March 22: Forsaken to Delight
Numbers 26:1–65; 1 Corinthians 8:1–9:27; Psalm 22:1–13
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Why are you far from helping me, far from the words of my groaning?” (Psa 22:1).
These are some of the darkest words in Scripture. It’s almost painful to speak them, to imagine a feeling of complete abandonment by God. These are also the words we hear Jesus say when He is hanging from the cross (Matt 27:46). When He utters them, He makes Himself one with this ultimate sufferer, this true lamenter, in Psa 22. He is essentially saying, “I am He: the one who has suffered the most for God’s cause and thus knows what it means to be human.”
The plea in this psalm becomes even sadder, but then it is followed by a surprising affirmation of complete faithfulness in God: “O my God, I call by day and you do not answer, and by night but I have no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psa 22:2–3). The very nature of crying out to God, even in a time of feeling like He has completely abandoned you, is an act of faith. When we cry out in His name, we affirm His presence and the reality that He can intercede. Even if we’re not sure how He will intercede, crying out to Him is an act of faith. It is always the right solution; it’s what Jesus did in His time of greatest need and pain.
The psalmist goes on to depict just how dire the situation is: “All who see me mock me. They open wide their lips; they shake the head, saying: ‘He trusts Yahweh. Let him rescue him. Let him deliver him because he delights in him’ ” (Psa 22:8–9).
Jesus does precisely this: He trusts in Yahweh to be His rescuer. What the mockers—both at the cross and those depicted in this ancient psalm—don’t realize is that God is delighted in the suffering for His cause. God sees the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ suffering—the redemption of His people (compare Isa 52:13–53:12). And likewise, God sees the ultimate purpose of our suffering. He will delight in it when it is done for His purposes—His kingdom. This psalm is a model for us of what to do in those times.
What are you currently suffering through for God’s purposes? How can you use Psalm 22 as a model for your response?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And so after the plague, the Lord spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the son of Aaron the Priest, saying, Take the number of all the Congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and above, throughout their father’s houses, all that go forth to war in Israel. So Moses and Eleazar the Priest spake unto them in the plain of Moab, by Jordan toward Jericho, saying, From twenty years old and above ye shall number the people, as the Lord had commanded Moses, and the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. Reuben the firstborn of Israel: the children of Reuen were: Hanoch, of whom came the family of the Hanochites, and of Pallu the family of the Palluites: Of Hezron, the family of the Hezronites: of Carmi, the family of the Carmites. These are the families of the Reubenites: and they were in number three and forty thousand, seven hundred and thirty. And the sons of Pallu, Eliab. And the sons of Eliab, Nemuel, and Dathan, and Abiram: this Dathan and Abiram were famous in the Congregation, and strove against moses and against Aaron in the assmbly of Korah, when they strove against the Lord. And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up with Korah, when the Congregation died, what time the fire consumed two hundred and fifty men, who were for a sign. Notwithstanding, all the sons of Korah died not. And the children of Simeon after their families were Nemuel, of whom came the family of the Nemuelites: of Jamin, the family of the Jaminites: of Jachin the family of the Jachinites: Of Zerah, the family of the Zarhites: of Shaul, the family of the Shaulites. These are the families of the Simeonites: two and twenty thousand, and two hundred. The sons of Gad after their families were: Zephon, of whom came the family of the Zephonites: of Haggi, the family of the Haggites: of Shuni, the family o fthe Shunites: Of Ozni the family of the Oznites: of eri, the family of the Erites: Of Arod,the family of the Arodites: of Areli, the family of the Arelites. These are the families of the sons of Gad, according to their numbers forty thousand and five hundred. The sons of Judah, Er and Onan, but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. So were the sons of Judah after their families: of Shelah came the family of the Shelanites: of Perez, the family of the Hezonites: of Hamul the family of the Hamulites. These are the families of Judah, after their numbers, seventy and six thousand and five hundred. The sons of Issachar after their families were: Tola, of whom came the family of the Tolaites: of Puah, the family of the Punites: Of Jashub the family of the Jashubites: of Shimron the family of the Shimronites. These are the families of Issachar, after their numbers, threescore and four thousand and three hundred. The sons of Zebulun, after their families were: of Sered, the family of the Sardites: of Elon, the family of the Elonites: of Jahleel, the family of the Jahleelites. These are the families of the Zebulunites, after their numbers threescore thousand and five hundred. The sons of Joseph after their families were: Manasseh and Ephraim. The sosn of Manasseh were of Machir, the family of the Machirites: and Machir begat Gilead: of Gilead came the family of the Gileadites. These are the sons of Gilead: of Jeezer, the family of the Jeezerites, of Helek, the family of the Helekites. Of Asriel the family of the Asrielites: of Shechem, the family of Shechemites. Of Shemida, the family of the Shemidaites: of Hepher, the family of the Hepherites. And Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons but daughters: and the names of the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. These are the families of Manasseh, and the number of them, two and fifty thousand and seven hundred. These are the sons of Ephraim after their families: of Shuthelah came the famiy of the Shuthalhites: of Becher, the family of the Bachrites: of Tahan, the family of the Tahanites. And these are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the family of the Eranites. These are the families of the sons of Ephraim after their numbers two and forty thousand and five hundred: these are the sons of Joseph after their families. These are the sons of Benjamin after their families: of Bela came the family of the Shuthalhites: of Becher, the family of the Bachrites: of Tahan, the family of the Tahanites. And these are the sons of Shuthelah: of Eran, the family of the Eranites. These are the families of the sons of Ephraim after their numbers two and forty thousand and five hundred: these are the sons of Joseph after their families. These are the sons of Benjamin after their families: of Bela came the family of the Belaites: of Ashbel, the family of the Ashbelites: of Ahiram, the family of the Ahiramites: Of Shupham, the family of the Shuphamites; of Hupham the family of the Huphamites. And the sons of Bela, were Ard and Naaman; of Ard came the family of the Ardites, of Naaman the family of the Naamites. These are the sons of Benjamin after their families, and their numbers, five and forty thousand and six hundred. These are the sons of Dan after their families: of Shuham came the family of the Shuhamites: these are the families of Dan after their households. All the families of the Shuhamites were after their numbers, threescore and four thousand, and four hundred. The sonos of Asher after their families were of Jimna, the families of the Jimnites: of Jesui, the family of the Jesuites: of Beriah, the family of the Berites. The sons of Beriah were: of Heber, the family of the Heberites: of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites. And the name of the daughter of Asher was Serah. These are the families of the sons of Asher after their numbers three and fifty thousand and four hundred. The sons of Naphtali, after their families were: of Jahzeel, the families of the Jahzeelites: of Guni, the family of the Gunites. Of Jezer, the family of the Jezerites: of Shillem, the family of the Shillemites. These are the families of Naphtali according to their households, and their number, five and forty thousand and four hundred. These are the numbers of the children of Israel: six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance, according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give less inheritance: to every one according to his number shall be given his inheritance. Notwithstanding, the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit: According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few. These also are the numbers of the Levites, after their families: of Gershon came the family of the Gershonites: of Kohath, the family of the Kohathites: of Merari, the family of the Merarites. These are the families of Levi, the family of the Libnites: the family of the Hebronites: the family of the Mahlites: the family of the Mushites: the family of the Korathites: an Kohath begat Amram. And Amram’s wife was called Jochebed the daughter of Levi, which was born unto Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam their sister. And unto Aaron were born Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. And Nadab and Abihu died, because they offered strange fire before the Lord. And their numbers were three and twenty thousand, all males from a month old and above, for they were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was none inheritance given them among the children of Israel. These are the numbers of Moses and Eleazar the Priest which numbered the children of Israel in the plain of Moab, near Jordan, toward Jericho. And among these rhere was not a man of them, whom Moses and Aaron the Priest numbered, when they told the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the Lord said unto them, They shall die in the wilderness: so there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. Numbers 26:1–65
- And as touching things sacrificed unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge: knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth. Now, if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing, yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. Concerning therefore the eating of things sacrificed unto iols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gos, whether in heaven, or in earth (as thre be many gods, and many lords.) Yet unto us there is but one God, which is that Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. But every man hath not that knowledge: for many having conscience of the idol, until this hour, eat as a thing sacrificed unto the idol, and so their conscience being weak, is defiled. But meat maketh us not acceptable to God, for neither if we eat, have we the more: neither if we eat not, have we the less. But take heed lest by any means this power of yours be an occasion of falling, to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge, sit at table in the idols’ temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak, be boldened, to eat those things which are sacrificed to idols? And through any knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died. Now when ye sin so against the brethren, and woun their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore if meat offend my brother, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, that I may not offend my brother. Am I not an Apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are ye not my work in the Lord? If I be not an Apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am unto you: for ye are the seal of mine Apostleship in the Lord. My defense to him that examine me, is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Or have we not power to lead about a wife being a sister, as well as the rest of the Apostles, and as the brethren of the Lotd, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power not to work? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own cost? who planteth a vineyard, an eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things according to man? saith not the Law the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn: doth God take care for oxen? Either saith he it not altogether for our sakes? For our sakes no doubt it is written, that he which eareth, should ear in hope, and that he that threseth in hope, should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your carnal things? If others with you be partakers of this power, are not we rather? nevertheless, we have not used this power: but suffer all things, that we should not hinder the Gospel of Christ. Do ye not know, that they which minister about the holy things, eat of the things of the Temple? and they which wait at the altar, are partakers with the altar? So hath also the Lord ordained, that they which preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither wrote I these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my rejoicing vain. For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to rejoice of: for necessity is laid upon me, and woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel. For if I do it willingly, I have a reward, but if I do it against my will, notwithstanding the dispensation is committed unto me. What is my reward then? verily that when I preach the Gospel, I make the Gospel of Christ free, that I abuse not mine authority in the Gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all men, that I may win the more. And unto the Jews, I become as a Jew, that I may win the Jews: to them that are under the Law, as though I were under the Law, that I may win them that are under the Law: To them that are without Law, as though I were without Law, (when I am not without Law as pertaining to God, but am in the Law through Christ) that I may win them that are without Law: Tot he weak I became as weak, that I may win the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the Gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not, that they which run in a race, run all, yet one receiveth the prize? so run that ye may obtain. And every man that proveth masteries, abstaineth from all things: and they do it to obtain a corruptible crown: but we for an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly: so fight I, not as one that beatheth the air. But I beat down my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means after that I have preached to others, I myself should be reproved. 1 Corinthians 8:1–9:27
- My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, and art so far from mine health, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry by day, but thou hearest not: and by night, but have no audience. But thou art holy, and dost inhabit the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trustedl, and thou didst deliver them. They called upon thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and not a man: a shame of men, and the contempt of the people. All they that see me, have me in derision: they make a mow and nod the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord, let him deliver him: let him save him, seeing he loveth him. But thou didst draw me out of the womb: thou gavest me hope, even at my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee, even from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me, because trouble is near: for there is none to help me. Many young bulls have compassed me: mighty bulls of Bashan have closed me about. They gave upon me with their mouths, as a ramping and roaring lion. Psalm 22:1–13