Familiar, but not

1 Oct

Psalm 22 might be one of the psalms that you know, but don’t really know.  The opening lines of this psalm are recorded as words said by Jesus as he hung on this cross.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (NRSV)   It is interesting that preachers have used this text for years to talk about God abandonment of Jesus on the cross, when really it is just the first line of this psalm.

For all Jewish people the Psalms were known by heart; often recited or sung on special occasions.  This psalm is thought to be written about the prophet Jeremiah who was active when the people of Israel where taken into exile in Babylon.  It seems as through this would be the most appropriate to be recited when one is hanging on a cross.  It is a longer psalm, so I wont print all of it, but it begins this way in The Message,

God, God . . . my God!
Why did you dump me
miles from nowhere?
Doubled up with pain, I call to God
all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.

3-5 And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise?
We know you were there for our parents:
they cried for your help and you gave it;
they trusted and lived a good life.


The palmist goes on to describe how broken they are, how destroyed and without hope their life has become.  Some of the later verse of this psalm echo the record of Jesus’ crucifixion.

“They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
and then throw dice for my clothes.”

It is also logical that the people who wrote the record of Jesus death also knew this psalm.

For me, it is important to know how the psalm ends.  Remember that the first hearers/readers of the gospel story would have known the end of the psalm as well.

“All the power-mongers are before him (God)
All the poor and powerless, too
Along with those who never got it together

30-31 Our children and their children
will get in on this
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.”

 I think about the new generation who will hear this good news.  Will our children know what it means to us to have a life in God; we will be able to live lives that convince them worshiping God is life healing and life giving.
I truly understand this psalm.  I have had a life that I have felt battered and beaten and abandoned by God.  Yet, the paradox is that I have always had faith that God was there, listening, helping me to find strength to live another day and even hope to find it a better day.




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