As I was preparing a sermon for Sunday morning, I was struck by a very short, but profound verse. “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3). The more I read Psalm 22, the more this little verse kept sticking out to me. As I thought about the suffering of the Psalmist, my mind went easily to the suffering of the Savior. While mediating on this passage, I felt the need to jot down some observances, if nothing else, just to move past this amazing and overwhelming third verse. I hope you will enjoy what I have written from my observations, and maybe you will be affected by this little verse as I have been.
Verse three of Psalm twenty-two begins with the adversarial conjunction, “but,” which implies that whatever is being said before the conjunction is in opposition to what is being said or written after it. Before the first word of the third verse, we have the Psalmist feeling broken, forsaken, and unheard. Then, in direct opposition to his destitute situation, the Psalmist postulates the existence of Almighty God.
“Thou” is a separate entity who experiences an alternate state of being opposite of the Psalmist. It is as if the Psalmist, while in the depths of agony and hopelessness, remembers “thou” who is in a state of being directly opposed to his own.
The state of being opposite of the Psalmist, is “holy.” The Psalmist felt forsaken, common, unclean, and, quite frankly, lumped in with the rest of wicked humanity, the very opposite of “holy.” Certainly, the Psalmist was not feeling like the peculiar, beloved apple of his God’s eye. However, I wonder if the Psalmist saw a glimmer of hope for himself since there was this opposing “thou,” who was not in an unclean, common, or wicked state thusly remembering his own divine spark that could not be extinguished by the evil acts of a cruel world.
“O THOU THAT INHABITEST”
This phrase translates one Hebrew term. The Psalmist posits the existence of “thou,” who is holy, therefore he also contemplates where “thou” dwells. Since “thou” who “art holy” exists, then He must dwell somewhere. It seems the Psalmist has taken a much more practical, albeit metaphysical, approach to where “thou” who “art holy” dwells.
Now, we come to the Psalmist’s idea of the dwelling place of the one who is holy. He does not dwell in the impassable paths of the lofty mountains. The one who is “holy” dwells in a much simpler place, and one much easier to locate and traverse. Praises originate in the mind, often referred to as the heart. One’s mind, the psyche, one’s will, is also thought of as the soul. While the physical body must be changed, the soul will exist in the same state it was in the point of death, evil or good, washed or unclean. The Psalmist, who postulates the existence and habitation of “thou” who is “holy,” seems to take solace that his soul, is able to commune with the Holy One through praises. Despite the state of our physical bodies, like the Psalmist, we can be comforted because we can commune with the Holy One with praises through our spirit communicated from the depths of our soul.
The Psalmist was a covenant child of God, the Holy One, “O thou that inhabitest.” The children of Israel were God’s chosen people. From only one place, the covenant relationship, can one offer praises acceptable to God. Today, Christians are the spiritual offspring of Abraham and subsequently the spiritual children of Israel, therefore are in the covenant relationship with God. Anyone else from any other place on earth offering praises to God is not acceptable. This should give us great comfort, honor, and admonition. We must constantly take heed unto ourselves to make sure we have the right to commune with the Holy One through our psyche.
When we are beat down, tired, weary, doubting, feeling forsaken, hurting in our bodies, let us sing the praises of the Almighty God to the Almighty God. We will be able to commune with God Himself! No matter what man may do to us, he can not sever the link we have from our souls to God. We will never be alone! We will never be forsaken! We will stand in the last day, and if we have been faithful until death, we will hear, “well done!”