# 101 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd. No worries!!

lost sheep

“The Lost Sheep” by Alford Usher Soord (1868 -1915)

After my last post on Psalm 23 I received a message from some friends in Korea. They are home on leave but were planning to return to their ministry this week but their visa has yet to be granted. They wrote:

“Thank you for #100 post. It is very encouraging, because we were worrying about our next step. Our visa has not yet been granted. We will need to change our flights on Monday. We need wisdom from God.”

They then conclude:

“The Lord is my shepherd. No worries!!”

So, why the use of the imagery of a shepherd (for God) and sheep (for us, his people) in this psalm? Well, it is not unique in the Bible. In fact, it is used often.

I think it is helpful to understand that the families of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were nomadic shepherds (as, of course was David’s) and when Jacob’s family were moving to Egypt to join Joseph (who was second in charge to the land), it tells us that Joseph said to his family:

 “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ …Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen”

But then comes a surprising statement:

“…for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”  (Genesis 46:31-34)

So, why would that be? Well, we don’t really know. Maybe political, social or religious reasons. But whatever reason, the humble shepherd was not considered to be imagery that could be ever used for God in certain societies, except in Israel. And here is was used often as something they understood very well.

In fact, Jacob, in blessings Joseph’s sons speaks of “the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day”. (Genesis 48:15) and later, when blessing Joseph, he spoke of his son as the who had remained strong through difficulty, “because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you.”  (Genesis 49:24-25)

So, right from the beginning of the people of Israel, God as their divine Shepherd was understood.

In a prayer of Asaph in the Psalms, the writer says:

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,     you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,     shine forth  before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken your might;     come and save us.

 Restore us, O God;     make your face shine on us,     that we may be saved.  (Psalm 80:1-3)

Then in Isaiah the prophet speaks to his people and says:

“Here is your God!” 10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,     and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him,     and his recompense accompanies him.

And then continues with a very tender description of this “Sovereign Lord” as the One who,

…tends his flock like a shepherd:     He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;     he gently leads those that have young.    (Isaiah 40:10-11)

Like me, I’m sure that description of our God as a shepherd has been of great comfort to many people ever since Isaiah wrote those words thousands of years ago.

For me it was 1979 and our family were just about to move out in obedience to undergo training for what we believed was God’s will for us, and that was to serve God overseas. Although my wife had more experience than me, I had never left my home town, let alone lived in a foreign land, and I was overwhelmed at the responsibility of leaving all that was familiar and ‘secure’ and moving with our family into the unknown. Our children were then only 1 and 3 years old. As I prayed about my concerns to the Lord, Isaiah 40:11 came to mind and I knew it was ok. 38 years later we can now look back and see God’s hand upon our lives. Not only were those two toddlers “carried close to his heart” but two more who arrived later on as well, and He did indeed “lead us” with our young family. What a privilege to know and serve such a loving caring Shepherd!

But, it is also in Isaiah 63, a prophecy concerning the “suffering servant” (fulfilled in Jesus) that we see the imagery of sheep used for God’s people, and sadly, we are likened to lost sheep:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,     each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him     the iniquity of us all.     (Isaiah 53:6)

When we then turn to the NT we see the story of Jesus, the Messiah, and, in a revelation of his Divinity, Jesus takes on himself the OT imagery used of Almighty God and says of himself, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  (John 10:11)

As we then look back at Isaiah 53, we find that Isaiah had prophesied the solution to this dilemma of lost sheep, again using the sheep imagery, but this time not speaking of God’s people but God’s Son. He says:

He was oppressed and afflicted,     yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,     and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,     so he did not open his mouth.

John the Baptist understood this when, seeing Jesus, he proclaimed to his disciples “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  (John 1:29)

So, the Shepherd became the Sacrificial Lamb laying down his life for us, his lost sheep!

So, considering all this, the words of Psalm 23:1, “the Lord is my shepherd” takes on even greater significance that when David wrote them.

Jesus also said of himself:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 14:10)

Give thanks today if you are known by Jesus as one of his sheep, and if you are not sure, then talk to Him about it. Acknowledge him as the good shepherd and the One who gave his life for you to bring you into his “sheep fold”. (John 10:16). Then you will be able to confidently say, like my Korean friend, “The Lord is MY shepherd. No worries!”

Lord Jesus, you said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” Thank you that today, all around the world, you are drawing people to yourself. May they willingly say ‘yes’ to you and know the joy of belonging to that “one flock” for all eternity. Amen.

# 100 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd and that is all I want.

Shepherd

I can’t think of a better psalm to consider in my 100th Post than Psalm 23. It is described as being, “next to the Lord’s Prayer…the most familiar passage of scripture” (Williams), “a favourite for many, largely because it reveals an intensely intimate relationship with the Lord” (Broyles), “a song of confidence or trust in the Lord…[which] opens with perhaps the most well-known and well-loved words in the book” (Longman) and “the best loved psalm in the book!”  (Wilcock). In fact, Wilcock also writes, “Only a vandal, surely, would want to take to pieces” this beautiful psalm, although he does just that, but promising “to put it together again, having shown in the process that it is even more special than we thought.” As well as this Brueggemann adds, “it is almost pretentious to comment on this psalm. The grip it has on biblical spirituality is deep and genuine. It is such a simple statement that it can bear its own witness without comment.” He calls it a “psalm of confidence” and says that “It recounts in detail, by means of rich metaphors, a life lived in trustful receptivity of God’s gifts.”  (see references #’s 38, 4, 30, 5 & 2)

 

So, if you have time right now, sit quietly, read this psalm and soak in the wonderful truths contained in these words of David, worshiping the Lord as you do.

 

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.     He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,     he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths     for his name’s sake. Even though I walk     through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil,     for you are with me; your rod and your staff,     they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me     in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil;     my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me     all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord     forever.

 

There is no doubt about it, God was very real to the psalmist. Is he this real to you?

 

Amongst my many books on the Psalms I have one called “God Alive – Studies on Psalms” by Rev Dr Theodore Williams (1936-2009), from South India, who was described as “a well- known Bible expositor and an experienced missionary statesman” in India. The book, he says, is “not a commentary” but is based on a series of sermons he preached on the Psalms at his church in Bangalore from January 1975 to August 1977. He has some very different and useful insights into the Psalms, not the least Psalm 23. Here are some to begin our study of this great Psalm.

 

Writing about the words of verse 1 he says: “The little girl who said, ‘The Lord is my shepherd and that is all I want’ has given us a good lesson.” He continues, with God caring for us we have nothing really to be worried about, in fact, “Do you know that the man [or woman] who worries himself sick over his personal necessities is a practical atheist. He behaves as though God does not exist.”

 

The author then suggests that verse 1 reminds us that we can trust God to meet all our needs. “This is God’s answer to anxiety. Our part is commitment.” He continues, “He is our Shepherd, and our dependence must be on him alone.”

 

On verses 2-3 he emphasizes God’s activity in our lives. Consider these truths:

 

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,                                    he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Williams says: “God restores and strengthens the inner man. This is his answer to inadequacy. [Our part] is acceptance of our needs and of God’s provision.”

 

On guidance, he writes concerning our “world of moral confusion” and certainly things have not improved since the 1970’s when he spoke on this psalm. He says, “We need wisdom. The good news is that God guides us in righteousness for His name’s sake…He leads us in right and straight paths…This is God’s answer to confusion. [Our part] is submission.”

 

Moving on to verse 4, we read about God’s protection even in the midst of “darkness” and he reminds us that “our security is not in our environment…but in our Shepherd…our confidence is in the fact that He is with us…This is God’s answer to fear. [Our part] is trust and obedience.”

 

And finally, verses 5-6 remind us of the hope that we have in God. He quotes “an old preacher [who] said, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd…and more than that, he has two fine sheep dogs, Goodness and Mercy. With him before and these behind, even poor sinners like you and me can hope to reach Home at last’…This is God’s answer to despair. [Our part] is confidence [in Him].”

 

So, in summary, the reason the little girl was able to say,  The Lord is my shepherd and that is all I want, was because in Him, our Good Shepherd, as revealed to us in Psalm 23, we find the answer to our anxiety, inadequacy, confusion, fear and despair (and much more). What more do we need!

 

Father, this indeed is a remarkable psalm. Full of truths that inspire us to follow you closer, know you in a deeper way, love you with all our hearts, minds, and strength. Teach us to trust you in all the circumstances of our lives, as the psalmist did, and to no longer live as “practical atheists”! Amen

# 99 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 22. Hold firmly – approach – receive!

Reaching out by Liv Vardy

“Reaching Out” (livvardyart.com.au)

Psalm 22 is an amazing Lament Psalm, or, as Brueggemann calls them, Psalms of Disorientation, and it typically moves through a number of different “moods”, so to speak. Consider the following:

 

The Lament (or complaint) that God seems distant, in fact, He seems to have abandoned the psalmist completely, as he remains silent to the speaker’s cries:

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?     Why are you so far from saving me,     so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,     by night, but I find no rest.

 

A recalling of who God is, starting with “Yet you”, and how He has intervened in the past when his people Israel put their faith in Him. A fact that only heightens the strangeness of God’s silence:

 

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;     you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust;     they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved;     in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

 

Back to the present reality of the psalmist, describing his horrible suffering at the hands of evil people, who are almost daring God to act on the psalmist’s behalf:

 

But I am a worm and not a man,     scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me;     they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,     “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him,     since he delights in him.”

 

A recalling then of God’s very personal intervention in the psalmist’s life, again starting with “Yet you”, and again heightening the anomaly of what is happening in his life:

 

Yet you brought me out of the womb;     you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. 10 From birth I was cast on you;     from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

 

A prayer for God’s deliverance because “there is no one [else] to help”, in the light of such ferocious enemies (likened to wild animals) attacking him:

11 Do not be far from me,     for trouble is near     and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;     strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13 Roaring lions that tear their prey     open their mouths wide against me. 14 I am poured out like water,     and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax;     it has melted within me. 15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,     and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;     you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,     a pack of villains encircles me;     they pierce my hands and my feet. 17 All my bones are on display;     people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my clothes among them     and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.     You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20 Deliver me from the sword,     my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;     save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

 

A promise by the psalmist that he will give God “praise in the assembly” because of Him answering prayer and delivering the psalmist, revealing the reality that God indeed had not forsaken him and did hear his cry:

 

22 I will declare your name to my people;     in the assembly I will praise you. 23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!     All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!     Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or scorned     the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him     but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;     before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.

 

A promise that as a result, all “families of the nations” will acknowledge the Lord, speaking in universal proportions in both geography and time, declaring that “He has done it!”

 

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;     those who seek the Lord will praise him—     may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth     will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations     will bow down before him, 28 for dominion belongs to the Lord     and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;     all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—     those who cannot keep themselves alive. 30 Posterity will serve him;     future generations will be told about the Lord. 31 They will proclaim his righteousness,     declaring to a people yet unborn:     He has done it!

 

Think about your own life. Was there a time when your life’s story was similar, even in some small way, to the psalmists? How did you react?

 

I have discovered in life that people can choose between two paths during such times. We can work our way through the difficulties with God (even if he seems distant at first) and come through stronger, all the more convinced of His faithfulness and goodness and sovereignty, as did the psalmist. Or we can become bitter and give up on God totally. I have seen both situations and the former reaction has produced some amazing people who it is great to be around. Whereas the latter reaction has produced some very sad and bitter people, who lives often have become meaningless. Presently I am meeting with one such person and it is so sad to listen to him as he shares his life with me. May we learn from the psalmist how to respond in a positive way to life’s ups and downs, enhancing our relationship with God.

 

So, let me summarize this remarkable psalm and its application to our own lives in the words of Tremper Longman:

 

“Psalm 22 is a psalm of lament by a person who does not feel the presence of God in the midst of suffering, but rather experiences fear in the face of persecution by enemies. The well-known Christological sense of the psalm [see my 2 previous posts] should not distract us from the fact that…[this is] a lament which may be a model prayer for worshippers today who can use this psalm to call on God to make himself present in the midst of pain. The confidence and joy expressed at the end can impart hope, as the psalmist moves toward God rather than staying mired in disappointment.”    (see references # 30)

 

And of course, this psalm was fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, who understands totally when we are going through tough times, because he has experienced them himself.

 

Next time things are difficult, remember these words:

 

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us HOLD FIRMLY to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then APPROACH God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may RECEIVE mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

 

Father, thanks you that we have such a “great high priest…Jesus the Son of God” who totally understands our situations in life from his own experience. Teach us to trust you, to even use the psalms as our prayers to you, no matter what comes our way. And your promise is that we will receive your mercy and grace. Amen.

 

 

# 98 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 22. “godforsaken!”

SYRIA-CONFLICT

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)

Forsaken! Abandoned! Deserted!

We talk about places that appear devoid of any life and hope as “godforsaken”! Maybe some dry desert place or even a city after a battle when all that remains is rubble. But I don’t recall ever using that phrase for a human being. Yet, I guess, it has been the feeling of many, this sense of abandonment, for example, in the Bible, there is that unique character named Job, who went from being “the greatest man among all the peoples of the East” (Job 1:3) to losing everything – family, livestock, servants, health and status. We read that when his friends “heard about all the troubles that had come upon him…they went to sympathize with him and comfort him”, and, “When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him and they began to weep aloud…and sat on the ground with him…and no one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was.” (Job 2:11-13)

As you read the 42 chapters of this unique book, simply called Job, then the sense of despair often comes across from Job and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that it could have been him who wrote Psalm 22. Although we know it wasn’t.

So, as we consider the first verse of Psalm 22, I want us to consider a big question. How could it be possible for these words (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”) to have come from the mouth of Jesus, the Son of God? Why would he feel as if God had forsaken him, right when, it seems to us, he needed him the most? Now, I realize that a lot of books have been written on this topic by much more scholarly people than me, so don’t expect this to be anything like their works. These are just some thoughts from my own study. If you would like to join in the discussion, then please do so by commenting on Facebook or on this Blog page.

As far as I understand the Scriptures, the answer, in one sense, is quite simple and that is, it was because of “sin”! Well, that sounds shocking doesn’t it! Wait a minute, you might say, we are talking here about Jesus, and the words “sin” and “Son of God” used together is an oxymoron, i.e. a complete contradiction in terms. And, of course, it is. That’s very true!

Paul, in speaking of Jesus says that he “had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Peter, quoting Isaiah’s prophesy in Isaiah 53:9 of the coming Messiah spoke of him with the words, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22). The author of the book of Hebrews, speaking of Jesus, says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15). And John, again writing concerning Jesus, says, “in him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)

 

But, it is still the answer. Simply because it is not His sin I am talking about. It was not his sin (because he was sinless) that caused this seeming rift between Him and the Father, but our sin! Yours and mine! Let’s see what the Bible teaches.

First there is that incredible prophesy of Christ’s suffering in the Book of Isaiah 53:4-6.

“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”

Peter quotes from this passage and says of Jesus,

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:22-24)

Then Pauls words in 2 Corinthians 5:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them…  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19, 21))

Then there are the words of John the Baptist to his disciples when he saw Jesus passing by:

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

So on that historical day around 2000 years ago, when Jesus, the Son of God was crucified on a Roman cross of execution, he was not there paying for his own rebellion. He was not being punished because he was guilty of breaking any law. It was not his own sin that caused him to be nailed to that cruel cross. It was mine. It was yours.

As the Apostle John said: “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)

But, you are saying, I understand that, but still I am wondering why Jesus felt forsaken by God, the Father? As I understand it, it is because of Who we are talking about here. We are talking about God, the Father, the Creator of the universe, the awesome, holy and righteous God, the One of whom the prophet Habakkuk says:

“Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” (Habakkuk 1:13)

A commentary on God’s moral perfection, his righteousness and holiness.

Other verses describing God’s holiness are:

“Who among the gods
is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

“There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)

So, our God is uniquely holy, with no rivals or competition.

But, as we know, prior to the cross, we read of a unique intimate relationship between the Father and the Son.

Consider these words of the Father concerning Jesus at his baptism:

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

And then consider these words of Jesus to his disciples:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you…I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:9-10)

Although it is really beyond our deepest human understanding, it appears that when Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, he had to do it alone, in a sense, because His Father’s eyes are too pure to look on evil. The painful separation from God that we experience due to our sin, was somehow experienced by Jesus on the cross. No wonder, in the garden of Gethsemane, the night before his crucifixion, he said to his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” And then,
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:38-39)

And yet, did the Father really forsake his beloved Son, even for a moment? I think not! Kidner is helpful here. He comments:

“Our Lord’s cry of dereliction…told, it would seem, of an objective reality, namely the punitive separation He accepted in our place, ‘having become a curse for us’ (Galatians 3:13)…It is not a lapse of faith, nor a broken relationship, but a cry of disorientation as God’s familiar presence is withdrawn (as it was from, e.g. the blameless Job) and the enemy closes in.” (see references # 29)

But, as we know from the Gospels, that was not the end of the story. Jesus rose again from the dead and when Mary Magdalene visited the tomb only to find it empty she met the risen Christ, who said to her to “Go…to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17).

Good news! And as we read through this Psalm 22 we discover that the mood also changes from one of despair to:

“I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you…
For he [God the Father) has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one [Jesus];
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.” (Psalm 22:22, 24)

Thus, reflecting what Peter calls both “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (1 Peter 1:11)

So, what amazing and life transforming truths this psalm reveals. And just think, that “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Whoever you are today reading this, let me say, if you aren’t already, “Be reconciled to God [because] God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5)

Father, we can’t really take it all in, the truths that we have been considering today, but we are thankful that Jesus, despite his “soul [being] overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”, was willing to go all the way to the cross for us, even to the point of feeling forsaken by You. May we live in such a way that reveals our gratefulness. Amen.

 

# 97 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 22. David’s mortal words became immortal.

reading on a bus

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

 

What an amazing, extraordinary psalm!

 

I remember well, sitting on a bus travelling home after work, reading my Bible. I was only 19, and a very new believer in Jesus, having put my faith in Him as my Lord and my God only a month or so earlier. At that time, the majority of the Bible was new to me, including the Psalms, which on that particular day I was reading through. Then, for the first time in my life I came across Psalm 22. I was amazed as I read it, thinking, ‘wait a minute, this is talking about Jesus!’ I didn’t need a commentary for that insight. It seemed so obvious to me.

 

And I was right of course. When read in the light of the story of the crucifixion of the Son of God, it is as if the writer was the Lord himself, impaled upon that terrible cross, suffering and dying for my sin and yours.

 

And yet, remarkedly, we know that it was actually written some 1000 years before the birth of Christ, most probably by David.

 

Kidner, commenting on this psalm says: “No Christian can read this without being vividly confronted with the crucifixion. It is not only a matter of prophesy minutely fulfilled, but of the sufferer’s humility – there is no plea for vengeance [like other psalms we have looked at] – and his vision of a worldwide ingathering of the gentiles.” (see references # 29)

 

As well as verse 1, quoted above, which is fulfilled in the gospels [See Matthew 27:45-46],

consider other verses in this psalm which were fulfilled at Calvary:

 

All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

 

[See Matthew 27:39-44]

 

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me…
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

 

[See Mark 15:24, and John 19:23-24]

 

 22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
[This verse was quoted in Hebrews 2:12 as the words of Jesus, when the writer says:

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises
.”]

 

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
[consider the words of Paul in Philippians 2:9-11

“…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth…”]

 

In summary, let me quote the words of E M Blaiklock concerning this psalm:

 

“While accepting the traditional authorship, it is impossible to identify the occasion. Nor is it necessary. No choice is demanded between the historical and the predictive interpretations. They fuse, and in their fusing reveal how prophesy is inspired…the temporal [is] merged with the eternal, the human with the divine, and the theme broke the boundaries of the present and touched that which was yet to come. This cannot be other than a preview of the Crucifixion, a passionate and fearful picture of Calvary. It was seen by the Crucified Himself and accepted as the expression of his own desolation…[David’s] mortal words became immortal.” (See references # 37)

 

Father, your Word continues to amaze us, and particularly the many prophesies in the OT (not the least this Psalm) predicting the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus. Help me to keep ever learning new things from your Word and empower me by your Holy Spirit to apply the truths I learn in my everyday life. Amen.