I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
Psalm 22 continues with a hard-to-deny description of Jesus’ Crucifixion centuries before Golgotha. The thirst, the mangled bones and joints, even dividing his garments. It must have added to his agony to reflect on this Psalm that begins, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” Tomorrow we’ll see “the rest of the story.” This Psalm is not through. The ending will encapsulate the mysterious, upside-down victory of “trampling down death by death!”
“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
Psalm 22:6-8 is another unmistakable cry-forward to the lips of Jesus on the cross. Only v. 1 (“My God, My God…”) is recorded in the Gospels, but it was not uncommon for a Jew to recite the first verse while also knowing the rest of the Psalm by heart! Did Jesus silently suffer the humiliation of mockery prophesied hundreds of years before?
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
This week we are looking at the voice of Christ in the Psalms (see Day 24).
What would the disciples make of Jesus’ lament from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Would they be grateful that the book of Psalms allows us to express such an emotion before God, or would they find their trust in God shaken to the core? (Kathleen Norris, in God For Us, p.171)
This is perhaps the most famous Psalm quote of Jesus, which is from the cross. (see Matthew 27:45-47) It is “the canticle of the Lord’s suffering and death.” Of course God the Father did not forsake His Son. But Jesus, in the Psalm gives voice to the feeling of abandonment as he takes on himself the sins of the world. In coming days we’ll look at how this Psalm is filled with other direct references to Jesus’ passion and resurrection!
Read and pray through the whole of Psalm 22 this week (as I believe Jesus would have recited and prayed this whole Psalm which he had memorized!)
O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me
The Psalms are the most “human” of the Bible’s sacred texts, reflecting like a mirror every emotion and condition. Yet, as Patrick Reardon explains, there is another voice we need to hear:
The humanism of the Psalter is a humanism rooted in the Incarnation. The Psalter is not human merely because it speaks for man in general, but because it speaks for Christ. The underlying voice of the Psalms is not simply “man,” but the Man. To enter into the prayer of this book is not merely to share the sentiments of King David, or Asaph, or one of the other inspired poets. Indeed, in a theological sense the voices of these men are secondary, hardly more important than our own. The foundational voice of the Psalms, the underlying bass line of its harmony is, rather, the voice of Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man….To pray this psalm properly is to enter into the mind of the Lord in the context of His redemptive Passion. (Christ in the Psalms, Psalm 7)
Read and pray Psalm 7. This week we will look at other Psalms in which we clearly hear Jesus’ underlying voice .
The Psalms make us uncomfortable because they don’t let us deny – either the depth of our pain or the possibility of its transformation into praise. We commit ourselves to being changed by the Psalms, allowing the words to work on us, and sometimes to work us over. The Psalms are unrelenting in their realism. They ask us to consider our true situation and to pray over it. They ask us to be honest about ourselves.
(Kathleen Norris from Cloister Walk, p. 104)
This week we will look at some of the Psalms that point to the redemptive work of God in Christ. I love this quote from Kathleen Norris. it points to the transforming power of the Psalms. Read Psalm 77today and notice the contrast of the first 10 verses and the last 10.
v. 3-4 I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.
v. 11-12 I will rememberthe deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
The result is remembering the Exodus and God carrying His people though His footprints were not seen. (v. 19) That’s being transformed in the midst of pain and doubt!
In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3)
Apologetics is the work of ‘defending the faith.’ There has not been a greater apologist than Lewis. But this prayer/poem clearly shows us that our dependence is on God, not our clever words or arguments about God!
From all my lame defeats and oh! much more From all the victories that I seemed to score; From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh; From all my proofs of Thy divinity, Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head. From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee, O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free. Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye, Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.
C.S. Lewis, “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer,” in Poems, ed. Walter Hooper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1964)
For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (Paul, in 1 Timothy 6:7-8)
Nobody who gets enough food and clothing in a world where most are hungry and cold has any business to talk about “misery.” (CS Lewis)
Lewis was a well-known professor and author who, for much of his life, was able to live very comfortably. But his personal letters and his long time friends reveal a humility and deep joy that led him to a very simple lifestyle. He believed we should feel the pinch of not having what we may want at the moment so as to care for those we see in need. Each day is a new sense of dependence on God.
This day, let me again depend on You, Lord and so learn what it means to be content.
There is someone that I love,
even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive though he hurts the people I love the most.
That person is me!
_ C.S. Lewis
When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Mat. 6)
C. S. Lewis was asked about his view of a Christian’s daily discipline of prayer:
“I would take it for granted that everyone who becomes a Christian would undertake this practice. It is enjoined upon us by Our Lord; and since they are his commands, I believe in following them. It is always just possible that Jesus Christ meant what he said when He told us to seek the secret place and to close the door.”
Lord help me to run to the secret place of being alone with You!
As Christians, we talk freely about the fact that we are all sinners. The rub comes when we are blind to our own sins while focusing on those of others. C.S. Lewis, in response to one of his many correspondents, points to the delusion of missing our own faults. It sounds very much like the end of the Ephrem of Syria prayer we looked at last week.
May God’s grace give you the necessary humility. Try not to think — much less, speak — of their sins. One’s own are a much more profitable theme! And if on consideration, one can find no faults on one’s own side, then cry for mercy: for this must be a most dangerous delusion.
“God goes against the willful proud;
God gives grace to the willing humble.”
(James 4:6, The Message)
ruminations on biblical thought and human flourishing