He has done it! And revival will touch the rich and proud as well as the poor
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20
Psalm 22: 23–31
From a background of anguish and apparent abandonment, the tone turns to praise and even revival
22 I will declare Your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise You. 22 This psalm begins with a heartfelt appeal for help and deliverance: “ My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?….All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. It is in places prophetic of the anguish of Jesus on the Cross and His cry “My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Here, at verse 22, there is a complete change of tone.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honour Him!
23 Praise and thanksgiving naturally go together, but praise is more directed to God for His character: awesome, evoking in us fear of God, better expressed as deep reverence and a desire to honour Him for who He is.
24 For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
24 Praise now leans to thanksgiving to God for some specifics: for seeing, for being present, for hearing the prayer for help.
The suffering is not set aside, but there is the assurance of prayer heard.
25 From You comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear You I will fulfill my vows.
25 “I will fufill my vows” is a clue to what verses 22–26 are describing. The Law encouraged those who made a vow of some service to the Lord for answered prayer, to call a votive festival in which they would make sacrifice, publicly declare what God had done for them and the vow of service, and seal the occasion with a feast to which all, especially Levites, servants and the poor and needy of the community were invited (verse 26 below).
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him — may your hearts live forever!
26 Hebrew 2:11–12 relates this passage and verse 22 in particular to Jesus, who does not just stand on high but identifies with us and invites us, the poor and needy, to His thanksgiving feast, to “eat and be satisfied” and also to “live forever”.
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations will bow down before Him…
27 Now David’s praise becomes expansive and sees a wide-ranging revival. “All the ends of the earth” — Gentiles obviously — will turn to the Lord.
28 …for dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him — those who cannot keep themselves alive.
28–29 “Rich of the earth” — literally, fat ones. Prosperous, thriving, mighty, power-mongers in other versions. A revival turning the hearts of the proud and self-sufficient to humble worship, together with “all who down in the dust”, the sick or anxious or faint-hearted. If they want to gain the life they are unable to command by arrogance they will kneel along with those who lack even essentials.
30 Posterity will serve Him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim His righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!
30–31 Looking ahead to as yet unborn generations who will hear about the Lord and also proclaim that He is righteous and just takes this psalm into the present day. Declaring “He has done it!” surely foretells the preaching of Jesus as Lord, the Cross and Resurrection. Application
This psalm of David relates extreme anguish and suffering and the highest praise in a revival that touches even the spiritually resistant. What time frame the picture David saw belongs in is hard to say, but it could be the suffering of the Cross and the victory of the Cross and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It could be the tribulation leading up to the return of the Messiah and triumph over evil. It could be a picture of what is happening between heaven and earth and the power of praise in the face of oppression. As is often the case in Scripture, it could speak to more than one time.
At the risk of over-simplification, this psalm is telling the story of someone who has suffered oppression and felt abandoned by God, who however makes a choice. The choice is not to believe their feelings but believe God as the faithful One who has listened to the cry for help, and is most worthy of praise. As a result, there is a great turning to the Lord, even among the Gentiles and the proud and self-sufficient.
There is tremendous power in praise — especially in the face of adversity.
Where is our focus? On what we are going through, or what God is going to do? On our weakness or His power? This psalm seems to suggest we have a choice, and great power is released by exercising it.
For reflection and discussion
How would you find sincere words with which to praise God for His goodness when your more immediate experience may be pain, anguish, or abandonment by God?
Originally published at The Living Word.