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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Reality of Apostasy | Main | Images of the Savior (7 - The End of Joshua's Life) »

    Psalm Twenty-Two: My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

    Images of the Savior from the Psalms
    Psalm Twenty-Two: My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

    Never has there been a more violent and shocking contrast than that which we encounter between what we just read in the previous psalm, of the great glory and majesty and eternal life with which God in his delight has crowned the Messianic King, and the unutterable cry of horror which is this psalm's first line. “My God,” he cries out in anguish, as it were in disbelief. “My God!” – And can you not feel in that tortured shriek but a whisper of the pain of divine abandonment, undeserved dereliction, the very rupture, as it were, of the most holy and blessed Trinity? “My God, in whom has ever been my delight, my joy, my infinite and divine love – My God, in whose fellowship from eternity past I have ever rejoiced – My God, when I have done this, when I have stooped to do your will, when in that Garden of terrors, weeping out my heart all in a sweat of agony, I nevertheless set my brow to do what you had commanded – My God, when never I had shown my obedience so perfectly, no, nor my love for you, no, nor my regard for your honor, no, nor my tender compassion for your chosen people – Ah, my God, when this is what I have offered up to you, a most perfect and holy sacrifice, why is it that even now, in the extremity of my need, you have forsaken your holy and beloved Son? Ah, my God, my God!”

    How dull and cloddish are my feeble words! How can I take up so high and mysterious a theme as the passion of the eternal Son of God? What could I add to this most perfect and poignant description of the gruesome scene, that climax of all time and history, that profoundest of all depths which laid the foundation for the most soaring of eternal heights, that one great and infinite display of the all-glorious Trinity which swallows up eternity and infinity as if it were a drop? No, but the inspired prophet David, looking ahead to that glory, spoke by divine inspiration. Forget my stammered babblings, heed rather his lines, feel your heart break at the scene, with a breaking that is precursory to unending, unspeakable joy.

    Listen to those cries of the Savior, passed down to us through the mouth of David: “I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of man and scorned by the people!” – and are these the words of very God, who stooped so unimaginably low even when he condescended to bear that nature of man? “All who see me mock me!” – “Many bulls surround me!” – “They divide my garments!” – “They pierce my hands and my feet!” – “I am poured out like water!” “My heart is melted like wax!” – ah, but cease, I can bear no more! To hear these cries from the Son of God and my only Savior! Such deep humility and infinite sorrow, such rivers of tears from eyes that are purer than snow and that flame like a consuming fire!

    But no, there is more yet to hear – it is not just the wicked, those ravening dogs and cruel lions that so terrify and distress him – hear the Savior cry out to his own Father: “O God! I cry out by day, and you do not answer! And by night, but I find no rest!” But wherefore? “From my mother's womb, you are my God!” “You made me trust on my mother's breast!” “Distress is near,” he pleads, “and there is none to help!” “Why are you far from saving me, far from the words of my groaning?” – Why indeed, sinner, but for you and for me, for our own salvation, to save us from our sins and the wrath of the Almighty. Ah, what a wonder of grace!

    How much deeper could we dive into those terrible, tortured cries, the like of which has never been heard under heaven – but the psalm does not end there, and neither should we. The infinite work of redemption having been completed, the Father heard our Savior's cries! He rescued him from the horns of the oxen! He raised him up to proclaim the glorious good news to all his brothers!

    Now, therefore, “You who fear Yahweh, praise him! All the seed of Jacob, glorify him! And be in awe of him, all the seed of Israel! Because he has not despised and he has not abhorred the affliction of the Afflicted One, and he has not hidden his face from him, but when he cried unto him, he heard. My praise is from you! I will fulfill my vows in the great congregation, before those who fear him. The poor shall eat and be satisfied. Those who seek him shall praise Yahweh. May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall turn unto Yahweh; and all the families of the nations shall worship before you; because the Kingdom is Yahweh's, and he rules over the nations! All the prosperous of the earth have eaten and shall bow down before him; all who go down to the dust shall kneel down, even him who could not keep his soul alive. Coming seed shall serve him; it shall be recounted about the Lord to a coming generation. They shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet to be born, that he has done it.”

    If there was never so anguished a cry in all of history as we have heard in this psalm than neither has there ever been a more delightful proclamation of the glories that should follow the passion of the Christ. Things far too rich and too deep are hidden in this beautiful passage than we could even begin to uncover in our swiftly-fleeting time here today. But take today, blessed recipient of the fruits of such labor, and tomorrow too, and all the days of eternity to come, unfolding in ever-new vistas of praise and wonder, to search out these immense reserves of worship. Then, truly, will the God who designed all this great mystery be “enthroned on the praises of Israel”.

    Posted by Nathan on October 4, 2010 11:02 AM

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