The twenty-second Psalm is quoted or alluded to twenty-one times in the New Testament, but nowhere more memorable than in the gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion. Particularly Jesus’ cry: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The words have spawned a host of heart-stopping illustrations of how people sacrificed themselves, others, or their children in order to rescue a group or community. They have been used to underscore the loneliness of Jesus on the cross, the suffering he underwent to save us from sin.
But the illustrations, and theology, are wrong.
Imagine what it says when God abandons his only son, turns His back on Him. If God would do that to Jesus, what are the chances that, if the cause was great enough, God might abandon me too?
There is no doubt that Jesus felt alone on the cross, for that is the cry he makes. The psalmist felt that loneliness too, but by the end of the Psalm, the writer knows and rejoices that he was wrong. God never abandoned him any more than the Father abandoned Jesus. He was there all the time and that presence, evidenced in eventual deliverance, will result in praise from all who feel abandoned, but who none-the-less seek the Lord and cry to Him for help.