Psalm isn't as well known, of course, as the beautiful 23rd Psalm.  However, the 22nd Psalm was almost exactly quoted by Jesus as He suffered on the Cross hundreds of years later.  The 22nd Psalm seems to provide a lot of insight into the problem of evil and the solution of God.  Thinking of Jesus, it is interesting that He was not immune from the impact of evil.  And it was necessary for Him to experience the sour fruit of darkness: hatred, despising, abuse, taunting, torture.  

Psalm 22:
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
    Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
    Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

[These were the same words Jesus spoke.  Even He went through a time of feeling that God wasn't there.  Have you ever felt that way?]

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our ancestors trusted in you,
    and you rescued them.
They cried out to you and were saved.
    They trusted in you and were never disgraced.

[When we are oppressed by evil and overwhelmed in our present experience, we need to reflect on the faithfulness of God in the past, to His people and to ourselves].
But I am a worm and not a man.
    I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.
    They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
"Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
    Then let the Lord save him!
If the Lord loves him so much,
    let the Lord rescue him!"
ave been my God from the moment I was born.

[Once again, the writer goes to His personal experience with God prior to the current difficulty.  He has a long experience of faithfulness with God that has followed Him all His life.  Can you relate to that kind of faithfulness yourself?]
11 Do not stay so far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and no one else can help me.

[Here is a prayer we can all relate to.  When God seems distant we ask Him to come near, for He is the only One to save]

12 My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
    fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!
13 Like lions they open their jaws against me,
    roaring and tearing into their prey.
14 My life is poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
    melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
    My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
    You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
    an evil gang closes in on me.
    They have pierced my hands and feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
    My enemies stare at me and gloat.
18 They divide my garments among themselves
    and throw dice for my clothing.

[Can you not picture Jesus looking down at those who have nailed Him to the Cross and to those who gloat at his suffering?  Have you ever felt the impact of hate directed to you?]
19 Lord, do not stay far away!
    You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
20 Save me from the sword;
    spare my precious life from these dogs.
21 Snatch me from the lion's jaws
    and from the horns of these wild oxen.

[Despite His physical death, which was imminent, Jesus cries out for His everlasting, spiritual life to be saved.  There is life beyond the reach of the sword, the dog, the lion, the horn of an ox].
22 I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
    I will praise you among your assembled people.
23 Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
    Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
    Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
    He has not turned his back on them,
    but has listened to their cries for help.

[We now live with the knowledge that God did answer the prayers of the suffering one and deliver Him.  He proclaims the truth of God's deliverance.  God doesn't always save from suffering...He may save through suffering...but He is the one who does see and does deliver those who cry out to Him.]
25 I will praise you in the great assembly.
    I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied.
    All who seek the Lord will praise him.
    Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.
27 The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him.
    All the families of the nations will bow down before him.
28 For royal power belongs to the Lord.
    He rules all the nations.

[As we wonder about evil and suffering and where God is, we see that there is ultimate victory.  There is a great deliverance that has been demonstrated in the context of evil and suffering.  Evil and suffering seem to flourish today as well, tut there is deliverance for all who seek the Lord.  The poor will be satisfied and the whole earth will ultimately bow before Him...including all the nations that today are wrangling with disputes and power.]
29 Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.
    Bow before him, all who are mortal,
    all whose lives will end as dust.
30 Our children will also serve him.
    Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.
31 His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
    They will hear about everything he has done.

[We, who are living in the flesh right now need to remember that soon we will be dust.  Now is the opportunity for us to find the living God, who sees the evil and who sees the oppressed and who provides the deliverance through the Son who suffered.  Our greatest legacy cannot be measured in dollars, but in the truth of the God who delivered His Son and who alone can deliver us to eternal life!]

Rob Smith

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