Use your imagination and
go with me back to a thousand years ago. The date is
A. D. 963. Most of Europe was only sparsely
inhabited by barbarian tribes. The discovery of
America would not be for another 500 years. Let's
suppose there existed a document prepared a thousand
years before the event predicted of a time when a
man of great distinction worldwide, would be the
head of a great nation. He would be riding a street
in a large metropolitan city in a metal chariot not
drawn by horses. Then this man suddenly and
violently would die from the penetration of his
brain by a little piece of metal hurled by a weapon
made of wood and iron. Within hours, his death would
have world–wide effect and world–wide mourning. Can
you imagine with what awe and respect that document
would have on people today even though written in A.
D. 963 predicting the death of President John
Kennedy on November 22, 1963? That hypothetical
prediction would have been made even before the
invention of the automobile or guns or tall
buildings or radio and televisions or satellites or
missiles or atomic and hydrogen bombs.
I don't know where I
heard that illustration but it helps us understand
exactly what we have in reality in Psalm 22. The
Psalmist described a capital punishment by
crucifixion before it had even been invented. It was
unheard of in Jewish minds. It was written many
centuries before depraved minds invented this
horrible cruel form of punishment. No one had ever
been put to death by crucifixion in King David's
time. The Jewish method of execution was by stoning
someone to death. Romans borrowed the crucifixion
from the Carthaginians who invented it in order to
make death as painful and cruel as possible.
Apart from the Gospel
records themselves Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 describes
the crucifixion of Jesus Christ more accurately and
in greater detail than any other portion of
Scripture. Only in Christ can we find One whose
experience perfectly fulfills that revealed in this
Hebrew song. Whatever may have been the experience
of David, the suffering and the triumph described
here transcends mere human suffering. There are
meanings here far beyond the experiences of any
In Psalm 22, we have a
picture of the crucifixion and the resurrection of
the Lord Jesus, painted by King David one thousand
years before Jesus was born. He describes at least
nine specific events or aspects of the crucifixion
in minute detail a thousand years before it actually
happened in history. All of them fulfilled during
the six hours Jesus hung on the cross.
The first section of this
Hebrew poem (22:1–21) describes the problem of being
forsaken of God. The second part (22:22-31) is
filled with praise for God's deliverance. The
positive note of assurance comes at the end of the
poem after wave after wave of wretchedness and trust
in God. The mood of abandonment and trust is
THE PROBLEM OF BEING
FORSAKEN OF GOD (22:1–21)
The problem of the
suffering Messiah (22:1-5)
The Psalmist gives a "cry
of dereliction" (vv. 1–2). " My God, my God, why
hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are
the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day,
but Thou dost not answer; And by night, but I have
It is a cry of
abandonment, as the sufferer becomes aware of his
being forsaken by his God. "Forsaken" literally
means loosen, or relinquish or let me go. The
Gospels uses a word made up of three words "to
leave, down, in" –– meaning to abandon or forsaking
of someone in a state of defeat or helplessness in
the midst of hostile circumstances.
You can feel the pain in
his soul. Why is God so far from helping me? Why are
my groanings so far from obtaining help for me?
Matthew 27:45 describes a
strange, weird darkness that settled down over the
world, obscuring the sun until it could be seen no
more. The darkness fell like a heavy curtain over
Jerusalem and the cross of Jesus. The three-hour
darkness was not due to an eclipse because it was
time for the full moon at Passover week. A
supernatural darkness came over the land of Israel
from 12 noon until 3 p.m. It was a supernatural
manifestation in nature. It was doubtless a period
when Jesus suffered extreme anguish of spirit. The
increasing nameless agonies of the crucifixion were
deepening more and more with every moment into
death. Jesus Christ cried out these words at the end
of the strange period of darkness. No one has ever
explained it. It lasted three hours. Almost at the
close of the three hours of darkness, feeling
Himself God-forsaken, He cried out words of torment
in the awful silence of the darkness. The words
echoed through eternity and reverberated down the
centuries of time: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani!
Jesus cried out, "My God,
My God, why have You forsaken Me!" In that strange
sense of abandonment God the Father was rejecting
God the Son! This God–forsakenness was real. No
human being has ever experienced so great a
A deathly silence reigned
and a feeling of terror crept over everyone.
Martin Luther sat
contemplating these words. After a long time he rose
from his chair and exclaimed, "God forsaken of God!
Who can understand that?"
That darkness meant
judgment. It was the coming judgment of God against
sin. It was the wrath of God burning itself out in
the very heart of Jesus as our substitute. In those
dark hours, hell came to Calvary that day. Our
Savior descended into it and bore its horrors in our
stead. The Apostle Paul wrote in II Corinthians
5:21, "God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be
sin on our behalf, that we might become the
righteousness of God in Him."
The Psalmist tells us the
sufferer who screams at God still believes in God.
There is also an awareness of the faithfulness of
God (verses 3–5). "Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art
enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In Thee our
fathers trusted; They trusted, and Thou didst
deliver them. To Thee they cried out, and were
delivered; In Thee they trusted, and were not
He thinks back on the
history of Israel and remembers God's faithfulness.
Although they were sinners God was faithful. "My
God, My God" is the name of the mighty God of the
covenant. He uses the word Eli, My Strong One. In
verse 2 he uses the most common designation of God,
'elohay the One to be feared by me. He used
word "trust" three times in verses 3–5 meaning to
give God one's full weight, literally to collapse on
God. He recalls Yahweh's holy character. There is no
one like God. He is sinless, complete in Himself, He
is perfect, He is awesome. He is worthy of our
The passionate cry
of the suffering Messiah (22:6-8)
For some strange reason,
God is treating him differently. "But I am a worm,
and no man." The pain of his suffering is
dehumanizing. He experiences utter helplessness and
frailty. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote of him who
is suffering, "His appearance was marred more than
any man, And His form more than the sons of men"
(Isaiah 52:14). They beat Him to a pulp. In His
dying Jesus is treated like a common criminal,
despised, hated by society.
"But I am a worm, and not
a man, A reproach of men, and despised by the
people. All who see me sneer at me; They separate
with the lip, they wag the head, saying, 'Commit
yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him
rescue him, because He delights in him'" (Psalm
Matthew records the crowd
in Jerusalem during the crucifixion of Jesus. The
unthinking multitude passed by wagging their heads
in mockery and shouting, "He trusts in God; let God
deliver him now." This crowd could not have been
controlled. They had no idea they were fulfilling
prophecy a thousand years old. Here is the way
Matthew described the actual events at the foot of
the cross in Matthew 27:39–43. Listen as they attack
His faith in God.
And those passing by were
hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and
saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and
rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are
the Son of God, come down from the cross." In the
same way the chief priests also, along with the
scribes and elders, were mocking Him, and saying,
"He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the
King of Israel; let Him now come down from the
cross, and we shall believe in Him. 'HE TRUSTS IN
GOD; LET HIM DELIVER Him now, IF HE TAKES PLEASURE
IN HIM; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
The pain of utter
abandonment of the Messiah (22:9–11)
"Yet Thou art He who
didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make
me trust when upon my mother's breasts. Upon Thee I
was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my
mother's womb. Be not far from me, for trouble is
near; For there is none to help" (22:9–11).
The disciples, friends
and family all abandoned Jesus (Matthew 26:56). Only
God is left and now He senses that God Himself is
forsaking Him. Jesus had been in an intimate holy
relationship with the Father all through eternity
and for 30 years in the flesh while on the earth
until this very hour. He was the perfect, sinless
Son of God. He was always the delight of His Father.
"This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased"
(Matthew 3:17b). There was nothing in Jesus' life
and character to merit abandonment. However, on the
cross He is utterly forsaken of God the Father. That
eternal fellowship is broken.
Why? He was dying as our
substitute. He was being made an offering for the
sins of the world. Isaiah 53:5–6 says, "But He was
pierced through for our transgressions, He was
crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our
well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we
are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD
has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."
The panic of the cross
is described (22:12–13).
The onlookers are
described as strong powerful bulls. They seem like
lions, fierce, ravening, threatening, their fangs
dripping with rage to tear him apart. "Many bulls
have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have
encircled me. They open wide their mouth at me, As a
ravening and a roaring lion."
The enemies of Jesus
surrounded Him like a pack of wild animals shouting,
"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" (Matthew 27:22–26). It
became so bad a riot was ensuing and Pilate caved in
to their demands for His blood.
The reaction of the
victim is felt (22:14–15).
King David writes, "I am
poured out like water, And all my bones are out of
joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my
tongue cleaves to my jaws; And Thou dost lay me in
the dust of death."
A feeling of utter
helplessness and weakness overwhelms him. His
physical pain is so severe it is like all his bones
are being pulled apart. The distorted position into
which the body of a crucified person was thrust may
have brought about something comparable to David’s
description. His courage has left him. He is all but
The Apostle John
described this terrible ravaging thirst of Jesus.
With His body dehydrated in the hot Judean sun, and
with the suffering from a raging fever He cried, "I
God is the one who lays
Him down in death (v. 15). It is a judicial death.
Isaiah 53:4, 6, 10.
Picturesque vivid details
of the crucifixion are described (22:16–18; Matthew
Note the exacting details
of the execution. David never suffered like this
one. "Dogs" is a derogatory term for Gentiles. The
fulfillment in the nailing of the hands and of the
feet of the Crucified One to the cross is clear. The
prophet Isaiah also saw this clearly and wrote, "He
was pierced through for our transgressions, He was
crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our
well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we
are healed" (53:5).
"For dogs have surrounded
me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they
pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my
bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my
garments among them, and for my clothing they cast
He can count His bones
because He is forcibly stretched out making all His
bones stand out as He tries to breath. People mingle
about the cross mocking Him.
Our poet is prophetically
standing at the foot of the cross. This Psalm is
written as if the author were standing beneath the
cross! Who but God could have written these words?
The historian writes, "And when they had crucified
Him, they divided up His garments among themselves,
casting lots" (Matthew 27:35; compare Luke 23:34;
John 19:24). It is impossible that this could have
been fulfilled by the collusion of the pagan Roman
soldiers. Yet, here it is described 1000 years
before Jesus' death by crucifixion.
A final prayer of
commitment to the Father (22:19–21).
The Psalmist is
committing himself to God. "But Thou, O LORD, be not
far off; O Thou my help, hasten to my assistance.
Deliver my soul from the sword, My only life from
the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth;
And from the horns of the wild oxen Thou dost answer
describes Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane,
"Not My will, Thy will be done."
Just before He died Jesus
cried, "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!"
It is impossible for us
to understand this cry of our Savior from the cross.
We would have to go to hell as the holy sinless Son
of God to comprehend His atoning death. No sinner
will ever be in hell in those circumstances. We are
guilty sinners. We deserve the death penalty. We
deserve eternal separation from a holy God. He does
not owe us anything.
When Jesus died for our
sins, He gathered up all the guilt and iniquities of
all mankind and died for it. All our guilt was laid
on Him. He represented all that seething mass of
evil and with the one stroke of the wrath of God it
was all blotted out. It was condemned forever. He
was identified with all of your sins and suffered
and died for them.
No wonder there was such
a cry of God-forsakenness from the suffering Lamb of
God! "My God! My God! Why?" He was the holy, sinless
and perfect sacrifice for sin. "The wages of sin is
death." Jesus paid those wages! He did not die
because He had ever experienced sin personally. He
was pure and holy. God make Him sin for us!
The remarkable thing is
this song of dereliction merges into a note of
jubilation. The moment of death is revealed in this
broken verse, twenty–one, and then the singer is
heard again, no longer expressing abandonment, but a
paean of victory in the following verses. The tone
now becomes jubilant praise.
THE PRAISE FOR
DELIVERANCE BY GOD (22:22-31)
The praise to the
suffering Messiah (22:22-26)
between verses 21 and 22. In the first part of this
Psalm, we heard the voice of one person in
statements, which are shorter, like gasps of air,
breathed in distress. He is a lone sufferer. In the
second section of our Psalm, we hear many voices
including the Psalmist. The verses are longer
because the speaker is delivered from pain. The lone
warrior won the victory. The Messianic work has been
accomplished through suffering. The people can now
enter the possession gained through suffering and
the triumph of the Redeemer. The suffering Messiah
ben Joseph is also the triumphant Messiah ben David!
The sovereign LORD God reigns!
Just as the first section
coincides exactly with the sufferings of the Lord
Jesus Christ, the second part gives the results that
came because of His resurrection. The Psalmist'
vision is so clear of the salvation of the world
arising out of His resurrection seems more like
history than prophecy.
Now He will declare to
His brethren what God has done for Him. Jesus called
His disciples His brethren. Our poet writes:
"I will tell of Thy name
to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will
praise Thee. You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All
you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in
awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. For He
has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the
afflicted; Neither has He hidden His face from him;
But when he cried to Him for help, He heard. From
Thee comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall
pay my vows before those who fear Him. The afflicted
shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will
praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever!"
applies these words of the Psalmist to Jesus Christ.
"But we do see Him who
has been made for a little while lower than the
angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of
death crowned with glory and honor, that by the
grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For
it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and
through whom are all things, in bringing many sons
to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation
through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and
those who are sanctified are all from one Father;
for which reason He is not ashamed to call them
brethren, saying, ‘I WILL PROCLAIM THY NAME TO MY
BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL
SING THY PRAISE.’"
The same one who has just
suffered and died is now in the midst of the company
whom he calls his brethren. He is calling out the
people of God to praise God in v. 23. The first
words of the risen Lord Jesus were to women. He said
to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My
brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall
see Me" (Matthew 28:10). He said to Mary Magdalen
who stood there hugging the daylights out of Him,
"Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to
the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them,
'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God
and your God.'" (John 20:17). For the next forty
days Jesus declared to His brethren what God had
done. He calls His disciples brethren.
The resurrection is the
evidence and proof that Jesus was the suffering
servant of God dying as the Lamb of God who takes
away all our sins. Verse 24 sees the one who was
forsaken just in the eyes of God. Read Hebrews
13:20–21a. We worship a living Lord who has been
raised from the dead and who now shares His life
with us. Our life belongs to Him. He is risen! He is
alive! Not only does He give praise to His Father,
but we too have ample reason to give Him praise! Our
Savior has risen from the dead after dying in our
We can praise Him because
He has provided all that we need to please God (vv.
25–26). Out of His resurrection power, He gives us
everything we need. Everything we need has been made
available to us to live the Christian life (Hebrews
7:25). He made the provision through His death and
The proclamation of
the suffering Messiah (22:27-31)
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the
families of the nations will worship before Thee.
For the kingdom is the LORD'S, and He rules over the
nations. All the prosperous of the earth will eat
and worship, All those who go down to the dust will
bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul
alive. Posterity will serve Him; it will be told of
the LORD to the coming generation. They will come
and will declare His righteousness to a people who
will be born, that He has performed it.
The poet speaks of
generations yet to be born who will hear of the
sufferer's triumph and rejoice in His victory. One
group shall declare it to the next because the truth
is worth proclaiming to every generation. The Great
Commission is to preach the Good News of salvation
to the ends of the earth (vv. 27–28). Every tribe
and nation will hear the message of God's grace.
Just before ascending into heaven Jesus said to His
disciples, "you shall receive power when the Holy
Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My
witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"
All the peoples of the
earth will be in subjection to Him (22:29–31).
Remember, these words were written a thousand years
before Philippians 2:9–11 and Revelation 4 and 5.
The remotest corners of the earth will hear the
message of salvation. We the recipients of His grace
are fulfilling these very words of the ancient poet!
Every time we take the
gospel out of the realm of self–edification and
share it with others we are fulfilling these words.
Members of our church were part of a team who saw
143 people saved on a recent medical–dental mission
trip to a remote coffee growing area of Honduras.
God is at work bringing praise to His name.
The last words of this
Hebrew poem are utterly amazing. They read
literally, "It is finished." We can paraphrase it
"there shall be proclaimed deliverance to a people
yet unborn, that it is finished!"
Our Psalm opens and
closes with a word of Jesus from the cross. "My God,
my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).
Jesus cried with a loud voice and said, "It is
finished!" (John 19:30). There was nothing left to
do. It was done, complete, finished for you.
22:1-32 The Song of the Cross
Christ in the Old Testament