A Prophetic Psalm

Psalm 22

1My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant?Why do you ignore my cries for help?

2Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

3Yet you are holy. The praises of Israel surround your throne.

4Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them.

5You heard their cries for help and saved them. They put their trust in you and were never disappointed.

6But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all!

7Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying,

8“Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him!If the LORD loves him so much, let the LORD rescue him!”

9Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you when I was a nursing infant.

10I was thrust upon you at my birth. You have been my God from the moment I was born.

11Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me.

12My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls; fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!

13Like roaring lions attacking their prey, they come at me with open mouths.

14My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.My heart is like wax, melting within me.

15My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.

16My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.

17I can count every bone in my body. My enemies stare at me and gloat.

18They divide my clothes among themselves and throw dice for my garments. (Psalm 22:1-18, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

Usually when I read the psalms, I think of poetic arrangements that communicate lament or praise from the author. I often try to put myself in the shoes of the author and imagine similar circumstances I may have experienced. I seek to lament with the psalmist when he laments and rejoice and praise God with the psalmist when he praises God.

On the surface, Psalm 22 may look like a typical psalm of lament or anguish but upon deeper reflection, it turns out to be so much more. I don’t usually think of the Psalms as prophetic, but Psalm 22 provides a number of verses in which David’s experience ultimately foreshadows the experience of the Messiah.

In verse 1, for example, David utters the very words that are expressed by Jesus on the cross in Matthew 27:46, when he cried out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”

In verse 7, David’s words accurately describe events that occurred in Matthew 27:39-43, when soldiers mocked Jesus after his arrest and onlookers jeered at Him during His crucifixion.

In verses 14-16, David accurately describes details of a crucifixion, such as extreme thirst, asphyxiation and the trauma to the hands and feet. These verses are all the more amazing because crucifixion as a means of execution was not known until Roman times.

Finally, in verse 18, David’s description of clothes being divided and dispersed by the casting of lots is fulfilled in Matthew 27:35.

All of these events were fulfilled by people who would have had no knowledge of the prophecies concerning Jesus. Yet their actions were accurately described over 1000 years earlier by the very man through whose lineage the Messiah would emerge.

David is not fearful of sharing all his emotions when he pens his words. He is honest with God when he’s sad, lonely and angry. Yet he praises God in spite of his circumstances and in the case of this psalm, his words foreshadow the emergence of the Messiah, the one who ultimately experiences everything David is feeling as he writes those words, yet emerges victorious as the Savior and eternal King!

Reflection

What has been your experience in reading and reflecting on the Psalms? How have they helped you to connect to God on a deeper level?

What is your response to the verses in this Psalm that are Messianic in nature, as they predict events that the promised Messiah would endure?

How do these verses strengthen your faith in the Holy Scriptures as an accurate revelation from God?

 

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

 

 

The Significance of the Torn Veil

33At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

40Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. (Mark 15:33-41, NIV)


Mark 15 documents the climactic struggle of Jesus on the cross. Jesus shouts out something in Hebrew and those who are watching assume that He’s appealing to Elijah to save Him.

Jesus breathes His last breath before succumbing to the brutal effects of crucifixion, a torturous method of execution that is designed to slowly suffocate its victims.

And then comes verse 38. It’s so easy to gloss over because before this verse you have people standing around wondering if Jesus is appealing to Elijah and then immediately after this verse the focus shifts back to a centurion who had witnessed Jesus’s ordeal and who concludes that, “surely this man was the Son of God!”

So what’s the deal with verse 38? It seems so out of place to mention that the veil in the temple was torn in two right in the midst of describing Jesus’s death on the cross. It’s almost like the subliminal message that briefly interrupts the flow of the video you’re watching. If you’re not paying attention, you hardly notice it.

Yet this verse is extremely significant. If you’re familiar with the importance of the temple to Jewish religious life, the significance of this verse is probably evident. But if you’re not familiar with the role the temple played in the lives of the Israelites, let me give you some information that may shed new light on this passage.

The temple was THE center of religious life for the Israelites because it represented the very dwelling place of God. The temple was where Jews brought their sacrifices as an act of worship to God.

Inside the temple was a section called the Holy Place, which was separated by another room called the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies contained only one item, the Ark of the Covenant. The Holy of Holies was a room that could only be entered once per year, on Yom Kippur, by the high priest, who would enter the room and sprinkle the blood of a unblemished sacrifice on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant in order to atone for the sins of the people.

The Holy of Holies was separated by a large thick veil, a curtain that created a barrier between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The significance of this veil cannot be underscored. It represented the idea that God is holy and man is not and therefore, God is not accessible to man because of his sin.

Yet immediately upon Jesus’s death on the cross, this tiny, easy to overlook verse says that this veil was torn in two, giving access to the very presence of God. The text specifically says the veil was torn from top to bottom, which is no accident. The symbolism is clear – the veil was torn by God Himself, giving access to His presence that was previously unavailable.

The heart of the gospel message is this: Jesus died on a cross, atoning for the sins of the world and giving sinful humanity access to Holy God. We no longer need to make yearly sacrifices because of the sacrifice Jesus has already made on our behalf.

We have two possible responses. We can respond like the centurion, who recognized Jesus is the Son of God, or we can respond like the religious leaders, who took the torn veil, sewed it up and reattached it, thus ignoring the sacrifice that Jesus had made.

Reflection

What is your response to the death of Jesus and the tearing of the veil? Are you more like the centurion, who recognized Jesus as the Son of God? Or are you more like the Jewish religious leaders who preferred to dismiss Jesus’s sacrifice in favor of their former way of life?

What are the veils (barriers) that you put up in your life that keep you from entering into the presence of God? 

For more details about the layout of the temple click here.

 

Photo by Nikola Bikar on Unsplash