Lectionary Notes: Psalm 22

Here is my second installment of this week’s study notes. These notes are for Psalm 22. There are 13 pages of notes, quotes, outlines, and exegesis. Author’s who are referenced include John Piper, Eugene Peterson, Stanley Hauerwas, Michael Wilcock, CS Lewis and more. You can download the entire MS Word formatted set of notes from my box.net account. Be Blessed.

May 10, 2009: Psalm 22, My God, My God


First, I noted that this is a song that was meant to be sung. “For the director of music” must mean that it was for the orchestra or choir director or both. Thus, there would be a performance of this song at the court, or perhaps in the temple. It is certainly not meant to be left lying flat on a piece of parchment collecting dust. Michael Wilcock interprets the Psalm through a number of lenses, one of them being ‘liturgy.’ He writes, ‘Psalms begin to appear which are suited, or intended, for corporate use. In this respect Psalm 22 is like Psalm 20 and 21. Although it is I who speak throughout, this is my praise in the great assembly, and in the congregation I will praise you (22:25, 22).” (Wilcock, Psalm 1-72 in the Bible Speaks Today Series, 79).

But I suspect this is only a part. Furthermore, how would this song be used in corporate worship? These are the words that one meant to come alive in the heart and spill out of the mouths of people. Yes, I agree that it is the personal lament of an individual, but the individual offered it to the director music for corporate singing. Then their collective experience would be ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Their voices, raised in chorus, repeating the same phrases thus would run from one end of the ebb to the other end of the flow (see my outline below). It is a way of recognizing that we suffer together (as in, when one part suffers we all do, when one part rejoices we all do). [But this is, of course, based on the assumption of the historical validity of the superscriptions which, I, in fact, accept.]

This Psalm is often understood as the solitary cry of an individual sufferer. So Zorn and Tesh write, “The one who suffered is not the nation, but an individual, calling on his brethren, ‘the sons of Jacob,’ to join him in praising God (22-23). Of course, the nature of the psalm is such that it could, and would, be used to bring comfort to all the people in times of national distress. Yet in its origin it is a reflection of individual suffering. (The writer refers to his tongue, his jaws, heart, clothing, etc).” (College Press NIV Commentary on the OT, Psalms, vol 1, 203). That is fine as far as it goes, but it seems not to take into account the superscription which made this a Psalm for the congregation to sing.

What does it say about us as a people when we, the collection of people, the congregation, willingly share in the lament and grief of an individual? What does it say about the individual when he asks the entire congregation not to run off without him but to stay behind and share his grief? (Galatians 6). Verses 3-5 describe Israel as a people who trusted God, a people who were not disappointed because God did deliver them.

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