Psalm 22 is one of the most remarkable psalms ever written. Although this psalm was written 1000 years before Christ’s death, it describes in detail not only the manner and details of His death, but the exact words He would speak and the exact words His enemies would speak. 500 years before crucifixion was even invented David describes it perfectly. Although written by David this Psalm goes so far beyond anything that David suffered that many modern scholars try to attribute it to other authors. However, this merely confirms the truth of this Psalm. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit David speaks of the rejection, death, and resurrection of the Messiah.
The heading of this psalm is literally “The Doe of the Morning.” It is in reference to a common tune that the people would have known. It was to this tune that the psalm was to be sung. The tune may have been named after the morning sacrifice, further pointing to the Messiah as the sacrifice that ushers in God’s mercies that are new every morning.
Forsaken by God
David prophesies here that the Messiah will cry out to God because God will have forsaken Him. In the midst of His greatest suffering, God will leave Him and not come to His aid. This fits perfectly with what Isaiah prophesies in Isaiah 53:4; the Messiah will be left to suffer by God. In fact, Isaiah goes even further to declare that God was pleased to crush the Messiah. Isaiah points out that his prophesy will not be believed by those to whom it will be delivered. A rejected and suffering Messiah was completely foreign to the Jews; even Jesus’ disciples did not grasp this idea in spite of Jesus constantly teaching them. However, the rejection and suffering of the Messiah is laid out plainly here.
Verse 2 tells us that the Messiah will cry out to God in both the day time and at night. This is clearly seen in Jesus spending the night in prayer before His arrest. He cries out for God to remove the cup from Him, yet as Psalm 22 tells us, God does not grant His request. Jesus cries out to God on the cross, yet God does not answer.
Faith in the midst of trial
David here prophesies that even in the midst of the Messiah’s spiritual and physical suffering, the Messiah will still maintain His faith in God’s goodness. He recounts all of God’s faithfulness to His people. When they cried out to Him He heard and delivered them. In spite of all His sufferings, the Messiah will commit Himself to God for deliverance. This is exactly what Jesus does when He says, “Into your hands I commit My spirit.”
Why would this take place? Why would God forsake His own Messiah? One thing we must remember is that just because something does not make sense to our way of thinking, it does not make it less true. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 were well known by even the disciples; however, because they could not understand them, they let their understanding of the work of the Messiah cause them to ignore very clear passages of Scripture.
The simple reason for the suffering of the Messiah was that the Messiah was to be a perfect sacrifice for sin. He would be the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29.) He would crush the head of the serpent by His own suffering (Genesis 3:15.) In doing this, God lays upon Him the iniquity of His people (Isaiah 53:6.) Our salvation is accomplished by the suffering and death of God’s Messiah.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is the cry of the damned in hell. The Messiah is made sin for us and bears the wrath of God for our sins in order that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21.) This substitutionary atonement is the bedrock of Christianity. Every story, every sacrifice, every prophesy points to this pivotal moment where the Messiah dies for the sins of His people and rises again defeating sin and death.
Do you believe in Jesus’ death in your place?
Do you approach the Bible with a humility?
Who do you need to tell of Jesus’ sacrifice?