PSALM 22 - The Crucifixion of the Messiah
Psalms 22, 23, 24 are Psalms of the Shepherd:
Psa 22 -The Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. (Joh 10:11)
Psa 23 -The Great Shepherd, alive from the dead, cares for His sheep. (Heb 13:20,21)
Psa 24 -The Chief Shepherd, King of Glory, rewards His sheep. (1Pet 5:4)
22:1 To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.
Aijeleth (HB)= deer, hart; Shahar (HB)= morning, dawn
The title is obscure, supposed by some to be a musical notation.
  • Some understand these words to be figurative of "the Dawning of the Morning."
    At the end of the dark night of His death, we get a fleeting glimpse of the Son in His resurrection, the Son whose Day of earthly glory is yet to come. 2Pet 1:19
  • Others, apply "the Deer of the Morning" (the literal meaning of the Hebrew words),
    to the Lord Jesus Christ, who though hunted like a deer and killed, yet lives, and comes "skipping upon the mountains" to His beloved (the Church). cp. Song 2:8,9
There is no conflict between these suggested meanings, for both are true.
This Psalm gives us the most detailed description of Christ's crucifixion in all
of Scripture. Yet, this account was written about 1,000 years before the event.
Here we are allowed to hear the inner agonies of our Lord upon the cross.
This is holy ground. The soul, who desires to truly know the Savior, will do well to commune with Him concerning His heart desires expressed here. For, rather than observing Him in His sorrows from a distance, we are invited to join Him on the cross - that we might "know Him... and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death..." (Php 3:10). We need to learn of Him what it means to be "crucified with Christ..." (Gal 2:20).
Psalm 22 may be divided into two sections:
A. His cry for help, vs.1-21
B. His praise for God's provision, vs.22-31
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
< 1 > The NT records seven sayings of Christ from the cross.
All 7 can be found in this Psalm. They are marked in <brackets> as they occur.
"Mat 27:46" (NT quotes of the Psalm are marked in quotation marks.)
my God- HB= Eli - {the first person possessive form of the name El}
'El' is the 'the Mighty God who is able to deliver.'
For the One who cries out, He is more than that. He is 'My God.'
why hast Thou forsaken me? - His soul is torn in unbearable agony.
It has taken place. The dreaded cup is no longer anticipated.
To be rejected by men would be bearable. (cp. Psa 2). But...
Thou...- the One with whom I have always been One, apart from whom I have done nothing...
(cp. Joh 8:28; Joh 10:30; Joh 17:11,21)
[why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring?
helping- HB "yeshua", to deliver, the word from which Jesus' name is derived.
roaring- a cry of desperation --
-- as of a deer brought down by wolves -- expressing agony beyond words.
-- a wail of unutterable woe as our sins pressed down upon Him. [McGee] Isa 53:6
22:2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not;
you hear not- cf. "...I know that you always hear me." (Joh 11:42)
The One, whose prayer the Father always hears, finds Himself cut off. cp. Psa 20; 21:2,4
and in the night season, and am not silent.
the night season - "from the sixth... to the ninth hour... darkness..." Mat 27:45
am not silent - 'Though cut off, I refuse to faint in prayer, or fail in faith toward You.'
The opening words of this Psalm show us what was on the lips of our Savior as He died. While others railed at their fate, Jesus prayed through the Psalms. Through hearing the Word of God which spoke of Him, one of those who were crucified with Him came to recognize Him as the King. (Luke 23:39-43)
22:3 But thou [art] holy, [O thou] that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Despite your silence toward me, I know that You remain righteous & praiseworthy.
There is no fault in You to cause unanswered prayer...
thou art Holy...- Sin has separated between me and my God.
Isa 59:1,2; 2Cor 5:21 (The "Why" of vs.1 is answered.)
22:4 Our fathers trusted in thee:
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
our fathers - ie., the patriarchs of Israel, men of faith whose lives are examples to us. cp. Psa 99:6
22:5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered:
they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
they trusted (3x)- 'I also trust.' (Psa 21:7)
they cried- 'As I do now.'
they were delivered (2x)- 'Is there no deliverance for me?'
they were not confounded (disappointed, ashamed)-
'Is there no refuge, no hope for me?'
22:6 But I [am] a worm, and no man;
worm- an inconsequential creature, without strength, crushed and suffering without pity.
  • Humbled to become a little lower than angels (as a man),
    He humbled Himself yet further, even unto death. Heb 2:9(a); Php 2:5-8
  • The HB refers to a specific type of worm, coccus ilicis, which was crushed to
    create scarlet dye used to prepare the Tabernacle curtains. Inconsequential?
a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
reproach- the object of men's scorn, cp. Psa 69:12
despised- cp. Isa 53:3
22:7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn:
cp. v.7,8 with "Mat 27:39-44"
"Which shall we wonder at most: the cruelty of man, or the love of the bleeding Savior?" [CHS]
Of the 5 types of mockery in Mat 27, only the bitterest is recorded here.
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.
He trusted on...- lit., " He rolled himself upon..."- Even His enemies attest to His faith.
But hear the biting sarcasm and hatred in their voices.
It was at this point that Jesus said:
< 2 > "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do." Luk 23:33,34
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.
'Despite their mockery, the reality is that You are and have always been my God.'
His relationship to God was unique, unlike that of any other man, for, through the virgin birth, He was the only begotten of the Father. Luk 1:30-35
22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb:
thou [art] my God from my mother's belly.
cast...- HB: thrown, hurled.
'Trusted ('rolled upon', v.8) does not adequately express my dependence upon You.'
'You have brought me through untold hazards from birth to the present. Do not fail me now.'
cp. Isa 49:1,5; Mat 2:16; Rev 12:4
< 3 > "Woman, behold thy son." Joh 19:26
22:11 Be not far from me;
His greatest woe: that God had forsaken Him.
His greatest plea: that He would be near.
for trouble [is] near;
The basis of His appeal:
  1. His relationship to God. vs.1-10
    1. His covenant relationship, through the fathers of Israel (v.4,5).
    2. His close personal relationship to "my God" (vs. 1,2).
    3. His uniquely intimate relationship, as the only begotten of the Father (v.9,10).
  2. The violence of His enemies. vs.11-21
for [there is] none to help.
His disciples forsook Him and fled. But even if near, they could not help.
Joh 16:32; Mat 26:56; Psa 142:4-6
The disciples had failed to watch with Him, for even one hour (Mat 26:40)...
...and now, in the crisis of "my hour," even my God has forsaken me (v.1).
22:12 Many bulls have compassed {ie., surrounded} me:
strong [bulls] of Bashan have beset me round.
bulls- ie., the headstrong and violent.
Bashan- a breed known for strength, from a fertile region (Deut 32:14; Num 32:4,33)
"Here is a picture of the leaders in positions of strength. Having sought for and obtained His blood, they still seek to gore their helpless victim with their cruelties." [CHS]
They had taken counsel together to destroy Him. Now, they gather around to watch and mock Him.
Mat 27:1; Acts 4:27
22:13 They gaped upon me [with] their mouths,
[as] a ravening and a roaring lion.
Their hatred is inspired by Satan himself. Job 16:9,10; 1Pet 5:8
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.
vs. 14-18 are a graphic description of death by crucifixion.
Remarkably, execution by crucifixion was a Roman (not Jewish) practice, which was introduced hundreds of years after David wrote this Psalm.
I am poured out - ie., utterly spent, emptied, wasted.
A man dying by crucifixion would exhaust his strength, due to the strenuous process of breathing, which required the continual raising of the body, in spite of pain and blood loss.
my bones... out of joint - the body stretched & jarred as the cross was dropped into position.
my heart -- the physical organ stressed beyond its ability by pain & shortness of breath.
-- the heartbreak of rejection by His people & by His God.
"Who can endure the heat of God's wrath, if the the heart of Christ melted at it?" [CHS]
22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd {ie., like a fragment of a broken clay pot};
and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws;
and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
dried up...- He experienced severe dehydration,
from blood loss and perspiration due to suffering and sun exposure.
He saw His life ebbing away.
< 4 > "I thirst" (Joh 19:28).
22:16 For dogs have compassed me:
dogs- gentiles, the godless, evil men (cp. Php 3:2; Rev 22:15; Psa 86:14).
They are self-seeking, ruthless, and ready to tear flesh to get what they want.
the assembly {ie., congregation} of the wicked have inclosed me:
ie., ungodly religious people - eg., "the synagogue of Satan" Rev 2:9.
they pierced my hands and my feet.
cp. Zech 12:10; Joh 19:32-37; Joh 20:20-25
22:17 I may tell all my bones:
tell- ie., count.
ie. 'My bones are visible due to the nakedness of my gaunt frame.'
they look [and] stare upon me.
- - His nakedness adds shame to His sufferings.
- - His enemies gloat, entertaining themselves with His miseries (Mat 27:36).
22:18 They part my garments among them,
and cast lots upon my vesture.
"Observe how clearly David saw this scene in prophecy." [CHS]
"Mat 27:35"; "Joh 19:23-24"
22:19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD:
"Despite all His sorrows, and because of them, He presses His plea in prayer." [CHS]
What will quench His desperation? Only the presence of the LORD.
O my strength, haste thee to help me.
haste - 'The need is urgent. My life fades. I have no strength apart from You.'
cp. Psa 21:1; 2Cor 12:9,10
22:20 Deliver my soul from the sword;
sword - ie., from total destruction. Zech 13:7
my darling from the power of the dog.
darling - HB= my only one, ie., my soul.
dog - cp. v.16
22:21 Save me from the lion's mouth:
for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
save me from...- {HB= yasha, deliver, liberate}
lion's mouth - Satan who would devour (cp. v.13).
unicorns - or, 'wild oxen,' refers to a now extinct but particularly powerful and vicious beast.
Their 'horns' refer to their destructive power.
Christ's enemies were powerful and intent upon His destruction.
Thou hast heard...- "Finally the assurance comes." [CHS] (see v.24)
< 5 > "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luk 23:46)
22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren:
There is a marked change of tone at v.22 to the end. The cross is history.
His grave is empty. Christ speaks from this side of His resurrection.
I will declare thy name...-
  • He makes known the character & conduct of God to His children. Joh 17:26
  • He declares the new relationship:
    " brethren... my Father and your Father..." (Joh 20:17).
my brethren - Through His death & resurrection, many have become sons of God. Heb 2:9-"12"
in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
in the midst of the congregation... -
Christ, in the midst of God's people, leads us in worship...
-- in the assembled Church today, wherever He is Head (Mat 18:20).
-- in the future heavenly assembly around God's throne (Psa 116:16-19).
22:23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; {The Church consists of believing Gentiles...}
all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him;      { ...and believing Jews. cp. Eph 2:14-18}
and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. {"all Israel" does not yet fear Him. cp. Rom 11:25,26}
22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Isa 63:9; Isa 53:4,7
neither hath he hid his face from him;
but when he cried unto him, he heard.
God's 'hiding of face' (v.1) was not final and eternal,
but temporary to accomplish His loving purpose.
God, who would not hear (v.2), heard (v.21).
What assurance for the believer! Our Lord not only saw our afflictions, but entered into them.
Because the LORD heard Him, we know He hears us, who are in Him.
The Forsaken One, accepted, is our Salvation. Heb 5:7-9; Eph 1:6,7
22:25 My praise [shall be] of thee in the great congregation:
Thee- "The one subject on the tongue of the Savior is the LORD alone." [CHS]
I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
The Savior's vows include...
His praise resounds through the remainder of this Psalm (vs.26-31)...
-- declaring the results of Christ's death & resurrection.
-- describing aspects of the "joy that was set before Him." (Heb 12:2)
22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied:
the meek... - those who, like Him, humble themselves before the LORD.
cp. Mat 5:5,6; 11:28-30; 18:3,4
The meek are those who...
...shall eat...- ie., partake of the living Bread, which God has provided,
to receive life and sustenance from Him (Joh 6:35, 47-58, 63)
This does not refer to external physical participation in the elements of the Lord's Supper. Rather, the "eating" is spiritual and inward. It involves the believer's utter dependence upon, and identification with, Christ.
they shall praise the LORD that seek him:
your heart shall live for ever.
{cp. Psa 69:32}
Because the Savior lives, those, who are identified with Him, have also received eternal life (Joh 6:51). How can we not praise Him?
A thief, crucified near Jesus, was among the first to know these blessings.
< 6 > "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luk 23:39-43)
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.
The order of conversion:
  1. remember - the gospel of Christ's death & resurrection (1Cor 15:1-4; 1Thes 1:5),
  2. turn - from sin to the living God (1Thes 1:9,10),
  3. worship {serve} Him (Titus 2:11-14).
all kindreds...nations...- cp. Rev 5:9,10
22:28 For the kingdom [is] the LORD'S:
and he [is] the governor among the nations.
cp. Mat 27:35-37; Psa 2:6; Rev 19:6,11,16
22:29 All [they that be] fat upon earth shall eat and worship:
All they that be fat...- refers to the saved, who...
  • "eat and are satisfied" with the Bread of Life (v.26).
  • participate in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (cp. Isa 25:6; Mat 22:1-14)
Unbelievers will have no part in the Salvation which they have rejected. Isa 65:13,14
all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: {dust, cp. Gen 3:19}
all they that go down to the dust... - refers to the lost,
who will suffer the 'second death' because they have not received the gift of eternal life. Rev 20:11-15
Christ died our death, so that we might not perish (v.15; Joh 3:16; 6:50).
But His eternal life belongs only to those who are identified with Him, because they trust in Him. Rom 6:23; Joh 3:36; 1Joh 5:11,12
all... shall bow- every creature, saved & lost, will acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.
Isa 45:22,23; Php 2:8-11
and none can keep alive his own soul. {cf. v. 26}
Psa 49:6-9; Rom 10:3; Rev 20:12-15
22:30 A seed shall serve him;
it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
Isa 53:8,10,11
22:31 They shall come,
Joh 6:37
and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born,
Joh 17:20
that he hath done [this]. {lit., "He has accomplished it." or "It is done."}
< 7 > "It is finished." ("Joh 19:30")
Heb 10:11-14

This Concludes the study in Psalm 22.
Click here to begin the study in Psalm 23
Return to Psalms of Messiah - Book Notes menu page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from

Go to The Book opening page.