The Psalms and the Crucifixion
A Homily for Trinity 11
All Saints Anglican Church, Prescott, AZ
August 12, 2018
Text: Psalm 22
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our heart be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen
The past nine weeks we have been exploring the attributes of God through the lens of the Psalms. At the center of all these attributes we have saw God’s glory – whether it be His creative ability, His law, His mercy or His justice, all His works to point back to the awe inspiring glory of God. I hope this wasn’t lost, and that instead of becoming weary from hearing about it for nine – you were inspire, inspired to seek God more faithfully, inspired to take refuge in Him and His word in the storm, inspired to know that though the whole world may tremble God is still good, God is powerful over all of that, His glory persistently shows through all things.
I pray that as we learned about this glory that we were all inspired to be individuals who seek to glorify God in all we do and a community equally committed to this. Remembering that great verse – let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and praise your father in heaven.
I also hope that in coming to a firm understanding of the glory of God we have all become better equipped to travel through the valley of darkness, trusting that God will be glorified. Yesterday at the monthly Bible study we talked about the temple. At one point, we talked about how often the will of men is corrupt and does evil, yet even in this we see God use that thing that pain for His glory and the good of the church. In this truth, let us be ever committed to doing all things to His glory .
Now – as we conclude this series we turn our eyes from the attributes of God to, what I am calling, Christ and the Psalms. Some have hypothesized that we can see Christ’s death and resurrection in the three Psalms that we will be reading over the next three weeks. This weeks was Psalm 22, split up for our Old Testament and Psalm readings because of its length, in it we see His death on the cross and we even hear the source for the words that he prays on the cross- my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Next week, in Psalm 23, we will be reminded of his burial as we read the shepherd’s Psalm. Then finally, His resurrection as we see Him as the king of Glory who has come in.
There are two reasons to endeavor on this journey – first, like the previous 9 Psalms we want to see the attributes of Christ, we want to understand where we see the Old Testament acting to foreshadow the coming of Christ. In the previous Psalms we saw how the Psalms act in the greater overarching narrative of Scripture – which is the glory of the Lord. Now we will see how scripture spells out the whole story of salvation.
The second part of our exploration of these final three Psalms is to further learn how to emulate in our lives a Christlikeness in our lives. For we are called not only to lay down our life and follow Him but to seek to be Christlike in all we do. We are reminded that the Psalms are prayers – the Psalms give us words in times of trouble, times of mysterious pain, and in the glory that we often experience, and we look forward to in the great last day and like Christ we may use them for encouragement in all the seasons of our lives.
Now we turn to Psalm 22, a Psalm of lament and sorrow attributed to King David. However, this deep lament is of interest because some have said that it can only be about one who faces their own death. As we look at David’s life there doesn’t seem to be much to support that he went through any such time, perhaps his own son’s rebellion and attempt on his life? Perhaps some other ritualistic element of Jewish culture that has been lost to history? But yet, even this doesn’t seem to be supported.
Instead, many Christian commentators and theologians are happy to see the 22nd Psalm as a prophecy about Christ – leaning on St. Peter’s understanding in Acts 2 who saw David as a prophet who foresaw and talked of Christ.
This Psalm can be split into two sections – the power of darkness and the spread of joy. Yet, even in the first section of the Psalm, verses 1-21 we see it punctuated by hope in the glory of God. We see God’s goodness is never lost sight of.
As we read this first section we can’t help but think of Christ on the cross. Immediately we hear those words that Christ uttered in Aramaic on the cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Perhaps we too have experienced times of trial and suffering where no matter how much we cry out to God it feels as though He’s not there, as though he has tottered off to some other task while we are left struggle along with the sense that we will be on our own for awhile.
Yet, while we hear these words we can’t help but think – perhaps on the cross Christ prayed this entire Psalm, remembering God’s faithfulness to others, trying to cling to His Father, cling to the hope that comes alone from God. As we ponder this we are reminded of the importance of memorizing scripture, perhaps a lost art, something that I must admit that I too struggle with. Yet, we see time and time again Christ refers not to His own intellect, or obvious wisdom of the nature of His Father, but to the word of God. In pushing back Satan He refers to scripture, in rebuking the pharisees, and even in His last hour he clings to scripture. So, we are reminded to cling to the scriptures as well, to memorize verses, sections and even chapters so that we can come back to it time and again regardless of whether we are filled with joy, or the emptiness of sorrow.
We are also reminded that in those times of quietness, in those times that it seems God has abandoned us – Christ has gone through that and more. We are reminded that the great high-priest we have in heaven can sympathize with us more than we might imagine. We have all known pastors in our lives who we might say of “he was a good pastor, he sympathized with us, even in the darkest of days,” or perhaps we have also know ones who have failed to be there for us. Pastors and priests are sinful men like you and I, and they will fail. Christ is not the aloof pastor who does not care, but walks with as, and not only walks with us but can empathize and understand better than any earthly pastor can.
Even in the darkness that confronts David, he remembers God’s holiness and faithfulness, remembers that no matter how hard things get, no matter how miserable everything seems, God is still God. God is Holy and good and worthy to be praised. This is hard to see when our heart aches, when things seem impossibly dark in the pits of despair and loss, but the fact of His goodness is proven by His faithfulness throughout the generations. In verses 3-5 David doesn’t refer to any exact event, but merely makes a blanket statement. We can say the same thing, we can look back over our lives, over the lives of the saints, over the life of the church, over His faithfulness to Israel, and see time, and time again God is faithful and brings His children through the darkness. We can hold on to this hope in those times that God seems quiet, and take heart that He is working.
As we work our way through the first section of the Psalm we see glimpses of Christ. For he too was despised by all men, forgotten even by His best friends, abandoned by all but a few faithful. He was put to death in the most shameful way. Truly, it was the darkest of hours. We see the tones of this in the Psalms.
Yet, whatever David is referring to in his own travail he returns to God’s faithfulness, going from God’s broad faithfulness to His people, to God’s faithfulness to David himself. We are reminded that while God is bigger than the whole universe, he knows us from the womb. He is not the blind watch maker who cranks up the clock and walks away, but rather a committed artist who has created his creatures with the utmost care. He is not far off, but intimately close.
While we travel through times of travail we can look back at our life and remember these times when we can see the working of God in our life, it may have been that we were given just enough money to buy food for the week, or a phone call from a friend when you’re feeling lonely and alone, or a reminder of the assurance of our resurrection in Christ when the end of this life seems too close. Take heart in these times and remember that God is faithful.
This first section of the Psalm ends with a plea for God to be faithful, and we have seen time and again that he will be. We take up the cross and follow Christ, calling out to the Lord regardless of what we travel through. Though there will be hard times, though there will be good and bad times, God is faithful, let us always cling to Him.
We now turn to the second half of the Psalm, turning away from the darkness to the spread of Joy, for we are reminded after the darkness comes the morning, comes the light of life lived in Christ. The day may be long, and filled with strife, but the journey is not over, no, we are all headed towards that great last day.
Yesterday, as we explored the symbol of the temple, we looked at how the history of salvation stretches from the garden where Adam and Eve walked with God, through the fall, to the tabernacle where the priests would enter the Holy of Holies with trepidation, to Solomon’s temple which we know was grand, to the temple that existed in Jesus’ time that took over 40 years to build, to the temple of glory foretold by Ezekiel. Then to how, in Christ, we are now the temple, a temple in which the Holy Spirit resides, and how in this we are called to live out a life of glory to the Lord that other’s may also come to praise His holy name. In the end, we came to the finality of Revelation 21, where we see the new heavens and the new earth, where we are reminded of our recreation on that great last day, all our sins, our sorrows, all our imperfections washed away and we are made new that we might dwell in the Holy city, and how in that holy city God’s glory will reside with us.
It is this final vision that we rest our hope on. We know that there will be disappointments in this life, we know that our heart will wander, that while we are a temple of the living Lord, sent to glorify God in the congregation of the faithful, we will sometimes fail and desire that which doesn’t glorify the Lord. Yet, our eyes are cast on a greater thing, a greater promise – the eternity of dwelling in the beauty and glory of the Lord. Let us therefore, be ever reminded of this glory.
As we look at this final section and are reminded of our eternal hope – we are reminded that God’s glory is not satisfied to reside within the congregation of the faithful, but it spreads, and with it the joy of knowing Him spreads. David’s renewed joy starts in the congregation, then overflows into the world.
In looking at this part of the Psalm we remember again of the cross of Christ. We can’t help but think about how the Gospel worked. The gospel came first to the congregation of the faithful, to Israel, but the good news was not satisfied to reside only there but has been persistently spreading throughout the world.
When we see how God works in our life, we are not satisfied to merely keep it to ourselves, to put that light under a basket and go along with our life, but we too want to spread the good news, the redemption from our sin, through the grace of Christ to the ends of the world. We too, want to rejoice with the whole world for His good faithfulness.
As we conclude with Psalm 22, we are reminded of Christ on the cross, how He is the great high priest who can sympathize with us in our loneliness and joy. How, even in the darkest of days He is with us. We are reminded to cling to Him and His word, to be ever turning back to Him and to remember how He has been faithful to us and all His people.
We are also reminded to be beacons of hope, beacons of the hope that we know in Christ. To le t our light shine before men, not for our glory but that all would glorify the Lord. Let us, therefore be ever recommitting to this task, ever seeking to make God’s glory known through out our church, our community, and through out the whole world.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.