Psalm 22 – The Servant of God Forsaken, Rescued, and Triumphant
This is another Psalm with a title: To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Deer of the Dawn.” A Psalm of David. We can say that this is a Psalm sung to the Greatest Musician, to an unknown tune, but by the Sweet Psalmist of Israel. Yet in it David sings as more than an artist, but as one of the greatest prophets ever to speak, pointing more to his Greater Son, Jesus the Messiah, than even to himself.
“This is a kind of gem among the Psalms, and is peculiarly excellent and remarkable. It contains those deep, sublime, and heavy sufferings of Christ, when agonizing in the midst of the terrors and pangs of divine wrath and death which surpass all human thought and comprehension.” (Luther, cited in Spurgeon)
A. The agony of the Forsaken One.
1. (1-2) The cry of the forsaken.
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
a. My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? This Psalm begins abruptly, with a disturbing scene: someone who knows and trusts God is forsaken, and cries out to God in agony.
i. This is a Psalm of David, and there were many instances in the life of David where he might write such an agonized poem. Before and after taking the throne of Israel, David lived in seasons of great danger and deprivation.
ii. While this Psalm was certainly true of King David in his life experience, it – like many Psalms – is even truer of Jesus the Messiah than of David. Jesus deliberately chose these words to describe His agony on the cross (Matthew 27:46).
iii. “We can be fairly certain that Jesus was meditating on the Old Testament during the hours of his suffering and that he saw his crucifixion as a fulfillment of Psalm 22 particularly.” (Boice)
iv. “I doubt not that David, though he had an eye to his own condition in divers passages here used, yet was carried forth by the Spirit of prophecy beyond himself, and unto Christ, to whom alone it truly and fully agrees.” (Poole)
b. My God, My God: This opening is powerful on at least two levels. The cry “My God” shows that the Forsaken One truly did have a relationship with God. He was a victim of the cruelty of men, but the cry and the complaint is to God – even My God – and not to or against man. Second, the repetition of the plea shows the intensity of the agony.
i. “Then it was that he felt in soul and body the horror of God’s displeasure against sin, for which he had undertaken.” (Trapp)
c. Why have You forsaken Me? There is a note of surprise in this cry and in the following lines. The Forsaken One seems bewildered; “Why would My God forsake Me? Others may deserve such, but I cannot figure out why He would forsake Me.”
i. We may easily imagine a situation in the life of King David where he experienced this. Many times he found himself in seemingly impossible circumstances and wondered why God did not rescue him immediately.
ii. Yet beyond David and his life, this agonized cry and the intentional identification of Jesus with these words are some of the most intense and mysterious descriptions of what Jesus experienced on the cross. Jesus had known great pain and suffering (both physical and emotional) during His life. Yet He had never known separation or alienation from God His Father. At this moment He experienced what He had not yet ever experienced. There was a significant sense in which Jesus rightly felt forsaken by God the Father at this moment.
iii. On the cross at that moment, a holy transaction took place. God the Father regarded God the Son as if He were a sinner. As the Apostle Paul would later write, God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
iv. Yet Jesus not only endured the withdrawal of the Father’s fellowship, but also the actual outpouring of the Father’s wrath upon Him as a substitute for sinful humanity. “This was the blackness and darkness of his horror; then it was that he penetrated the depths of the caverns of suffering.” (Spurgeon)
v. “To be forsaken means to have the light of God’s countenance and the sense of his presence eclipsed, which is what happened to Jesus as he bore the wrath of God against sin for us.” (Boice)
vi. “It was necessary that he should feel the loss of his Father’s smile, – for the condemned in hell must have tasted of that bitterness; – and therefore the Father closed the eye of his love, put the hand of justice before the smile of his face, and left his Son to cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'” (Spurgeon)
vii. Horrible as this was, it fulfilled God’s good and loving plan of redemption. Therefore Isaiah could say Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10).
viii. At the same time, we cannot say that the separation between the Father and the Son at the cross was complete. Paul made this clear in 2 Corinthians 5:19: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself at the cross.
d. Why have You forsaken Me? There is a definite question in these words of David, and as Jesus appropriated them to Himself on the cross. What Jesus endured on the cross was so complex, so dark, and so mysterious that it was, at the moment, beyond His ability to figure out (at least in an emotional sense).
i. Spurgeon considered this question with an emphasis on the word, “You.” “‘Thou:‘ I can understand why traitorous Judas and timid Peter should be gone, but thou, my God, my faithful friend, how canst thou leave me? This is worst of all, yea worse than all put together. Hell itself has for its fiercest flame the separation of the soul from God.” (Spurgeon)
ii. We can imagine the answer to Jesus’ question: Why? “Because My Son, You have chosen to stand in the place of guilty sinners. You, who have never known sin, have made the infinite sacrifice to become sin and receive My just wrath upon sin and sinners. You do this because of Your great love, and because of My great love.”
iii. Then the Father might give the Son a glimpse of His reward – the righteously-robed multitude of His people on heaven’s golden streets, “all of them singing their redeemer’s praise, all of them chanting the name of Jehovah and the Lamb; and this was a part of the answer to his question.” (Spurgeon)
e. Why are You so far from helping Me? David knew what it was like to feel the presence and the deliverance of God and had experienced such many times before. Every prior time of help made this dramatic absence of God’s help more devastating. Worse yet, there seemed to be no explanation for the lack of God’s help; thus the question, “Why?”
i. No doubt David experienced this, but only as a shadow compared to how Jesus experienced this. Prior to the cross Jesus lived every moment in conscious fellowship with God the Father, combined with a continual dependence upon the help of both the Father and the Spirit. At the cross, Jesus felt helpless, as it seemed that the Father was so far from helping Him.
f. O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear: A further dimension of David’s agony was the fact that he made repeated, constant appeals to God and yet felt utterly unheard. His groaning was unanswered, his cry ignored.
i. David certainly experienced this; the greater Son of David experienced it in a far greater degree. On the cross Jesus felt abandoned by the Father, and felt that His groaning and cries went unanswered.
2. (3-5) Remembrance of God’s nature and prior help.
But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
a. But You are holy: The Forsaken One remembered God and His greatness, even when immersed in suffering. He did not curse or blaspheme God, and he knew that his present agony did not change God’s holiness (You are holy) or greatness (Enthroned in the praises of Israel).
i. We have the sense that the present crisis filled David (and the greater Son of David) with doubt and confusion, yet he would not allow doubts as to the holiness or greatness of God. Whatever he did not know in his present situation, there were some things that he did know.
ii. “Here is the triumph of faith—the Saviour stood like a rock in the wide ocean of temptation. High as the billows rose, so did his faith, like the coral rock, wax greater and stronger till it became an island of salvation to our shipwrecked souls. It is as if he had said, ‘It matters not what I endure. Storms may howl upon me; men despise; devils tempt; circumstances overpower; and God himself forsake me, still God is holy; there is no unrighteousness in him.'” (Stevenson, cited in Spurgeon)
iii. “We may not question the holiness of God, but we may argue from it, and use it as a plea in our petitions.” (Spurgeon)
b. Our fathers trusted in You… They cried to You, and were delivered: David also remembered how God had answered and delivered many times before. Strangely, this would add measures of both comfort and despair. Comfort, knowing that he cried to the same God who had delivered before and who could deliver again. Despair, knowing that the God who haddelivered before now seemed so distant and silent.
i. We can almost hear the agony of the Forsaken One: “They cried to You, and were delivered; I cry to You and am ignored.”
ii. Our fathers: “The use of the plural pronoun ‘our‘ shows how one with his people Jesus was even on the cross.” (Spurgeon)
3. (6-8) Mocking the forsaken.
But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
“He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
a. But I am a worm, and no man: The intensity of the conflict made David feel not only ignored, but insignificant. God seems to help other men, but seems to give no help to worms. The low standing he had in his own eyes and in the eyes of others simply added to his agony.
i. “This verse is a miracle in language. How could the Lord of glory be brought to such abasement as to be not only lower than the angels, but even lower than men. What a contrast between ‘I am’ and ‘I am a worm‘!” (Spurgeon)
ii. “He felt himself to be comparable to a helpless, powerless, down–trodden worm, passive while crushed, and unnoticed and despised by those who trod upon him. He selects the weakest of creatures, which is all flesh; and becomes, when trodden upon, writhing, quivering flesh, utterly devoid of any might except strength to suffer. This was a true likeness of himself when his body and soul had become a mass of misery—the very essence of agony—in the dying pangs of crucifixion.” (Spurgeon)
iii. It was dramatically fulfilled in the greater Son of David, that on the cross He was a reproach of men, and despised by the people. Cruel men mocked Jesus in His greatest agony (Matthew 27:39-44).
b. They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him”: David’s misery multiplied at those who mocked and misunderstood his agony. They used it all as an excuse to call into question his relationship with God, even as the friends of Job did with that sufferer.
i. It was as if they said, “It seemed that he trusted in the LORD, but we all know that the LORD rescues those who trust in Him. It seemed that he delighted in God, but that must be false because he is not delivered.”
ii. He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him: If Jesus identified with the opening words of Psalm 22 with His great cry from the cross (Matthew 27:46), then His enemies unwittingly identified with the scornful enemies of God and His Anointed in their mockery of Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:43: He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now… ).
iii. Spurgeon preached a sermon (Faith Among Mockers) where he considered the implication of this word against the Forsaken One, “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him.”
· In a truly grace-filled man, his trust in God is known.
· This trust by believing men is not understood by the world.
· This true faith will almost certainly be mocked at some time or another.
· The time shall come when the man of faith who has trusted in God shall be abundantly justified.
c. Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him: This statement reveals the frequent ignorance and cruelty of those who oppose God and His people. It claimed to see no deliverance, when it would indeed come soon. It also questioned the delight of God in the Forsaken One, when God did and does truly delight in that one.
i. “A most virulent irony, whereby they sought to cajole him out of his confidence, and so to drive him into utter desperation and destruction.” (Trapp)
4. (9-11) A plea: “You are my God since the earliest days.”
But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God.
Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
a. But You are He who took Me out of the womb: David understood – both for himself and, prophetically speaking, for the later-to-come Messiah – that in the depth of agony and the sense of abandonment, one could still appeal to God in remembrance of better times.
i. The Forsaken One did not say, “Since I feel abandoned by God, I will abandon Him.” He remained steadfast through the dark night of the soul, and still made appeal to the God who cared for Him since birth.
ii. “That Child now fighting the great battle of his life, uses the mercy of his nativity as an argument with God. Faith finds weapons everywhere. He who wills to believe shall never lack reasons for believing.” (Spurgeon)
b. Out of the womb… while on My mother’s breasts… from birth… You have been My God: The Forsaken One argued on good, logical grounds. He reminded God of the care given since His very earliest days. That prior grace might seem to be wasted if the sufferer was not rescued in His present crisis.
i. “They are the personal application of the wide truth that God by His making us men gives us a claim on Him, that He has bound Himself by giving life to give what is needful for its development and well-being.” (Maclaren)
c. Be not far from Me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help: The plea for help is again eloquently and persuasively stated. God seems far away; but trouble is near – and there is none to help, so You must help me, God!
5. (12-18) The agony of the forsaken.
Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.
a. Many bulls have surrounded Me: The Forsaken One again describes His crisis. He described the people tormenting Him as strong bulls of Bashan, large animals proverbial for their strength. They surround Him and threaten Him.
i. “The bull is the emblem of brutal strength, that gores and tramples down all before it.” (Clarke)
ii. “The priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees, rulers, and captains bellowed round the cross like wild cattle, fed in the fat and solitary pastures of Bashan, full of strength and fury; they stamped and foamed around the innocent One, and longed to gore him to death with their cruelties.” (Spurgeon)
b. I am poured out like water: The Forsaken One felt completely empty. He perceived no resource in Himself able to meet the crisis at hand. Whatever strength or resistance He had was poured out like water upon the ground.
i. “My heart faileth, my spirits are spent and gone like water, which once spilt can never be recovered; my very flesh is melted within me, and I am become as weak as water.” (Poole)
c. My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me: This described the physical extremity of David at the time, but it also is an amazingly specific prophecy of the future suffering of the Son of David on the cross.
i. The deliberately awkward and strained position of the crucified man meant that on the cross could say, “My bones are out of joint.” David did not know the practice of crucifixion in his day, but he described the physical agony of it with the accuracy of a prophet of the LORD.
ii. There is also some reason to believe (based mainly on John 19:34) that on the cross Jesus suffered from a ruptured heart, making the words “My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me” also amazingly specific.
iii. My tongue clings to My jaws: As was normal for anyone under the agony of crucifixion, Jesus suffered great thirst on the cross (John 19:28).
d. You have brought me to the dust of death: David used this moving poetic phrase to describe the extent of his misery. He probably had in mind the curse God pronounced upon Adam after his sin: For dust you are, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19). Since all humanity was contained in Adam, this curse extends to the entire human race, and David felt himself close to the dust of death.
i. Obviously, David did not die in the crisis described by this Psalm; he lived to write it and others. He came to the edge of mortality when God brought him to the dust of death. Yet Jesus, the Son of David, did not merely come to the edge of death; He was plunged into the dust of death and into all of the cursedness implied by that. Jesus bore the sting of Adam’s curse for us (Galatians 3:3) so that we would not have to bear it ourselves.
ii. “In regard, however, to the faintness which our Lord experienced, we ought to notice this additional and remarkable circumstance, that he did not altogether faint away. The relief of insensibility he refused to take. When consciousness ceases, all perception of pain is necessarily and instantly terminated. But our Lord retained his full consciousness throughout this awful scene.” (Stevenson, cited in Spurgeon)
e. For dogs have surrounded Me; the assembly of the wicked has enclosed Me: David’s crisis would be bad enough even if surrounded by sympathetic friends; his misery was multiplied because there were violent and wicked men on every side.
i. In His death, the Son of David had few sympathizers. Haters, scoffers, and mockers surrounded Jesus on the cross and sought to make His suffering worse (Matthew 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32).
f. They pierced My hands and My feet: Perhaps here David referred to wounds he received in struggling against these determined enemies; perhaps he wrote purely prophetically. In any regard, hundreds of years before the Romans adopted the Persian practice of crucifixion, the prophet David described the wounds of crucifixion that his Greater Son would bear.
i. The Masoretic Hebrew text of Psalm 22:16 doesn’t say pierced, it says “as a lion.” Yet the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Old Testament – long before the Christian era – renders the Hebrew text as saying pierced. While the Masoretic text shouldn’t be casually disregarded, there is good reason to side with the Septuagint and almost every other translation here. “It may even suggest that the Masoretic text was deliberately pointed in the way it was by later Jewish scholars to avoid what otherwise would be a nearly inescapable prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion.” (Boice)
g. I can count all My bones: David examined his wounds and understood that he had no broken bones. The Son of David also, despite his great suffering on the cross, suffered no broken bones. John carefully noted this (John 19:31-37). It fulfilled this prophecy, as well as Psalm 34:20 and the pattern of the Passover lamb as described in Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12.
h. They look and stare at Me: In his crisis, David was the focus of unwanted attention. His tormentors did not allow him the dignity of private suffering, but exposed all things to their stare. David’s Great Son also found no place to hide from the unwanted stares of cruel, mocking men at the cross.
i. On the cross Jesus was the focus not only of mocking and humiliation (Matthew 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32), but also of simple astonishment, as when the centurion said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54) Luke also noted, the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned (Luke 23:48).
ii. “‘They look and stare upon me.‘ Oh, how different is that look which the awakened sinner directs to Calvary, when faith lifts up her eye to him who agonised, and bled, and died, for the guilty!” (Morison, cited in Spurgeon)
i. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots: David was so humbled before his adversaries, so powerless against them, that they took even his clothing and used it for themselves.
i. As with other aspects of Psalm 22, this was fulfilled even more literally in the experience of Jesus than in the life of David. As was the custom of that time, Jesus was stripped naked or nearly naked for the cross, and soldiers gambled (cast lots) for his clothing at the very foot of the cross. John 19:23-24 and Matthew 27:35 quote this line of Psalm 22 as being fulfilled.
ii. “Unholy eyes gazed insultingly upon the Saviour’s nakedness, and shocked the sacred delicacy of his holy soul. The sight of the agonizing body ought to have ensured sympathy from the throng, but it only increased their savage mirth, as they gloated their cruel eyes upon his miseries.” (Spurgeon)
6. (19-21a) A plea for help and deliverance.
But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
a. But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me: The request of Psalm 22:11 is here repeated. David seemed to believe that he could endure anything if he enjoyed the conscious presence of God. His plea is not focused on the change of his situation, but on the presence of God in the crisis.
b. Hasten to help Me… Deliver Me… Save Me: Picturing his adversaries as vicious animals (the dog… the lion’s mouth… the horns of the wild oxen), David pled for the help and deliverance the presence of God brings.
i. These lines reflect not only the great danger and misery of both David and his Greater Son, but especially their trust in the LORD God as their deliverer. He and He alone is their hope.
ii. Deliver Me from the sword: “The wrath of God was the ‘sword,’ which took vengeance on all men in their representative; it was the ‘flaming sword,’ which kept men out of paradise.” (Horne)
B. The answer to the Forsaken One.
1. (21b-23) The Forsaken One praises God among His people.
You have answered Me.
I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
You who fear the LORD, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
a. You have answered Me: After pouring out His soul in agony, now the Forsaken One has a glorious sense that God has answered Him. The crisis became bearable in the knowledge that God is not removed from our suffering nor silent in it.
i. The answer of God to the Forsaken One instantly meant that He no longer felt forsaken. The deliverance from the crisis itself may be yet to come, but the deliverance from the sense of being forsaken by God in the midst of the crisis was his. There is immense relief, joy, and peace in the words, “You have answered Me.”
ii. “As he thus cries, the conviction that he is heard floods his soul, and he ends, not with a cry for help, but with that one rapturous word, ‘Thou hast answered me.’ It is like a parting burst of sunshine at the end of a day of tempest.” (Maclaren)
iii. It is easy to see these words fulfilled in the experience of David; but perfectly completed in Jesus. This was also the resolution that another forsaken one – Job – fought so hard for. Even without an immediate deliverance from difficulty, there is immense comfort in knowing that God is there and that He is not silent in the midst of our crisis.
iv. Knowing that Jesus fulfilled this prophetic Psalm, it is fair to wonder just when He could speak or live the fulfillment of these words, “You have answered Me.” Perhaps – though impossible to say with certainty – it was while He still hung on the cross, yet after the mysterious, glorious transaction of bearing the sin of mankind. Perhaps it was after the triumphant announcement, It is finished! (John 19:30), yet before (or even in) the warm words, Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit (Luke 23:46). Those words point to a re-established sense of fellowship replacing the prior sense of forsakenness.
b. I will declare Your name to My brethren: Having been delivered – if not from the crisis itself, certainly from the sense of being forsaken in the crisis – now the promise is made to glorify and praise the God of deliverance. Others needed to know of God’s greatness in such extremity.
i. Hebrews 2:12 quotes the second half of Psalm 22 (specifically, Psalm 22:22), proving clearly that the entire Psalm points to Jesus, not just the agony of the first half.
ii. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed a glorious prayer, and one line of that prayer reads: I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it (John 17:26). Those words, prayed in the shadow of the cross, can be understood as a deliberate desire to fulfill this word in Psalm 22, I will declare Your name to My brethren. Jesus understood that His obedient work on the cross would bring great glory to His God and Father, declaring the greatness of His name.
iii. We may say that this section of Psalm 22 reflects the primary reason Jesus went to the cross: to glorify and obey His God and Father.
c. You who fear the LORD, praise Him! The command is given to praise, to glorify, and to fear the LORD. The God of such great deliverance deserves all three things from all humanity.
i. We prophetically see in this section Jesus doing two great things in the aftermath of His great work on the cross:
· Jesus declares God’s name (I will declare Your name to My brethren)
· Jesus leads the Redeemed in praise (In the midst of the assembly I will praise You)
ii. Of this second point, Spurgeon observed: “I like to think that when we pray on earth our prayers are not alone, but our great High Priest is there to offer our petitions with his own. When we sing on earth it is the same. Is not Jesus Christ in the midst of the congregation, gathering up all the notes which come from sincere lips, to put them into the golden censer, and to make them rise as precious incense before the throne of the infinite majesty?” (Spurgeon)
2. (24-25) Praising the God who answers the forsaken.
For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.
My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
a. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted: David’s triumphant words – again, perfectly fulfilled in his greater son Jesus – reflect a profound spiritual wisdom and depth. The God who answers the Forsaken One still allowed the affliction of the afflicted; yet He has not despised or abhorred it. God has used and would use that affliction to good and great purpose.
i. Some of God’s people automatically associate all affliction with the disfavor of God. It is true that sometimes affliction may come as punishment (for the unbeliever) or as discipline (for the believer). Yet sometimes affliction is something God does not despise, and uses to good effect in the lives of His people.
ii. It is in this sense that the words of Isaiah 53:10 were fulfilled: Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. The affliction was not despised.
b. Nor has He hidden His face from Him: Certainly David (and the greater Son of David) felt that the Father hid His face (Why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me?… You do not hear, Psalm 22:1-2). Yet now, after God’s answer has come (Psalm 22:21b), it is clear that He never did leave the afflicted, even in the midst of the affliction.
c. But when He cried to Him, He heard: The answer seemed an intolerably long time in coming, but it came. David and the Son of David could both say, “He heard My cry.”
d. My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay my vows: There are two aspects to a right response to such a wonderful deliverance. The first is public praise, the second is keeping promises.
3. (26-27) Others who rejoice in the God who answers.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.
Let your heart live forever!
All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the LORD,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
a. The poor shall eat and be satisfied: If God shows such faithfulness to the afflicted, there is hope for the poor. The good God will take care of the poor who trust Him and seek Him. They will praise the LORD also.
i. The faithfulness of God to the Forsaken One becomes a foundation for His faithfulness to others in need, such as the poor. His satisfaction in the work of the Son of David means grace and blessing and joy (Let your heart live forever!) for others.
b. Those who seek Him will praise the LORD: There is a promise in this, that those who seek Him will in fact find the LORD, and thus they will praise Him.
i. “There are souls now weeping for sin and longing for a Savior who will soon find him, and then will become most hearty singers of the new song. They are coming, coming in their thousands even now. The music of praise shall be continued as long as the sun, and the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. From generation to generation shall the name of the Lord be praised.” (Spurgeon)
c. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD: The faithfulness of God to the Forsaken One even becomes the base for bringing all the ends of the world to the LORD. Not only is it true that the LORD has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted (Psalm 22:24), but He uses that affliction to reach all the ends of the world for the knowledge of God, repentance unto Him, and His worship (all the families of the nations shall worship before You).
i. We may say that this section of Psalm 22 shows the second great reason why Jesus went to the cross: out of simple love for those who would believe on Him and His saving work, and therefore remember and turn to the LORD. It is not an overly-sentimental exaggeration to say that Jesus thought of His redeemed and loved them up to the cross and on the cross.
ii. As Hebrews 12:2 says of Jesus: who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. Psalm 22 powerfully displays that joy, both in His obedience to and glorifying of His God and Father, and the joy of rescuing and loving those who would trust on Him; that there would be brethren that He declared the name of God unto (Psalm 22:22).
iii. “In that last happy interval, before he actually gave up his soul into his Father’s hands, his thoughts rushed forward and found a blessed place of rest in the prospect that, as the result of his death, all the kindreds of the nations wouldworship before the Lord, and that by a chosen seed the Most High should be honored.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “I think that is an absolutely wonderful thought and one that should move us to the most intent love for and devotion to Jesus Christ. You and I were in Jesus’ thoughts at the very moment of his death. It was for you and me explicitly and for our salvation from sin that he was dying.” (Boice)
4. (28-31) Enduring praise for a faithful God.
For the kingdom is the LORD‘s,
And He rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.
A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.
a. For the kingdom is the LORD‘s, and He rules over the nations: The experience of affliction and crisis did not make the formerly Forsaken One lose any sense of confidence in God’s power and authority. The LORD‘s reign over the nations makes sense of both His prior crisis and the call to all nations to worship before the LORD (Psalm 22:27).
i. This reminds us that one day Jesus will reign over all nations. It would be unthinkable otherwise. “Is Christ, the great King, satisfied to settle down in a corner of the world as ruler over one scanty province? Think ye that he doth not expect to divide the spoil with the strong when the nations shall flock unto him, and their kings shall bow down before him? Brethren, the present state of affairs does nor satisfy us, and since our Lord’s heart is larger than ours, it surely does not satisfy him.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Our new-born nature craves for the spread of the Redeemer’s kingdom, and prays for it instinctively.” (Spurgeon)
b. All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him: The LORD God is so highly exalted that all honor Him, both the prosperous of the earth and those who go down to the dust.
i. It is of note that though all honor the LORD, they honor Him in different ways. The prosperous of the earth enjoy a fellowship meal and worship God. In contrast, those who go down to the dust simply bow before the LORD in humbled reverence.
ii. This has much the same idea as the later passage of the Apostle Paul, when he wrote: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).
iii. Those who go down to the dust suggests those who are rightly humbled, but it can also be understood in a broader sense. Earlier in the Psalm dust suggested the mortality of man and his place under the curse (Psalm 22:15). David may here use “those who go down to the dust” as a simple representation of all humanity.
iv. If this is true, then the phrase “Even he who cannot keep himself alive” follows the same thought. It is a suggestive phrase, especially considering the connection in this Psalm with Jesus the Messiah, the greater Son of David. Of all humanity, Jesus was singular as One who couldkeep himself alive. Jesus Himself said of His life, No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again (John 10:18).
c. A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the LORD to the next generation: The faithfulness of God unto the formerly Forsaken One is told throughout the generations, bringing great glory to the LORD. They will all look at what has been accomplished in and through the formerly Forsaken One and hear, “That He has done this.”
· This results in service through the generations (a posterity shall serve Him).
· This results in God’s fame through the generations (It will be recounted of the LORD to the next generation).
· This results in the spread of the message of God’s righteousness through the generations (They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born).
i. We can say that Jesus thought of His Jewish brothers on the cross (My brethren, Psalm 22:22). He thought of the Gentiles who come into the assembly of the redeemed (in the great congregation, Psalm 22:25). He even thought of future generations who He would rescue and who would trust Him (to the next generation… to a people who will be born, Psalm 22:30-31).
ii. “Finally the vision extends to unborn generations (30f.), in terms which anticipate the preaching of the cross, recounting God’s righteousness (or deliverance, a secondary meaning of the word) revealed in the action He has taken.” (Kidner)
iii. This all adds to the wonderful truth – true for King David of Israel, but far more gloriously fulfilled in Jesus Christ – that none of the Forsaken One’s sufferings were wasted. Every drop of that cup of agony was and is used to the great glory of God.
iv. In the fullest measure, Jesus appropriated the victory of the second half of this Psalm just as much as He did the agony of the first half. “Just before He died, Jesus cried out, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). This is a quotation from the last verse of Psalm 22. In our text that verse reads, ‘he has done it,’ referring to God as subject. But there is no object for the verb in Hebrew, and it can equally well be translated, ‘It is finished.'” (Boice)
v. “The psalm which began with the cry of dereliction ends with the word he has wrought it, and announcement not far removed from our Lord’s great cry, ‘It is finished.'” (Kidner)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission