Did Jesus sing, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

These have to be some of the most difficult words of Jesus to understand and interpret. Jesus seems to feel abandoned during His most critical hour of need. If Jesus felt this way, how are we ever to have hope in desperate circumstances?

We so often comfort people by telling them that God is always present with us, even when it doesn’t feel that way. This is especially true, we will say, when you need Him the most. I am in full agreement with these words of comfort, and yet Jesus seems to be accusing God the Father of acting just the opposite. Jesus asks from the depth of his soul as he is suffering to a degree none of us could imagine: “Why, MY GOD, have you abandoned me?”

It helps me to remember that Jesus was not the first person to utter these exact words. In fact, as Jesus said these words from the cross, I believe He had in mind a very specific passage of scripture. The scripture is a Psalm which not only begins with these very words, but also contains clear references to what Jesus suffered on the cross. Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm, which I will tell you more about at the end of this post. As you read this Psalm, the comparison chart that follows, and my comments at the end, would you consider a fascinating possibility – that Jesus may actually have been SINGING on the cross as he exclaimed, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? Or, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

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.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb 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 surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 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.
15 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.

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

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

22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 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.

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

27 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,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

29 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.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

 

PSALM 22 JESUS
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” This means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. (Matthew 27:46)
7All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads(Matthew 27:39)
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matthew 27:42-43)
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water…These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19:34, 36-37)
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me; They pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.(Luke 23:33)
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment. 
When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Matthew 27:35)
27 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,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
31 They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it! Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30b)

A MESSIANIC PSALM THAT GIVES US HOPE

What David wrote in Psalm 22 and what we read about Jesus are clearly connected. This is no coincidence. It would be easy to read David’s words and assume he was simply writing about pains and emotions in his own life. But consider this: To our knowledge David never experienced any of the things described in Psalm 22. David was never tortured. David was never crushed or defeated by his enemies. And David was certainly not crucified! This is a Messianic Psalm, which means it is prophetic.

There are several Messianic Psalms in the book of Psalms (examples: Psalms 24, 72, 89) which clearly refer to the life, death, and reign of Jesus. Messianic Psalms are prophetic in that they proclaim the truth about the eternal God who does not change, but also refer to truths and events that had not yet been revealed. Many of these Psalms find their fulfillment in Jesus and in the New Testament, and some have yet to be completely fulfilled. Psalm 22 was fulfilled in Jesus, and yet it has not completely been fulfilled because the good news about Jesus is still being proclaimed to the nations.

And therein lies our hope. David was never abandoned by God and neither are we. God is still working in the world and He is still working through His people. Jesus expressed and perhaps sang about feelings of abandonment because He took our sin on Himself. But in the end, Jesus was not abandoned to the realm of the dead nor did His body see decay. Instead, the power of God comforted Jesus at his time of death and he surrendered his spirit to death. HE WAS NOT DEFEATED. On the third day after his death, the same power of God raised Jesus from the dead. That same power is in us, as we live in the hope and power of His resurrection. So we may say with confidence — God is always present with us, even when it doesn’t feel that way.

As a final word of hope, consider these words of David from another Psalm which also refers to Jesus: 

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” (Psalm 16:9-10)

 

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