1 Sept 2021
This is a psalm which describes the suffering and persecution of an innocent victim. The first verse of the psalm was uttered by the Lord Jesus on the cross (Matt.27:46;Mark 15:34); it reminds us of the suffering Servant of the Lord described by Isaiah, particularly in Isaiah 53.
Believers cannot read this psalm without applying it to the sufferings of Christ and His subsequent glory.
This morning, as I meditated on this psalm, I was brought to empathize with fellow believers in Afghanistan, Myanmar and many others undergoing persecution and pain for their faith and faithfulness to Christ and the gospel. My thoughts also went to the many, including the brethren, who were struck by the virus, covid-19, suffering in hospital, gasping for their breath, and the many who subsequently have to struggle with the loss of jobs, the lack of basic needs and prolonged illness and poor health.
During such times, many may endure mockings from others, and humiliation. Verses 7 and 8 recorded the mockery endured by the Lord on the cross (Matt. 27:39-44; Mark 15:31-32; Luke 23:35), more painful as they came from the priests. The Lord was stark naked on the cross – the almighty transcendent God with His clothing divided among the Roman soldiers (John 19:23,24) and His distorted body displayed before the crowd in a humiliating manner.
His agonies continued: His disjointed bones, His thirst, His pierced hands and feet, His struggle to lift Himself on the cross to breathe, the cynical remarks by a thief hanging on an adjacent cross – all these depict the horrors of crucifixion. He cried out to God but there was no answer, only silence – there was the obvious sense of God-forsakenness and perplexity – why is it that God did not intervene, why the silence and the sense of being forsaken by Him?(vv 14 to 17)
But His bodily pain and sufferings were made worse by the band of evil and wicked men who surrounded Him and the absence and ‘desertion’ of His closest disciples.
As we pause, we ponder: are we undergoing mockings and humiliation from others in our family, working place and among our colleagues? – Jesus went through severe mockings and gloating from the religious establishment – do we suffer bodily from illness, poor health and abandonment? – Jesus was alone on the cross, enduring physical agony of a severe degree – do we feel forsaken by God and fellow believers and become increasingly perplexed? – Jesus cried out to His Father in that state and especially when He endured all that evil and the forces of darkness, carrying the penalty of our sins and felt the ‘turning away’ of His heavenly Father with whom He spent eternal intimacy and fellowship.
Does Jesus understand and empathize with us in our sufferings and pain? “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 15-16)
Yes, indeed He understands; not only has He gone through all that we are going through, even much more so, He also now ‘suffers’ with us and in us. He is the head and we are His body. When Saul was confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was asked why he persecuted the Lord. Saul did persecute the believers severely but interestingly, Jesus told him that he was persecuting Him. This reveals the reality of our being in Christ and He being in us.
We live in a fallen world; the indwelling sins still trouble us; the enemy is constantly seeking our destruction; the world hates those who belong to HIm – but the story is not ended. Jesus reminded us: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; ;believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)