Gathering With the Congregation

If Jesus looked forward to it, shouldn’t we? If, even before He actually experienced the blood-sweating, pain-producing, shame-bearing reality of the cross, Messiah anticipated that after His victory over sin and death He’d want to sing about it, then shouldn’t we also relish the opportunity to come together and declare the wonders of redemption’s finished work? I’m thinkin’ . . .

I will tell of Your name to My brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you offspring of Israel!

(Psalm 22:22-23 ESV)

I just see “Psalm 22” in my reading plan for the day and I shudder in anticipation of walking through this holy ground again. Whatever David’s experience was that inspired this song, Christ claimed it as His own from the cross.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

(Matthew 27:46 ESV)

Originally penned as the psalmist’s cry of confusion, David’s question becomes one of the defining cries of the Christ from the cross. The Son forsaken of the Father. The Lamb’s face turned toward heaven only to receive the Almighty’s back given to Calvary. Jesus who knew no sin was being made sin for us, and our God who is holy cannot regard iniquity and must judge it with holy wrath. And so Song 22 is Jesus’ song. The experience of David in whatever context he writes of, is magnified as it is read through the filter of Christ’s suffering at the hands of men for the sins of the world.

But then in verse 22 the song takes a sudden, almost out of place, turn. The dogs who surrounded Him are replaced with the brothers who will gather with Him. The Son’s tongue once so dry that it sticks to His jaws is then loosed pouring forth the excellencies of Father. The querying cry left unanswered on the cross becomes the declarative praise of God’s great deliverance amidst the congregation. And the heart once melted like wax is transformed into a soul on fire.

Jesus through the psalmist looked forward to singing with the saints. Shouldn’t we?

He anticipated standing together with all the brothers and sisters in awe of the Father. He foresaw that day when sweat drops of blood would give way to tears of joy. That time when seeming defeat would be swallowed up in unmistakable victory. When the ninth hour would give way to the hour of proclaiming God’s great and glorious Name with those of like faith.

The holy God of heaven inhabits the praise of His people on earth (22:3). So why wouldn’t we long for every opportunity presented to us to gather and worship together? Why not push everything else down the priority list which competes with standing with other children of God in fresh awe and wonder of God’s mighty works on our behalf?

If Jesus looks forward to gathering with the congregation, I’m thinking we should too.

From You comes My praise in the great congregation; My vows I will perform before those who fear Him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!

(Psalm 22:25-26 ESV)

By His grace. For His glory.

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