Description / Transcription
I invite you to open your Bibles with me this afternoon to Psalm chapter 22. The Old Testament book of Psalms. This is a familiar psalm, I think, to many of us, one of the Old Testament messianic psalms. It is a psalm of David, a psalm that is often quoted in the New Testament, a psalm that moves between both lament as well as praise and hope.
Let’s look at this psalm together. I’m just going to read the first 18 verses this afternoon, although we’re really only going to focus on verses 12 through 18. Hear the Word of the Lord.
To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet You are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In You our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and You delivered them.
To You they cried and were rescued;
in You they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let Him deliver him;
let Him rescue him, for he delights in Him!”
Yet You are He who took me from the womb;
You made me trust You at my mother’s breasts.
On You was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb You have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
You lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
Thus far God’s Holy Word. Let’s pray.
Our God, how we thank You for Your Word and how we thank You that that all points to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and who is our Lord. It’s in His name that we pray. Amen.
This wonderful 22nd psalm moves between lament and praise and hope, and it ultimately here, while it describes the suffering of David in one sense, it really looks beyond David’s suffering here in this particular situation of David’s life. It looks ultimately forward to the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. As one commentator puts it, if some personal experience of suffering prompted the psalm, David multiplies it by infinity in order to plumb something of the suffering awaiting his greater son. It is beyond what David himself experienced and therefore it is a prophetic psalm.
In verses 12 through 18 in particular we see both physical and emotional suffering. I want to focus our attention especially on those verses this afternoon. First of all, we see in verses 12 and 13 savage enemies that are attacking the psalmist and that will attack and has now, from our perspective, attacked the Lord Jesus Christ. He compares them to bulls, lions, and dogs.
Notice in verse 12 he says, “Many bulls encompass me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me.” Bulls surround me. If one bull is after you, you are in trouble. But if bulls surround you, it means almost sure death.
Lions are ravening and roaring after him in verse 13. Fierce and ruthless, without pity, waiting to completely devour him on this occasion.
In verse 16 we see dogs encompassing him. This, in David’s day, would refer to wild dogs, not cute pets. We have dogs today who are cute pets. This was not the case in the ancient world. Dogs were not cute pets, they were wild animals. I know there are three or four families in this church who live in my neighborhood and, yes, when you walk by our house and our dog is out in the yard, he barks at you. But if you come into our house, he becomes a pussycat who kind of just wants you to pet him. He’s not as mean as he seems when he’s outside. He’s really a cuddly wimp at the end of the day.
These are wild dogs who, indeed, go after and seek to devour.
Bulls, lions, wild dogs.
Jesus faced this in His life. He faced human opposition that seeked to destroy Him, to devour Him. Really what he was facing, though, was satanic opposition, satanic forces, right from the beginning, seeking to be destroyed by a wicked king with satanic influence. Seeking to be tempted and led away from His mission by Satan in the wilderness, and then the Gospel of Luke tells us that Satan departed until an opportune time. When did that opportune time come? It came at the end of the Gospels when Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who went and betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ. And as Jesus said at His arrest in the Gospel of Luke with Judas leading the band to arrest him, “This is your time when darkness reigns.”
Savage enemies seeking to devour the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly we see in our passage intense suffering. We see it in verses 14 and 15. The psalmist says here, “I am poured out like water, my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast, my strength is dried up like a potsherd, my tongue sticks to my jaws, You lay me in the dust of death.” Intense suffering. He is utterly spent here, physically, emotionally, poured out. His heart has melted. There is a sense that his life is slipping away. Strength is dried up.
Think of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you put the four Gospels together, Jesus endured two different beatings after His arrest, and He died quickly on the cross, probably because of that His legs did not need to be broken, because He was so worn out from the beatings that He had endured. His tongue sticks to his mouth, to his jaws, the text says here. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I thirst.” That fulfills Scripture. It could be this very verse here.
“You lay me in the dust of death.” You lay me in the dust of death, the psalmist says, David says. Who’s You? To God. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” And of course we know that this is the work of God, as Isaiah 53 said, as we’ve just heard, it pleased God to bruise the suffering servant. All of this applies to the Lord Jesus Christ.
And third, in verses 16 to 18, we see what can only be called sadistic treatment. Sadistic treatment. He’s been pierced, they’ve pierced, verse 16, his hands and his feet. He can count his bones. It’s protruding out of his skin. They stare and they gloat over him. They enjoy his suffering, the text essentially says here. As those said at the cross of Jesus, “He saved others, let Him save Himself.”
“They divide my garments and for my clothing they cast lots.” They stripped off Christ’s clothes and they gambled for them.
They scorned him, as we see in verses 6 through 8. Scorned by mankind, despised by the people, mocked by those around him. Opposed by man was David, Jesus opposed by man, by Satan, and even by His heavenly Father, God Himself.
Verse 1 says, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” For David, he only seemed to be forsaken by God. Jesus truly was, truly was. Abandonment. The Father turns away. The Father literally pours out His wrath and His judgment on His own beloved Son, breaks the eternal fellowship with His Son. This is unlike any other. Is there any sorrow like Christ’s sorrow?
We can know something of it, as David knew something of Christ’s suffering and sorrow, so that enables us to go to Christ, to go to Christ in our times of sorrow. As Corrie ten Boom once put it, “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.” No pit so deep that He is not deeper still.
More importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ suffered infinite suffering to save His people from their sins. Praise to be to God.
Let’s pray. Our Lord Jesus, how we thank You for Your great love for sinners. How we thank You that You entered into the depths of suffering, even the very wrath of God, to save us because You love us. We pray this in Your name. Amen.