Psalm 22

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 4, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Today we’ll be taking a look at Psalm 22, and it’s rather lengthy to include with this post, so please go read it first here.

This psalm is a pretty amazing one, since from a Christian perspective it points to Jesus’ crucifixion pretty clearly as you’ll see as we dig into it. It is considered a lament psalm. Lament psalms generally have 3 parts: the lament itself, a petition to God for help, and then a declaration of praise. In this particular psalm, the lament is verses 1-18, the petition is verses 19-21, and the praise is verses 22-31.

If you’ve read the story of Jesus’s crucifixion, the words starting verse 1 will likely sound familiar to you: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In Matthew 27:46, we see Jesus quoting this phrase while on the cross, and it’s given to us both the Hebrew (“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”) as well as the translation. Here, “El” is the name for God, which is a shortened version of the majestic name Elohim, with the “i” being a suffix that means “my.” But that is just the first question in this verse. The psalmist follows it up with, “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” The message is clear: the psalmist feels that God is far from him and is not listening to his cries. When Jesus quoted this phrase, He was experiencing the same thing - the abandonment from God that was necessary for Jesus to take on the sins of the entire world.

Verses 2-5 show the tension going on here for the psalmist. He cries out to God day and night but hears no answer. Yet at the same time, he knows that God is holy, He is worthy of trust, and He is the one who can provide salvation. God had proven Himself in delivering His people time and time again, and the psalmist is bringing that back to mind. As Jesus was dying on the cross, He was living this out - experiencing the act that would bring salvation to all who have faith.

Verses 6-8 show the lowliness and ridicule that the psalmist experiences for being forsaken by God. He said he is a worm and not a man, feeling totally alone and unwanted. he is insulted and mocked. This is exactly what happened to Jesus on the cross; He was mocked, insulted, and ridiculed.

But even in spite of the ridicule, the psalmist has hope in God and His promises in verses 9-11. He knows that he was called by God and that God has been with him even since birth, and he asks again for God to not be far from him for trouble is near. He explains that trouble more in verses 12-18 - bulls, roaring lions, broken bones, dogs, etc.

These troubles contain prophecies of what would happen to Jesus at His crucifixion. The crowd surrounding Jesus wanted to crucify Him and watch Him die that terrible death, like the “roaring lions that tear their prey” (verse 13). Jesus would have experienced his “bones out of joint” while hanging on the cross (verse 14). Verse 15 speaks of a dry mouth and thirst, which we know Jesus experienced while on the cross (John 19:28). Verse 16 says, “they pierce my hands and my feet,” which is exactly what happened to Jesus when hung on the cross. People were staring at Jesus as He was crucified, like in verse 17. The wording of verse 18 is even quoted directly in John 19:23-24, where the soldiers divided Jesus’ clothes among themselves.

After all of this lamenting and description of awful things happening, this psalm then moves on to the petition phase. He asks God to come quickly (verse 19), deliver him (verse 20), and rescue and save him (verse 21).

Finally, the psalm moves to praising God. God has responded to His cries for help and has delivered him. Verse 24 says, “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

The psalm has been a very individual one to this point, with his individual distress, lament, and cries for help, but in verses 27-29 of this section of praise it turns communal. The psalmist speaks of “all the ends of the earth,” “all the families of the nations,” “all the rich of the earth, and “all who go down to the dust.” This prophesies how through the one individual of Jesus and His crucifixion and resurrection, all people will have the opportunity to praise Him for what He has done!

Verse 31 sums it up well: “[Future generations] will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” This echoes when Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He completed that piece of the work of salvation, and future generations would declare it to all those who would come after. Jesus was righteous and holy, and He died that awful death so that we wouldn’t have to pay the penalty for our own sin.

While this psalm is a lament, it is also clearly a prophesy of what would happen to Jesus on the cross. No other person in history fulfilled all of the prophecies in this psalm, not to mention all the other ones throughout the Old Testament as well.

What does that mean for our lives today? We should praise God for what Jesus did through His death on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection where He was victorious over death. We should declare His name as the only name that is to be praised. He is reigning today as the King above all kings. We are those “future generations” spoken of in this psalm, so we should be declaring this great work of Christ on the cross to those in our own generation and the ones to come.

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