Monday, March 25, 2013

Introduction to - Psalm 22

Psalm 22

For the choir director: according to “The Deer of the Dawn.” A Davidic psalm.


Water lily


1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? 
Why are You so far from my deliverance  and from my words of groaning? 
2 My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest. 
3 But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 
4 Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You rescued them. 
5 They cried to You and were set free; they trusted in You and were not disgraced. 
6 But I am a worm and not a man,  scorned by men and despised by people. 
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads: 
8 “He relies on the Lord; let Him rescue him;
let the Lord deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him.” 
9 You took me from the womb, making me secure while at my mother’s breast. 
10 I was given over to You at birth;  You have been my God from my mother’s womb. 
11 Do not be far from me, because distress is near and there is no one to help. 
12 Many bulls surround me; strong ones of Bashan encircle me. 
13 They open their mouths against me— lions, mauling and roaring. 
14 I am poured out like water,  and all my bones are disjointed; 
my heart is like wax, melting within me. 
15 My strength is dried up like baked clay;  my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. 
You put me into the dust of death. 
16 For dogs have surrounded me; a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced  my hands and my feet. 
17 I can count all my bones; people look and stare at me. 
18 They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing. 
19 But You, Lord, don’t be far away.  My strength, come quickly to help me. 
20 Deliver my life from the sword,  my only life from the power of these dogs.
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!  You have rescued  me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will proclaim Your name to my brothers; I will praise You in the congregation. 
23 You who fear Yahweh, praise Him! 
All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him!
All you descendants of Israel, revere Him! 
24 For He has not despised or detested the torment of the afflicted. 
He did not hide His face from him  but listened when he cried to Him for help. 
25 I will give praise in the great congregation
because of You;  I will fulfill my vows before those who fear You. 
26 The humble 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.
All the families of the nations will bow down before You, 
28 for kingship belongs to the Lord; He rules over the nations. 
29 All who prosper on earth will eat and bow down; all those who go down to the dust
will kneel before Him— even the one who cannot preserve his life. 
30 Their descendants will serve Him; the next generation will be told about the Lord. 
31 They will come and tell a people yet to be born about His righteousness—what He has done.
––Psalm 22
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This week we will look at Psalm 22.  It is, as you can see above, a rather lengthy psalm. This psalm is sometimes called the "Psalm of the Cross."  It was also called the fifth gospel by some leaders of the early church. This wonderful psalm is quite appropriate for this week before Resurrection Sunday. This is a psalm that you will want to return to again and again.  This psalm deserves a much more detailed and closer study than the brief study presented in this blog.  Take time to read the psalm in its entirety several times this week.  We will not spend very much time looking at the construction of the psalm as was suggested as a study method in an earlier blog.

Psalm 22 is a psalm of contrast. It is divided into two distinct parts. The first 21 verses are those of a Lament psalm. The last 10 verses of the psalm shift to a psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving. The first verse begins in a sad minor key and the last verse ends in a joyous Hallelujah Chorus. It is the chief messianic psalm in the Bible. There are 15 messianic quotations of or allusions to this psalm in the New Testament. Some leaders of the early church referred to this psalm as the "the fifth gospel."  If this psalm was the only prophesy in the Old Testament of God's own revelation of Himself in the person of His Son, it would be sufficient.  God, however, was very generous in revealing his plan of redemption in the Old Testament. There are many prophecies foretelling of the coming of Christ and the plan for redemption. This story of redemption unfolds from the creation of man through the coming of the new heavens and the new earth.  His plan continues even further throughout all eternity.  

There are several ways to interpret this psalm: (1) a description of the sorrows and sufferings of King David, or some other biblical character; (2) a description of the sufferings of Israel during captivity or some other crisis; (3) a prediction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  It is likely a combination of all those interpretations.  Above all one must remember that though David wrote the psalm, it was God's inspired word that he wrote. The psalm is a lament of David for some trial he was facing, this lament is applicable to any innocent sufferer, and is especially applicable to the crucifixion of Jesus.  Most certainly it is messianic prediction of the crucifixion of our Lord. A Messianic psalm is one that refers to the future Messiah who would deliver and save His people. Most would list the following list of psalms as Messianic psalms: Psalms 2, 8, 16, 22, 40, 41, 45, 68, 69, 72, 89, 102, 109, 110, and 118.  Psalm 22 would be the chief of the Messianic psalms.

The description of a crucifixion in this psalm is quite vivid. The psalm was written 1,000 years before the crucifixion of Christ. This psalm also preceded by 400 to 500 years the knowledge or use of crucifixion as a method of capital punishment. Actual crucifixion was not introduced in Palestine until Hellenistic times. At the time this psalm was written the method of capital punishment was stoning. Impalement was possibly used in Egypt and Babylonia prior to the 5th century B.C., however the person was first beheaded then the body was impaled on a stake. The first historical record of crucifixion was about 519 BC when Darius I, king of Persia, crucified 3,000 political opponents in Babylon. Psalm 22 was written some 500 years before that date. Alexander the Great brought crucifixion from Persia to the eastern Mediterranean countries in the 4th century BC, and the Phoenicians introduced it to Rome in the 3rd century BC.


My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? 
Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?
My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest.
–– Psalm 22:1-2


The Psalm begins with an agonizing  question: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In these first two verses we see David in real distress. He is experiencing a time of great trouble and feels that God has abandoned him. These same words are recorded in the New Testament as the "fourth saying." The words spoken by Jesus from the cross. Matthew 27:46   Mark. 15:34  In the Sovereignty of God we see that  these words, inspired by the Holy Spirit were applicable to David when they were written, and remained applicable 1000 years later when spoken by Jesus on the cross. I can remember when I was in grade-school our pastor saying that he believed that Jesus was reciting the entire psalm 22 while He was on the cross.  I remember nothing else from that sermon except that statement.  One reads in Spurgeon's - Treasury of David – This is beyond all others THE PSALM OF THE CROSS. It may have been actually repeated word by word by our Lord when hanging on the tree; it would be too bold to say that it was so, but even a casual reader may see that it might have been.  I don't know that this is a fact
or if it means anything, but it looks to me as though this is the only time that Jesus prays to God as "My God."  In all other occasions Jesus refers to God as Father.  Perhaps that is evidence that Jesus is quoting this psalm, knowing that it is prophetically referring to Himself. Perhaps as His sacrifice for us, He is feeling total abandonment from His Father, yet still is certain that God is in charge.

God seems to be so very far away. Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?  The subject of the psalm describes his cries to God as continuous. His cries are day and night, yet he receives no answer.  An answer from God would provide him rest. My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest.

This psalm is important to us all. David wrote this psalm to cry out to God about his pain and feeling of abandonment.  The psalm also is helpful to us when we are in a similar situation. Upon the cross Jesus experienced the total abandonment of God. This total abandonment by God was something that King David never experienced.  It is something that believers will never experience. Jesus bore the curse of sin for king David and all of God's people.

 We deserve that abandonment, but Jesus felt, suffered and bore that pain for all who believe on Him. Jesus, the sinless, eternal Son of God, actually was abandoned By God the Father. The holy and righteous attributes of God cannot overlook sin. Jesus voluntarily took the responsibility to pay the penalty for all our sins. God unleashed His divine judgement on His only beloved Son. Christ was forsaken by His Father God, so that we might never be forsaken. 2 Corinthians 5:21

I cannot imagine the horror of Jesus in being abandoned by His Father. It is beyond my understanding. Christ was in the beginning with the Father.  Now, He is abandoned by Him. I cannot grasp the wonder of this.  I praise Him. I thank Him for taking my place. Oh, what a wonderful Saviour we have.

__________

And can it be that I should gain


And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love Divine!
’Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.
’Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness Divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

words Charles Wesley 1738

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