Song of the Suffering Servant

First Movement: The Eloquence of Darkness—Part 1

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? [Why are You] so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? (Psalm 22 v. 1).

When I face an obstacle that I can’t go over, under, or around, I need to acknowledge my pain and helplessness. Denial and fantasy only compound my problem with dishonesty. I need to look squarely at my situation and admit my inability to resolve it.

The parallels between this psalm and Christ’s crucifixion are astounding. This exquisite lyric poetry portrays deep personal shame and intense suffering. Reading it makes me feel vicariously what Christ went through to win my redemption on the darkest day in history. Since Christ lived the experiences described here and quotes it in the New Testament, I believe this lament applies to him.

Throbbing with urgency and immediacy, the first movement of this psalm (vv. 1-21) eloquently portrays darkness in several related themes:

First, David cried out to God (vv. 1-2).“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” According to Gospel accounts, Christ said these exact words at the height of his agony on the cross (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). As death closed in, Christ felt that his Father had turned his back on him and had withdrawn protection. He felt helpless, disoriented, and betrayed.

Second, David remembered history (vv. 3-5). He praised the Lord and affirmed his holiness by citing the experiences of his fathers who trusted God through adversity and were delivered.

Third, David described the suffering servant’s experience of shame (vv. 6-8). Scorned and despised, he was mocked by a blood-thirsty crowd that was cynical and cruel.

Fourth, David reflected on God’s care (vv. 9-11). The Hebrew word for trust means “to lie prone—completely helpless.” David trusted God from the beginning—even from birth. He pleaded for God to be close because there was no one else to help.

Personal Prayer

Help me, Father, to identify my suffering and need with the Savior. Help me, by faith, to become aware that when I participate in his sufferings, I also share in his glory.

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