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Psalm 22

Rod Graciano

To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. 

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. 

Yet you are holy, 

enthroned on the praises of Israel. 

In you our fathers trusted; 

they trusted, and you delivered them. 

To you they cried and were rescued; 

in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 

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!” 

Yet you are he who took me from the womb; 

you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 

10 On you was I cast from my birth, 

and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 

11 Be not far from me, 

for trouble is near, 

and there is none to help. 

12 Many bulls encompass me; 

strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 

13 they open wide their mouths at me, 

like a ravening and roaring lion. 

14 I am poured out like water, 

and all my bones are out of joint; 

my heart is like wax; 

it is melted within my breast; 

15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, 

and my tongue sticks to my jaws; 

you lay me in the dust of death. 

16 For dogs encompass me; 

a company of evildoers encircles me; 

they have pierced my hands and feet— 

17 I can count all my bones— 

they stare and gloat over me; 

18 they divide my garments among them, 

and for my clothing they cast lots. 

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off! 

O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 

20 Deliver my soul from the sword, 

my precious life from the power of the dog! 

21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! 

You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! 

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; 

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 

23 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! 

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. 

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! 

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. 

28 For kingship belongs to the Lord, 

and he rules over the nations. 

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; 

before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, 

even the one who could not keep himself alive. 

30 Posterity shall serve him; 

it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; 

31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, 

that he has done it. 

The Thousand Year Prophecy

I was stunned the first time I read Psalm 22. It was one of my first introductions to Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in the New Testament. I was amazed that such a description of Christ’s crucifixion could have been written 1,000 years before the fact! Verse 1 records the very words spoken by Jesus on the cross (Mat 27.46), and verse 8 foretells the words with which Christ’s enemies would taunt him (Mat 27.43). Verse 14 foreshadows the physical strain of crucifixion and the water pouring from Christ’s side when his body was stabbed by the Roman soldier (John 19.34-35). Verse 16 precisely predicts the nailing of crucifixion (Acts 2.23), and verse 18 foretells the casting of lots for His garments (Mat 27.35).

Was this a predictive prophecy that had nothing to do with David’s personal situation? Many have debated that question. Franz Delitzsch (in the great OT Commentary by Keil and Delitzsch) was probably correct in understanding this psalm as composed by the already-anointed David while he was being pursued and persecuted by King Saul, and as a psalm in which David used hyperbole to describe his own situation. Delitzsch observed that the Holy Spirit wonderfully inspired that hyperbole, resulting in an accurate description of the greater sufferings of the greater anointed One yet to come.

The Sufferings Of Two Anointed Ones

Imagine how harrowing David’s escape from Saul must have been for David to describe his sufferings as he did in Psalm 22! What a bone jarring, skin tearing and throat parching experience it must have been to run for one’s life, scrambling up into the rocky caves of the Judean hills. Imagine David’s sense of loss as he sat in the cave of Adullam and thought of people giving away his clothes back home, and as he contemplated soldiers who once respected him now mocking him in order to maintain favor with King Saul. Most of all, imagine David’s sense of the loss of God’s favor, favor that — until now — he had experienced all his life!

It’s that sense of the withdrawal of God’s favor that Jesus experienced with incomprehensible intensity on the cross. The Father did not abandon the Son — and there was certainly no rip in the fabric of the Trinity —, but for the first time since eternity, the Father withheld the expression of His love and favor in order that the Son might accomplish the atonement for which He had come to earth.

The Blessed Outcome

Thankfully, both for Jesus, and for David, all was not dark. Even while David suffered, he acknowledged, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (v. 3). David knew that God had a long history of rescuing his people from their troubles. Even while others mocked him, David confessed to God, “Yet you are he who took me from the womb” (v.9, meaning, “You, O God, have had your eye upon me and remained near to me since my birth!”). Both David and Jesus would soon be able to rejoice, “You have rescued me!” (v. 21), and would be able to declare that God “has not hidden his face … but has heard” (v. 24). 

David patiently awaited the realization of his kingship, but in the Spirit he knew that ultimately the “kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations” (v. 28). “All the ends of the earth shall … turn to the Lord … Posterity shall serve him … they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn” (vv. 27-31). David knew that God would keep His promise to establish him as king of Israel, but by revelation he also knew that a greater King would someday unite all the nations of the world in righteousness, on the basis of His sufferings.

A Prayer For The Kingdom To Come

Heavenly Father, let your kingdom come. Come and rule, so that your will is done, in Parkland, in Pierce County and in the whole of our state of Washington. Because King Jesus has atoned for the sins of the whole world, let our neighbors receive the redemption that He offers. Father, I understand from the life of David and the ministry of Jesus that the advancement of your kingdom can entail suffering. Fill me with the grace to make sacrifices when they are required by the  kingdom work that you have called me into. I ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

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