Psalm 22

Overview

    A Psalm that as Christians we should recognize so much of in the crucifixion of Jesus. Beginning with Jesus’ cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (verse 1a and Matthew 27:46), to the mockery of those around the cross described in verses 6-8, to the pierced hands and feet and dividing of his clothes in 16-18 (Matthew 27:35), and through it all a praise to the Lord!

In reading this Psalm I want to say, “At least I know the end.” I want to avoid the pain and suffering, but as I shared with you about my experience with Davy, that is a way we insulate our feelings, protect ourselves, bandage ourselves. We must grieve the cross anew each time we sin, each time we read of it, hear of it. Jesus suffered, and died, for you. Linger on these words, read this Psalm over again and again and again if you need. The pain, sorrow, and disgrace that He took on for us. This is what we deserved. And it isn’t to scare us straight that we should focus on it, but to remember what He has done for us, to never think we are without sin or blame apart from Him.

Characters

God, David—the Psalmist / Jesus on the Cross, Israel (the spiritual branch which praises God), our fathers (those who have the faith in God before us, not merely those who are in the genealogy of Judah), mankind, the people, his mother, bulls of Bashan, dogs / a company of evildoers, the lion, wild oxen, my brothers, you who fear the Lord, offspring of Jacob, offspring of Israel, the afflicted, those who seek him, all the ends of the earth, all the families of the nations, all the prosperous of the earth, the one who could not keep himself alive, and a people yet unborn.

Key Verse

Verse 27 “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.”

Verse 31 “they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.”

Probably not the crux of the Psalm, since all the ones I mentioned before are indeed more about the remembering mentioned here. But these are the application, go and remember and proclaim his righteousness to all who are yet unborn. That is how we heard about his death was the memory and proclamation of others in our lives.

Cross References

Psalm 2:7-8 “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

Psalm 67:7 “God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!”

Psalm 96:7 “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!”

Psalm 86:9 “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.”

Isaiah 60:1-6 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.”

This is also a prophecy of Jesus, so I have emphasized certain phrases to draw you back to the story of Jesus within this prophecy.

Psalm 78:5-8 “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Psalm 102:18-20 “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die,”

Conclusion

    When I was reading the Bible through for the first time I was shocked at how quickly God was forgotten. People who had believed in God were still alive when God was forgotten many times. It is not okay to have that happen, and we must remember what Jesus did for us, and we must tell everyone about it.

Jesus in the Psalm

    I already shared about the prophetic aspects in this Psalm that point toward Jesus, so let me share some verses with you from the New Testament, since all of the cross references in my Bible were from the Psalms. Take time to linger on these passages.

Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

1 Timothy 3:16 “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”

Revelation 7:9-10, 13-17 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”…Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Mark 13:24-27 “”But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

This Mark passage again reminds me of the Isaiah passage above with darkness covering the earth, and all being drawn to Jesus’ light.

Galatians 3:13-14 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—as it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Crist Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

CHALLENGE: A new challenge. If you have struggled with this in the past try out this new method. I found a website for memorizing Scripture that has been very helpful. CLICK HERE to try memverse. I hope to post more about memorizing Scripture later, but for now, if this is something on your heart, here is a good way to start. You can use this website as a way to memorize some of the verses we have read in this Bible Study that you want to remember.

Tomorrow: Psalm 23

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.

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One thought on “Psalm 22

  1. So for this one, I went through each group of verses (using the way my Bible grouped them as a guide; yes, I know that paragraphing is not part of God’s inspired Word). I sort of summarized the observations for myself, and anything that crept into interpretation or questions I had I put in parentheses. I then went back and read my ESV Study Bible commentary, and most of what I observed/interpreted was correct, but there were some interesting things it pointed out that I will reiterate after my observations.

    Verses 1-2: Feels forsaken, God isn’t answering prayer
    Verses 3-5: But God is holy. People who went before trusted God and were delivered
    Verses 6-8: (I am not worthy to be rescued like my ancestors were). I am a worm. People hate me and mock me for trusting in God
    Verses 9-11: You (God) have taken care of me since birth (at most helpless and vulnerable). Don’t be far away, I’m in trouble and (God is the only one who can help)
    Verses 12-13: I am surrounded by dangerous bulls
    Verses 14-15: Physical ailments: (empty) bones out of joint, heart doesn’t work, no strength, thirsty You (God) “lays me in dust of death”
    Verses 16-18: Surrounded by enemies who injured me, (I’m in so much pain) I can count my bones, enemies mock me, (strip me) and gamble for my clothing
    Verses 19-21: Rescue me from this harm, you have done so before
    Verses 22-24: I will (future) worship God and tell everyone how he rescued me. I’ll encourage people to worship Him, because he hasn’t ignored (me) (my) troubles, but has heard (me)
    Verses 25-26: (God gives us the praise with which to praise him) “from you” (is “you” God?) God satisfies those in trouble. Seeking him leads to praise and (“long life?”)
    Verses 27-28: Everyone will remember and turn to the Lord, all families in the world will worship, God rules the nations
    Verses 29-31: Everyone will worship, even the one who couldn’t stay alive, coming generations will know how great God is.

    A couple main ideas I pulled from this:

    1. It’s okay, and right, to tell God exactly how you’re feeling. God is big enough to take you telling him that you feel like he isn’t listening and isn’t watching and isn’t paying attention. We don’t have to pretend in prayer that everything is okay when it’s not, or that we’re feeling worshipful when we’re not. God can see it anyways, so we might as well be honest with him.

    2. After we tell God that though, the psalmist makes it clear that we need to remember that our feelings don’t always reveal truth. He makes an effort to remember, even in the lives of his ancestors, what God has done for them and how he has rescued them in the past. We can do this too. We can look back not only at what God has done previously in our lives, in the lives of other believers, and also in the lives of those who participated firsthand in the Biblical narrative, and remember the same God who delivered people from those situations has the power to deliver us, and he hears us, even when we don’t think he does.

    3. Since I’m pregnant and thinking a lot about babies all the time, verses 9-11 were particularly meaningful. Babies are completely and utterly dependent on their parents/caregivers to give them what they need. In my own story, God took care of me when I was adopted, when I had no control over the people taking care of me in a very real way. Remembering that God took care of us when we LITERALLY had no ability to care for ourselves reminds us that when we find ourselves that vulnerable and helpless again, God is not far off.

    4. I had a lot of questions about who exactly “you” was at different points in the psalm, and I guess it has to be God. For me, this was a little troubling with verse 15: “you lay me in the dust of death.” It looks like from Blue Letter Bible that the Hebrews understood the “you” to be God as well. On a first reading, it almost looks like God is participatory in our suffering. As a Calvinist who believes very strongly in the sovereignty of God, I have to acknowledge this truth. No suffering occurs to us without God’s orchestration and permission. God does NOT cause suffering in the sense that Satan does, in a sinful way, but he ordains it in our lives for our good and his glory. My gut reaction to this every time is to back away from God, fearful of what he could do to me, but the truth is, God’s big picture is so much grander than us, and the clay has no right to argue with the potter. This is also strangely comforting because I know that God is in control of my suffering, that it’s not something that surprised him or caught him off guard as it so often does to me. And he never allows it without our good and his glory in mind. It’s a hard, hard, hard truth, but it’s one of great peace if I think rightly and biblically about it. I don’t claim to understand it fully, and imagine I won’t this side of eternity.

    This is particularly relevant with the connections that this psalm has to Jesus’ crucifixion and God’s work in that. On one hand, evildoers put Jesus on the cross. Our sin did that and God was NOT responsible for that. On the other hand, God orchestrated this moment in history, this suffering that no suffering before or since has ever matched in intensity and severity, for our good and his glory. That’s just crazy. I don’t get it. I know it’s true, but I don’t understand it, really. And that’s okay. I will worship God anyways. He’s smarter than I am. 🙂

    5. I was trying to figure out why the psalmist could count his bones. First I thought that he was in so much pain that he felt each bone very distinctly. The commentary suggested it had to do with being so thin and wasted that he could see his bones through his skin well enough to count them. Either way, that reveals great physical suffering.

    6. In order to gamble for clothing, I figured the person had to be stripped. Humiliation was part of this suffering.

    7. The psalmist is confident that he will worship God again and be able to exhort others to do the same. He will get to be one of those people who can encourage others in pain with stories of God’s deliverance. He doesn’t necessarily feel worshipful in the midst of his suffering, but knows God will ultimately deliver him to worship again. And in believing and stating that, the psalmist ends up worshiping God even in his suffering. How cool!

    8. Another little Calvinist plug: God gives us the strength to worship him. He gives us the praise that we give back to him (verse 25, “From you comes my praise to the great congregation”). Whether he gives us the reasons to praise or the praise itself, is the question. I think probably both. We are willed to praise God when we rightly think of his actions in our lives, and can’t rightly think of his actions in our lives unless he has saved us from our former selves and given us the ability to do so.

    9. God is ultimately King and everyone will ultimately worship him. Jesus’ death and resurrection gave us this gift. Even those who “could not keep himself alive” (verse 29) will worship God, because ultimately the strength to do so will come from him.

    My commentary thought that while Jesus quoted this psalm verbatim and there are details of his death in it, David didn’t necessarily set out to write prophecy here. I quote: “It is better to see this Psalm as providing a lament for the innocent sufferer, and then to see how all the Gospels use this to portray Jesus as the innocent sufferer par excellence.” However, that sort of short-changes the fact that what happened to Jesus was explicitly stated in the Psalm (verse 18 in particular), so it might be a little of both, whether David had prophecy in mind originally or not.

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