Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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?Psalm 22
The Sufferings of Christ and the Glory That Follows
1. The suffering (Psalm 22:1-21)
2. The glory (Psalm 22:22-31)
Psalm 22:1-21. In many respects this Psalm is the most remarkable in the entire book and one of the sublimest prophecies in the whole Bible. The sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow are here wonderfully foretold. The inscription mentions A yeleth Shahar, which means “the hind of the morning.” Jewish tradition identifies this hind with the early morning light, when the day dawns and the rays of the rising sun appear like the horns of the hind. The eminent Hebraist Professor Delitzsch, makes the following remark: “Even the Jewish synagogue, so far as it recognizes a suffering Messiah, hears His voice here, and takes the hind of the morning as a name of the Shechinah, and makes it a symbol of coming redemption.” And the Targum recalls the lamb of the morning sacrifice, which was offered as soon as the watchman on the pinnacle of the temple cried out, “The first rays of the morning burst forth.” All this is very suggestive. The inscription also tells us that the Psalm was written by David. “We know, however, of no circumstances in his life to which it can possibly be referred. In none of the persecutions by Saul was he ever reduced to such straits as those here described” (Perowne). David’s personal experience is all out of question. He speaks as a prophet, such as he was (Acts 2:30) and the Spirit of God useth him to give one of the completest pictures of Christ, His suffering and glory, which to David must have been a mystery, so that with other prophets, he searched and enquired as to its meaning. (See 1Peter 1:10-12). Our Lord in uttering the solemn word with which this Psalm begins in the darkness which enshrouded the cross gives us the conclusive evidence that it is He of whom the Psalm speaks. The Spirit of God equally so in Hebrews 2:11-12 shows that it is Christ. And the glory-side of this gem of prophecy proves fully that none other than the Christ of God is meant.
The precious, blessed, unfathomable work of the sin-bearer on the Cross and its far reaching results in blessing and glory is here unfolded to our faith, as well as for our joy and comfort. The heart of the atonement occupies the foreground, not the physical sufferings, but the suffering He endured from the side of God, when He made Him who knew no sin, sin for us. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”--But Thou art holy! That is the answer to the “Why?” And when the blessed One was thus forsaken, and faced as the substitute of sinners the holy, sin-hating God, He finished the work, the work which enables God to be just and the justifier of all who believe in Jesus. “It is finished!” was His triumphant shout, expressed in the Greek by one work--”tetelestai.” And our Psalm ends with a similar word--”He hath done”--the Hebrew word “ohsa” expresseth the same thought-it is finished.
Still more astonishing are the details of His physical sufferings, which were all so minutely fulfilled on Calvary. Here we find foretold the piercing of hands and feet, the excessive thirst He suffered, the terrible agony by hanging suspended, every bone out of joint; the laughter and hooting of his enemies, the very expressions they used surrounding the cross are given here, and the dividing of the garments and casting lots over them and other details are prophetically revealed. And to this must be added another fact. Crucifixion was an unknown method of death in Jewish law. Among ancient nations the Roman penal code alone seems to contain exclusively this cruel penalty; Rome evidently invented it. Yet here this unknown death penalty is described in a perfect manner. What an evidence of divine inspiration!
And the critics, how they have tried to explain away this great prophecy! And they are still trying to explain it away. Some apply it to Hezekiah; others say it may describe the sufferings of Jeremiah; still others say it is the Jewish nation. And some try to make it out as being only coincident that the Hebrews had such a piece of literature and that one of their own, Jesus of Nazareth, made such an experience. Surely these infidels are fools, for only a fool can adopt and believe such a method of reasoning against these conclusive evidences of revelation.
Psalm 22:22-31. The deliverance of the sufferer comes in with the twenty-first verse. Thrice He calls for help. “Haste Thee to help Me”--”Deliver my soul from the Sword”--”Save me from the Lion’s Mouth.” Then we hear of the answer: “Thou hast answered Me from the horns of the wild-oxen.” He was surrounded by the dogs (Gentiles) and the assembly of the wicked (Jews) as mentioned in verse 16, but now God has answered Him. The sufferings are ended and the glory begins. The horns of the wild-oxen denote power; the power of God answered Him and raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory. We therefore behold Him at once as the risen One with a great declaration. “I will declare Thy name unto my brethren.” And thus He spake after His passion and resurrection, “Go and tell my brethren that I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” This brings out the first great result of His finished work. It is the Church, His body, brought into this definite and blessed relationship with Himself. In the midst of the congregation (the Church) He sings praises. He is in the midst. “For both, He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee” (Hebrews 2:11-12). And then the circle widens. Israel too will praise Him, all the seed of Jacob will glorify Him. The ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord. All the kindreds of the nations will worship Him. He will receive the kingdom and the glory. Thus this Psalm, which begins with suffering, ends with glory, a glory yet to come for Israel and the nations of the earth.