A Suffering, Compassionate, and Victorious Savior (Psalm 22; Psalm 23)

Scripture reading – Psalm 22; Psalm 23

Our Scripture reading consists of two of the most beloved psalms in the Bible. Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm that presents us with a graphic portrait of Christ’s crucifixion, suffering, and death on the Cross. Psalm 23 is unquestionably one of the best known of all the psalms. A thorough study of each psalm is impossible in a devotional; therefore, the focus of this devotion will be Psalm 22. The brackets within the verses contain this author’s amplification.  HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Psalm 22 – The Suffering Shepherd

If you are familiar with the Gospel accounts of Christ’s death on the Cross, you will recognize the opening words of Psalm 22 as the very words quoted by Christ from the Cross (Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:34).

Psalm 22:1-2My God [Almighty God; my strength], my God, why hast thou forsaken [left; failed; abandon] me? why art thou so far [remote; distant] from helping [saving; delivering] me, and from the words of my roaring [moaning; cries; distress]?  2 O my God [Supreme God; the Godhead], I cry [call out] in the daytime [daily; by day], but thou hearest [answer; respond] not; and in the night season, and am not silent [still; quiet].”

Christ’s cries of sorrow to His Heavenly Father are found here.  Jesus would be betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and abandoned by His disciples. In the hour of His suffering, He not only experienced the physical pain of the cross, He also suffered the anguish of loneliness. God the Father had turned away, and Christ cried, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  (22:1; Matthew 27:46)

Why would the Father forsake His Son? Why so far away when His Son hung dying on the Cross?

A holy God would not look upon sin, and Jesus in His suffering had become “sin for us, Who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He was altogether sinless; however, He bore the guilt, shame, and condemnation for sin we all deserve…DEATH (Romans 5:12). Make no mistake, God heard the cries of his Son, but heaven was silent as Christ accepted the penalty of our sins (22:2).

Psalm 22:3 – “But thou art holy [completely pure and clean], O thou that inhabitest [dwells; sits; abides] the praises of Israel.”

David confessed the holiness of God’s character, and His worthiness to be praised (22:3). Whatever sorrows and loneliness the king might bear, he was confident God was altogether holy!  The God of Israel is faithful, and He hears and answers prayers (22:4-5).

The prophetic focus of Psalm 22 shifted to the shame and reproach Christ would suffer on the Cross beginning with Psalm 22:6 and continuing through to Psalm 22:21.

Consider briefly the humiliation of a cross (22:6), the derision Jesus suffered as the crowd scorned and derided him (22:10). The agonies of the Cross continued with the emotional agony of Golgotha. Jesus was abandoned (22:11), encircled by enemies who are portrayed as bulls and roaring lions (22:12-13). Notice the description of the physical suffering of the Messiah: tired and traumatized (22:14); thirsty and tormented (22:15); taunted by enemies that were portrayed as dogs. The very nails of the cross are portrayed as piercing Christ’s hands and feet (22:16-17). Even the parting of Christ’s robes is prophetically described as it would occur (22:18; John 19:23-24).

The prophetic scene of the Cross continues with Christ’s death portrayed in the words, “19But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. 20Deliver my soul from the sword; My darling from the power of the dog” [a portrayal of the Gentile soldiers, 22:19-20].

The closing verses of Psalm 22 end in a note of triumph, and with two invitations (22:22-31).

The first invitation was to Israel, “the seed of Jacob…the seed of Israel,” and was an appeal for the people to glorify and fear the LORD (22:23). Reminiscent of the thief on the cross, the Messiah was foretold as not rejecting the afflicted, nor hiding “his face from him; But when he cried unto him, he heard” (22:24). I believe this was a foretelling of the thief crying to Jesus on the Cross, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Jesus heard his penitent cry, and answered, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

The second invitation was a universal one to all nations, and all people of the earth. David wrote, “27All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. 28For the kingdom is the Lord’s: And he is the governor among the nations” (22:27-28).

Closing thoughts – One thousand years before the Cross, David penned in exacting detail this prophecy of a suffering Messiah (Psalm 22). Christ’s death fulfilled the Father’s plan for a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind. His glorious resurrection triumphed over sin and the grave, promising all who accept Him, forgiveness and redemption. Even the Second Coming of Christ is found in Psalm 22: Jesus Christ will come again, as Sovereign and Governor of the nations, and all will “bow before Him…and declare His righteousness…that He hath done this!” (22:28-31)

Hallelujah! What A Savior!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith