Historical Background- Note that the Old Testament passages of Jesus' crucifixion found in Psalm 22were prophesied hundreds of years before the Romans invented this method of punishment.
Structure - Psalm 22:1-21 b describe much of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 22:21 c-26 declare His wonderful resurrection. Psalm 22:27-31 tells of the glorious fulfillment of the kingdom of God as a result of His victory over death, hell and the grave.
Psalm 22:1 (To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
Psalm 22:1 — "To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar" - Comments- The Hebrew phrase "upon Aijeleth Shahar" ( עַל־אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר) literally reads, "to the deer of the dawn." In the Song of Solomon Jesus is referred to figuratively as a deer ( Song of Solomon 2:9; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14). The dawn is figurative of Christ's Resurrection.
Psalm 22:1 — "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" - Comments- Jesus uttered this cry on the Cross ( Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). Jesus must have wanted to quote more of this Psalm, but He probably had no breath left for it. However, this first sentence summarized and implies the rest of this Psalm.
Matthew 27:46, "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Mark 15:34, "And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which Isaiah, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
The phrase "My God, my God" shows the certainty that Jesus is in a relationship with and knows God. The double phrase is for emphasis.
Psalm 22:2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
Psalm 22:2 — — Comments- Receiving a word from God can bring rest to our souls.
Psalm 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Psalm 22:3 — Comments- Yet, although God seems distant, He is Holy, and reigning on the throne. Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts:
"Behold, I am the Lord, Thy God; is anything too hard for Me? I am the light of the world, and the greatest darkness shall never be able to quench that light. I shall be to thee a cloud to preserve by day and a pillar of fire to protect by night. Both in the sunshine and in the darkness, I shall be near thee. Thou shalt delight in Me in thy joys; and in the place of difficulty My love for thee shall be as inescapably real as a blazing pillar of fire. Yea, all I was to Israel, and more, I shall be to thee. For have I not promised to give thee the desires of thine heart, and the heathen for thine inheritance.
"Let no fear hinder. For he that wavereth receiveth not. But keep thine heart single and every alien thought thou shalt rebuke in My Name, for it is of the enemy. For he knoweth full well that he has no defense against pure faith. Only if he can succeed to plant some seed of doubt can he hold back the blessing of heaven among the people of God and nullify the witness to the lost. So hold fast thy profession of faith, for there is a great recompense of reward. (Or we may say, the inheritance of faith is a most rewarding recompense.)
"So praise Me continually, for praise worketh faith, and God inhabiteth the praise of His people. If ever I seem to be far from thee, praise! If ever darkness seemeth to press about thee, this know, - thou hast neglected to praise Me. Love Me; pour out thy adoration and worship. Be sure of this: love never faileth. Loving Me never fails to bring Me to thy side. He seeth Me most clearly who lovest Me most dearly." 24]
24] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 107.
Psalm 22:3 — — Illustrations-
1 Kings 8:11, "So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD."
2 Chronicles 5:13, "It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD"
Psalm 22:4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
Psalm 22:5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
Psalm 22:7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
Psalm 22:7 — — Scripture References- Note:
Matthew 27:39-40, "And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross."
Mark 15:29-30, "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, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross."
Psalm 22:8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Psalm 22:8 — — Scripture References- Note:
Matthew 27:41-43, "Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God."
Mark 15:31-32, "Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him."
Luke 23:35-37, "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. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself."
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.
Psalm 22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother"s belly.
Psalm 22:10 — Comments- The Lord had me read Psalm 22:10 often during the 1982-83school year. It became clear one Sunday afternoon when Mom called as she shared how much she had wanted to help her children. As she broke into tears over the telephone, she share how the Lord had shown her that we did not belong to her, but to God, for his marvelous service. Amen! Even from the womb we belong to God, not our parents. We have been entrusted to our parents by God, in order that they might train us up in the Lord's service. Thank you Jesus for your loving grace and mercy.
Psalm 22:10 — Comments- In her book A Divine Revelation of Heaven Mary K. Baxter writes, "An angel of the Lord said to me, ‘From the time of conception, a baby is an eternal soul…'" 25]
25] Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Heaven (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1998), 117.
Psalm 22:10 — Scripture References- Note similar verses:
Isaiah 44:2, "Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen."
Isaiah 44:24, "Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;"
Isaiah 49:1, "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name."
Psalm 22:11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
Psalm 22:12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
Psalm 22:12 — Word Study on "Bashan" - Gesenius says the Hebrew word "bashan" ( בָּשָׁן) (H 1316) means "soft," or "sandy soil." PTW says it means, "fertile plain." Easton says it refers to a northern district east of the Jordan known for its fertility which was given to the half-tribe of Manasseh. It was formerly a part of the kingdom of Og. The Enhanced Strong says it is used 60 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "Bashan 59, Bashanhavothjair + 2334."
Psalm 22:12 — Comments- The phrase "bulls of Bashan" occurs only once in the Old Testament. We can picture a land where there was an open range, without the barbed wire fences that we are familiar with today. We can imagine some breeds of cattle with an aggressive temperament. Such bulls amongst a herd of heifers would be very aggressive against anyone coming near the area. In contrast, some breeds of cattle are very mild in temperament. The psalmist may be comparing the aggressive bulls of Bashan to the aggressive actions of those who crucified Jesus Christ.
John Gill says the bulls of Bashan represented all of the leaders who led in the crucifixion: the Jewish Sanhedrin, the priests, etc, as well as Herod and Pilate. 26]
26] John Gill, Psalm, in John Gill's Expositor, in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005), notes on Psalm 22:12.
Psalm 22:13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
Psalm 22:14 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.
Psalm 22:14 — Comments- I heard the personal testimony of a man who was attacked by a roaring lion. He told me that he turned his head to the left and saw only jaws and fangs coming at him. Fortunately, his colleague fired at the lion at the last second, hitting him in the chest and prevented his death. The fear that grips a person under such circumstances can be described like Psalm 22:14 when the physical body loses its ability to respond to danger because it becomes so weak.
Psalm 22:14 — Comments- The Shroud of Turin, which is believed to be the actual burial cloth of the Lord Jesus Christ, reveals a man who has been crucified. The image of a man that has somehow been burned into this cloth shows a swollen belly. This is the result of the effects of death by crucifixion as described in Psalm 22:14. 27]
27] Grant R. Jeffery, "The Mysterious Shroud of Turin," [on-line]; accessed 1September 2009; available from http://www.grantjeffrey.com/article/shroud.htm; Internet.
Psalm 22:15 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.
Psalm 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
Psalm 22:16 — "For dogs have compassed me" - Comments- The term "dogs" is used figuratively in Psalm 22:16 to describe evil men ( Isaiah 56:11, Philippians 3:2, Revelation 22:15).
Isaiah 56:11, "Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter."
Philippians 3:2, "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
Revelation 22:15, "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."
Psalm 22:16 — "they pierced my hands and my feet" - Comments- Here is a reference to the nailing of Jesus to the Cross ( John 20:25-27).
John 20:25-27, "The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing."
The Shroud of Turin, which is believed to be the actual burial cloth of the Lord Jesus Christ, reveals a man who has been crucified. His hands were pierced where the hand joins the wrist. This is logical, since a nail in the middle of the palm lacks any bone to support the weight of a Prayer of Manasseh, and the nail would quickly tear through the hand under the body"s weight. If the nail was placed near to the wrist, a group of bones would be able to adequately support the body weight. 28]
28] Grant R. Jeffery, "The Mysterious Shroud of Turin," [on-line]; accessed 1September 2009; available from http://www.grantjeffrey.com/article/shroud.htm; Internet.
Psalm 22:17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
Psalm 22:18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Psalm 22:18 — Comments- Psalm 22:18 is quoted in the Gospels of Matthew and John as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy ( Matthew 27:35, John 19:24). These garments are also mentioned in the Gospels of Mark and Luke ( Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34).
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."
John 19:24, "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."
Mark 15:24, "And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take."
Luke 23:34, "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots."
Psalm 22:21 Save me from the lion"s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
Psalm 22:21 — Word Study on "the unicorns" - Gesenius says the Hebrew word "unicorn" ( רְאֵם) (H 7214) probably refers the wild bull. Therefore, modern English versions often translated the word as "wild ox." The Enhanced Strong says the Hebrew word is found 9 times in the Old Testament and is translated "unicorn" all 9 times in the KJV. This word is only found in Hebrew poetry.
Psalm 22:21 — Comments- Two of the most powerful and dangerous animals in the land of Palestine would be the lion and the wild ox.
Psalm 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Psalm 22:22 — Comments- Psalm 22:22 is quoted in Hebrews 2:12, "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."
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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 22". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany