My God, My God!
(H) For the director of the choir, to the tune, “Doe of the Dawn,” a psalm of David. (1) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Why are you) so far from delivering me, (and from) the words of my groaning? (2) My God, I cry by day, but you do not respond, and by night, but find no rest. (3) Yet, you are holy, enthroned on (dwelling in) the praises of Israel. (4) In you our fathers trusted. They trusted, and you delivered them. (5) Unto you they cried and were rescued. In you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Two Hebrew expressions are each used three times for emphasis in these opening verses. David invokes “my God” three times to indicate the anguish and sense of desperation he feels as he calls out for help (vss. 1 & 2). This opening line is one of the seven statements Jesus uttered while hanging on the cross (Mt. 27:46). In quoting this verse, Jesus clearly identified what was happening to him with the message of Psalm 22.
“Trusted” is the other word repeated three times (vss. 4 & 5). Here the psalmist recalls the patriarchs looking to Yahweh to deliver them in times of distress so that they would not be put to shame. In between these repetitions, we find the psalmist’s confession: “Yet, you are holy” (vs. 3). One message conveyed by these verses is that in the most desperate moments of our lives, when we have nowhere else to turn, trusting in “my God” is one thing, the best thing, we can do.
I. When feeling forsaken, we cry out to God for help. (1 & 2)
II. We cry out because he has promised to deliver us. (3-5)
When we feel forsaken, we cry out to God for help because we know that he will graciously deliver those who trust in him.
While this psalm is often viewed as a prophecy of Jesus' crucifixion, it can also serve as a great encouragement to those who are trapped in the depths of despair. When we struggle with depression, with a sense of personal failure, discouragement, and alienation, all can seem lost. At times, no amount of encouragement seems to avail. The only thing left for us to do is to cry out to God in our anguish.
Platitudes such as “God never abandons those he loves” rarely penetrate the fog that surrounds us when we feel forsaken or depressed. Deeper theological insights are not what we need in our moments of desperation. What may help is observing and then identifying with the agony Jesus experienced. We see this first in the Garden of Gethsemane when he prayed, “Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Mt. 26:39). We then hear him, while hanging on the cross, uttering the words of this psalm as he took upon himself the sins of humanity and bore the wrath of God in our place. If the Son of God felt so abandoned and alone in those terrible moments, we know that we are not the only ones who have experienced such torment.
Did the Father actually forsake his only begotten Son during the time he was hanging on the cross? Charles Wesley, the great English hymn writer, penned: “’Tis mystery all! The immortal dies! / Who can explore God’s strange design? / In vain the firstborn seraph tries / to sound the depths of love divine! / ’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore. / Let angel minds inquire no more.” While we can never fully understand what it meant for the fellowship of the Trinity to be broken during those hours when Jesus endured God’s wrath for our sins, we can find great hope and encouragement in God’s eventual deliverance of his Son from the agonies of the cross. Relief from the despair we are experiencing may not come immediately or even quickly, but as we keep on crying out to our gracious God, we can hope that he will eventually bring us safely through whatever we must endure into a place of victory and joy.