The change in tone from Psalm 21 to Psalm 22 is stunning. Psalm 21 ends with David and his people singing, ″we will sing and praise your might″ (v. 13), while Psalm 22 begins with David’s awful lament: ″My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?″ (v. 1).
It is no accident that Psalm 22 follows Psalm 21. It has been deliberately placed here to remind us that the triumphs of the king were not without enormous personal cost. We saw how Psalm 21 points forward to Jesus, and we see this even more clearly in Psalm 22. In fact, no other psalm is as vivid in describing the suffering of the Lord Jesus on the cross.
Psalm 22 is the story of the king’s journey from despair to deliverance. In the first part, David expresses his deep and painful sense that God has forsaken him. What can make suffering so difficult is that what we know about God rescuing His people doesn’t seem to be real in our lives. We read stories of God wonderfully rescuing His people, and then wonder why the Lord has deserted us (vv. 4-5).
As Jesus suffered on the cross, He turned to Psalm 22 to express both His sorrow and His hope, crying out: ″My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?″ (Matthew 27:46). Remarkably, even some of the taunts of the Jewish leaders were prophesied in this psalm. Echoing Psalm 22:8, they mocked: ″He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him″ (Matthew 27:43).
However, it is in the cry of desolation that Psalm 22 speaks most powerfully of Jesus’ suffering. While He was still aware that God was His Father (e.g. Luke 23:34, 46) and He knew that He would rise again, Jesus’ sense of being abandoned by God was real and horrible. For a time, in a way we’ll never understand, the Son who from eternity had known the abiding presence and perfect love of His Father, lost all sense of God’s presence.
The wonderful news of the gospel is that Jesus was forsaken so that we may never be abandoned by God. God turned His face away from Jesus so that He might turn His face towards us in forgiveness, mercy, and love
Have there been times in your life when you have felt abandoned by God? What comfort can Psalm 22 bring at such times?
In what ways was Jesus’ sense of being abandoned by God different from ours?