Psalms for Families: Devotions for All Ages, Psalm 22

Psalms for Families is a devotional book for the entire family designed to help parents explore the riches of the book of Psalms with their children and teens. These devotionals will help parents learn more about the psalms as they teach their children about praise, prayer, and lament.

Introduction and Full Series

Devotional 1, Devotional 2, Devotional 3, Devotional 4, Notes for Adults

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

Prayer

Almighty One,
We know that you are the Ruler of all. We know that you care for us. But sometimes we feel all alone. Sometimes we don’t know where you are. Be present in our lives. We need you. We know you are here. Amen.

 Psalm 22 Cry Out to God

Psalm 22
Devotional 1: Crying Out To God

Read Psalm 22:1-2:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

King David was really sad when he wrote this psalm, wasn’t he? He was telling God that he felt completely alone. He felt like he couldn’t find God anywhere. He cried out, but God didn’t seem to answer.

Have you ever felt like that?  Sometimes we are sad, but maybe we don’t dare to tell  God about it. Psalm 22 gives us words to use when we feel that God is not near. God is big enough to hear about our biggest hurts and our deepest sorrows. He wants us to tell him everything

When a person expresses sad feelings to God, that’s called a “lament.” Psalm 22 is a lament. Psalm 22 teaches us something else, though, about talking to God. Read a few more verses—Psalm 22:3-5:

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame

In these verses David switches from telling God about his great sadness to remembering that God is great. God helped his ancestors. David reminds God how others were saved when they trusted in God. Perhaps David is remembering when Israel trusted God to save them from their enemies. Perhaps he is thinking of stories that you and I know too—stories about Ruth and Boaz, stories about Gideon and Joshua or Abraham and Isaac. Maybe David is remembering how God helped him defeat the giant Goliath.

Whatever he is thinking of, David quickly moves from sadness to praise. As we will see when we read more of this psalm, David isn’t done being sad, but he comes to God with two things on his mind: how sad he is and how good God is.

We can tell our sorrows to God too, but, like David, we should also remember how great God is. We can talk to God about our sorrows because we know that he listens to us. Isn’t it great that we can talk to God about anything?

Enter the Psalm: Write your own psalm of lament by following this pattern:

  • First, ask for rescue from sickness, sinful behavior, or other things.
  • Remember ways God helped you or other people in the past.
  • Praise God for being good to you.

Here’s an example: God, save me from anxious thoughts. Because of you, Moses had the courage to face to Pharaoh and the people of Israel. Paul had the strength to preach. I will praise your name forever.

Psalm 22 Pointing to Jesus

Psalm 22
Devotional 2: Pointing to Jesus

At the time when Jesus was born, Jewish people grew up learning and singing the psalms. Even though some of them were written about 1,000 years before Jesus was born, Jesus was probably very familiar with the book of Psalms and likely had memorized most (or all) of them.  

When Jesus was on the cross and he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” he wasn’t just crying out to God. He was quoting the first line of Psalm 22. The Jewish people who were present at Jesus’ crucifixion would have known that Jesus’ words were the first line of Psalm 22. Many of them would have thought of the rest of the psalm too, much like many Christians today think of all of Psalm 23 when someone says “The Lord is my shepherd.” For example, the people at the crucifixion would remember that these verses are also in Psalm 22:  

15My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

Even though this psalm was written a thousand years before the crucifixion, it predicts what happened to Jesus. His mouth was dry, so they offered him something to drink. He was surrounded by soldiers (villains) who pierced his hands and feet. The soldiers cast lots for his clothes. Many of the specifics of this psalm seem to speak directly about Jesus’ time on the cross.

But there is more to it than that. David starts out in a very bad place in Psalm 22; he feels like God has deserted him. But he ends up realizing that God is still very much with him. Read Psalm 22:30-31:

30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

God did not forsake David. He did not forsake Jesus on the cross either. And God will not forsake us. We are among those future generations that we read about in verse 30. We will talk about God’s righteousness. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead for us, we can say, along with David, “He has done it!”

Enter the Psalm: The American Sign Language sign for “Jesus” is made by placing your left middle finger into your right palm, followed by placing the right middle finger into your left palm. Do this sign five times slowly:

  • The first time, think about how Jesus felt deserted.
  • The second time, remember how Jesus was surrounded by people who didn’t like him.
  • The third time, remember that Jesus died for you and me and everyone who believes in him.
  • The fourth time, remember that Jesus did this to conquer death.
  • The fifth time, remember that because of Jesus we too can say, “He has done it!”

Psalm 22 Questions & Answers

Psalm 22
Devotional 3
: Questions and Answers

Children ask many questions as they try to figure out the world. Why is the sky blue?  How does the TV work? Why do we have to sleep? Children aren’t the only ones who ask questions; some adults ask just as many questions as children do. David asked some hard questions in Psalm 22. Read Psalm 22:1-2.:

1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

Some of our questions are pretty easy to answer. “Why is the sky blue?” might seem like a hard question, but it really isn’t. Scientists know that it has to do with the way the light from the sun bends when it hits our atmosphere. But David’s questions are much harder than that.

Psalm 22 doesn’t give us an answer to David’s questions. We don’t know why it seems like God has forsaken David. But as he continues to talk to God, David realizes something. David realizes that God has actually not forsaken him. Read Psalm 22:24:

For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

We might feel like David felt sometimes. When we do, we can ask God questions just like David did. We can also ask questions that we don’t have answers to. But when we ask God those hard questions, we still know that God will not go away from us. Asking these questions does not mean that our belief in God is shaky. Instead, it shows that we still trust God—a God who is big enough to hear our questions about being alone, being sad, or being sick.

Enter the Psalms: Sometimes it is difficult to ask hard questions. But like the writer of Psalm 22, we can always ask God our questions. Perhaps you don’t have any hard questions like David’s right now. But do you know someone who might be asking these questions? Can you think of people in other parts of the world who might be asking hard questions? Pray for those people.

Psalm 22 Paul

Psalm 22
Devotional 4: Paul and Silas

In Acts 16 we read about a time when Paul and Silas were staying in the city of Philippi. As they were going to a place to pray, they met a female slave who had a spirit in her, and who was going around predicting the future. She earned a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and Silas for many days, calling out, “These men are servants of God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” Finally Paul said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her.” And the spirit left the slave.

The fortune-telling slave’s owners were not pleased. They couldn’t make money from her as they had before, so they took Paul and Silas to the leaders of the city. They said that Paul and Silas were promoting new laws that were unacceptable. A crowd joined in and the complaints grew louder, so the leaders had Paul and Silas beaten and thrown into prison. The jailer put them in a cell on the inside of the prison and locked their feet into stocks so they couldn’t move around. Paul and Silas sat in prison and responded by praying and singing to God. The other prisoners listened to them.

Read Psalm 22 again. Would parts of this psalm have been appropriate for Paul and Silas to pray or sing while they were in prison?  Does this psalm express the way they might have felt there? 

The story of Paul and Silas doesn’t end in jail, though. There was an earthquake and the prison was shaken. The doors of the prison opened and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up and thought all the prisoners had escaped. He drew his sword to kill himself because he knew he would get in trouble. But Paul shouted, “Stop, we are all here!” The jailer grabbed a light and rushed into the jail. He knew something amazing had happened. So he brought Paul and Silas out of the jail and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then the jailer and his entire household were baptized. They washed Paul and Silas’ wounds and fed them a meal. Later the city leaders told the jailer to release Paul and Silas. 

We don’t know what songs Paul and Silas sang or if they sang Psalm 22, but God’s people often sang the psalms. We also know that we can pray and sing and use Psalm 22 to express our feelings to God.

Enter the Psalm: Select one verse from Psalm 22 that expresses how you feel sometimes, and pray to God using that verse.


Psalm 22
God Knows Our Struggles—Notes for Adults

Many of us don’t know Psalm 22 very well. We probably recognize the first line—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”—but we perhaps did not know that when Jesus spoke that from the cross he was quoting Psalm 22. Psalm 22 is also the most often-quoted psalm in the New Testament, yet it is rarely mentioned in people’s lists of favorite psalms. This psalm is also unique because there are a number of statements in it that remind us of Jesus’ suffering. This psalm could almost be seen as prophecy when the psalmist writes of the piercing of his hands and feet and that “they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

Psalm 22 is a fascinating look at the heart of a person of faith who is discouraged but is still sure in his relationship with God. The initial cry, one of the most urgent in the Bible, is followed up with more groaning. The first two verses are full of the same sort of heart-wrenching stuff. But then, in verse 3, it shifts to “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One.” This new section reflects back on what God has done for Israel.

The psalmist isn’t finished, though. In verse 6 he goes back to groaning: “But I am a worm and not a man.” He characterizes himself as one who is mocked for trusting in the Lord. But again, this is short-lived. By verse 9 he is back to praising God, but this time instead of talking about what God has done for Israel, his praises are more personal. He reminds God of what God has done for him: “You brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you.”

It seems, though, that these four sections have just been the warm-up. By verse 12 the psalmist is back to laying out his problems. He characterizes his enemies as wild animals. He calls them the “bulls of Bashan” and “roaring lions.” He says that he is “poured out like water,” his bones are “out of joint,” and his heart is melting like wax. This list of woes is more specific, more personal, and quite a bit longer, going all the way through verse 17.

But then, as we see in all but one of the other psalms of lament, Psalm 22 takes a final turn back to recognizing God’s goodness. (Psalm 88 is the one lament psalm that has no turn.) At verse 18 the psalmist begins to directly ask God to be close. This is not the “Where are you?” tone of the first verses; rather, this is a prayer to God asking for specific deliverance. Then at verse 22 he ramps up the praise, recognizing that God has, in fact, not forsaken him. The psalmist even says that God “has not hidden his face from him” and that God has heard his cries for help. Once again, praise gets turned up a notch in verse 25 as this becomes a full-blown psalm of praise until the end of the chapter.

Psalm 22 takes a number of twists and turns as it goes from the near total anguish of verse 1 to the bold proclamation of God’s goodness in the last ten verses. The first few verses are so powerful that many of us might not be aware that we are even allowed to talk to God this way! Children, especially, might struggle with addressing God in such a straightforward manner. But yet, God knows our struggles and he knows our heart. This psalm reminds us that we can go to God as we are and that if we open ourselves up to him he will once again bring us to a point of praise.

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