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Psalms 22:1 « To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David. » My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring?
Upon Aijeleth Shahar ] On, The morning hart or stag; such a one as the huntsman severs out in the morning from the rest, to hunt for that day. It showeth, saith one, David’s and Christ’s early and incessant persecution and hunting (by those dogs, Psa 22:16 ) till they came to their kingdoms. David had his share of sharp afflictions, doubtless, when he penned this psalm: witness that graphic description of his greatest grief in all parts and powers of body and soul, Psalms 22:14-16 , &c. But his mind and thoughts were by God’s Holy Spirit carried out to Christ’s most dolorous and inexpressible sufferings; to the which all his were but as flea bitings, as the slivers or chips of Christ’s cross; and this was no small mitigation of his misery. When the Jews offered our Saviour gall and vinegar he tasted it, but would not drink. The rest he left for his people, and they must pledge him, filling up that which is behind of his sufferings, Colossians 1:24 , though for a different end, as for exercise, example, trial, witness of truth, &c.
Ver. 1. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? David had prayed, "O forsake me not utterly," Psalms 119:8 . In part and for a time be knew God might forsake him, to his thinking at least. But what saith Austin? Non deserit Deus etiamsi descrere videatur; non deserit etiamsi deserat, God forsaketh not his, though he seem sometimes to do so; he leaveth them sometimes, but forsaketh them never; as in an eclipse, the earth lacks the light of the sun, but not the influence thereof. David could at the same time call God his God thrice over, which are words of faith, and do plainly evince that this desertion under which he groaned was neither absolute nor real, but only that he was in a great distress and perplexity; so that he did believe, and yet not believe (Plato, though a heathen, could say that a man may do so). See the like 2 John 1:2; 2 John 1:22 John 1:2; 2 John 1:2 :4 ; see the note there. Our Saviour, in his deepest distress on the cross, when coping and conflicting with the wrath of his heavenly Father, who (beside the wrath of men and rage of devils in that three hours’ darkness especially) fought against him with his own bare hand, he suffered more than can be imagined, took up this pathetic exclamation, and, as some think, repeated this whole psalm. Then it was that he felt in soul and body the horror of God’s displeasure against sin, for which he had undertaken. Then it was that the Deity (though never separated from his humanity, no, not in death, when soul and body were sundered for a season) did ησυχαζειν , as a Father speaketh, suspend for a time the influence of its power, and lie hidden, as it were, neque vires suas exserebat, not putting forth its force, as formerly. Hilary hath a good note upon this part of Christ’s passion: Habes conquerentem relictum se esse, &c., Here thou hast him complaining as forsaken of God; this showeth him to have been a man: but withal thou hast him promising paradise to the penitent thief; this speaketh him God.
Why art thou so far from, &c. ] I roar and am not relieved, as to ease: God will have his people feel what an evil and bitter thing sin is, Jeremiah 2:19 , and therefore he holdeth them presently long upon the rack. Christ also, under the deep sense of our sins, for which he suffered, offered up prayers, with strong crying and tears, to him that was able to save him from death, Hebrews 5:7 .
Psa 22:2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
Ver. 2. O my God, I cry in the day time, &c. ] This was a sore temptation, that his heartiest prayers were not heard. This might have made him jealous of God; to have had hard conceits of him and heavy conceits of himself. But saith he in the following verses, Thou art holy, and thy name is to be sanctified, though I be not gratified. And moreover, others have called upon thee and have been heard, Psalms 22:4-5 , though I now for mine unworthiness am denied. For "I am a worm, and no man," Psalms 22:6 . Thus it puts him not off that he is not heard, as others; but humbles him. It drives him not (as is usual with carnal people in like case) to shifting courses, as a dog that hath lost his master will follow after any one for relief. A Christian never prevaileth so little by his prayers but that he will take heart of grace to come again to God. Silence, or sad answers, do not utterly dishearten him. He ceaseth not wrestling till he hath wrested the blessing out of God’s hand with Jacob, and gotten matter of praise for his prayers granted, as David here doth, ere he had done the psalm, Psalms 22:24-25 .
Psa 22:3 But thou [art] holy, [O thou] that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Ver. 3. But thou art holy ] And therefore to be sanctified in righteousness, Isaiah 5:16 , whatever betide me or my prayers. I also will trust and try thee to the uttermost, for thou waitest to be gracious; and being a God of judgment, thou best understandest when and how to dispense and deal forth thy favours to thy suppliants, Isaiah 30:18 . And if I ask good things of thee and miss, it is because I ask amiss, James 4:3 . If I be straitened, it is not in thee, but in mine own bowels. They that have conduit water come into their houses, if no water come, they conclude not the spring to be dry, but the pipes to be stopped or broken. If prayer speed not, we must be sure the fault is not in God, but in ourselves; were we but ripe for mercy he is ready to extend it to us, and even waits for the purpose.
O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel ] i.e. The sanctuary, where thou art continually praised by thine Israel, who have the happiness to receive thine answer to their suits, though I cannot. Some render it, O sancte, sempiterne, et laudatissime.
Psa 22:4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
Ver. 4. Our fathers trusted in thee ] They trusted, and trusted, and trusted, they lengthened out their trust. The Hebrew word for hope or trust signifieth also a line; because thereby the heart is stretched out as a line to the thing hoped for; and he that believeth maketh not haste.
And thou didst deliver them ] Never could any instance be given to the contrary. Let the success of our forefathers’ confidence, and hope unfailable, flowing from faith unfeigned, confirm our fiducial dependence upon gospel promises.
Psa 22:5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
Ver. 5. They cried unto thee ] Having first trusted: it is the prayer of faith that does the deed.
And were not confounded ] Deo confisi, nunquam confusi. I trust God and shall never be confounded.
Psa 22:6 But I [am] a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
Ver. 6. But I am a worm, and no man ] David, saith a learned man, in the Arabic tongue signifieth a worm; to which he may here seem to allude. I am a worm, saith he; I am dust and ashes, saith Abraham; less than the least of thy lovingkindnesses, saith Jacob; Nos autem quid sumus? saith Moses. Thus the saints express themselves in a low language, as so many broken men. Contrarily the wicked speak big words, bubbles of words, as Peter hath it, ampullantur; as Pharaoh, who said, "Who is the Lord?" Nebuchadnezzar, "Who is that God that can deliver you?" Daniel 3:15 ; "Who is Lord over us?" &c., Psalms 12:4 . Our Lord Christ, of whom the greatest part of this psalm must be understood, emptied and humbled himself to the utmost, Philippians 2:7-8 , that we might be exalted; this Sun of righteousness went ten degrees back in the dial of his Father, that he might come unto us with health in his wings, &c.
A reproach of men ] Reiectamentum hominis, et nullificamen populi, as Tertullian phraseth it. So was Christ, Isaiah 53:1-12 ; so were his apostles, 1 Corinthians 4:13 ; we are made the sweepings of the world, the offscourings of all things, the very dung cart into which every man casteth his filth to be carried through the dung port. Why, then, should we think much to be slighted?
Psa 22:7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, [saying],
Ver. 7. All they that see me laugh me to scorn ] Contemptus populi ludibriis et opprobriis declaratur, Luke 22:63 . The apostle speaketh of cruel mockings, Hebrews 11:36 . The Pharisees, who were covetous, derided him, Luke 16:14 , and set his people on the stage, as it were, for mocking stocks, Hebrews 10:36 . Now, post Carthaginem vinci neminem puduit, saith the historian. If Christ, David, and other precious men were so disgraced and abused by the world, what matter is it for us?
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head ] God is sensible of any the least affront or offence done to his people, be it but in an unseemly gesture, as Laban’s lowerings, Mat 27:39 and sets them upon record against the day of account.
Psa 22:8 He trusted on the LORD [that] he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Ver. 8. He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him ] Is this a prophecy of our Saviour’s sufferings, or a history rather? See Matthew 27:43 , See Trapp on " Mat 27:43 "
Seeing he delighted in him ] A most virulent irony, whereby they sought to cajole him of his confidence, and so to drive him into utter desperation and destruction.
Psa 22:9 But thou [art] he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope [when I was] upon my mother’s breasts.
Ver. 9. But thou art he that took me out of the womb ] When, but for thine almighty midwifery, I might have been strangled; or, as an untimely birth, never seen the sun. It is no less than a miracle that the child is kept alive in the womb, and perisheth not in the midst of those excrements, and that, in coming forth, it dieth not, &c. The very opening and shutting again of the body when the child is to be born is a thing so incomprehensible that some naturalists acknowledge the immediate hand and power of God in it. But because it is a common mercy little notice is taken or use made of it.
Thou didst make me hope ] Or, keptest me in safety; for puerilitas est periculorum pelagus, a thousand deaths and dangers little ones are subject to; but God preserveth and provideth: et haec non sunt per accidens, saith Kimchi, these things are not by chance, but by Divine providence.
Psa 22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou [art] my God from my mother’s belly.
Ver. 10. I was cast upon thee from the womb ] Id est, a patre et matre mea, saith Kimchi, by my father and my mother, whom thou, Lord, feddest, and filledst her breasts, that she might suckle me, Veluti exposititius tibi fui a matrice (Vat.). Did men but seriously consider what kept and fed them in the womb, and at the breasts, when neither they could shift for themselves, nor their parents do much for them, they would conclude he would much more now by their holy prayers, honest endeavours, &c.
Thou art my God from my mother’s belly] This is a privilege proper to children born within the covenant, and they may claim it; they have God for their God from their nativity; and they may lay their reckoning so in all their addresses unto God.
Psa 22:11 Be not far from me; for trouble [is] near; for [there is] none to help.
Ver. 11. Be not far from me, for trouble is near ] And so it is high time for thee to put forth a helping hand. Hominibus profanis mirabilis videtur haec ratio, to profane persons, this seemeth to be a strange reason, saith an interpreter; but it is a very good one, as this prophet knew, who therefore makes it his plea.
For there is none to help ] Set in, therefore, O Lord, and help, at a dead lift, poor me, who am forsaken of all other hopes.
Psa 22:12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong [bulls] of Bashan have beset me round.
Ver. 12. Many bulls have compassed me ] Young bulls, which noteth their lustiness and courage. Tauri bene saginati et petulci.
Strong bulls of Bashan ] A far country beyond Jordan, famous for fat and fierce cattle. Hereby are meant princes and potentates, persecutors of Christ and his people, against whom they run and rush with utmost might and malice, but not always with desired success. Of the wild bull it is said, that of all things he cannot abide any red colour. Therefore the hunter for the nonce standing before a tree, puts on a red garment; whom, when the bull seeth, he runneth hard at him, as hard as he can drive; but the hunter slipping aside, the bull’s horns stick fast in the tree; as, when David slipped aside, Saul’s spear stuck fast in the wall. In like manner, saith a divine, Christ standing before the tree of his cross, put on a red garment dipped and dyed in his own blood, as one that cometh with red garments from Bozra, Isaiah 63:1 . Therefore the devil and his agents, like wild bulls of Bashan, ran at him. But he, saving himself, their horns stick fast in the cross; as Abraham’s ram by his horns stuck fast in the briers.
Psa 22:13 They gaped upon me [with] their mouths, [as] a ravening and a roaring lion.
Ver. 13. They gaped upon me with their mouths ] As if they would have swallowed me up at a bit, like so many lycanthropi, or savage cannibals.
As a ravening and a roaring lion ] Rapiens et rugiens leo, licet non sit mos boum rapere, Bulls do not use to raven though they roar (Kimchi); but the malignities of all fierce and fell creatures are to be found in cruel persecutors. Would any man take the Church’s picture? saith Luther; then let him paint a silly poor maid sitting in a wood or wilderness, compassed about with hungry lions, wolves, bulls, boars, and bears, and with all manner of cruel and harmful beasts, and in the midst of a great many furious men, or rather monsters, assaulting her every moment and minute; for this is her condition in the world.
Psa 22:14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
Ver. 14. I am poured out like water ] i.e. I am almost past all recovery, as water spilt upon the ground.
And all my bones are out of joint ] Or, disparted, as on a rack, or by a strappado. Who hath not heard how Lithgow, the Scot, was used at Malaga, in Spain, by the bloody inquisitors? after that he had passed through the greatest part of the known world, and travelled through forests, wildernesses, and deserts, where he met with thieves and murderers, lions, bulls, bears, and tigers, and escaped them, how they starved him, wounded him, disjointed him, in ten hours’ time laid seventy various torments upon him, though they had nothing against him but suspicion of religion. And yet, after this, God wonderfully delivered him, so that he was brought on his bed wounded and broken to King James, whose letters of recommendation he had for his safe travel through the world, and to whom he made this relation to the face of Gundamour, the Spanish ambassador. This was much, but yet little or nothing to Christ’s sufferings, whence that passage in the Greek litany, Dι αγνωστων σου παθηματων , &c., By thine unknown sufferings, good Lord, deliver us.
My heart is like wax, &c. ] Fear and faintness causeth an extreme sweat (such as was that of our Saviour in his agony, Luk 22:44 ), it disableth also the members from acting their parts, and softeneth the heart, Job 23:16 .
Psa 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
Ver. 15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd ] My spirits are utterly spent, my natural moisture quite wasted and dried up, Viror meus. Humidum radicale membra in unum conglutinans (Aben Ezra); so that I am even like a skin bottle in the smoke, &c. For "my strength" some read my palate.
And my tongue cleaveth to my jaws ] That which feedeth and facilitateth the motion of the tongue in speech is exhausted. Consider here the greatness of the divine displeasure poured upon Christ, our surety. Words are too weak to utter it.
And thou hast brought me into the dust of death ] Here is the utmost of our Saviour’s humiliation. While alive he was a worm and no man; but now he is lower; for a living dog is better than a dead lion, saith Solomon. O humble Saviour, whither wilt thou descend? Oh that the same mind might be in us, that was in Christ Jesus.
Psa 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
Ver. 16. For dogs have compassed me ] That is, men of mean rank; opposed to bulls and lions, i.e. great ones, and interpreted in the next words, the assembly of the wicked, the rude rabble, and of rancorous disposition, Job 30:1 Proverbs 26:11 Mat 7:6 Philippians 3:2 Psalms 59:7 ; Psalms 59:15 . A.D. 1556, at Wessensten, in Germany, a Jew for theft was in this cruel manner to be executed. He was hanged by the feet with his head downward, between two dogs, which constantly snatched and bit at him (Melch. Adam in Vit. Jac. And.).
They pierced my hands and my feet ] sc. When they nailed Christ to the cross, Matthew 27:35 John 20:25 . Where let me similate, saith a learned man, the orator’s gradation, Facinus vincire civem Romanum, &c. It was much for the Son of God to be bound, more to be beaten, most of all to be slain; Quid dicam in crucem tolli? but what shall I say to this, that he was crucified? that was the most vile and ignominious of all punishments; it was also a cruel and cursed kind of death; which yet he refused not: and here we have a clear testimony for his cross, which the devil would fain wring from us by his agents, the Jews, with their Keri and Chetib. See Galatin. l. 8, c. 17; l. 1, c. 8; Mercer in Job 7:20 .
Psa 22:17 I may tell all my bones: they look [and] stare upon me.
Ver. 17. I may tell all my bones ] Now especially, when stretched out upon the cross, Quando pendens extentus erat in ligno, saith Austin. Derident maciem meam, saith Kimchi.
They look and stare upon me ] Aspiciunt, id est, despiciunt, ut Song of Solomon 1:6 , saith Kimchi, they feed their eyes and passions with my misery, as Luke 23:35 . This απιχαιρεκακια is the devil’s disease, and declareth a devilish disposition, sc. for a man to make himself merry in other men’s misery.
Psa 22:18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Ver. 18. They part my garments among them, and cast lots ] A very clear testimony to us that our crucified God (as they scornfully term him) was the true Messiah, so long since fore prophesied of, and accordingly accomplished, Luk 23:34 Job 20:24 . Such texts as this we should make much of, as the best and surest evidences of our Christian faith, 2 Peter 1:19 .
Psa 22:19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
Ver. 19. But be not thou far from me, O Lord ] Here he resumeth and reinforceth his former prayer, after a most pathetic description of his so doleful condition. Faith wadeth out of trouble (as the moon doth out of a cloud) by hearty and affectionate prayer.
O my strength ] God is so to a believer, then especially when he feeleth himself weak as water.
Haste thee to help me ] Who am now in an exigent, and am therefore bold, without limitation, to request thee to haste away to me.
Psa 22:20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
Ver. 20. Deliver my soul from the sword ] i.e. From desperate and deadly danger, from the wicked, which is thy sword, Psalms 17:13 .
My darling from the power of the dog ] Heb. Mine only one from the hand, &c., as Genesis 9:5 . Sic est anima in corpore, ut in domo lutea, nec habet socium, saith R. David here; The soul is alone in its cottage of clay, and hath no companion. That was a mad fellow who gave out that he had two souls, one for God, and another for whomsoever would have it. If the dog, that is, the devil, as some interpret this text, lay hands on this darling, it will be found to be all that a man hath, his alonely soul, the loss whereof our Saviour showeth to be both incomparable and irreparable, Matthew 16:26 .
Psa 22:21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
Ver. 21. Save me from the lion’s mouth] 2 Timothy 4:17 . David was oft snatched out of death’s mouth, and so was Christ; for although he had his life taken away upon the cross, yet was it (as Calvin here well observeth) more miraculously and by greater power restored after death, than if he had been delivered from the cross; and it is a greater miracle to raise the dead than to heal the most dangerously sick, and to stay the life when it is departing.
For thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns ] See Hebrews 5:7 . It is ordinary with David to call his enemies by the names of the fiercest creatures. This here mentioned, whether the unicorn, or rhinoceros, or some other wild beast, see Job 39:9 , &c. Cornua habet fortiora aliorum cornibus, saith Aben Ezra; Et audivi quod deiecit seipsum ab alto monte super cornu eius, irrupto illo permanente. Asperrimam feram appellat Plinius.
Psa 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Ver. 22. I will declare thy name, &c. ] Here beginneth the second part of this psalm, which is gratulatory, and declaratory of the fruit of Christ’s passion and resurrection, who is not here ashamed to call us brethren; but doth communicate the kingdom to us as coheirs with himself.
In the midst of the congregation ] viz. That I may not sing alone, but in consort with others, and be their precentor.
Psa 22:23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
Ver. 23. Ye that fear the Lord, praise him ] viz. For your redemption by Christ’s death and resurrection. Neither are any fit for such a purpose but such as fear the Lord. Excellent words become not a fool’s mouth, saith Solomon; Christ would not suffer the devil to confess him. To be praised by a praiseless person is no praise, saith Seneca.
All ye seed of Jacob ] i.e. Illi qui diligunt eum.
All ye the seed of Israel ] Qui timent, sed adhuc non diligunt, saith R. David; but I like not his distinction; for none do truly fear God but those that love him, Hosea 3:5 .
Psa 22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
Ver. 24. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction ] Vel responsionem, id est orationem, quae est responsio linguae, Proverbs 16:1 . With men a poor man’s tale cannot be heard; and the answer given to such cuts off half the petition, as the echo doth the voice; but here it is otherwise. "I know thy poverty," saith Christ to one of the seven Churches; "but" (that is nothing) "thou art rich." God thinks not the worse of his suppliants for their meanness, but the better rather.
Psa 22:25 My praise [shall be] of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
Ver. 25. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation ] Where it may be most public and exemplary. They that neglect public service for private do but read their own indictment, pray their own punishment.
I will pay my vows, &c. ] My peace offerings vowed in my distress: these are heavily paid by most people, according to that Italian proverb, The danger once escaped, the saint is defrauded. See David’s care, Psalms 116:1-19 . and elsewhere.
Psa 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
Ver. 26. The meek shall eat and be satisfied ] They shall be well filled at my peace offering feast, saith David; at my holy supper, saith Christ; and in me shall have the full fruition of all good things; as at a feast of fat things full of marrow, of wines refined on the lees, Isaiah 25:6 Nec copiam huius saeculi concupiscent nec timebunt inopiam, saith Austin; Here they shall neither covet the wealth of this world nor fear the want of it.
They shall praise the Lord ] viz. At the eucharist, and after.
Your heart shall live for ever ] Apostrophe ad mansuetos emphatica. You meek of the earth and seekers of the Lord, who have eaten of Christ’s flesh that was given for the life of the world, John 6:51 , your heart shall live for ever; and if so, then in death itself. As Aristotle giveth the reason of the swan’s singing a little before his death, because generous blood goeth then to the heart, making it cheerful, and that thence cometh the melody.
Psa 22:27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
Ver. 27. All the ends of the world shall remember ] Shall turn short again upon themselves, as those Solomon prayed for, 1 Kings 8:47 , and the prodigal, Luke 15:17 .
And turn to the Lord ] From their dead idols, 1 Thessalonians 1:9 .
And all the kindreds of the nations, &c. ] Christ, when he is lifted up, shall draw all men to him, John 12:32 ; the heavenly eagles from all parts shall fly to this dead, but all-quickening carcase, and shall feed thereupon.
Psa 22:28 For the kingdom [is] the LORD’S: and he [is] the governor among the nations.
Ver. 28. For the kingdom is the Lord’s] The spiritual kingdom over the Church, and the universal kingdom over all the world, belongeth unto Christ, the eternal God.
Psa 22:29 All [they that be] fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
Ver. 29. All they that be fat upon the earth ] i.e. Rich and prosperous, wealthy and well liking, these shall feed on Christ, and be furthered thereby in his service; so shall also the poorer sort, called here,
They that go down to the dust, and that cannot keep alive, &c. ] That is, that are low kept, and half dead, through hunger and misery.
Psa 22:30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
Ver. 30. A seed shall serve him ] And be saved by him, a remnant reserved for royal use, a chosen generation, Rom 9:20 Isaiah 53:10 .
Psa 22:31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done [this].
Ver. 31. Declare his righteousness ] i.e. His mercy and goodness, they shall propagate his praise to all posterity.
That he hath done ] Or performed, viz. the salvation promised by Christ.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 22". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30