It feels like he left me, but he is still with me!
This Psalm is not as famous as the first verse of this Psalm is and has become. Most of us in here are relatively familiar with the words of this 22nd Psalm. Many of us, in fact, perhaps thought that these words read in your hearing were words that flowed from the lips of Jesus as an original/novel statement. But today you will discover that this was not an original statement from the cross of Calvary but that Jesus was speaking the word from a song in the 22nd Psalm from on the cross that he had learned as a child in Judaic culture and tradition.
It is not a song of Christ but, in fact, it is a Psalm of David. It comes from a time when David is feeling abandoneddesertedisolated/desolate—feeling alone. He felt that God had left him all by himself.
• It is the feeling for David, in particular, of abandonment by a God Who got you in the mess you’re in.
• In particular—a Psalm and a cry to a God—not only because you feel alone—but it’s a cry to a God who got you in the mess that makes you feel like you are by yourself.
Can I ask you a question today?: Have you ever followed God into somewhere or something—and when you got into that somewhere or something the mess was so bad you said, “Now God you got me IN this mess—so now if you got me in this mess—why do I feel like I’m all of a sudden all by myself?”
To really get the understanding of this passage you must take it out of it’s Christological context and see Jesus in the light of the Psalm and not the Psalm in light of Jesus.
Because in the New Testament whenever one quoted the Old Testament was because of what the author meant in the Old Testament when they wrote it. And so in order to really understand this Psalm you really can’t talk about what Jesus was going through; you’ve got to understand what David is going through.
It is a cry for help
It is a cry for deliverance out of something that you never would have been in if you weren’t following God.
Isn’t it amazing that sometimes it appears that when you are following God it can often appear that you are in more of a mess than you were before you decided to follow God’s will, God’s purpose and God’s plan?
Isn’t it amazing that sometimes you follow God and then wonder why in the world you followed God because what you ended up in was not what you thought that you are going towards?
Isn’t it amazing that every now and then you can feel like you are all by yourself.
Now you must understand initially—that when he says “Why hast thou forsaken me”…he is not talking about the ABSENCE of the presence of God. And we know he’s not talking about that because he’s talking to God.
We know he’s not talking about God not being there—he’s talking about the activity of God.
When he says “God, you’re forsaking me”…the spirit of the text suggests that he is confessing “God you are ignoring me”. It’s not that you’re not here—but God you are ignoring me. And the reason that I feel that you are ignoring me is because I don’t see anything on the outward exterior happening on my behalf.
Herein is the war between the flesh and the spirit. (Between what the spirit knows and what your flesh has to feel and see).
• David has equated activity with acknowledgement and acceptance…
In other words, David has equated God acknowledging his prayer and accepting his request with the activity that follows.
So that for David—if God doesn’t do anything…God is not UP to anything.
Here’s the Cowan translation: God, I’ve been praying and fasting about this mess you got me in—and you’re not responding!!!
Have you ever prayed and nothing appeared to be happening?
Have you ever prayed and nothing appeared to be changing?
It is what I call the tyranny of the theology of activity.
Because when you talk about the flesh vs. the spirit. The spirit goes on the basis of what I know/the flesh is driven on the basis of what I feel.
And often we think that we are blessed by what God does for us. And so when God doesn’t do for you what you ask God to do for you then you don’t think that you’re blessed and that God is ignoring you.
And I know I’m messing with somebody here, because all of us are human—and sometimes we thinking that God blessing us and doing for us is how we know God is WITH us.
And then we start equating God with us with the STUFF that we have.
• Prayer is not about getting what you want from God—Prayer is about what God wants from us.
Because God is God—God doesn’t need anything from us. Read Psalm 50—that’s a good and insightful passage—He says, “Even if I got hungry I wouldn’t tell you”. Nothing you can do for me; the cattle on a thousand hill belongs to me.
God does not need anything from us…
Because He is self-existent—He really doesn’t need our faith
Because He is holy—He doesn’t need our moral support
Because He’s sovereign—He doesn’t need our permission
Because He owns all things—He doesn’t need our money
Because He is everywhere at the same time—He doesn’t need our company
Because He is all knowing—He doesn’t need our advice
Because He is all powerful—He does not need our hope
God does not need anything from us—but there is something that He wants from us.
And though there is something that we want from Him—what He wants from us is more important than what we want from Him. Because prayer is not about stuff; it is about relationship and connection with a God who wants my allegianceaffectionattention/appreciation.
2 Chron. 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
He wants a relationship
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. But that not the end look at vs.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
He wants a relationship…
Psalm 91 proclaims “Call upon me…and I will answer”
And it is not only what God gives you that blesses you—but the first determining factor when it comes to the outcome and the intent of your prayer—is that you are in relationship with Him.
Just the fact that you can say “My God…My Savior”…is enough to say that I am absolutely, positively, wonderfully blessed!!!
You can not equate activity with blessings!!! For David here says here ‘my God…my God’. He uses the word here, Elohim. The word here for Deliverer. He says, “God…you are not living up to the nature of your name. If you are a deliverer…then why am I still in this?”
And I’m already talking to somebody who is here today because you have been calling Jehovah Jireh and you still have to pay your bills/
You’ve been calling on Jehovah Rophe and you’re still sick/
you’ve been calling on Jehovah Shaloam and you still can’t sleep at night.
How many of you can honestly admit that sometimes you don’t understand what God is up to—because there are times that it looks like that God is not living in accordance to Who He said that He is!!!
God if you’re a deliverer, why am I still struggling with this
God if you’re a provider, why can’t I make ends meet
God if you’re my peace, then why do I need a drink and a blunt to go to bed at night
God if you’re my shepherd, then why do I need a stroke from another man or another woman every now and then during my moments of weakness….
God what is going on?
It’s dangerous when you feel forsaken…because you don’t lose the need for something or somebody. So that when you feel forsaken, you’re still looking. And that’s when the flesh drops options.
• Sometimes the reason marriages get in trouble is because when you feel IGNORED, you don’t lose the need for the attention. So the Devil starts dropping options.
It’s dangerous when you don’t straighten out that ignoring thing/when you don’t fix it because if you are not careful then the flesh and the Devil will begin to drop other options…
Because you still have the need, but your flesh will begin to tell you that God can’t meet the need and you’re start turning to other things and other people because you still have the need!!!
So preacher, help me. When I feel all alone and I feel like God is ignoring me and I’m trying to get to know Him more. And I feel like it’s not happening. How do I keep my sanity and falling into the trap of the options that my flesh would give to me?
Here’s the first thing…
I. THE FIRST THING YOU’VE GOT TO DO IS REHEARSE GOD’S CHARACTER AND NOT YOUR CONTEXT
Watch the text: my God, my God…
Why have you forsaken me
Why are you so far from my deliverance
My God…I call by day but you don’t answer..
At night…I can’t get no rest….
But is a contravening conjunction with a subordinating feeling.
In other words, BUT is a conjunction (you know conjunction, conjunction…what’s your function) it connects two phrases—but it’s not just a conjunction; but it’s a contravening conjunction with a subordinating feeling. In other words—BUT is so powerful in its contravening subordinating nature that what it does—the power of what comes AFTER the but negates the power of what came BEFORE the but. Not that what came before the but is not still there; but what came BEFORE the but doesn’t have the power it would have were it not FOR the but.
I’M SO GLAD I GOT A BUT IN MY LIFE I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
Because it negates the power of what came before my but—that trouble, trial that came before my BUT showed up on the doorstep of my situation—doesn’t have the power it would have had were it not for my BUT showing up when I decided to take my problem to the Lord in prayer before my BUT ever showed up!!!
I’m crying during the day.
I can’t sleep at night…That’s the context.
BUT…inspite of the context and inspite of what I’m feeling—What I know about you can negatecounteractreversework againstcancel outdenyrefute what I FEEL about this!!!
And every now and then—when your context is not what you want and desire for it to be—you’ve got to let your BUT do the talking in your prayer and consecration before God—and say that “What I know about YOU, God, can knock away what I feel about what I’m going through”.
Watch what He says: “BUT you are holy”.
- I feel forsaken
- I feel like you’re not listening to me
- I’m crying during the day
- I can’t sleep at night
BUT you’re holy.
I’m in hell…BUT you’re holy
I can’t find a job…BUT you’re holy
I can’t pay my bills…BUT you’re holy
Miserable because my wife left me…BUT you’re holy
My child’s in jail…BUT you’re holy
That bill is 45 days late…BUT you’re holy
I got some problems in my life…BUT you’re holy
I’m going through a divorce…BUT you’re holy
I’m wearing the same clothes every week…BUT you’re holy
And since I know you’re holy…that’s powerful enough to keep my sanity` until you deliver me!!!
When it comes to prayer—you’ve got to learn how to rehearse the character of God inspite of what you’re going through.
• You see, the reason why some of us can’t get out of stuff is because we keep rehearsing our stuff.
• All you do is call people on the phone and rehearse what you’re going through
- rehearse how miserable you are
- rehearse what they did to you
- rehearse how others made you feel
- rehearse how they gossip about you
When it comes to your praying—you need to change your language!!! And start rehearsing the CHARACTER of God and get your mind off of what you’re going through.
The value and the power of prayer doesn’t mean that you ignore the existence of the context of your circumstance—but the power of prayer means you know you serve a God that is more powerful than what you are going through. So that when you wake up in the morning, you don’t wake up with the power of the context of the circumstance on your mind , but you wake saying I woke up this morning with my mind stayed
Holy means separate, unique, distinct. You must understand here Judaic thought and theology. That to say that he is holy was to suggest that he was unique in thought, deed and motives.
• He’s unique and distinct and sacred in thoughts, deeds and motives.
• So that if I know that God is sacred in motives then I won’t BLAME God or act like the negative of the situation suggests something negative about God.
If I know that when I approach God in prayer that He is sacred in thoughts, deeds and motives—that will save me from blaming God or equating God with negative—even though I’m in negativity!!!
• The word holy (QA-DOSH) suggests that in some way God is seeking to manifest the beauty of His character in a context.
• So when I say “You are holy”, I am identifying and ascribing the beauty of God’s character in the midst of my context even though my context doesn’t look like it has any beauty.
So that when I keep rehearsing “you’re holy” eventually I will see God IN it and see God through IT and eventually I’ll thank God FOR it!!!
• Because if God is IN it then we already know that ALL things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and called according to His purpose.
And I’ve just stopped long enough to help somebody here today—I want to encourage you in your prayer life to start rehearsing the character of God…just start acknowledging WHO God is:
• God you’re holywonderfulkingmightyhigh and lifted upgloriousawesome
And when you start to rehearse His character, you’ll start to see HIS beauty in your burden.
You see his glory in
II. YOU’VE GOT TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR HIS PRESENCE IN YOUR PROBLEM
Watch this: He says “But you’re holy”…and, get this, “You inhabitest the praises of Israel (KJV) “You are enthroned on the praises of Israel”.
You’re enthroned (Yaw Shav), you’re seatedcrownedinstated in the middle of us when we praise you.
• You take a central position—so that when I praise God I place Him in a central position in the middle of my problem.
See, prayer that is attached to praise really doesn’t have anything to do with jumping and shouting, running and clapping, a choir. When you really understand it—you will discover that it really has nothing to do with music!
When you understand prayer that is armed/girded with praise—you recognize that praise is a weapon of warfare that doesn’t have anything to do with rhythm, music, drums, piano, organ, choir or anything else.
Prayer and praise is when you know how to activate the spiritual weapons of warfare, call on the name of the Lord…and let Him sit down in the middle of your situation.
• Whenever you praise the name of the Lord—He is ready to manifest His power in the way most appropriate to the situation.
Praise invites God and His Lordship and supremacy to invade your space!!!
• Now the implication of that is—if praise invites God to invade my space—some of us need to clean up the space—because there is some space I’m in that I’m not inviting the LORD to come to.
And that is the purpose of fasting before God.
• Fasting means I am calling my flesh to be denied in order that I may reserve a place of vacancy for God—so that when He passes by my space is empty enough for Him to fill me up with Himself.
• When I am fasting, in essence, I am saying—Lord…I know I’m not perfect…but I’m empty—not reluctantly or half-heartedly—but willingly and in surrender—because I want you to fill my empty space…
And it is rough when you think that you can live WITH your sin and have praise in the house and peace in your home and joy in your life and God’s best for you and your future!!!
- How you can live as a gossiper—and have devotional time
- How you can speak in tongues—and then cuss in English
- How you can go crying out to God—but then ignore your brother and your sister
- How you can ask God to give you His best—but then forget to bring Him what He said belongs to Him…
I know that we have a tendency and proclivity to think that praise is merelysolelyonly about clapping yourswiggle and a jerkhigh fiving your neighbor/etc.—but what praise is when it is attached to your praying, when you really understand it, is inviting God to be central and allowing Him to sit down in the middle of your situation so that His will can be done in the circumstance…
Which means that prayer and praise is not about manipulating God to manifest Himself to give you what you want. Prayer is inviting God to be the center of the situation and do whatever He feels is necessary for whatever you are going through.
So whether you deliver me or not—I’m still going to praise you.
Because if you decide not to deliver me from my circumstance then that is obviously the best thing for what I’m going through!!!
• Prayer and Praise, when it is does the right way, gets you away from negative.
FIND God in your negative—so that when you pray and praise—you can see clearly how is can turn your minus into a plus…so that your negative brings out your positive!!!
I mean, when you read the Psalm, David sounds like he’s suicidal. He says:
God is far from my deliverance
He’s not hearing my prayer
I’m crying in the day
I can’t sleep at night
I’m a worm, not even a man
Everybody hates me
Everybody’s talking about me
Everybody’s trying to kill me
They are mocking me
They are mocking you
But the good news is that what David got and what we miss is this—and that is that even though he is dealing with the negative aspects of his experience, he is alive enough to turn to God.
And I’m trying to help somebody to understand that no matter how negative the situation is
When things are negative and you are around negative people you need to learn how to use the mute.
—there’s still something to praise God about. Because you’re alive enough to call on His name/turn to God.
I’VE GOT A REASON to talk to God and praise Him…because the negative has not consumed me….
I’m hurting—but I’m still alive
I can’t get out of it—but I’m not overwhelmed by it!!!
And somebody is in something today that you can’t get out of—but you can praise Him through it.
He’s keeping you
He’s protecting you
He’s sustaining you
He’s covering you
He’s not letting it get the best of you
So even in the middle of it—LIFT HIM UP!!! And invite him to sit down in the middle of your situation.
Because I’m a living witness—that when God shows up—it won’t be long before you get a new situation!!!
Because when the presence of God shows up….
Demons can’t handle
Enemy cannot derail
Haters cannot hinder it
People who deny it can’t do anything about it
And when God is sitting in the middle of the situation and you’re talking to God—and the demonsenemyhaters/people see that you are not by yourself, they’ve got to get to running!!!
LIFT HIM…while they talk about youin the enemy’s campwhile you’re sick/while you’re crying….
Don’t wait until the battle’s over…but shout about it right now!!!
Because when you start to praise God—you will discover in verse 22 and 23, that David begins to take it out of the singular and moves it to the plural. He says I’m going to praise God with you, and I’m going to praise God for you and we are going to praise God together.
Look at what he says “I’m going to proclaim God’s name to my brothers!” I’m going to praise God in the congregation. Everybody who fears the Lord…PRAISE Him.
He says “I’m not just going to praise God by myself—but I’m going to invite others into this thing…I’m bringing my whole family.”
Why? Because Praise is infectious.
That is what we’ve got to do…praise God for what he’s doing for your neighbor—while your neighbor praises God for what he’s doing for you…and he’s going to bless both of you for praising Him together.
“Oh magnify the Lord with me….Let us exalt His name together….”
Everybody on your pew will wake up if you praise Him
Everybody on your job will get delivered if you praise Him
Everybody in your family will get saved if you praise Him
I’m looking for somebody who can praise Him inspite of the negative…
So what you had to wear old clothes—at least you could put them on by yourself
So what you’ve got to take medicine—at least you can take it with your own hand
So what you’ve got raggedy shoes—at least you’ve got feet to put them on
So what you lost your mother or your father—at least you knew who your mother and father were
So what you’ve been knocked down—you weren’t knocked out!!!
So what you’re driving a car you’ve been driving for 30 years—atleast its still getting you from point A to point B
Somebody ought to lift up your hands and say “God I praise you.”
I know it’s been rough—but I praise you
I know it feels tough—but I praise you
Because I know that when I praise you, you’ll sit down in the middle of my situationyou’ll start looking around and see what’s going ontelling demons to go to hell/restore my joy, my peace, my sanity….when I praise you.
I dare you to lift Him upopen up your mouthcall on his name/tell him he’s holy….LIFT HIM UP!!!!
I dare you to lift up your handsopen up your voicesay “Lord there are times I feel forsaken…but you’re holy!!!
Jesus on Calvary