Psalm 22 - Part 2 (series: Lessons on Psalms)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)



6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

“I am a worm, and no man” is a forgotten “I am” statement that speaks of how little value the leaders of Israel and the Roman officials placed on Jesus of Nazareth. A worm is a creature of the ground, helpless, frail, and unwanted. Isaiah 52:14{2] predicted that the Messiah would be terribly disfigured by his enemies and not even look human

What does He mean when He says, “I am a worm?” He has roared like a lion; now He says, “I am a worm.” It is because He has reached the lowest place. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isa. 53:3). “I am a worm.” The interesting thing is that the word used here for worm means the coccus worm, which was used by the Hebrews in dying all the curtains of the tabernacle scarlet red. When He said, “I am a worm,” He meant more than that He had reached the lowest level. It was He who had said, “. . . though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18). Only His blood, my friend, can rub out the dark deep spot in your life.

My friend, there is only one thing that will take the spot of sin out of your life, that is the blood of Christ. The blood of the Lord Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses from sin. Only His blood.


“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM”

Will you look at that Man on the cross? His suffering is intensified by that brutal mob and hardened spectators that are beneath Him. Look through His eyes and see what He sees.


7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

The Jews used the gesture of shaking (or “wagging”) their heads as they poked fun at Jesus on the cross—“And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads” (Matt. 27:39). Instead of pitying and helping him, they insulted and laughed at Him. “They shoot out the lip,” they open their mouths and stick out their tongue in mockery.


8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

Some criminals have been so detested that they have been taken from jail and lynched by a mob. But while the criminal was being executed, the mob would disperse. Tempers were cooled, and emotions were eased. But not this crowd! I think the lowest thing that has ever been said about religion was said by these Pharisees when the Lord Jesus Christ was dying: “And sitting down they watched Him there” (Matt. 27:36). You have to be low to do that. In fact, you cannot get lower than that! The venom and vileness of the human heart were being poured out like an open sewer as they remained there and ridiculed Him as he died. After a snake has put its deadly venom in its victim and emitted its poison, it will slither away in the grass. But not this crowd—not the human heart in rebellion against God.

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. . . ” (John 23:34). If He had not said that, this crowd would have committed the unpardonable sin. But they did not—He asked forgiveness for their sin. We know that the centurion in charge of the execution was saved; and a whole company of Pharisees, including Saul of Tarsus, who probably was in this crowd, were saved.



“WOMAN BEHOLD THY SON”

Now as he looks over the crowd He sees not only eyes of hate and antagonism, but He sees eyes of love. He sees his mother with John down there at the foot of the cross. “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25). As Jesus looks at His mother, do you want to know what went on in His heart? He went back to Bethlehem at the time He was born, and He says to the Father:


9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.

The thought of dependence upon One who delighted in him reminds the psalmist of the time when, as a baby, he was dependent upon his mother. But the very fact of his birth is evidence of divine intervention in human life, and a habit of reliance upon God was implanted within him with his own life and his mother’s milk. David had learned to trust in the Lord (“hope”) from infancy and was not going to relent now.


10 I was cast upon

thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.

“. . . Woman behold thy Son!” (John 19:26). There was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, she had asked Him to do something to show that He was the Messiah, that she was right when she said He was virgin born. She wanted Him to reveal Himself at this wedding. His answer to her at that time was, “. . . Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4). But there hanging on the cross: “. . . Woman behold thy Son!” His hour has come! The reason for His coming into the world is now being accomplished. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT HOUR IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!

Then His attention moves back to those who are doing the crucifying.


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

Here we see the psalmist pleading with the Lord for the realization of God’s presence, that is, for God to be with him now as he had been in the past—in the years since his infancy—because there is no one to help him, and trouble is near (Job 3:24-26{15]). If God doesn’t speedily deliver him, it will be too late; which is an argument David often used. God’s help is absolutely necessary, and when he delivers me He will receive even more glory since it will appear that it was His work only.


12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

“Bashan” was a very fertile area east of the Sea of Galilee and north of the Yarmuk River to Mount Hermon, now known as the Golan Heights (Jer. 50:19{3])

An angry bull is a terrible adversary; he can charge with the momentum of a “freight train.” A Bashan bull (like a Jersey or an Aberdeen Angus) was the choicest and heaviest breed of the day. The wild bulls encircled their prey then moved in for the kill. Describing these soldiers that were crucifying Him, He says they are like the bulls of Bashan; but He does not stop with that, for He is being devoured by wild animals—that is what His tormentors had become. The people involved in arresting and condemning Jesus were only beasts attacking their Creator (Ps. 2:1-3{4]).


13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

His enemies, with the vigor of bulls and cruelty of lions, surrounded Him, eagerly seeking His ruin. He is talking about Rome now—Rome crucified Him. He compares them to a roaring lion, for the lion was the representation of Rome.

Now notice His condition:


14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

This accurate description of crucifixion is remarkable when you consider that crucifixion was unknown when this psalm was written. The Roman Empire was not even in existence, and it was Rome that instituted crucifixion. Yet here is a picture of a man dying by crucifixion!

“I am poured out like water”—the excessive perspiration of a dying man out in that sun.

“All my bones are out of joint”—the horrible thing about crucifixion is that when a man began to lose blood, His strength ebbed from him, and all his bones slipped out of joint. That is an awful thing. It was terrible, terrible suffering.

Then he says something that is indeed strange, “My heart is like wax.” He died of a broken heart. Many doctors have said that a ruptured heart would have produced what John meticulously recorded. “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). Let me paraphrase that. “I saw that Roman soldier put that spear in His side and there came out blood and water—not just blood but blood and water.” Like ebbing water and melting wax, his strength fades away, and He becomes like a brittle piece of broken pottery. John took note of that and recorded it. Jesus died of a broken heart! David the prophetic psalmist (Acts 2:30{5]) saw what would happen to Messiah centuries later.



“I THIRST”


As He was hanging there ready to expire, with excessive perspiration pouring from Him, He suffers the agony of thirst.


15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

Down below the cross, they hear Him say, “I thirst.” The “dust of death”—of course, denotes the grave.


16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

Evildoers are appropriately described as “dogs,” which in the East, hunting in packs, wild and ravenous, are justly objects of great abhorrence.

“Dog” was the name for Gentiles. The piercing of His hands and feet is an accurate description of crucifixion.







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