psalm 22 (1)… introduction

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.

Xb 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—. 17 I can count all my bones—. they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. 19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred. the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. 25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember. and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations. shall worship before you. 28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship. before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. 30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; 31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.

Psalm 22


Psalm 22 is a psalm of two distinct movements. The first is lament (1-21), the second is praise (22-30).

The first reveals tenacity of faith in profound suffering. The sufferer maintains faith despite unnerving spiritual anguish and horrific physical and emotional abuse. He cries for deliverance but his cry is unheeded. He is forced to trust in an absent God..

The question that arises in our minds as we read the psalm is similar to that of the Ethiopian eunuch, ‘of whom is the prophet speaking, himself or someone else?’ (Acts 8:34). The speaker is clearly an innocent sufferer – no sin is confessed. Psalm 22 is one of a number of psalms expressing the lament of the righteous sufferer . The writer of the psalm is David and it would be strange if the psalm did not relate to some extent to his experience, although it does not readily fit with any known experience of David. Perhaps an event in his life was the basis for a song that greatly exceeded it. Certainly, in its fullest sense, the psalm looks beyond its author.

Is it then a poetic expression of the suffering of Israel? It could well prophetically describe the cry of the righteous remnant who suffer with the nation in the exile (Isa 49:14, 60:15, 62:4; Lk 13:34,35; Roms 9-11)

The problem is the psalm does not seem to directly describe a nation or a group within a nation; it seems to describe a specific individual (Cf .v22). It also describes a fairly specific event which is not so much an exile as an execution., Due to the attack of his enemies the sufferer lies in the dust of death. While the suffering of Israel may be included the precise detail of the psalm seems to require a particular fulfilment..

As Christians, of course, we have know that the sufferer is ultimately not national Israel but the true Israel. Messiah, in whom Israel is found, is the forsaken sufferer. This is certainly how the NT understands the psalm. There are a number of specific references to this psalm in the gospel passion narratives. The opening words are found on Christ’s lips on the cross suggesting that the rest of the psalm refers to him too.

Such a close reference to Christ’s crucifixion makes the psalm truly remarkable; here a 1000 years prior is a psalm that describes the crucifixion of Jesus. David, as he often does, writes not simply as a poet but also as a prophet (Acts 2:30). Peter says that the Spirit of God moved the prophets to write of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow (1 Pet 1:11,12). Psalm 22, with its two contrasting ‘halves’, describes both the suffering of Christ (vv1-21) and the glory that follows (vv22-30).

The context surrounding this psalm is mainly royal. Psalms 20,21,24, celebrate the Davidic King engaging in battle and emerging victorious. Psalm 22, describes both the battle and the subsequent victory.

And so the psalm is indeed the voice of a righteous sufferer. It may speak in the experience of many righteous sufferers and may well have reference to the exile but It is essentially specific and prophetic for it fits closely Jesus the preeminent righteous sufferer who both suffers like his people and, as other Scriptures reveal, suffers for his people.


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