Other Prayers (8) – A Lament and a Cry for Help

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

  • Psalm 22

“While working on the Student Bible my colleague and I made a selection of great prayers of the Bible, which can be read in a two-week period, one prayer per day.  Some are intimate and private while others were delivered in a very public setting.  Each gives an actual example of a person talking to God about an important matter and teaches something unique about prayer:”

  • Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?

I will be intermittently away from the keyboard for much of many of the days for about two weeks.  I had been praying about what I could write during this period, or for this period.  I try to stay a few days ahead in my writing, but with my cataract surgeries, and – confession time a little laziness – along with the heavy doctor visit schedule, I was writing my posts just in time.  (Pardon the typos, if there were any.  Really my biggest problem is changing verb tense, at will, throughout paragraphs, and within a sentence as Yancey does in the quote, but homonyms and blatant typos do exist after several reviews.)  I had just read Yancey’s book, and I thought of his list of prayers.  The chapter on Prayers in the Bible had started with the Lord’s prayer, gone to the Psalms as a whole, and included a general discussion on the prayers of Paul in his various letters.  Then Yancey lists fourteen prayers after the paragraph above.  The thought of this list struck me.  Then when I re-read the page in the book, the words ‘two-week period’ struck me.  Rather than the Holy Spirit striking me out with a third strike, I decided to write a few ideas – maybe some really short posts – for each prayer.  I will copy the Yancey quote and this paragraph for each of the fourteen, so if you read every day, you can skip this with the remaining parts.

Of course, people recognize the first line of this Psalm as being words that Jesus said from the cross.

But do people read beyond the first line?  There are the lines, clearly a Messianic prophecy, in verses 16-18, talking about piercing hands and feet and casting lots for the garments.  But isn’t the first half of this Psalm pointing to the crucifixion, all of it?  Other than having their hearts hardened, how could the religious leaders of Jesus’ time miss it?

Then in verse 24 there is a transition.  We find that the afflicted man is NOT despised and scorned.  God has been listening.  God takes His rightful place with dominion over the nations.  The poor will eat and be satisfied.  The last quarter of the Psalm is praise and adoration.

Psalm 13 is a lot shorter.  Psalm 25 has a bit of lament.  There are several laments in the Psalms.  This one is famous due to the quotation from Jesus and the Messianic prophecies.

Lamenting is not bad, but we must never wallow in our sorrow.  In each of David’s laments, there is a transition, in some maybe a single statement.  But David gets around to the important, “But You are Wonderful.  You are God.  I am just me.”

Do you have a best friend, one that you can tell your nasty little secrets to?  You know, tell them that thing that you tell no one else because you would be embarrassed if the whole town knew?

God is willing to be that sounding board, but if you do not have that transition in your prayer to praising God and accepting God’s will in the matter or trusting God’s ultimate justice, maybe you need to look at yourself.  You might be whining.  If you are in a mess like the first half of this Psalm describes.  You probably got yourself there.  How is it then that we pray as if God takes the blame for our mistakes?

As with Psalm 22 and the others like it, the psalmist blends praise to God with the lament, and the question, “God, are You even listening?”

To answer that, let’s look at the second half of Psalm 22:24 again.  “He has not hidden his face from him [, the afflicted,] but has listened to his cry for help.”

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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