Day 31: Wednesday, 10 April
A David Psalm
22 1-2 God, God . . . my God!
Why did you dump me
miles from nowhere?
Doubled up with pain, I call to God
all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.
3-5 And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise?
We know you were there for our parents:
they cried for your help and you gave it;
they trusted and lived a good life.
6-8 And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
something to step on, to squash.
Everyone pokes fun at me;
they make faces at me, they shake their heads:
“Let’s see how God handles this one;
since God likes him so much, let him help him!”
9-11 And to think you were midwife at my birth,
setting me at my mother’s breasts!
When I left the womb you cradled me;
since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.
Then you moved far away
and trouble moved in next door.
I need a neighbour.
12-13 Herds of bulls come at me,
the raging bulls stampede,
Horns lowered, nostrils flaring,
like a herd of buffalo on the move.
14-15 I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled,
every joint in my body has been pulled apart.
My heart is a blob
of melted wax in my gut.
I’m dry as a bone,
my tongue black and swollen.
They have laid me out for burial
in the dirt.
16-18 Now packs of wild dogs come at me;
thugs gang up on me.
They pin me down hand and foot,
and lock me in a cage—a bag
Of bones in a cage, stared at
by every passer-by.
They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
and then throw dice for my clothes.
19-21 You, God—don’t put off my rescue!
Hurry and help me!
Don’t let them cut my throat;
don’t let those mongrels devour me.
If you don’t show up soon,
I’m done for—gored by the bulls,
meat for the lions.
David is in the throes of a failing relationship with God. Wherever he looks, he cannot seem to find God. While some people may not think of God from one day to the next, David is acutely aware of both God’s presence in his life and his absence from it. David’s mood, his outlook, his whole being reflects whether God is present with him or not.
In this Psalm David expresses that he is sensing God’s absence from his life. Because he is aware that he can do nothing without God’s help, he is helpless. Lost and helpless without God. God is the source of David’s strength, his status, his power to reign and to succeed in battle. He might as well be a worm.
He describes his loss in terms of real pain, wasted waking time and sleeplessness. It’s as if his batteries have been pulled out and his failing power is causing his system to shut down.
So, God, where are you? Are you content to sit back and enjoy the praises of the rest of them, and not care about me? David’s words in verse 8 sound very similar to those who mocked Jesus: Let God deliver him, if he (God) is pleased with him. This psalm does not contain, as many do, a twist at the end calling for the destruction of enemies; this one will end on a higher note. It contains overtones that are a hint to Jesus’ suffering and death. Read it through a few times so that you might partner with that to some degree.
Then you moved away – how do we cope with times when God is not around?
I hinted above at the indifferent, those who have no desire to grow in God’s presence (or suffer from His absence). Some may choose to keep God at a distance because having God close disrupts things, challenges our thoughts and actions, makes demands on our lives. A quiet life outside in a sandbox may seem preferable, but the blessings God gives far, far outweigh the trouble He allows. Just one day in the presence of God is better than a thousand spent anywhere else (Psalm 84), Disney World, the QE2, Portman Road (a refuge for failed hopes), whatever. A thousand days might be paraphrased as ‘my life’.
In Psalm 51, David pleads with God not to hide his face from him. In Psalm 27 David responds to his heart’s call to seek God’s face. To take this literally might cause problems, as God himself said, “no-one may see me, and live!” In Christ we have access to Father God, and if we are living in Christ, we are bold to approach Father God. If God seems distant, start with Jesus.
Have there been times when God has seemed far away? If you look back and reflect on them, does God reveal why this might have been? Do you see those times as a loss, or an opportunity to grow? (I am not telling you what you should think.)
Father God, you are ever more ready to listen than I am to pray, and in the darkest parts of my life you are there. I claim access to your throne room through Jesus, who opened the way for me. Amen.
My God, my God, …
All Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.