Sermon: An Old Testament Gaze at the Cross Psalm 22

An Old Testament Gaze at the Cross

Psalm 22

Truth Taught- Jesus suffered and died to bring people from every nation and every generation to the Father

Introduction

As we turn our attention this morning to Psalm 22 there are a few things we must see by way of introduction in order to capture the full meaning and intention of this Psalm. This is the supreme example of David serving as God’s prophet. David had times in his life when he suffered and no doubt felt like God had forsaken him but nothing in King David’s life could compare to the suffering he describes here in this lament. As Charles Spurgeon wrote, This is beyond all others the Psalm of the cross.

Jesus Christ connects His suffering and death to the words of this Psalm. So, we should understand His death in light of Psalm 22. Jesus’ suffering would be the suffering not only of physical pain and torture but the suffering of being forsaken by His Heavenly Father. As Jesus bore the sins of His people on the cross the Father would in fact turn His head away. He would be far off and God would abandon Jesus. But then in a miracle of reconciliation Jesus’ death would be the event to reverse sin and the curse for all of God’s people. Because of His atoning death, the nations will turn to God and the Abrahamic Covenant would be fulfilled by Jesus’ death.

1 Peter 1:10–12 (ESV)

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

This Psalm is so Christocentric that the writer of Hebrews actually quotes from Psalm 22 in Hebrews 2:12 attributing the words not to David but to Jesus, Himself.

The division of this Psalm is very straight forward the first half is Jesus’ cry for help and the second half in Jesus’ song of praise.

Jewish and Hebrew scholars tell us that there was an ancient practice of quoting the first verse of a Psalm as a way of intending that the entire Psalm be in focus. Whether Jesus does this because He was too fatigued to quote the whole or died before He could quote the whole we are to take the entire Psalm as picturing in prophetic language the cross event.

Prayer

  1. Jesus’ Lament: God, Why are You So Far From Saving Me?

22 To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

   My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

   O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,

and by night, but I find no rest.

   Yet you are holy,

enthroned on the praises of Israel.

   In you our fathers trusted;

they trusted, and you delivered them.

   To you they cried and were rescued;

in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

   But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

   All who see me mock me;

they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

   “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;

let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

   Yet you are he who took me from the womb;

you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

10    On you was I cast from my birth,

and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11    Be not far from me,

for trouble is near,

and there is none to help.

12    Many bulls encompass me;

strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

13    they open wide their mouths at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

14    I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint;

       my heart is like wax;

it is melted within my breast;

15    my strength is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

you lay me in the dust of death.

16    For dogs encompass me;

a company of evildoers encircles me;

       they have pierced my hands and feet—

17    I can count all my bones—

       they stare and gloat over me;

18    they divide my garments among them,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

19    But you, O Lord, do not be far off!

O you my help, come quickly to my aid!

20    Deliver my soul from the sword,

my precious life from the power of the dog!

21        Save me from the mouth of the lion!

       You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

As we look at the first half of Psalm 22 we see the suffering of Jesus on the cross. We see the affliction He experienced. The first part of His affliction was that His loving heavenly Father abandoned Jesus while on the cross. Bearing the sin of the elect, God turned aside and the relationship between the Father and the Son for a brief time was hindered. In order to atone for the sin of God’s people Jesus had to experience, not God’s love but God’s wrath.

   My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

   O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,

and by night, but I find no rest.

Jesus is expressing the agony of unanswered lament.

Jesus is expressing the agony of unanswered supplication (Ps. 22:1–2). Unanswered, Jesus feels forgotten of God. He is also expressing the agony of unbearable stress. It is the kind of “roaring” mentioned in Psalm 22: the roar of desperate agony without rebellion. It is the hellish cry uttered when the undiluted wrath of God overwhelms the soul. It is heart-piercing, heaven-piercing, and hell-piercing. Further, Jesus is expressing the agony of unmitigated sin. All the sins of the elect, and the hell that they deserve for eternity, are laid upon Him. And Jesus is expressing the agony of unassisted solitariness. In His hour of greatest need comes a pain unlike anything the Son has ever experienced: His Father’s abandonment. When Jesus most needs encouragement, no voice cries from heaven, “This is my beloved Son.” No angel is sent to strengthen Him; no “well done, thou good and faithful servant” resounds in His ears.

The other side of Jesus’ affliction came from the fact that while God was far off, men were close. His torturers were near and God wasn’t. On the cross Jesus had to endure this suffering alone. No friends, no family, and no heavenly Father. He was hanging on the cross between heaven and earth absorbing the pounding wrath of God and none were coming to His aid.

It is noon, and Jesus has been on the cross for three pain-filled hours. Suddenly, darkness falls on Calvary and “over all the land” (v. 45). By a miraculous act of Almighty God, midday becomes midnight.

This supernatural darkness is a symbol of God’s judgment on sin. The physical darkness signals a deeper and more fearsome darkness.

The great High Priest enters Golgotha’s Holy of Holies without friends or enemies. The Son of God is alone on the cross for three final hours, enduring what defies our imagination. Experiencing the full brunt of His Father’s wrath, Jesus cannot stay silent. He cries out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

This phrase represents the nadir, the lowest point, of Jesus’ sufferings. Here Jesus descends into the essence of hell, the most extreme suffering ever experienced. It is a time so compacted, so infinite, so horrendous as to be incomprehensible and, seemingly, unsustainable.[1]

Jesus was truly forsaken because at the last three hours or so on the cross He had become sin for us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God is too pure to look upon this type of sin. Literally, all the sins of all of the elect were placed upon Jesus and God turned His head away. This is a divine mystery. For the time Jesus was in darkness on the cross there was a brief time when the Father had forsaken His Son. Jesus was forsaken so we would never be. Toward Jesus there was silence so we would never experience silence. Jesus was forsaken so we could experience the truth the God will never leave us and never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Matthew 28:20 (ESV)

20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

If you are in Christ God will never leave you or forsake you because He forsook Jesus. Your sin and my sin was paid for by the death of Jesus God turned His back on those sins so He will never turn His back on His elect.

So, the love of His Father was far off and the evil of men was close. Jesus, crying out for aid was simply met with silence. If anyone should have been rescued from this pain and suffering it would have been Jesus and yet, this was why He came. This was His mission.

We also see in this section the pictures of man’s evil aggressive execution of Jesus. We see they are described in animal language…bulls, lions and dogs attacking to destroy.

12    Many bulls encompass me;

strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

13    they open wide their mouths at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

16    For dogs encompass me;

a company of evildoers encircles me;

       they have pierced my hands and feet—

So much here that is amazing, one thing stuck out to me as I studied this Psalm and prayed. Even though God seems far off and Jesus is suffering the tortures of hell itself He still trusts in His heavenly Father. What is beyond comprehension is that Jesus in the midst of His extreme suffering after He has recounted all God has done for His people bursts forth with praise.
2. Jesus’ Song of Praise: The Ends of the Earth and Countless Generations Shall Praise You  

22    I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

23    You who fear the Lord, praise him!

All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,

and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

24    For he has not despised or abhorred

the affliction of the afflicted,

       and he has not hidden his face from him,

but has heard, when he cried to him.

25    From you comes my praise in the great congregation;

my vows I will perform before those who fear him.

26    The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;

those who seek him shall praise the Lord!

May your hearts live forever!

27    All the ends of the earth shall remember

and turn to the Lord,

       and all the families of the nations

shall worship before you.

28    For kingship belongs to the Lord,

and he rules over the nations.

29    All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;

before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,

even the one who could not keep himself alive.

30    Posterity shall serve him;

it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;

31    they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,

that he has done it.

Even though God had forsaken Jesus because He was bearing the sin of His people, God still heard Jesus and our Lord knew this. The end of verse 21 in Hebrew has, You have heard Me!

Jesus knew from Psalm 22 that His atoning death would save His people. It isn’t based on us but on Him. Jesus’ death didn’t make salvation possible it actually saved us.

After the resurrection, after God saved Jesus from death our Lord proclaimed the good news to everyone.

22    I will tell of your name to my brothers;

Whenever God’s Word is proclaimed and the Gospel presented this verse is coming true.

Notice Jesus calls us brothers and sisters…

Hebrews 2:10–12 (ESV)

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

       “I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

If you are in Christ you are his brother or sister.

27    All the ends of the earth shall remember

and turn to the Lord,

       and all the families of the nations

shall worship before you.

Here, Jesus understands that this is what it would take for God to keep His promise to Abraham…

Genesis 22:18 (ESV)

18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Jesus went to the cross to honor His Father’s name. God’s name is exalted among the people because of Christ.

Because of the cross the nations will come to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus knows this is a guaranteed plan that’s why He endures the pain of the cross because it will accomplish it’s intended purpose God’s elect from all nations will be saved.

Revelation 7:9–12 (ESV)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

People from all nations are saved.

Look finally at the fact that people from all generations are saved…

30    Posterity shall serve him;

it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;

31    they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,

that he has done it.

Jesus also knew, as He hung on the cross, that His sacrifice would be a generational good news. In other words, there would be people saved from every century every generation and even those from generations not existing yet.

What an amazing event the cross was. It is the salvation event for all people groups and for all generations.

I want to close with the last phrase of the last verse of Psalm 22… he has done it

It is no mistake that this phrase in Hebrew directly corresponds to the last words Jesus uttered as He died on the cross. It is literally word for word in the original Hebrew language. So, Jesus began quoting the first verse of Psalm 22 when God’s wrath was being poured out upon Him and darkness fell at midday. He ends with the last line of Psalm 22 understanding that His death would accomplish all of Psalm 22 and infinitely more.

John 19:28–30 (ESV)

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 

 

 

*Resources Used:

Psalms by James Johnston

Psalms volume 1 by Goldengay

Teaching Psalms by Ash

Preaching Christ from the Psalms by Greidanus

Psalm 22 by Sinclair Ferguson

 

[1] https://www.ligonier.org/blog/christ-forsaken/

 

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