Tuesday, 18 August 2015

'HE HAS DONE IT' - PSALM 22:21-31

'HE HAS DONE IT!' - PSALM 22v21-31
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
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, and stand in awe of him,
all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted 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 you.
28 For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

[1] Put it in a word processor, pick up features in different colours, rearrange the layout.
[2] Read the NLT and the MESSAGE translations
[1] See the flow, the argument, the journey (start, stages and ending).
[2] How does this fit in with the surrounding Psalms?
Psalm 22 The Cross,
Psalm 23 The Crook,
Psalm 24 The Crown
An alternative suggestion:
Psalm 21 The Crown
Psalm 22 The Cross
Psalm 23 The Crook
Psalm 24 The Conquering Hero
How much more of a surprise is Psalm 22 when we see it as following on Psalm 21. How great a surprise the cross was to Jesus' disciples, and to people today.
By now you will have your own ideas of the possible meaning of the Psalm. If you have any commentaries see what they make of this Psalm. (Do not rush to the commentaries straight away or you will end up just repeating their ideas.)
If you can look at more than one for commentators differ. If you do not have one then one of the older commentaries such as Matthew Henry Commentary or CH Spurgeon's 'A Treasury of David' are freely available on-line and a good place to start. The newer commentaries, such as those from IVP, are not yet free, but are better with the meaning of the Hebrew words and understanding the Hebrew poetry.
After a long period of little new writing on the Psalms there are several major commentaries on the Psalms currently coming out.
It is likely that the Welwyn Garden 2 volume Commentary on the Psalms by Philip Eveson will be the most accessible (I have not read this but his other volumes in the series have been excellent. I should declare that he was my college lecturer and took our wedding - but you can read the reviews for yourself.)
What do we see in the details?
i) There is a complete change of tone. Desertion and desolation give way to Presence and Praise.
God had appeared to abandon the Psalmist, but now he comes to the rescue - v21, 24 & 31 and will save others who call on him - v26.
The Psalmist never ceased to cry out to the Lord even in the darkest moments. This is trust. To believe God when every circumstance, and many people, are telling you that you are mad to do so.
ii) The reference to vows in v25 should be followed up as this is something the law speaks about.
Lev 7:16 But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow offering or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day what remains of it shall be eaten.
Deut 12:17 You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the first-born of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, v18 but you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place that the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake.
This is the picture the Psalmist gives: fulfilling a vow, public testimony, and the family meal afterwards. The suggestion is of a fellowship offering being made.
iii) Here is worship on an international scale - v27. This is only fitting for one who rules the nations to the ends of the earth.
John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
iv) This is not just for this generation, it is for those as yet unborn. We are not only serving our generation we are serving those who will live after us -v30-31.
v) Once again Psalm 22 is quoted in the NT:
Hebrews 2v11b: That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, v12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” v13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
Psalm 22v22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
Picture Jesus reading this Psalm, knowing that it spoke of him. What do you think he felt?
Hebrews 12v2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
i) The Psalmist was determined to praise the Lord - v22. Do we come with that same determination. No matter if no one else will praise him, if all others are 'bored' and 'lethargic' I will praise him.
ii) What is our attitude to the suffering and afflicted? Do we plead v24 for them and long to see them in v26? Or are we too focused on our own suffering?
iii) Do you have a missionary heart? God does - v27.

iv) We shall be asked by the Lord to do things for those who are not yet born - v30-31. Will we do them with the same zeal as those things where we see (some) of the fruits in this life? Maybe we will see the fruits in glory, but maybe not, God does not owe us any explanations as to why he wants us to do certain things. Isn't it enough to know that it is the Lord Christ we are serving?

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