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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 22


22:1-31f>. Title. " Aijeleth Shahar " signifies The hind of the morning; (marg.) and various conjectures have been made concerning the intention of this singular title. Some think it merely a musical term ; and others suppose it refers to the time when it was to be sung, rendering it " the first dawn." Others apply it to Christ, as the Light of the world, whose rising was predicted. But perhaps it points out the Saviour, marked by Satan from his birth for persecution, as the hind or hart is in the morning for chace ; and so hunted down by his enemies, until he was surrounded by them, when he hung upon the cross.

(Notes, 16-18. 2:10-13f>; 27:39-44f>. 11:53-54f>. 4:20-23f>) Of this the persecutions of David in his earlier years were a type.

V. 1. The first clause of this verse is exactly of the same import, with the words used by our Lord on the cross. (Note, 27:46f>.) The Hebrew verb indeed is there changed for one supposed to be Syriack ; but the Evangelist’s interpretation is given in the very words of the Septuagint. No reasonable doubt can be made, that he should be considered as the Speaker, throughout this whole prophetical psalm. It may even be questioned, whether David had any reference to his own case in it ; as every tiling is applicable to Christ, and most things utterly inapplicable to David. While the man Jesus, without any personal transgression or defilement, but bearing our sins, in their guilt and punishment, was wholly deprived of alisensible comfort, and felt that horror in his soul which is the effect of the divine wrath ; while the powers of darkness were permitted to assail him with every dreadful temptation ; and while wicked men unrestrainedly exercised their cruel malice towards him ; his God and Father seemeth to have forsaken him, and to stand at a distance from his salvation, as regardless of his agonies and prayers. Yet still he used the language of vigorous faith, conflicting with, and prevailing against, all despondency and impatience .

V. 2. The Lord Jesus continued whole nights in prayer ; lie arose a great while before day for that purpose ; and in ;he cold dark night he prostrated himself in the garden, and " prayed most earnestly : " yet did not the cup of his sufferings for sinners pass from him ! He felt a natural reluctance to such tremendous sorrows, but his zeal and love prevailed ; and when he added, " Not my will but thine " be done," he, as it were, retracted or at least qualified, his former petition. The prophecy expresses the feelings of his soul in the extremity of his suffering; yet his supplications were heard, as it soon appeared in his resurrection.

(Notes, 12:27-33f>; 16:4-16f>; 30:1-14f>; 17:1-3f>. 5:7-10f>.)

V. 3. This verse seems to be admirably expressive of perfect resignation under the severest sufferings, which peculiarly accords with the prophetical meaning. ’ " Thou " hearest not." Shall I then murmur, or impeach thy faithfulness? Far from it: "Thou, nevertheless, continuest holy, Thus our Lord, on the cross, declared the holiness of God in his sharpest sufferings : nay, he declared them to be a demonstration of it; for which he would be continually praised by Israel, more than for all the other deliverances, which they had received in answer to their faith and prayer. Thou inhabitest, .] In Israel, in the church exclusively, the works and perfections of God are celebrated ; and there, on this account especially, he has, so to speak, his earthly residence.

V. 4- 6. (Marg. Ref.) A worm, (6) The Saviour here spake of the extremely abject state, to which he was reduced ; in which he was treated as a worm, and patiently submitted to it; being humble, silent, and harmless, when oppressed and trodden under foot. The language is very expressive of the contempt, with which he was treated by all ranks and orders of men, whether Jews or Gentiles. (Notes, Is. 49: 7, 8; 53: 2, 3. 11:7-9f>; 11:12-14f>. 23:6-12f>.)

V. 7, 8. The history of our Lord’s sufferings is the best comment on this part of the prophecy : the language of the former verse might be thought historical of the insults attending his crucifixion ; and that of the latter was adopted, without any variation at all affecting the sense, by the chief priests and rulers, to express their contempt of him, when hanging upon the cross. Little did they think, that the Spirit of prophecy, a thousand years before, had foretold that the murderers of the Messiah would speak of him, in this insulting and impious manner. (Notes, 26:63-68f>; 27:27-31f>; 27:39-44f>.)

V. 9, 10. David seems early to have devoted himself to God ; but Jesus alone was a " holy child," born without sin.

(Notes, 71:17-18f>. Is. 7: 15. 1:34-38f>; 2:41-52f>.)

He was not only the peculiar care of Providence from his birth; but from his earliest infancy he exercised the most perfect faith, hope, and love towards his God and Father.

V. 11- 13. A helpless infant, or a harmless lamb, surrounded by furious bulls and hungry lions, aptly represented the Saviour encompassed by his insulting and bloody persecutors ; and in his extreme distress forsaken even by his disciples. (Notes, 16- 18. 26:40-56f>. 23:15f>. 16:31-33f>; 18:13f>.) The bulls, which fed in the fertile pastures of bashan, were remarkably fat, strong, and furious; and they represented the Jewish rulers, who were rendered insolent by prosperity. Gaped. . .with their mouths. (13) " Opened their mouths," (marg.) as a lion to devour the prey.

V. 14, 15. The dissolution of nature, and the unresisted sufferings of Christ, when " crucified through weakness," (Note, 13:1-4f>,) are expressed, by his being " poured out as water : " the stretching of his body on the cross, and the violent motion with which it was erected, shook his body even to the dislocation of his bones. (Note, 27:35f>.) His sense of the divine wrath against our sins, then laid upon him, added to all his other sufferings, made his heart faint and melt within him, as wax by the fire. Thus the vigour and moisture of his body were dried up, as with intense heat ; his extreme thirst caused his tongue to cleave to his jaws ; and he was brought down into the dust, by his death and burial. (Notes, 27:47-50f>; 27:57-61f>. 22:44f>.)

V. 16- 18. The rulers of the Jews were as strong bulls : the multitudes and soldiers were as so many ravenous dogs, who had inclosed this hunted hind, in order to glut themselves with his sufferings and his blood. (Note, Title.) ’ Our ’ Lord. . .here setteth himself forth. . .under che image of an ’ hart, or hind, roused early in the morning of his mortal ’ life, hunted and chased all the day, and in the evening ’ pulled down to the ground.’ Bp. Home.

In nailing him to the cross, they pierced his hands and his feet : and when, emaciated by his labours and sufferings, he was stretched out almost naked on the cross, he might have numbered all his bones. The insulting multitudes stood around, and gratified their malice and curiosity by staring upon him ; and the unfeeling soldiers, having shared his other garments, amused themselves with casting lots for his vesture.

The manner in which his clothes were disposed of, being very remarkable, and occasioned by the peculiar texture of his coat, was thus circumstantially predicted ! (Notes, 27:35-44f>. 19:23-24f>.) Crucifixion, or nailing men to two transverse pieces of wood, by spikes driven through their hands and feet, seems to have been originally a Grecian or Roman punishment for slaves ; at least it was not known in Judea, till many ages after this prophecy was delivered. Nothing, at ;ill answering to the literal meaning of these terms, befell David, as far us we know; nothing could have been previously more unlikely, than that the promised and glorious Son of David should be treated in this cruel and ignominious manner : yet the fulfilment was so exact, that the verses seem more like a narrative than a prediction ! Let any thinking man recollect, that the Jews, the greatest opposers of Christianity ever since its promulgation, have unanimously allowed, that David wrote this psalm above a thousand years before the birth of Christ ; then let him compare it with the history of his crucifixion, and determine, whether it does not stand as an unanswerable argument for the divine inspiration of the scriptures, and for the divine original of the Christian religion.

V. 19- 21. In these verses, the Psalmist, (speaking in the person of the suffering Redeemer,) having stated the extremity of his case, renews his supplications ; and earnestly prays to be delivered from the sword of divine justice, stretched forth against him, as our Surety; from Satan, the chief of those blood-hounds, or roaring lions, which pursued him ; and from the enraged enemies, who like the fiercest wild beasts surrounded him, as if they aimed at his entire and final destruction. My darling. (20) Some think it refers to the human nature of Christ, as united to the Deity.

V. 22. This verse is expressly applied to our Lord by the apostle: (Note, 2:10-13f>:) and the subsequent part of the psalm is as evidently prophetical of his glory and the success of his gospel, as the foregoing part is of his sufferings. The whole psalm is allowed to be highly poetical; but this transition is peculiarly beautiful. For here the scene at once changes and brightens. The Saviour turns his eyes from his sufferings, to the glory which followed :

(Notes, 13:1-5f>; 13:31-35f>; 17:1-3f>:) and, anticipating the extensive and permanently blessed effects of his passion and exaltation, he breaks forth into exulting predictions and praises at the prospect. So that what follows seems descriptive of his feelings when he cried, " It " is finished," and, " Father into thy hands I commend my " spirit." (Notes, 23:44-49f>. 19:28-30f>.)

V. 23, 24. Some expositors think that these verses are the song of praise, which the Messiah declares he will lead in the midst of the congregation. Israel is especially addressed ; but all who are favoured with the gospel are equally concerned in the exhortation, as the resurrection and consequent glory of Christ are the common benefit of all that fear and seek God : for had he despised and rejected the Surety’s- sufferings, and left him in the grave, all the hopes of sinners would have been for ever buried with him. (Notes, 2. 4:23-25f>; 8:32-34f>. 15:12-18f>. 13:20-21f>.)

But, though man despised and abhorred him, and the Father for a time seemed to disregard his sufferings and prayers ; and though the character and conduct of those whom he represented, was abominable in the sight of God ; he yet accepted the Saviour’s atoning sacrifice, raised him from the dead, and made him " the Author of eternal salvation to all them " that obey him." (Note, 5:7-10f>.)

V. 25. Vows, That is, the Saviour will publickly fulfil all the engagements of his exaltation, for the glory of God, and the benefit of his church ; even as the Psalmist offered the various sacrifices, which he had vowed in his distress. (Notes,

56:12f>; 66:13-14f>. 116:14-19f>.) The change in the person, from thee to him, is not uncommon. (27. 1:26-28f>.)

V. 26. The death of Christ was the great sacrifice for sin ; his " flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink in" deed ; " the poor in spirit feed on this provision, in their hearts by faith, and arc satisfied : thus while they seek the Lord, they praise him also, and their hearts, or souls, are ’ preserved unto eternal life.’

(Notes, 6:30-35f>; 6:47-58f>.) The sacred feasts on the peace-offerings and vows, at the sanctuary, furnished this allusion.

V. 27, 28. The fallen race of Adam in general, all over the world, had forgotten, through alienation of heart, the one living and true God, and their relations and obligations to him, as their Creator, Governor, and Judge : but, through the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that followed, vast multitudes in the most distant nations, " remembered" God; and, forsaking their idols and iniquities, turned to him, as his worshippers and subjects. Thus he kingdom of God, which always was his by right, began in fact to be established among the nations : but this part of the prophecy has by no means yet received its grand accomplishment. (Notes, 11:15-18f>; 20:1-3f>.)

V. 29. Even the rich and powerful on earth are invited to this feast, and must feed on this spiritual provision, or they must starve : they must worship, and submit to the exalted Saviour, or perish : they, that persist in their rebellion, must bow as condemned criminals before his tribunal. The most exalted, and the most abased, are in this respect precisely in the same situation : none can preserve his body from death, or raise it again from the dust ; none can quicken his own soul, or save it from final condemnation. In both respects, Christ alone is " the Resurrection and the Life ; " and at length all that sleep in the dust must bow before his tribunal, and all his believing subjects will enter into his joy. (Notes, 5:28-29f>; 11:20-27f>.)

V. 30, 31. Some in every age will be the servants of Christ : they shall be accounted, or registered, as a chosen generation to the Lord; (Is. 53. 10. Note, 2:9-10f>;) and shall supplant the nation of Israel, though not descended from one common stock, being the children of God by a spiritual birth. (Notes, 1:22-25f>.) They shall come from every quarter to enlarge the church ; one generation shall declare to another his righteousness and salvation ; and his sufferings and death, and subsequent exaltation, shall be their favourite to picks. (Notes, Is. 45:20 -25. 3:21-26f>. 5:18-21f>.)


V. 1-21.

The stupendous scene here exhibited should attract our cost serious and affectionate attention. Let us therefore aside from worldly trifles, to " behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Let us cm. template the depth of the Saviour’s humiliation in connexion with his personal dignity; and his intense sufferings, contrasted with the infinite delight which the Father had in him, and with the combination of all excellences in his character. Let us hearken to his complaints and groans ; let us attend to his strong crying and tears, to his agony and temptations, and to the cruelty and contempt with which he was treated by Jews and gentiles, priests, rulers, people, and soldiers ; till ingenuity was exhausted, and malice itself fatigued, with mocking and tormenting him. f/e’ as view this holy Saviour surrounded by bulls, lions, and ravenous dogs ; in the palace of the high priest, and in the judgment-hall of Herod, and of Pilate. Let us next look to him as nailed to the cross, pouring out his blood like water ; enquiring in doleful accents, " My God, " my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? " and complaining, "All my bones are out of joint, my heart is as wax, " it is melted in the midst of my bowels ; " till at length his death closed the awful scene, while nature also seemed expiring in convulsions.

(Note, 27:51-53f>.) What then do we learn from these astonishing events, and this extraordinary prediction of them ? Here we behold the eternal justice and holiness of our God ; the immutable excellency and obligation of his law ; the inconceivable odiousness and guilt of sin ; the inestimable worth of our souls ; the ruined state of man, the insufficiency of all other expedients for magnifying the law, or satisfying the justice of God. We here learn the vanity of the world, and the misery of its deluded inhabitants ; the dire malignity of the human heart, which naturally conceived and expressed such cruel hatred and contempt of him, who was " the Brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express " Image of his person : " we become acquainted with the infinitely free love and compassion of God the Father, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, for us wretched sinners : we perceive what is the Foundation of every human hope ; the Source of all grace and consolation ; the Exemplar to which we are to be conformed ; together with the treatment that we are to expect from man, and the conduct under it which, as Christians, we are to adopt. In short, the whole system of true religion is here viewed in its central point ; and every lesson is learned, with peculiar advantage, by the enlightened and humbled soul. ( 1:23-24f>.)

V. 22-31.

In this part of the psalm, viewed in connexion with the former, we behold the ransom accepted, the Saviour heard, and raised, and exalted to his glorious throne : we view him at the right hand of the Father, receiving inestimable gifts to bestow on sinful man, and not ashamed to call his poor disciples brethren ; declaring among them, and by them to the world, the name and truths of God ; fulfilling in his exaltation the design of all his sufferings ; and calling on all, who fear and seek the Lord, to rejoice in him, and to praise and glorify him. (Note, 2:10-13f>.) He now gives us his flesh and blood, to be the life-giving and preserving Food of our souls : on this the meek and humble feed with delight, praise the Lord for it, and live for ever: and all, however powerful and honourable, who refuse this provision, and will not worship the exalted Saviour, must perish ; : or " the kingdom is the LORD’S," and the once crucified Jesus is " the Governor among the nations;" and "no man can" by any means " keep alive his own soul." Whilst numbers despise, and wonder, and perish ; a seed is, from age to age, raised up to serve the Redeemer, who are " accounted to the LORD for a chosen generation ; " and who declare his righteousness and works of love, to those around them, and to those that shall succeed them. Thus the gentiles have been brought into his church, which is preserved in the midst of opposition : and ere long " all " the ends of the earth shall remember, and turn unto the " LORD, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship " before him." Let the infidel then study this psalm with serious attention, and no longer object his futile cavils, in opposition to demonstration. Let those, who go about to establish their own righteousness, enquire why the beloved Son of God thus suffered, if their performances could atone for sin, or recommend a sinner to his offended God. Let the antinomian consider, whether the Saviour thus honoured the divine law, to purchase him the liberty of despising it. Let the careless take warning to flee from the wrath to come; and the trembling be encouraged, and rest their hopes upon this merciful Redeemer. The tempted and distressed believer should contemplate the scene, and learn to imitate the faith, patience, meekness, constancy, persevering prayers, fervent zeal, and love of the suffering Saviour ; and cheerfully expect a happy event of every trial. Finally, let us never be ashamed to profess our faith in him and obligations to him, who condescends to own us as his brethren : but let us instruct our families in the important truths of his gospel, desiring above all things, and praying continually, that " they may be a seed to serve him ; " and that all the ends of the earth may hear and receive his gospel, arid become his believing and accepted servants and worshippers. _

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 22". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.