Psalm 22:1-31

To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Deer of the Dawn.” A Psalm of David.

1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?

O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.

But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.

Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.

They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.

All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

“He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.

10 I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God.

11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.

13 They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;

17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.

18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

19 But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!

20 Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.

21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.

22 I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!

24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.

25 My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.

26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!

27 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.

28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s,
And He rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

30 A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,

31 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

The elliptical instruction “Hind of the Dawn”, though not entirely clear, probably refers to the melody by which the psalm was to be sung. In this respect it is worth noting that the hind, or doe, is a symbol of beauty and grace in the Old Testament (cf. Genesis 49:21) and the dawn is symbolic of fresh strength and new beginnings (cf. Psalm 110:3), all of which apply directly to the crucifixion — the epitome of God’s grace and the source of new life and strength for the believer (cf. Romans 5:21; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13). — Wechsler, page 72.

Four degrees of suffering appear in the psalm. Suffering from the hand of God (vs. 1-6); suffering from the rejection of Israel (vs. 7-8); suffering from the demons who gathered round His cross in exulting and hellish triumph (vs. 12-13); and the physical suffering of crucifixion — the most painful form of death (vs. 14-18). — Williams, page 313.

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (v.1) — Quoted by Jesus Christ as one of His seven statements from the cross — Matthew 27:46.

During His ministry on earth Christ spoke of God as His Father and resumed the title after He had triumphantly shouted “Finished,” but while suffering Divine wrath as the sin-offering He addressed Him as God (vs. 1, 2 and 10). — Williams, page 313.

In the consideration of these words, the question arises as to just why God did forsake His Son in that awful hour on the cross. The answer to this question may be found in the words of verses 3 to 6. The holiness of God forbade Him to hear the cry of the Sufferer on the cross. Though that Sufferer was His own Son, and though the Son was doing the will of God in His suffering, yet the holy God could not look upon His own Lamb because that Lamb was there as a sin offering, and upon Him was laid the crushing burden of the sin of the world. The holy God cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance, and on the cross the Son of God was made sin for us, though He knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). — Pettingill, page 50.

O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. (v.2) — The text might indicate a period of days, but the suffering described in the psalm could not be endured more than a few hours. We have the prophecy of Amos 8:9 that the darkness was to begin at noon. He did not reveal how long it would last, but the New Testament history states that the darkness was for three hours, having begun at noon. — Phillips, page 71.

holy (v.3) — Even in the midst of His agony, the Lord vindicated God as being always holy and worthy of praise.

worm (v.6) — In that moment the problem of Bildad the Shuhite was being solved, as set forth in Job 25:4-6: “How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman? If even the moon does not shine, And the stars are not pure in His sight, how much less man, who is a maggot, and a son of man, who is a worm?” The answer to Bildad’s question is that man is justified with God through the transaction of Calvary, where the Lamb of God shed His precious blood in order to make it possible for the righteous God to remain righteous while justifying the believing sinner. — Pettingill, pages 50-51.

A reproach of men, and despised by the people. (v.6) — Isaiah 53:3.

ridicule (v.7) — Matthew 27:39-44; Luke 23:35

Verse 9 and 10 can only apply to Jesus Christ because of his own birth, David said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).

Bashan (v.12) — Deuteronomy 3:11 — Bashan was in the region known today as the Golan Heights.

In verses 14 and 15 He gives expression to His physical sufferings. All this is a graphic picture of death by crucifixion. The bones (of the hands, arms, shoulders, and pelvis) out of joing (v.14); the profuse perspiration caused by intense suffering (v.14); the action of the heart affected (v.14); strength exhausted, and extreme thirst (v.15); the hands and feet pierced (v.16); nudity with the hurt to modesty (v.17), are all incidental to that mode of death. The accompanying circumstances are precisely those fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ. The desolate cry of verse 1 (Matthew 27:46); the periods of light and darkness of verse 2 (Matthew 27:45); the contumely of verses 6-8, 12-13 (Matthew 27:39-43); the casting lots of verse 18 (Matthew 27:35), all were literally fulfilled. When it is remembered that crucifixion was a Roman, not Jewish, form of execution, the proof of inspiration is irresistible. — Pettingill, page 52.

potsherd (v.15) = a broken piece of pottery

stare (v.17) = to look thoughtfully, here connoting the people’s willful rejection of Jesus — which is the same specific verb used in Zechariah 12:10 (the only other specific Old Testament crucifixion prophecy) to connote the people’s willful acceptance of the pierced Messiah. — Wechsler, page 74.

They divide My garments among them (v.18) — John 19:23-24

My precious life (v.20) = My Only One

dog (v.20) — Gentiles

lion (v.21) — perhaps a reference to Satan who is referred to as a lion in 1 Peter 5:8.

Just after saying “Save me from the lion’s mouth” (v.21), He cries in triumph, “Yea, from the horns of the wild oxen thou hast answered me.” And straight through to the end of the psalm there is only  joyous acclaim and triumphant shouting.

Why this sudden change? The answer is that at that point in the psalm He yields up His spirit and passes out from the sufferings of the cross, and in His freedom from that suffering He beings to sing.

In verse 22 we have language that is taken up in Hebrews 2:11-12 and is there identified as coming from the mouth of the Son of God. — Pettingill, page 54

And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me (v.21). — The great altar of sacrifice had four horns, one at each corner, upon which the sacrificial animals were hung. But the sacrifice of these animals could never make the supplicants free from sin, but they rolled their sins forward for one year; at the end of which they were remembered against them again. — Phillips, page 76.

The result of Christ fully experiencing both the separation from God that each one of us deserves (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:20; Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23) and the restoration to relationship with God in which we are able to participate by faith (cf. Romans 6:3-4) is the gospel message — the most sublime of all reasons to offer God praise and to glorify Him (vs. 22-23). It is precisely this, the culminating propitiatory-salvific experience of Christ’s first advent, that makes Him the “Author of (our) salvation” (Hebrews 12:2) — following which phrase the writer of Hebrews cites v.22 of this psalm to highlight the dissemination the praiseworthy message (the gospel) that He authored. — Wechsler, pages 75-76.

He heard (v.24) — So long as He was made a sin-offering He was not heard (v.2); but sin having been atoned for, He was heard in resurrection (v.24). — Williams, page 313.

A reader of Psalm 22 who is not acquainted with other parts of the prophetic Scriptures would likely come to the conclusion that the remainder of the psalm [beginning with verse 26] would immediately come to pass. But such is not the case, for David tells us in the 110th Psalm that Messiah was to leave the earth after His death and resurrection, and go back to God the Father, and await at His right hand, and on His throne, until the Father would make all the enemies of the Messiah His footstool. Phillips, page 77.

the great assembly (v.25) — Israel

nations (v.27) — all the nations that will be blessed through Israel during the Millennial Kingdom when Christ is on the throne of Israel in Jerusalem

In His future kingdom the meek of verse 26 shall be the prosperous and happy of verse 29. Compare Psalm 36:8; 63:5; and 92:14. They, and all who, like them, were doomed to return to the dust because of sin, will praise Him because, in order to save them, He did not keep alive His own soul. — Williams, page 314.

He has done this (v.30) — The last word in the Hebrew text is “accomplished,” and corresponds to the word “finished” in the Greek text of John 19:30.

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