Born to Be – Forsaken

PSALM 22

CONTEXT

David is the author of this unique Psalm. Many scholars suggest that it is a Psalm that is so diverse, it could be placed in a number of different types of Psalms. It clearly is a Psalm of lament. However, at the end of the Psalm, there seems to be praise and thanksgiving, not to mention the distinct description of what is happening to the Psalmist (ie, mocked, pierced, feeling forsaken). If you have ever read the crucifixion account found in Matthew 27 or John 19, many of these scenes are duplicated. Therefore, this Psalm could also be categorized as a Messianic Psalm, one that looks forward to Christ (I would argue that all the Psalms do that in some sense!). There is little doubt who wrote this Psalm; however, the problem is that in many of the Psalms there is a parallel to an event that took place in the individual’s personal life. For example, Psalm 51, which is a Psalm filled with repentance and an acknowledgement of sin, was probably written by David after his affair with Bathsheba. Psalm 22 portrays vivid scenes of an execution at the hands of an angry mob. Nowhere in the Bible is it mentioned that David endured this.

So, how could he have written this Psalm? In 1 Peter 1:10-12, Peter states:[10] Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, [11] inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. (ESV). In other words, the prophets in the Old Testament did not know exactly who they were writing of when they prophesied. They didn’t have the full picture that we now have, but they wrote as the Spirit directed them. Peter also claimed that David was not just a King, but a prophet who prophesied of Christ (Acts 2:29-31). Based on reading the Bible backwards (seeing how the New Testament views this passage) we can see that Psalm 22 testifies to the divine inspiration of scripture and is truly a passage about the death of Christ from His perspective.

WHY THE CROSS AT CHRISTMAS?

The heart of Christmas is that “The word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). The Second Person of the Trinity, clothed himself in flesh. Let’s clarify…Jesus didn’t stop becoming God or change his nature. Jesus remained fully God, but became fully man with no sin. Remember sin is a result of the fall (Adam and Eve were without sin in the beginning) and sin is passed down from generation to generation through birth….Jesus wasn’t born like you and I! He was born of a Virgin. He has a human nature, but not a sinful one. Jesus became a man and came down to live amongst His creation, which was full of sin! That’s amazing that a perfect God, with no sin or stain of sin, would come to be a man and live with His creation. No other belief system can fathom this idea. It is an act of pure grace that God would do this. But why? Why did God become a man? To die in our place and defeat sin, death, and hell (Read 1 John 3:8). This defeat was accomplished through His death and resurrection. It is not Good Friday. But as believers, we are to always remember the cross. It is the pinnacle event in human history and it shows us the reason why the word became flesh! That is to be our substitute and become the very sin that separates filthy humans from a Holy God.

THE CROSS AND PSALM 22

Prophecy fulfilled in Christ

Psalm 22 was written 1000 years before Jesus’ birth! It was also written nearly 500 years before crucifixion was invented. That is amazing and testifies of the validity of scripture that so many detailed events could be exactly prophesied of so many years before. Below are some Verses in Psalm 22, which are fulfilled or strongly alluded to in Matthew and John:

  • Psalm 22:1 (Fulfilled in Matthew 27:46)
  • Psalm 22:7-8 (Fulfilled in Matthew 27:39-43)
  • Psalm 22:15 (Fulfilled in John 19:28)
  • Psalm 22: 16-17 (Fulfilled in John 19:31-33)
  • Psalm 22:19 (Fulfilled in John 19:23-24)

 

The Core of Sin

Not only does Psalm 22 prophecy of the death of Christ, but it also exposes the core of sin. Jesus was mocked, rejected, and ridiculed by His creation, the very ones he came to represent! You may say that you would never have done those things to Jesus. The truth is we do those all the time. At its core, sin is a rejection of God’s authority in our personal lives. That’s exactly what was happening as Jesus was being mocked and spit upon! The mockery that happened is the heart of our sin. As we look at Psalm 22 and the account written in the gospels, we need to think deeply about our sin and what it truly is to God.

Forsaken

On the cross, the humanity of Jesus was on full display as he experienced the most agonizing pain and misery one could possibly imagine. In the darkest moment, he cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). In that moment, Jesus became the dirtiest, most hideous creature imaginable. He became all the sin that you and I have committed and will ever commit! Christ had come on a mission to pay the debt we owed and become the curse. However, sin must be paid for and the eternal plan of God would be brought forth. In his humanity, Jesus experienced Hell on behalf of His people, and in that very moment when the wrath of God was fully poured out on His Son, Christ cried out to His Father and felt abandoned. This is the scandal of the cross! The righteous in the place of the unrighteous. The innocent in place of the guilty…He was forsaken in that moment of time, so we wouldn’t have to pay the debt we owe and not be forsaken eternally.

It is Finished

The Second half of the Psalm points to the advancement of God’s fame because of what happened on the cross. In verse 21, there is a hint to a resurrection. God’s kingdom would spread not only to his people, but to the ends of the earth. Future generations would come to know the Lord and serve him. All people will bow down before Christ and realize who he is. The people of God will rejoice, because their salvation has been accomplished. Generations will proclaim his “righteousness…that he has done it” (Psalm 22:31). These final verses are very similar to another phrase that Christ cried on the cross…It is finished! In other words, salvation has been accomplished because the Word became flesh. In the flesh, He lived a sinless life, he became our sin on the cross in our place, and he rose from the grave to defeat the works of the devil! We serve a God that has not made salvation possible and left the rest up to us. We serve a God who accomplished Salvation in Christ on our behalf, and it is given freely to us out of His grace to be received by faith!

Discussion Questions

1) How does this Psalm testify to the divine authority of Scripture and it’s validity?
2) How do you see your sin in what happened to Jesus leading up to the cross?
3) Why is it good news that Jesus was “forsaken” on the cross?
4) Read Psalm 22:30-31. How can you be a part of future generations proclaiming the works of God?