Why Have You Forsaken Me?

 Forsaken by God

Therefore, we may ask the question: “In what sense was Messiah forsaken by His God?” The short answer to that question appears right in Psalm 22:1, page 874.  Forsaken in this case means that God the Father forsook Jesus in that God the Father did not deliver His only Son from suffering and death.  When Jesus talked about His deliverance being far from His groanings in Psalm 22:1, page 874, He meant that His groans would not result in deliverance from the suffering of the cross and ultimately death.  The answer to that question will have strong implications as we try to understand what Christ meant when He quoted this same verse on the cross, expressing that, in some sense, God had forsaken Him. So, let us start with a closer examination of Psalm 22:1, page 874. 

Psalm 22:1  

In Psalm 22:1, page 874, David wrote about Messiah, because Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 27:46, page 1555.  Therefore, I will treat the Psalm as primarily Messianic in this discussion. Messiah questioned: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  The Hebrew term “forsaken” used in Psalm 22:1, page 874, means to leave, abandon, depart, leave behind, leave over, or let go. 1Koehler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, and M. E. J. Richardson, eds. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Logos electronic edition. Leiden: Brill, 2000. Page 807.  The Hebrew term used was “עֲזַבְתָּנִי”.  The exact meaning of the term depends upon the context.  In Psalm 22:1, page 874, we see a type of Hebrew parallelism. Messiah lamented in the same verse: “Far from My deliverance are the words of my groaning.” 2The Hebrew term “deliverance” (“מִישׁוּעָתִי”) includes the concepts of salvation and help, and it means here that you receive such salvation or help from another person.  In this instance, Messiah groaned for help from God, but God did not deliver Him.  If we take the two phrases in Psalm 22:1, page 874, as roughly parallel, then Messiah likened “My God” to His “deliverance,” and “forsaken Me” to “the words of My groaning.” Messiah meant then that God had not delivered Messiah from His groaning, and particularly that His “words” of groaning did not produce deliverance from His sufferings. 3The Hebrew term “דִּבְרֵי” means “my words” and particularly means here that Messiah groaned with words as He suffered.  The entirety of Psalm 22 shows how Messiah sought for deliverance, but God did not provide deliverance from the crucifixion and suffering, but glory and praise ultimately followed suffering. Therefore, the term “forsaken” in Psalm 22:1, page 874, means that Messiah was forsaken in the sense that God did not deliver Him from crucifixion and sufferings.  I will explain this concept more fully below. David used the same or similar term “forsaken” in several other places.


Psalm 27:7-14

In Psalm 27:7-14, pages 879-880, David recalled his confidence in God as he faced his enemies. God had delivered David previously, and then David explained how he triumphed over fear.  He knew that enemies would again arise against him, but he relied upon God to deliver him.  David cried out to God and requested grace and an answer to his prayers.  David sought the face of God because his enemies were around him. As David prayed, he spoke in the first person, making specific requests of God: (1) do not to hide your face from me; (2) do not turn me, the servant of God, away in anger; (3) do not abandon me; and (4) do not forsake me. 4The Hebrew phrase “do not forsake me” (“אַל-תַּעַזְבֵנִי”) expressed David’s concern that God would remain with Him, even in the face of powerful enemies assembled against Him.  In this context, David seeks divine help to conceal him in the tabernacle of God, and in the secret place in God’s tent.  David even lamented that His mother and father had “forsaken” him. 5David used the Hebrew term “forsaken me” (“עֲזָבוּנִי”) and so indicated that his parents were not available to deliver him. He meant that they could not be depended upon for help. He then declared:””But the LORD will take me up.” 6David had great confidence that the LORD would provide help when he needed it most by “taking me up” (“וַיהוָה יַאַסְפֵנִי”) and so delivering him. David meant that his physical parents had “forsaken” him in the sense that they could do nothing to deliver him from his enemies. David had transitioned from a child-like trust in his physical parents to a mature trust in God delivering him from his enemies in ways his physical parents could never do. All believers would do well to rely upon God to overcome their enemies. David counted upon God to lift him up.  In Psalm 27:12, page 879, David again plead for specific help from God: “do not deliver me” up to the desires of my adversaries. This constant theme of crying for help to be delivered by God from adversaries characterizes David’s faith in the LORD to save him. 7David used the terms “do not deliver me” (“אַל-תִּתְּנֵנִי”), referring to David’s concern about being given into the hands of his adversaries. In Psalm 27, page 879, David sought deliverance through God from the aggression of his enemies. David counted upon seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of living (Psalm 27:13, page 875). The term “forsaken” in Psalm 27:10 means the same thing it means in Psalm 22:1: David sought deliverance from his enemies, and prayed that God would not deliver him into the hands of the evil ones intent upon making him suffer.  David used the same or similar term “forsaken” in several other places.

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Koehler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, and M. E. J. Richardson, eds. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Logos electronic edition. Leiden: Brill, 2000. Page 807.  The Hebrew term used was “עֲזַבְתָּנִי”.
2. The Hebrew term “deliverance” (“מִישׁוּעָתִי”) includes the concepts of salvation and help, and it means here that you receive such salvation or help from another person.  In this instance, Messiah groaned for help from God, but God did not deliver Him.
3. The Hebrew term “דִּבְרֵי” means “my words” and particularly means here that Messiah groaned with words as He suffered.  The entirety of Psalm 22 shows how Messiah sought for deliverance, but God did not provide deliverance from the crucifixion and suffering, but glory and praise ultimately followed suffering.
4. The Hebrew phrase “do not forsake me” (“אַל-תַּעַזְבֵנִי”) expressed David’s concern that God would remain with Him, even in the face of powerful enemies assembled against Him.  In this context, David seeks divine help to conceal him in the tabernacle of God, and in the secret place in God’s tent.
5. David used the Hebrew term “forsaken me” (“עֲזָבוּנִי”) and so indicated that his parents were not available to deliver him. He meant that they could not be depended upon for help.
6. David had great confidence that the LORD would provide help when he needed it most by “taking me up” (“וַיהוָה יַאַסְפֵנִי”) and so delivering him.
7. David used the terms “do not deliver me” (“אַל-תִּתְּנֵנִי”), referring to David’s concern about being given into the hands of his adversaries.