The Context Tells the Rest of the Story
Psalm 22:1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me….?
Psalm 22:7-8 All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying. “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
Psalm 22:15-16 For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.
Matthew 27:35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
Psalm 31:5a Into Your hand I commit my spirit….
Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.
When Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me…?” it was far more than a personal and specific cry. When we are young believers and read those words, they appear at first glance to be an individual cry of someone who has been abandoned. There is a truth to that, as the close presence of God was pulled away from our Lord as He bore our sins and paid their penalty. The pain of the words should affect us.
As we continue our studies, though, we realize that Jesus was quoting a psalm that most of the Jewish listeners would easily have recognized. Unlike today, most students of God’s word back then spent a great deal of time in study and would easily have recognized the opening words to one of the most devastating and heartfelt psalms in the Scriptures. Jesus knew that the opening words of the psalm would have reminded the more attentive listeners to the whole psalm, not just its plaintive first line.
The same goes with Jesus’ bookend cry: “Into Your hands I commit my spirit.” Again, those words could stand on their own as an individual cry to His heavenly Father. But again, Jesus knew that the attentive listener would know that He was quoting Psalm 31, and would have known that with the one line, He was reminding them of the entire psalm. When you have time, take a look at Psalms 22 and 31, and read them in the light of a suffering Savior just about to go into the arms of His waiting Father. In the words of both psalms, you can see hints of “the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2).
The two lines quoted by Jesus are but a small and painful part of each psalm. When we read the whole psalm, we can see the power and glory and victory that Jesus was ultimately pointing to in His words! He was giving much more of a story to us than the simple quotations might indicate at first.
Prayer: Father, help me to understand the whole message Jesus was giving here. Help me to see something of what He was looking to in the future, that I might share in that joy that was set before Him on the cross.