Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Verse - Psalm 22

I remember the first time that I read a commentary on the fulfilled prophecies of Christ which are found in Psalm 22 - which, by the way, was written 1000 years before it came to pass! I was absolutely dumbfounded at how specifically and literally the Psalm 22 prophecies are fulfilled in Christ. After reading it, I remember thinking: Wow, surely any unbeliever who read this would have to admit that the Bible is true and that Jesus is the Messiah. Later on, however, I came to understand that although God uses the fulfillment of prophecy to prove that the Bible is His Word and that its message is completely true, it is only by God's grace and through the working of the Holy Spirit that people can be saved. Regardless of this, I still get shivers up and down my spine when I read Psalm 22. I thought I would share it with you today, in case you've never read it before or thought of it in terms of a prophecy concerning Jesus.

Even before we start reading the Psalm, the musical directions in the title are in themselves a kind of prophecy. You see, the instrument to be played is called the "Morning Star", which is also a term for the Messiah who would save Israel.

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

These very words were spoken by Jesus as He hung on the cross (Matt 27:46). Jews back then memorised Psalms, so many of them after hearing Jesus would have been reciting the rest of the Psalm in their head. This may have lead the the centurion to say, "Truly this was the Son of God." (Matt 27:54.)

Galatians 3:13 says that Jesus became a curse for us and that He suffered God's wrath as payment for our sins, so we might be free of the curse of sin and God's judgement. During Jesus' crucifixion and death, the Holy Trinity that had existed from eternity past was in fact broken; God turned His face away from His Son as Jesus hung on the cross bearing the sins of the world and God's wrath.

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

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

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

To discover the prophecy here, we need to dive a little into the original Hebrew. The word translated “worm” in our Bible is actually a name of a very specific type of worm in Israel. It is a worm that would be first dried out and then crushed in order to extract a red dye. Why is this significant? This word for "worm" occurs 42 times in the Old Testament. It is rendered as "worm" only eight of those times, while in the other places it is translated "crimson" or "scarlet". In other words, Jesus had to be crushed in order for us to receive His precious redemptive blood. After all, the Bible teaches that without a blood offering there can be no forgiveness of sins. 

All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

This accurately describes what the crowd was doing during Jesus' crucifixion, and was literally fulfilled in Matthew 27:39-44.
Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
    you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
    and from my mother's womb you have been my God.

Only Jesus could say that He had a right relationship with God from His mother's womb. This is because He was not conceived in sin but rather by the Holy Spirit. By contrast, the rest of humanity are conceived in sin and born enemies of God, due to Adam's fall.
11 Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me;
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and roaring lion.

The "strong bulls of Bashan" refer to Roman soldiers, and this passage can be interpreted as describing their treatment of Jesus. So brutal were the Romans that they can be accurately called beasts who used their horns of power to torture their victims.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

Just before Jesus died, He called out "I thirst!", before saying "It is finished!" and dying on the cross. (John 19:28.)

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

Now this is the one that blows my mind. You have to remember David wrote this Psalm a thousand years before Jesus fulfilled it. And get this: crucifixion wasn't even invented back then! In fact, it wasn't invented until hundreds of years later! Yet this form of punishment is described here. Jesus did indeed have His hands and feet pierced with nails. "Dogs" was also a common Jewish term for Gentiles, and there were many Gentiles at Jesus' crucifixion.

17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;

It is recorded in John 19:36 that not a bone in Jesus' body was broken. 
18 they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

John 19:24 speaks of how the Roman soldiers gambled for Jesus' clothing. I mean, talk about a specific prophecy!
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

This verse is actually speaking about Jesus' resurrection. After rising from the dead, He appeared to His apostles and told them that God had triumphed over Satan. (John 20:26.)

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.

This prophecy was fulfilled after the life of Christ. There are millions of Christians in different countries around the world today, worshipping God and thanking Him for the power of the Gospel and His work of salvation through Jesus Christ.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

 God is already the King of the universe, and thus has power over all the nations of the earth. More specifically, though, Christ will rule directly over the world after He returns (see Revelation 19:15).
29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

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