The Book of Psalms Chapter Twenty-Two Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
He Has Done It
Verses 1-2: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of My groaning. 2 O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest." This is a Psalm of David, a melancholy song he wrote, but it is not merely about David, though he did suffer. This king was also a prophet (Acts 2:29-31), drawn to write about David's Lord, who was also to be his earthly Descendant. "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" later became the words of Jesus Christ on the cross, the God-man who suffered and died for our sins (Matthew 27:46). He groaned in agony and cried out audibly. As a preview of what is to come in this Psalm, note Verse 24—It was our sins upon this Innocent One who had never known sin, which blinded Him to the Presence of God the Father. If you ever feel forsaken by God, it is because you have been blinded for a time by your sins and the sins of those around you. You will be rescued by the Lord's act in saving you—He has already done it.
Verses 3-5: "Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 4 In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. 5 To You they cried out and were delivered; in You they trusted and were not disappointed." God is holy, pure beyond our ability to understand because humanity fell so far, and we fell, along with everybody else. If we think we have not sinned, then our sin is an embarrassing pride. Yet He left eternity, came to us, offering each one the opportunity to enter a life that brings praise to our wonderful God. What set apart those from long ago, the ones often called "Old Testament saints"? The answer is that they "trusted," they had faith in the Lord. It's true for us also—we can trust in the Lord and not be disappointed. Cry out to the Lord and be delivered, now and forever.
Verses 6-8: "But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people. 7 All who see Me sneer at me; they separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, 8 'Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver Him; let Him rescue Him, because He delights in Him.'" Jesus Christ became a man, but He also was and is God. Can we even remotely comprehend how such a Being would feel? Yes, to an extent, for in these verses, we meet the feelings of the naked Jesus on the cross, in full view of His sorrowing friends, family, and gloating enemies. At that moment, He felt like a "worm... not a man" at all; a reproach, despised, while many of His watchers made fun of Him. The question is: Why didn't God the Father deliver His beloved Son from shame and pain?—because the price was being paid for your sins and mine! God is so full of love for you and me that the Son died in our place, accomplishing the impossible because He is both God and Man, the Father's Representative and ours. He even died for those who mocked Him at that moment.
Verses 9-11: "Yet You are He who brought Me forth from the womb; You made Me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. 10 Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been My God from My mother’s womb. 11 Be not far from Me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help." God the Father was there when God the Son was born to Mary. He was there when you were born. He delivered Him, He delivered you. The doctor or nurse that brought you into the world was God's unwitting helper. A difference between Jesus Christ and us is that the Son came into this world filled with utter faith—and we did not. He honored His earthly parents, but looked through outward events and people to rely on God the Father, whereas we merely cried out to earthly parents. Are you lonely? God the Son was, feeling "there is none to help." He was there when you were born, and He is here for you now. He will bring you with Him into a blessed eternity... this One who knows what loneliness is all about. God the Son felt "there is none to help," as He died—alone. He understands your alienation and mine.
Verses 12-13: "Many bulls have surrounded Me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. 13 They open wide their mouth at Me, as a ravening and a roaring lion." It's disturbing when you experience the unique discovery that some person, persons or entity has become your enemy. If a raging bull or a hungry, roaring lion attacks, you are unlikely to survive, and your enemy can make you feel like the end has come. Jesus Christ on the cross was surrounded by enemies, blood was flowing out of Him, He was in pain, and our sins were upon Him. We can't imagine what it would feel like to be the Innocent One who did nothing wrong and yet was accused of—everything. Every sin of humanity was upon Him at that moment.
Verses 14-15: "I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue cleaves to my jaws; and You lay Me in the dust of death." Most of us can at least control our bodies, though some have no control at all, and they know something of what Jesus experienced at that moment. Our bodies are designed to be under our direction, but here was the Son of God who lost all control. If He was a cup, it felt like somebody tipped Him over and poured out His life. Gravity, combined with the horror of the cross had literally put everything in His Body out of joint. It felt like His heart was melting inside of His chest, He was thirsty, and because events had blinded Him to the Presence of His Father, He cried out inside Himself, "Why am I being left to die alone?" If we feel alone, we're not, for He who loves us is with us.
Verses 16-18: "For dogs have surrounded Me; a band of evildoers has encompassed Me; they pierced My hands and My feet. 17 I can count all My bones. They look, they stare at Me; 18 they divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots." Can you imagine the feelings of Jesus at that moment? It was like a pack of hungry, intense, angry wolves surrounded Him, as represented by the "evildoers" who sneered at Him. His hands and feet were trapped and ruined by large nails that had been pounded into His body. Bored Roman soldiers, who had crucified many people on too many occasions, coldly rolled dice to win His cloak and other clothing (John 19:23-24). This shame was embarrassingly complete, as many onlookers stared at Him with angry, disgusted eyes. Have you been embarrassed?—God understands.
Verses 19-21: "But You, O Lord, be not far off; O You My help, hasten to my assistance. 20 Deliver My soul from the sword, My only life from the power of the dog. 21 Save me from the lion’s mouth; from the horns of the wild oxen You answer Me." We find here a curious blending of David's needs, along with a prophetic look at the heart of Jesus Christ while dying on the cross for your sins and mine. These verses also form a wonderful, helpful series of words and phrases for prayer when events surround us that are too great, too awful for us to bear. God's words, these prayers, are perfect because He, God the Son, knows how you feel.
Verses 22-23: "I will tell of 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 stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel." The cross hurt Jesus physically, in ways not unlike the injuries we might experience in a very bad auto accident. Worse, this Innocent Christ KNEW our sins as He died to set us free. He not only knew what you did, but He was being punished for it. And yet, it's obvious from this prophetic look at His suffering, that even though He had been blinded to the Presence of His Father (Verses 1 & 24), He continued to praise God, which should encourage us to do the same when we are in trouble.
Verse 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 for help, He heard." In Verse 1, we encountered the difficult to understand reality that God the Son was blinded by our sins to the Presence of God the Father—for the first and only time—ever. And that horrible time shows us what happens when we sin—we are blinded to the Presence of God! Atheists have the faith to believe that there is no God because they are blinded by their own sin and the sins of those around them. Yet in spite of what was upon Jesus Christ at that time, the Father neither despised Him, hated Him or hid from Him, but "HEARD" His cries for help, just as He hears your cries for help right now.
Verses 25-26: " From You comes My praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. 26 The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!" Do you fear the Lord? Do you recognize who He is and what He has done for you? Then praise Him, for He vowed to save you and He did it! Are you afflicted in some manner? You will be fulfilled and satisfied, perhaps here but certainly in eternity. Seek the Lord Jesus Christ now and your spiritual "heart," which is the real you, will live forever. Praise Him. You'll be glad you did.
Verses 27-31: "All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before You. 28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, all those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive. 30 Posterity will serve Him; it will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. 31 They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it." In Matthew 24:14, the Lord Jesus Christ said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." As you likely know, the word "gospel" essentially means "good news." You don't have to exhaust yourself trying to satisfy God through "good works" to be saved—the work was done for you. The words of Jesus in 24:13 include, "lawlessness will abound," which we see in the daily news. Missionaries have gone to the whole world, physically and electronically, and this is indeed a time of great lawlessness. Soon the "ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord." We will have the joy of worshiping Him, seeing Him, serving and declaring His righteousness. We are safe, we are saved, for "He has (done) it."
Lord, thank You for what You have done for me! I love You. I confess my sins to You, though You know them personally. Forgiveness is mine because of You. I am saved. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.