Monday, January 25, 2010

Psalm 22: HELP! (Part 4)

OK. We’re back to Psalm 22. Just to review: David feels forsaken by God, but he keeps crying out. Why? Because God helps His people. And yet, people will mock. Fortunately, God has always been with David … which also leads to the difficult question, “Where’d you go, God?” Well, we might think things are going to get better from here – this psalm going back and forth and all. Think again.

As we look to what’s next for David, we see … Ruin approaches. David has moved beyond the feeling of abandonment to mockery and to the despair and fear of actually losing his life.

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 tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. Psalm 22.11-13
This obviously isn’t a petting zoo. His enemies, or our situations, have taken on the personification of wild animals. Not domestic animals, not ‘wild’ animals that don’t actually terrify – like a sloth or a deer. We’re talking about wild animals that would ruin you. Remember, this is poetry. These aren’t real animals. They represent the opposition or situations that are crushing David and have him longing for God’s presence. These are the beasts that have Him crying out for help.

Have your enemies (personal or situations you find yourself in) ever seemed like terrifying beasts that are out to destroy you? Cry out for HELP! There are likely times you’d rather encounter a hungry lion than some of the people or situations you’ve faced.

In case you doubt this is a terrifying moment, David talks about how his fear has affected him physically. He’s physically coming apart.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength 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 have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. Psalm 22.14-18
Let’s walk through this. His courage is ebbing away. He is dehydrated. He has no strength. The wild dogs have bitten into his hands and feet. He’s so skinny he can count his bones. Emaciated. On top of that he’s humiliated. As good as dead, people are already divvying up his clothes. He even says he’s been laid in the dust of death. Dead man walking.

Have you ever had fear or grief so deep, so gut-wrenching that it actually affects you physically? Terror. Grief. Dread. Migranes. Stomach aches. Nausea. Panic attacks. If that’s you, this psalm is for you. Cry out for HELP! God is neither ignorant, nor afraid, of your pain.

David is angry, hurt, desperate and yet he knows there’s only one place to go for Help. He goes after his God. What does David do next? We’re back where we started. Cry out for HELP!

Maybe that parable by Jesus in Luke 18 shouldn’t be about a widow seeking justice. It should be David. He’s suffering and yet He is relentless in pursuing God’s help.

But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life 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. Psalm 22.19-21
Nothing fancy here. He’s in trouble, desperate, and he’s crying out. But it leads us to a turning point. There are three major sections in this psalm. V. 1 is an introduction and then the first major section is vv. 2-11, the second is vv. 12-21. Now we come to the last section and it is a powerful turning point. We’ll hit that point in the next post.

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