Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Psalm 22: HELP! (Part 5)

Now we’re moving on to our last section of the psalm and it is a huge turn. Where do we go next? Worship. David worships.

I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation 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! Psalm 22.22-23
That’s nice, you may say. But get this. There is no indication at this point that anything has changed in David’s external circumstance. He’s still being pursued by wild beasts and his body is undone with the pressure. And yet David promises to worship even as he’s waiting for God’s deliverance – when he’s not even sure God is there.

There are times when you don’t feel like worshiping, but worship changes us. It shapes us. It reminds us of the things David has been talking about, but now they are rehearsed in community, not just in our own minds. This is why coming to corporate worship is so important and why being in a small group is so important. We remember that we’re not alone and we don’t just know stories of God’s deliverance long ago … we see them in our living rooms or at the donut table all the time.

Despite the lack of indicators that David has been delivered, the tone is different. Refreshed. I had assumed everything had changed. But look, David is still banking on the fact that God, generally, delivers.

For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. Psalm 22.24
Notice that this is what God does, not that David has been delivered yet. There’s no “I” here.

David is committed to praising – even as nothing external has changed. But when we move to v. 25, we see a subtle, yet significant change.
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; Psalm 22.25a
This is cryptic verse has some answers. It’s pivotal. It’s how David moves from a kind of paralysis by God’s abandonment and his situation to praising freely. The translation here is uncertain. It is literally “From with you [is] my praise in the great assembly” [Wilson, NIV Application Commentary 420]. Got that? Of course not. It’s awkward. What does it mean?

It means more than a theme of praise. He would know that from knowing His Bible, which He does. There’s nothing David needs from God for that. Rather, it seems there’s some work of God that has changed the game. At the very least there’s been some initiative on the part of God to touch David’s life. The ESV is probably better than the NIV: “From you comes my praise in the great congregation.”

The bottom line is that this ability to worship amid pain and trial is a gift from God. And it is the answer to the question of that forsakenness that we started with. Even if the circumstances have not changed, God is with David now – and David senses it. The marriage can still be falling apart; the loss can be fresh; the job has not yet come … and yet God can still give you the ability to worship because He can restore His presence with you in worship. That’s a beautiful thing. It gives all of us hope.

And there’s even more to worship. We’ll get to that tomorrow.

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