Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Psalm 22 - continues - part 3

Psalm 22

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. 
But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 
Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You rescued them. 
They cried to You and were set free; they trusted in You and were not disgraced. 
But I am a worm and not a man,  scorned by men and despised by people. 
Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads: 
“He relies on the Lord; let Him rescue him;
let the Lord deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him.” 
You took me from the womb, making me secure while at my mother’s breast. 
I was given over to You at birth;  You have been my God from my mother’s womb. 
Do not be far from me, because distress is near and there is no one to help. 
Many bulls surround me; strong ones of Bashan encircle me. 
They open their mouths against me— lions, mauling and roaring. 
I am poured out like water,  and all my bones are disjointed; 
my heart is like wax, melting within me. 
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. 
For dogs have surrounded me; a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced  my hands and my feet. 
I can count all my bones; people look and stare at me. 
They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing. 
But You, Lord, don’t be far away.  My strength, come quickly to help me. 
Deliver my life from the sword,  my only life from the power of these dogs.
Save me from the mouth of the lion!  You have rescued  me from the horns of the wild oxen.
I will proclaim Your name to my brothers; I will praise You in the congregation. 
You who fear Yahweh, praise Him!  All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him!
All you descendants of Israel, revere Him! 
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. 
I will give praise in the great congregation
because of You;  I will fulfill my vows before those who fear You. 
The humble will eat and be satisfied;  those who seek the Lord will praise Him.
May your hearts live forever! 
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord.
All the families of the nations will bow down before You, 
for kingship belongs to the Lord; He rules over the nations. 
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. 
Their descendants will serve Him; the next generation will be told about the Lord. 
They will come and tell a people yet to be born about His righteousness—what He has done.
––Psalm 22


We continue today with the "Psalm of the Cross", a Messianic psalm.  Psalm 22 is also a psalm of Lament and a Praise / Thanksgiving psalm. We are looking at this psalm during the week before Resurrection Sunday. This psalm could have been the psalm that was spoken in prayer of Jesus while on the cross.

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.  Psalm 22:9-11  From my mother's womb you have been my God. David knew that he was a sinner from birth. He writes in  Psalm 51:5 Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me. In this verse David writes that God was his from birth.  One can say that this is a messianic statement.  Christ alone could be the only one who could have been God's Son while still in the womb of the virgin Mary. The Bible clearly teaches that children are sinners. They are not born innocent and sometime later become sinners. Children, too, need God’s salvation. God brought Jesus from the virgin's womb. God preserved him during His fragile days as an infant. God protected Jesus from Herod. God sustained Him through His childhood and into His manhood. The remberance of God's love for Him provided Him with some comfort during this suffering. Though God turned away from Him, Jesus still trusted Him.

In the verses of Psalm 22:11-21 we have Christ suffering and Christ praying in the word written 1000 years earlier by David. David was often in trouble.  David was often chased by his enemies, but many of the particulars found in these verses were never true of  David. The words inspired by God were written By David and are appropriate to Christ during His suffering on the cross.

David, the writer of this psalm, recalls that God has been faithful to the nation of Israel. David can trust in God because He has always taken care of him. He was faithful to David from the beginning of his existence.  Even though all is going bad around him, in spite of the taunts and troubles, David can count on the goodness of God.  David pleads that God will be ever be near him because he cannot endure his suffering without God.

Many bulls surround me; strong ones of Bashan encircle me.  They open their mouths against me— lions, mauling and roaring.  Psalm 22:12-13 Many bulls, enemies, surround Him.  Some included the big bulls. The bulls of  Bashan were lagre imposing animals. Basham - Ramat ha-Golan, has been known as The Golan Heights since the 19th century.It is located east and northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Due to its geography it has a wetter climate than the surrounding areas. Even though the climate is conducive to agriculture, the land is too rocky and poor for farming. Because of this Bashan, now Golan Heights, has long been know for its livestock. The prophet Amos uses the term “cows of Bashan" indicating they were well fed cattle for the wives of rich oppressive rulers.  Amos 4:1  Jer 50:19   Mic 7:14  It is also used in this verse to again signify strong bulls.  Psalm 22:12.  Even today, most of Israel's beef supply comes from ranches on the Golan Heights. 

Some authorities will say that the early origin of bull fights began in Bashan. This bull fight was different than those of Spain today. In Bashan an area of a field was roped off for the battle. At the center of the arena would be a large tree. A hunter, dressed in red garments, would enter the roped off arena.  As the hunter entered the field, a prize bull of Bashan would be turned loose into the field.  The hunter would stand in front of the tree and entice the bull to charge him. When the bull was unable to resist the torment, it would dash toward the hunter.  Because of its rage, the bull would be unable to change its course.  The clever, and hopefuly fast, hunter would sweep around the tree.  The bull would dash on full speed into the tree. The horns of the bull would be securely locked into the tree. The hunter would then be a safe and happy victor.* This Messianic psalm tells of the crucifixion of Jesus in many ways. The words of the psalm are very easily understood, yet there is much more behind the God inspired choice of the words.

They open their mouths against me— lions, mauling and roaring.  Psalm 22:13  To “open the mouth against” is a Hebrew idiom associated with eating and swallowing.  Lions, in the Bible, often represents ferocity and ruthlessness.  Ravaging beasts are images presented here in this verse and again in verses  Psalm 22:16  Psalm 22:20  and Psalm 22:21 The enemies of Christ have been plotting against Him for some time now.  Their plot has succeeded, they are ready to swallow up Jesus and rid themselves of their problem forever.  

We know the story is not over.  We know that a sovereign and loving God is working out His plan. We know that the Son of God has willingly allowed Himself to die. His death will bring eternal life to all who sever Him as their Master.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

                          ––– by Isaac Watts (1707)

* source Meditations in the Book of Psalms - Erling C. Olsen

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