Category Archives: PSALM 22

The psalmist foretells the sufferings of Christ on the cross, and then speaks of the glories that follow.

Psalm 22


Survey of the psalm
The first part of this psalm gives us a little insight into the feelings of the Lord Jesus as He hung upon the cross of Calvary.  We are privileged to learn somewhat of what He was thinking during the hours of darkness, over which the gospel writers pass in silence.  We know the psalm is about Him because He spoke the words of verse 1 about Himself, Matthew 27:46.  The psalmist said elsewhere that “The Lord forsaketh not His saints”, Psalm 37:28, so of none in the Old Testament can Psalm 22 be written; it is unique to God’s Son. 
In the second half of the psalm we are given insight into the ever expanding glories that result from His death  So the psalm can be seen as an illustration of the apostle Peter’s words when he wrote about “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow”, 1 Peter 1:11.  The expression “the sufferings of Christ” does not just mean the sufferings that Christ endured, but more than this, the sufferings that He was appointed to endure, for they pertained to Him and no other.  It was God’s purpose that the Christ, or Messiah, should suffer in a certain way, and so it came to pass.  His unique person gives character to His unique sufferings.  And they yield unique results.
These sufferings were testified beforehand by the Holy Spirit, the apostle assures us, so we learn they were set out in the Old Testament.  In the books of Moses we find the foreshadowing of the sufferings in the sacrifices that were offered, whether it be the sacrifice in Eden, Genesis 3; Abel’s, Genesis 4; Abraham’s, Genesis 12, 15, 22; or the offerings upon the altar in the court of the tabernacle and outside the camp as detailed in the book of Leviticus.  In the Psalms we have the feelings of the sufferings, as in poetic form the trauma of Calvary is expressed.  In the prophets we have the foretelling of the sufferings, in such passages as Isaiah 53.  When we come to the New Testament, we have the fact of the sufferings in the accounts in the four Gospels, and then the forth-telling of the meaning of it all in the Epistles. 
Thus it is no surprise that when He was telling the meaning of Calvary to the two on the Emmaus Road, the Saviour “beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself”, Luke 24:27.  And later on that day He said, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day”, verse 46.  He also asked in verse 26, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and enter into His glory?”  Many Jews only believed the prophecies about the glory of the Messiah, and ignored the sufferings, hence they did not believe all the prophets had spoken, only some.  The Lord Jesus explained in verse 46 that the Messiah ought to suffer, (meaning He was under obligation to suffer), and only after that to enter into the glory of His kingdom.  What put Him under obligation was the determinate will and counsel of God, Acts 2:23.
It is important to notice that there is no specific notice of the death of the Saviour in this psalm.  It is everywhere implied, but is not mentioned.  It is true He speaks of being brought to the dust of death, but as we shall see when we look at verse 15, that does not refer to His actual death.  The emphasis throughout is on that which prevented Him from giving up His life in the way His Father had commanded.  His appeal for help is not so as to avoid death, but to die in the required way.

Structure of the psalm

The psalm is divided in general terms into two sections, verse 1-21, His sufferings on the cross during the three hours of darkness, and then verses 22-31, His glories, as known by an ever-increasing circle of people.

Verse 1(a)        The defining statement from Christ Himself.

Verses 1(b)-10        Cry for help on the basis of four things:
“Why art Thou so far from helping Me?

(i) Verses 2,3 The constancy of His praying.
(ii) Verses 4-5 The history of Israel at the Passover.
(iii) Verses 6-8 The mockery of the bystanders.
(iv)  Verses 9-9,10 The dependency on God He showed from the beginning.

Verses 11-18        Cry for help because of nine things.
“Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

(i) Verses 12-13 Strong bulls have compassed Him.
(ii) Verse 14(a) He is poured out like water.
(iii) Verse 14(b) All His bones are out of joint.
(iv)  Verse 14(c) His heart is like wax.
(v) Verse15(a) His strength is dried up.
(vi) Verse 15(b) His tongue cleaves to His jaws.
(vii) Verse 15(c) He is brought to the dust of death.
(viii) Verse 16 His hands and feet have been pierced.
(ix) Verses 17-18 He is stripped of His clothing.

 Verses 19-21        Cry for help to overcome four things.
“But be not Thou far from Me, O Lord: O My strength, haste Thee to help Me”.

(i) Verse 20(a) The sword.
(ii) Verse 20(b) The power of the dog.
(iii) Verse 21(a) The lion’s mouth.
(iv) Verse 21(b)  The horns of the unicorns.

Verses 22-31        The glories that follow His sufferings.



To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.

22:1  My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring?
22:2  O My God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
22:3  But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
22:4  Our fathers trusted in Thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.
22:5  They cried unto Thee, and were delivered: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded.
22:6  But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
22:7  All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
22:8  He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him.
22:9  But thou art He that took Me out of the womb: Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts.
22:10  I was cast upon Thee from the womb: Thou art My God from My mother’s belly. 

With these things in mind, let us, with “unshod feet”, reverently consider the words of this psalm.

To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.

To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar- the title of the psalm may not be inspired, (although we should remember that the title of Psalm 18 is, see 2 Samuel 22:1,2), but it is instructive.  We might be surprised to find it is dedicated to the chief musician, who was no doubt in overall control of the temple-music.  But there are sad songs and there are joyful songs, and this is both, for verses 1 to 21 tell of unparalleled sadness, whereas the remainder of the psalm is full of rejoicing.
Aijeleth Shahar is probably the tune to which the psalmist, (who himself was a skilled musician), wished the psalm to be set when it was sung in the temple services.  It is important to sing hymns to an appropriate tune.  A sad hymn to a happy tune is to be avoided, if at all possible.  We are to sing and make melody, Ephesians 5:19, so the tune is important. 
It is said that Aijeleth Shahar means “Hind of the dawn”, and this is fitting.  For in the psalm the gentle hind, (a clean animal, according to Deuteronomy 14:5, and therefore suitable to be used as an illustration of Christ), is hunted to the death, but then emerges into the dawn of resurrection.  It was indeed a new day that dawned when Christ rose from the dead, His sufferings for ever over.  (It is interesting to note that John writes, “The first day of the week, cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre”, John 20:1.  Then he refers to “the same day at evening, being the first day of the week”, verse 19.  So he reverses the natural order, for when God created the earth the order was “the evening and the morning”, Genesis 1:5, etc).  The Lord Jesus is the true Naphtali, of whom it is said that he was “a hind let loose”, Genesis 49:21, and God has loosed the pains of death for Christ, Acts 2:24, and He is set free, never to be hunted or bound again.  Jacob also said that Naphtali “giveth goodly words”, and this was true of Christ as He preached before the cross.  But our psalm says He will declare God’s name to His brethren, verse 22, so the goodly words continue in resurrection.  We remember that the Book of Acts speaks of all that Jesus began to do and teach in His public ministry amongst Israel, Acts 1:1, implying that He continued to do and teach through the apostles as they taught and wrote of Him.
A psalm of David- this means he was the inspired author of it, the Spirit of God using him to tell beforehand the sufferings of Christ.  We should remember that David was not only a king, but a prophet, Acts 2:29,30, and so is enabled to infallibly tell things that would come to pass.
There are some psalms that are of David in the sense that they pertain to David, being his personal experiences.  This one is not, for it concerns sufferings that pertained to Christ alone, as we have already noted from 1 Peter 1:11.  In confirmation of this, we find no confession of sin in the psalm, thus reminding us of one who is completely free of sin in word and deed, 1 Peter 2:22, in thought, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and in nature, 1 John 3:5.
But is also “pertaining to Christ” in a further way, for it is full of personal and possessive pronouns relating to Himself.  There are 52 in the first 21 verses.  So the psalm is intensely personal, the unique feelings of Christ on the cross are being expressed.  Whilst the main part of the sin offering was wholly burnt up, the fat covering the inward parts of the animal were burnt as incense on the altar of burnt offering.  This would represent the strong heart-feelings of the Lord Jesus that He had even as He suffered the wrath of God upon the cross.  He did not complain or rebel, but His trust and confidence in God remained intact.
Psalm 22 emphasises the experiences of Christ as He endured the wrath of God against sin in the three hours of darkness upon the cross.  As He hangs there, His mind ranges over things that were brought to His remembrance by the surrounding circumstances.  He is hanging there at Passover time; during the hour of prayer in the temple; whilst the choirs are singing the praise of God in the temple courts; having been mocked and reviled by those around Him, including the chief priests; having committed His mother to John’s care; guarded by the Roman soldiery; having experienced the piercing of His hands and feet; conscious that the final battle was yet to be fought against the one who had the power of death.  All these things were on His mind, and they find mention is some way or other in the psalm.
He ponders these things with His senses fully alert.  He was offered something to drink on three occasions whilst on the cross.  First, He was offered the drugged drink that the daughters of Jerusalem provided out of pity for those who were crucified, Matthew 27:34.  He refused this, after He had sipped it and found it was stupifying.  He would go into the experience of the cross with every sense alert.  His faculties were not dulled at all by sin, as with us, and He would endure the cross in all its horror without any relief from man.
He was offered drink again in mockery, as the soldiers held it near to His lips, and then withdrew it; repeating this many times to tease and taunt Him, Luke 23:36.  Then He was offered drink that He accepted, John 19:28-30, for His throat was dried, as our psalm describes, and He needs a clear voice by which to shout “It is finished” in triumph, and also to commit His spirit to God.

Verse 1(a)            The defining statement from Christ Himself.

22:1  My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me? why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring?

My God, My God- this is a declaration of dependence, as He endures the wrath of God in the hours of darkness.  God had always been His Father, for He was “that eternal life, which was with the Father”, 1 John 1:2.  He had become His God, however, when He was conceived.  Verse 10 of this psalm says this, for it reads “Thou art My God from My mother’s belly”.  It was when He became incarnate at His conception that His relationship with the Father was given a new dimension, and He can now begin to address His Father as His God, the one on whom He depended as a man.  Now that dependence is being shown to its greatest degree.
This expression is also one of submission.  When He came into manhood, Christ accepted the headship of God, 1 Corinthians 11:3, a relationship involving subjection.  Under the supreme trial of the wrath-bearing, will His submission falter?  The fact that it did not is clear from this verse, for twice over He affirms that God is still His God, and He recognises His claims over Him as His Son in manhood.  Adam in ideal circumstances was found to rebel and be insubject.  Not so the Last Adam.
Why hast thou forsaken Me?  Is there any final answer to this question?  Who can ever understand why it was the will of God that the Son of God should be abandoned of His God?  How can He who is “in the bosom of the Father”, John 1:18 be said to be forsaken?  Especially as the “is” of that quotation has the force of “ever is”.  It is a position that cannot be given up.  At whatever point we view Christ, whether in eternity or time, and even upon the cross, He is in the bosom of the Father, for this is an expression that tells of the unique relationship He has with the Father as His Only-begotten Son.
Psalm 22 presents to us the sin-offering aspect of the work of Christ at Calvary, beginning as it does with this cry as one forsaken of God.  Something of great moment must have happened if the Son of God’s love, His only-begotten, was caused to ask why He had been forsaken.  And indeed it had, for He had been “made sin”, as 2 Corinthians 5:21 declares. 
We are helped to understand this a little by reference to what happened when a sin-offering was brought in tabernacle days.  The sinner brought his animal, and laid his hands upon it, thus identifying himself with it, and acknowledging that he indeed was a sinner.  From then on, the animal was reckoned to stand in the stead of the sinner, and the man’s sin was attributed to it.  Whatever the sin deserved is inflicted upon the animal, and not on the man.  So it was that the offering is killed beside the altar of burnt offering, but is not laid upon it.  Its blood having been shed, and poured out at the base of the altar, it is taken outside the camp and burnt on the ground.  The fire of God’s wrath consumed it, so that in figure the sin was no more. 
Each of the vessels of the tabernacle was the support for something else.  The ark supported the mercy-seat; the lamp-stand supported the lamps; the altar of incense supported the censer; the table supported the loaves; the laver supported the water, and finally, the altar supported the sacrifices laid upon it.  So it is that the person of Christ is the support of His work, whether it be in the past, or now.  So the altar represents the person of Christ as the one who is able to undertake the work of sacrifice.  And the bringing of the sin-offering to that altar to be killed recognised that fact. 
But as we have noticed, the major part of the sin-offering was burnt on the ground, and not on the altar at all.  So the offering is disconnected from the altar, suggesting to us that in His sin-offering work Christ is dealt with as if He is not the person He is, for He is standing in as the substitute for others, and has been made sin.  He does not confess those sins as if they were His own, but He does have attributed to Him that which is totally contrary to Himself personally.  But since God is “of purer eyes that to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity”, Habakkuk 1:13, He had to turn away.  God says, “But your  iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear”, Isaiah 59:2, hence He must distance Himself from His own Son.
However, He is still the person He ever was, for the apostle Paul, when speaking of the purpose of God to bless us, spoke of Him as “He who spared not His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all”, Romans 8:32, so He was still His own Son, even though, as the sinner’s representative, and made sin, He was abandoned by God.  But it only lasted as long as the three hours of darkness, for after they were ended, He then said, “Father”.  The sense of desertion was over, for the sins had been borne.  It only remained for Him to die, and rise again, so as to introduce those who believe into the good of His death, in association with Him in resurrection.

Verses 1(b)-10        Cry for help on the basis of four things:
“Why art Thou so far from helping Me?

Why art Thou so far from helping Me- as a dependent man, the Lord Jesus could always count on the support of His Father.  The promise of the Father to Him was “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”, Hebrews 1:5.  These were words originally spoken about Solomon, 2 Samuel 7:14, but “a greater than Solomon is here”, Matthew 12:42; if the words were true of Solomon, how much more so of Christ.  In other words, in the world of natural relationships, all that a dutiful son may expect his father to be, in terms of support and resources, God had been to Him.  God had been His God, as He moved in lowly dependence before Him.  But He had been a true Son to His Father, and that gave great pleasure to God. 
We are often reminded of the contrast between God’s words to Israel in Malachi’s day, and His word to Christ on the banks of the Jordan.  In Malachi we read of God saying, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: If I then be a Father, where is mine honour?  And if I be a Master, where is My fear?”  Malachi 1:6.  As a result of Israel’s failure as a nation in this regard, (and remember it was God’s national son, Exodus 4:22), God went on to say, “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of Hosts”, verse 10.  How different was the scene at Jordan, when the word came, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased”, Matthew 3:17.  And He would go on to honour Him and serve Him faithfully. 
At the end of Malachi’s prophecy, God promises to spare Israel, “as a father spareth his own son that serveth him”, 3:17.  Yet we have already noticed the language of Romans 8:32, “He that spared not His own Son…” What has happened?  Certainly not a breakdown of the relationship between Father and Son; that could never be.  But a new situation has arisen, where the Son is standing in the place of sinners as the one made sin, and God’s attitude must necessarily take account of that.  So it is that the Divine help He was afforded during His life, seems now to be withdrawn.  That it is only temporary will be seen when we consider verses19-21. 
And from the words of My roaring?  We read of God that His arm is “not shortened that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear”, Isaiah 59:1.  But now it seems that in relation to His own Son, His arm is not stretched out to save when He calls for help; nor does His ear seem to be open to His cry.  It is not that His prayer is not fervent enough, for the expressive term “My roaring” tells of the most intense of cries.  If it were not be the fact that He has been made sin, His prayer would have been answered long before.  The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the strong crying and tears of the Saviour, Hebrews 5:7, and this is a prime example.

(i)    Verses 2,3    The constancy of His praying.

22:2  O My God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

O My God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not- notice the deep feeling expressed in the “O”; He is directly addressing His God, and pleading, not so much with the intensity of prayer as in verse 1, but the constancy of it.  As far as the clock was concerned, it was daytime, and He constantly appealed to His God, such is the reality of His need, and His confidence that His need could be met.  He is not asking to be delivered from the experience He was going through, but to be enabled to endure it.  He had said to His disciples, “The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11, so He was not desiring to be relieved of the suffering, but to be enable to pass through it with spiritual success.  And even though His prayer seemingly met no response, in reality it was otherwise, for He can say in verse 21 “Thou hast heard Me”.  So we are to understand “Thou hearest not”, as meaning “Thou gavest Me no indication that Thou wast hearing Me”.
And in the night season, and am not silent- although it was day as far as the clock was concerned, it was night as far as the supernatural darkness was concerned.  Scripture tells us of great darkness that came over the earth when the Saviour was hanging upon the cross.  Darkness within strictly confined limits, (from the sixth to the ninth hour, Luke 23:44), and therefore Divinely sent and controlled.  As a result, the sun was darkened, verse 45.  So the darkness was not that of an eclipse, (which cannot occur at full moon anyway), but was brought about by heaven’s intervention.  The sun was still shining, but the darkness intervened.  Is this not a parable?  The Sun of Righteousness was still shining in all the brightness of His glory, but the thick darkness of our sins clothed Him in sackcloth.
Whilst the Saviour was on the cross in the darkness, the priests were preparing to offer the incense at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour, Acts 3:1.  This incense was unique, for no man was to make its like, Exodus 30:38.  Yet this was only a symbol.  The true incense of prayer was offered on the cross, and there is no prayer like His.

22:3  But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

But Thou art holy- here we have the first of several “buts” in the psalm.  Each has its own shade of meaning.  They are as follows:
Verse 3    The “but” of the refusal of an unspoken, unacceptable alternative.
Verse 6    The “but” of contrast, for Israel had been delivered and He has not been, thus far.
Verse 9    The “but” of faithfulness, even though as yet not delivered, He continues on with undiminished trust in His God.
Verse 19    The “but” of an appeal.  Even though mine enemies are near, be not far.
Verse 24    The “but” of recompense, “when He cried unto Him, He heard”.

This “but”, therefore, is that of an unspoken and unacceptable alternative.  Faced with a situation of extreme trauma, when earnest prayers seem to go unanswered, many a saint might, if only for a fleeting moment, entertain wrong thoughts of God.  Not so this Holy Sufferer.  He banishes the thoughts before they arise.  For Him, to sin is not an option, and to doubt the goodness of God, even when passing through this situation, would be to sin.  But His holy mind will have none of it, and He immediately ascribes holiness to God.  By saying this He is safeguarding God’s honour, seeking God’s interests, and securing God’s praise, as the next phrase goes on to indicate.  After all, how can it be proper to praise a God whose dealings are less than holy?
O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel- the blood of atonement enabled God to dwell amongst His people for a further year, even though they in many senses were unclean, Leviticus 16:16.  Christ is conscious that His blood is that which will enable God to dwell with His people for ever, so He must go through with the work.  But there is more than that.  What if He failed God by attributing to Him wrong motives, or failure to help those in need?  How that would spoil the praises of the righteous, for as they were rejoicing in the righteous dealings of their God, doubt would be cast upon it if His own Son thought Him to be less than righteous.  Perhaps even as He hung upon the cross, the voices of the temple-choir drifted across the air.  How He would feel the fact that even whilst the worshippers were rejoicing in the courts of the Lord, He Himself was consigned to the desolation and loneliness of Calvary.  Their joy tried His soul in His sorrow.

(ii)    Verses 4-5    The history of Israel at the Passover.

22:4  Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.

Our fathers trusted in thee- as He thinks of the praises of Israel, He remembers it is Passover time, the celebration of the great deliverance from Egypt, when God had heard the groanings of the children and had come down to deliver them, Exodus 3:7,8.  How they had sung on the banks of the Red Sea!  That first recorded song in the Bible is testimony to the saving power of God when He delivers His helpless people.  And He is part of that people, a True Israelite, for He says “our” fathers, thus associating Himself with them.  Yet He is seemingly forgotten.
The fathers showed they trusted in God when they sprinkled the blood of the lamb in obedience to His word.  They had faith that God would protect them from the destroying angel of death, and rescue them from their situation.  But Christ trusts His God!  Yet He has no sense of being delivered.
They trusted, and Thou didst deliver them- note in these two verse the repetition, as if the matter is constantly occupying His mind.  Their trust was not misplaced, for deliverance came.  He is sure that His confidence is not misplaced, (for to think otherwise would be to sin), but it does not meet with the same response as Israel’s trust did.

22:5  They cried unto Thee, and were delivered: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded.

They cried unto Thee, and were delivered- now the emphasis is on their cry, as before it was upon their trust.  They cried because they trusted, and they received the answer to their cry.  God said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them”, Exodus 3:7,8.  “Affliction…heard their cry…their sorrows…am come down to deliver them”.  Yet what of His affliction, His cry, His sorrows?  Where was the “come down to deliver” for Him?
They trusted in Thee, and were not confounded- their trust in God was rewarded, and they were not embarrassed by any delay in the deliverance.  Yet His deliverance was seemingly not at hand.

(iii)    Verses 6-8    The mockery of the bystanders.

22:6  But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

But- here is the second “but”, the “but” of contrast to the nation of Israel who had been delivered, and whose deliverance they were celebrating at that very moment.
I am a worm, and no man- thoroughly downcast, He thinks of Himself as worthless.  How can it be otherwise if God does not answer Him?  Do worms pray to God and get an answer?  He is no different to them.  He feels Himself to be like a senseless and low creature that no-one cares about, and which is trodden under foot of man without a second thought.  God gave Adam dominion over the creeping things, Genesis 1:26, yet here is the Last Adam likening Himself to a worm.  He has taken “made Himself of no reputation” to the ultimate degree.  He can surely go no lower than this. 
A reproach of men, and despised of the people- He was an embarrassment to the nation, and on that account despised.  But He was only these things because of their faulty view of Him.  If they only understood that He came to manifest God, and their reaction to Him was their reaction to God.  As He Himself said, “Now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father”, John 15:24.  And when He was reproached, it was that “the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon Me”, Romans 15:3.  That they did indeed reproach and despise Him is seen in the next verses.
22:7  All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn- this is the general summary of their attitude as expressed in the next phrases.  The Holy Sufferer thinks back to before the darkness came, and the way insults were hurled at Him.  The supernatural darkness had silenced them, but their words still hurt.
We are familiar with the cries of the Lord Jesus from the cross, but what of the cries to Him on the cross?  They are as follows:
“And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save Thyself.  If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross'”, Matthew 27:39,40. 
“Likewise also the chief priests, mocking Him, with the scribes and elders said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save.  If He be the king of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.  He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said ‘I am the Son of God’.  The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth”, verses 41-44. 
“likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save.  Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe'”, Mark 15:31,32.
“And the people stood beholding.  And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, ‘He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God’.  And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying, ‘If Thou be the King of the Jews, save Thyself'”, Luke 23:35-37.
There are no accounts of these things in John’s gospel.  It is as if John, who was present, could not bring Himself to relive the mockery of the one he loved. 

Putting these things together we can see that the mockery concerned His claim to be:

1.    Able to rebuild a destroyed temple.  This was a misunderstanding, for He had referred to the temple of His body, John 2:19-21.  They destroyed the temple of His body, and He raised it again in three days, for He had power to take His life again, John 10:18.
2.    Son of God.  Because He was truly the Son, He only did His Father’s will, for Divine persons do not act contrary to one another, John 5:19.  It was His Father’s will that He remain on the cross, so that is what He did.
3.    Saviour.  He had worked many miracles to save people from their diseases and their despair, but He never worked a miracle for His own benefit.
4.    Christ.  He had given every proof that He was the promised Messiah, as predicted in the Old Testament.
5.    One whose trust was in God.  This is clearly the case, for He was the man of prayer, the sign of reliance upon God.  Luke’s gospel emphasises this.
6.    King of Israel.  Matthew’s gospel especially gives His credentials as the rightful King of Israel.  The title is used sarcastically here, however.
7.    King of the Jews.  This is how the Gentile soldiers referred to Him.  The implication being that it was not worth being the king of such down-trodden and fanatical people.  What sort of nation is it that condemns its king to a cross?  The name Jew was only used after the nation had gone into captivity; it is a title of disgrace. 
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying- they add to their scornful laughter the barbed words of sarcasm recorded in the gospels, and the exaggerated wagging of the head as if bewildered by the claims He had made in His life. 

22:8  He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him.

He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him- what made them think this?  Perhaps His prediction before Caiaphas that He would come in the clouds with great glory.  Perhaps they thought He meant that was immediate.  When He cried “Eli” they thought He was calling for Elijah to help Him, Matthew 27:47.
These are almost the same words as were actually used by those who mocked Him at the cross, over a thousand years later.  They are heavy with sarcasm, for those who spoke them, the chief priests, elders and scribes, did not believe they were true.  They are words of malicious intent, designed to add to His sufferings.  The believer knows they are gloriously true, however.  He did trust in God; He was delivered, but not in the way the mockers thought; He did delight in Him.

(iv)    Verses 9-10    The dependency on God He showed from the beginning.

22:9  But Thou art He that took Me out of the womb: Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts.

But Thou art He that took Me out of the womb- far from causing Him to recant, and renounce His trust in God, their words of mockery only serve to lead Him to muse upon His trust in God, and reaffirm it.  His trust had been steadfast from the outset of His life in the flesh, and He is clearly resolved that it would continue.  He had been able to count on God when a helpless babe, and He can count on Him now that He is nailed to the cross in weakness, 2 Corinthians 13:4.  He is reminded of these things, for just a little while before He had made provision for the care of His mother, and now muses on the care she had showed to Him, as she served God by bearing and nurturing Him.  She was the means at that time of the Father expressing His care for Him.
Not only was the conception of the Lord Jesus unique, His birth was, too.  For no-one before or since has been born of a virgin.  That has great spiritual implications, of course, but it has physical ones as well.  In the wise providence of God the manner of conception ensures that birth is facilitated.  This was not the case with Christ, for He was conceived of the Holy Spirit.  He needed help in this, therefore, and that help was forthcoming.  It did not come from Joseph, attentive to Mary as he no doubt was.  He had no authority to step in here.  Not only must the virgin conceive, the virgin must bear a son, according to Isaiah 7:14.  She must be a virgin at both events.  So it is that by Divine power He had been conceived; by Divine power He was delivered out of the womb of the virgin.
Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts- He needed help after He was born, for Herod and his sword were ready.  The arrival of the wise men from the east was ordered of God so that by the time they arrived He had been presented in the temple, and was developed enough to be able to travel with Mary and Joseph to Egypt.  (Notice that the wise men come to “the house”, not the inn or the stable.  We are not told they came to Bethlehem.  Herod sent them to Bethlehem, it is true, for that was where Messiah was to be born, but that does not mean He was in Bethlehem when the wise men came, for God is preserving His Son from harm, Matthew 2:7-12). 
And even the expense of that journey into Egypt was defrayed by God.  When Mary’s child was forty days old, she brought the poor person’s offering to the temple, Luke 2:24.  After the wise men had visited, however, she had gold, frankincense and myrrh, just the very things that would fetch a good price in Egypt.  So it was that all the time the Saviour was preserved of God.

22:10  I was cast upon Thee from the womb: Thou art My God from My mother’s belly.

I was cast upon Thee from the womb- Christ’s trust went back further, even to before He was born.  We know from the account in Luke 1:41,44 that unborn children can respond to circumstances, and so it is here.  We know that Christ was confident that God would take care of Him when He was dead in the tomb, Psalm 16:9, and now the other extreme of His earthly experience is in view.  He trusted in God wholly, when He was unable to help Himself, either in the womb or the tomb.
(It is important to bear in mind that Scripture never makes a distinction between what we are before and after birth as regards whether we are alive.  The message Bathsheba sent to David said, “I am with child”.  She did not write, “I am with embryo”, or “I am with foetus”.  That an unborn child is alive is seen from Job 3:11, “Why died I not from the womb?”.  See also Exodus 21:22,23, where a woman with child is injured so that she miscarries.  If there is harm to the child so that he dies, then the penalty is death, so it is “life for life”, just as in conventional murder cases, verse 12).
Thou art My God from My mother’s belly- this defines the point at which God became His God.  He had always been able to say “My Father”, but to say “My God” He must become flesh, for this is an expression of dependence and trust.  This is not to imply that the Lord Jesus consciously prayed to God from the moment of His conception, for He was not in any way a prodigy, (for that would mean reputation, and He made Himself of no reputation), but it does assure us that in His nature there was no hint of independence.  Nothing of Adam’s self-sufficiency marked Him, for His nature was totally free from sin.  This had been ensured by the manner of His conception, so is relevant to the matters at issue here.

Verses 11-18        Cry for help because of nine things.
“Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

22:11  Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
22:12  Many bulls have compassed Me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round.
22:13  They gaped upon Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
22:14  I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels.
22:15  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws; and Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death.
22:16  For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet.
22:17  I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon me.
22:18  They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.

22:11  Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

Be not far from Me- having considered the total trust He has had in God from the very outset, He appeals to God for help in His current dire circumstances.  The climax of His cross-experience is about to come, and He seeks the help of God to pass through it with dignity.  He continues to pray to God even though, so far, He has had no response; such is His trust. 
For trouble is near- He appeals to God to draw near to Him, for two reasons- trouble is near, and His friends are absent.  His God seems so far away, but trouble is really near, represented by the forces of evil arrayed against Him around the cross.  They were the princes of this world, who crucified the Lord of glory in ignorance, 1 Corinthians 2:8.  But behind them all was the prince of this world, he who had the power of death, and who was present, for the Saviour had said, “the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me”, John 14:30.  He had found nothing that corresponded to him when he had tempted Christ in the wilderness, and had to leave, defeated.  But now he has come again, to seek to take advantage of the fact that the Lord is at His lowest point.  It is help in this situation that Christ is pleading for now.
For there is none to help- even if His disciples had all assembled around the cross, they could not have helped Him in His time of need.  He had prophesied that they would leave Him alone, John 16:32, and so it came to pass.  This was God’s will for Him, for the prophet predicted that lover and friend would be put far from Him, and His acquaintance into darkness, Psalm 88:18.  Even those who stood faithfully by the cross have been obscured by the darkness.

(i)    Verses 12-13    Strong bulls have compassed Him. 

22:12  Many bulls have compassed Me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round.

Many bulls have compassed Me- there is now an enumeration of those that represented trouble.  The bull is a clean animal, suitable to be used in the service of God.  This is a figure for the priesthood, who had clamoured for His death before Pilate.  They were ceremonially clean, but morally unfit for their office.  The one who was both clean and fit, was the one who was hanging on the cross as a sacrifice.  The Hebrew alphabet has symbols associated with each letter.  The symbol of the first letter, Aleph, is an ox, whilst the symbol of the last letter, Tau, is a cross.  We are reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many”, Matthew 20:28.  The ox serves its master in its life, and then may be offered as a sacrifice upon the altar, provided it had not been blemished in any way.  So it was with Christ; He served His Father well in life, and served Him well in death.  These bulls, however, are serving their own interests, for they have delivered Him to Pilate because of their envy, and Pilate knows that, Matthew 27:18.  They had seen Christ as a threat to their position and prestige, and now they surround Him to ensure that He does not escape.
Strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round- the priesthood had great power and influence as leaders of the people in the absence of a proper king.  They were certainly strong.  As another psalm says, “they that would destroy me, being My enemies wrongfully, are mighty”, Psalm 69:4.  Bashan was a region to the east of the Jordan, where the two and a half tribes lived who had rejected the land.  It is a place of compromise, being outside of Egypt, outside of the wilderness, but not in Canaan.  It was a place of lush
pastures, with its consequent fat cattle.  The priesthood had certainly grown fat.  They owned the stalls in the temple market, and profited from the sale of animals for sacrifice, and the exchange of money.  When the Lord Jesus purged the temple courts at the start and end of His ministry, He was striking at the heart of the centre of power in the nation, and exposing its hypocrisy.  No wonder they schemed for His death, and now think they have achieved it.  They have beset Him round, thinking they have cornered Him.  He is about to out-manoeuvre them however, for He will lay down His own life; none shall take it from Him, for He will lay it down of Himself, John 10:18.  This has not happened yet, so He stands in need of help.

22:13  They gaped upon Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

They gaped upon Me with their mouths- they did not have the authority to put Him death, so having handed Him over to those who would be able to do this, they have to be content with slaying His good name with their words. 
As a ravening and a roaring lion- the princes of the world are acting like the prince of this world, doing his work for him.  The Devil goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8.  He seeks to intimidate with his roar, and impress with his strength and ferocity.  He is ravening, too, seeking to tear to shreds the character of those he opposes.  He has met his match, however, for it the Lion of the tribe of Judah that is going to prevail. 

(ii)    Verse 14(a)    He is poured out like water. 

22:14  I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels.

I am poured out like water- we are now told of the things that render Him unable to help Himself, and why He must rely on His God.  To be poured out like water is to be near death. When the Israelites were oppressed by the Philistines, they expressed their helplessness by pouring water out before the Lord, 1 Samuel 7:6.  The wise woman of Tekoa said, “We must needs die, and are as water spilled upon the ground”, 2 Samuel 14:14..
Even in Gethsemane the Saviour said that His soul was sorrowful, “even unto death”, Matthew 26:38.  How much more so now, after the ill-treatment He has received, including the scourging, which was called “the first death”, and which some did not survive.  He feels that life is coming to an end, and yet it is not God’s will that men should take it from Him.  He needs help.

(iii)    Verse 14(b)    All His bones are out of joint. 

And all My bones are out of joint- here is another sign of helplessness, for every bone has been dislocated, causing intense suffering, and rendering any movement full of pain.  His bones may be out of joint, but they are not broken, for that would mean Scripture was not fulfilled.  John is careful to tell us about the soldier that broke the legs of the two thieves to hasten their death so that their bodies could be taken down before the end of the day.  But when he came to Jesus he saw that He was dead already, and so brake not His legs.  John assures us he saw these things happen, “And he that saw it bear record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.  For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, ‘A bone of Him shall not be broken'”, John 19:35,36.  This implies that His legs were not broken before, either.  The pathway of the Lord Jesus was intensely precious to God, and He ensures that it is preserved even down to the symbolism. 
As a shepherd, David had sometimes had to break the leg of a rebellious lamb that insisted on wandering away into danger.  After it had been kept close by the shepherd for a while, however, its bones would heal, and it could be given its freedom again, the discipline over.  David himself had been like that.  He had strayed into danger in the matter of Bathsheba.  But the Lord was his shepherd, and He brought him under discipline, so that in one of his repentance psalms David asks God to “make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones Thou hast broken may rejoice”, Psalm 51:8.  No such discipline was needed by the Lamb of God, whose walk so impressed John the Baptist, John 1:36.

(iv)    Verse 14(c)    His heart is like wax. 

My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels- this is a serious matter, for His heart-resolve is in danger of being affected.  The heat of Divine anger is reaching His innermost being.  Scripture says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”, Proverbs 4:23. 
Notice that the anger is softening Him, not hardening Him, as was the case with Pharoah.  When God afflicted him, it only served to make him harden his heart, Exodus 9:34.  The reaction of Christ is the opposite.  Yet He fears lest the end may come without Him having full control of His affections.  He had said, “That the world may know that I love the Father; and as He hath given Me commandment, even so I do.  Arise, let us go hence”, John 14:31. 
The Hebrews believed that the internal organs, (the bowels), were the seat of the emotions, and here the Sufferer is concerned, because His melting heart, (that is, His heart-feelings) is affecting His emotions, (His heart-responses).  He strongly desires to continue in undiminished affection to the end, that His laying down of His life may be an expression of that great love. 

(v)    Verse 15(a)    His strength is dried up. 

22:15  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws; and Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death. 

My strength is dried up like a potsherd- we have in this verse three more causes of helplessness.  This, is near-total exhaustion.  The harrowing and terrible pains of scourging and crucifixion have taken their toll, and the energy to survive is ebbing away.  The potter places his products in the oven to dry every drop of moisture from them.  Christ is in the oven too, the fierce heat of God’s anger against sin is directed at Him relentlessly, and it has taken its toll of Him.  But a potsherd is a piece of broken pottery, serviceable at one time, but now discarded as useless.  The Saviour is fighting against beginning to react as if He is past His usefulness.  In fact, He has a most important work yet to do, even the laying down of His life, and He longs to be strengthened for it. 

(vi)    Verse 15(b)    His tongue cleaves to His jaws. 

And My tongue cleaveth to My jaws- His act of dying will be the act of triumph over all the forces of evil.  He will cry with a loud voice, “It is finished”, and He will commit His spirit to God audibly.  The centurion is going to be impressed with the way He cried out, for he is used to victims either dying in silence, or else with cursings on their lips.  This man is so different, even to His last act.  But if He is going to cry out in this way, His throat must be clear, His tongue flexible and moist.  This is why He asked for a drink, so that His final words might be distinct and unmistakeable.  But would His request be granted?  He has already been taunted by the soldiers, as we have noticed, offering Him a drink and then pulling it away at the last moment.  His trust is that God will intervene and He will be given a drink.

(vii)    Verse 15(c)        He is brought to the dust of death.

And Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death- it is God’s determinate will that He die, He knows that, but it is also His commandment to Him to lay down His life, and He is appealing to be able to obey that on His own initiative.  He is so near death that He is almost on the edge of the grave.  Help needs to come very soon. 
Of course, as God’s Holy One He would not see corruption, Acts 2:27, but He will certainly “fall into the ground”, figuratively, John 12:24, and be “in the heart of the earth”, Matthew 12:40. 
It was customary for the crucified to be flung without ceremony into a pit dug at the foot of the cross.  Perhaps the soldiers are even now digging the pit, despite the darkness.  If so, dust fills the air.  But the prophet foretold that even though the Saviour’s grave would be appointed by men to be with the wicked men who were crucified with Him, Isaiah 53:9, in the event, by God’s appointing, He would be with the rich in His death, in a fresh clean rock-hewn tomb,.  By this means the burial place of Christ would be well-marked, and separate.  So since only one person was put in the tomb, only one person could come out.  The grave of Moses is unknown, but it is vital that the grave of Christ should be well-known.

(viii)        Verse 16        His hands and feet have been pierced.

22:16  For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet.

For dogs have compassed Me- here is another cause of concern, the encircling Roman soldiers, for they are in control of the situation, humanly speaking.  He is surrounded by Roman soldiers, standing guard over Him, such is the idea behind the expression “and sitting down they watched Him there”, Matthew 27:36.  He will ask to be delivered from the power of the dog in verse 20, for in a sense He is at their mercy.  During His ministry the Lord showed that He was ready to bless Gentile dogs, for the Syro-Phoenecian woman appealed to Him on that basis, and her request was granted, Mark 7:24-30.  But these are not humble suppliants; they are cruel executioners, charged with the duty of making their victim a public example.  We know that the centurion in charge of them was impressed with what happened when the Lord Jesus gave up His spirit, but that stage is not quite reached yet.
The dogs that roamed the streets in those times were untamed, unclean, and unrestrained, fit symbol of the soldiers as they callously went about their duties at the foot of the cross.  This reflects so very badly on the Jewish authorities who handed Him over to them.  As Peter charged them on the Day of Pentecost that they had taken Him and “by wicked hands have crucified and slain” Him, Acts 2:23.  They allowed the Gentiles free rein, knowing that their hands were lawless.  The restraints of the Law of Moses were nothing to these Gentiles.  No wonder the Lord told Pilate that “he that hath delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin”, John 19:11.  In other words, Caiaphas the High Priest was more guilty than Pilate, for as High Priest he was supposed to be in touch with God, making decisions in His fear, and ensuring that accused persons were given a scrupulously fair trial, but it was far otherwise. 
The assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me- it was the chief priests, scribes and elders who were amongst those who mocked Him whilst He was on the cross, Matthew 27:41.  They should have been in the temple courts, occupied with the praises of Israel, verse 3, but they prefer to mock the Son of God.
Jacob had prophesied of what would befall the tribes in the last days.  When he addressed Simeon and Levi he said, “Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.  O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they digged down a wall.  Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel:  I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel”, Genesis 49:5-7.  The matter which Jacob refers to in the past tense was the avenging by Simeon and Levi of the defiling of their sister Dinah by Shechem, a Gentile, as detailed in Genesis 34.  Simeon and Levi took it upon themselves to avenge this wrong, yet Jacob curses them for it.  He disassociates himself from their secret plan, and also their conference, as they planned the raid on the Shechemites.  Simeon’s name means “hearing”, and Jacob does not want to hear their plotting.  Levi means “joined”, and he does not wish to join them in their scheme.  He condemns them for having instruments of cruelty in their houses, ready to use against Shechem.  He condemns also their fierce anger and their cruel wrath.  They had slain a man, Shechem, and digged down a wall, for the protection afforded Jacob by his good behaviour had been destroyed, and he was at the mercy of his enemies.  As a result he predicts that they will be divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israel.  And this came to pass, for Levi was allotted cities throughout the land of Canaan, and Simeon was given territory surrounded by the inheritance of Judah, thus cutting him off from his brother.
But these things have a more sinister side, for it is the descendants of Levi, and those who “heard” them, the unthinking multitude, who are angry and cruel again in relation to the Lord Jesus.  The priests and the Sanhedrin had plotted and schemed for years to put Him to death, and now they think they have achieved their aim.  They hold their secret and illegal counsel in the darkness of the night, and condemn Him to death.  In their anger against Christ they seek to ensure His death, and the apostle Peter accused them of doing it, for he said, they “killed the Prince of Life”, Acts 3:14,15.  Unwittingly, they digged down the walls of Jerusalem, so to speak, for some forty years after the crucifixion the city of Jerusalem was destroyed.  The Lord Jesus had linked what would happen to His body when they destroyed Him at Calvary, with what would happen to the temple, John 2:18-22.  Their treatment of Him would be matched by God’s treatment of their temple.  They gave Him over to the Romans to crucify; God gave their city to the Romans to destroy, and in the process, crucify many thousands of Jews outside the city walls.
So it is that at the cross the instigators of the death of Christ assembled, and they are rightly called the assembly of the wicked. 
They pierced My hands and My feet- the “instruments of cruelty” have been brought out, the cross, the hammer, the nails, the club and the spear, and they have sanctioned the Romans to kill Him on their behalf.  Instead of handling the holy instruments as they attended at the altar, they minister in a most unholy way.  Crucifixion was a Gentile mode of execution, designed to inflict the maximum amount of pain.  One Roman orator said that it was the most degraded death that could be meted out to any man.  The Jewish way of capital punishment was by stoning, with the accuser casting the first stone, the rest of the people joining in, and then when the guilty person was fully dead, the stones heaped upon the victim as a testimony and warning to others.  The problem with this was that it was likely that the victim’s bones would be broken, and God was concerned that the body of His Son should not be fractured, in order that the completeness of His person and character might be preserved, in this way as in all others.  John is careful to tell us that not one of His bones was broken.
It is true that sometimes especially wicked criminals were hanged on a tree as an example.  But this was after they had been stoned, see Deuteronomy 21:21-23: Galatians 3:13.  So stoning was not an option.  He must be executed in some other way.  So it was that a few years before the crucifixion the right to capitally punish was taken away from the Jews by the Roman overlords.  (There was with one significant exception, for they were allowed to keep the right to execute a person who crossed the middle wall of partition in the temple courts, even if that person was a Roman.  This is why the apostle Paul was in such danger in Acts 21:29-31, even though he had Roman citizenship).  Thus God saw to it that the Scripture, “neither shall ye break a bone thereof”, Exodus 12:46, and “they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced”, Zechariah 13:12:10, would both be fulfilled. 
The words of this phrase may have also the sense “they are piercing My hands and My feet”, as if the Saviour is reliving, near the end of the hours of darkness, what had happened some six hours before. 
(ix)    Verses 17-18    He is stripped of His clothing.

22:17  I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me.

I may tell all My bones- we may be sure that, even though His hands and feet were pierced, His God had ensured that no bone had been broken in the process.  So it is that He is able to recount that fact in relation to every bone.  It is true that the word “tell” may be translated to number, but its main meaning is to recount.  Here the Holy Sufferer is able to recount that He had been preserved as to His bones. 
They look and stare upon Me- whilst the foregoing is gloriously true, it is also true that even whilst He considers the fact that His bones have been preserved, those same bones stare back at him, exposed as they are, not just by the removal of His clothes as detailed in the next verse, but also because He has been so fastened to the cross that His bones protrude, and can be seen through His skin.  Their very unbrokenness only serves to highlight their grotesqueness. 

2:18  They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.

They part My garments among them- reliving the experience again, the Saviour recalls that His garments had been shared out between the four soldiers.  This verse is quoted by Matthew and John, and alluded to by Mark and Luke, as having been fulfilled at the cross, but it is John that gives us the most detail.  He writes, “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.  They said therefore among themselves, ‘let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be’: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, ‘They parted My raiment among them. And for My vesture they did cast lots’.  These things therefore the soldiers did”, John 19:23,24.  His own raiment had been put back on Him after He had been mocked by the soldiers, Matthew 27:31, so the first action of the soldiers must have been to take off His garments in order to nail Him to the tree.  As soon as He was born, Mary with loving hands wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.  Now it is the day of His death, and rough hands strip Him, and lay Him cruelly on a cross.  As Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return thither”, Job 1:21.
But whilst men may deprive Him of His clothing, they cannot rob Him of His character.  Joseph’s brothers stripped him of his coat of many colours, dipped it in the blood of a goat and showed it to his father, deceiving him into thinking Joseph was dead.  But it was not so, for Joseph lived on, and the character which his coat symbolised continued.  So it is with Christ.  His garments, stained by His own blood, passed into the hands of sinners, but the value of His person, and His blood, endures.  His Father is not deceived, and fully appreciates what His Son did at Calvary in love for Him and His interests. 
And cast lots upon My vesture- special attention is paid to this item.  The four other pieces, the head-covering, outer tunic, girdle and sandals, were easily distributed between the four soldiers, but there remained one item over, His inner tunic.  Not knowing they were fulfilling Scripture, the soldiers cast lots for it to determine who would have it. 
And so it came to pass, and His last earthly possession was gambled for, and passed into the hands of His executioners.  When John writes “that the Scripture might be fulfilled”, we are not to think of that as meaning the soldiers did it so as to fulfil Scripture.  The point is they gambled for His coat to the fulfilling of Scripture. 
There were several things rent at the time of Christ’s crucifixion.  The high priest had rent his clothes when the Lord Jesus had asserted His Deity, Matthew 26:65.  This is the sign of the end of the Aaronic priesthood.  Then the veil in the temple was rent, verse 51. This is the sign of the end of the temple system. The rocks were rent, too, signifying the end of the old creation, verse 51 again.  The graves were opened, so they were virtually rent, too, for His death signalled the end of death for those who believe.  But His clothes were not rent, for His character lives on, and His blood-stained garments tell us that His character is forever associated with His sacrifice, and in eternity He will be known as the lamb once slain.
So comes to the end the survey of things that He needs to be saved from if He is to bring the work to an end in God’s appointed way.

Verses 19-21            Cry for help to overcome four things.
“But be not Thou far from Me, O Lord: O My strength, haste Thee to help Me”.


22:19  But be not Thou far from Me, O Lord: O My strength, haste Thee to help Me.
22:20  Deliver My soul from the sword; My darling from the power of the dog.
22:21  Save Me from the lion’s mouth: for Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorns.

22:19  But be not thou far from Me, O Lord: O My strength, haste Thee to help Me.

But be not thou far from Me, O Lord- here is the fourth “but” of the psalm, that of faithfulness.  Even though as yet not delivered, He continues on with undiminished trust in His God.  He is making His final appeal for help, in order that He may keep the initiative, and not allow wicked men to triumph.  Notice that the title He uses is “Lord”, whereas previously in the psalm it has always been “God”.  This is a name of God which tells of His constancy and faithfulness.  The word “Jehovah” which it translates, is said to be a combination of “He will be”, and “being”, and “He was”, thus indicating His unchangeable presence.  See Revelation 1:4.  So by using the name Lord, the Saviour is asserting His confidence that God’s faithfulness to His promises will be sustained.  He has been deprived of the enjoyment of that faithfulness, because our sins have interrupted it, but now the moment is coming when He will emerge out of the darkness into a full sense of the fact that the Lord is true to His promises.  When Eve was tempted, she began to use the word God, and abandoned the name Lord that she would have learned from Adam.  This was because she listened to the tempter, and he would not use the word Lord, being rebellious.  This tempted one is resolute, and He maintains His trust in the one who is Lord.
O My strength, haste Thee to help Me- His life had been lived in reliance on the strong God of Israel.  Even though He was Son, yet He, in dependent manhood, relied entirely on His God as His strength.  Never did He need that strength more, and He pleads that He may know it for the final conflict.  It is clear that He believes the end is near, and His physical strength is failing fast, and therefore asks for speedy help.

Verses 20 and 21 are the climax to the first half of the psalm, and explain to us what it is that caused the Saviour to pray for help.  What does He need help to do?  These two verses tell us.  They centre around the sword, the power of the dog, the lion’s mouth, and the horns of the unicorns.

(i)    Verse 20(a)    The sword.

22:20  Deliver My soul from the sword; My darling from the power of the dog.

Deliver My soul from the sword- God has put a sword into the hand of those who rule.  When God made a covenant with the earth after the flood, one of the terms was, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man”, Genesis 9:6.  The apostle Paul also spoke of these things when he wrote, “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil,” Romans 13:1-4. 
So power has been given to rulers to do three things: To execute those who murder; to punish those who resist their authority, (for those who do this resist God); to execute wrath upon the evil-doer. 
Now Pilate, representative of the power of Caesar as he was, had made decisions about two men.  He had convicted Barabbas of murder, insurrection, and robbery, Mark 15:7; John 18:40, yet he released him.  And he had, (against his better judgement, John 18:38), convicted Jesus Christ of insurrection, for this was what the Jews accused Him of before Pilate, with the words, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King”, Luke 23:2.  It was also the implication behind the accusation over the cross, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews”. 
Now if the death of Christ is the direct result of Pilate using the “sword”, then it will go down in the record books that He was an evil-doer and an insurrectionist.  The only way of avoiding this is for Christ to lay down His own life, thus keeping the initiative.  It was His soul that was delivered from the sword, for His soul-longing was to obey the command of His Father to lay down His own life.  He is not asking to be delivered from the sword of Divine Justice spoken of in Zechariah 13:7, for He was already suffering because that had been used against Him by God.

(ii)    Verse 20(b)    The power of the dog.

My darling from the power of the dog- we have been told of the dogs in verse 16, and here we meet them again.  There it was in connection with Him being crucified, as they pierced His hands and His feet, and gambled for His clothes.  Now they have power of a different sort.  The Jewish authorities would soon ask Pilate that the legs of the victims be broken to hasten their death, because the next day, that began at 6pm, was drawing near.  These Gentile dogs have the power to wield the club that will break Christ’s legs, and cause His almost immediate death, for He will no longer be able to push Himself up so as to breathe.
My darling is a translation of the word which is rendered “only-begotten” elsewhere, Genesis 22:2 for instance.  The word literally means “to unite”, reminding us of the Lord’s words, “I and My Father are one”, John 10:30.  Is this the Son calling Himself by a name which He knows His Father knows Him by?  And does that mean that the enjoyment of the Father/Son relationship is about to be resumed?  The relationship has been there all along, but the joy of it was withheld whilst Christ was made sin.  He is now anticipating the imminent resumption of that joy.

(iii)    Verse 21(a)    The lion’s mouth.

22:21  Save Me from the lion’s mouth: for Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorns.

Save Me from the lion’s mouth- we have been told of those who were lion-like, in verse 13, the princes of this world.  But now the prince of this world is mentioned, the one who the Lord Jesus prophesied would come.  We know from Hebrews 2:14,14 that this one had the power of death in Old Testament times.  This was because men had a sinful nature, and as such were in the domain of Satan, for the wages of sin is death, and they were in bondage to him because of their fear of death.  This is not true of Christ personally, but He is acting as representative of sinful men, and has been made sin.  Satan thinks he has power over Him, and asserts that power with his mouth.  In other words, accuses Him before God.  He is the accuser of the brethren, Revelation 12:10, and uses every opportunity and excuse to do so.  That Satan has not the power of death over Christ is true, but the impression will be given that it is so, unless Christ keeps the initiative, and is strengthened to lay down His life of Himself, and not through external pressure.

(iv)    Verse 21(b)    The horns of the unicorns.

For Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorns- despite not having received any answer to His pleadings thus far, the Lord Jesus is confident that His God has heard, and will answer at the moment of His choosing.  That moment is about to come.  The unicorn was a wild ox, and a group of such animals are here pictured as lowering their heads for the final charge at their victim.  We read of bulls of Bashan in verse 12, symbolising, we suggested, the ceremonially clean but morally unfit priesthood.  Here they are again, but this time they are exposed in their true character as wild, fierce and vicious.  They had already shown that to be the case, for we read that the chief priests “were the more fierce”, as they accused Him before Pilate, Luke 23:5.  Their fierceness is coming to a climax, for they are concerned lest the bodies hang on the cross after the end of the day, at the twelfth hour.  So they “besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away”, John 19:31.  Their request was granted, and the soldiers brake the legs of the malefactors, “but when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs”, verse 33. 
Unknown to the priests, the request of Christ had been granted, strength had been given Him, and He had not only cried “It is finished”, but had given up His spirit to God, John 19:30. 
So it was that He did not die by the sword of Caesar as if He was a malefactor; His death was not hastened by the Roman club; He was delivered from the mouth of the lion, and the horns of the unicorns did not impale Him and cause His death.  His trust in God had been vindicated, His work had been completed, and the sin-bearing was over.
The gospel writers are careful to document the time at which things happened at Calvary, so we know that the time from His crucifixion to the end of the hours of darkness was six hours, from the third hour to the ninth, Mark 15:25,33,34.  It was during this period, from the offering of incense at the third hour, to the offering of it again at the ninth hour, that the worshippers would be bringing their sacrifices, whether they be burnt offerings, meal offerings, peace offerings, or sin offerings.  Yet at the end of it all, there sounds out a loud cry across the temple courts, and amazingly, it comes from the Man on the central cross.  “It is finished”, He declares, or “It is fulfilled”.  The will of God expressed in sacrifices and offerings has been brought to its climax, and now, with a word, He “taketh away the first, that He may establish the second”, Hebrews 10:9.  And it is by that will that believers have been perfected by His one offering.  We see how important it is, then, for Him to have strength, not only to cry this cry with loud voice so as to reach the temple courts, but also to commit His spirit to God, laying down His life in wholehearted surrender to His Father’s will.

At this point the psalm divides, and the results of the work of Christ reach an ever-widening circle.  If the previous verses depict Christ being surrounded, and compassed about, encircled by the assembly of the wicked, the next verses show Him surrounded by those who love Him and trust Him.

Verses 22-31            The glories that follow His sufferings.


22:22  I will declare Thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.
22:23  Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him, all ye the seed of Israel.
22:24  For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when He cried unto Him, He heard.
22:25  My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation: I will pay My vows before them that fear Him.
22:26  The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek Him: your heart shall live for ever.
22:27  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee.
22:28  For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and He is the governor among the nations.
22:29  All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
22:30  A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
22:31  They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this.

22:22  I will declare Thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.

I will declare Thy name unto My brethren- in the context here, the name of God is His reputation for having delivered His Son from the power of the enemy.  In a wider sense, the idea is of Christ continuing to expound the name of His Father to those who are His brethren.  He said in His prayer in John 17, “I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them”, verse 26.  The apostles had beheld His glory, and that glory was that of the only-begotten of the Father, John 11:14.  By His coming into the world, the Lord Jesus secured a company of born-again ones, who had the capacity to appreciate Him in His relationship with the Father, John 1:12,13.  They were privileged to see that relationship worked out, and by this the name of the Father was expressed.  But there is more to tell, and there are others to tell, so the exposition continues, so that those who believe might have an appreciation of the relationship between the Father and the Son, which is one of intense love, and so they will appreciate that love better.  As that happens, the characteristics of the Son will be reflected in their lives, and the Lord will be able to say, “I in them”, for the Father will see in His children some likeness to His Son.
In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee- these words are quoted in Hebrews 2:11,12, which reads, “For both He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee'”.  He that sanctifieth is the Lord Jesus, who has separated His people from Adam’s world, and brought them over into association with Himself in resurrection.  They are His brethren, and He is not ashamed to call them such.  They all issue forth out of a pathway of suffering, and meet together in heaven, where He leads the praise of His people.  This was anticipated when the Lord Jesus met with His own in the upper room after His resurrection.  So the declaring of the name takes place now, the praising which comes from knowing the Father, awaits in heaven.

22:23  Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him, all ye the seed of Israel.

Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him- here, God-fearers are exhorted to praise the Father.  This is the fear of reverence.  Those who sought after God from among the Gentiles, “whosoever among you that feareth God”, Acts 13:16, are encouraged to have the name of the Father expounded to them by Christ, so that they might meaningfully and intelligently praise him.  They will move from simply being God-fearing seekers after God, to being His children, able to worship Him as their Father.
All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him- the nation of Israel is assured of the opportunity to praise God, instead of clamouring for the death of His Son.  The gospel was preached first in Jerusalem, Luke 24:47.
And fear Him, all ye the seed of Israel- this is the fear of dread, the fear of those who “look upon Him whom they pierced”, in a day to come, and weep and wail because of Him, Revelation 1:7.  Even for them there is forgiveness, if they come God’s way.  The expression “seed of Jacob” indicates the crooked and perverse nature of the nation that crucified its Messiah.  Jacob” means “crooked”, and Peter exhorted his audience to save themselves from this “perverse generation”, Acts 2:40.  “Seed of Israel” anticipates the future days of glory for them, as their Messiah gives them dignity as the foremost nation in the earth.

22:24  For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when He cried unto Him, He heard.

For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted- the sufferings of Christ on the cross were not a cause of the Father personally rejecting Him.  On the contrary, what He suffered, and the laying down of His own life in holy surrender to His Father’s will, have given the Father fresh cause to love Him.  As He Himself said, “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life that I might take it again”, John 10:17.  If verses 1-21 are the record of the words of Christ on the cross, these remaining verses of tghe psalm are His words in resurrection.
Neither hath He hid His face from Him- the meaning is, surely, that His turning away from His Son made sin, was not a permanent thing.  As God said to Israel, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee”, Isaiah 54:7.  So in the future the remnant of Israel will realise their Messiah has solidarity with them, for this, in principle, (but not for the same reason), was His experience too.
But when He cried unto Him, He heard- whilst it did not seem like this at the time, it is now very evident that God heard His every pleading, and answered Him at the moment when His love and trust had been tested to the utmost.
These are reasons why the call can go out to men to fear and praise God, hence the “for” at the beginning of the verse.  Faith in God is well placed, since He has kept faith with His Son.

22:25  My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation: I will pay My vows before them that fear Him.

My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation- having secured a born-again nation for Himself, He can now celebrate with them in Millenial blessedness. 
I will pay My vows before them that fear Him- the Lord Jesus will be careful to discharge all His responsibilities God-ward, in gratitude for His deliverance from all that were against Him.  Jonah vowed to God during his experience of suffering, and pledged to pay those vows afterwards, “But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed.  Salvation is of the Lord”, Jonah 2:9.  So does Messiah here.

22:26  The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek Him: your heart shall live for ever.

The meek shall eat and be satisfied- that which the Lord Jesus did when He fed the five thousand, and when He fed the four thousand, is but a foretaste of His abundant provision for men, both physically and spiritually, when He reigns on the earth.  There shall be no hunger or any sort of want then.  Of course, what He did when He brake the bread and fed the multitude He does in another sense now, as He makes known the truth of His person to those who believe.  It is they who eat the flesh of the Son of Man, (take in truth about His life), and drink His blood, (take in truth about His death), John 6:55,56.
They shall praise the Lord that seek Him- the Lord had to say to the people He fed, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled”, John 6:26.  Their seeking was merely carnal.  They needed to come in faith, or the real blessing would be lost.  As a result of seeking and finding, Peter is able to say at the end of that day, “And we believe that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God”, verse 69.  The seeking was followed by praising, as always must be the case.
Your heart shall live for ever- those who seek and find the living bread, have eternal life, and shall never perish.  As the Lord Himself said, “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day”, John 6:40. Here is the confirmation of that, for believers in the Millenial Age, having been raised from the dead, enjoy the richness of eternal life. 
22:27  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee.

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord- Calvary shall never be forgotten, and during the reign of Christ many of those who are born during that time shall turn to the Lord in genuine faith, as they are told of what the King did when He was on earth before.
And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee- there will be a great pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and the nations shall come to worship the King, Zechariah 14:16.  Instead of seeing Him upon a cross of shame, they shall come before the throne of His glory, Matthew 25:31.

22:28  For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and He is the governor among the nations.

For the kingdom is the Lord’s- there will be no doubt as the right of the Lord Jesus to reign.  Men put Him upon a cross because He claimed to be Israel’s King, and also the Son of man, with rights over all the earth.  At last His claim will have been vindicated. No doubt Matthew’s gospel will help them greatly in this regard.
And He is the governor among the nations- in Pilate’s judgement hall, Pilate the governor sat, and Christ stood.  In the future the roles will be reversed, and Christ will sit on His throne of impeccable righteousness, and kings shall rise up from their thrones to fall down before Him, Isaiah 49:7.  He who “before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession”, 1 Timothy 6:13, will one day “show who is that blessed and only potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords”, verse 15.

22:29  All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship- those who prosper from His beneficent reign will worship Him in gratitude for His goodness. 
All they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him- at the great white throne, all those who have gone to the grave unrepentant, shall be forced to bow before Him, and reluctantly acknowledge that He is indeed who He claimed to be.  As the apostle Paul put it, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory olf God the Father”, Philippians 2:9-11.
And none can keep alive his own soul- believers will gladly agree that they depend wholly upon Christ for their maintenance in blessedness.  Unbelievers will find to their cost they cannot escape death if unrepentant.

22:30  A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation– the question was asked by the prophet, “Who shall declare His generation, for He was cut off out of the land of the living”, Isaiah 53:8.  It was considered a disaster to die without descendants, as Abraham expressed, Genesis 15:2.  Such was the experience of Christ.  Yet in resurrection He addressed His disciples as “children”, John 20:5, and He will say at last, “Behold I and the children that God hath given Me”, Hebrews 2:13.  These are a spiritual posterity, to whom He has given the life of His Father, eternal life.
With that life in their souls, they are strengthened to serve Him, in gratitude for what He has brought them into.

22:31  They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this. 

They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born- the seed He has produced will serve Him by telling forth His righteousness, not only of His person, but His righteous act of dying upon the cross, Romans 5:18.
That He hath done this- these last words are said to be the direct equivalent of the Saviour’s words on the cross, “It is finished”.  But they are reserved for this place at the end of the psalm, perhaps to emphasise that the ever expanding and far-reaching influence of the one who suffered on the cross, is based entirely on His finished work.  It is because His work is finished that His righteousness can be declared.