The Psalm that Foretells Christ’s Suffering, Death and Triumph
Psalm 22 describes and pictures Christs’ future sufferings on the cross. It even tells us what Jesus was thinking and feeling and how He was praying! Intricate details of Jesus’ suffering and death are spelled out here. This amazing Psalm was inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by David a thousand years before these things ever happened! This is indeed a prophetic Psalm.
The ridicule that Jesus received from the religious leaders is predicted here in Psalm 22 verse 7-8. “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!’”. Those very same words of ridicule were actually spoken by the chief priests at the cross. (Matthew 27:36-44)
Second, in verse 16 b of this Psalm we read that Jesus’ hands and feet would be pierced. “They pierced My hands and My feet.” This prophecy was fulfilled at Jesus’ death. (John 20:25) Also the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothing was predicted in Psalm 22, verse 18. “They divided my garments among them and for My clothing they cast lots.” This was fulfilled at Jesus’ death and recorded here. (John 19:23, 24)
Perhaps the most significant statement in Psalm 22 is the very first verse. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus cried out these very words from the cross as He was dying. (Matthew 27:46) When Jesus in agony was calling out to God, we see God turning away from His beloved Son who is bearing the sin of the world. Jesus is bearing our judgment and also He is bearing our separation from God because of sin.
Let’s read Psalm 22 now.
1) “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me. And from the words of My groaning?
2) My God, I cry in the daytime but You do not hear: And in the night season, and am not silent.
3) But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
4) Our fathers trusted in You. They trusted, and You delivered them.
5) They cried to You, and were delivered. They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
6) But I am a worm, and no man: A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
7) All those who see Me ridicule Me: They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8) “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him: Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!
9) But You are He who took Me out of the womb: you made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
10) I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God.
11) Be not far from Me. For trouble is near: For there is none to help.
12) Many bulls have surrounded Me: Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
13) They gape at Me with their mouths, Like a raging and roaring lion.
14) I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax: It has melted within Me.
15) My strength is dried up like a potsherd. And My tongue clings to My jaws: You have brought Me to the dust of death.
16) For dogs have surrounded Me: the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet:
17) I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.
18) They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
19) But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me: O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
20) Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog.
21) Save Me from the lion’s mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me.
22) I will declare your name to My brethren: In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23) You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him. And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
24) For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted: Nor has He hidden His face from Him: But when He cried to Him, He heard.
25) My praise shall be of You in the great assembly, I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
26) The poor shall eat and be satisfied, those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!
27) All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord. And all the families of the nations shall worship before You.
28) For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations.
29) All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship. All those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him. Even he who cannot keep himself alive.
30) A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation.
31) They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.
God speaks about Christ’s future sufferings through David in this Psalm and God also speaks through Isaiah about Christ being our suffering Servant. (Isaiah 53.) Psalm 22 is similar to Isaiah 53 describing Israel’s future Messiah as a Man of Sorrows as well as the Savior and God the Son. The religious leaders who ridiculed Christ at the cross must have overlooked those passages of Scripture describing their future Messiah. They didn’t recognize their Messiah when He came to save them. Are there religious leaders today who fail to see their Savior and persecute Him instead? Do we always recognize Jesus today in some of His disguises?
In verse 21b of this Psalm it says: “You have answered Me.” This is saying that God came and answered Jesus’ cries on the cross. This great evil – the cross – was turned around to be the salvation for all who would not refuse. The resurrection of Jesus was an answer to Jesus’ prayers on the cross and to the prayer of every sinful human. Christ has paid the price and triumphed over sin and death through the cross. He is victorious over death! And we are victorious in Him! Because He lives, we shall live also! Five things are spoken here of the satisfaction and triumph of Christ in His death.
1) That He should have a Church in the world. The Church is called the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16)
2) That God would be honored and glorified in Christ by that Church. He foresees this with pleasure. As His Church, we are called to praise and glorify Him in verse 23.
3) That those who seek Him will praise Him and live forever. Verse 26
4) That the Church of Christ will extend itself to all the corners of the earth. (verses 27-28)
5) And that the Church of Christ should continue through all the ages of time.
Those last verses of Psalm 22 read: “All those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him. Even he who cannot keep himself alive.” (Verse 29b) We will all die because none of us can keep ourselves alive past a certain point. But we commit our souls to Jesus Christ who is able to save us and keep us alive forever!
And Psalm 22 closes with: “A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation. They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will yet be born. That He has done this.” (Verses 30-31) We are part of this glorious universal Church which is the body of Christ, and which will continue on through all time. Many of us heard the gospel of Christ from Christians who lived in our parent’s generation. And we accepted Christ as Savior through their prayers. And now our privilege is to pass on this precious gospel to the next generation. The Church of Christ will continue through all the ages of time.