PSALM 22:1-21—CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION
Now we come to Psalm 22. In order to understand this Psalm, we must realize that it is one of a group of three Psalms concerning Christ—Psalms 22, 23, and 24. What a tremendous improvement these three Psalms represent. They predict Christ in an excellent and orderly sequence: firstly His death, then His resurrection, then His shepherding after His resurrection, and eventually His coming back. Thus there are four items in these three Psalms: the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the shepherding of Christ, and the return of Christ as the King. It is marvelous!
Furthermore, in order to understand these three Psalms, we must keep in mind all the preceding Psalms concerning Christ—Psalms 2, 8, and 16. We have seen that Psalm 2 presents a summary concerning Christ in principle. Then Psalm 8 adds something more—His incarnation, ascension and enthronement. Next, Psalm 16 reveals His life on this earth, how He died and was resurrected, and how He was installed at the right hand of God with pleasures forevermore. How good it is! But still the account is not so complete and clear. It is given bit by bit, something here and something there; something added, and then something more added. We have Psalm 2, Psalm 8, and then Psalm 16. Now we have Psalms 22, 23, and 24.
I especially encourage all the young ones to memorize all these Psalms concerning Christ, not only Psalms 2, 8, and 16, but also Psalms 22, 23, and 24. The older ones can memorize at least the main points of these Psalms. This will not put you to death; there is resurrection life within these Psalms.
Psalm 22 is divided into two sections: verses 1 through 21 compose the first section, while verse 22 to the end of the Psalm is the second. The first part speaks of the crucifixion of Christ, and the second section of His resurrection. It is so clear.
In the entire Bible, not another passage relates the crucifixion of Christ in so much detail as the first section of Psalm 22. The Psalm begins, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In Matthew 27:46 we hear Christ speaking these words. These are not only the opening words of this Psalm, but also the first words of Christ on the cross. Christ spoke seven sentences from the cross, and this one is the first.
Verse 6 says, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” This was fully fulfilled when Christ was put upon the cross. It was there that people despised Him; it was there that He became a reproach to all the people. Now verse 7: “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head.” In Matthew 27 and Mark 15 we see the same thing; the fulfillment is there. Then verse 8: “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” This is exactly what took place at the cross. The chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him” (Matt. 27:43).
Verse 12: “Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.” So many leaders were there around the cross, just like the strong bulls. Verse 13: “They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.” In verse 14 we see a vivid picture of the crucifixion. At that time Christ cried, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.” While He was on the cross, the very weight of His body caused all His bones to be out of joint. “My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” This is why He said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). Verse 15: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” He was burnt, He was consumed by the holy fire of God on the cross. Verse 16: “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” This was exactly enacted on the cross. Now verses 17 and 18: “I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Matthew 27, Mark 15, and John 19 record the fulfillment of all these things. Finally, verses 20 and 21: “Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” Undoubtedly this was the cry of Christ unto the Father; and this cry was answered. We will see the answer in the next chapter: He was resurrected; He was delivered out of death.
Now you may see how Psalms 2, 8, 16 and 22 unfold little by little the Christ of God. There is no other book in the Old Testament which presents the things of Christ in so much detail as the Psalms. When we have completed the entire book, you will have a full picture of Christ, a picture which is even more clear and complete than the New Testament.
Oh, how much we need to see Christ in the Psalms! This is just the beginning; later, after the first book, we will see the preciousness, the sweetness, and the enjoyment of the house of God through the real experiences of Christ.
(Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)