Oh, Mighty God?: an agnostic analysis of the ambiguous Psalm 22. (week 3)

Psalm 22 begins with the speaker asking why God has forsaken him. The other aspects of the psalm point toward the power of God but focuses more on the speakers strifes then God helping him. The beginning psalm seems to be more about belief but God does not directly intervene in his life. However toward the end it sheds light, as God does intervene slightly although it is ambiguous as to how the Lord helps.

It is intriguing that opposed to referring to believers as followers of the lord, they are referenced as “Fearers of the Lord” as if God is only to be praised out of fear of his might. “And be afraid of Him, all Israel’s seed!” and “My vows I fulfill before those who fear Him” lines 24 and 26 show a further fear of God. But why fear God, is God not omni-benevolent? There is a sense of hierarchical preference in the psalm as the speaker claims that he is “a worm and no man” in reference to his destitute state. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” may in fact point to his socio-economic status, although he has been true to his beliefs in God throughout his life-“Upon You I was cast from birth, from my mother’s belly You were my God”-yet God has allowed him to be treated terribly- “and to death’s dust did You thrust me.”

However the speaker also states that God hath saved him from the dogs and the lions of his life “And from the  horns of the ram You answered me.” This line is directly followed by the speaker telling people to fear the Lord- it seems oxymoronic; why fear the one who rescues you, and how was he rescued? We never find out, all we discover is that he was rescued and thanks the Lord.

Throughout the Psalm it seems that God is a symbol of everything, from the pains in peoples lives, to the king of all nations, to the salvation of the suffering.  The power of God was bestowed on the speaker because he never forsakes the Lord despite his own feeling forsaken. Yet God’s actual power is never really mentioned, how has he saved the speaker. We are fully aware of the human crimes committed against him, and the abundance of metaphorical strifes but none point to God. Thus the psalm seems to lack what I would view as a key part to justifying how God helped him. The answer seems to be faith and during a time where absolutely everything ever done was linked to God’s will it seems logical.


About mikecrusoe

I am an international student at Lawrence University. I grew up in London, England and I rather enjoy tea and crumpets but that is for another forum.
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