In Psalm 22, David writes from a place of deep personal distress. It seems like everything is against him. He is suffering emotionally; he is suffering physically; he is suffering spiritually. It even appears to him that God has forsaken him. David is on the brink of being utterly crushed by his circumstances.
One of the reasons I love the psalms is that they speak to pretty much every circumstance possible for people to go through. They don’t gloss over suffering, doubt, or spiritual anguish. Instead, they wade into human joy and suffering and offer a God-centered perspective on them. In Psalm 22, this perspective is the difference between total despair and a living hope. Listen to how David engages his faith in God in the midst of his suffering:
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
(Psalm 22:21-22 ESV)
David goes directly to God with his request – “save me”. He speaks exactly what is on his heart to God. His view of his present circumstances is that he is suffering and the only thing that can help him is the intervention of God. In his pleading with God, David cites precedent. He looks at his past circumstances and recalls God’s action on his behalf – “You have rescued me”. David remembers what God has done for him in the past which fuels his hope for the future. He looks into his future circumstance with confidence saying, “I will tell” and “I will praise you”.
David’s memory of God’s actions in history gives him confidence for the future, which brings expectant hope into his present. His memory-fueled hope fends off despair, corrects his feelings of abandonment, and settles his heart with confidence in God.