1 For the leader. A psalm of David.
2 How long, LORD? Will you utterly forget me?
How long will you hide your face from me?
3 How long must I carry sorrow in my soul,
grief in my heart day after day?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
4 Look upon me, answer me, LORD, my God!
Give light to my eyes lest I sleep in death,
5 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed,”
lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.
6 But I trust in your mercy.
Grant my heart joy in your salvation,
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has dealt bountifully with me!
McCann p. 31: category can be listed as: prayers for salvation; prayers for help; lament of an individual; complaints; protests. So what is the problem exactly??? Psalm is general enough to be able to be used by folks with a variety of dilemmas. Illness, legal troubles, many more. This type of psalm is the largest type of the psalter.
Description of problem, plea for help, expression of confidence that God has heard and will respond
Notes for Verses 1, 2,3
“How long?” repeated 4 times. Page 33: “But it is instructive that faith and doubt, trust and questioning, are juxtaposed here. Perhaps they are not as antithetical as we often suppose.”
The repetition provides for increasing intensity and urgency, moving from one’s internal pain to its impact in the world.
Notes for Verses 4, 5
The plea for help, expressed as “imperatives”: look upon me, answer, give light
It is a very prophetic type of maneuver to call to God’s attention that God’s own foes will believe that God is powerless if God doesn’t help. In effect it says – if you don’t want to do this for me, at least do it so that you don’t look bad to your enemies. And, if I’m dead, you have one less player on your team!
Dahood (1) p. 77: if the foe is death and the prayer is one of a dying man (hence it’s literal talk about death and not symbolic) the psalm may have some roots in ancient Canaanite pagan mythologies – Baal as god of life and fertility, Mot the god of death and sterility.
Notes for Verse 6
v.3 grief in heart / v. 6 joy in my hear
v.5 foes rejoice / v. 6 I rejoice / sing
These pairs help hold the psalm together as the mood shifts so dramatically.
Has the situation been resolved – passage of some time? More likely – confidence that it will be resolved. Perhaps a priest at the Temple offered assurance that God had heard – perhaps not. Speculation exists of many kinds of “mini-liturgies” for individuals and small groups that may have included psalms, singers, sacrifices, priests / Levites etc. Problem is, as logical as that might seem, there is not a lot of evidence for them outside of the psalms themselves. One scholar speculated that there might often have been a “rolling of the dice (the sacred ones)” that foretold the outcome. This method was used to decide between two disputants often – sometimes after waiting overnight in the temple area.
p. 37 James Mays quotes Luther – hope can despair, despair can hope.
Brown p. 52 says: “What is clear is that the vast majority of the complaint-petition psalms conclude with praise. But is it praise that recalls a salvific act, or is it praise that anticipates the speaker’s restoration? The “either-or” nature of such questions presumes a sort of once-and-for-all, “real time” realization that the Psalms themselves, written as they were for wide usage, may not have intended.”
p. 38: “When we suggest that suffering can be avoided, we foster unreasonable expectations” *******
suffering is a part of human life, no matter how good we are, how “deserving” we might be of relief. Suffering ought not to be denied, avoided, covered up or covered over.
p. 39: ‘In many of the prayers for help, it is clear that the psalmists are suffering precisely as a result of their faithfulness. In this case, it is not God who is causing their suffering; rather the enemies, who oppose God and God’s purposes, are the cause. In short, the psalmists are suffering not be cause they have been bad but because they have been good!”
Psalm 22 – Jesus on the cross
Calvin: these teach us and train us to carry the cross.
For the leader; according to “The deer of the dawn.”* A psalm of David.
2 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why so far from my call for help,
from my cries of anguish?
3 My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;
by night, but I have no relief.
4 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the glory of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted and you rescued them.
6 To you they cried out and they escaped;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
7 *But I am a worm, not a man,
scorned by men, despised by the people.
8 All who see me mock me;
they curl their lips and jeer;
they shake their heads at me:
9 “He relied on the LORD—let him deliver him;
if he loves him, let him rescue him.”
10 For you drew me forth from the womb,
made me safe at my mother’s breasts.
11 Upon you I was thrust from the womb;
since my mother bore me you are my God.
12 Do not stay far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is no one to help.
13 Many bulls surround me;
fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.
14 They open their mouths against me,
lions that rend and roar.
15 Like water my life drains away;
all my bones are disjointed.
My heart has become like wax,
it melts away within me.
16 As dry as a potsherd is my throat;
my tongue cleaves to my palate;
you lay me in the dust of death.
17 Dogs surround me;
a pack of evildoers closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and my feet
18 I can count all my bones.
They stare at me and gloat;
19 they divide my garments among them;
for my clothing they cast lots.
20 But you, LORD, do not stay far off;
my strength, come quickly to help me.
21 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the grip of the dog.
22 Save me from the lion’s mouth,
my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.
23 Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the assembly I will praise you:
24 “You who fear the LORD, give praise!
All descendants of Jacob, give honor;
show reverence, all descendants of Israel!
25 For he has not spurned or disdained
the misery of this poor wretch,
Did not turn away* from me,
but heard me when I cried out.
26 I will offer praise in the great assembly;
my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.
27 The poor will eat their fill;
those who seek the LORD will offer praise.
May your hearts enjoy life forever!”
28 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD;
All the families of nations
will bow low before him.
29 For kingship belongs to the LORD,
the ruler over the nations.
30 All who sleep in the earth
will bow low before God;
All who have gone down into the dust
will kneel in homage.
31 And I will live for the LORD;
my descendants will serve you.
32 The generation to come will be told of the Lord,
that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn
the deliverance you have brought.