Psalm 22: It all comes together in Jesus

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Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
    and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

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;
13 they 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!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!

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.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

Still Standing – A Study of a Roadside Tree #8: To One Side | Outside Elgin, TX | January 2023

My son one time made a comment that he intended as a bit of constructive criticism. “Dad,” he said, “whenever you preach, no matter what you talk about you always end up talking about Jesus.” Maybe he was concerned that I was letting people off the hook too easily. Perhaps he was wondering if I was too narrowly focused. Could be that he was simply making an observation. Whatever the case, I used it as a teaching moment (not that I couldn’t learn something from my 18 year old son!).

“That’s intentional,” I told my son. “Jesus is the center of our theology. He’s the fulfillment of all Scripture. He is the ultimate answer to our greatest needs. We’re all about Jesus – us Lutherans.” Well maybe I didn’t say exactly that, but it’s the essence of what I believe and why – no matter what topic I’m preaching on – I end up at Jesus.

This psalm takes us to Jesus. In fact there are those commentators who will hardly speak of David’s part in the context or substance of this psalm. I find it helpful to look at both. David wrote it, and surely his life is testimony to the fact that there were many times he could have prayed this prayer. David was a man after God’s heart. But he was also a fallen sinner. Adultery, deceit, murder, false witness, and pride marred him. But just like this psalm’s swings from agony to glory, he was a man who also gave highest praise to God, and was seen as the greatest king of Israel. In fact the Messiah would be called the Son of David.

And so Jesus was. Son of David is a messianic title. Matthew’s genealogy (Matthew 1) identifies Jesus as the Son of David. The two blind men call out to Jesus, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” (Matthew 9:27) A Canaanite woman cries out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” (Matthew 15:22) On Palm Sunday the crowds called out, shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

The imagery of suffering and torment in this psalm surely reflects that of Jesus on the cross: bones out of joint, pierced hands and feet, lots cast for his clothing, people mocking him. Jesus endures this for us because of his love for his Father and for us and all sinners. He perfectly fulfills all this – not just symbolically. I don’t know of a situation when David’s hands and feet were pierced, but Jesus’ certainly were – literally. Jesus also fulfills this most telling of hope’s expression:

30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

Thanks be to God that he has done it. Whenever we are facing severe suffering and distress, we can look with Jesus to a day of redemption and the consummation of his salvation. I like to put it this way:

  • We have been saved when Jesus lived, suffered, died and rose from the grave.
  • We are being saved by God’s grace daily as he gives us the Holy Spirit and protects us from the Evil One.
  • We will be saved when Jesus comes again at the end of all time to judge the living and the dead and gives to all who believe eternal life.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 22 and all Old Testament promises and prophecies. I all comes together in him.

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