Summary: A look at Psalm 22 first on the lips of the King of Israel and then on the lips of Jesus

Jesus the Suffering King – Psalm 22

Steve Simala Grant – January 5/6, 2002


One Solitary Life

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself...

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”

adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” ©1926 by the Judson Press.

Overview Series “Portraits of Christ”:

Goal – to focus us on Christ, as we lead to and through Easter, and to deepen our love for Him and obedience to Him. Being a Christian is about being in a relationship with God, my goal is that our relationship would deepen as we come to know Him better.

Psalm 22 – A Portrait of the Suffering King.

I want to spend a bit of time in the Old Testament, looking at how this book looks ahead to Jesus and draws us portraits in anticipation of Jesus’ coming. So this week we are going to look at Psalm 22, and next week in the book of Isaiah describing the “suffering servant,” whom Jesus later identified Himself as. Both of these find their fulfillment in Jesus’ death for us, which is the major theme of the OT looking forward to Jesus. The second major theme the OT paints is the prophecies surrounding the birth of Christ, and since we have just come through the Advent season and have touched, at least briefly, on these, we are going to look primarily at the OT portraits of Jesus’ suffering.

I’ve planned this series to carry us to and through the Easter season. And so I think it is fitting that we begin by looking towards the end – focused on the cross. Focused on what Jesus has done for us. And it is also very fitting that we gather around the Lord’s table as we remember the suffering and victory of Jesus on our behalf.

This Psalm provides us with a portrait of Jesus, even though it is in the OT and was written 1000 years before he came. So much so that it has been called “The Fifth Gospel.” No other Psalm is quoted as much in the New Testament, and it is the one on Jesus’ lips as he hung from the cross. So I want to look at this Psalm from 3 perspectives this morning as it paints a picture for us of Jesus The Suffering King: first in its original context, second as it applies directly to Jesus, and third as it speaks to us.

1. Psalm 22 on the lips of the King of Israel:

One of the key principles for understanding Scripture is to attempt to understand it in its original context. It is tempting to start with Jesus on the cross and then interpret the Psalm – and in fact I read a couple of sermons this week that did exactly that – they say for example that the “sword” in verse 20 is the Roman empire, which didn’t even exist when the psalm was written – and yet that is backwards. Of course we find the fulfillment of the prophecy in the Psalm in Jesus, but we can’t read back all the details of Jesus’ crucifixion into the Psalm and make it say things it doesn’t say. So I want to look at it first on the lips of the King of Israel.

As with most of the Psalms, we don’t have an historical situation to place them in – we simply don’t know what was going on that caused the Psalmist to feel the way he does. And since it is poetry, it is somewhat futile to try to re-create a situation from the content of the Psalm. For example this one talks about being surrounded by dogs and lions and bulls – so we could try to find a time in David’s life (the title ascribes the Psalm to David) when he was surrounded by wild animals and attribute the psalm to that experience. But since it is poetry, we should understand these verses as imagery, describing the Psalmist’s feelings of being trapped and in danger.

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Michael Stover

commented on Nov 1, 2006

Excellent sermon and application!

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