To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.
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. 12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 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! ” (Psalm 22:1-21 ESV).
Psalm 22 is the beginning of a trilogy of psalms with the Holy Spirit joining it to Psalms 23 and 24. The despair of Psalm 22 gives way to the security of Yahweh the Shepherd in Psalm 23 and the imputed righteousness from Yahweh the King in Psalm 24. The truths expressed by David in all three psalms respectively drives away personal despair and provides eternal security in the LORD for the believer.
It is apparent that the suffering David experienced predicts the greater suffering Jesus Christ will experience while on the cross. David’s personal sense of abandonment by God (vs. 1-2) parallels the greater abandonment Jesus experienced on the cross. David’s physical suffering points (vs. 14-15) to the greater physical suffering Christ will experience on the cross. David’s keen awareness of his enemies (vs. 16-18) parallels the greater persecution Jesus will experience on the cross.
However, throughout the beginning portion of this psalm, David repeatedly speaks of trust in Yahweh, the sovereign LORD. He not only remembers the trust God’s people had in the LORD during their lives (vs. 4-5), but also the trust David had in his own life (vs. 10-11), and his trust in the LORD concerning the future (vs. 11, 19-21).
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “The Gospels tell us that on the cross, Jesus prayed Psalm 22 (Matt. 27:46). He endured true forsakenness—for a time—on the cross, the darkness at that hour showing the removal of the light of God’s countenance from Him. Our Lord’s fear in anticipating the cross proved to be justified (26:36–46), for He did not pass through any ordinary death. Instead, He bore in the place of His people the judgment of divine wrath upon transgression. John Calvin comments that the reason for Christ’s anguish was not merely death “but because there was before his eyes the curse of God, to which all who are sinners are exposed.”
During this Advent 2021 season, may each of us praise and thank the LORD for sending His Son to take our place on the cross and to endure the curse from God for our sin.
Soli deo Gloria!