Psalm 22: Suffering and praise

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Praising God with confidence and hope for the Lord's deliverance

By Pay Coyle

“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.” Psalm 22:22

With the celebrations of Palm Sunday, Passion Week and Easter Sunday upon us again, our thoughts often go to passages such as Psalm 22. In this psalm, David writes in several cycles of thoughts reflecting both his suffering at the hands of enemies and his confidence in God.

The first cycle begins in verses 1-5 where he says he feels forsaken by God but also remembers that his ancestors had put their trust in the Lord. The second cycle is found in verses 6-10 as he describes his enemy’s attacks against him, but remembers his faith in the Lord even at a young age. In the third and final cycle, David again describes his suffering at the hands of enemies and concludes with a prayer of deliverance (vv. 11-21). The psalm concludes with a strong message of praise to God for his deliverance and a confident hope for future generations of believers (vv. 22-31).

Often, when we think of this psalm during the Easter season, we connect it to the sufferings of Jesus on the cross and his fulfillment of prophecy (Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34). Of course this is true, but there’s much more we can learn from Psalm 22 than just those important truths.

For example, David concludes that because past generations had trusted in the Lord he could too (vv. 4-5). He also goes back to his trust in God as a child as he faced a need for help (vv. 10-11). Finally, he writes about proclaiming the praises of God in the midst of trials (vv. 22-24) and the impact that will have on future generations (vv. 30-31).

With all of this in mind, I think of the importance of the church when we find ourselves in the midst of difficulties. It’s in the church where we hear stories from older generations who have experienced God’s faithfulness in trials. It’s in the church where we affirm the faith of children, knowing that they too will someday face difficulties that will challenge their beliefs. And it’s in the church where we can proclaim the praises of a God who uses each generation to impact the next, with some of the greatest lessons coming through trials.

With all of its shortcomings, disappointments and weaknesses, the church is still the place where God continues to fulfill the truths of Psalm 22. Let’s commit ourselves to give praise to the Lord during this Easter season with the confidence that we serve a living, loving God!

Pat Coyle is the senior pastor at Shafter (Calif.) MB Church.

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