Wednesday of Lent II – Psalm 22:23-31

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

These words come at the end of this psalm, but in order to hear them aright, we must keep in mind the psalmist’s first words in this poem: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” They thunder in a Christian’s ear because Jesus spoke them from the cross (Mt 27:46). Many thoughtful Christians have concluded that Jesus meant the hearer, that is us, to consider the whole of this wonderful psalm. Jesus wants us to stand before the cross and use this psalm as a lens or a filter to interpret that gut-wrenching and staggering moment of his crucifixion and death. The psalm’s initial verses eerily predict the events of Christ’s crucifixion, the gambling for his clothes, the piercing of his hands and feet, etc. If you have not read it in a while, you should.

This final section is probably best understood as the reflection of one who is standing before the empty tomb of Easter. God has not hidden his face from the afflicted man but has heard his cry. He has brought him back to the assembly. The nations stand in awe and the ends of the earth worship God on this account. Coming generations shall hear this story and it will be proclaimed to people yet unborn. God has done this.

This second week of Lent tells us that the mechanism of God’s salvation is a cross, suffering, death, and shame. It would be very possible for anyone, Christians included, to see only that suffering, death, and loss and think that is all there is. I see this especially when people confront their own death or the death of a loved one. Some people become nearly unhinged at the thought of themselves getting sick and dying. But the Christian sees this differently. The servant, both our Lord Jesus and we who follow Him, is part of God’s salvation plan. That plan embraces suffering, loss, and even death as the very mechanism of heavenly redemption. I do not understand how this works, but I trust that through God’s strange means, His kingdom comes and His good and gracious will is done. You and I are the people whom the psalmist thought of as yet unborn but who would hear of this message. God has done it. We are now the offspring of Jacob, the children of Israel who praise His holy name. It is so because Jesus died and rose again.

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