Psalm 22 is well-known because of its connection to the cross on which Jesus died. Jesus is reported to have quoted it in his prayer from the cross as he cried out to God with an enormous “WHY?”
The first half of this psalm (not included in the Lectionary reading) is a recounting of the suffering of the psalmist. He essentially says, things have been really bad… like really, really bad! And the second half of the psalm is all about what God does in response to our suffering.
My favorite word in this psalm is the word all in verse 27.
After all that people have suffered, after all that Jesus suffered for all people, God comes through and, as the psalmist puts it, “ALL the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and ALL the families of the nations shall worship before him.”
There are two ways to see this. The first is that redemption and restoration will be made available to all who are willing to repent and believe. The second is that ALL will eventually repent and believe and experience the redemption and restoration that God has purchased for the whole world.
I lean toward the second, unapologetically, in part because of a similar promise found in Paul’s letter to the believers in Philippi. He offers a poem that is, in essence, a condensed version of Psalm 22 from a third-person perspective.
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:6-8 NRSV
Paul speaks of the humbling and suffering of Jesus, God incarnate. But he doesn’t stop there. Just as Psalm 22 does, he then responds to the suffering with a note of triumph…
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name…
Philippians 2:9 NRSV
And again, like Psalm 22, Paul tells of the eventual and mysterious result of the cross, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ…
… so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:10-11 NRSV
has created so much suffering
even for the Son of God.
But his suffering
will result in
redemption for ALL.