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Exploring the Psalms
Psalm 22
Struggling with God

Exploring the Psalms

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Psalm 22
Struggling with God (Holy Week) 

As you read this soul space's Psalm, consider it in the context of Jesus quoting it from the Cross.  

Read : Psalm 22 

In that context it has a great deal of relevance and resonance . . . 'Why have you forsaken me . . . why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning . . . I am a worm . . . scorned by others . . . despised by the people . . . all who see me mock at me, "commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver - let him rescue the one in whom he delights!" . . . they open wide their mouths at me . . . I am poured out like water . . . all my bones are out of joint . . . they stare and gloat over me . . . they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots . . . ' 

Read like that, these words, written hundreds of years before the events they seem to describe, long before the crucifixion of Jesus, have a profound relevance and extraordinary power to them. It is as if this Psalm had been written for the very circumstances of Jesus' crucifixion. 

That in itself should give us pause for thought . . . and for wonder and awe! 

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But let's unwind all of that . . . let's turn it around. 

What was it that inspired the Psalmist to write this Psalm in the first place? He knew nothing of Jesus. He was unaware of what would occur generations later. He had no knowledge of crucifixion. What initially prompted him to write such a bleak and desperate Psalm? 

We cannot now know the details. We cannot recreate the context for this Psalm. But we can certainly see that he was in some kind of desperate circumstance. He was facing hostility, mocking, accusations. There is a sense of threatened physical violence. He refers to himself as scorned and despised. 

Here is a person of faith struggling with his accusers, struggling with himself and struggling with God.  

Remember Jacob, wrestling with God? 

I remember a time when I was allocating services and preaching responsibilities (not in this church I may add!) and I had given the story of Jacob wrestling with God to another Minister in the team . . . a senior minister. He spoke to me and said 'Can I preach on something else please, I cannot begin to understand that idea of wrestling with God'. 

I said yes of course, but thought to myself 'What?'. You do not know what it is like to wrestle with God??? 

I most certainly do! I suspect that most of us who are honest do too. 

The Psalmist clearly did. 

And here is where we return to Jesus on the Cross. For in quoting from this Psalm in such a desperate situation 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' he is not only crying out in pain and suffering and dereliction . . .and he is certainly doing that! But he is also identifying with us in our struggles with God, our facing of hostility, our despair, our wresting with God and his will and way. 

When we struggle... when we struggle with God, when we are facing the hostility of others . . . and when God seems distant . . . when we feel godforsaken . . .then we have a Saviour who knows what that is like . . . more than knows . . . who actually experienced Godforsakeness with us and for us . . . even although he himself is God. 

Now there is a mystery, a wonder and a sign of unfathomable hope! 


Note - The video based on this soul space, can be found here : https://youtu.be/mQZBTCDsgc8

You can also fiind a short video based on 'The Wasy of the Cross', following in Jesus' footsteps from Gethsemane to the tomb, here :here : https://youtu.be/yokyMzUOPjU

Rev David Denniston, 2016


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