Sermon Transcript

Psalm 22 Sermon (Final)

What do you do when you feel forsaken?

I’m currently going through a situation in which I’m tempted to think that way . My wife and I have sadly been dealing with infertility. It has been a struggle for us over the past few years. The Lord has blessed a lot of people here at Citylight. Our Kids Ministry has been growing and has reached record attendance in the last few months. And by the grace of God, many of our friends here at Citylight have been having babies and growing their families. But it feels like the Lord is blessing everyone here at Citylight…except us. I am getting more and more gray hairs, yet I continue childless. And month after month, my wife sheds tears and I try to comfort her, as it seems that our prayers continue to go unanswered.

So, what do we do when we feel forsaken? It’s that struggle that we’ll take a closer look at here in Psalm 22.

When we read this passage, the elephant in the room is that Christ quoted this first verse when he was dying on the cross. So the question you may have then, is this passage supposed to tell us what to do when we feel forsaken? Or is it only a prediction for Christ on the cross? And the answer is, yes! Psalm 22 is leading us away from feeling like we are forsaken, and the cross is the reason why we are not forsaken. You see, for those who call Christ their Lord, you will never experience true forsakenness by God. Because Christ was truly forsaken.
And that is the big idea: Christ was forsaken so that we wouldn’t be. And so when we find ourselves feeling forsaken, what do you do? 1) Trust in the Lord; 2) Cry out to the Lord; 3) Praise the Lord.

Trust in the Lord (vv. 1-10)

What can we learn from David’s experience that leads him to trust in the Lord? When we start reading this Psalm, and David is crying out Psalm 22:1-2: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” Commentators are unclear of what event in David’s life led him to feel forsaken. Perhaps it was when he was when he had to constantly flee for his life from King Saul, or maybe when he child died after his affair with Bethesda, or when David’s son Absalom killed his brother Amnon, or when Absalom himself led a rebellion against his father’s throne, but was eventually murdered. We’re not sure what event in David’s life resulted in this lament, but we do know that David is in anguish. We see in this passage that David is wrestling with understanding God’s presence in his anguish. He is going back and forth, trying to understand. After crying out feeling forsaken, he reminds himself in verses 3-5, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.” David reminds himself that God is indeed holy, and he has delivered people before when they have cried out to him. Scripture is full of stories in that David, or even we, can look to see God rescuing people when they cry out to Him. One of the most obvious is when Israel cried to the Lord about their enslavement in Egypt, and God miraculously rescued them.
We can see that David has a bit of a back and forth here, struggling to understand his present reality of anguish, but knowing that he can trust in the Lord. In verses 6-8, David reflects on his anguish, thinking of himself as being a worm and being mocked by others. But then moves back into knowing that God has been present with him from the beginning of being in his mothers womb in verse 9. He is struggling, like many of us do, with seeing his current distress and feeling abandoned by God. Yet, knowing that he can trust in the Lord. As Charles Spurgeon perfectly states, “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.” Although David struggles with how he feels in his terrible circumstance, he knows that God is still holy. He knows he can trust in God, despite his current anguish. And it is this kind of struggle that I’m sure many of us feel.
Even in my current situation of infertility, I struggle with feeling like I am forgotten by the Lord. Yet I know that the Lord has answered people when they cry to him with this same issue. In 1 Samuel, where Hannah had cried out to the Lord about her closed womb and the Lord answered her and she gave birth to the prophet Samuel. Or even the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth in Luke 1, when they cried to the Lord for being barren, and the Lord delivered. Like David, I also struggle with seeing my present reality and knowing the promises of God. Lament is a prayer in pain that leads to trust. It is not only how Christians grieve; it’s the way Christians praise God through their sorrows.But despite that struggle, I have a reason to have trust in the Lord. And that reason is the cross.

As I mentioned earlier, when we first read this passage, many of us immediately think of Christ on the cross quoting the first verse. And that is actually where our minds should go when we are in moments of despair and need proof that God can use the most horrible situations and turn them into the greatest good for his glory. God has taken the most excruciating moment of suffering from the most innocent of all people and used it for his glory to be known throughout the world.
It is through the cross, where Jesus took on all the sin of God’s people and let it die with him there on the cross, so that we can be brought back into a relationship with our Father in heaven. It is at the cross that Christ died for you, so you can be restored in a relationship with your Father in heaven. It is at the cross where I can look to know that God has not forsaken me, even in my times of pain and suffering. It is at the cross where we have the ultimate reason why we can trust in the Lord. The cross is the proof that God has not abandoned us, and so we know that we can trust in the Lord.

So now the question turns to us as Christians, how can we take this passage in which we see David struggling to understand his agony? So how can we, on this side of the cross, apply this passage to our own lives? Like David, I too can struggle with seeing my present reality of suffering through infertility and yet knowing that I can trust in the Lord. It’s easy to look at our current suffering and struggle to see God’s presence. While we are tempted to focus on our desperate situations, we can look to the ways in which God has shown his glory. David looked to how God has rescued others, how the Lord has heard the cries of those who came before him. But even more than David, we have more reason to trust in the Lord. Because we can look to the cross. It shows us that God has not abandoned us, that God has taken the most horrifying display of suffering and has used that for the greatest good of restoring us into relationship with him. Sin separates us from God, yet has made a way for you to be restored to him. We can have even more confidence than David did because of the cross. Trust in the Lord. Look at the way in which he has not forsaken you, and then cry out to him.

Cry out to the Lord (vv. 11-21)

Let’s dig deeper into this Psalm by looking at Psalm 22:14-18 – “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” David is crying out to the Lord, and he is describing how he feels in his most desperate situations. We are really getting a sense of what David is feeling when he is suffering. “I am poured out like water.” And that’s what it means to lament. Mark Vroegop – “to lament is to turn to God in honest, desperate prayer, giving voice to the reality of our emotions—as intense and tumultuous as they may be” David is turning to God in honest desperate prayer
But David doesn’t just stay focused on his desperation, he doesn’t sit wailing in his bed. Hosea 7:14 – “They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds.” David cries out to the Lord about his pain, and comes to the Lord with a request. Psalm 22:19 – “But you, O Lord, do not be far off!” David may have begun this passage feeling forsaken, feeling poured out like water, but now he is petitioning the Lord for him to draw near. Because he knows the Lord hears his people and draws near to them in their time of need.

Now, how can we see Christ in this passage? Well, there is nothing we know about David that indicates that some of these things in this passage physically happened to him. There is nothing in Scripture that shows that David had his hands and feet pierced, or that his garments were divided and people cast lots for them. So who does this really sound like? Obviously it sounds like Jesus. And that is the point. Matthew 27:35 – “And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.” What is being described here in Psalm 22 is exactly what happened to Christ on the cross.
You see folks, David may have felt this way, but Christ actually lived this way. We often say that Jesus is the greater David. And last week Matt mentioned that Christ’s victory is a better victory than David’s, and that is true. In this passage we see that Jesus is the better David not just in victory, but in suffering. Christ is the better sufferer. David was never truly abandoned by God, despite feeling that way. David was never truly abandoned by his people. But Jesus was. Jesus was abandoned by both God and man. Because of all of our sins that Christ took on at the cross, God had forsaken him. And Jesus’ disciples, fearing man, had also abandoned him. Christ was the only one who was ever really truly forsaken. He was forsaken so that you wouldn’t be. He was forsaken so that you can be restored to the Lord, so that in your time of need you have someone to turn to. Through Christ suffering, he has made a way for us to come to the Father with our request. Because of Christ, we can cry out to the Lord who hears us.

So then, knowing that Christ has made a way for us to be able to come to Father in even and make a request to him, we can now take our pain and our petition to Him. We can come to the father about our anguish and our pain, and ask him to draw near to us. We can ask, “Lord, let me see your goodness in this situation.” “Lord, let me feel your presence in my struggle with infertility.” Because of Christ, we have a Lord that hears us. Because of Christ, we have a Lord that knows our weaknesses. In fact, Hebrews 4:15 – “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses”. Christ is the greater sufferer. He knows your weaknesses, your burdens So cry out to him! Unburden yourself to the Lord.
But it must be said, that what about those who don’t have Christ as their Lord. What about those who may be here and haven’t given themselves to Christ, or still on the fence about Jesus and not sure they want to commit? You sin will still separate you from God. In 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, we are reminded that when Christ returns those who do not know God will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, and they will be away from the presence of the Lord. If you have not committed yourself to Christ, who do you have to turn to? What do you do? If you don’t have God on your side, then the only option you have is to “wail in your bed.” Without God, you are stuck in your suffering, and can only expect more suffering on the day of judgment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The sacrifice that Christ endured can be extended to you, and all you need to do is ask him. And if you don’t know how, there is a little prayer on the connect card that can help guide you through it. I beg you, make Christ your Lord so that when you are in moments of anguish you have a Father in heaven that you can trust, a Father in heaven that will hear your cry. Turn to him today.

Praise the Lord (vv. 22-31)

Despite his suffering, David says this Psalm 22:22 – I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you” We may never know what David was going through when he wrote this passage, and we may never know if the Lord delivered him from this specific anguish he was feeling. But we do know that David trusted in the Lord, that he cried out to Him and petitioned to the Lord for deliverance, and we know that David chose to praise Him. Not just in his private prayers, but for all to see. As we saw before, we know that David was mocked by others, everyone knew his torment and suffering. Yet, in the midst of all of them, David said “I will praise you.” Despite his anguish, David waits patiently upon the Lord and praises Him.

Psalm 22:26 – “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD; May your hearts live forever!” Now when we read this text, David has confidence that the Lord will rescue and deliver him. And as such, chooses to praise the Lord. Folks, this is the same Lord that you serve and hears you. David knows and trusts that when God’s people are afflicted, he will rescue them. They shall eat and be satisfied. God hears his people and delivers them. This doesn’t give an answer as to when, or how long you must endure, but God does not abandon you. Turn to him, and you will be satisfied.

Now you may think that since the suffering portion of this passage is over with, that the references to Jesus on the cross are not seen here at the end. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Psalm 22:28 – “For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.” At the time of writing this, David is king over God’s people, yet just like last week David is pointing to a greater kingship that belongs to the Lord. Christ is the greater King, and his throne rules over the ends of the earth, over all nations. It is in Jesus that the kingship belongs. It is in Jesus that everyone shall be satisfied, it is in Jesus in whom all the afflicted shall eat and be satisfied.
Even the last two verses just scream “this is Jesus!” Psalm 22:30-31: “Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.” First off, that last phrase “that he has done it” is not just an add on. In John 19:30, one of the last things that Jesus said on the cross was “it is finished.” Then after his resurrection, his disciples scatter and proclaim his righteousness to the end of the earth. From beginning to end, Psalm 22 is just a big neon sign that points to Christ on the cross. In our times of need, that is exactly where we look. To the cross.

Your suffering will end, it will not last forever. We live in this temporary world with temporary pain, but we serve an eternal King on an eternal throne. We can praise our King who is on the throne. In him the promises of rescue are fulfilled. And in him we can trust that our afflictions will be satisfied. We are promised in Revelation 21:4 – “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” In our present suffering, we can have assurance in Christ that we will be satisfied, that our affliction will end. And so we have reason to praise him in the midst of our pain, because we know that God has not forsaken us. Christ took on the forsakenness that sin brings, so that we have a Father in heaven that we can turn to. Christ was forsaken so that we aren’t. Let’s praise Him.