Friday, October 2, 2015

My God My God, Why Have Your Forsaken Me (The resolution): Learning to Pray Ps 22:22-31

Poignant lament becomes a testimony of thanksgiving when God answers our prayer. For the psalmist of Ps 22, lament turns to thanksgiving and praise at verse 22. The sorrow of the opening verse “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” morphs into an audacious and free testimony about the power of the LORD to work salvation even in the most hopeless situation.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

How do we respond to God’s saving work in our lives? With gratitude and public witness. The psalmist knows that God has saved him and makes certain that God gets the credit (v. 22).
Notice that the psalmist’s testimony includes inviting the community to participate in the celebration (vv. 23). This is an important reminder that even psalms that sound individualistic are meant to be heard and shared in community. Following Jesus is not a solitary enterprise. We must always stay connected to our community in times of plenty and in times of want. The psalmist experienced isolation in vv. 1–21. Verses 22–31 model the importance of communal celebration.

In verses 24–25 remind us of the psalmist’s previous plight and summarizes his new found testimony. He had experienced isolation and trauma. He had felt rejected by God. Yet now the psalmist declares the truth: God remained with him. This is deep truth for us. We may feel rejected and alone, but God abides with us. Jesus who knows suffering and pain is our high priest (4:14–16) and extends grace to us in our times of need. God hears our cries and prayers, even our most desperate ones. Moreover, God acts and provides the pray-er with a testimony to share (v. 25).

The deliverance of the psalmist is good news for the world. In verses 26–29 turn to the implications of the psalmist’s experience of salvation for others. God doesn’t just save “me”; God is willing, ready, and able to deliver others. The “other” includes the poor, all who seek the LORD, and even people from the surrounding nations who turn to the LORD. This reminds us of God’s mission. God’s people exist as conduits of God’s grace for the world. This means that our testimony serves not only to encourage other believers but as a word about God’s kingdom to those who do not yet follow Jesus.

Verses 26–29 are inclusive of all: from the prosperous to needy. Verse 29 even hints at persons who have already passed on. The point is this: God’s grace, love, and blessings are available to all who turn to him. The psalmist has experienced this personally and shares this good news with his community and the world.

Verses 30–31 conclude the psalm by emphasizing God’s work in bring deliverance and salvation. God’s acts of grace will carry on and future generations will here of it. The final verdict on human history is this: “He has done it.”

Jesus spoke 22:1 on the cross. Yet Jesus’ death was not the end; God raised Jesus from the dead to secure our future. He, Jesus, has done it indeed. Amen.

What does Ps 22:22–31 teach us about gratitude and giving thanks?

How can we incorporate thanksgiving into our personal lives and into our worship experiences?

How does giving thanks advance God’s mission in the world?

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