The Word Made Fresh
(For the worship leader: to the tune of “The Deer of the Dawn.” A psalm of David.)
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Don’t you hear my groaning? Why are you so far away?
2My God, I cry out to you day by day, but you don’t answer.
I cry out night by night but get no response.
3And yet, you are the holy one.
Israel praises you, and you are established on your throne.
4Our ancestors trusted in you.
They trusted you and you rescued them.
5They cried out to you and you saved them.
They trusted you and were not cast aside.
6Yet, I am no more than a worm, only a human being.
Everyone looks down on me and all the people despise me.
7Everyone who sees me makes fun of me.
They scowl at me and shake their heads.
8“Put your case before the LORD,” they snicker.
“Let the LORD who loves you so much save you!”
9But you are the one who took me from my mother’s womb
and kept me safe in her arms.
10From the day I was born I was given to you.
Since the day my mother gave birth to me you have been my
11Please don’t keep me at a distance.
Trouble is at hand and no one else can help me.
12Fierce animals surround me.
Ferocious bulls of Bashan are stalking me.
13They snarl at me with open mouths
like hungry lions roaring at me.
14I am weaker than water. My bones are disjointed.
My heart is like wax and is melting in my chest.
15My strength is weak; I’m like a broken clay pot.
My tongue sticks to my cheeks and I am laid in death’s dust.
16Wicked people are surrounding me like snarling dogs.
My hands and feet are too weak to defend me.
17I can count all my bones –
they stick out as if making fun of me.
18They have divided my clothes among themselves
and are casting dice to see who gets what.
19But LORD, don’t stand so far away from me!
Help me! Come to my aid! Hurry!
20Don’t let my life be taken by the sword!
Don’t let these dogs destroy me!
21Rescue me from the lion’s mouth!
Save me from the wild oxen’s horns!
22Then I will praise your name before all my family.
Standing before the congregation I will celebrate you.
23You who fear the LORD, sing praises!
All of you descendants of Jacob praise the LORD!
Be in awe, you children of Israel!
24God did not despise or hate me when I suffered the trials of affliction.
God did not turn away from me but heard me when I called.
25I will praise God before all the people.
I will do what I have promised before those who fear God.
26Those who are poor will have plenty to eat.
Those who look for the LORD will sing praises.
May your hearts beat forever!
27The very ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the LORD’s families on the earth shall worship.
28For the LORD is in charge,
and rules over the nations.
29All who die and are laid in the earth will bow down.
They will all bow down before the LORD, and I will live for the
30Our children will serve the LORD.
Future generations will hear all about the LORD
31and the story of how the LORD saved the people
will be told to those who have yet to be born.
The LORD has done it!
Superscription: “The Deer of the Dawn” is thought to be a musical tone or series of tones to accompany the recitation of this psalm, the 19th ascribed to David.
1-2: The opening words are familiar to every Christian, for they are the words that Jesus cried out from the cross. All of us can relate to the feelings expressed here. Sometimes it seems that God just doesn’t hear our prayers.
3-5: On the other hand, examples abound of God delivering the faithful, and the psalmist takes some consolation in that thought.
6-8: The psalm goes back and forth between despair and hope. Yes, God has delivered our ancestors, but not me! I’m just a worm, and people are making fun of me because I am relying on God!
9-11: On the other hand, God gave him birth and watched over him throughout his childhood.
12-17: On another hand, he is surrounded by enemies, circling like stalking lions and closing in like rabid dogs. In these verses we also get a picture of a ravaging illness that has left the psalmist weak and defenseless. He has wasted away to skin and bones, has no appetite, and is dehydrated.
18: His enemies (and perhaps even family members) are already making plans to divide his clothes after he dies. Assuming this is a prayer of a king, the royal wardrobe would be an important part of the inheritance left behind. The followers of Jesus saw in this verse a prophecy of Christ’s suffering (see John 19:24).
19-21a: His prayer is renewed that God will step in and rescue him.
21b-26: Suddenly, in the middle of the verse, rescue has come! Now the entire tenor of the psalm changes from despair to celebration. God’s saving acts will be told for generations to come.
27-31: God’s actions will be told abroad and as a result people will turn to the LORD. A great revival is envisioned, with the psalmist’s story serving as the evangelical catalyst for the conversion of the nations.
It’s a simple lesson: tell the story of what God has done for you and others will be drawn to faith in God.
The psalms cover just about every malady we might be subjected to in a lifetime – illness, false accusations, loss, fear of harm, and so forth. In all of the seasons and sufferings of this life we call out to God for support and for rescue. The Psalms are insistent that God answers those prayers, but in God’s time, not ours!