A Psalm from the Cross - Midweek Musing for 8-24-22
I think sometimes we all forget (myself included) that in addition to being the Savior of the world, Jesus was a son and brother, an uncle and friend, a cousin and a carpenter, and a very faithful Jew.
And what is even more evident from the Gospel texts is that he was a scholarly Jew who knew the scriptures of the Hebrew faith very well.
Often Jesus recited scripture and used parts of these texts in his teachings.
This use of what we refer to today as the Old Testament scriptures would have been readily apparent to most of the folks; he was typically speaking to other Jews. However, I imagine many of these references would have slipped past the non-Jews (Gentiles) in the crowd.
This is just like these scriptural references sometimes slip past you and me as 21st Christians who have spent far more of our time studying the New Testament and particularly the four Gospels than we have the Old Testament texts written before Jesus’ arrival on the earth.
I was recently reminded of one of these references Jesus makes to the Hebrew scriptures as I was searching for an Old Testament reading to use in Sunday morning’s worship service.
I was reading the Psalms and as I read the first line of the 22nd Psalm I was struck that the first line of this Psalm was recited by our Lord verbatim on the cross.
“My God, My God why has thou forsaken me.”
To his Roman tormentors, this line would have been a cry of agony and maybe even a cry of disdain or disbelief in God. They may have heard it as this man who had claimed to be King of the Jews finally completely breaking and giving up on faith.
However, what they did not know—which the faithful Jews in the crowd would have known—is that although the 22nd Psalm begins in despair it does not end that way. It ends with the remembrance of the good news of God’s love that is found throughout the Biblical narrative. It is a story that declares that despite the difficult days we often encounter that “the rest of the story” (to quote the late Paul Harvey) is that we will all see what I often call the promised day of God. A day when the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together.
Though the agony of the cross would have prevented Jesus from reciting the entire Psalm, calling upon this verse would have been a declaration of faith – not an abandonment of it.
Friends, even from the agony of the cross—the symbol the Roman empire used to espouse terror and fear—Jesus shared the promise of God’s hope and proclaimed love over hate.
The final verses of the 22nd Psalm says, “future generations will be told about the Lord and proclaim the Lord’s deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that God has done it.”
Eugene Peterson says it even more clearly in his interpretation of this last verse of Psalm in The Message: As the word is passed along from parent to child. Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news —that God does what he says.
Fellow children of God, the Good News is always present, even in the darkest of times.
Yes, “Weeping may last for a night, but the promise is joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
Thanks be to God.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night but find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not human, scorned by others and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they sneer at me; they shake their heads; 8 “Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. 10 On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God. 11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls encircle me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they bound my hands and feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me. 22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me but heard when I cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him. 26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. 28 For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in[k] the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him. 30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord 31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.
Have a blessed week.