We have been jumping back and forth throughout the Bible looking at various prophesies about Christ, but this morning I’d like to camp on one scripture and look at it in its context and entirety. By way of introduction, let’s begin with a few simple questions: When it was necessary, how did Israel execute its criminals? To the best of your knowledge does the Old Testament ever record a Roman-style crucifixion? Were there any Old Testament crucifixions of any variety? (There are “hangings.”) Crucifying as a means of execution is very ancient, probably preceding the time of Moses, but it was not practiced among the Hebrews or their immediate neighbors, as far as we know. Most experts say that the Jews were not familiar with crucifixions until the Babylonian captivity (600 BC). If a Roman-style crucifixion appeared in Old Testament prophesy, what might we assume?
Exposition of Psalm 22:
The Title: “To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.” Psalm 22 was written by whom? Approximately when was it that David died? (1000 BC, about 400 years before Babylon.) What is the likelihood that Psalm 22 was written after the death of Christ? (None whatsoever.) Should readers of the Bible consider Psalm 22 as an important part of Biblical prophesy? No scholar really knows the precise meaning of Aijeleth Shahar. This may refer to a particular tune to which these words were suppose to be sung. Some people say that it refers to a particular musical instrument. The generally accepted translation is “Morning Hart” or “Morning Hind” – a deer in the morning. While David was being pursued by Saul and other enemies, to what did he liken himself? Would a deer be an appropriate illustration of Christ at the time of His crucifixion?
Verse 1 – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” Remember that this Psalm more closely relates to David than to the Lord Jesus. But that doesn’t limit these words to David? What do the words “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” mean? Where do we read those words? What language are those words? Mark 15:34 – “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Is it possible that Jesus quoted David for the simple purpose of creating prophetic confusion? What He was actually doing was drawing the attention of every Hebrew within the sound of His voice to take another look at Psalm 22 in the light of what was happening. Why was God the Father so far from “helping” Christ at that moment?
“O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” What was David thinking when he referred to “daytime” and “the night season”? What spectacular event took place as Jesus hung on the cross, which indirectly relates to this statement?
“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.” What is it to be confounded? (Ashamed.) David also trusted in the Lord; was he confounded? Was the Lord Jesus confounded?
Verse 6 – “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Notice how closely this relates to Isaiah 52 and 53: “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” What were some of the things that the unbelieving Jews said about Jesus? (Winebibber, glutton, Beelzebub….)
Verse 7 – “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” How much of this could be applied to the Lord Jesus? Matthew 9:24 – “He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.” Matthew 27:29 – “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” Mark 15:29 – “And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days” Luke 16:14 – “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.” Luke 23:35 – “And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” Luke 23:39 – “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”
Psalm 22:9 – “But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” Until late in His ministry, how much respect did Jesus have among His family members? Christ was never rejected by His mother, but unlike anyone else, He was related to His Heavenly Father unlike anyone else has ever been.
Verse 11 – “Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.” What support and help was offered for the protection of Jesus? (Peter’s attack upon Malchus.) After that point, the friends of Christ stayed deep in the shadows; there was none to help.
“Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.” What is it to gape? For example, what is a gaping wound? (Open.) How were there gaping mouths against Christ?
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” How much does the medical term “exposure” have to do with death through crucifixion? Was Christ Jesus thirsty while hanging on the cross? Was there ever a time when David experienced dislocated joints? He was writing poetically. What is the likelihood that a crucifixion victim would suffer dislocated joints? What happened to the heart of the Lord Jesus?
Verse 15 – “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” Do you suppose that there were armed guards around crucifixion victims making sure that they didn’t pull out the nails and jump down from their crosses? How quickly do you expect that crucifixion victims lost their strength to fight against the cross and crucifixion? Who was it that brought the Lord Jesus to the point of death? Acts 2:22-23 – “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”
Verse 16 – “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” If dogs have any symbolical significance in the scriptures, what would it be? (Gentile dogs.) In the days of the Bible rarely were dogs kept as household pets; they were scavengers. But sometimes some were bred and kept for hunting. If you had to guess what the Septuagint used for “assembly” what would it be? (Sanhedrin???) When did David ever have his hands and feet pierced? Where, even as a suffering poet, did David get this idea? Medieval artists usually picture the cross having a pedestal upon which the feet were nailed. What is the likelihood that the Romans would have gone to that trouble. In what position do you suppose that the Lord’s feet were nailed to the cross?
“I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.” Have you ever started a new exercise regime and said, “I found muscles that I never knew that I had?” As you imagine crucifixion, might a victim say, “I discovered bones that I never knew I had?” How many people were there as a mere audience to the crucifixion of our Saviour?
“They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Where did they get the Lord’s clothes in order to gamble for them? Why was it that they gambled? John 19:23 – “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.” Matthew 27:35 – “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.”
Verse 19 – “But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” Was the Father far from our Saviour? Did He deliver Him?
Verse 22 – “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” Don’t the words “brethren” and “congregation” sound like the language of the Lord’s churches? I admit that they don’t have to be confined to us, but they do fit us to a tee.
“Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.” Don’t these words sound like the effects of the preaching of the Gospel?
Verse 27 – “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations.” I know that the word “kingdom” should not be confined to the Millennial Kingdom, but as I read these words, the Thousand Year Reign of Christ come to mind. Psalm 96:7 – “Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.” Psalm 117:1 – “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.” Revelation 7:9 – “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”
Verse 29 – “All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” Philippians 2:5 – “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Psalm 22:31 – “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” Doesn’t this speak about the preaching of the gospel to our generation and the next? John 16:7 – “I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”
It seems to me that if there is one scripture passage, which ought to convince the semi-skeptic that the Bible needs to be considered and Christ needs to be accepted, Psalm 22 is where we ought to begin.