Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Psalm 22 - A Passion Psalm

Morning frost on rose foliage

Psalm 22

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

Psalm 22 is one of the four psalms of suffering. These psalms are also called the “Passion Psalms.” The other Passion Psalms are Psalm 16  Psalm 40   and  Psalm 69 .  In Psalm 22, God's servant is shown to be suffering. There is no suggestion of any sin by the sufferer.  The suffering is totally unjustified. There is no cry for vengeance by the one who suffered toward those who persecute him. Only the sinless Son of God could perfectly fit into the total words of this psalm.  This psalm is a Messianic psalm that refers to the coming Messiah. This psalm depicts the suffering of Christ on the cross, ten centuries before the occurrence.

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.  Psalm 22:3-5  God is still on the throne.  It makes no difference what your circumstances are, it makes no difference what the condition the world is in: God is on the throne, He rules, He is sovereign.  Three times in the above verses trust is mentioned.  Even though a person suffers, they can still trust in God. If one does not hear a response from God, God is still there. God is listening to His own. God is still faithful to His people. God will continue to be faithful to His people who call upon Him. Unanswered prayer for God's people is not because God is unfaithful.  Some feel that their prayer is not answered, because it is not the answer they expected.  Jesus was clothed in our sin upon the cross. Jesus was aware that God was holy. Jesus knew that He must suffer the silence of the Holy God.

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.”   — Psalm 22: 6-8

But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” — Psalm 22: 6-8 

David’s suffering makes him feel as though he were no longer human—instead he feels like a worm. When David was at his lowest, his enemies ridiculed his faith in the Lord. 

These verses also especially apply to Jesus. The Messianic applications of these verses can be seen in Matthew 27: 39-44  Luke 23:35  Not only was Jesus forsaken by God, He was rejected and taunted by the people. This same Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem by a joyous crowd less than a week before.  Jesus now had to endure the ridicule of hypocritical priests and criminals. Jesus compares Himself to a worm.

The worm is a symbol of extreme weakness and helplessness, something to be trodden down, unnoticed, and despised. The Son of God found Himself to be less than a man.  This He accepted because of His love for us and His obedience to his Father. The Hebrew word use for worm in this instance is tôlahath. This word is used in Isaiah 1:18  Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. It is used in this verse as worm.  It translated as scarlet 34 times, worm 8 times, crimson 1 time. It is called the splendor worm, or scarlet worm.. This word signifies a worm that is used for dying materials crimson or scarlet. The female towleah, crimson worm, when ready to give birth to her young, would attach her body to the trunk of a tree. She would attach herself so firmly, that she could never detach from the tree.  The eggs deposited beneath her body were protected until the larvae were hatched. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the scarlet dyes of that day were extracted. This too gives us a picture of Christ, dying on a tree, shedding His blood, so that He might bring life to His children.

Jesus felt the reproach of men, and was despised by the people. “They separate the lip,” an idiom for sneering. Literally “they let out lips.” This may indicate that people freely speak insults that would normally be held back. All those who see Me ridicule Me.  Luke 23:35  They shake their head, saying, “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;  Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” Matthew 27:39  Matthew 27:43   Jesus sustained verbal and physical abuse for us.  He became sin for us and was forsaken by His Father.  The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. Submit to Him as your Saviour and enjoy cleansing from sin!

*Biblical Basis for Modern Science", 1985, Baker Book House, by Henry Morris

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.

To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then he'll call me some day to my home far away,
where his glory forever I'll share.

George Bernard 1913

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