The Spirit of Christ testifies in this Psalm more clearly than anywhere else in the Old Testament. It is of Christ that David speaks, and not of himself. The providences of God over David were so extraordinary that he could be looked upon as a figure of the Christ who was to come. In this Psalm David was wonderfully carried away by the spirit of prophecy far beyond his own thoughts and intentions. Part One today covers verses 1 – 18, Part Two will cover 19 – 31. This Psalm teaches us to keep our thoughts fixed upon Christ. May we be so deeply affected by His sufferings that we experience the fellowship of them. Let us be so affected by His grace that we experience its power and influence in our daily lives.
Psalm 22 – A Psalm of David – The Deer of the Dawn
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 and 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. I was cast upon You from birth.
Be not far from me
From My mother’s womb You have been My God. Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help. Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. They gape at Me with their mouths, Like a raging and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
We must continue to call on Him
Henry says – This Psalm begins with a sad complaint of the withdrawal of God. This can be applied to any other child of God wanting the tokens of His favour. We can feel repressed with the burden of His displeasure and be overwhelmed with grief and terror. David cried out day and night earnestly for relief and felt forsaken by God yet he calls Him, again and again, “My God,”. A sense of being spiritual deserted is the worst affliction for saints. When it feels that their communion with God is interrupted. How sad are their spirits, and how insipid all comforts!
Yet even the complaint of these burdens is a good sign of a spiritual life. Why have You forsaken me? is the language of a heart applying all its happiness on God’s favour. When we are lamenting God’s withdrawals, we must call Him our God, and continue to call upon Him as ours. When we want an assurance of faith, we must live by a life of adherence. “However it be, yet God is good, and He is mine; though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. Even though He does not answer me immediately, I will continue praying and waiting. Though He be silent, I will not be silent.”
He held fast to His relationship with Him
This has to be applied to Christ. For when He was on the cross His first words were of complaint. He poured out His soul before God (Matt. 27:46). Jesus was indeed reciting the words in this Psalm. Christ, in His sufferings, cried earnestly to His Father for His favour and presence to be with Him. He cried in the day–time, upon the cross, and in the night–season, when He was in agony in the garden. He offered up strong crying and tears to Him who was able to save Him, and with some fear too, Heb. 5:7.
Yet God did forsake Him and it was this that He complained of more than all His sufferings. God delivered Him into the hands of his enemies. It was His will that He was crucified and slain. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him and put Him to grief, Isa. 53:10. But even then He held fast to His relationship to His Father as His God, whom He was now serving, and with whom He should shortly be glorified.
He is pleased with the praises of the saints
Even though He felt that God did not hear Him yet He continued to think well of Him: “But You are holy, not unjust, not untrue, nor unkind in any of Your ways. Though You do not immediately come to the relief of Your afflicted people, yet You love them. You are infinitely pure and upright and so delight in the services of Your upright people: You inhabit the praises of Israel. You are pleased to manifest Your glory, grace and special presence with Your people.
This is my rest for ever. This bespeaks God’s wonderful preference to His faithful worshippers—(though He is attended with the praises of angels, yet He is pleased to inhabit the praises of His people). It also comforts us in all our complaints. Though God seems to turn a deaf ear, yet He is so well pleased with the praises of His people that He will, in due time, give them cause to change their tune: Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him.
Our Lord Jesus, in His sufferings, kept an eye to preserve the honour of the holiness of God. We can take comfort from the experiences of saints in former ages who had the benefit of faith and prayer (Ps. 22:4, 5): “Our fathers trusted in You, cried to You, and You did deliver them; therefore You will, in due time, deliver me. Never did anyone who hoped in You be put to shame, nor did anyone who sought You, seek You in vain. And You are still the same to Your people.
A wonder to the angels
Our Lord Jesus, in His sufferings comforted Himself that all those who had been types of Him in His sufferings; Noah, Joseph, David, Jonah, and others, were in due time delivered. Therefore He knew that He also would not be disgraced, Isa. 50:7. He stepped down from heaven which was a wonder of angels. He took upon Himself the form of a servant, and His appearance was marred more than any man’s, Isa. 52:14. Man is at best a worm; but Christ became a worm for us. If He had not made Himself a worm, He could not have been trampled upon as He was. The word signifies the type of worm that was used in dyeing scarlet or purple, which was an allusion to His sufferings of blood.
Christ was reproached as a bad man, as a blasphemer, a sabbath–breaker, a wine–drinker, a false prophet, an enemy to Caesar and an associate with the prince of devils. He was despised by the people as a mean contemptible man, not worth taking notice of. His country was of no repute, His relations poor and His followers were but a mob. He was ridiculed as a foolish man, and one who not only deceived others, but Himself too. Those who saw Him hanging on the cross laughed Him to scorn. They bad mouthed Him: They shoot out the lip and shake their head, saying, This was He who said He trusted God would deliver Him; now let Him deliver Him.
You took me out of the womb
David was sometimes taunted for His confidence in God; but in the sufferings of Christ this was literally and exactly fulfilled. Those very gestures were used by those who hated Him (Matt. 27:39). They wagged their heads and used the very words (v.43), He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him. Our Lord Jesus submitted to the lowest possible instance of disgrace to satisfy the dishonour we had done to God by our sins.
(Ps. 22:9, 10): Men despise me, but you are He who took me out of the womb. David and other good men have often encouraged themselves with the fact that God has been the God of their infancy. As soon as they had a being, He began to take care of them. Therefore, they hope and believe that He will never cast them off. He has cared for us in that helpless state and will not leave us after He has reared us up into some capacity of serving Him. See how much God has providentially cared for us. In the birth: He took us also out of the womb, or else we would have died there.
God encouraged His confidence in Him
Surely He who fed us will cause us never to starve, Job 3:12. We can all reflect on the experiences we have had of God’s goodness to us. A constant uninterrupted series of preservations and supplies: You are my God, providing for me and watching over me for good. From my mother’s belly, that is, from my coming into the world unto this day. And if, as soon as we are capable of reasoning we put our confidence in God and commit ourselves and our way to Him, we need not doubt that He will always remember the kindness of our youth and the love of our marriage, Jer. 2:2.
God watched with particular care over the incarnation and birth of our Lord Jesus. When He was a child God loved Him and called Him (Hos. 11:1), and the remembrance of this comforted Him in His sufferings. Men tried to discourage His confidence in God; but God honoured Him and encouraged His confidence in Him.
All forsook Him
David was often in trouble, and beset with enemies, but many of the specifics in this Psalm were never true of David, and therefore must be applied to Christ in the depth of His humiliation. It describes being deserted by friends: Trouble and distress are near, and there is none to help, Ps. 22:11. He trod the wine–press alone; for all His disciples forsook Him and fled. It is God’s honour to help when all other helps fail.
He is here insulted and surrounded by His enemies, such as were of a higher rank, who for their strength and fury, are compared to bulls, strong bulls of Bashan (Ps. 22:12). Such were the chief priests and elders that persecuted Christ; and others of a lower rank, who are compared to dogs (Ps. 22:16), unwearied in running him down. There was an assembly of the wicked plotting against Him (Ps. 22:16). These enemies were numerous and unanimous, they have enclosed me, Ps. 22:16. They are formidable and threatening (Ps. 22:13): They gaped upon me with their mouths, to show me that they would swallow me up with as much strength and fierceness as a roaring lion leaps upon his prey.
His whole body left to hang
The very manner of His death is here described, though never in use among the Jews: They pierced my hands and my feet (Ps. 22:16), which were nailed to the tree. His whole body left to hang, the effect of which was the most exquisite pain and torture. There is no one passage in all the Old Testament which the Jews have so industriously corrupted as this. It is such an outstanding prediction of the death of Christ and was exactly fulfilled.
Christ here in verses 14-15 died in pain and anguish. Sin brings with it much pain. Had Christ not took this pain we would have been laid in everlasting anguish. Now comes the extinguishing of His body – I am poured out like water, weak as water, and yielding to the power of death. His bones dislocated. Care was taken that not one of them should be broken (John 19:36). Yet they were all out of joint by the violent stretching of His body upon the cross as upon a rack.
Nothing less would satisfy
His spirit suffered: My heart is like wax, melted under the impressions of God’s wrath against the sins He was carrying for us. This sacrifice was to negate the hardness of our hearts and the consideration of His death should help to soften them. When Job speaks of his inward trouble he says, The Almighty makes my heart soft, Job 23:16. Clamminess of mouth is a usual symptom of approaching death: My tongue cleaveth to My jaws; this was fulfilled in His thirst upon the cross (John 19:28) and in His silence under His sufferings. For, as a sheep before the shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth, nor objected against anything done to Him.
Finally Christ gave up His Spirit: “You have brought me to the dust of death; I am just ready now to drop into the grave;” for nothing less would satisfy divine justice. The sentence of death passed upon Adam was: Unto dust you shalt return. Christ, had His eye to that sentence in His obedience to death.
Christ was stripped
The shame of nakedness was the immediate consequence of the sin in Eden, therefore our Lord Jesus was stripped of His clothes, that He might clothe us with the robe of His righteousness. When Christ was stripped, His blessed body was lean and emaciated. I can tell all my bones, Ps. 22:17 from the labour, grief, and fasting from the whole course of His ministry. (Ps. 22:18): They divided My garments among them, to every soldier a part, and upon my seamless coat, they cast lots.
This very circumstance was exactly fulfilled, John 19:23, 24. It was written, and therefore it was necessary for Christ to suffer. Let this confirm our faith in Him as the true Messiah, and inflame our love to Him as our best friend who loved us and suffered all this for us.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The Wonder of His Name Is there a heart that can comprehend The wonder of His Love? Is there a heart that has truly touched His Risen high above? The wonder of His Love, The majesty of His Crown Is that He came down to earth And continued to go down. He went to the very depths Before ascending on high. The wonder of His Love lies in the truth That for you He chose to die. The choice was ever before Him. He could have chosen to run and hide But He chose to be lifted up So that we with Him could be glorified. The wonder of His Love No heart is truly able to express But His Love is yours and mine Nothing more, nothing less. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. Help me keep my thoughts fixed upon Christ. May I be so deeply affected by His sufferings that I experience the fellowship of them. Let me be so affected by His grace that I experience its power and influence in my daily life. Even when I feel distant from You, teach me to call on You, again and again for You are my God. Help me live a life of adherence to You that I may have a continual assurance of You. For I know You are good, and even though You slay me, yet will I trust in You.
May praise be forever on my lips for I know You are pleased to inhabit the praises of Your people. I know praise also comforts me in all my complaints. Yet I shall hope in You, for I know no one who puts their hope in You shall be ashamed. I shall seek You for I know that no one who ever sought after You, sought after You in vain. And You are still the same to Your people.
You have cared for me in my helpless states and I know You will not leave me. I have experienced Your goodness to me. I have had a constant uninterrupted series of preservations and supplies. For You are my God, providing for me and watching over me for good. I will put my confidence in You and commit myself and my way to You. May my love for You be inflamed. You as my best friend who has loved me and suffered all this for me. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.