The Sorrow and the Triumph (Psalm 22)
“My God; my God; why had Thou forsaken me? why art Thou so far from helping me, and from the words of ray roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent . . . But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel . . . But be not Thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, hasteth . . . to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save, me from the lion’s mouth: for Thou had heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee. A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this [or perhaps, “that it is finished”] (Psalm 22).
We come to the very holy of holies in the Twenty-second Psalm. As we read it and think of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, in His unparalleled sufferings, there in that awful darkness and distance, darkness we can never penetrate, distance no human thought can ever measure. There is the holy One Whose every thought was for the glory of God. We see Him the abandoned One, the forsaken One. It was for our sins—and here we learn what we are in ourselves, for nothing less than those sufferings could deliver us. He was made sin for us, He, who knew no sin, that we might be made God’s righteousness in Him. To gain for us the place of favour before God that is ours today, and to gain for us the place we shall have with Him when home in the Father’s house, He endured the cross. He loved us and gave Himself for us.
He, the Son of God, not only became incarnate, a holy mystery, truly God and truly Man in one glorious Person, but to “Calvary’s cross of woe” He went.
The cross, which brings us near to God, meant infinite distance for Him, and from the depths of that awful desolation He cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And He gives the answer, “Thou art Holy—THOU ART HOLY.” That fearful judgment was put upon Him, the sinless One, because of the holiness of God. But was not Jesus holy? Yes, as holy as God is, but only He who was altogether holy could vindicate the holiness of God. If ever you and I were to bow as sons before the Father’s face, to share the joys of Christ in resurrection, He, the Just One, must suffer for us the unjust. And none could stand with Him to share that suffering, for none other than He was the Holy and the True. The terrible solitude of Calvary must be His if the song of glory was to be ours.
“Dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet.” He suffered at the hands of the chief priests, He was beset by the dogs, the Gentiles, the Roman soldiers with their ribaldry and rudeness, and the awful power of Satan, all the powers of darkness beset Him and the lion’s mouth of death closed upon Him, but He was heard. “Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns,” transfixed by the judgment of God in death He is heard. His sorrow is changed into joy.
Someone has said that all the waves of sorrow rolled in upon Him, in righteousness from God, and in unrighteousness from the hand of men, until the twenty-first verse of our Psalm is reached, and then comes the cry of triumph, and now wave after wave of blessing is to roll out upon men. “I will declare Thy name unto MY brethren.” How blessed is that! We are now in perfect peace. But He thinks of the Father’s delight and glory first. “I will declare Thy name unto my brethren.” We think, and rightly, of the blessing that word declares for us. We by grace are His brethren, and He has poured into our ears the story of the Father’s love. It was the Father’s pleasure to have sons before His face, to have those who should love Him because they know Him, near to Himself. Now, the Lord speaks from the heights of the victory He has won, and He first thinks of the praise to His Father ascending from the midst of His brethren. Think of what has come to the God of glory in the work of His beloved Son. Wonder of wonders, God is glorified in our blessing! And so we have wave after wave of blessing rolling out, and the Lord Jesus praising Him “in the midst of the congregation.” The saying is quoted in Hebrews, “I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee.”
So the Lord comes into the midst of His own, as in John 20, and speaks that word, “Peace be unto you.” He shows His hands and His feet and His side—the marks of that awful conflict of Calvary—to them. He makes them glad as they see Him. But what a declaration! He had said to Mary Magdalene, “Go to My brethren”—it wasn’t, go tell those poor sinners, but “My brethren,” they had come into a new relationship—“and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father; and to My God, and your God.” My relationship is yours; My righteousness is yours. Perfect relationship, perfect righteousness; and we are brought into that circle where we can magnify and praise God even the Father, His God and our God, His Father and our Father.
He is going to put every string of the harp of eternal music into tune and the perfect and endless harmony of praise to God will fill the whole creation, but He begins now with your heart and mine by telling into our ears the Father’s love and the Father’s Name. He fills our hearts and makes our voices break forth in praise to the Father. Well may we say, “Unto Him that loved us, and loosed us from our sins (we were bound by them) in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father—to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.”