October 10, 2016
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
Far – Psalm 22
Why art Thou so far … (v 1);
Be not far from Me (v 11)
But be not Thou far from Me O Lord (v 19)
The Awfulness of a Silent Heaven
On three occasions in Psalm 22 we hear the plaintive cry of the forsaken Man as He speaks of the pain of the distance from the enjoyment of fellowship with God. We are familiar with the words of Psalm 22:1, repeated in Matthew and Mark while on the cross. He has been forsaken and God is “far” from Him and does not “answer Him” (v 2).
Similar words were spoken once by another king. “God is departed from me and answereth me no more, neither by prophets or by dreams” (1 Sam 28:15). But Saul had turned away and given a deaf ear to the voice of God and His prophet Samuel. He had resorted to demonic help by going to the witch at Endor. God was totally justified in not answering the errant king.
But at Calvary, there was One Whose ear was always open to hear (Isa 50:4). Sensitivity to the voice of God marked this Man who chose to live “on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). How awful must have been the silence of heaven when the faithful servant of Jehovah was left alone on the cross.
The Absence of a Single Helper
The second occurrence of the word “far” is linked with the absence of anyone to help. Trouble surrounded Him and He could find none to help. Foes abounded; friends were absent. The distance He was enduring was made all the more acute by the absence of even one to understand and to comfort. He was not looking for help to extricate Himself from the cross; but no one was there who could enter into the reality and depth of what He was suffering.
Tears might flow from the daughters of Zion; men might walk away beating their breasts (Luke 23:48) at a scene of such sorrow and suffering. Yet no one could begin to plumb the depths of what He was enduring.
David knew something of this when he cried, “No man cared for my soul” (Ps 142:4). But the Lord Jesus knew it in a far more intense manner.
The Amassing of Satanic Hostility
As He faces the sword of divine and righteous judgment (Zech 13:7), the paw of the Gentile power, the attack of the roaring lion, Satan, and the bitter hatred of the nation, as seen in the horns of the wild ox, He once again turns His eyes heavenward and His cry ascends to the throne: “Be not Thou far from Me.” His plaintive cry ascended to a heaven that remained silent. Foes were present and His one request was that God be not far from Him. Yet distance and silence were His portion.
Anyone who has ever passed through a tragedy at a distance from loved ones and support, can begin to identify in a very small way with the grief of the lonely Sufferer of Calvary. His nearest and dearest, the God whom He loved was distant and silent. Alone He must endure all that the cross entailed.
God did answer – on that resurrection morning. The silence was broken: “Thou art My Son. This day have I begotten Thee.”
1. The Lord Jesus did not receive sympathy from God, or succor, and was not saved from the cross. Can you find these same three things in the epistle to the Hebrews which we receive as a result of His suffering?
2. The sword, the paw of the dog, the mouth of the lion, and horns of the wild ox: what do they depict of His sufferings?