Summary: Psalm 22 is written to reveal the PROPHECY, AGONY and VICTORY of the cross. It is a great Psalm teaching us about the sovereignty of God in His provisions for man.
Introduction – Trilogies have an interesting take on life. I remember when the Star Wars trilogy came out when I was a young adult. My sons really looked forward to the completion of the prequel trilogies when they hit the silver screen. We enjoyed all of the Back to Future, Batman, Lord of the Rings and Bourne trilogies together. God has given us an interesting set of trilogies in Psalms 22-24. Here we find God completing the work of redemption for man in these three Psalms.
As we examine Psalm 22, let’s understand that this Psalm is written 1,000 years before the crucifixion of our Savior and 500 years before the cross was invented. Yet, God in His wisdom uses the horrible instruments of man to accomplish His work of redemption.
THE PROPHECY OF THE CROSS (1-8)
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? Why…Why…”
The words that the Savior cries out on the cross reveal the prophecy and accuracy of God’s Word. We see three aspects of this prophecy. First, we see the SEPARATION of Jesus in verses 1-2. The Son cries on the cross because the Father does not hear. Jesus pleads with Him, “why…why?” He is separated because He became our sin. Second, we see the ALIENATION of Jesus in verses 3-5. He looks back at the deliverance of His people but it is not to be for Him. He becomes our sacrifice. He is our scapegoat. Then, we see the HUMILIATION of Jesus in verses 6-8. He has become a worm or tolah. This specific word is used because it notes the crushing of the tolah, a red blooded worm, to be applied to the garments as a red dye. He is crushed on our behalf that His blood may be applied to us that we might be made righteous. Notice that He is also a reproach and ridiculed among the people. He was shamed and humiliated on our behalf.
Henry Morris describes the tolah worm in this manner: "When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might ’bring many sons unto glory’ (Hbr 2:10)! He died for us, that we might live through him! Psa 22:6 describes such a worm and gives us this picture of Christ. (cf. Isa 1:18)" (Henry Morris. Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Baker Book House, 1985, p. 73)
Illustration – How shall we know him?
An African prince was visiting the African settlement at the St. Louis Exposition many years ago. He was clad in citizens’ clothes, and the people from Africa appeared in their native costumes. When this stranger proclaimed himself a prince, they ridiculed him.
However, an aged man said, "I can tell whether you are a prince of the royal blood"; and when he ran his fingers down the back of the neck of the one who claimed to be a prince and found the scar that was there, the mark of his royalty, he fell upon his knees with all the others to worship him.
Jesus Christ stands before us as the Lamb that had been slain; there are scars in His hands and feet, in His side and back and on His blessed brow. He is our Redeemer. We shall know Him because He alone suffered what all of us deserve but only what He received. (J. Wilbur Chapman, Great Preaching on Salvation, Sword of the Lord Publishers, p. 160)
So we move from the prophecy of the cross to…
THE AGONY OF THE CROSS (9-21a)
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint”
I do not believe there was ever any event like the crucifixion of Jesus. It is here we witness three events. We witness the INDIGNITY of mankind. In verses 9-13, Jesus has placed His life in the hands of God. From the innocence of childhood into full manhood, Jesus experiences the ravages of a hate-mongering crowd. Naked, beaten, bloodied, humiliated and crucified, Jesus was exposed to the pagans and unbelievers of society. He compares them to bulls and lions. In this we witness secondly, the INHUMANITY of mankind. It is in verses 14-18 that we feel the pain of what Jesus is going through for our souls. This description was written 1,000 years before the cross was invented and yet the Romans perfected it as a tool for torture, pain and death. The following is a description of the crucifixion but it cannot describe the excruciating pain Jesus experienced on the cross that day.