6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Psalm 22 is not a cheerful, happy psalm. But ours is not always a cheerful, happy life, and it is encouraging to know that the Old Testament saints, and even Jesus Himself experienced the same rejection and alienation we sometimes suffer. Their words and their example teach us how to handle such circumstances, and give us hope when they happen to us, too.
As a Messianic Psalm, Psalm 22 gives a prophetic description of the Messiah or Christ, the One God promised that He would send as soon as Adam and Eve’s fell from grace. Messianic Psalms all had human authors, though, and while there is a prophetic element of this Psalm, David meant something when he was writing it, too. We don’t know the circumstances in which David wrote it, but He is clearly suffering persecution and rejection. He feels like “a worm, scorned and rejected.” And his enemies go beyond rejection to mocking him, and mocking him for his faith in God. But God knows how David feels. Christ quoted Psalm 22 from the cross where He was rejected and mocked, not just for depending on God, but for making the very real claim that He was God.
David’s faith in God, however, is unshakeable. The Lord has been his God since the moment he was born and his mother first held him (v. 9). David was too young to choose God at that tender age, and doesn’t claim he did. “You are He who took me,” he says to God. “On You I was cast from my birth (vv. 9, 10).” Because David’s relationship with God does not depend on his strength or confidence, but on God’s sovereign choice, David knows it is secure and always will be. So he simply asks that God would stay near and give him hope.
As the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus knew fellowship with God the Father in eternity past, but He also experienced human dependence from the time He was born of His mother, Mary. And God the Father was faithful to His Son. And Jesus hung, dying, He prayed that God be not far away. He did not pray for rescue or vindication, but for intimacy with the Lord.
We may also suffer rejection from our neighbors, maybe even for our faith. We may feel like worms, rather than men or women. But David was delivered. And Christ, through His suffering, became the great Deliverer. We can have hope. The God who knew us from our births is near, and will help.