This psalm was written by King David. It is considered a Messianic Psalm due to its striking description of a crucifixion, the theme of the psalm, the fact that two verses are quoted by Jesus on the cross, and four fulfilled prophecies.
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?
The first part of this verse is quoted by Jesus on the cross and may have been attributed an unwarranted message. Many pastors and theologians believe that the Father turned His face away from His Son as Jesus became the sin sacrifice for us. I THINK NOT! Let’s look at some background scriptures:
God made him who had no sin to be the sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. Romans 8:3
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. (29) The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. John 8:28-29
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. Isaiah 53:10
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30
As we look at these verses, we can see a thread: It was God’s will that Jesus be made the sin offering for us. Jesus was pleasing to the LORD by being obedient–even unto death, dying on a cross for us. Since He and the Father are one, then there is no way that God could turn His back on Jesus, nor would He because He never forsakes Jesus, because Jesus always does what pleases Him.
The clinching verse is actually in Psalm 22 itself, verse 22: 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.
Was there a breach of fellowship between the God the Father and God the Son? I don’t think so. Rather, God was experiencing through Jesus our penalty. GOD TOOK OUR PLACE ON THAT CROSS!
Why did Jesus cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Could it be that He was in anguish and was feeling forsaken? He might have felt some of it, but because of His strong connection with the Father and His mission He was fulfilling, it would seem that He was only quoting the verse rather than relating to the verse in that Jesus KNEW that God wouldn’t, indeed, couldn’t save Him and still accomplish His mission.
Could it be that He was calling this psalm to the attention of passing Jews, who would be familiar enough with it, some even having memorized it in their studies, to associate it with Him? I’m sure that the Pharisees and Sadducees standing there knew it.
Could it be that He was passing the time by remembering all the beautiful promises in this psalm? If so, it explains the next words of Jesus from the cross, “It is finished,” which is the last verse of the psalm (since we do not have a definite timeline or order of Jesus’ sayings while on the cross, I have fit the two verses of this psalm into the phrase that John gives us, “I thirst,” and the one from Luke, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”).
What about the author of the psalm? King David had a very special relationship with God. We read about it in two places:
[Samuel talking to King Saul] “But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart [David] and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:14
[Paul giving a discourse to the leaders of the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch] “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'” Acts 13:22
David’s anguish and the LORD’s anguish were the same in that both may have felt all alone, but knew that they were never alone, that God was with them.
How close are David and Jesus? Let’s look into the future:
8 “‘In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty,
‘I will break the yoke off their necks
and will tear off their bonds;
no longer will foreigners enslave them.
9 Instead, they will serve the Lord their God
and David their king,
whom I will raise up for them. Jeremiah 30:8-9
23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken. Ezekiel 34:23-24
We can trust David to speak for Jesus in this psalm. Jesus was speaking to us through David. Wow! What a beautiful message that Jesus was giving us even as He was dying for us. May we never take His sacrifice for granted.
Dear LORD Jesus, You knew exactly what You were doing when you went to the cross for me. THANK YOU!!! May I never take for granted Your sacrifice for me. I pledge my life to You; I may not be able to give my life for You, but I can give it TO You and live for You. In fact, I prefer You to live Your life through me. Just sensing Your presence and participation in me is ENOUGH! Oh, to feel Your love, joy and peace, to experience Your grace and to feel Your acceptance and approval–and that’s without me doing anything! I’m just sitting here enjoying Your presence! May I be You to those around me today. “Christ to You” is my motto. May I live it. Amen [so be it].