Song of Shadows – Day 35

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
   and by night, but I find no rest. . . .
But I am a worm and not a man,
   scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
   they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
   let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” . . .
For dogs encompass me;
   a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
   and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:1–2, 6–8, 16–18)

Everybody needs a sad song sometimes. As a matter fact, sad songs are so popular that there are several sad songs about sad songs. My favorite is Elton John’s aptly named hit, “Sad Songs.” Elton reminds us that “When all hope is gone, sad songs say so much.” [1]

Even Scripture’s collection of songs, the Psalms, have a whole litany of sad songs. There are so many that they have their own category; they are called Lament Psalms. And if I was going to give a Sad Song Award to any of the Lament Psalms, it would probably go to Psalm 22.

The subject of the song cries out to a God who appears not to hear him. He calls himself a worm. He is despised and mocked by the people who say that God should save him, but God seems to have abandoned him. His hands and his feet are pierced, he is displayed naked, and his enemies divide his clothes by playing games for them.

As Christians, we believe this psalm, this sad song, is a foreshadowing of Jesus’s torture and crucifixion. It is not a happy song, but a very sad song.

But sometimes a sad song is exactly what is needed. When life seems unbearable, when the shadows seem to be darkest, when all hope is gone, sad songs say so much. This song reminds us that we have a Savior who understands sad songs. He lived the saddest of all sad songs.

Whatever your pain, whatever your suffering, whatever your shadow, read this sad song again and take comfort knowing that Christ understands, that he lived the saddest of songs, and, as the end of Psalm 22 reminds us, that God is victorious.

“He has done it!” (Psalm 22:31)

Heavenly Father, heal my pain, see my sad estate, hear my prayer. Thank you for the assurance that through Christ you understand my suffering and trials. In Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, amen.


[1] John, Elton. “Sad Songs.” Breaking Hearts. Geffen, 1984.