The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 22

Psa 22:1


STRUCTURE: See Lesson, Psa 22, overview.

MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?: The cry was wrung in anguished pain from his lips. Yet as he spoke the words, he would know their source. With his wonderful memory of Scriptures, Christ would leap forward in his contemplation to the verses that followed. Unable to ease the physical agony of the flogged back, unable to relieve the pain of the grinding spikes and the chafing of the rough timbers... how his mind -- his extraordinary, godly mind -- would battle the flesh's weakness to concentrate on this precious fragment of Scripture.

As the waves of pain swept over him, he would be raised from despair to assurance, from horror to consolation, and he would marvel at the images of this Psalm -- being brought at last, as his life ebbed away, to fix his entire being upon the joyous hope of the last phrases. Let this transcendent mind of Christ be in us as we follow his meditations and, like him, fix our affections on the hope set before us.

See Lesson, Forsaken?

WHY ARE YOU SO FAR FROM SAVING ME?: Ct Psa 35:3; 62:1,6,7. This so far is almost lit, for Golgotha was "without the camp", remote from the Holy of Holies and on the north side of the temple area: Lev 1:11.

SO FAR FROM THE WORDS OF MY GROANING: The "strong crying" of Heb 5:7; AV has "roaring" -- a lion (the "Lion" of the tribe of Judah: Gen 49:9; Rev 5:5!) caught in a trap.

Psa 22:2

DAY... NIGHT: At the crucifixion, there was both daylight and (divinely-arranged) darkness!

BUT YOU DO NOT ANSWER: So it would seem, at least at first. Every prayer gets its answer -- either Yes, or No, or Wait!

Psa 22:3

Vv 3-5: Though separated by silence and darkness from the Father, Christ still expresses trust in Him: 'I know Thou wilt hear me, since Thou didst hear Israel': Exo 15:1; 1Sa 2:1; Psa 34:3,4.

YOU ARE ENTHRONED AS THE HOLY ONE: Kadosh sig righteous, just, or pure. Used of the Lord in the highest ideal of absolute perfection. Christ's words are the language of profound resignation: "You are righteous... Not as I will, but as You will." The unanswerable justice of the Holy One was being enacted in solemn and terrible drama on Golgotha. The perfect righteousness of the Holy One was being attested in the sufferings of His Son (Rom 3:25,26). This is what "flesh and blood" -- even the flesh and blood of His only-begotten Son -- deserves; mankind is being called upon to look, and consider! Here also is the triumph of faith. Even in the awesome stillness Christ still trusts in the Hearer of prayers, although He appears to hear him not. In the wide swirling ocean of dark temptation, the Savior stands like a rock and a beacon. 'It matters not what I endure -- even (if possible) rejection; You alone are holy!'

YOU ARE THE PRAISE OF ISRAEL: "Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (AV) = "You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel", ie upon the "heavenly" throne under the outstretched wings of the cherubim in the Most Holy (cp vv 21,24).

Psa 22:4

Vv 4,5: The intelligent pleading of precedent, and also for us the answer to the questions we may sometimes ask or think: 'Why should I read the OT?' or 'Why should I learn all that history?' Our Savior continually mined these fields for gems of faith, and he stored up these treasures against the time when he would need them. 'Our fathers trusted in You; so I trust, and more so. You delivered them; I know You will deliver me. They cried unto You; I cry even more, my God, my God. They were not confounded; so now leave me not in these straits to the confusion of my face and the eclipse of You purpose, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel!'

IN YOU OUR FATHERS PUT THEIR TRUST: LXX "hoped" -- the word often used for hope of children: Rom 4:18; hence Isa 53:10: "He shall see his seed" (cp vv 30,31 here).

YOU DELIVERED THEM: Like Isaac, the prototype (Gen 22:11,12), and Israel, God's firstborn (Exo 14:13).

Psa 22:6

Vv 6-8: As if in justification of his Father's absence from him, Christ disparages himself -- "I am a worm." The lonely prisoner becomes more sensitive to the gloom of his dungeon walls when his visiting friend has withdrawn. So also the lofty spirit of this man is drawn to consider now the stark reality of his earthly tabernacle -- in its corruptibility not superior to the lowliest of God's creatures. Powerless and passive as a worm, he feels himself scornfully crushed beneath the foot of man.

I AM A WORM: "I have said to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister" (Job 17:14; cp Job 25:6; Isa 41:14). An expression of abject humiliation, and also a Heb term of derision for a man with no offspring (cp Isa 53:8; but CT, in the spiritual sense, vv 10,11 there and Psa 22:30,31 here). Christ was a very special worm, as the Heb toolath indicates: the coccus, or cochineal, a unique worm from which scarlet dye is produced by crushing. The dye was used in the manufacture of the priestly garments and the other fabrics associated with the Tabernacle. Cp robe dyed scarlet (Mat 27:28). Was he not the greatest of all priests, and the true Tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man (Heb 8:2)? The scarlet derived from the toolath was required for the cleansing of lepers and those defiled by the dead (Lev 14:4; Num 19:6; Heb 9:19). "He was despised and rejected"; yet with his bruising we are healed (Isa 53:3-5), who were once "dead" in the "leprosy" of sin.

SCORNED BY MEN: In LXX, sw Mar 15:32 only. Cp also Isa 53:3. See Psa 69:19n. Christ was not just reproached by his enemies as he hung upon the cross. He was reproached and has often since been a reproach to his friends; this is in large part Isaiah's message: "We hid our faces... we esteemed him not..."

AND DESPISED BY THE PEOPLE: Many of Christ's countrymen vainly expected that he would assume the power and glory of an earthly king. "We trusted that it would have been he who should have redeemed Israel" (Luke 24:21). Therefore, the bitterness of their disappointment is proportionally greater. Due to this failed hope, and also the cunning deceit of the leaders, the people "disesteem" Christ and choose the brigand and terrorist Barabbas instead. "His blood be upon us and our children," they cry derisively, as though the guilt associated with the death of this man who betrayed their hopes were no more than that of a worm.

Psa 22:7

ALL WHO SEEK ME MOCK ME: Scorn and mocking: Judas with his insidious kiss. The men that apprehended him mocked him, as did the officers of the various courts, the chief priests, the Pharisees, the servants, the soldiers, and finally the common mob (Mat 27:39-43; Luk 23:35). Unto the Gentiles, as Paul said, the crucified Christ was a "foolishness" (1Co 1:23) -- a source of laughter and derision. In his sacrificial death, set forth before all men, Christ was enacting the prophesied experiences of his nation Israel. Like them, he was a witness (Isa 43:10,12; 44:8) in becoming a curse and byword to all nations (Deu 28:37), as "the man that hath seen affliction" (Lam 3:1).

THEY HURL INSULTS, SHAKING THEIR HEADS: Their malevolence was too great to be expended in words only; there were also signs and gestures. They "curl the lip", invoking the vision of a pack of wild snarling dogs (v 16).

Add "saying" at the end of this verse, providing the transition into v 8.

Psa 22:8

HE TRUSTS IN THE LORD: Same idea 1Pe 2:23. Lit: "he rolled (himself) unto the Lord". The cherubim chariot of Yahweh -- "the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof" associated with Elijah (Mar 15:36).

HE DELIGHTS IN HIM: Sw Psa 41:11, another psalm of Messiah's suffering.

Psa 22:9

Vv 9-11: The bitterness of the taunts of his enemies has only the effect of driving the Messiah again to appeal directly to his Father. In these verses he reduces himself to the lowest point of frailty, when he had no separate existence in the womb of his mother. From that point he casts himself upon the Almighty. What more excellent representation is there of man's utter dependence upon God! And so aptly chosen were these words, in that Jesus the Son of God and Saviour of the world graciously put himself on a level with the most humble man; he was one of us! Thus we may see ourselves in his plea to the Father. Of his cry we partake, and the Father replies to all his children: "Hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob... which are borne by Me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: Even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you... and I will deliver you" (Isa 46:3,4).

YOU BROUGHT ME OUT OF THE WOMB: OT references to the Virgin Birth: Psa 71:6; 89:26,27; 110:3, LXX; Gen 3:15; 49:1,25; Isa 7:14; 49:1; Jer 31:22; Mic 5:1,2; 2Sa 7:14.

YOU MADE ME TRUST IN YOU EVEN AT MY MOTHER'S BREAST: AV mg and RSV: "Thou keepest me in safety" is correct; in the case of Jesus, this was fulfilled in Mat 2:13-16.

I don't think the Hebrew literally supports the idea of a mere infant hoping or trusting on God... unless it means: 'I began to learn to trust in You from a very early age.' Here, again, the AV mg and RSV are probably better: "Thou keepest me in safety." Either way, though, the Divine care is clearly there. But then, maybe the passage is teaching that even the baby begins to learn how to trust, subconsciously... from the first day it is held and nourished at its mother's breast, or rocked and comforted by the father... and that this kind of implicit trust in literal parents is the first step to an explicit trust in the Heavenly Father -- a continuum of learning! So believers may clearly expect and hope, and pray, that God will care for and protect their small children. What kind of a world would it be if we couldn't?!

Psa 22:10

FROM BIRTH I WAS CAST UPON YOU: Since the conception of Jesus was so abnormal, Mary would have some worry concerning his birth. But a woman of her devoutness and faith knew herself to be in God's care in every respect: "Cast your cares on the LORD" (Psa 55:22; quoted in 1Pe 5:7).

FROM MY MOTHER'S WOMB YOU HAVE BEEN MY GOD: But not (as a false theology would teach) from all eternity!

Psa 22:11

THERE IS NO ONE TO HELP: At the crucifixion there were those who would have helped, but could not. All human aid, even all angelic sustenance, had deserted Christ as he had known it would (Joh 16:32). And though the Father is still silent, His Son is now persuaded that the Supreme Creator will never really desert His supreme creation. This momentary helplessness of the Son was designed by the Father -- so that no flesh, looking upon this spectacle, could every glory again. In his absolute lack of strength Christ found the only help that was meaningful.

Psa 22:12

Vv 12-18: Why was it necessary that Jesus undergo such sufferings? Could not sin be covered by something less? These are the questions that come to us when we force ourselves to look closely upon Calvary's terrible scene. But God had decreed these very agonies of His only-begotten Son to be essential; nothing else would serve the same purpose. Jesus must be "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world". The measure of the sufferings of Christ is the measure of God's hatred of sin; our natural estimation of these things must be molded by long meditation and experience, so that God's mind may be in us. The cross tells us what God thinks of unredeemed man, of how far even sinful flesh removes us from His full communion. Between God and us there is a great gulf fixed, and the cross of Christ is the only bridge.

We contemplate Christ on the cross. Others may have suffered more physical pain, or at least for a longer time. But no man has ever been as sensitive, as intelligent, as loving as Christ: consequently, his mental anguish must have been horrible!

STRONG BULLS OF BASHAN: Sym powerful men of stature -- the chief priests who encircled Christ in his death. But Exo 21:32 requires that when a bull gores a man, there must be a payment of thirty pieces of silver! And this was done, to provide Gentile believers in Christ with a place of burial in the Holy City: Mat 27:5,7.

BASHAN: Sig "fruitful". This very fertile area east of the Jordan was noted for its excellent herds (Eze 39:18; Amo 4:1). Livestock were sent there for fattening; there the bull attained its full power and vigor (Deu 32:14). Proud, fierce, and sullen manner; being sacrificial animals, they are fitting symbols of the priestly antagonists of our Lord. Well-fed, pampered with all luxury, stout and strong, they gazed with contempt upon the poor and naked and weakened frame of Jesus.

Psa 22:13

"They opened wide their mouths" (RSV)... "as a ravening and roaring lion". Lit, "ravening" means "tearing in pieces". Cp the figures of speech in Lam 2:15,16; 3:46. The lion's secretive crouching, sudden spring, fearful roar, and rending of the prey give another representation of the bestiality of Christ's enemies: Psa 57:4. The "tearing to pieces" suggests the cruel and inhuman Roman scourge, totally different from the Jewish whip. "The Roman lash was often multi-thonged and inserted with pieces of lead, brass, or pointed bones -- so that when wielded with force, it tore away large chunks of flesh, exposing veins, inner muscles, and sinews." Strong men often died under the Roman scourge, even before they were crucified. For others, it was called "the halfway death".

THEIR MOUTHS: With their mouth (RV). Not mouths, as AV: but singular, sig unanimity in an evil purpose; note "all" in Mat 26:59; 27:22; Mar 14:53,55,64; Luk 22:70.

Psa 22:14

I AM POURED OUT LIKE WATER: "My life-blood is poured out like water" (Joh 19:34), or like the blood of the Passover lamb at the base of the altar.

ALL MY BONES: "Bones" may sig fibers, in the wider sense of ligaments and muscles as well as bones, When the beam to which the victim's hands were nailed was lifted and affixed to the upright stake, its sudden jerking would shake the body most appallingly. The ligaments would be torn and even separated; the muscles stretched and weakened and cramped. An excruciatingly painful weight would be thrown upon the hands and wrists and shoulders.

ALL MY BONES ARE OUT OF JOINT: The Heb is, lit: 'My bones have divided themselves' (ie from me); LXX: "are scattered" (sw Mat 26:31). Also see the spiritual significance of Eph 5:30.

Psa 22:15

MY STRENGTH IS DRIED UP LIKE A POTSHERD: Christ feels himself to be a broken, useless, and scorched vessel of earth -- filled with impurities. While the "potsherds" of the earth strive together and with their Maker (Isa 45:9; Pro 26:23), this singularly unique "potsherd" (made of the same "earth") strove to the end against his inherent weakness to gain the victory over sin on behalf of his fellows.

MY TONGUE STICKS TO THE ROOF OF MY MOUTH: As a result of loss of blood, exposure, heat, and fever, the sufferer had by now become severely dehydrated. "I thirst", he cried (Joh 19:28). Extreme thirst is the most intolerable of all sufferings. The dryness of Christ's mouth and lips and tongue was such that his speech was practically unintelligible (Psa 22:1).

YOU LAY ME IN THE DUST OF DEATH: This is Gen 3:19 in its most bitter fulfillment.

Psa 22:16

DOGS: Dogs = Gentiles (Mat 15:26; Phi 3:2; 2Pe 2:22); Pilate had to sign the death-warrant, and Roman soldiers drove the nails.

A BAND OF EVIL MEN: The Jewish Sanhedrin (edah = an appointed assembly).

THEY HAVE PIERCED MY HANDS AND MY FEET: An unmistakable anticipation of crucifixion. (The Heb k'ari -- translated "pierced" -- means "like a lion", which is basically meaningless. But the LXX and other versions presuppose the word "karu", "pierce", as in Psa 40:6; 57:6.) David must have felt himself to be a helpless victim of a vicious dog pack; they are encircling him, sinking their sharp fangs into his exposed limbs, tearing and rending his flesh while his lifeblood flows out like water. So it is with Christ, but the "fangs" are not literal teeth: they are iron spikes and the staff of a spear: 2Sa 23:7 (cp Zec 12:10; Joh 19:37; Rev 1:7).

MY HANDS: Which may, reasonably, include the wrists. There are many bones in the hands -- so large nails driven through the hands would of necessity break bones, thus invalidating, at least literally, Psa 34:20 and John 19:33-36. It is much more likely, and historical records point this way, that crucifixion was carried out by pounding great nails into the wrists, just between the two large bones of the forearm. Incidentally, it is just between these two large bones and just below the hand, that such a nail would pierce the great nerve in each hand -- causing excruciating pain.

Psa 22:17

LXX has: "They counted all my bones. They look and stare." Cp Luk 23:27,35; Gal 3:1. See Psa 34:20; 109:24; 102:4,5. The man who went to the cross was a man who had already begun his sacrifice. By this time he had no form or beauty that might lead natural men to desire him. The flame of his life flickered low; his zeal for his Father's "house" had consumed him (Psa 69:9). He had willingly spent all; there was no need to hold any strength in reserve. His emaciated condition, his extended position upon the cross, and his nakedness all contrived to bring from his tortured lips the pitiful observation: "I may count all my bones!"

Psa 22:18

As to David: The rebels (Absalom, Ahithophel, etc) share out the honors of state normally vested in the king; these would be symbolized by the special robes for special occasions. So also with Christ: Gentiles have apportioned to themselves his offices as Prophet, Priest, and King (but not sacrifice!); and for two millennia Israel has gone without any of these. "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1Ti 6:7).

This is the second hint (cp v 17) of Christ's total nakedness, a great shame. Nakedness is a readily-recognized symbol of sin (Rev 3:17; 16:15). Christ was cursed by the Mosaic Law in being hanged upon a tree (Deu 21:23; Gal 3:13); the public nakedness to which he was subjected may also be seen as part of that curse. It is one of the echoes of the early scenes of Genesis to be found in the Saviour's death; in many respects, Christ became the "last Adam" to remove the curse brought by the sin of the first.

AND CAST LOTS FOR MY CLOTHING: The division of his few garments was begun, but at last the four soldiers came to the most valuable garment, Christ's tunic. It was seamless throughout (Joh 19:23), like the robe of the High Priest (Exo 28:31,32); to rend it would be to destroy it. Its seamless unity mirrored his blameless life. They cast lots and Christ's last possession passed into the hands of a nameless sinner. He now faced death with nothing but his holy character and his indomitable spirit. The special seamless robe, and perhaps his other clothes, the "filthy garments" of his suffering (cp Zec 3:3,5), may have been quietly purchased back, washed and folded, and laid by loving hands in his tomb: 'Lay these by his side. He will surely need them before long' (WGos 773).

Psa 22:19

Vv 19-21: In three short intense verses Christ pleads again for that which he has sought from the beginning of the psalm -- his Father's visible favor. In strong crying and tears he multiplies his petitions. In v 21 finally comes the answer to his prayers and the breaking point of the psalm: "Thou hast heard me!" The darkness which has shrouded Golgotha for some time, the coming of which brought forth that desperate cry "My God, my God!", is now broken by light. His last few moments are ones of exultation, as reflected in the last section of the psalm. Christ faces death triumphantly, knowing he has conquered the final enemy. His work is finished and in his last minutes he catches a bright vision of the glory that will follow (vv 22-31).

V 19: A cry for help as death approaches. It is a repetition of v 11: "Be not far from me, O Yahweh." God's presence constitutes the only deliverance that he desires. May our prayers be imitations of this great prayer of our Teacher -- in constant importunity, steadfast faith, and assurance of reply. God never yet forsook in need the man that trusted Him indeed.

BE NOT FAR OFF: "With God's help we can do wonders. We can surprise ourselves. We can surprise everyone. Without God's help we can do absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing. We may appear to be doing something on our own. We may appear to be conquering worlds, advancing frontiers, controlling millions, accumulating hoards -- but it is all vain and empty: merely a false gilding of the brief path to the grave. How soon it is all over! -- and another corrupting corpse is hastily buried with hollow pomp and circumstance. But with God's help every simple, humble step of day-to-day life is being chiseled into eternal rock: stepping-stones ever upward to everlasting joy and usefulness and life, and glorious divine companionship" (GVG).

Psa 22:20

DELIVER MY LIFE: AV has "Deliver... my darling": 'my very special one' (Gen 22:2,12,16; Psa 35:17; 68:6 (solitary); Pro 4:3; Jer 6:26; Amo 8:10; Zec 12:10). LXX reads "my firstborn". Could this be a ref to Peter in peril? Joh 18:6-16. Cp Luk 22:32.

Psa 22:21

RESCUE ME FROM THE MOUTH OF THE LIONS: Both Paul and Peter appropriate these words to themselves: 2Ti 4:17; 1Pe 5:8 (link this with the Comment on v 20).

FROM THE HORNS OF THE WILD OXEN: But the only "unicorn" (AV) is an African antelope. RV, RSV, and NIV read "wild oxen". Note the // in Isa 34:7; Deu 33:17; and Psa 29:6. Prob this expression describes the ox-cherubim of the sanctuary. Thus, "You have heard me from..." means: 'You who are enthroned above the temple-cherubim (vv 3,24), hear my cry and come to my rescue.' This happened at Golgotha (Psa 18:6-15n, and esp v 10). V 24 and the rending of the veil are in response to this prayer on the cross.

Psa 22:22

Vv. 22-31: The theme and tone in this section are dramatically different. Yet this is not a different psalm tacked on to the other, but a very fitting, very moving, logical development of what has gone before. The darkness enshrouding Golgotha is lifted (at least so far as Jesus is concerned), and the last conscious moments of our Saviour's mortal life are ones of joy (poss a euphoria arising from approaching death?). More clearly than ever before can he foresee "the joy set before him" (Heb 12:2); buoyed up in this way he endures the cross to the very end. His words, prophetically recorded by David, indicate that his vision was of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

I WILL DECLARE YOUR NAME TO MY BROTHERS: Christ in his death was declaring the righteousness of God and thereby providing a basis for the forgiveness of man's sins (Rom 3:23-26). Quoted in Heb 2:12 as additional proof that Jesus truly shared the stricken nature of his disciples. They are his brethren, and are so called for the first time after his resurrection: Joh 20:17,19. And the "Name" he manifested to them (Joh 17:6) was Exo 34:6,7. The perfect follow-up to the picture of suffering and sacrifice already presented.

IN THE CONGREGATION: The solitary suffering of vv 1-21 has brought into being a congregation (LXX: ekklesia) of whom the suffering Servant is now the acknowledged leader and king. Note: when the risen Lord appeared to his assembled brethren (Joh 20:19), he stood in the midst: Joh 17:6,8,26.

Psa 22:23

YOU WHO FEAR THE LORD: Comes first in the triad here, followed by Jacob and then Israel. Again, Luke's record makes deliberate allusion in Luk 23:40,47.

Psa 22:24

Praise God and reverence Him, for He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of His Son (Heb 12:6); neither hath the Father hid His face from the Son who cried unto Him. This is in stark contrast to the men who scorned and mocked Jesus upon the cross (vv 6-8). Even those who had professed discipleship forsook him and fled, hiding their faces from him (Isa 53:3), as did even Peter. His Father alone remained true to Jesus, because in Jesus was His name and His purpose. Just as the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the primordial waters and brought forth light and life, so the Spirit hovered over Jesus on the cross and in the tomb: darkness was made light and death was transformed by that Power into life again. Jesus cried to the Father, and even when his voice was silent in death, his words still echoed in heaven, and the Father heard. Thus was brought to birth the new, or spiritual, creation.

HE HAS NOT DESPISED: An effective understatement for the pleasure of the Lord (twice in Isa 53:10).

HE HAS NOT HIDDEN HIS FACE: The shining forth of the glory of God's cherubim (Psa 80:1; Num 6:26; cp vv 3,21 here). In Psalms, always ref God's presence in ark / tabernacle / temple: see VL, Psalms, God's face.

Psa 22:25

FROM YOU COMES THE THEME OF MY PRAISE IN THE GREAT ASSEMBLY: As in v 22. During the years of his ministry Christ always used the great feasts for the public proclamation of the gospel embodied in himself. Standing in the courts of Herod's temple, he was himself the true temple, built by God and not by man (Heb 8:2). In him may be discerned, in one facet or another, the priest and the altar and the ark and the offering. In him all the shadows became substance as he hung on the cross, and the Father's saving name was written in bold letters for all to read. Those who come unto him, who serve God in the true temple of His Son, will stand at last in the great congregation of spiritual Israel -- the new Jerusalem. The "144,000" who constitute the spiritual temple of the multitudinous Christ will assemble upon mount Zion in the literal millennial temple, and their praise will be of God in a new song which mortals cannot learn (Rev 14:1-3).

I (WILL) FULFILL MY VOWS: As in v 23. The vow implicit in his baptism was fulfilled without fault in his life and then also in his death. Prophetically, he had been baptized into his own death. He was faithful in all things; he deferred not to pay that which he had vowed (Ecc 5:4). He drank to the very dregs the cup of suffering prepared for him.

Spiritually, though not legally, Christ took up the vow of a Nazarite (Num 6); separation from sin and dedication as a priest. Although he did experience death, he fulfilled the Nazarite vow in that death could not defile him. He who was free from sin could not be held in the clutches of death.

Finally, in keeping with the obvious theme of this section, it may be suggested that there is also an allusion here to marriage vows. At his baptism Jesus was proclaimed the Lamb of God, and therefore the one who would be the Bridegroom at the Marriage of the Lamb. That public act was his betrothal or engagement to his prospective bride, the nation of Israel. From that time forward Jesus offered his life as the dowry to buy his wife from her natural father, the old Adam. The dowry was made up in full only by his poured out blood. In his death he performed the vows and sealed the marriage covenant with all believers.

While Christ "slept" -- like the first Adam, in a garden -- there was taken from his wounded side a woman: the spiritual bride, partaker of his sufferings. Even today God is continuing to fashion this multitudinous bride out of the wounded side of His firstborn. Each constituent passes through a baptismal death, and by faith in the last Adam becomes "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh". When the Bridegroom returns to claim this bride, then those who are worthy will become one body and one spirit, glorying in perfect union with their Lord and Master forever.

Implies the eating of peace offerings (Deu 12:11,12), with Christ in his kingdom (Luk 22:16; Psa 22:26; Isa 25:6; Joh 6:50,51).

Psa 22:26

For some of the numerous connections between resurrection and eating, see Mar 5:43; Joh 12:1,2; Rev 19:9; Exo 24:11. And with special application to Christ himself, see Luk 24:35,42,43; Act 10:41. Finally, of course, Christ himself is the "bread of life" for those who are raised from the dead: Joh 6:33,40,41,50,51,54,58.


THEY WHO SEEK THE LORD: Significantly echoed in Act 15:17.

Jesus thirsted as he hung upon the cross (John 19:28) but found no relief in the offered drink. His sustenance, as always, was not in actual meat and drink, but in doing the Father's will (John 4:32,34). This will was perfectly and conclusively done in His Son's sacrifice: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51).

The Edenic curse, in part, pertained to food: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Gen 3:19). The first Adam and his progeny were destined by sin to labor arduously for the food that perisheth; though they would eat of it, they could not be fully and lastingly satisfied. Jesus Christ, the "last Adam", labored in the sweat of his brow in the garden (Luke 22:44). Upon the cross his sweat was again mingled with his blood. The "bread" born of those labors was the "hidden manna" (Rev 2:17) of eternal life, reserved now in heaven (Col 3:3) for his faithful followers.

The glorious time is coming when he will return to share this "meal" with the meek. Those who have sought their Lord in word and followed him indeed, will partake of his bounty in perpetual praise of God's glory. The two miraculous feedings of the multitudes in Galilee will be re-enacted on a stupendous scale at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb upon Mount Zion (Isa 24:23; 25:6): "...A feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow..."

Previously all "fat things" were God's portion only (Lev 3:3-5,14-16), just as He alone hath underived immortality. But now the "fat things" -- and immortality itself -- are freely shared with the chosen ones of mankind! "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces" (Isa 25:8). Surely it was the immortal pleasure of the saints which Jesus held in prospect that prompted him to say on the occasion of the Last Supper: "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" (Mat 26:29).

The poor of this world, rich in faith, will at that time be satisfied with the "bread" of immortal strength and the "wine" of eternal joy (Psa 132:15; 104:15), foreshadowed in the weekly memorial emblems. Those who have hungered and thirsted after righteousness shall finally be filled (Mat 5:6).

They will sing the song of fellowship that only the redeemed can truly appreciate; all things will be forever new: With every fiber of their glorified spirit bodies they may taste and see and feel and experience the goodness of the Lord (Psa 34:8).

Psa 22:27

The outcome of all the shame and suffering described in this psalm: a worldwide kingdom of God. Remarkable!

Here is the joy set before Christ, by which he was strengthened and encouraged to bear the agonies of the cross. In these two verses (27,28) the results are given first and the cause last: All peoples shall worship the only true God because He is the king and governor of all peoples through His only-begotten Son.

"O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come" (Psa 65:2). "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, 'Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever' " (Rev 5:13). In that future day, the contemplation of which filled the mind and heart of Christ, superstitious and ignorant men will no longer feel or grope after an "Unknown God", but will cast their pathetic idols to the moles and bats, and fall upon their knees in earnest supplication and reverence toward the One Lord of heaven and earth (Acts 17:23,24,27; Isa 2:20).

"And there was given him (one like the Son of Man) dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan 7:14; Rev 11:15). The One Who is and has always been the Supreme Ruler of all creation will, through His representative, finally assume visible and recognizable control over His domain. Through a veil of pain and tears Jesus saw the shimmering beauty of the new creation, of which he was to be the firstborn creature. When we, his followers, try to imagine our participation in the glorious restitution of all things, what prayers, what words can express the desires of our hearts? "Even so, come, Lord Jesus. And remember me, Lord, when thou comest into thy kingdom."

Psa 22:29

The theme of vv 27, 28 is continued.

ALL THE RICH OF THE EARTH WILL FEAST AND WORSHIP: This class is called "the proud" in the RSV: the great and mighty of this world, most frequently spoken of in an unfavorable sense. Nothing can testify so eloquently to the universality of God's worship in the kingdom age than this phrase. Even those who in this age are generally furthest removed from Christ and his gospel will be found among the throngs of worshipers who go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord of hosts and to keep the feast of tabernacles. Even kings will be among their number (Psa 72:10,12,15).

ALL WHO GO DOWN TO THE DUST WILL KNEEL BEFORE HIM -- THOSE WHO CANNOT KEEP THEMSELVES ALIVE: These are phrases which encompass all mankind, for no man can ransom himself from the grave; no man can pay to God the price of his own life (Psa 49:7). Only God can redeem man by Christ, His strong arm of salvation (Psa 80:15). Man's salvation in every age has been conditional on the acknowledgement of his own weakness and the sole strength of God. The work of justification is the Father's alone; it is not by works, lest any man should boast, even though belief and obedience are necessary to bring man within the scope of the Father's grace.

Psa 22:30

Vv 30,31: Like its great counterpart (Isaiah 53), this psalm ends with a vision of Christ's "seed" -- those who will be born out of his sufferings, those who will be justified by a contemplation and imitation of the "travail of his soul" (Isa 53:10).

The "Seed" (posterity) is a Biblical theme traceable as far back as the garden of Eden. The "seed of the woman" (Gen 3:15) is both singular and plural, as is the seed of Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; 13:15; Gal 3:16,27-29). As in all things, the natural is a pattern of the spiritual: A single seed placed in the ground can by God's oversight produce a multitude of fruit, a numerous "seed". So it was, and will be, with Jesus: Joh 12:24, RSV.

In his death Christ was the sower going forth into the field, weeping as he bore the precious seed to its resting place. But he believed the promise that the single "seed", left to die in the ground, would doubtless come again, being transformed into a harvest of a rejoicing multitude (Psa 126:6). This spiritual posterity would be reckoned a "generation" in God's sight, "a chosen generation" (1Pe 2:9), the "children" whom God would give His Son (Isa 8:18; Joh 17:6; Heb. 2:13).

Psa 22:31

The "rebirth" to spiritual life of Christ's spiritual seed will be the final and climactic declaration of God's righteousness in Christ (Rom 3:25,26). When death is swallowed up in victory, it will be as though a new nation were born in one day from the "womb" of the earth (1Co 15:54; Psa 110:3; Isa 66:8).

CONCLUSION: The suffering servant of Jehovah was cut off from the land of the living, apparently with no offspring whatsoever. The eunuch on the road to Gaza was puzzled: "Who shall declare his generation?" (Isa 53:8; Act 8:33,34). He had none; and yet he was to have a great seed! The "eunuch" Jesus was to become the "father" of hundreds of thousands! of millions! As his life-blood watered the soil of Golgotha they passed before his eyes: the company of the redeemed... an awesome spectacle of familiar friends, of children not yet born, and of old men long dead -- all his "seed"! "I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation unto our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb' " (Rev 7:9,10).

What began with a sob ended with a song. With a towering vision of the future glory Christ was sustained in those final moments... and now the time had come. He gathered his strength to utter the last words. One final moment... that the pain, the humiliation, the grief would be indelibly printed upon his mind. And then... "It is finished!" It was the cry of a servant whose work is done, an artist whose masterpiece is finished, a sufferer whose trials are over, a conqueror whose victory is won.

IT IS FINISHED: He closed his eyes as the heavens thundered and the earth quaked. Perfect love had proven itself stronger than death. The beloved Son of God passed through the veil. But with God there could be no ultimate evil: even the death of His only-begotten Son would contribute to His righteous purpose. Tragedy would give way to triumph. Out of death would come life, endless and lovely and glorious.

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