“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” How low can a godly man go? He shouts to the Lord in turmoil, but there is no answer.
He is clinging by faith to the God he knows, despite the fact that the comfort of communion with the Almighty is suddenly so far away from him. He meditates upon God. He considers the heritage of the Lord’s mercy toward His people. He knows that when the faithful have turned to Him throughout the generations, time and again God has rescued them in their need.
He thinks then of his current condition. He has become the object of mockery and hatred for people who do not believe that God will help him. There is no word of comfort near him, only scorn and ridicule. The unmistakable taunt of a murderous mob is this: “God does not love you, and He will not rescue you.”
Yet this vicious crowd can never take away his past. This godly servant knows that the Lord has been with him as his God from the earliest moments of his life. He renews his plea: “Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.”
This trouble is from angry people who are filled with hate. They are wild beasts ready to kill. Have they lost all sense that they are actually men created in God’s image? Have they forgotten basic respect for all who share in the dignity of being human beings?
They look upon this godly man who is publicly exposed before their eyes in the most desperate condition. With only moments left to live, his bones are dislocated, his heart is near collapse, and his lungs are struggling for breath. As he dies with the most extreme thirst and deprivation before the eyes of those who despise him, he is aware of this truth: It is God who has laid me in the dust of death.
The man in this psalm is not dying from natural causes. He has been crucified. “They have pierced my hands and feet,” he says. The mob stares at him. They have divided his clothes, and now they gloat over his naked frame.
His plea to God is renewed once again. “Do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion!”
Suddenly there is a complete and dramatic change: “You have rescued me.” God has heard and has answered the plea of His suffering servant. His prayer has come before the throne of God, and the Lord has given him sudden and vigorous life. He will pay to the Lord the offering that he promised on the day when he called out in distress to the Almighty.
What payment will he make? This one man has a connection to many others whom he calls his worshiping “brothers” who are part of the Lord’s congregation. He will gather all the true offspring of Jacob with the message of the Lord’s covenant faithfulness to him. Together a great congregation will worship God because of this one dying man who now lives.
How great will this congregation be? They will be an eternal church. Their hearts will live forever! They will extend far beyond the Jews. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before the God of Israel as their eternal King. Their number will include those who have already died and millions who have not yet been born. These future generations will hear a message that will draw them into this eternal community of worship.
Jesus is the righteous suffering Servant who has become the King of the resurrection kingdom. The facts of this psalm are unmistakably about the events surrounding His humiliation and exaltation. He put His mark on this psalm with His own dying plea: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus gave this testimony before Jews and Gentiles on the day when He died for our sins.
In His anguished cry of the opening words of this moving and perplexing composition, Jesus is giving a most important message to all who will hear. He speaks out of the anguish of His righteous soul and gives meaning to His suffering based on all the words of this psalm.
The Messiah gave His life for all who would call upon His Name. He faced death, but in His willing sacrifice He has conquered sin and death for us. Men pierced His hands and feet, but now He is alive forever as our eternal King.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Merciful God, Your Son was cut off for our transgressions. We trust in You. We will not be put to shame. Your Son suffered greatly from the hatred of men. They railed against Him without cause. They nailed Him to a cross. He faced death for our salvation. Yet He trusted in You to the end. You rescued Him. Now He has won for You the praise of the church. We cry out to Him for powerful help. We are not only saved; we are also satisfied. People from many nations shall serve You, even those who are long gone from the earth. All generations shall proclaim Your righteousness, even people not yet born. You have done everything for our salvation, and we will praise You forever.