The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: P-Q

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Psa 22, overview

HISTORICAL SETTING: Possibly David's sickness and bitter experiences at the time of Absalom's rebellion. Peter offers the inspired commentary (on other of David's psalms) that "David, being a prophet and knowing....he seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ" (Act 2:30,31). And, again, "David speaketh concerning him..." (Act 2:25). So perhaps Psa 22 should be considered as in a relatively special category, of prophetic vision by David, having little if anything to do with his own experiences.

RECITED ON THE CROSS?: This psalm, recited in full on the cross, was one of the great solaces of the suffering and dying Messiah:

  1. V 8 was quoted by the men who had condemned Jesus, thrown at him in scorn! Irony: they quickened his tiring mind to a Scripture uniquely appropriate to all his circumstances. Thus, all unsuspecting, his enemies brought wonderful reinforcement to his failing spirit. And how these evil men would be startled when he took up their blasphemous use of Holy Scripture and identified himself with the whole psalm, from beginning to end.
  2. Jesus certainly quoted v 1, in a slightly modified form (Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34).
  3. "It is finished" (Joh 19:30) is the exact equivalent of "He hath done this" (Psa 22:31).
  4. Joh 19:28 has been often misread: "....that the scripture might be fulfilled, [he] saith, I thirst." To assert that Jesus said "I thirst" just to fulfill one small prophecy (Psa 22:15) as the only one which he had not yet fulfilled, is a trivialization of Scripture. Here the word "fulfilled" is not the normal word for the fulfillment of prophecy (not, for example, the same as in Joh 19:24,36); its meaning is: "that the scripture might be finished...(ended, or completed)". Jesus was reciting the psalm, but was too parched to go on, and at v 15 ("My tongue cleaveth to my jaws") he desperately needed a drink, and having received it, he was able to go on to the end ("It is finished"), spoken with head uplifted.
  5. When Jesus said: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani," why should Jews standing by (they could not possibly have been Romans) mistakenly think that he was calling for Elijah? Could Eli really be mistaken for Eli-yahu? But if they heard Jesus recite v 8 ("He trusted on the Lord, and he will deliver him"), the Heb of that phrase is virtually an echo of "Eli-yahu." Hence: "Let us see whether Elijah (Eli-yahu) will come to save (deliver) him."

(1) The cross of Christ:
(2) Christ our shepherd:
(3) Christ our sacrifice:
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