Facilitator Notes: Rev. Dr. Michael Elam
Psalm 22 [a]
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.”
A psalm of David.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.[b] 3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.[c] 4 In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Psalm 22 begins with the most anguished cry in human history: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These are the words that Jesus took on His lips at the depth of His suffering on the cross. His suffering was unique at that point as He offered Himself up for the sins of His people. And so, we have tended to see this cry as unique to Jesus. But such an approach to these words is clearly wrong. Jesus was not inventing unique words to interpret His suffering. Rather, He was quoting Psalm 22:1. These words were first uttered by David, and David was speaking for all of God’s people. We need to reflect on these words and the whole psalm as they relate to Christ and to all His people in order to understand them fully. The psalm begins with a section dominated by the agonized prayer of David (vv. 1–21). David is expressing in the first place his own experience of feeling abandoned by God.
Majority of us only hear this text during a Good Friday Service, among the seven a last words, it is the 4th word. Midway through the service and depending upon the church, this word occurs either before or after communion (if it is served). It is a word out of Trauma. Church folk reduce the trauma of these words for a plethora of reasons, yet it must not be overlooked. Year after year we reduce the cries of this traumatic experience to a mere seven to ten minutes. Trauma is real and COVD-19 is real and has brought REAL Trauma to the community. Psalm 22: 1-5 is a communal and individual lament and reaction to collective trauma. Covd-19 has brought us individualistic and communal lament. The reality of this trauma has affected every aspect of our lives and the biblical text allows us to cry out our pain and anxieties. Question and yell at God and Yet!!!