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051 More lessons from the Psalms – Psalm 22

‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?’ Psalm 22:1

Key Verse:

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man”

Hebrews 2:9

(Psalm 22)

In the last lesson we examined the first two chapters in the book of Psalms. It would be great if we had time to read and discuss every chapter in the Psalms–but since the book of Psalms contains one hundred and fifty chapters, that will not be possible.

However, before we close the book of Psalms, we would like to study with you another hymn that God put into the mind of David:

Psalm twenty-two.

This Psalm is very important, because it predicts how the Messiah would die in agonising pain to pay the debt of sin for all the children of Adam. In this chapter, David, who preceded the Messiah’s coming by

one thousand years,

prophesied some thirty events which would take place

on the day that the Messiah was to die.

When we read the Gospel which contains the story of the Messiah, we will see that everything took place

exactly as God’s prophet, David, had predicted.

Thus, we can be certain that this Psalm did not come from the mind of man, but from the mind of God.

Only God can predict the future with such precise accuracy.

Now let us see what the prophet David wrote in the twenty-second Psalm one thousand years before the Messiah was born. In this chapter, David wrote the thoughts which would be in the mind of the Messiah on the day He would shed his blood as a payment for sin. He said: (Psalm 22:1,3,6,14-16) “My God, my God,

why hast thou forsaken me?

Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? … But thou art holy, O thou who inhabitest the praises of Israel … But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people … I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint:

my heart is like wax; it is melted within me. 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. For dogs have encompassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me;

they have pierced my hands and my feet”.

Let us pause here briefly. Did you grasp what the prophet David wrote about the Messiah? One thousand years before the Messiah came into the world, David writes: “the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they have pierced my hands and my feet” With these words David predicted how the sons of Adam would pierce

the hands and feet

of the Messiah by nailing Him to a cross. Why did the prophet David write in the Psalms that evil men would pierce the Messiah’s hands and feet? Why should the Messiah die

such a painful death?

Why would God allow men to murder the holy Redeemer whom He sent? The Word of God gives us the answer. It was necessary for the Redeemer to suffer agonizing pain and die such a horrible death, so that

He might take our place

and bear for us the punishment of God. Since the payment of sin is death and eternal condemnation in hell, it was necessary that the Messiah taste the torments of hell which we deserve because of our sin. God, in His grace, planned to send the Redeemer who was

unstained by sin,

so that He might, of His own free will, 

“taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)

This is how God could open for the children of Adam a way of forgiveness from sin and a door to eternal life, and still remain righteous!

The Messiah would pay the penalty for our sins.

The death of the righteous Messiah is the reason that God, the Righteous One, can judge as righteous everyone who believes in Him.

What the prophet David wrote concerning the Messiah’s death is truly amazing.

Think of it!

One thousand years before the Messiah’s birth, David wrote in detail how the Messiah would suffer upon the cross to which He would be nailed. Perhaps what we need to understand and remember is this:

The Romans

are the ones who devised nailing a person to a cross–that painful death called crucifixion. Yet when David wrote about it in the Psalms, the nation of Rome did not yet exist and nobody knew about putting a person to death in this way, that is, by crucifixion; by nailing him to a cross. However, God put the message of the Messiah’s death on a cross in the mind of David, and inspired him to write it in the Psalms, so that we might know for sure that the Messiah’s death upon the cross was

God’s plan

to save us from the penalty of our sin.

The truth which this chapter contains is perfectly clear, and we should pay attention to it. However, it is not everyone who accepts this message from God. To this day, some contradict what God’s prophet, David, wrote in the Psalms concerning the Messiah’s death on the cross. They say, “God would not allow the Messiah to die such a painful death!” But

those who say this are ignorant

of the Scriptures of the Prophets and God’s plan to save sinners. Dear friends, be careful not to ignore God’s way of salvation! The proverb says,

“Before you know it, ignorance will kill you!”

And God’s Word says, 

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3) 

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God!” (1 Cor. 1:18)

Now let us look farther at what David wrote concerning the circumstances of the Messiah’s death on a cross. We hear how the Messiah says: (Psa. 22:1,7-8,14-18) “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? … All

they who see me laugh me to scorn;

they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, he trusteth on the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him …

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd (sun-dried clay), and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have encompassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they have pierced my hands and my feet. I may count all my bones; they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture”.

With these words, David was predicting that after men nailed the Messiah to the cross, they would insult Him, mock Him, stare at Him and divide his garments between them

and cast lots for his clothes.

This is exactly what happened one thousand years after David wrote it. Listen to what is written in the Gospel concerning the death of the Messiah. The Scripture says: “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots …and sitting down they watched him there …and they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying …

if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

Likewise also the chief priests, mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others;

himself he cannot save.

If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:35,36,39,40-43) Thus the Gospels record how the words of God’s prophet, David, were fulfilled.

We also read that David predicted that

the Messiah would thirst and suffer greatly

in His body and in the depths of His soul and spirit. That is why the Messiah cries out in the first verse saying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” When we study the Gospel, we will see that everything happened

exactly as David predicted

in this Psalm. Why did the Messiah cry out on the cross, saying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Because God is “the Holy One” (Psa 22:3), and cannot tolerate sin. God Himself had to turn His back on the Messiah who was nailed to the cross, and separate Himself from Him, because

God laid on Him the punishment for all our sins.

That is why the Scriptures say: 

“For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21)

God be praised, there is something else that the prophet David predicted in the Psalms—some

very good news!

In chapter 16, David writes of the Messiah, saying: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in death, neither wilt thou permit thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life” (Psa. 16:10,11) In this way David predicted how God planned to raise the Messiah from the grave, so that

whoever believes in Him,

might live with Him in the holy presence of God forever! Thus, the Gospel declares: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures . . . He was buried, and He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures!”      (1 Cor. 15:3,4). David also predicted that after the Messiah rose from the dead,

God would take Him up to heaven,

and tell Him to sit at His right hand, until He returns to judge the people of the earth. That is what David wrote when he says: “The LORD says unto my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.’” (Psa. 110:1)

In the end of chapter twenty-two, David writes: (Psalm 22:27,30,31) “All the ends of the earth shall remember

and turn unto the Lord;

and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee … a seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this”.

This Psalm concludes with these words: he hath done this!”

What would the Messiah do?

He would die in the place of all sinners! He would fulfil all that God had promised Adam and Eve concerning the Redeemer who would save them and their descendants from the penalty of their sin. The Messiah would die as the final sacrifice. Through His death on the cross,

the Messiah would fulfil

and take away the animal sacrifices which God required from sinners in earlier times. Like the ram that died in the place of Abraham’s son, the Redeemer would die in the place of sinners as the final and perfect Sacrifice—for all—forever! This is God’s Good News to the world:

The Messiah died in your place!

Believe in Him and you will be saved from God’s judgment! The way of salvation is wide open to all who believe it. That is why, just before the Messiah died, He cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) He hath done this!” (Psa. 22:31) And

God confirmed the Messiah’s perfect sacrifice

by raising Him from the dead on the third day! We will see all this in detail when we study the book of the Gospel. Meanwhile, may we remember this: One thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the prophet David predicted that sinners would pierce the Messiah’s hands and feet! And let us not forget the reason for the Messiah’s painful death. He died for you and for me, and

for all sinners,

so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life! The Messiah allowed wicked men to pierce His hands and His feet because of His desire to do the will of God — and because of

His great love for you and me!

Listen to what Jesus the Messiah says in the Gospel: 

I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my father” (John 10:17,18)

Dear friends,

are you thanking and praising God

for sending the Messiah to save you from your sins? The Holy Scripture says: “Christ also suffered for us … who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins,

should live unto righteousness;

by whose stripes ye were healed …who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification … so that whoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (1 Peter 2:21,24; Romans 4:25; John 3:16)

May God make clear to you everything we have studied in this lesson. God willing, in our next lesson, we will continue in the Holy Scriptures and move on to the story of David’s son, Solomon.

God bless you as you consider why He inspired the prophet David to foretell these words of the Messiah: 

“They pierced my hands and my feet!” (Psa. 22:16)

We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any questions that you might have