Psalm 22 is a powerful song of suffering and encouragement. The author must have suffered beyond what any normal person might experience or the author may have internalized the witness of someone else who suffered greatly. The introduction from verse one jumps off the page to grab ahold of the reader.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1 ESV
What is more is that these words are familiar and famous to many modern-day consumers because they were also spoken by Jesus himself while slowly dying on the Cross.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46 ESV
The weight of these words and those that follow in Psalm 22 are overwhelming. Walter Kaiser in his book Messiah in the Old Testament quotes from Charles Briggs a truth about Psalm 22 being “more vivid in [the] realization of that dreadful scene than the story of the Gospels”. If the reader would take a few moments dwell on Psalm 22 in the quiet of the morning I too think one might come to a similar conclusion.
So how is it that a song attributed to King David written 1,000 years before Jesus died on that Cross could be so vividly descriptive and accurate? Let us read a few more verses into Psalm 22 further adding weight to this question…
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. Psalm 22:16-18 ESV
35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Matthew 27:35 ESV
One may deny God and claim He is not real but unlike the ramblings of a Nostradamus prophecy Jesus himself is speaking to each of us from this Psalm. Hundreds of years before Roman crucifixions David pens the thoughts and mind of Christ while he is hanging on the cross. Overwhelming is the reality that God who created and controls time itself reveals to David the future salvation of mankind. Where there is a Creation there is a Creator and that Creator laid out before David the beginning, the middle, and the end. How blessed we are to be living within the great mercy of such a Creator.
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. 28 For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. Psalms 22:27-28 ESV
How can David conclude this Psalm of suffering and death with such a proclamation of a triumphant king if that king is so horribly forsaken and defeated? How can all the nations be ruled by such a Lord? Because David knows God is in control and in the same way God has rescued David in the past David knows that Jesus will be ultimately triumphant.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Psalm 16:9-10 ESV
David in writing this proclaims a resurrection, an uncorrupted king, of Jesus without the final awful finality of death. Jesus will be made alive and thus completing his work of taking my sins, our sins, on that cross. This is the good news, the gospel, of Jesus that Christians proclaim today. Jesus has the power to reconcile individuals with God and with their fellow man. Jesus was forsaken so that you do not need to be. So repent of your own ways and follow His call.
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Acts 2:29-32 ESV