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Book of Psalms

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Psalm 22

To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A psalm of David.

King James Version
1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
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.
10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.
11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
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.
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.
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
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.
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.
25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
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.
28 For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations.
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.
30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.1

Psalm 22 and the Passion of Jesus

Psalm 22 is called the Song of David. Even in the introduction to Psalm 22, you see it as a Messianic song, because David asks the chief musician to play this song on a particular instrument. The Hebrew translation for it is morning star. The morning star is yet another symbol of the Messiah, the chosen One, the One who is going to come to redeem His people.

The very first line of Psalm 22, here it is: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" These are the identical words to what Jesus said on the cross, and it's recorded in Matthew 27. At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" He knew He was fulfilling what David said a thousand years before the event. You've got to keep that in mind. Psalm 22 was written a thousand years before the event.

Here is our next one, again, all from Psalm 22. It even describes in detail what the people around the cross are going to be saying to the Messiah as He is dying. And it says, "All those who see me ridicule me. They shoot out the lip. They shake their heads saying, 'He trusted in the Lord. Let Him rescue him. Let Him deliver him since He delights in him.'"

Let's go to what actually happened, as recorded again in the Gospel of Matthew. Likewise, the chief priest also mocking with the scribes and elders said, "He saved others. Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel let Him come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God."

Remember that from Psalm 22. "He trusted in God. Let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him. For He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" Can you imagine, a Psalmist a thousand years before it actually happened describing exactly what people are going to be saying to Jesus as He's hanging on the cross? It absolutely boggles your mind. Here is the son of David - that's one of the Messianic titles of Jesus, son of David - and here is David in Psalm 22 describing his passion, describing how people were going to mock Him.

The detail gets even more astounding.

Here it is in Psalm 22:12-13. I have struggled with this for a long time, and I finally got it in a Hebrew translation, an orthodox rabbinical translation from a group called Art Scroll out of New York City. It's a wonderful illumination of the Psalms. And here you've got two words. "Many bulls have surrounded me. Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me." Now Bashan is a place in Israel where they have very good pasture land. And so the bulls there get big and beefy. When I saw The Passion, and I remembered this, it came to me that here is a visual description of beefy Roman soldiers who were then coming after the Messiah, coming after the chosen one.

But even more importantly, this word here, "they encircled me." The Hebrew translation is actually "crowned." And it's been translated into English "encircled." But "strong bulls of "Bashan have crowned me." This is a strong visual image of the crown of thorns. "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head and a reed in His hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews.'"

It also gets specific about what happens during crucifixion. Here it is, Psalm 22:15: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and I'm as dry as an old piece of pottery. My tongue clings to my jaws. You have brought me to the dust of death." One of the signal things about crucifixion is that the body literally dries out. The fluid starts to collect down in the legs and the extremities. And literally, your mouth, your tongue starts to cling to the roof of your palate. You cannot imagine the thirst created by crucifixion. Here it is a thousand years before, predicted what was going to happen to the Messiah as He hung on the cross. And here Jesus says it, John 19:28-29: "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished that the Scripture might be fulfilled said, 'I thirst.'"

Jesus knew what was in Psalm 22. He knew it before He went to the cross. He knew what He was going to suffer, and here it is being fulfilled, what David wrote in Psalm 22.

It goes on even farther to describe how crucifixion happens. "They pierced my hands and my feet." We know this happened to Jesus, because doubting Thomas said, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nail and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." Again, all foretold by King David a thousand years before the event.

It even gets to the detail of the soldiers gambling for his clothes and how they're going to do it. "They look and stare at me." Then it says, "They divide my garments, and for my clothing they cast lots." Now if you're going to cast lots, how are you going to divide? There's two parts to this. John tells us, "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts." They divided to each soldier a part and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece, a very valuable piece of clothing in those days. They didn't want to cut it up. So they decided, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it whose it shall be." Can you imagine the detail of that prophecy a thousand years before the event, saying not only is it going to be divided, but there is going to be one piece of clothing that they're not going to divide, and they're going to cast lots for that one.

There is one piece of this prophecy in Psalm 22. Keep in mind also that David wrote this a thousand years before the death of Jesus, and crucifixion hadn't been even invented. So there was nothing for David to have a reference for about hands and feet being pierced, or hanging on a cross until you're so dry that you are hungry and thirsty that you cry out, 'My God. My God, why have You forsaken Me?" There was no way for him to know that soldiers were going to gamble for your clothes. The prophecy is so specific, and it happened a thousand years before the crucifixion.

But there is a part of this prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled, and it's up to you and me to make sure it happens. Here it is: "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You, for the Kingdom is the Lord's." Here is the final Messianic prophecy, that all the earth is going to hear.

And who has that commission? Well, Jesus gave it to you and me. "Go ye into all the world and preach this Good News. Preach remission of sins based on what I am going to do or what I have already done on the cross." And so it's up to us to see this one fulfilled. All the ends of the earth shall remember, and they shall know, and all will come and worship, for the Kingdom is the Lords.2

References and notes
1.  King James Authorized Version
Gordon Robertson on Psalm 22 and The Passion of Jesus -
3.  SDA Bible Commentary Vol. 3 pg 682
34  SDA Bible Commentary Vol. 3 pg 628


Learn More About ...
Psalm 22
A Messianic Psalm
Aijeleth Shahar
Psalm 22 and the Passion of Jesus

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A Messianic Psalm

This psalm has been called a prophetic and Messianic psalm of the greatest pathos, and has sometimes been termed The Psalm of the Cross, because of references in it that NT writers apply to the sufferings of the sinless Son of God during His passion, when, despite His trust in God, it appeared that God had forsaken Him.  There is in the entire psalm no confession of sin or trace of bitterness.  The imagery is that of David, and the psalm abounds in expressions which appear in psalms that are generally attributed to David.  Though the psalmist appears to be relating his own experience, frequent expressions in the NT attest the Messianic character of at least portions of this psalm (Matt. 27:35, 39, 43, 46; Mark 15:24, 34; Luke 23:34, 35; John 19:24, 28)3



Division of Psalm

The psalm has two parts, the first 21 verses consisting of the complaint and prayer of the sufferer; the last ten verses (vs. 22-31), of thanksgiving after deliverance.  There is no transition between the two parts: dramatic abruptness marks the change from despondency to praise.3


Aijeleth Shahar

Lieterally, "the doe [of a fallow deer] of the dawn." "The Hind of the Dawn" (RSV). According to the Targums this psalm was sung during the offering of the lamb at the time of morning sacrifice, but how early this custom was introduced is not known.4


Psalms Song Category

The Psalms Song Category is a great starting point for searching the songs which make up this music category. The song category page contains Daily Scriptures and easy links to song previews and song pages. The song pages include interesting background information and commentary about the songs and the Bible author. Sometimes there are links to related web pages including Bible Quotes, Sermons, Music samples, and Bible Puzzles.

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