The Soundtrack of the Cross – Psalm 22

Young couples sometimes pick out a popular song as theirs. When the song comes on the radio, she may say, “They are playing our song.”

A common question asked these days when powerful people are interviewed: “What’s on your iPod?” What do you listen to when your in the gym, in the car, at home, in the office? What is the soundtrack of your life?

No one ever asks: What would be the soundtrack of your death?

Have you ever wondered: What song was playing when Jesus died?

For many of the Psalms of David it is possible to connect them with certain events in David’s life. However, the 22nd has no life event from David in view because it is a description of an execution, specifically a crucifixion. “Being therefore a prophet…” David spoke concerning Messiah’s execution on a cross (Acts 2.30). Over 300 years before crucifixion is invented as a mode of death, David pictures it here. The gospels record the facts; the Psalms the feelings of the cross. Psalm 22 captures the agony & glory of the cross of Christ.

This Psalm is typically divided into two (2) sections: suffering (1-21a) & salvation (21b-31), with verse 21 acting as the turning point of the Psalm.

A Gruesome Crucifixion – the Humiliation of Christ (1-21)

Alienated from His Father (1-5): During His life & ministry, Jesus had never known a moment without the Father’s presence; uninterrupted fellowship. But on the cross when He who knew no sin the Father made to be sin for our sake (2 Corinthians 5.21), that changed. How lonely Calvary was for Christ!

1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

“Eloi, Eloi” – the double name denotes close, personal relationship. “Why?” There was a reason for the agony of the cross; there is a reason for suffering.

2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

It seems prayers go unanswered, even unheard. Keep praying!

3Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

The Psalmist is comforted by the holiness of God.

4In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob repeatedly trusted God & He never failed them.

5To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

“How you gonna do me like that, God?” These guys were heard; how about me?

Abused by His Foes (6-8, 12-18): From His youth, from His birth, from before His birth, the cross loomed & cast a dark shadow over the life of Christ. A millennium before God became flesh, David pictured the event. So graphic are David’s descriptions that it almost seems as tho he were present for the very crucifixion. Put down (6-7), scorned, despised, mocked; Poured out (14-15); pierced (16).

6But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

Here is the “I AM” saying “I am a worm.” Surely He thought this & perhaps it was uttered tho unrecorded in the gospels. Certainly Christ was hated & hounded.

7All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

8“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

See Matthew 27.41-43; Mark 15.29 for the fulfillment of these verses. How would you feel if in your darkest hour someone said this to you? Amplify it by infinity & you are coming close to how Christ felt.

12Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

Circling bulls, ready to charge & gore with their horns. Bashan was known for its fine cattle; here is pictured the raving, raging mob led by the leaders.

13they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;

His heart is “melted” under the heat of divine wrath; & if Christ’s heart melts under the full force of divine wrath, what about ours if we reject Christ!

15my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

He is all dried up under the blistering heat of divine justice. Every drop of fluid is gone. Intense thirst.

16For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—

“Dogs” would be, prophetically, gentile Roman soldiers. Here crucifixion is described over 300 years before the first poor attempts at it are hinted & nearly 700 yrs before it is perfected & popularized by Alexander the Great.

Answered by His Father (9-11, 19-21)

9Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

10On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.

“God, I need you here. Stay close” (11, 19). A present God is a present blessing!

19But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!

20Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!

21Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

Part prayer; part praise. “Save me! You heard/answered/rescued.” “It was the will of YHWH to crush Him…He shall prolong His days” (Isaiah 53.10).

A Glorious Coronation – The Exaltation of Christ (22-31)

All at once the tone shifts. From the darkness of Calvary comes joy…

Joy in Israel (22-25): “Praise Him.” “I will [proclaim]…I will praise…I will perform…” Future tense. How can He do this if He’s dead? Resurrection! Perhaps these words of the song comforted Jesus on the cross as He hung dying; He whispers them thru parched lips.

23You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

Note the three-fold duty – praise Him, glorify Him, revere Him.

Great Spiritual Feast (26-29): Rich & poor (26, 29) from all over the earth (27) gather to feast and be satisfied by what YHWH has provided thru the Christ. Israel was to be a light to the nations (Isa 45.22; 49.6); in Christ this is fully realized.

27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.

Herein is universal evangelism pictured – “all the ends of the earth…all the families of the nations…” Not merely Jew but Gentile shall prosper because of Christ’s crucifixion & resurrection. “Remember” is reflection on sin; “Turn” & “worship” are repentance & holiness.

Future Grace (30-31): For “Coming generation” – 71.18; 78.6; 102.18; do you get the feeling that God cares about the next generation, i.e. the kids. May I just say to those of you who work in the education department of the local congregation that you are engaged in the glorious work of dispensing grace to the next generation.

30Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;

31they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.

Here also are the future prospects of the church: “They shall come” – converts are certain. “They shall…proclaim His righteousness” – those converted will join us in the work of evangelism. “To a people yet unborn” – future generations will be blessed. Christ will be exalted in all this! “He has done it” or “It is finished.” “The Lord” (adoni) has accomplished the work of redemption. This is the last word of Christ on the cross. It is the heart of the gospel we proclaim.

Per crucem ad lucem – thru the cross into the light. Without the darkness of the cross there cannot be the light of glory. Maybe the tune started like Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata before ending like Vivaldi’s Spring.

“It is finished” so respond to God’s grace.

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