Context: Psalm 22 King James Version (KJV) 22 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
ESV - 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
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The Bible does not specify the period from David's life when this psalm was written. However, I would think that the sentiments expressed in the psalm would have been most likely to arise when David was fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom (2 Samuel 15-18). I think that David would have had more reason for despair at that point that at any other time in His life. Even before he became king of all Israel, at the time when he was fleeing from or fighting with the previous king (Saul) and Saul's followers, his mood was more one of confidence in God's protection, as shown by the fact that he spared Saul's life on multiple occasions when he had had the opportunity to kill him. However, after becoming king, he had committed adultery and conceived a child with Bathsheba, and had then ordered the death of Bathsheba's husband (Uriah the Hittite). For this -- even though David did not lose his salvation -- he had had a judgment pronounced against him by God through Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12), who told David that the child would die; that the sword would never depart from his house; that God would raise up evil against him from his own house, and that God would give David's wives to another man who would commit public adultery with them (the last three of which were fulfilled by Abaslom's rebellion). When David fled from Absalom, he did not display the confident faith that he had previously exhibited, but was weeping as he went up the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem, and spoke of God's favor not as something that he was sure that he would receive, but in a conditional sense (which implied his belief that God may have withdrawn His favor from him) by saying in 2 Samuel 15:24, "If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD...." In addition, David was publicly reviled at that time by a man named Shime-i (2 Samuel 16:5-8), in response to which David acknowledged that God might have instructed Shime-i to do so (2 Samuel 16:10-13). To me, the feelings of abandonment by God expressed by David in Psalm 22 could certainly have been an understandable reaction to all these events. However, even so, in the later verses of the psalm (Psalm 22:22-31), David also expresses his future intention to once again praise God. (Although David's words in this psalm could be plausibly interpreted as a reaction to his own situation -- as noted above -- they are also obviously an inspired and astonishingly specific prophetic account of what would happen to Jesus -- as emphasized by Jesus' own utterance of the opening verse of the psalm (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) -- at the time of His crucifixion, even though the psalm was written hundreds of years earlier. I have always found it amazing that the Jewish religious leaders could have thought that Jesus was calling on Elijah by those words, and did not recognize how the words of the psalm were being fulfilled before their very eyes.)
I like to see in this verse a double fulfillment of a prophetic passage. Christ "died forsaken by God so that His people might claim God as their God and never be forsaken." (a classmate of mine from Dallas Seminary, John Grassmick, wrote that). With Jesus' sacrifice, Jesus made sure that we would not be forsaken (Hebrews 13:5-6; Jos 1:5; Ps 37:25; 2 Co 4:9).
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