Plea for Deliverance from Suffering and Hostility
To the leader: according to The Deer of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night but find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not human,
scorned by others and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they sneer at me; they shake their heads;
8 “Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls encircle me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my mouth[a] is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they bound my hands and feet.[b]
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life[c] from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued[d] me.
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;[e]
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me[f]
but heard when I[g] cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor[h] shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.[i]
28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29 To him,[j] indeed, shall all who sleep in[k] the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.[l]
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord
31 and[m] proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
Yesterday we reflected on a biblical hapax legomenon (I only get to use this term a couple times each decade) as we looked at the Behemoth which is only mentioned in Job chapter 40. In the alphabetical listing of animals in the Bible we go from famine to feast now with the bull. A quick survey finds bulls mentioned in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Psalms, Hebrews …Bulls are often connected to the sacrificial system. In Psalm 22, they are a sign of strength and menace.
Jesus quoted the opening lines of this Psalm at the height of His struggles. There are times we all might feel that we have been encircled and are confronted by the strong bulls of Bashan. But this Psalm has its resolution in trusting in God’s comforting and commanding presence.
God, when I feel surrounded by adversity, remind me that You are more powerful than any of the forces I face. I praise you as my might Protector, today and always. Amen.