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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 22

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & PsalmsHengstenberg's Commentary

Introduction

Psalms 22

The Psalm contains the prayer of a sufferer. It begins with the cry, “My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Psalms 22:1-2; and then develops, as it proceeds, how completely anomalous it would be, if God, as all appearances seemed to show, intended to forsake him: “Thou art the Holy and the Glorious One, in all time past the faithful deliverer of Thy people,” In singular contrast to this, stands my misery, my condition, to all appearance completely desperate, which loudly proclaims, that Thou hast forsaken me, Psalms 22:6-8:—a contrast all the more singular, that Thou hast manifested Thyself as my God from my early youth; so that the explanation of the difficulty cannot be found in this, that Thou art not my God as well as theirs, Psalms 22:9-10.

Having demonstrated how completely anomalous desertion would be, and having shown that to the inquiry, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” there is but one answer, “I have not forsaken thee,” the foundation is laid for the petition of Psalms 22:11, “Be not far from me;” and the assignment of the reason thereof, viz., “for distress is nigh, because there is no helper,” prepares the way for a detailed description of the trouble, after which the prayer returns developed and strengthened. The whole description of the trouble, Psalms 22:12-18, is directed to show, that it had come to the very last extremity with the sufferer; that now to be far away, that now not to help, would be thoroughly and completely to forsake; which, according to Psalms 22:1-10, is impossible, inasmuch as it would involve God in opposition to Himself: for the sufferer, it was now a question of existence and non-existence; he is in articulo mortis; another moment, and he will no longer be an object of the Divine assistance at all; surrounded by powerful and furious enemies, in a state of complete exhaustion and dissolution, wasted away and emaciated, a living corpse, the sufferer is awaiting the stroke of death, while those around, breaking the bridge between him and life, are employed in stripping him of, and dividing, his clothes. The prayer, which, after the last basis had thus been given to it (God cannot forsake, Psalms 22:1-10; He would forsake, if He did not help now, Psalms 22:12-18) breaks out in an expanded form in Psalms 22:19-21, passes on, at its conclusion, to the confident assurance of an answer,—a confidence which can never fail when built on such a solid foundation.

In the last part (from Psalms 22:22-31), the sufferer depicts the happy consequences of his deliverance, which he anticipates in faith, and, lifted up in spirit above the present, beholds as if it were present. These truly great consequences will extend to all without distinction. First, the greatest of all distinctions, that between Israel and the heathen, will, in reference to these, be abolished. Among Israel ( Psalms 22:22-26), the manifestation of the glory of God, in the deliverance of His servant, will greatly strengthen faith, and will fill all believers with adoring wonder at such a God, and with courage and joy: their heart shall live for ever through this great proof of the life of their God. The heathen, Psalms 22:27-28, from one end of the earth to the other, as they seriously ponder this glorious manifestation of Jehovah, will turn to Him with adoring hearts, as the only true God, so that He, who is the king of the earth, will be recognised as such over it all. In the next place, the distinction of individual circumstances will be removed: rich and poor, high and low, happy and miserable, will take part in blessing this publication, and with devout feelings will thank Him for it. Finally, in Psalms 22:30-31, the distinction of time will be removed: not only at present, but also throughout the distant future, will the praise and the worship of God be extended through this manifestation of His righteousness and faithfulness.

The Psalm naturally divides itself into three strophes, each containing a distinct subject of its own, of the same length, and consisting of ten verses, Psalms 22:1-10, Psalms 22:12-21, Psalms 22:22-31. Between the first and second strophe a verse is thrown in, which, connecting the two together, leads on from the one to the other. De Wette and Koester’s division into strophes of five members cannot be continued throughout, without breaking the connection. The three and the ten play a conspicuous part in several of the Psalms of David. Compare, for example, the (Psalms 18) 18th Psalm.

David is named in the title as the author of the Psalm, and even De Wette is obliged to concede that nothing decisive can be urged against this view.

Hitzig would have Jeremiah acknowledged as the author of the Psalm, but the grounds of his opinion are not such as to call for a formal refutation. “The somewhat diffuse and loose style of Jeremiah” is more or less common to him with all who are in deep distress, and with those who speak from the souls of such. The entire originality of our Psalm does not at all correspond to Jeremiah’s style. There are no characteristic passages in which Jeremiah agrees with our Psalm; and though there were, it would not be sufficient to prove the point. We should only have to assume that Jeremiah, according to his usual practice, borrowed from the older scriptures.

The determination of the subject is a much more difficult point than the determination of the author of the Psalm. Many, going on the supposition that he who appears as speaker can be no other than the author, have assumed that David is the sufferer of the Psalm. Against this idea there are insuperable objections, drawn even from the first part ( Psalms 22:1-21). David never was in such great trouble as is here described; his enemies never parted his clothes, or cast lots upon his vesture; even in the greatest heat of the conflict with Saul, to which alone we can look, he never was in that state of exhaustion, weakness, and emaciation, which meets us in the subject of this Psalm. In addition to this, we must observe, that while in the picture of the sufferings there is much which does not suit David’s case, we do not meet, on the other hand, with one expression, by which we could single out any circumstance in David’s history to which this prayer could be referred. This hypothesis, moreover, appears completely untenable, when we look at the second part. Such consequences as are there spoken of—among others, the conversion of all the nations of the whole earth to the true God, the fulfilment of the great promise made to the Patriarchs

David could not possibly expect to flow from his deliverance.

The objections urged against David apply with equal force against any other Israelitish individual—against Hezekiah (according to Jahn), and Jeremiah (according to Hitzig)—suppositions which are, moreover, rendered untenable by the words of the title.

That the reference of this Psalm to David, or to any other member of the Jewish nation, is untenable, appears from the efforts made by all who maintain it to get rid of the facts contained in the Psalm by arbitrary interpretations. What sacrifices, for example, is Hoffmann compelled to make (Prophecy and its Fulfilment, Part I. p. 156) to uphold his hypothesis, according to which the Psalm refers to David, in the circumstances narrated at 1 Samuel 25, 26. The first part contains, according to him, a strange medley of fact and imagination, distinguished from each other by no rule, except as they best suit the convenience of the maintainer of this hypothesis. In the first strophe, the first and second verses contain matters of fact, the seventh and eighth matters of fancy: “how they will insult the prisoner, and mock at his trust in God.” In the second part, from Psalms 22:12 to Psalms 22:15, the subject-matter is historical; from Psalms 22:16 to Psalms 22:18, the circumstances (which cannot be made to correspond to the supposed condition) are hypothetical: “He sees Himself in their midst, and witnesses their joy at His wasted form, and how after His death they part and cast lots for His clothes.” A very singular way, assuredly, of determining the situation. One, according to it, would need to have a very free hand, and to have a peculiar taste for following every sudden idea. In the second part, the conversion of the heathen is violently separated from its cause and occasion: “The time will come when the people will again think upon Jehovah, and turn to Him.” The whole passage, from Psalms 22:26 to Psalms 22:31, will merely show, “what a God He must be who has listened to such a prayer, and to whom such praise will be rendered.” Against this the last verse is quite sufficient:

They shall make known His righteousness, and that He hath done this. At the expression, “they eat,” Psalms 22:29, there will have to be supplied, “the good things of life,”—arbitrarily (for the object to be eaten must be determined from the preceding context), and in opposition to Psalms 22:26.

Other attempts to set aside the actual state of the case by exposition, I have already adverted to in my Christology. Among these we reckon the assertion, which, after the example of Venema, has been frequently brought forward, that the sufferer in the Psalm is not yet in the power of his enemies, but only threatened by them. The passages which are brought forward for the purpose, viz., Psalms 22:11-12, Psalms 22:20-21, do not prove it: for the nearness of the trouble in Psalms 22:11, is not contrasted with its presence, but with its distance; trouble is near to him who is in the midst of it; the expression, “ many bulls have compassed me, etc.,” suits a victim which has been seized, and, to cut off every hope of escape, has been surrounded by ferocious enemies, for the purpose of inflicting the death-stroke; and the ( Psalms 22:20) 20th and ( Psalms 22:21) 21st verses only show, what of itself is obvious, that this stroke has not yet fallen. The ( Psalms 22:17) 17th and ( Psalms 22:18) 18th verses prove the contrary:—according to them, his enemies have already stripped the sufferer quite naked, so that his emaciation lies exposed to his own eyes and to theirs, while they enjoy the miserable spectacle, and divide his clothes among themselves. To refer, with Rosenmüller and others, the ( Psalms 22:18) 18th verse merely to the proposal to divide the clothes, will not do, irrespective of every other consideration, on account of the connection with the ( Psalms 22:17) 17th verse, where the sufferer is represented as already stripped naked. Those who propose to understand the ( Psalms 22:18) 18th verse figuratively, appear to be at a loss what to say in their embarrassment.

The hypothesis of Jarchi, Kimchi, and others, is much more tolerable, viz., that by the sufferer we are to understand the people, or the pious part of the same. It will afterwards come out that this hypothesis, and in a certain measure, also, the one which refers the Psalm to David, has truth for its foundation. But if we apply the Psalm to the people directly and exclusively, we shall meet with insuperable difficulties. On the supposition that the sufferer is the whole people, it will clearly be necessary to understand, that by the troop of evil-doers, the dogs, the lions, and the bulls, the heathen are especially and exclusively meant; for which idea the Psalm does not furnish one single particle of evidence. The opposition everywhere, is between wickedness and uprightness: and it is quite arbitrary here, as in all the similar cases which are so frequent in the Psalms, to turn a purely moral into a national opposition. Further, if we suppose the whole people, or the pious part of the same, to be the sufferer, how could he say he would make known the name of the Lord among his brethren, that he would praise Him in the midst of the congregation, that from him would go forth His praise in the great assembly, that he would pay his vows before them that fear Him? How could he exhort the fearers of God, the whole seed of Jacob, the whole seed of Israel, placing himself over against them, to praise the Lord for what had happened to him? How could he promise to the meek, to those who seek the Lord, nothing more than the co-enjoyment of a salvation which was primarily conferred on himself, and nothing, more than the strengthening of their faith from the same? The whole passage, from ( Psalms 22:22) 22d to ( Psalms 22:26) 26th verse, is, on that hypothesis, altogether unintelligible: it is fatal to every view which removes the contents of the Psalm entirely from the domain of individual application. Such views also are contradicted by the strong prominence given throughout the Psalm to what specially belongs to an individual person: the sufferer speaks of his mother, his heart, his tongue, his skin, his hands, his feet, etc.—a form of speech which can lose its proper application only when well-defined marks show that the term employed is a collective one.

The view which has really prevailed in the Christian Church, is that which refers the Psalm directly and exclusively to Christ. The author by no means regrets that he adopted this view in the Christology. It was the easiest and the most natural of those which were then before the world, to which his attention was more immediately directed; and he would not even now hesitate for one moment to adopt it, were he limited to making a choice among these, as he supposed he was,—having as yet advanced but a little way on an independent footing into the depths of the Old Testament. In addition to the views already mentioned, there was still another, held by Calvin, Melancthon, Amyrald, and others, and advocated in modern times by Stier and Umbreit,—the typical-Messianic. David, it is maintained, according to this hypothesis, in crying to the Lord on the ground of a particular case of distress, transfers, elevated by the spirit of Messianic prophecy, his own being into the extreme sufferings of the hoped-for Messiah, and speaks as the present type of the coming Deliverer. Although the author acknowledges that in this attempt justice is done to those considerations which may be pleaded in favour of opposing expositions, yet he cannot but regard it as an unsuccessful attempt at reconciliation. Such a view of the way in which the Psalm was produced, appears to him as psychologically altogether inconceivable. How David could extend his own consciousness to that of his offspring, is conceivable enough; but without a destruction of the life of the soul, we cannot conceive of an hesitation and vacillation between one’s own and another’s personality.

Meantime, the direct and exclusive reference of the Psalm to Christ, presents such difficulties, that one cannot feel perfectly satisfied with it, but is inwardly forced to look round for some other interpretation, which may content the exegetical conscience. We cannot, without violence, suppose the Messiah to be introduced speaking, without any characterization whatever of His person,—compare, for example, our remarks on the (Psalms 16) 16th Psalm. The Psalm, moreover, is so nearly related to a number of others, which have the sufferings of the righteous one generally for their subject, that it appears very difficult to break its connection with them, and to isolate it too much. Finally, what is said, in the second part, of the consequences of the deliverance of the sufferer, is undoubtedly far too grand to allow of its application to any one Israelitish individual, and far too personal to allow of its application directly and exclusively to the people; and, on the other hand, the exegetical sense cannot reconcile itself to set aside all other realizations of the idea, that nothing more promotes the glory of God, that nothing more powerfully tends to awaken and move the spirits of men to serve Him, than the deliverance of suffering righteousness, whether these realizations be in the experience of individuals, or in that of the Church at large, and to confine all to the one realization of the idea in Christ. The mighty influence, for example, which the almost miraculous deliverance of David from the hand of Saul must have had in quickening the fear of God,—the events also which are recorded in Exodus 18:19, “And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians: now know I that the Lord is greater than all gods,”—in 2 Chronicles 32:23, “And many (after the Lord had glorified Himself in the deliverance of righteous Hezekiah from his enemies) brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah, king of Judah, so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations henceforth,”—and those in Daniel 3:28,—come so obviously within the domain of the second part, that one can scarcely rest satisfied with any interpretation which places them altogether out of connection with it.

While all existing interpretations are thus encumbered with serious difficulties, we make our escape at once, and completely, from the region of embarrassment and constraint, if we consider the Psalm as referring to the ideal person of the Righteous One,—a character which is introduced more frequently throughout the Psalms than any other, so that nothing but ignorance can raise against this interpretation the reproach of arbitrariness. In this interpretation, justice is done to that truth which lies at the foundation of every one of the existing views, while, at the same time, the difficulties which stand in the way of every one of these are avoided. On this view, the case stands as follows: “David composed this poem for the use of the Church, like most of his other productions, on the ground-work of his own experience, which, in this respect, had from the beginning been so peculiarly rich. How the righteous man in this world of sin must suffer much; and how the Lord, when it comes to the last extremity, gloriously delivers him; and how his sufferings, through the manifestation of the Divine glory in his deliverance and in his victory over an ungodly world, subserve the honour of God and the sanctifying of His name, and accelerate the approach of His kingdom—this is the theme. Every particular righteous man might appropriate to himself the consolation of this Psalm—might expect, in his own experience, the realization of the hopes expressed in it, in so far as the reality in him corresponded to the idea,—in so far as he embodied in his own person the ideal righteous man. In like manner also might the community of the righteous, the people of the covenant, in all public troubles, draw from it comfort,—the confident assurance, that the extremity of trouble must at the same time be the turning-point, and that the seed of tears must produce a rich harvest in the way of advancing the kingdom of God. With all this the Psalm retained, on the whole, till the coming of Christ, the character of an unfulfilled prophecy. According to the proportion of righteousness was the proportion of deliverance, and of blessed results for the kingdom of God. Every temporary fulfilment pointed forward to a perfect one yet to come. By those in whom hope in the Messiah was in general a living one, this could be expected only in Him. The most perfect righteousness belongs so necessarily to the idea of the Messiah, that it could not be present to the mind without the most distinct recognition thereof. Now, in this Psalm we find righteousness represented as necessarily connected with the severest and deepest suffering, springing out of the natural enmity of the ungodly world. Consequently, the inference is clear, that the Messiah, if a righteous, must also be a suffering one. And, further, as here we find connected suffering righteousness and such exalted deliverance, we infer that this salvation in the highest and fullest sense must be the lot of him who should be the first to realize in perfection the idea of suffering righteousness. Lastly, as the glory of God will be in proportion to the salvation vouchsafed, it must be in the time of the Messiah that this will for the first time appear in all its extent and depth, as here described.

That, according to this view, justice is done to all the references which occur in the New Testament to our Psalm (compare Matthew 27:39, Matthew 27:43, Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34; John 19:24; Hebrews 2:11-12; and on the passage, the Christology, page 176, etc., and besides, also Matthew 28:10, and John 20:17, where our Saviour, after His resurrection, with a significant reference to Psalms 22:22, calls His disciples His brethren), is clear as day, and becomes particularly obvious, when we direct our attention to the other quotations from the Psalms in the history of our Saviour’s sufferings. Not one of them refers to a Psalm which is of direct and exclusive Messianic import. The (Psalms 69) 69th Psalm, which, next to the one now under consideration, is the most remarkable, contains features which will not apply to Christ (the strong prominence, for example, given to the sinfulness of the sufferer), and which exclude the idea that our Lord and His Apostles have given it a direct and exclusive Messianic interpretation. Still, it is necessary to observe, that the providence of God so ordered the circumstances, that the inward conformity of the sufferer of our Psalm to Christ should become outwardly manifest. The Psalm would have been fulfilled in Christ, even although the passers-by had not shaken the head, or the mockers quoted its very words; even although there had been no dividing of His garments or casting lots upon His vestures. But the striking resemblance in these particular circumstances must be considered as an index, pointing to the hidden, inward resemblance. The same object subserved by this secret guidance of Divine providence, Christ also had in view, when He borrowed His first exclamation on the cross from the commencement of the Psalm, and referred in His last words to its closing sentence; thereby impressively intimating, that the whole Psalm was now being fulfilled.

The question may very naturally be asked, What is it that has brought such honour to our Psalm (which even Strauss, though without a good intention, has entitled the programme of the crucifixion of Christ) what is it that has led to its being exalted above so many similar Psalms by which it is surrounded,

Psalms which celebrate the contest of the righteous in this world of sin, and the deliverance which the Lord vouchsafes to them, and are consequently, also, indirect prophecies of Christ; inasmuch as every suffering that fell to the lot of a righteous man because of his righteousness, and every deliverance which a righteous man obtained because of his righteousness, was presignificant of Him? To this question a threefold answer may be given. First, as has been suggested by Umbreit: “Among the many Psalms which speak of the persecutions of the righteous by their enemies, there is not one other Psalm which so expressively and powerfully collects together, and concentrates in one individual figure, the accumulated pains and tortures of the sufferers in the contest with an ungodly world.” Second, those Psalms which originally refer to one particular individual sufferer, stand one degree more remote from direct application to the Messiah than this one, which does not first require a separation of the idea from the individual. In like manner, the reference to the Messiah is less prominent in those Psalms in which the righteous man is introduced speaking, but with a reference to his own failings and weaknesses. Of these no mention whatever is made in this Psalm. Lastly, in no Psalm are the consequences which flow from the deliverance of the righteous man painted in such prominent and comprehensive colours as they are here.

Title. To the chief musician—on the hind of the dawn of the morning—a choice Psalm of David. The expression, על אילת השחר , has been very variously interpreted. The simple remark, however, that אילה , wherever it occurs, always signifies a hind, and that it would be perfectly arbitrary to give it any other interpretation here, so decidedly sets aside a whole host of expositions, that it is unnecessary even to quote them. The interpretation of שחר is in like manner ascertained: all expositions which do not translate it by the dawn of the morning, must at once be thrown aside. Those who keep by the ascertained sense of the words, are generally of opinion that these words are either the beginning of a song, or a passage from one, the tune of which is to be sung to this Psalm: like, “The hind of the morning.” These again are divided, as to whether the expression must be understood as denoting literally a hind, or (according to Gesenius in the Thes.) as a poetical phrase for the rising sun. This last interpretation is without any analogy in the Hebrew language; and has a very insufficient ground to rest on in the fact that Arabic poets designate the rising sun “roe;” and a still weaker support in the fact that the Talmud uses the term, “the hind of the dawn of the morning,” which, however, is not original, but has obviously flown from the passage before us. This whole exposition, however, has this against it, that there is not one single ascertained case, in which a poem, the tune of which is to be sung to the Psalm, is quoted in the title. Only in a case of utmost necessity, therefore, could we come to the resolution of adopting such an interpretation. Especially, before adopting it, would it be necessary for us to investigate whether it be not possible to interpret the words as designative of the subject of the Psalm. On a close examination of similar dark and enigmatical superscriptions, especially of such as are introduced with על , it almost always appears that they demand such an interpretation. More especially in those Psalms of which David is the author, such a reference is one which might a priori be expected, as David was particularly fond of indicating, by such enigmatical superscriptions, the contents and object of his Psalms. It cannot be denied that the hind is a very appropriate emblem of the suffering and persecuted righteous man who meets us in the Psalm. On the one hand, the stag, or the hind and the roe, are frequently employed as emblematical of one persecuted or put to death. For example, 2 Samuel 1:19, David himself says of Jonathan, “The roe, O Israel, is slain on thy high places;”—on which clause Michaelis makes the following remark, “comparator Jonathan cum caprea a venatoribus confossa:” Proverbs 6:5, “Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler,” Isaiah 13:14. And, on the other hand, the hind and the roe are used as emblems of loveliness, Genesis 49:21; Proverbs 5:19; Song of Solomon 2:7, Song of Solomon 2:9, Song of Solomon 8:14; and by the Arabians as emblems of innocence, especially on the persecuted. In Meidani (Freytag, Th. 1, N. 148), there occurs the proverb, “eum invadat malum, non dorcadem,” him—not an innocent or a righteous person: and Ferazadak (in Freytag on the passage) says, on receiving intelligence of the death of one of his enemies: “dico ei, cum ejus mors mihi nunciata esset ei non dorcadi albae in arenarum tumulo (accidat).” There is the less reason for hesitating as to this interpretation, if we remember that David, in other places, draws from the animal creation emblems of the sufferers and the persecuted: 1 Samuel 26:20, “The king of Israel is come out to hunt a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge on the mountains;” 1 Samuel 24:15, “After whom is the king of Israel come out? After whom doest thou pursue? After a dead dog, after a flea?” and, in the title to the (Psalms 56) 56th Psalm, “on the dumb dove among the strangers,” which bears a remarkable analogy to the passage before us. The reasons already adduced show, that it is at least exceedingly probable that the hind may be a figurative expression significant of suffering innocence. And it is put beyond doubt by the fact, that the wicked and the persecutors in this Psalm, to the peculiar physiognomy of which belong emblems drawn from the brute creation, are designated by the terms dogs, lions, bulls, and buffaloes. In the title of such a Psalm, we might, a priori, expect to find such a description of the sufferer as should correspond to that of the persecutors, especially as no such appellation occurs in the body of the Psalm. A special argument in favour of this interpretation is furnished by the term אילותי , my strength, Psalms 22:19,—a word which occurs nowhere else in Scripture, and which seems to have been formed by the Psalmist for the sake of the allusion to the title. The אילה (hind) has its name from strength, but it lacks the substance:—a creature without strength, it is the natural prey of dogs, lions, buffaloes. But the strength which it has not in itself it has in the Lord, who must hasten to the help of the weak. On every other interpretation, the reference of אילות to אילת which is so manifest, remains unexplained. Finally, this reference shows at the same time that the title came from the pen of the author of the Psalm, and goes far to establish the originality generally of the titles. We are led to the same result by the manifest connection between אילת , and the expression אלי , אלי , properly, my Strong One, at the very opening of the Psalm, and also by the circumstance that the symbolical designation of the sufferer in the title exactly corresponds to those of his enemies in the Psalm itself. All these references are so fine and significant, that they can have proceeded only from the author himself. Hitherto we have been discussing only the term “hind,” and have left its adjunct, “the dawn of the morning,” out of sight. The generality of those who consider the title as indicating the contents of the Psalm, trace the connection which the hind has with the morning dawn to its being early hunted. But this reference is too remote to admit of its being intended by such a short expression. The only legitimate exposition is that which is grounded on the general figurative use of the morning dawn. That the morning dawn is used in a figurative sense, we are entitled to expect from the analogy of the hind. Now, the common idea conveyed by the figurative use of the morning dawn, is that of “prosperity coming after misfortunes.” Hence in Isaiah 58:8, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning;” Isaiah 58:10, “Then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:” Isaiah 47:11, “There shall evil come upon thee, the morning whereof thou shalt not know;” Isaiah 8:20. Hosea 6:3, Hosea 10:15. 2 Samuel 23:4. The expression will thus indicate the prosperous termination of the sufferer’s condition: the suffering righteous man to whom salvation is imparted,—a title as suitable, as exactly corresponding to the contents, as can well be conceived. The fact so carefully brought forward by the Evangelists, that Christ rose at the day-dawn,—a circumstance by no means unimportant,—points to the expression, “of the morning.”

The first division of the first part begins, in the ( Psalms 22:1) 1st and ( Psalms 22:2) 2d verses, with the complaining question, and the interrogative complaint, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” In grounding this complaint, it is shown first, Psalms 22:3-8, that God is acting towards the sufferer, whom He is giving over to destruction, in a very different manner from the way in which He had manifested Himself, in all time past, in the experience of His people; and then, Psalms 22:9 and Psalms 22:10, that God is as really the God of the sufferer as He had been theirs. To this detail the prayer is next appended, Psalms 22:11, that God would remove the anomaly thus demonstrated to exist, that He would not be far from the sufferer, that He would not forsake him.

Verse 1

Ver. 1. My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me, far from my deliverance, far from the words of my groaning? In the first clause everything depends upon defining the idea of forsaking. This term can here signify nothing less than an entire and complete giving up. For the trial is completely at an end, as soon as God reveals to the sufferer that now his sufferings shall have an end. As soon as he can say, “Thou hast heard me,” he sees that everything is right. The trial also does not consist in temporary suffering, considered as such—this the sufferer knows that he must lay his account with—but in the supposition that he has been given up by God altogether, and for ever. Hence therefore the cry,” Thou hast forsaken me,” does not refer to an actual fact, but rests on a conclusion which the sufferer draws from his apparently thoroughly desperate condition, and upon the feeling of his flesh, which cries, that now, when there is but a “hair between him and death,” everything is utterly lost. To get free from this conclusion and this feeling, is the work that devolves on the sufferer. After he has honestly done his part, and taken living hold of those truths which render the forsaking altogether impossible, he receives from God the only answer which can be given to his complaint, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” “I have not forsaken thee, notwithstanding appearances and feeling.” From this exposition, it is evident that these words, so far from being expressive of despair, are rather destined to counteract despair, to tear it up by the roots, when it is like to steal over us. From it, also, it is evident that the idea of the Berleb. Bible, that these words are strictly suitable only in the lips of Christ, is altogether erroneous. “Among us,” it is there said, “no man may, in his suffering, ask God why hast Thou sent this or that affliction? for we shall at all times find sufficient reason why we have deserved this, and much more. All that a suffering man can say is, O my, God forsake me not.” The sufferer before us does not ask why God, in general, allows him to suffer, but why He has forsaken him. To this why, every one has a right, who can in truth call God his God, notwithstanding his manifold failings. For “God has forsaken no one who trusts in Him at all times,” and God can forsake no such one. In short, the expression, forsake me not, which alone, it would appear, is admissible, is not essentially different from the exclamation, Why hast Thou forsaken me, and must rest on precisely the same ground. He only who can ask God, “ Wherefore hast Thou forsaken me?” can pray with confident assurance, “Forsake me not.”

The previous appellation, My God, my God, contains the ground of the wherefore, the right to put such a question. He who cannot call God his God, he who is without the covenant and without the promises, he who has obtained no pledges of the grace of God, may be justly forsaken: he has no ground to implore of God, that He would show by the result that the desertion is altogether a matter of appearance and feeling. Nay more, the greater the right any one has to call God his God, the greater is the confidence and decision with which he can utter the why. Thus it is evident that the most complete right to the why is reserved for one, viz. Christ, who, in the full sense, can call God His God; at the same time, a sufficient right belongs also to all believers. The emphatic repetition of the expression, My God, shows how firmly the sufferer clings to this his only ground of hope, how thoroughly conscious he is that it is here that he is to find an antidote to despair, that it is from this point that there must go forth a reaction against present appearances. The expression, My God, occurring three times, here and in Psalms 22:2, is assuredly not accidental.

The following remarks are Luther’s: “Wherefore, let us shut up these words in our hearts, and let us keep them carefully there, till the proper time comes when we shall need them. Whoever cannot comprehend them, let him remain with the people on the plain, in the field below, and allow the disciples to go to Christ to the mountain. Luke 6:12, Luke 6:17. For, not all the sayings of this Psalm are uttered to each and every man, since all have not the same gifts, and all have not the same sufferings. The Scriptures, according to the circumstances of individuals, have milk for sucklings, and wine and food for the strong; so that there is consolation not only for the weak, but also for the strong and for those who are enduring great sufferings.”

The second clause most interpreters, after the example of the Septuagint and Luther ( I cry, but my help is far), translate: “far from my deliverance are the words of my lamentation:” there is a great gulf between the cry for help, and the help itself, which, now that matters are at the very last extremity with the sufferer—now that he stands with one foot in the grave,—ought to stand in close contact with each other. Others translate: “far from my help, from the words of my lamentation.” This translation is undoubtedly to be preferred. Were we to refer רחוק to דברי , the plural would be required; and, what is still more decisive, the reference of רחוק to God is rendered necessary by the expression אל תרחק in the ( Psalms 22:11) 11th and ( Psalms 22:19) 19th verses. The cry in these verses, “be not far,” grows out of the address here, “Thou art far,” after that the impossibility of his continuing longer in existence had been shown. God is far from the deliverance which He does not work out, and from the complaint which He does not hear. This is all the more painful, that the time for deliverance is just expiring, and that the man from whom the complaint proceeds, is at the very gates of death; so that not to help now—not to hear now—appears to be to give up altogether. We may not, however, adopt the view of most of those who follow this exposition, and translate, “Thou art far.” This would require the pronoun: רחוק is in apposition to the pronoun in עזבתני . The term שאגה signifies primarily, “roaring,” or “bellowing,” and secondarily, “loud complaining.”

Verse 2

Ver. 2. My God, I cry in the day time, and Thou answerest not; and in the night time, and I am not silent. Substantially, the “why” is to be supplied here also. To be able to call God his God, and, in extreme distress, to cry continually without being heard, is a striking contradiction, which imperiously calls for removal by God’s at length hearing. The last words are translated by many, and I have no rest. But the term דומיה always signifies “silence;” and this, translation is particularly necessary here, in consequence of the opposition between the term and the “cry” of the first clause. The sufferer can be silent when his cry finds an answer, when he gets assurance of being heard and helped: so that thus I am not silent is exactly parallel to Thou answerest not.

Verse 3

Ver. 3. And Thou art holy, sitting enthroned on Israel’s praise. There is no reason for substituting and yet in room of the simple and ascertained and. The contrast between the supposed reality and the idea—between the apparent personal and the general experience—is not here indicated in relation to the first and second verses, but is drawn for the first time in Psalms 22:6-8 in relation to the contents of Psalms 22:3-5. The import is: that I may lay down a further basis on which I rest my right to utter the complaint, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?”

Thou art holy, and hast always taken an interest in Thine own people, hast never forsaken any one of them; but I appear to be altogether forsaken by Thee. For Thou takest no interest in me, although I am now sunk to the very depth of misery.

The idea of holiness in Scripture, embraces in it the idea meant to be conveyed by theologians when they define the term to be, “the highest purity in God demanding the same purity on the part of the creature.” This is evident from the command, “Be ye holy, for I am holy;” and Isaiah 6:5, where the thrice repeated “holy” of the seraphims awakens in the prophet a consciousness of his own impurity. But the two ideas are by no means identical: the scriptural one is much more comprehensive than the other. Holiness in the Scriptures comprehends majesty, as well as holiness in the limited sense. God is holy, inasmuch as He is separated from every created and finite being, and lifted above them, particularly above sin, which can establish its seat only within the domain of finite beings. The opinion of Gesenius (Thes.) and of Nitzsch (Sys. 77), who would identify the scriptural with the theological sense, is negatived by the very passage, the sixth chapter of Isaiah, which shows above all others, that the Divine holiness forms also a contrast to human sinfulness. There, the thrice repeated cry of “holy” is immediately followed up by the expression, intended to form its foundation, “the whole earth is full of His glory;” and is accompanied by the description of the prophet, “seated on a throne, high, and lifted up,” and “mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord, the Lord of hosts.” In like manner, also, we have in Isaiah 57:15, the holiness of God placed in juxtaposition with “high,” and “lifted up,” and in contrast to, “of a contrite and humble spirit:” “Thus saith the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.” In Isaiah 40:25 and Isaiah 40:26, we find the “holiness” of God brought into connection with His power, as displayed in the creation of the world, in a way which is inapplicable on the theological view: “To whom will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One: lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things:” to whom will ye compare Me, who am lifted up above all created and finite beings, as their Creator, from whom I am separated? In Habakkuk 3:3, the holiness of God stands in connection with His glory and His praise. “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran: His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.” In the (Psalms 99) 99th Psalm, the holiness of God, into which His whole praise is resolved, separates Him not only from sin, but from everything earthly and human. In the third verse, it is parallel to, “great and terrible” (נורא ). With the latter of these terms it stands also in intimate connection in Psalms 111:9, “holy and reverend (נורא ) is His name.” The signification of purity, then, so far from being the only one of קדוש , cannot be considered even as the fundamental one. Nothing can be said in favour of this; for the remarks made by Gesenius, for the purpose of proving that the fundamental idea of קדוש is that of physical purity, rest on a mistaken view of the symbolical character of the precepts, in reference to the outward purity required by the law:—and that the idea implied in קדוש in such passages is that of holiness, and not that of outward purity, is evident simply from the motive appended to the exhortation, “Be ye holy, for God is holy.” On the other hand, the position for which we are arguing is confirmed by the circumstance, that קדוש is much more frequently used with a general reference to the distance between God and all created beings, than to the distance specially between Him and sin—a circumstance which does not admit of explanation, on the supposition that the theological sense is the fundamental one.

In so far as the term is used in reference to God, those explanations are altogether to be rejected which imply the idea of God separating Himself from all other nations, and consecrating Himself as the God of Israel, or (Menken and Stier) as one who condescends in self-denying love.

Even in the passage before us, קדוש stands in opposition, not only to what is sinful, but also generally to whatever is created, earthly, human. It indicates that, in reference to God, every thought of inability or unwillingness, where He has promised, as proceeding from unfaithfulness, must be excluded. God has always manifested Himself as holy, inasmuch as He has delivered His people through the mighty deeds of His right hand, has maintained His covenant, and has gloriously fulfilled His promises. He shines like a clear bright sun, unsullied by the spots of weakness or falsehood of the human race, which is wholly covered over with these spots, and presents points of light only where it is illuminated by this sun. That the holiness of God here undoubtedly comprehends His faithfulness, is obvious from the expression, “His righteousness,” in the 31st verse.

In the second clause, the praise-songs of Israel come into notice, in so far as God, in proving Himself to be the Holy One, has given ample occasion to praise Him. There is, in all probability, an allusion to the frequent expression, יושב הכרובים ; at least, on comparing this it becomes evident that the praises of Israel are here to be regarded as the throne, the seat of honour, of God: enthroned on the praise-songs. The exposition of De Wette is unsuitable: “Inhabitant of the praises.” ישב does not signify to inhabit, but only to sit, to dwell, to be enthroned. Gesenius regards יושב as used in a transitive sense—and dwelling among the praise-songs of Israel, viz. in the temple, in which the praises of Israel are heard. But יושב is never construed with an accusative. Of the three passages which Gesenius adduces for this construction, in the first, Genesis 4:20, it is not admissible, and in the other two, Isaiah 42:11 and Isaiah 44:13, it is not necessary.

Verses 4-5

Ver. 4. Our fathers trusted in Thee; they trusted, and Thou deliveredst them. Ver. 5. They cried to Thee, and were delivered; they trusted in Thee, and were not put to shame. Luther remarks: “These words look very like as if they were spoken out of envy and vehement indignation against God. For although He is the same God, yet He has heard and delivered the fathers who have hoped in Him and cried to Him, but from this sufferer here, who also hopes and cries, He turns away, and forsakes him. For it is really a hard matter, and one which tempts a person sorely to despair and to blaspheme, that the same God should act differently towards one from what He does to another, without any fault on his part. Whoever has been engaged in such a contest has felt such unutterable distress in his mind.” Assuredly, the pain of the sufferer must be greatly augmented by the isolation of his condition, so soon as he decidedly concludes himself to be entirely forsaken. But this is not the case with our sufferer. Although appearances and his own feelings say that he is forsaken, yet, even from the beginning, faith is in the background, and by and by it gains a complete victory over sight and sense. What at the first glance strengthens the complaint, becomes, when more deeply pondered, the transition to hope: for whoever is fully persuaded that God has at all times, and without any exception, manifested Himself as the Holy One, the deliverer of His people, cannot but come gradually to know that there must be a mistake as to the assumed single exception. The expression, “Thou art the Holy One,” is a corroding element, which must by and by entirely consume the other, “Thou hast forsaken, me.”

The deeds of the Lord, to which the speaker refers, are peculiarly those which took place when the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, and were put in possession of the promised land. The expression, our fathers, of which the natural counterpart is, “we, their posterity, Thy present people,” would seem to lead to the conclusion, that the speaker is not an individual, but a personified community. At least, in all similar passages, it is not an individual, but the Church of God, that is introduced complaining of the difference between the present and the past, praying for its removal, and grounding hope for the future on the early deliverances vouchsafed by the Lord to His people: comp., for example, Psalms 44:2, “O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us what Thou hast done in their days, in the days of old;” and also Psalms 78:12, etc.; Isaiah 63:7, etc.; Habakkuk 3:1. Still the reference to the community of the righteous is designedly of the most indistinct character, in order that the individual suffering righteous man also may appropriate to himself the contents of these verses.

The repetition of בטחו in the second clause of the ( Psalms 22:4) 4th verse, is intended to bind together, as inseparably as possible, the trust and the deliverance, and to show that there is the most intimate connection between them; that trust is always succeeded by deliverance. The occurrence of the expression three times is assuredly not accidental.

Stier refers בושו to the being confounded before the world, to the disgrace before the ungodly, which is more painful than any disappointment of one’s own. But there is no reason for making this special reference; for בוש is constantly used in the sense of, to be ashamed, to be disappointed of one’s hope.

Verse 6

Ver. 6. But I am a worm, and no man, a reproach of men, and one despised of the people. All that is brought forward in this and the two following verses, appears evidently designed to produce the impression, that the sufferer is entirely forsaken by God; and it is only in this view that it is here brought forward. It is not suffering in itself, but the deepest and apparently irremediable depth of suffering that is placed in opposition to the deliverance of the fathers. The term ואנכי is expressive of emphatic contrast—“it is altogether otherwise with me: I am a worm, etc.” Man is compared to a worm in Job 25:6, on account of the nothingness of his existence. The worm in the passage before us, as in Isaiah 41:13, serves to designate nothingness within nothingness, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob.” The passage, 1 Samuel 25:15, is analogous, where David describes himself as a dead dog, or as a flea. To the clause, and no man, correspondsחֲ?דַ?ל אִ?ישׁ?ִ?ים in Isaiah 53:3, literally, “ceasing from among men, no longer belonging to them.” The term, a reproach of men, properly, of the human race, indicates that the domain of the reproach is so extensive, that the whole human race may be said to reproach. One despised of the people, is one despised by the people. The people stands in opposition to one individual. The reproach is not that of an individual, it is of a popular character. The reproach and the contempt are brought under our notice, not so much in themselves, as in reference to the ground on which they rest,—the deep misery of the sufferer, whose condition is such that it is reckoned by all men as altogether desperate.

Verse 7

Ver. 7. All who see me laugh me to scorn: they open wide the lips, they shake the head. The ב in בשפה indicates that the lip is the instrument of the opening. A parallel passage, Psalms 35:21, “They open their mouth wide against me,” and Job 16:10. Instead of “they shake the head,” the later commentators, after the example of Lackemacher, whose renderings are always somewhat suspicious, have, “they nod the head;” adducing as the reason, that it is not the shaking of the head, which is a gesture of denial, that is here suitable, but the nodding of the head, which is a gesture of assent, and in the face of the sufferer a gesture of satisfaction. But this exposition is etymologically inadmissible: the word הניע is altogether identical with our shake; and to shake the head is exactly the import of ראש הניע , the phrase which occurs in quite a similar connection, and also of κινεῖ?ν τὴ?ν κεφαλὴ?ν of the Septuagint and of Matthew. And the reason above adduced for departing from the only correct rendering in an etymological point a view, is at once set aside by the remark, that the denial does not here refer to the suffering, but to the existence of the sufferer. This they deny him, on the ground of his irremediable misery. The idea is this: They shake the head, in connection especially with what follows, where they declare his condition to be completely desperate, and him to be wholly forsaken of God. This connection is all the more significant, that what follows, from the omission of the לאםר , is clearly seen to be a mere commentary on the gesture: after saying by pantomime, it is all over with him, they say it by words.

Verse 8

Ver. 8. “‘Devolve upon the Lord’ (he has said), Now let Him rescue him, let Him deliver him, since He has delight in him.” The reproach and contempt grounded on the great depth of the sufferer’s misery, and illustrative of it,—the whole world has given him over for lost,—we have intimated to us in general in Psalms 22:6 th; in Psalms 22:7 th, we have its expression by gestures, and in the verse before us, in words. How sure the mockers are of the destruction of the sufferer,—how completely impossible it appears to them, that God should deliver him,—is evident in the clearest manner from this, that they express, in the form of a wish, what, if it should really happen, would be in the highest degree fatal to them. Had they entertained a single thought of deliverance, they never would have uttered the expression, “Let Him deliver him.” גל is, according to many, an infinitive. Some understand it as used in the sense of an imperative,

Let him trust in the Lord. But this is inadmissible; for, in such a case, the absolute form גּ?ָ?לוֹ?ל must have been used: comp. Ewald, Sm. Gr. 355, 56. The infinitive, moreover, is not simply and everywhere used for the imperative; and there is no reason here for the substitution. Finally, let him commit, is altogether unsuitable to the connection; for גל אל יהוה must correspond to חפץ בו , and can therefore refer only to the relation in which the sufferer has hitherto stood to God, not to that which he is now to do. According to others, the infinitive is used instead of the Preterite tense. But in this case, also, the absolute form would be necessary: moreover, the infinitive cannot be used generally for the Preterite, but only in certain cases (see Ew. 355), of which the passage before us is not one. Those who, in consequence of these difficulties, give up the form of the infinitive altogether, either like Ewald change גּ?ֹ?ל into גּ?ַ?ל or take it as a Preterite with an intransitive sense, indicated by the tone of the voice, he depended. But this alteration is altogether an arbitrary one; there is no trace anywhere of the form in the Preterite, and there is not one single example of the verb being used in an intransitive sense. Besides, the Preterite is unsuitable to the parallel: חפץ בו would, in that case, refer to the sufferer, not to God: he has trusted in God; let Him deliver him, let Him rescue him, since He loves him. But that this will not answer, will be shown immediately.

The form גּ?ֹ?ל is, in other passages, always used as an imperative. Comp. Proverbs 16:9, and Psalms 37:5. And this last passage makes it evident that it must be understood as such in the passage before us. But we must not on this account suppose, with Gesenius, that the imperative is used here in the third person: devolvat, which does not exist. “Devolve upon the Lord,” had been the motto of the sufferer. This the mockers call out to the sufferer in an ironical manner, so that we must read the words with double marks of quotation. As the ungodly are introduced speaking, without any note of preparation, it can make no difficulty that they introduce the sufferer speaking in the same way. “ Trust in God is his motto; now let this God deliver him.” The “he has trusted,”—the “πέ?ποιθεν” of the Septuagint, and of Matthew ( Matthew 27:43) after the Septuagint,—is contained, according to this exposition, in the words. To the “devolve” is, according to Proverbs 16:3, Psalms 37:5, and 1 Peter 5:7, to be supplied, “thy way,” “thy circumstances,” “thy cares,” or something similar. The idea is taken from those who lay a burden on the shoulders of others, which is too heavy for them to bear themselves.

The subject in חפץ בו is the Lord, not the sufferer, as was seen by the Septuagint, ὁ?́?τι θέ?λει αὐ?τό?ν , and by Matt., εἰ? θέ?λει αὐ?τό?ν . חפץ בו is frequently used of the complacency with which the Lord regards His people: חפץ ביהוה nowhere occurs. This exposition is also demanded by the ninth verse. Trust on the part of man, and delight on the part of God, correspond: the conviction of being the object of delight to God, is the ground of the confidence;—it is because the righteous man knows that God delights in him, that he commits to Him all his cares. The mockers see in the condition of the sufferer (considering it as they do as utterly hopeless) an unqualified reproach of his confidence—a practical denial of his conviction of being delighted in by God.

Finally, the mockers here, without intending it, bear testimony, and a testimony of all others the most beautiful, to the righteous man, that he has comforted himself in the grace of God, that he has cast himself, with his whole existence, upon God; and thus the insulting words, “Let Him rescue him, let Him deliver him,” although, in their view, deliverance, in the circumstances of the case, is altogether impossible, contain an undesigned prophecy. God ordained it so, that the mockers at the cross of Christ, from an unconscious recollection, should utter these very words, and thus characterize themselves as the ungodly in relation to the righteous one.

Verse 9

Ver. 9. But Thou didst take me out of my mother’s womb, Thou didst permit me to trust when on my mother’s breasts. The sufferer had hitherto, while complaining of its being altogether anomalous that God should forsake him, silently taken it for granted, that he stood in quite the same relation toward God as those who had been gladdened by deliverances vouchsafed by God. What had hitherto been taken for granted, is here, and in the ( Psalms 22:10) 10th verse, expressly asserted and defended: God is the God of the sufferer, as He has been the God of the fathers,

He has already shown Himself as such in his helpless infancy,

He has given him good ground for exercising that confidence which is always followed by deliverance. Thus every other answer to the complaint, Why hast Thou forsaken me? is cut off except this, I have not forsaken thee: and full preparation is made for the prayer, Psalms 22:11, Be not far from me. The verse before us is in point of form an appendage to the last clause of the preceding one, “He has delight in him:” this is true; for Thou, O God, hast given me the richest proofs of Thy delight. This connection is all the more suitable, when we observe that the mockers took, “He has pleasure in him,” out of the lips of the sufferer, and spoke it out of his soul: What they in contempt upbraid me with, I have with perfect truth asserted; for Thou, etc. It appears at first sight remarkable, that the righteous man, in advancing proof for the position that God is his God, should give such prominence to what is common to all. Still this difficulty loses much of its weight through the remark of Calvin: “This wonder has, through its frequency, become common; but if it were not that ingratitude had blinded our eyes, every birth would fill us with amazement, and every preservation of a child in its tender infancy, exposed as it is, even at its very entrance into the world, to death in a hundred forms.” The following passage from Luther is of a similar import: “Augustine, in the first book of his Confessions, finds great enjoyment and consolation in similar reflections, where he praises God with devout admiration for his creation and birth, and extols the Divine goodness in taking him up, and committing him to the care and attention of his mother. Although thoughts such as these may appear childish, effeminate, and unseasonable, for those who are in such pain and conflicts, yet experience here teaches us to remember these tender, cheerful, lovely works of God, to seek a place of refuge when suffering the hard bites of the wrath and of the rod of God, and to enjoy the sweet and pleasant milk of our mother’s heart, and all these other acts of mercy which were shown during the years of infancy. Thus shall we, when brought into trouble, be led to think (as we are commanded to do) on the days of happiness gone by: when distress and suffering are upon us, we shall remember the great grace and goodness of God manifested to us in early youth; and when we suffer as men, we shall reflect on what we enjoyed when children. . . . Try, and you will then understand what it is to see the Divine majesty employed and taken up with childish, that is, with small, insignificant, yea contemptible works.” If any difficulty is felt after this, it may be removed by the assumption, that while the words were designed to suit the individual who peculiarly appropriated this Psalm, the Psalmist had primarily before his mind the community of the righteous, and on this account gave peculiar prominence to the grace of God manifested at the beginning of its existence, because then (that is, at the deliverance from Egypt, etc.) this grace was most gloriously manifested. Still we cannot go further; we cannot apply the verses directly and exclusively to the Church, because their tone is so individual, that the individual reference cannot be given up. This also is evident, as was seen in the introduction, from the passage, Psalms 22:22-26.

The term difficult. The still obscurer expression גּ?וֹ?וִ?י , in the borrowed passage, Psalms 71:6, gives us no assistance. It cannot be the participle, “ my drawer forth;” for גוח signifies always, and even in Micah 4:10, to break forth: this form of the participle, moreover, is always intransitive; Ewald, § 140. We must, therefore, just consider גהי as the infinitive,—” my breaking forth.” God may be called “ the breaking forth,” because it was by His power alone this took place, just as He is in other places called the covenant, the salvation, the blessing, the joy, etc., because all these depend on Him. מבטיחי refers back to בטחו in Psalms 22:4 and Psalms 22:5:—to make or permit to trust, is to give ground to trust, to warrant to do so; and this God had done to the sufferer, fly protecting him in his early youth. Now, whoever is entitled to trust, and it does not depend on whether a man is yet capable of trusting, is also entitled to help. For trust and help have always, in times past, been inseparably connected.

Verse 10

Ver. 10. Upon Thee was I cast from my mother’s womb, from my mother’s lap Thou wast my God. In the first of these clauses, there lies at the bottom a reference to those who receive the child at the birth. Compare Genesis 16:2, Job 3:12, “Why did the knees receive me?” and Ruth 4:16. The clause may be thus paraphrased: “Thou hast received me when I was helpless under Thy mild protection; I fell as it were into Thy lap, which was stretched out to receive me at my birth; and from having been fostered and cared for by Thee, I have retained my life, whereas, otherwise, I should most assuredly have been the prey of death:” compare, in reference to the whole Church, Ezekiel 16:5. The word השלכתי is wholly passive; and the exposition of De Wette is altogether inaccurate, “I have trusted in thee;” and Stier remarks, “Some such thing is indicated as the old theologians ascribed to children in baptism.” Here, as in the remaining portions of these two verses, the Psalmist does not speak of the state of feeling of the sufferer, but of the mercy of God actually manifested in deeds towards him. The clause, Thou art my God, is equivalent to, “Thou has manifested Thyself as such.” The first part of this Psalm thus returns at its close to the point at which it opened,

My God, my God. The sufferer’s right to use this address, and consequently to put the question following upon it, Why hast Thou forsaken me? has its foundation assigned to it in the two closing verses. Thus it is that every other answer to this question is cut off except this one, I have not forsaken thee.

Verse 11

Ver. 11. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, because there is no helper. From the demonstration given in the first part, that the forsaking would be completely anomalous, flows here the prayer, “Be not far;” in laying down the basis of which it is shown, that to be far away at such a time would be the same thing as entirely to forsake. The prayer has its basis assigned it here in the very short expression, for trouble is near. This is much more accurately explained by Luther than by most modern expositors: “We are not to understand, that when the Psalmist says, Trouble is near, he has any reference to time, as if it were now in his neighbourhood, and would fall suddenly upon him; but we are to understand him as speaking of the strength, the might, and the power of the trouble which, even now, is upon him, and concerning which he complains that it is not taken away.” That thus the expression, “trouble is near” (the sufferer says Trouble is near, instead of, It is there, on account of the contrast of the distance of the Lord), is only to be understood of a trouble which had already been really inflicted, is evident from the expression which contains its reason, “for there is no helper;” i.e., for I have been delivered over in a state of helplessness into the power of my enemies (the man with whom this is the case must assuredly find himself in the midst of the very deepest trouble): Psalms 22:12-18 are to be considered as a further development of the same thought.

Verse 12

Ver. 12. Many bulls surround me, the strong ones of Bashan encompass me. In applying the term bulls to his enemies, the Psalmist has an eye to their strength and fury. In “the bulls of Bashan,”—“the strong ones,” that is, “the strong bulls,”—both characteristics are brought vividly before us: first, because of their excellent pasture; the second, because they fed on mountains and in forests, and were consequently further removed from men, and more untamed in their habits.

Verse 13

Ver. 13. They open their mouth wide against me,--a tearing and roaring lion. The enemies are not only like lions, they are a lion, or lions themselves, in a spiritual sense. The lion roars chiefly when he looks at his prey, and is about to fall upon it. Compare Amos 3:4; Psalms 104:21.

Verse 14

Ver. 14. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are separated; my heart has become like wax, melted in the midst of me. The sufferer turns now from describing his outward trouble (in the ( Psalms 22:12) 12th and ( Psalms 22:13) 13th verses), to lay open in this and the ( Psalms 22:15) 15th verse his consequent inward state, which in like manner loudly proclaims, that now to be far away would mean utterly to forsake. “The picture of inward dissolution sketched here in a few strokes,” remarks Ewald, “is a very terrible one.” The poured-out water is here, according to the parallel clause, “my bones are separated,” not descriptive of fear or dejection, but of the most complete dissolution of all strength and of powerlessness. The parallel passages, therefore, are such as Psalms 58:8; 2 Samuel 14:14, “For we die, and are like water poured out—on the earth;” and especially 1 Samuel 7:6, where the idea is embodied in a symbolical action,—the Israelites, when oppressed by the Philistines, assembled at Mizpah, drew water and poured it out before the Lord, and cried out to Him by symbolical signs, “We are poured out like water.” Passages such as the following are not parallel: Joshua 7:5, “And the heart of the people melted, and became like water;” or Lamentations 2:19. The reference in them is chiefly to the heart, and they are rather to be considered as parallel to the last clause of the verse before us. As emblematical of moral helplessness or mental imbecility, the figure occurs in Genesis 49:4, “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.”—“All my bones are separated,” implies, in like manner, complete powerlessness and exhaustion. Muis: non secus vacillat totem corpus quam si omnia ossa luxata sint et a suis quaeque avulsa locis. Compare Daniel 5:6.

The heart melts, when a person sinks into despair when in extreme, irremediable distress. Luther: “Those who have good hope, and are cheerful, are said to have a fresh, strong, confident, hard, good heart, which stands immovable like a hard rock. And thus also, on the other hand, those who are cast down and terrified, are said to have a soft and feeble heart, which dissolves and melts like wax.” Such melting sometimes befalls even those who, like David, have the heart of a lion. Compare 2 Samuel 7:10.

Verse 15

Ver. 15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd: and my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth: and Thou layest me in the dust of death. As כח always signifies strength, and cannot be translated moisture, the יבש must be understood as used in an improper sense: my power is entirely wasted away like the moisture out of a dried potsherd. There are other instances of similar abrupt comparisons: Psalms 102:4, “My heart is smitten and withered like grass;” i.e., is as much destroyed as withered grass is.

The cleaving of the tongue to the roof of the mouth is the consequence of pain and anguish;—compare Job 29:10. Luther: “It is incredible how this inward anguish, and terror, and dismay, withers and dries up completely and suddenly the whole moisture of all the parts of the body, and makes them weak and good for nothing, especially the moisture of the tongue, in which we chiefly feel this thirst and drought.” On the accusative מלקוחי compare Ewald, p. 588.

In reference to the last clause, Luther remarks, “This he adjoins as the sum and final conclusion.” לעפר , taken strictly, signifies not, “into the dust,” but, “so that I belong to the dust.” The dust of death is the dust which stands in relation to death, that is, the dust of the grave. The Future is used in the sense of the Present—the sufferer is already more dead than alive. Everything that belongs peculiarly to life has already disappeared—all vital spirits, all vital strength,—so that when what is commonly called death comes, which the sufferer sees immediately before his eyes, it finds scarcely anything left for it to take. The expression, “ Thou bringest me,” is deserving of observation. The sufferer considers everything only as an instrument in the hands of God. Hence, on the one hand, his pain was augmented; but hence, also, there was laid the necessary foundation for his hope. He who cannot trace his sufferings to God alone, cannot with a full heart look to Him for deliverance. He only who sends it can remove it; and He must remove it in cases similar to the present one, even when all prospect of deliverance appears to be gone. Calvin: “As often as this darkness befalls the spirits of believers, there are always some remains of unbelief, which prevent them from rising into the light of the new life. But in the case of Christ, there were united in a wonderful manner both terror from the curse of God, and patience from faith, so quieting all inward movements, that they were kept at rest under the rule of God.”

Verse 16

Ver. 16. For dogs compass me, the band of the wicked besets me, like lions on, my hands and feet. The sufferer calls his enemies here dogs, on account of their fury and bitterness. Compare on the savage ferocity of Eastern dogs, Oedmann’s Collections, 5, p. 31, 2, and Laborde’s Geographical Commentary on Exodus and Numbers, p. 59.

The first word of the last clause is read differently: כּ?ָ?אֲ?רִ?י (in the received text), כּ?ָ?אְ?רֵ?י , כּ?ָ?אֲ?רוּ? , and כּ?ָ?רוּ? . If we pay regard to external evidence, there can be no doubt that כּ?ָ?אֲ?רִ?י is the true reading; and it would be to abandon everything like certainty in criticism, and along with this, criticism itself, were we to reject this reading, and to substitute instead of it, with Ewald, the reading כּ?ָ?אֲ?רוּ? . The external evidence for the other readings is as good as nothing. כארו is found only in two unsuspected Jewish manuscripts: כרו not even in one at first hand, and only in a few cases written on the margin. The received text, besides having on its side the whole weight of the MSS., is also supported by the Masora. None of the old translators are against it, for, without following any other reading, they might, like many of the later expositors, explain כארי in the sense expressed by them; and even although, in some few instances, כארי may not have lain at the foundation of the translation, this would not imply that there was a different reading, but only a conjectural emendation, caused by the difficulty felt in interpreting the word in the text. Assuredly, if the old translators had found airy variety in the text, some traces of it would have remained in their translations. Further, though the reasons of an external kind were equally balanced on both sides, considerations of an internal nature would lead us to decide in favour of the received text. For it is from the more difficult reading that the others may be conceived to have arisen, and not the contrary.

In regard to the explanation of כארי , thus determined to be the true reading, most interpreters proceed on the supposition that it is the plural of a participle, the rare plural-form instead of כארים , from the root כור . The participle is properly כּ?ָ?ר , but there are other examples of the insertion of an א (see Gesenius’ Lehrg. p. 401). If we adopt this view as to the form, which for a time was the almost universally prevailing one, we must still attach weight to all the points adverted to in the Christol. I. i. p. 180: we can neither translate it “they fetter,” as was usually done at the time of the publication of the Christology, nor “they disfigure,” but only “they pierce,” after the example of the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Syriac. It is also obvious, that if we adopt this view, the words must have a special reference to Christ, for the piercing of hands and feet here is nowhere else alluded to; and the idea of Gesenius, that the hands and feet may poetically denote the whole body, is altogether untenable. What was brought forward in the Christology to prove, that not only Christ’s hands, but also His feet, were literally pierced, has been presented more in detail by Bahr, in a paper specially devoted to this purpose, and in a defence of the same against the objections of Paulus, which appeared in Tholuck’s Literary Anzeiger for 1833. But we must not forget that the supposition that כארי is a plural participle, which was commonly entertained at the date of the publication of the Christology, is encompassed by so many difficulties, that it can be adopted only at the very last extremity. When three irregularities occur in the same word, as in the present instance,—1st, The use of the plural form in י , which at the best is extremely rare, and indeed occurs only in one other at all certain instance; 2d, The participial form with א ; and 3d, The use of כור in the sense of כרה ,—they acquire a force, when united, very different from what they would have if they occurred apart. Besides, let it be remarked, these words, according to this interpretation, have a special reference to Christ; whereas, on the grounds adduced in the introduction, it is evident that the Psalm has reference to Him only as embodying the perfect idea of the righteous man,—a supposition which would render unsuitable anything having reference exclusively to Christ. Last of all, had the New Testament writers approved of the correctness of this interpretation, which was put into their hands by the current translation of the Septuagint, ὤ?ρυξαν χεῖ?ράς μου καὶ? πόδας μου ,—so eagerly laid hold of by all the Christian fathers,—how comes it that they should not have pointed to the fulfilment of this very characteristic feature in Christ, and that, when they obviously had this Psalm before their eyes throughout their whole narrative of Christ’s sufferings, they should have quoted what assuredly was not so characteristically and individually fulfilled in Him? So far are they, however, from applying this clause to Christ, that they do not expressly mention the piercing of His feet at all. Thus this view can be adopted only in the very last extremity; and this is not the case here. There is another view which can be suggested, in which every anomaly of form disappears, without introducing any impropriety in regard to the sense. The כ is the particle of comparison: the ארי is the same as אריה , a lion. The כארי , written exactly as it is here, occurs in the sense of lion-like in Isaiah 38:13. The Masoretic remark is not of so much importance as that we need to give the כארי here a different sense from the כארי there, any more than the Keris of the Masora, which, throughout, are obviously false. The ידי ורגלי is the accusative, so often used in defining more accurately any part or member of the body to which more special reference is made (comp. Ewald, 512)—thus: “They beset me, lion-like, as to hands and feet.” The mention of lions cannot but be regarded here as extremely natural, as emblems drawn from the brute creation are used throughout the whole Psalm; as the enemies have already been represented in the ( Psalms 22:13) 13th verse, under the emblem of a tearing and roaring lion; as the sufferer, the poor defenceless hind, prays in the ( Psalms 22:21) 21st verse, “Deliver from the mouth of the lion;” and finally, as the connection between the lions here and the dogs, introduced in the first clause of the verse before us, is exceedingly appropriate. The objections urged against this interpretation,—an interpretation which Luther recognised as decidedly required by the grammar, but which, as he most unaccountably thought, must give way to the theology of the case,—are only of importance in so far as they show in what way the old translations, the Masora, and a few Hebrew manuscripts, were induced to give up the true interpretation or reading, and thus prove that they cannot be regarded as having any authority whatever. It is said that to surround will not apply to lions, who spring upon their prey. But the surrounding is not here attributed to lions, but to the band of evil-doers; and the point of comparison between them and the lion is not the surrounding, but their wild fury. It is further objected, that the singular, “like a lion,” is not at all appropriate. But this objection can be urged as of force, only on the supposition that the point of comparison is, “ the surrounding.” Except on this supposition, the singular is as suitable here as it is in Psalms 22:13 and Psalms 22:21; and the fact that the singular is used in both these passages, tends very much to give our interpretation more of an appearance of certainty:—compare also the singular כלב in Psalms 22:20. Besides, the expression is not, “as a lion,” but, “as the lion.” The Kametz shows that the word has the article:—otherwise it would have had Patach;—compare Ewald, 464. The term, “the lion,” indicates the species, and must be viewed as referring not to the number, but to the disposition and nature. Further, that the ידי ורגלי , as there is already an accusative in הקיפוני , requires another verb, or renders an extraordinary ellipsis necessary, could be maintained only before the relative form of the accusative had been sufficiently examined. Last of all, “ hands and feet,” are by no means superfluous. The hands are the instruments of defence, the feet the means of escape.— my furious foes have so beset me, that I can stir neither hand nor foot. These are the objections of Stier. Ewald remarks that the figure of lions is not at all appropriate in this connection, for it is only the shamelessness that is intended to be depicted. But this objection is wholly futile. It is not the shamelessness, but the wild fury, that is the point of resemblance iii the comparison of dogs. The designation of the enemies as “evil-doers,” and the connection of this verse with the two preceding ones—assigning as it does, the cause of the effect described in them—show that we have to do in this case with coarse ill-treatment.

Verse 17

Ver. 17. I count all my bones; these men look, they stare at me. The furious enemies have already stripped the sufferer doomed to death, and feed their eyes on the sad spectacle of his complete emaciation,—a sight which fills him with pain. אספר is generally rendered, “I could count.” Against this tame rendering we have the analogy of יביטו and יראו

I count, they look,—and of the other Futures both preceding and following. The sufferer, sunk in pain at his complete emaciation, counts the bones of his naked body, every one of which attracts involuntary painful attention: here one and there one, and all wanting flesh from the first to the last, every one of them. Job 33:21 is parallel. Of the enemies it is said: first, that they are spectators of a miserable sight, from which every feeling man would turn away and shut his eyes, feeling his soul pierced by the sight of such suffering in a brother; and next, that they look upon this sight, not only with rude unconcern, but even with inward joy. The ראה with ב , signifies to look at anything to which one has a strong inclination, in which one has delight.

Verse 18

Ver. 18. They part my garments among them, and on my vesture they cast the lot. Clothing is the necessary condition of life; without clothes no man can be seen in public. When one’s clothes are taken away, and, what is worse, disposed of, that person, if he is not dead, must be considered as destined to a certain and speedy death. The sufferer, in this view, in concluding the description of his distress, and when on the very threshold of his prayer, declares that he is now at the very last stage,—that his enemies are even ready to give him the last stroke, now that he is, apart from this, more dead than alive.

It is impossible here to think of the custom of spoiling enemies, for the distress throughout the Psalm is not of a warlike character:—the sufferer is completely helpless, his situation corresponding entirely to that of Christ. Moreover, it is a slain enemy, not a living one, that is spoiled. Neither may we render the clause: “they will divide my clothes among them,” or, “they already think of doing it.” For, יחלקו and יפילו , like the preceding verbs, must refer to what is going on in the present. The idea of nakedness is indeed implied in the preceding verse also. We have not only, “I count all my bones,” but, “they look, they stare at me,” i.e. “they enjoy themselves in looking at one disfigured to a skeleton.” The connection would be broken were we to refer the looking only to distress in general. Lastly, we cannot suppose that a figurative expression is here used; so much, however, is true, that this trait, like the rest of the description, has an individual character, as is indeed involved in the fact, that the Psalm refers to the ideal person of the Righteous One. The situation of such a one, with death immediately before him, might have been described also by other expressions.

How exactly the whole contents of this verse were fulfilled in Christ, is rendered very clear if we keep in view an observation which Luther, manifestly with good reason, makes on the dividing of the clothes: “I hold that the soldiers did not divide the clothes from need, or for gain, but in the way of jest, and for the purpose of enjoying a laugh, and as a sign that it was now all over with this Christ, that he was utterly ruined, destroyed, extirpated, and never more to be heard of.”—בגדים is, “clothes,” in general; לבוש is specially the principal article of dress, the long robe, without which the person is altogether naked. There is thus a gradation in the clauses: compare Job 24:7-10; Psalms 35:13; Esther 4:2; John 19:23, John 19:24.

The sufferer had shown, first, that it would be completely anomalous if God intended to forsake him; second, that for God not to help him at present would be to forsake him; and now the prayer breaks forth with full power, Psalms 22:19-21, that God would help him now, which, towards its conclusion, passes into the confident expectation of being heard.

Verse 19

Ver. 19. And Thou, O Lord, be not far from me; O my strength, make haste to my help. Stier well remarks that אילותי looks very like as if it were an etymological explanation of the אלי in the commencement of the Psalm. The reference to the אילת of the title has been already pointed out. The expression, make haste to help me, refers us back to the eleventh verse, there is none to help.

Verse 20

Ver. 20. Deliver my soul from the sword, my lonely person from the power of the dog. Calvin: “Should any one ask, How can this apply to Christ, seeing the Father did not deliver Him from death? I answer, in one word, He was more mightily delivered than if the danger had been averted, just as much more so, as to raise from the dead is a mightier act than to heal from sickness. Wherefore the death of Christ did not prevent his resurrection from testifying that He was delivered.” His death might well be called no death, but a simple passage to life.

The sword is an individualizing designation of whatever is an instrument of death. Compare 2 Samuel 11:25, and Psalms 22:24. The מיד cannot, from what follows, from the mouth, from the horns,—be with propriety considered as equivalent to the simple Nm; the Psalmist is here speaking of dogs who have hands. On יחידתי Luther remarks: “He wishes to say, ‘My soul is alone and forsaken by everybody; there is no one who inquires after it, cares for it, or comforts it.’“ In like manner, at Psalms 142 Psalms 142:5, he says, “Look on the right hand; see, there no one will know me: I cannot escape; no one cares for my soul.” Most interpreters, like Gesenius, consider the sufferer as saying that he has only one life to lose. But the view given above by Luther is to be preferred, because, according to it, the word is a succinct description of the condition given in the preceding verses, and because of the parallel passages, Psalms 25:16, Psalms 35:17, Psalms 68:7. The other idea does not occur in any similar passage.

Verse 21

Ver. 21. Deliver me from the lion’s mouth, and from the horns of the buffalo,

Thou Nearest me. Luther: “The rage of the furious devil is so great, that the prophet does not consider it enough to have represented it by a sharp sword, but introduces further, for the same purpose, the tearings of raging furious dogs, the mouth of the greedy and hungry lion, which stands already open, and is ready to devour, and the dreadfully fierce wrath of the raging terrible unicorn (buffalo).” ענה , is here used pregnantly, and involves the idea of deliverance. There can be no grammatical objection made to the common rendering, “ hear me.” When the preceding verbs are imperative or optative, the succeeding ones are very frequently simply descriptive. But, on the other side, and in favour of the word being considered as an expression of the confidence of being heard, is the circumstance of its standing at the end of the prayer; that which follows, also, implying necessarily that something must have been previously said expressive of confidence, and, lastly, the reference to לא תענה of verse second, are of considerable weight. To the word, Thou hearest me not, there, correspond here, at the close of the conflict, the words, Thou dost hear me. In a prayer of this kind, which rests on a foundation such as that on which the sufferer builds, the transition to confidence is a very easy one. “In such a Lord, come, there is always a tacit, Here, Son!” We may consider מקרני רמים and עניתני as separated by a small pause. The sufferer had, O do Thou save me, upon his tongue; but then he receives the assurance of being heard, and hence the desire for deliverance is suddenly transformed into assured confidence: and from the horns of the buffalo

Thou hast heard me.

Having thus become assured of his deliverance, the sufferer next paints the happy consequences which were to flow from it. First, from Psalms 22:22-26, in regard to Israel.

Verse 22

Ver. 22. I will make known Thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the assembly I will praise Thee. The name is the focus in which all the rays of the acts converge, so that, to make known the name of the Lord, especially in a situation defined by the preceding description, is to make known what He has done. The address in the ( Psalms 22:23) 23d verse shows whom we are to understand by the brethren: they are the whole posterity of Israel. The deliverance vouchsafed, is important not only to the sufferer, and perhaps to a few of his friends;—all his brethren, the whole people of the covenant (compare our fathers, Psalms 22:4), shall participate in it, and shall be led by means of it to see the glory of God. We find the heathen, in Psalms 22:27, opposed to the brethren. The false seed exclude themselves from sharing in this blessing. The assembly is not a small circle of friends, but consists of all the brethren of the sufferer—the whole seed of Israel: compare “the whole assembly of Israel,” in Leviticus 16:17, and Deuteronomy 31:30. But this assembly, which also is meant in all parallel passages, Psalms 25:18, Psalms 40:10, Psalms 49:1, is here in a twofold sense an ideal one. First, every public assembly in the temple was considered as an ideal assembly of the whole people, inasmuch as, though from accidental causes all the members could not really be present in person, those present represented the whole people. Compare 2 Chronicles 20:3-15: “And Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast over all Judah: and all Israel assembled to pray to the Lord: and Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the Lord:—and the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jehaziel in the midst of the assembly, and he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Second, we are not to consider that here, or in the parallel passages, the Psalmist considered a literal assembly of the people to be necessary to realize the idea meant to be conveyed. It is unlikely that every one who should obtain deliverance could have an opportunity, in the public assemblies for the worship of God, of praising aloud the delivering grace of God. The kernel is only this, that the grace imparted to an individual member of the Church might tend to the good of the whole. The form in which the salvation was brought by the individual before the whole Church, is an accidental circumstance of minor importance. The Psalmist here makes choice of that form which is most vivid, and has in it most of a poetical character, without, in reality, intending it more than the others,—that form, for example, in which the Lord fulfilled the contents of the passage before us. He selected, namely, a solemn assembly of the whole people in the sanctuary, and the delivered sufferer glorifying God, and singing praise in the midst thereof.

The observation of De Wette is altogether incorrect: “We are to consider the brethren, the assembly, as sharing the same lot with the poet” (the righteous one). There is no trace of this in what follows. The salvation vouchsafed to the single individual extends in so far to all, whether they be in the same situation or not, as the glory of God is reflected in it, advancement in the knowledge of which is salutary and quickening to all.

There follow, in the ( Psalms 22:23) 23d and ( Psalms 22:24) 24th verses, the words in which the sufferer, now delivered, intends to make known the name of God, and to praise Him in the midst of the assembly.

Verse 23

Ver. 23. Ye who fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye of the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and be afraid before Him, all ye of the seed of Israel. Not without good reason does the Psalmist begin with, ye who fear God. He thereby intimates that he has to do, not with the seed of Jacob as such, with those who are united together only by a carnal bond, but with those whose souls are animated by one common spiritual principle. In point of form, the address is directed to the whole assembly. Those who are not of the Church, though they are in the Church, are overlooked. As intruders, they are ignored; as such, they are, however, sufficiently indicated even in the words, ye who fear God. The “praise,” the “glorify,” and the “be afraid,” especially the last, show evidently that the delivered sufferer had to do not merely with those who are in a situation similar to his own. To those he would have cried out before everything else, Put your trust in Him. The “be ye afraid,” shows that He who is great in grace must also be as great in wrath, against those who despise. God is as omnipotent in all aspects as He is in one.

Verse 24

Ver. 24. For He did not despise nor abhor the affliction of the afflicted, neither did He hide His face from him; and when he cried to Him, He heard. Luther: “This makes God exceedingly lovely, so that all the godly love Him, and must praise Him, that His eyes alone see and are turned upon the afflicted and the poor; and the more despised and rejected a man is, so much the more is God near and gracious to him. As if he said, ‘See and learn from my example: I, who have been the most despised and rejected of all men, have been regarded, cared for, and heard in the most friendly manner.’” ענות , is explained erroneously, by the old translators, by prayer.

Verse 25

Ver. 25. Of Thee shall my praise be heard in the great congregation; I will pay my vows before them that fear Him. Of Thee is my praise:—not, Thou hast given me occasion to praise; but, Thou art the subject of my praise. Calvin: “David canendi argumentum ex deo petit.” According to the connection and the parallel, the speaker does not describe what God has done to him, but how he will thank God, what blessed consequences, as regards the cause of God, will flow from his deliverance. The my praise refers back to the praises of Israel in Psalms 22:3. The grating discord, caused by the groanings of the sufferer being heard mingling with the praises of Israel, is now at an end.

In the second clause, and in the following verse,, which is intimately connected with it, the representation is of a figurative kind. It was customary, in circumstances of great distress, to make vows, which were wont to consist of a promise to offer a certain number of sacrifices. After deliverance had been obtained, it was customary to invite to the feast connected therewith, the widow, the orphan, and the poor (comp. Deuteronomy 12:18, Psalms 16:11). They thus became partakers of the salvation, which, in point of fact, was never imparted to the individual merely for himself; and thus also they were sharers of his joy. In such cases, the enjoyment throughout was not merely of a sensual kind; the guests tasted at the same time how good is the Lord. The soul of the feast was admission into the community of thanks and blessing. And hence, in the passage before us, when the gratitude of the delivered sufferer expresses itself under the emblem of paying a vow—the usual expression of gratitude,—it is exceedingly natural that others should be invited to share in the blessing and the thanksgiving, under the image of a great sacrificial-feast given by him, in which all that fear God take part.

Hoffmann denies that the idea of a feast is at all implied in the passage. He interprets the paying of the vows as expressing nothing more than the giving of thanks. But the vow always refers to something outward—never to mere feelings or words: Throughout, the usual kind of vows are offerings: compare Leviticus 7:16; and especially Psalms 66:12-15: Michaelis on the Law of Moses, Part iii. p. 145. In Psalms 50:14, Ps 61:9, to which Hoffmann appeals, there is such a figurative representation. That by the vow here we are to understand literally promised thank-offerings, which are substantially identical with thanksgiving and praise—for the sacrifice is altogether a symbol, as in Hosea 14:3; Hebrews 13:15, and other passages,—is evident from, they shall eat, in the following verse; compare also אכלו Psalms 22:29.

Verse 26

Ver. 26. The meek shall eat and be satisfied; praise the Lord shall they that seek Him: may your heart live for ever. The may live includes within it, shall live, and expresses, that this is agreeable to the wishes of the speaker. The heart dies in trouble, care, pain ( Psalms 109:22; 1 Samuel 25:37), and especially when it has become perplexed in regard to God. The for ever forms the opposition to the transitory life, or brief quickening, which any inferior manifestation of God would give. He has here made Himself known in such a glorious manner, that whoever has incorporated into his soul this His manifestation, will henceforward stand in need of no other spiritual food, but is strengthened by it for ever.

From Israel the righteous man now turns to the heathen.

Verse 27

Ver. 27. All the ends of the earth shall ponder and turn to the Lord; all the tribes of the heathen shall worship before Thee. זכר very frequently signifies, not, “to remember,” but, “to ponder,” “to lay to heart.” The object of this pondering is in reality identical with the object of the eating in Psalms 22:26 and Psalms 22:29—the thanks and the praise of the righteous man for the glorious deliverance wrought out for him; and hence, indirectly, with the deliverance itself: compare צדקתו in Psalms 22:31. The salvation of the Lord is so great, that it awakens the whole heathen world out of its stupid insensibility. Hoffmann refers יזכרו to Jehovah: they will think upon Jehovah. But this exposition proceeds only from the attempt to make the conversion of the heathen independent of the deliverance of the speaker. And the circumstance, that this connection is obscured by this interpretation, is against it. Besides, if we compare with יאכלו of Psalms 22:26, and אכלו of Psalms 22:29 (to which they worship stands in the same relation as ישובו here does to יזכרו ), יספר of the ( Psalms 22:30) 30th verse, which also refers to the salvation imparted to the speaker, and עשה of the ( Psalms 22:31) 31st verse, we shall feel compelled to reject this exposition, and that whole view of the Psalm, which requires such forced assistance.

In ישובו it is not at all implied, as Umbreit thinks, that the heathen originally possessed the truth. שוב means properly, “to turn oneself away” (here, from idols), and the meaning, “to turn back,” is a secondary one.

The second clause alludes to the promises made to the patriarchs, and especially to Genesis 12:3, Genesis 28:14.

Verse 28

Ver. 28. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules among the heathen. The verse grounds the announcement given in the preceding one, that, at a future time, the heathen shall do homage to the Lord, on this, that He alone is the lawful King of the earth. To be in reality, and not to be acknowledged, can be separated only for a little. The Lord is the King of the whole earth, and He must at some future time be acknowledged as such—a result which will be brought about through the manifestation of the Divine glory seen in the deliverance of the righteous man. Zechariah 14:9, or Obadiah 1:21, are not parallel passages, but Psalms 96:10, Psalms 97:1, and Psalms 99:1.

The removal of the distinction between Jews and Gentiles is succeeded by the removal of the distinctions of rank, and of circumstances ( Psalms 22:29), and of time ( Psalms 22:30-31).

Verse 29

Ver. 29. All the fat ones of the earth eat and worship, all who are gone down to the dust, and those who respited not their lives shall bow down before Him. The image of the feast is here resumed. There is, however, a contrast to the ordinary sacrificial feasts, to which the poor more especially are invited. This great spiritual feast (and it is proved even by this verse also to be a spiritual feast) is not unworthy of the presence even of those who live in the greatest abundance: it contains a costly viand, which all their plenty cannot give—a viand for which even the satisfied still hunger; and, on the other hand, the most needy and the most miserable are not excluded. It is a feast at which all earthly distinctions are abolished, because here, all guests are poor, and here, God is rich for all. The idea, that “to eat,” may be interpreted by “to worship,” does not merit a refutation. The words, “they eat,” belong substantially also to the second clause: the “bow down,” corresponding to the “worship,” is the thanks for the entertainment The דשני , from the adjective דּ?ָ?שׁ?ֵ?ן , fat, denotes the satisfied fulness of existence. יורדי עפר is not a general designation of misery, but specially of death, in opposition to חיים in the emphatic sense, and denotes one who may be said to be dead, though he has still the appearance and the lowest conditions of life. This is clear, first, from the reference to the clause of the ( Psalms 22:15) 15th verse, “Thou layest me in the dust of death;” according to which the dust here can mean only the dust of the grave, for which עפר is very often used: compare the Lexicons. The same person who had to complain that he had fallen into the possession of death, becomes now the fountain of life to all who may be in similar circumstances. Second, from the parallel, who respited not their lives. Third, from comparing the frequently occurring phrases, יורדי מות , יורדי בור , יורדי שאול , which at the same time show that the language does not refer to those who are going down, but to those who are already gone down.

The last clause, literally, who made not alive his own soul, is equivalent to, “who could not deliver themselves from that death, into whose hands they had fallen.”

The last barrier that is removed, is that of time.

Verse 30

Ver. 30. Posterity shall serve Him: it shall be told of the Lord to the generation. Several interpret: the seed which shall serve Him shall be reckoned to the Lord for a generation. But, according to this view, the whole is thrown into one sentence, and thus the parallelism is destroyed. This interpretation also is opposed by the following verse, in which the idea expressed here is more fully brought out, viz. that the deliverance shall not, like other benefits of inferior moment, be ever forgotten; by the correspondence between the abolition of the limits of time here announced, of those of nation and rank adverted to in the preceding verses; and, lastly, by the reference of יספר to אספרה in Psalms 22:22. זרע , seed, is defined by its connection with what precedes to be, “the posterity,” of those there spoken of. לאדני is properly, in reference to the Lord. The thing to be made known, that, viz., which the Lord has done to the righteous man, is not more nearly described, because it is sufficiently clear from the preceding context. In like manner there is understood, immediately after “shall serve Him,” “because of this glorious manifestation.” The generation here, is equivalent to, דור אחרון in Psalms 13, Psalms 78:4. The generation which tells, is the present one; and the generation to which it is told, is the future one. In like manner, in Psalms 71:18, “the generation,” is defined from the connection. דור is never used in a collective sense. That it indicates here the succeeding generation, is evident from Psalms 22:31. The revelation of the Divine glory goes forth from the present to the next, and from that again to the one which follows it.

Verse 31

Ver. 31. T hey shall come and make known His righteousness to the people which then have been born, that He has done it. The subject is the seed and the generation of the former verse. The succeeding generation will not allow the knowledge committed to them to die out. It will, from its excellence, get life among them, and from them be handed down again to the next generation. They shall come, is, they shall appear on the theatre of the world: comp. Psalms 71:18. The righteousness of God embraces His faithfulness to His covenant and to His promises, which He has so gloriously manifested in the deliverance of the righteous man. There is no reason why we should translate עם נולד , the people which shall yet be born: compare on the use of the participle for the Future, Ewald, p. 534. The most obvious interpretation, the people which has been born at the time when the future generation is on the scene, gives a very suitable sense. In like manner, עם נברא , in Psalms 102:18, is, “the people which is then created.” We must supply the object from the preceding context to the עשה , viz. what has been previously described: as was the case with יאכלו in Psalms 22:26, יזצרו in Psalms 22:27, and אכלו in Psalms 22:29. It will not do to suppose that עשה is used in an absolute and emphatic sense, He has acted, i.e. manifested Himself gloriously. Whenever it is used in the way in which it is in the verse before us, the object always lies concealed in what had previously been said. The last word of our Saviour on the cross, τετέ?λεσται , evidently refers to this עשה as His first exclamation is taken from the beginning of the Psalm:—of all proofs of the profound significance of this whole thus bounded, this is the surest, giving, at the same time, the key to the variously misinterpreted word of our Saviour. According to this view, we are to regard the work of God as that which was finished. The last moment of suffering is the first of deliverance; and the expiring Saviour here indicates that this is now at hand; that He has now received an answer, not in words but in deed, to the question, Why hast Thou forsaken Me? and that the morning dawn now succeeds the dark night. The Resurrection certifies the exclamation: It is finished.

Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 22". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-22.html.
 
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