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God’s Word for You

Psalm 22:4-5 No shame

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, March 28, 2023

4 In you our fathers trusted.
  They trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried out to you, and they were delivered.
  They trusted in you, and they were not disappointed.

David remembers the many times when Israel trusted God and were delivered. They escaped from Egypt, and it was God himself who brought about their escape. They were delivered from their enemies many times:

1, The Canaanites of Arad (Numbers 21:1-3)
2, The Moabite seduction in the days of Balaam (Numbers 25:1-5)
3, The Canaanites of Jericho (Joshua 6:21)
4, The Canaanites of Ai (Joshua 8:1-29)
5, The five Amorite kings when the sun stood still (Joshua 10:13-14)
6, The thirty-one kings (Joshua 12:9-24)
7, The Arameans in the days of Othniel (Judges 3:7-11)
8, The king of Hazor in the days of Deborah (Judges 4:23-24)
9, The Midianites in the days of Gideon (Judges 6:1-7:25)
10, The Ammonites in the days of Jephthah (Judges 11:32-33)
11, The Philistines in the days of Samson (Judges 16:30)
12, Saul’s victory over the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:1-13)

If David is also thinking of his own victory over Goliath the Philistine in the Valley of Elah, he does not even allude to it. In fact, David humbly omits any mention of Goliath in any of his Psalms, although the incident appears from time to time in the text of 1 Samuel after the account of chapter 17 (21:9; 22:10) and in 1 Chronicles 20:5.

Israel was delivered from many enemies, especially in the days of the Judges, but the flight from Egypt is the most well-known of these deliverances, and naturally our minds fall to what happened under Moses. David uses two similar words, palat and malat, to describe this gracious delivery. In verse 4, palat is often “to escape” (Ezekiel 7:16), but here a special verb form (the piel) emphasizes the one who brought about the escape, and therefore we translated “you delivered them” instead of an awkward “you caused them to escape.”

In verse 5, the similar word malat would usually mean “to slip away” or “escape” (1 Samuel 27:1), but here it is passive (the nifal verb stem), and so again we use “delivered” as the translation to emphasize that this was carried out on Israel’s behalf. They did not save themselves, God saved them by his own powerful hand.

The second line of verse 5 is divided into two halves that describe our relationship of faith with God:

1, They trusted you.
2, They were not disappointed (Hebrew “ashamed”).

Isaiah said: “Those who trust in idols… will be turned back in utter shame” (Isaiah 42:17). But we know that “Everyone who trusts in the Lord will never be put to shame” (Isaiah 28:16; Romans 9:33, 10:11; 1 Peter 2:6). The Christian will suffer many things in life, shame and sorrow not the least among them. But theological shame is the utter condemnation of hell. Adam and Eve were unashamed when they were naked in the Garden (Genesis 2:25), which we can understand to mean that they were free from being embarrassed, but more than that, they were free from any condemnation over sin of any kind. There was no temptation to sin, no sin, and therefore no guilt. In their case, there was likewise no shame in their sexual union. They were commanded by God to be fruitful and multiply, which is impossible without sex (Genesis 1:28), but as in all marriages, their sexual union was sinless (or as Luther says, “A man cannot commit adultery with his own wife”). So not only was their marital union free from all sin, but so also were all of their thoughts, words, and actions. They had no sin, no shame, no condemnation, until the fall.

But we are no longer free from sin and temptation. We’re guilty of sin in every thought, every word, and each and every action. We live in sin and shame the way that worms live in the mud; our lives are constantly covered in sin. So how is it that we can live apart from the shame and guilt of sin as David says we do? By trusting in the Lord our God. Our trust is simply faith in Christ. Now, to a child we say, “Believe in Jesus.” When children are older, we say, “Believe that Jesus died for your sins.” And to adults, depending on their knowledge of the Bible and the Epistles and Prophets who explain doctrine to us, we say: “Believe that Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for your sins, and that his life was one of active obedience so that he fulfilled every command of God in your place.” And to those who grasp this, we can go even deeper and analyze every word of the Creeds so that we begin to see the same ringing truth in every part of the Bible: “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4).

But in my prayers at night I return to my childhood faith and the same language: “I believe in Jesus, who died for my sins.” And the daily cares over failures, temptations, and sins, fall away under the gracious memory of the cross. We are never disappointed in our faith, for Christ has covered our guilt and removed our shame.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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