Psalm 22 (Part 1) – A Prophetic Psalm of the Cross

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Psalm 22 is so rich that a short blog post can only point to some of the spiritual treasures in these verses. This is part one of three blog posts a very important Psalm.

The ancient church made great use of the Psalms and of Psalm 22 in particular. Bernard of Clairvaux had this insight. He said, “Christ appears three times to the believer. First, in his coming to earth. Second, in final or ‘second coming.’ Third, in our daily opening of the Scriptures.”

Let’s seek the gracious presence of Jesus, as we worship our Savior with this Psalm.

My God, My God

Psalm 22 is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. You will recall that Jesus prayed these words from the cross.

Matthew wrote, “At about three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why did you abandon me?'” (Matthew 27.46).

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
I have cried desperately for help,
but still it does not come.
During the day I call to you, my God,
but you do not answer;
I call at night,
but get no rest.
(Psalm 22.1-2)

One of the reasons why the Bible is valuable is because it gives us permission to be very honest with God. Faith and obedience does not have to be blind faith and mindless obedience. The Bible allows us to have honest dialogue with God.

In three different ways, the speaker of this Psalm challenged God with questions about why he was silent during his greatest time of need. Even though he is in deep agony over the absence of God, he never turns away from a relationship with God. Three times, he calls God, “my God.” He is never going to leave the True and Living God for another god.

Trust Expressed

The speaker is a good historian. The word “trust” describes the relationship of Israel to God. Even though God seems to be absent, the speaker knows God’s character. God does not abandon his people, but saves and delivers them.

But you are enthroned as the Holy One,
the one whom Israel praises.
Our ancestors put their trust in you;
they trusted you, and you saved them.
They called to you and escaped from danger;
they trusted you and were not disappointed.
(Psalm 22.3-5)

There are many values in reading the Bible. One of them is to build a storehouse of thoughts about the activity and character of God. In one example after another the Bible describes his love, his personal nature, and his willingness to help.

As we pray these three verses, let’s commit to daily reading chapters of the Bible. That practice will build up in our minds a collection of images that show God’s love and willingness to help us. In turn, that will deepen our faith.

Meditation on the Cross

Some scholars believe that when Jesus uttered his cry of being forsaken from the cross, he was giving a “short-hand” version that included all that is contained in this Psalm. If that is so, we can be sure that the Psalm reveals the inner workings of Jesus on the cross as is presented nowhere else in the Bible.

But I am no longer a human being; I am a worm,
despised and scorned by everyone!
All who see me make fun of me;
they stick out their tongues and shake their heads.
“You relied on the Lord,” they say.
“Why doesn’t he save you?
If the Lord likes you,
why doesn’t he help you?”
(Psalm 22.6-8)

The cross was the most inhuman device of torture available in the first century. Our Savior hung beaten, bloody and naked suspended between heaven and earth. The King of all kings was viewed as nothing more than a worm.

He was taunted by religious leaders, Roman soldiers, the crowd, and the two bandits who were crucified beside him. Had the Father saved Jesus, he would not have been able to save us.

Isaiah captured this scene in his prophesy about Jesus.

He had no dignity or beauty
to make us take notice of him.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing that would draw us to him.
We despised him and rejected him;
he endured suffering and pain.
No one would even look at him—
we ignored him as if he were nothing.
(Isaiah 53.2-3)

Stay with Me

Jesus on the cross may say, “I am a worm,” but he is also able to say “my God.”

It was you who brought me safely through birth,
and when I was a baby, you kept me safe.
I have relied on you since the day I was born,
and you have always been my God.
Do not stay away from me!
Trouble is near,
and there is no one to help.
(Psalm 22.9-11)

Throughout all of eternity there has been a unity and a relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When Jesus came to earth to be our Savior, the connection with the Father was maintained. The Gospel of John shows Jesus to have an unbroken relationship with the Father throughout his life, until the cross.

Many scholars believe that the greatest agony that Jesus experienced on the cross was separation from the Father.

Separation away from a relationship with God is the judgment that every person who has ever lived on the earth must experience because of our sin and rebellion. To set us free from the effects of our sin, Jesus experienced the pain of separation from God.

Verse 11 is particularly troubling. We hear Jesus say, “Trouble is near, and there is no one to help.”

Again, Isaiah pictured the reality of that moment.

But he endured the suffering that should have been ours,
the pain that we should have borne.
All the while we thought that his suffering
was punishment sent by God.
But because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did.
We are healed by the punishment he suffered,
made whole by the blows he received.
All of us were like sheep that were lost,
each of us going his own way.
But the Lord made the punishment fall on him,
the punishment all of us deserved.
(Isaiah 53.4-6)

How to Use Psalm 22

This Psalm demonstrates why Jesus so deserves our worship. Please turn in your Bible to Psalm 22 and use the Psalm to contemplate what Jesus experienced to give us the opportunity to know God. Add to your reading the entire chapter of Isaiah 53.

As you read, seek a connection with Jesus. Tell him how much you love him and worship him for his amazing love.

May We Pray for You?

Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team that is happy to pray for you. Please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and notify the prayer team of your prayer request.

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