I often define discouragement as a “temporary loss of perspective.” Yet, regaining perspective when we are down and despondent is not always easy. Psalm 22 is a powerful Messianic psalm but also a raw and resolute teaching passage on how we move beyond pain to praise and from feelings of gloom to His glory.
Prophecies of Christ’s Sufferings and Glory
In most translations, Psalm 22 is titled, “Why Have You Forsaken Me?” This immediately points us toward the sufferings of Christ and His crucifixion. Numerous verses from this psalm are specifically fulfilled in the death of Christ. They are:
- His prayer, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 1)
- The mockery Christ endured, seen in vv. 7 & 8.
- Specific expressions of His suffering seen in vv.14 &15.
- Descriptions of His pierced hands and feet in v. 16.
- The prophecy that Christ’s bones would remain unbroken in v. 17.
- The prediction in v. 18 that “they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
- The resulting fulfillment of Christ’s global gospel mission in vv. 21-31 highlighted, for example, in v. 27: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.”
Clearly this psalm points us to the supernatural nature of biblical prophecies. It births in our hearts profound gratitude for the finished work of Christ. It also helps us identify with the Savior in His sufferings, while also knowing that He intimately identifies with us in ours.
Snapshots of Our Struggle
But we cannot forget that this psalm was also written by David in the midst of his own personal struggles. With raw honesty and deep pain, he asks “why” as he recounts again and again his feelings and fears. One thing I love about the Bible: It does not whitewash difficult human emotion and struggle. As a result, we realize that God can handle our questions. He can meet us in our despondency. He can powerfully refocus our thoughts and restore our hearts. Today, I remind you that Christ is no stranger to your anguish. God is not surprised by your grievances. The Bible is ultimately helpful to guide you in your struggles as you search for perspective.
The Process of Perspective
By way of a brief review of this psalm, let’s walk through David’s process of recapturing perspective. I often wonder if David wrote the psalm in a single sitting or if, over a period of days, he picked up his quill and continued the spiritual journey toward a deeper trust in God. I am guessing that for most of us, the process of regaining perspective does not always happen in an instant. In any case, I pray you will be helped with this fascinating outline of recovery.
I see eight steps in Psalm 22. They are: 1) Why Me? 2) Yet You, 3) But I, 4) Yet You, 5) But I, 6) But You, 7) I Will, and 8) Others Will. In this psalm we discover that our emotions are often like a pinball pinging back and forth until they eventually reach a healthy destination through honest interaction with an all-knowing, ever-present God. As you read below, you will see this progression.
Why Me? (vv. 1 & 2) – David’s prayer begins with candid despondency, questioning God over his deep feelings of abandonment. David groans. God feels far away. He keeps crying out but there is no answer. Does this feel familiar at all? I am so glad the Lord invites us to “pour out our hearts before him” (Psalm 62:8), in whatever way they might be bleeding at the time.
Yet You (vv. 3 – 5) – David then flips an internal switch declaring to God, “Yet, you are holy.” He acknowledges that God is praiseworthy and has delivered and rescued David’s spiritual fathers when they cried out and truly trusted in Him. We all can look back over the generations and embrace this truthful testimony.
But I (vv. 6 – 8 ) – Next, David slips back into despondency: “But I am a worm and not a man.” He feels defeated by the scorn, despising and mockery of his enemies. Too often we feel defeated by the demeaning words of people and the hostility of the world. We tend to lose perspective when we tune in to any voice other than the reassuring voice of God’s truth.
Yet You (vv. 9 & 10) – David then pings back to clarity: “Yet you are he who took me from the womb.” He recounts God’s faithfulness, not just to others, but in every stage of his own life from birth to the present moment. Perhaps he was taking his own advice at the moment and feeding on God’s faithfulness (Psalm 37:3 – NKJV).