Psalm 22:21
Save me from the lion's mouth: for you have heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
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(21) Unicorns.—See Numbers 23:22; either “buffaloes” or “antelopes.” There is some uncertainty about the translation of the second clause of this verse. It may be (1) “And from the horns of buffaloes hear me,” i.e., hear me calling for help from the horns, &c; or (2) “Save me from the lion’s mouth, and from the horns of buffaloes Thou hast heard me”—a sudden transition from plaintive prayer to exultant faith; or (3), following the LXX. and Vulg., “And from the horns of buffaloes save me, poor and humble as I am.” The first is, on the whole, preferable, as preserving the parallelism better.

22:11-21 In these verses we have Christ suffering, and Christ praying; by which we are directed to look for crosses, and to look up to God under them. The very manner of Christ's death is described, though not in use among the Jews. They pierced his hands and his feet, which were nailed to the accursed tree, and his whole body was left so to hang as to suffer the most severe pain and torture. His natural force failed, being wasted by the fire of Divine wrath preying upon his spirits. Who then can stand before God's anger? or who knows the power of it? The life of the sinner was forfeited, and the life of the Sacrifice must be the ransom for it. Our Lord Jesus was stripped, when he was crucified, that he might clothe us with the robe of his righteousness. Thus it was written, therefore thus it behoved Christ to suffer. Let all this confirm our faith in him as the true Messiah, and excite our love to him as the best of friends, who loved us, and suffered all this for us. Christ in his agony prayed, prayed earnestly, prayed that the cup might pass from him. When we cannot rejoice in God as our song, yet let us stay ourselves upon him as our strength; and take the comfort of spiritual supports, when we cannot have spiritual delights. He prays to be delivered from the Divine wrath. He that has delivered, doth deliver, and will do so. We should think upon the sufferings and resurrection of Christ, till we feel in our souls the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.Save me from the lion's mouth - His enemies represented as fierce and ravening lions, compare Psalm 22:13,

For thou hast heard me - The word "heard" in this place is equivalent to "saved" - or saved in answer to prayer. The fact of "hearing" the prayer, and answering it, is regarded as so identical, or the one as so certainly following from the other, that they may be spoken of as the same thing.

From the horns of the unicorns - The idea here is, that he cried to God when exposed to what is here called "the horns of the unicorns." That is, when surrounded by enemies as fierce and violent as wild beasts - as if he were among "unicorns" seeking his life - he had called upon God, and God had heard him. This would refer to some former period of his life, when surrounded by dangers, or exposed to the attacks of wicked men, and when he had called upon God, and had been heard. There were not a few occasions alike in the life of David and in the life of the Saviour, to which this would be applicable. The fact that he had thus been delivered from danger, is now urged as an argument why God was to be regarded as able to deliver him again, and why the prayer might be offered that he would do it; compare Psalm 22:9-11. To see the force of this it is not necessary to be able to determine with accuracy what is meant here by the word rendered unicorn, or whether the psalmist referred to the animal now denoted by that term. The existence of such an animal was long regarded as fabulous; but though it has been proved that there is such an animal, it is not necessary to suppose that the psalmist referred to it. Gesenius renders the word - ראם re'êm - "buffalo" (Lexicon) So also DeWette. See the notes at Job 39:9-10, where the meaning of the word is fully considered. The word occurs elsewhere only in Numbers 23:22; Numbers 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalm 29:6; Psalm 92:10; Isaiah 34:7, in all which places it is rendered "unicorn," or "unicorns."

21. Deliverance pleaded in view of former help, when in the most imminent danger, from the most powerful enemy, represented by the unicorn or wild buffalo.

the lion's mouth—(Compare Ps 22:13). The lion often used as a figure representing violent enemies; the connecting of the mouth intimates their rapacity.

The lion; either the devil, that raging and roaring lion, who did many ways assault and annoy him; or his lionlike enemies.

Heard me, i.e. answered and delivered me.

Unicorn; a strong, and fierce, and untamable wild beast; though the learned are not agreed about the kind of it. See of it Deu 33:17 Job 39:9,10 Psa 92:10 Isaiah 34:7, and my Latin Synopsis on Numbers 23:22. For it is not worth while to trouble the unlearned reader with such disputes. Save me from the lion's mouth,.... Either the devil, who is as a roaring lion, whom Christ overcame both in the garden and on the cross, and destroyed him and his works; or all his wicked enemies, especially the most powerful of them, who were in greatest authority, as the chief priests and elders; so rulers and civil magistrates, who are cruel and unmerciful, are compared to lions, Proverbs 28:15;

for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns; some read this as a prayer like the former, "hear thou me" (l), &c. that is, deliver me; but according to our version it expresses what God had done, that he had heard him and saved him; and is used as a reason or argument with him that he would regard also his other petitions: or it may have respect to what follows, that since God had heard him, and delivered him out of the hands of his most powerful enemies, therefore he would declare his name and praise him; for the unicorn being a very strong creature, and its strength lying much in its horn, with which it pushes and does mischief; see Numbers 23:22. Christ's strong and potent enemies are intended here; such as Satan and his principalities and powers, the sanhedrim of the Jews, Herod, Pontius Pilate, and others, from whose power he was freed when raised from the dead. According to Pliny (m), the monoceros, or unicorn, is the fiercest of wild beasts; in its body like a horse, it has the head of an hart and feet of an elephant, the tail of a bear, makes a great bellowing; has one black horn rising up in the middle of the forehead, of two cubits long; it is denied that it was ever taken alive, which agrees with Job 39:9; See Gill on Job 39:9 and See Gill on Job 39:10.

(l) "exaudi me", Muis, Gejerus, Michaelis. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 21.

{m} Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

(m) Christ is delivered with a more mighty deliverance by overcoming death, than if he had not tasted death at all.

21. for thou hast heard me &c.] Render, yea from the horns of the wild oxen—thou hast answered me. A singularly bold and forcible construction. We expect a second imperative, repeating the prayer for deliverance (rescue thou me: cp. Jer. exaudi). But the conviction that his prayer is heard, nay, answered, flashes upon the Psalmist’s soul; prayer is changed into assurance, joyous confidence takes the place of petition. Less forcible is the explanation which assumes a pregnant rather than a broken construction:—From the horns of the wild oxen thou hast answered and delivered me.

unicorns] The rendering of LXX, Vulg., Jer. But the re’çm was certainly a two-horned animal (Deuteronomy 33:17, R.V.). The Auerochs or wild ox (Bos primigenius), now everywhere extinct, is almost certainly the animal meant. Its strength and untamableness are described in Job 39:9 ff. See Tristram’s Nat. Hist. p. 146 ff.Verse 21. - Save me from the lion's mouth (comp. ver. 13). Either the chief persecutors, viewed as a class, or Satan, their instigator, would seem to be intended. For thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns; rather, even from the horns of the win oxen hast thou heard me. The conviction suddenly comes to the Sufferer that he is heard. Still, the adversaries are round about him - the "dogs," the "lions," and the "strong bulls of Bashan," now showing as ferocious wild cattle, menacing him with their horns. But all the Sufferer's feelings are changed. The despondent mood has passed away. He is not forsaken. He has One to help. In one way or another he knows himself - feels himself - delivered; and he passes from despair and agony into a condition of perfect peace, and even exultation. He passes, in fact, from death to life, from humiliation to glory; and at once he proceeds to show forth his thankfulness by a burst of praise. The last strophe of the psalm (vers. 22-31) is the jubilant song of the Redeemer, now that his mediatorial work is done, and his life of suffering "finished" (John 19:30). (Heb.: 22:15-16)Now he described, how, thus encompassed round, he is still just living, but already as it were dead. The being poured out like water reminds us of the ignominious abandonment of the Crucified One to a condition of weakness, in which His life, deprived of its natural support, is in the act of dissolution, and its powers dried up (2 Samuel 14:14); the bones being stretched out, of the forcible stretching out of His body (חתפּרד, from פּרד to separate, cf. Arab. frd, according to its radical signification, which has been preserved in the common Arabic dialect: so to spread out or apart that the thing has no bends or folds,

(Note: Vid., Bocthor, Dict. fran.-arabe, s. v. Etendre and Dployer.)

Greek ἐξαπλοῦν); the heart being melted, recalls His burning anguish, the inflammation of the wounds, and the pressure of blood on the head and heart, the characteristic cause of death by crucifixion. נמס, in pause נמס, is 3 praet.; wax, דּונג, receives its name from its melting (דנג, root דג, τηκ). In Psalm 22:16 the comparison כּחרשׂ has reference to the issue of result (vid., Psalm 18:43): my strength is dried up, so that it is become like a potsherd. חכּי (Saadia) instead of כּחי commends itself, unless, כּח perhaps, like the Talmudic כּיח cidumlaT eht eki, also had the signification "spittle" (as a more dignified word for רק). לשׁון, with the exception perhaps of Proverbs 26:28, is uniformly feminine; here the predicate has the masculine ground-form without respect to the subject. The part. pass. has a tendency generally to be used without reference to gender, under the influence of the construction laid down in Ges. 143, 1, b, according to which לשׁני may be treated as an accusative of the object; מלקוחי, however, is acc. loci (cf. ל Psalm 137:6; Job 29:10; אל Lamentations 4:4; Ezekiel 3:26): my tongue is made to cleave to my jaws, fauces meas. Such is his state in consequence of outward distresses. His enemies, however, would not have power to do all this, if God had not given it to them. Thus it is, so to speak, God Himself who lays him low in death. שׁפת to put anywhere, to lay, with the accompanying idea of firmness and duration, Arab. ṯbât, Isaiah 26:12; the future is used of that which is just taking place. Just in like manner, in Isaiah 53:1-12, the death of the Servant of God is spoken of not merely as happening thus, but as decreed; and not merely as permitted by God, but as being in accordance with the divine will. David is persecuted by Saul, the king of His people, almost to the death; Jesus, however, is delivered over by the Sanhedrim, the authority of His people, to the heathen, under whose hands He actually dies the death of the cross: it is a judicial murder put into execution according to the conditions and circumstances of the age; viewed, however, as to its final cause, it is a gracious dispensation of the holy God, in whose hands all the paths of the world's history run parallel, and who in this instance makes sin subservient to its own expiation.

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