These were Jesus’ last words before he died (Luke 23:46). But he wasn’t the first to say them. He was quoting from Psalm 31:5, written by King David a thousand years earlier.
So what stirred David to say these words? He explains in verses 9-10. It’s because “I’m in deep, deep trouble. I’ve cried my eyes out; I feel hollow inside. My life leaks away, groan by groan…my troubles have worn me out, turned my bones to powder” (The Message). This was some problem David had.
So what was it? “To my enemies I’m a monster,” he wrote in verses 11-13. “I’m ridiculed by the neighbours. My friends are horrified, they cross the street to avoid me. They want to blot me from memory, forget me like a corpse in a grave, discard me like a broken dish in the trash. The street-talk gossip has me (classed as) ’criminally insane.’”
This was the slayer of Goliath reduced to a sobbing wreck by friends and neighbours who were spreading the word that he was insane. And it hurt David to the depths of his being. Like the deep hurt that millions of people experienced during the pandemic, when they too were shamed, shunned and ridiculed by family and friends for not going along with the narrative.
But Jesus’ family thought he was “out of his mind” too (Mark 3:21). He was even accused of being demonic (Matthew 12:24). Was David in this Psalm, then, expressing what Jesus would be feeling? If so, we get a real insight into the depths of emotion that Jesus felt. We also see how freely he could express his emotions to his Father, and in such human terms too.
And David didn’t hold back either. In verse 2 he cries out to God, “Get down on my level and listen, and please – no procrastination.” And in verse 17, “Desperate, I throw myself on you. Don’t embarrass me by not showing up.” Such human language with God. But look what happened. In verse 22, David could say, “you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.” And Jesus in his desperation was also “heard” (Hebrews 5:7). It was fine speaking to God that way, then.
And that made me think about the new year, which is shaping up to be a real doozy. We’ve already witnessed the damage that friends and family can do to each other, so we too are very much in the same world that David and Jesus were in.
And when desperation set in they both reacted the same way too. To God they both said, “To you I commit my spirit.” In other words, “I belong to you. It’s to you, then, I entrust my sanity. So please don’t embarrass me by not showing up.”