Psalm 22 is known as a prayer of lament. What does that mean? Lament, according to dictionary.com is “a formal expression of sorrow, or mourning.” You hear these clearly in David’s words, right? At the time he is writing this, his very life is in danger. His own son has taken over the kingdom and now wants David permanently eliminated. Knowing this, David cries out in anguish for God to help him, saying “why have you forsaken me?” Yet, God’s help doesn’t show up. Have you ever had a similar experience? Maybe your circumstance was not as extreme as David’s, but we all have times that we simply need help. There are two things about David’s plea that capture me. First, he is brutally honest and second, even in desperation, he acknowledges that only God can provide what he needs.
To some, David’s honesty might seem disrespectful. Can we ask God why he has forsaken us? I actually catch myself thinking that this is a selfish prayer. Aren’t I suppose to shut up and endure? Isn’t that what faith is? Who am I to question God? Additionally, when I come to him that way, don’t I sound like a selfish and spoiled child?
The answer to those questions come from David in verse 3 as he formally acknowledges God’s position of authority and deity. He says, “you are enthroned as the Holy One, you are the one Israel praises.” Don’t you see David’s true heart here? Yes, he is crying out to God for relief, and, at the same time his heart is submissive. How could God accept this as anything but absolute worship? Furthermore, by acknowledging God and identifying with who He is, David effectively removes any selfish motives from his heart. Basically saying, since you are who you are, I am willing to endure whatever you have me endure. Do you hear the echo of Jesus in this? Remember Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? He is under intense stress because of the burden upon him asking God for the same relief. Luke 22:44 suggests that Jesus’ stress was so great, he was sweating blood! Despite the agony, Jesus embraces his lot saying, “yet not my will be done, but yours.” At that moment, Jesus gave God his greatest possession. His very life. Pure Worship.