Psalm 21 (English Standard Version)
The King Rejoices in the LORD’s Strength
1O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
2You have given him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
3For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.
5His glory is great through your salvation;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
6For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
“Now may He that bore the crown of thorns bring us to his bliss.”
–from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a fourteenth century Arthurian romance
7For the king trusts in the LORD,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
8Your hand will find out all your enemies;
your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9You will make them as a blazing oven
when you appear.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and fire will consume them.
10You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
and their offspring from among the children of man.
11Though they plan evil against you,
though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12For you will put them to flight;
you will aim at their faces with your bows.
13Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength!
We will sing and praise your power.
Psalm 22 (English Standard Version)
“The Christ of Saint John of the Cross” by Salvador Dali, 1951 (Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland)
Why Have You Forsaken Me?
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Mark 15:34 (New International Version)
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
3Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Matthew 27:41-43 (New International Version)
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him. “
9Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Psalm 22:9-10 (Today’s English Version)
It was you who brought me safely through birth,
and when I was a baby, you kept me safe.
I have relied on you since the day I was born,
and you have always been my God.
“But when such love exists between a poor pioneer woman and her plain, ordinary children, what must it not be when it rises to Divinity . . . The love of mother and child can be only an infinitesimal part of that other love; yet, small and imperfect as it is, it still carries a breath of the Divine omnipotence . . . If you, pioneer mothers, have not seen the Glory of the Lord, then no preacher of the gospel will ever be able to show it to you!”
–from Giants in the Earth, by O. E. Rolvaag
The itinerant pastor in Giants in the Earth, seeks to bring comfort and healing to the troubled immigrant woman, Beret. In his sermon in Per Hansa’s sod house, he draws an analogy between the love of the pioneer mother for her children and the love of God for his people. God is a spirit, so the only reason for a masculine pronoun for him is that the neuter seems inappropriate in our ignorance of spirit being. But if, as I believe we may assume, both the masculine and feminine are present in the nature of God who created us, we may truly use the analogy of the father-care and the mother-love which he extends to us. Troubled as the love of Beret is for her children, “it still carries a breath of the Divine Omnipotence.” Other of her faculties have left her as her personality fragments, but the love for her child is there, anxious and enduring. The pastor senses the God-origin of that love. “If you, pioneer mothers, have not seen the glory of the Lord, then no preacher of the gospel will ever be able to show it to you.”
Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm, one of those in which we hear the voice of the Son in the agony of his crucifixion pleading for the presence and rescue of the Father. “It was you,” he prays, “who brought me safely through birth”—in a manger at the end of a dreary journey. “And when I was a baby, you kept me safe”—from the soldiers of Herod and on the long journey to Egypt. Love followed him—the love of God and his human father, Joseph; the love of God and his human mother, Mary. There was the fullness of the love of God, beyond our ability to fully comprehend, and the beauty of the most admirable of human love from Mary and the no-doubt-amazed Joseph, trying to understand what his marriage to Mary had brought into his life.
“I have relied on you since the day I was born, and you have always been my God,” the psalmist says. That reliance and constancy give to life the experience of love that can make of it a great experience, whether we refer to the love and care of a devoted mother such as Mary was, or to the “steadfast love of the Lord.” His constancy surpasses even hers. In that love, we experience the support and nourishment that leads us to victory in an unsteady and often frightening world.
11Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
12Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
John 19:28 (New Living Translation)
Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”
you lay me in the dust of death.
16For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
John 20:25 (New American Standard Bible)
So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
17I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
Matthew 27:35 (New International Reader’s Version)
When they had nailed him to the cross, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
19But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
Colossians 3:16 (Amplified Bible)
Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.
23You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
From Handel’s Messiah — “Behold the Lamb of God” performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.
25From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.
29All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.
John 19:30 (Contemporary English Version)
After Jesus drank the wine, he said, “Everything is done!” He bowed his head and died.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
Psalm 21:13. http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps21-13v.jpg
Giants in the Earth. http://img1.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n58/n294962.jpg
Jesus on the cross: I thirst. http://wheat4paradise.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/i-thirst2.jpg
nail-scarred hands. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tLPpH-a_EEE/SmczAZ7FE3I/AAAAAAAAE6E/qOpIM5Ec5AM/s320/Nail+Scarred+Hands.jpg
casting lots for Jesus’ clothing. http://www.thevictor.org/story/97221901.jpg
“It is finished.” http://searchingforgrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/it_is_finished.jpg