SF 12: The Peace Offering of the Afflicted | Psalm 22 part 5

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One of the most beautiful ways God and his people interact in intimate fellowship is with a meal. The Passover, the Lord’s supper, and the great feast at the end of the age are all wonderful pictures of God’s fellowship with his people. There is one meal that we are not familiar with that is designed to motivate us to worship and to strengthen our melted hearts. That meal is the peace offering, and this is what the psalmist brings to us in the final verses of this psalm.

Transcript

We are coming into some of my favorite verses in all of Scripture. This second half of Psalm 22 presents to us one of the most hopeful, comforting verses for those of us in severe affliction, especially to those of us who have lost loved ones in untimely deaths. We may have lost a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a child. These verses will speak hope into your life and give you something to cling to. There is a lot to consider in these 9 verses, and we will look at the first 2 in this episode, and the final 7 in the next.

Let’s remind ourselves of where we’ve come from in this glorious psalm.

Many psalms begin with lament and end with praise. Psalm 22 brings a gravity, and spiritual intensity, that makes it stand out among all others. And it’s fitting that it’s also a psalm that so strongly prophecy’s the crucifixion of our Lord, who faced a forsaken destruction by bearing the scorn of man and wrath of God, yet he was delivered, and his deliverance provides the way for our deliverance.

The psalmist faces an execution. He is alone, mocked, stripped bare, and laid to the dust of death. His deepest pain is that he wonders if God has abandoned him. Does God hear his cries, has he turned away from him, is his God devoted to his destruction?

He clings to the holy nature of God, who is a God of righteousness and justice. He hopes in the testimony of God’s people who have enthroned God on their praises. He remembers God’s testimony in his birth, and therefore trusts God with his death.

And in the final moments of his life, he is delivered.

And he turns to praise. He gathers with his people, those who fear the Lord, and those who are the offspring of Israel. He praises God for being a God who is the opposite of what he feared. God is not a God who hides his face from the afflicted. He is a God who does not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted. He is a God who is very concerned about the afflicted and the affliction that has fallen upon them.

This is the testimony of the psalmist, and this is the praise of a nation.
And now the congregation of the Israelite nation of God-fearing people grows to become a great congregation.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!

The Congregation

Who is in this congregation? Just as there were two parallel phrases that defined the Israelite congregation, preceded by a qualifier, there are 2 parallel phases that define this great congregation, also preceded by a qualifier.
The qualifier is those who fear God. It’s not all Israel that is in the Israelite congregation, it’s those who fear God. And the same is true of the great congregation.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.

The great congregation comprises those who fear him. In verse 27, we see who these people are.

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.

They are people from “all ends of the earth,” and “all the families of the nations.” Does this remind you of anything? Remember Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8?

Acts 1:8
“…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

This statement in Psalm 22 looks like it could be the fulfillment of what Jesus commissioned his disciples to start before he departed from this earth. This congregation is the harvest of their witness to all the ends of the earth.

And there are two more statements that qualify these people. In verse 26, they are “those who seek him,” and in verse 27 they are “those who turn to the Lord.”

This great congregation is defined in national terms and spiritual terms. Nationally, they are from the nation of Israel, and they are from all the nations of the world, from the ends of the earth. Spiritually, they are those who seek the Lord, who have turned to him, who fear him. When do all the nations come together to praise and worship God as a single congregation? At the end of the age.

The praise of the psalmist extends far beyond his praise for being delivered from the personal, momentary crisis that he faced. There seems to be a messianic nature to this praise that transcends time and people. It looks forward to a moment that can only be brought about by Christ’s victory over death in resurrection.

This psalm isn’t just about the trustworthiness of the Israelite God, who hears the cries of his nation and delivers them from their enemies. This is a psalm for all people at all times. And it looks forward to the culmination of the Gospel mission. This is an eschatological moment. It’s a future event at the end of the age when all of God’s people will come together, from all generations, and they will have one purpose — to enthrone God upon their praises.

That leads us to a question. Why are there two stages to this congregation?

We see two distinct congregations because this is how God organized his plan of redemption. Now, this isn’t a little history sidebar. There is a material reason for this that we’ll see in a minute. The nation of Israel was to be God’s evangelists. God chose them to be his ambassadors to the world. Salvation came to them first. This is what Paul says in Romans 1:16.

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek [meaning Gentile].

The reason this is important is that part of the praise of the psalmist in this future event is an Israeli vow — a peace offering. And we Gentiles, from the nations of the earth, will witness it. And this is where it gets exciting. Let’s look at the verses.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!

The Peace Offering

The vow performed here is a peace offering. The peace offering is a unique offering that is described for us in Leviticus chapter 7.

And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the Lord. 12 If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. 13 With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. 14 And from it, he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the Lord. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. 15 And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning. (Leviticus 7:11-15)

This is an animal sacrifice that is accompanied by 4 different types of breads: unleavened loaves, wafers, loaves of fine flower, and loaves of leavened bread. The first three smeared or mixed with olive oil. What’s unique about this sacrifice is that it was to be eaten in the sanctuary. It’s the only occasion for where anyone could eat in the Temple courtyard.
Notice that this sacrifice is to be eaten that day. It becomes a meal to be shared with anyone in the court of the Temple.

The priest would slaughter the animal, throw its blood on the altar and roast its meat. While the sacrifice was cooking, the person who brought the vow would stand by the altar and recount his story of gratitude to everyone within hearing, of how he faced a particular affliction, and cried out to God for help, and God heard his cry and answered his prayer by delivering him from his affliction.

Then the priest would pull the sacrifice from the fire and cut up the meat. The meat would be shared as a meal with the Levites and with anyone who was at the altar that day to perform their vows.

This is what is happening in Psalm 22.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows [my peace offering] I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!

There are a number of effects of the psalmist’s peace offering, and in some respect, we can consider this to be Jesus’ peace offering. The first effect is this: the afflicted will eat of the peace offering and be satisfied. What does that mean? Does it mean this was a great barbecue, a rousing story, and a good time was had by all? There’s something much deeper here. Meals are a powerful symbol of provision, fellowship, and intimacy. This peace offering and the testimony of the psalmist who brings it, feeds the listeners physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and they are satisfied physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It isn’t so base as being an occasion to have a good steak. The food is secondary. What the sacrificed animal represents is how God heard, provided, and delivered the person from a severe affliction. In our afflictions, God hears our cries, and he provides for our needs, and he delivers. There is an intimacy between God and his people, even in affliction. Moreso in affliction, and that’s why the peace offering is made.

What we saw last week was the preface to the peace offering.

24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

God does not ignore the cries of the afflicted. He does not turn his face from them in their dark hour. He is there. He is intimately involved in their affliction, working for them, providing for them, caring for them, and ultimately, delivering them.

And we will all identify with the giver of the peace offering, because all who seek the Lord recognize that God is a God who hears and delivers his people. We who truly seek this God will have one response: We will praise the Lord. We understand that this is who our God is. He deserves praise. For all the horrible, ghastly afflictions that God’s people face, one day we will join the giver of the peace offering, who was horribly afflicted, and we will praise God for his holy and glorious work in their lives.

26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!

The Benediction

Notice how the psalmist closes the peace offering with a benediction.

26. May your hearts live forever!

If we go back to the psalmist’s trial, he talked about his heart, remember? He said his heart was melted like wax within his chest. He had no will to continue to endure his affliction. He was about to give up. He was ready to let it all end with his destruction.

One of the reasons he was about to give up is because he felt that God had forsaken him. God had hidden his face from him, and didn’t hear his cries. He felt alone, abandoned, rejected, and left to the whims and wiles of his affliction. For God’s people, when we feel God has turned away from us and left us to struggle alone, that melts our hearts. We give up. We have no will to carry on.

But the psalmist has changed his tune. His eyes have been opened to see that God was with him. He heard him and was working out his deliverance. His melted heart has been revived, and it is beating to a new tune. This is the purpose of the peace offering, to mend our battered hearts. It strengthens our hearts when we face our affliction, when our world comes crumbling down. The peace offering is intended to strengthen our hearts to face severe afflictions when they fall upon us, and to remember, always remember, that God is a God who does not turn his face from us. It’s a ceremony of remembrance that does what the rainbow in the cloud was meant to do. To remind us.

Satan uses trials to put us in a place where it seems God doesn’t hear us, that he abandoned us, that he no longer delights in us. Satan wants to destroy our intimacy with God by breaking our hearts, telling us lies that God, our lover, doesn’t love us anymore. He wants to melt our hearts so that we lose our courage, our strength, and our will to persevere in the trial.

The peace offering reminds us, in tangible and specific ways, in the details of an affliction in the lives of our brothers and sisters, that God delights in us and delivers us in our affliction. That’s what a holy God does.

And so, the benediction is a fitting admonition. Because we have a holy God who delights in us, even in affliction, may our hearts live forever! That is, may the posture of our hearts persevere in trial, no matter how severe, no matter how long. We have testimony upon testimony of God walking with the people in whom he delights to provide for them, and deliver them. If you seek the Lord, you will not be turned away. Never forget. This is the holy God you seek and serve.

If you are in the midst of severe suffering of some kind, be it illness, disability, the loss of a loved one, relational strife, problems with your education, your job, your career, abuse, trauma, or even the consequences of your own sin, we need to reflect on these things we see in Psalm 22.

We need to reflect on how God has delivered us in the past, and praise him for it. This act of praise can provide strength in your trial. All of us can look back on our lives and see where God walked with us through a difficult circumstance and delivered us. We all have personal testimonies that we could bring before God as a peace offering. We all know of others whom God delivered from a trial or affliction. Biographies give us access to the lives of God’s people and their testimonies of God, delivering them through great difficulties. The Scriptures provide divinely inspired stories of God’s deliverance in the lives of his people.

Those of us who seek the Lord can use these testimonies in our praise of God. I worry that many of us have so domesticated the concept of praising God that we only apply it to “praise” or “worship” songs. Music is only one small, and very healthy, part of our worship. We need to train ourselves in the paths of praise that are far less exercised. One of those means is to praise God for testimonies of God’s deliverance from affliction. When we do this, we not only give God the praise he is due, we prepare the soil of our hearts and minds for the day when affliction falls upon us. And if we are in the middle of an affliction, this praise can give us strength, and revivify our melted hearts.

In the next verses, this peace offering continues, and grows to the ends of the earth, and what we see there is the most surprising, and hopeful, part of all. They are among my most favorite verses in all of Scripture. We’ll consider them in the next, and final, episode in this series. Trust me, this is one that you will not want to miss.

Episodes in the Psalm 22 series

There are 6 messages in this series on Psalm 22. This is a rich psalm filled with marvelous insight to encourage and comfort the suffering Christian. It provides some of the grandest truths in all of Scripture, Job-like in it’s intensity and Revelation-like in it’s hope. It starts in the deepest, darkest of pits, and rockets to stellar heights, all this in 31 verses of poetry. It’s my prayer that this psalm blesses your battered soul and causes you to rejoice in God in the midst of your afflictions.