Scripture reading – Psalm 22

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Two of the most beloved psalms in the Bible are the subject of today’s Scripture reading. Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm presenting 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. This is the first of two Bible studies for today. (Reminder – The brackets within the verses contain the author’s amplifications of word meanings.)


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 were the words of Christ as He died on the Cross (Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:34). 


Psalm 22:1 – My God [Almighty God], my God, why hast thou forsaken [failed; abandoned] me? why art thou so far [distant] from helping [saving; delivering] me, and from the words of my roaring [moaning; cries]?


Jesus Christ’s cries of sorrow to His Heavenly Father were prophesied here. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him three times, and the disciples abandoned Him when He was arrested in the garden. In the hour of His suffering, He experienced the physical pain and shame of the cross and the anguish of loneliness. God the Father turned away from His Son, and Christ cried, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  (22:1; Matthew 27:46)

Why did the Father forsake His Son? Why was He so far away when Christ hung dying on the Cross? 


Psalm 22:2 – 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].

God, Who is holy, would not look upon sin, and Jesus became “sin for us, Who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Though Christ was wholly sinless, He bore the guilt, shame, and condemnation for sin that we deserve…DEATH (Romans 5:12). God heard the cries of His Son, yet heaven was silent as He accepted the curse and penalty of our sins (22:2).


Psalm 22:3 – But thou art holy [wholly 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 the king’s sorrows and loneliness; he was confident God was altogether holy!  The king reflected on Israel’s history and testified the God of Israel was faithful, for He had heard and answered the prayers of their forefathers (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 to Psalm 22:21.


Consider briefly the prophecies concerning Christ’s humiliation and suffering on the Cross (22:6) and the derision He suffered as the throng scorned and derided him (22:7-10). The Cross’s woes continued with Golgotha’s emotional agony as Jesus was abandoned (22:11). He was encircled by enemies portrayed as bulls and roaring lions (22:12-13).

Notice the physical afflictions describing the Messiah. He was prophesied as tired and traumatized (22:14), thirsty and tormented (22:15), and taunted by enemies portrayed as ravenous dogs (22:16). Even the nails of the cross were prophesied as piercing Christ’s hands and feet (22:16-17). The parting of Christ’s garments was prophetically described as it occurred (22:18; John 19:23-24).

The prophetic scene of the Cross continued 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 Triumph of the Cross and Two Invitations (22:22-31)

David vowed, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee” (Psalm 22:22). He then invited all Israel, “the seed of Jacob…the seed of Israel,” to glorify and fear the LORD (22:23). Reminiscent of the thief on the cross, David foretold the Messiah did not reject the afflicted nor did He hide “his face from him; But when he cried unto him, he heard” (22:24).

I believe Psalm 22:24 foretold the record of the thief crying to Jesus on the Cross and saying, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Jesus heard that sinner’s penitent cry, and promised him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

A second invitation was universal 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


Think about it–A thousand years before Christ’s death on the Cross, David penned in exact detail a prophecy of a suffering Messiah. Christ’s afflictions and death fulfilled God the Father’s plan for a substitutionary sacrifice for all sins. His glorious resurrection and triumph over sin and the grave promised all who accept Him forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life (22:26).

Even the Second Coming of Christ was foretold in Psalm 22. Christ promised He would come again, and the Scriptures reveal He will come as the Judge, Sovereign, and Governor of the nations. The people and nations of the earth will “bow before Him…and shall declare his righteousness Unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this” (22:28-31). 

Hallelujah! What A Savior!

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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