He Meant the Whole Psalm!
Psalm 22:1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?
Vv. 3-4: But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them.
Vv. 16-18 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.
V. 22-23 I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD…
Vv. 28-31 For the kingdom is the LORD’s, and He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive. A posterity shall serve Him…They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.
Most of us are quite familiar with the first verse of Psalm 22. These are the words Jesus spoke on the cross. When we hear them, our thoughts go right to His suffering and His agony at the removal of God’s presence when He was bearing the weight of our sin.
As we read through the rest of the psalm, we see that there is more. We see how astoundingly prophetic it is. It describes what happened with Jesus (the piercing of His hands and feet, and the casting of lots for His garments) as well as how He felt (vv. 2 and 19).
Yet Jesus’ audience would have heard more than just the first verse when Jesus cried out. Yes, Jesus was expressing Himself and His anguish. But He was also calling attention to the entire psalm, and most good Jews of the time would have known the rest of it and realized that He was referring to the entire psalm.
Jesus was declaring that He was the predicted Messiah. He was declaring that He was the fulfillment of this prophetic psalm and the many other passages. And He was declaring victory! Praise would arise from what He was doing. God would rule over the nations. Every knee would bow. Every generation would hear of it, and learn that everything in this psalm was being accomplished: “They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.” What was once known as David’s expression would forever become a testimony of Jesus.
Yes, Jesus was speaking out of His agony. But every Jewish hearer would have heard this as a reference to the entirety of the psalm. Those with ears to hear also would have heard the deeper affirmation of the victory He was purchasing at the moment He was speaking.
Prayer: Lord, help me to know Your Word well enough that I would know the context of the scriptures I hear, as these listeners would have. Help me, too, to never go by the first thing I hear (as with this first line of the Psalm), but wait until You’ve spoken everything You have to say about a situation before I think I understand what You’re saying or doing.