- A psalm of David. For the music leader. To the tune of “Morning Deer.”1
Forsaken by God
- 1 My God, my God, why did you leave me?
You’re too far away.
Why have you put all this distance between us,
Between my suffering and my rescue?
- 2 Dear God, I pray in the daytime, but you don’t answer.
I pray at night, but I still can’t get any sleep.
- 3 You are a holy king.
Israel sings your praises.
- 4 Our ancestors trusted you.
You rewarded their trust by saving them.
- 5 They prayed to you and you saved them.
They depended on you, and you didn’t let them down.
I’m a worm
- 6 I’m not human. I’m a worthless worm.
People hate me. People trash me.
- 7 All who see me put me down.
They give me lip then shake their heads.
- 8 They say, “He trusts God. Let God help him.
Yeah, let God save him since God loves him so much.”
- 9 You carried me out of the uterus, into life.
When I was a baby, you gave me no choice but to trust you.
- 10 I was placed in your arms on the day I was born.
For all of my life, you have been my God.
- 11 Please don’t stay so far away from me,
Especially when trouble is so close to me.
Bulls, lions, and dogs attack
- 12 A herd of bulls have surrounded me.
The big bulls of Bashan.2
- 13 Their mouths are cranked open for me.
They look hungry as roaring lions.
- 14 I’m emptied like water and all washed up.
I’m a bag of bones, every bone out of joint.
My heart is fading.
It’s wax melting inside me.
- 15 My strength has dried up
Like a broken piece of clay pottery.
I’m so thirsty my tongue sticks inside my mouth.
You might as well bury me now.
- 16 Bad people surround me,
Like a pack of vicious dogs.
They pierce3 holes in my hands and feet.
- 16 I can count the bones under my skin.
People are looking at me, staring at me.
They gamble for my clothes
- 18 They’ve taken my clothes.
They’re splitting them among themselves.
They’re tossing dice to see who gets what.
- 19 LORD, don’t stay away.
I need you here. Hurry up and help me.
- 20 Save my life. Don’t let me die.
Don’t let the dogs take my life.
- 21 Save me from the lions.
Save me from the horns of wild oxen.
I promise to honor you
- 22 I’ll tell my people how you saved me.
When we get together, I’ll tell everyone how thankful I am for you.
- 23 Everyone who respects the LORD should praise him.
All Jews—descended from Jacob4—show your respect for him.
People of Israel, honor him and hold him in awe.
- 24 He doesn’t hate needy people.
He’s not disgusted by the conditions they’re living in.
He doesn’t avoid contact with them.
He’s close enough to hear them when they ask for help.
I’ll keep my promise
- 25 When my people get together, I’ll honor him with praise.
That’s a promise I intend to keep.
- 26 Needy people will eat all they want.
Anyone going to the LORD will soon praise him.
May you be light-hearted and happy day after day.
- 27 People the world over will remember you, LORD.
When they do, they’ll come to you.
Every family of every nation
Will one day worship you.
- 28 The LORD is king.
He’s boss of the world—
Of every nation on earth.
- 29 Everyone who lives well and eats well
will worship him.
Everyone dying or destined for dust
will bow to him.
- 30 The generations to come will worship him, too.
Every new generation will know about the LORD.
- 31 People will continue talking about his goodness.
They’ll tell the next generation about all the good things he has done.
Some scholars say people sang this psalm to a tune called “Morning Deer” And some speculate that tune was originally intended for worship of a sun god, such as Sahar, reported in Ugaritic documents found in Syria. The subtitle of the psalm wasn’t part of the original psalm. And the possible byline “of David,” isn’t necessarily a byline. The vague phrase could mean the song was written by David, about David, or was inspired by David. Almost half of the psalms are attributed to David in this way, 73 of 150. Ancient Jewish history tells of David playing a lyre and writing songs. For one, he wrote a song of mourning at the battlefield death of King Saul and his sons: “How have the mighty fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19-27 New American Standard Bible). An ancient Jewish scroll from about the time of Jesus, discovered among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, reports that David wrote 3,600 songs.
Bashan was a land of pastures in Syria. Herders of Bashan were famous for raising some of the biggest and best cattle in the ancient Middle East. The prophet Amos called the rich women of Israel, “fat cows of Bashan” (Amos 4:1 New Living Translation).
This is a hotly debated word. Bible translators go in a lot of different directions: “they pierced my hands and my feet” (King James Version); “They have bitten my arms and legs” (New Century Version); “like a pack of dogs, tearing at my hands” (Contemporary English Version), “they have hacked off my hands and my feet” (New English Bible). Scholars didn’t know what to do with the Hebrew word sometimes translated as “pierced,” a word Christians later said foreshadowed the crucifixion of Jesus. The debate changed in 1997. That’s when the oldest fragment of that verse was published from the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in caves near the Dead Sea. Those scrolls were written up to 300 years before Jesus. The fragment uses a word that can mean either “pierce” or “dug.” Given the other words in the verse, most scholars seem to be sticking with “pierce” as the best choice.
Jacob is considered a father of the Jewish nation because his dozen sons produced extended families that became the 12 tribes of Israel. Each tribe was assigned a plot of land in what is now Israel, Palestinian Territory, and parts of Jordan and Syria.