Psalm 22

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Psalm 22 A Messianic Psalm

It is a description of an execution, particularly a crucifixion. Crucifixion was not practiced in the time of David or for many long centuries afterward. So this is not an account of suffering endured by any ancient person but a prophetic picture of the suffering to be endured by Jesus when he died to pay the penalty for our sins. In other words, it is prophetic and entirely messianic.1
1 Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (p. 191). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
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His crucifixion (vv. 1–21). Because he was a prophet (Acts 2:30), David was able to write about the Messiah centuries before He came. Crucifixion was not a Jewish form of capital punishment, yet David described it accurately. As you read, see Jesus at Calvary: His cry to the Father (v. 1; Matt. 27:46); the period of darkness (v. 2; Matt. 27:45); the ridicule of the people (vv. 6–8; Matt. 27:39–44); His thirst and pain (vv. 14–15; John 19:28); His pierced hands and feet (v. 16; Luke 24:39); and the gambling for His clothes (v. 18; John 19:23–24). Remember, He endured all of these things as an innocent sufferer on your behalf (2 Cor. 5:21).
His resurrection (vv. 22–26). In these verses the Messiah no longer is suffering but is alive and in the midst of His people, leading them in praise for the mighty victory God has won (Heb. 2:11–12). Note that the Singing Savior joins us in worship! The first day of the week is the memorial to His resurrection, and we follow His example by meeting with God’s people along with Jesus as we praise Yahweh together. Resurrection day is victory day!
His coronation (vv. 27–31). The Messiah shares the resulting blessings of His obedient suffering with His church (v. 22), with Israel (v. 23), and now with the whole world (vv. 27–31). The psalm even contains an exhortation that we must get the message out to every nation that Messiah Jesus is Savior and King (v. 27). “May all peoples be blessed in him and all nations call him blessed” (Ps. 72:17).1
1 Varner, W. (2011). Awake O Harp: A Devotional Commentary on the Psalms (First Edition, pp. 60–61). Woodlands, TX: Kress Biblical Resources.
Psalm 22
It is not difficult to see the fulfillment of this chapter in the NT story of the cross:
•v. 1—Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34—Christ spoke these words
•v. 2—Alternate light and darkness; Matt. 27:45
•vv. 6–8—The reproach of the people; Matt. 27:39–44
•vv. 11–12—No help was offered Him; Matt. 26:56
•v. 16—His hands and feet pierced; Matt. 27:35
•v. 17—People staring at Him; Luke 23:35
•v. 18—Gambling for His garments; John 19:23–24
Psalm 22:1 NIV84
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
22:1 My God, my God The psalmist’s plea to “My God” shows his relationship and dependence on God.
why have you forsaken me The feeling of being abandoned by God causes the psalmist to despair.
“Why?” (22:1) David merely felt forsaken by God, but Christ was literally abandoned by Him. In history’s most awesome moment God the Father withdrew His presence from the Son; the Holy One isolated Himself from one who at that instant in time became sin for us.1
1 Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 355). Wheaton: Victor Books.
Christ’s Cry of Dereliction (vv. 1–2)
The most poignant verse in the entire psalm is the first, and this is also the most disturbing section. For here the suffering One cries out to God, believing that he has been forsaken by him, asking why he has been forsaken, and asserting that God is silent. He receives no answer.
The idea that Jesus could be forsaken by God has been so disturbing to so many people that various theories have been invented to explain it. Some have supposed that Jesus was referring to the psalm only to call attention to it, as if to say that what he was suffering was what the psalm describes. Others have argued that Jesus felt forsaken, when in fact he was not. In the final outcome, of course, Jesus was not forsaken. This is what the psalm as a whole shows. Besides, we know that the crucifixion was followed by the resurrection. All this aside, however, I do not hesitate to say that, according to the teaching of the New Testament, Jesus was indeed forsaken by God while he bore the sin of his people on the cross. This is the very essence of the atonement—Jesus bearing our hell in order that we might share his heaven. To be forsaken means to have the light of God’s countenance and the sense of his presence eclipsed, which is what happened to Jesus as he bore the wrath of God against sin for us.
How could this happen? How could one member of the eternal Trinity turn his back on another member of the Trinity? I do not know. I cannot explain it. But I believe that this is what the Bible teaches, so great was the love of God for us and so great was the price Jesus willingly paid to save us from our iniquities.
Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (pp. 193–194). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
How does this apply to us today?
The suffering of Christ on the Cross was necessary for our Salvation.
We remember the awful cost that the Father paid.
We praise and thank our God for His deliverance.
Jesus experienced the pain we face in this life, to a much greater degree.
We reflect on our own relationship with our Savior.
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