Why Have You Forsaken Me?
Editor’s Note: The follow are excerpts of the articleReflections on Psalm 22: The Messianic Psalm of the cross by Pastor Roger Barrier in response to the question;
I decided to read through the Bible from beginning to end. I just came to Psalm 22 and was struck by how closely this Psalm paralleled Jesus’ experience on the cross. Could you please expand on this Psalm with thoughts from your point of view?
Psalm 22 is known as the Psalm of the Cross. It is perhaps the most amazing of all the Psalms. It accurately predicts what Jesus saw as he hung on the cross some 950 years before the crucifixion occurred.
Psalm 22 begins with the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22 concludes with the words, “It is finished.” In this Psalm we find the photograph of Christ’s final hours, the record of his dying words.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
The tragedy is what Christ didn’t see!
He looked around and couldn’t find his father. We can imagine Judas and Peter deserting him – but surely not his own father.
What compels a father to desert a son in his hour of greatest need?
Habakkuk 1:3: “God is too holy as to look upon sin.”
(Fulfilled in Matthew 27:46: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried in a loud voice, “Eloi,Eloi,lama sabachthani” – which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Psalm 22:7-8:All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “Let the Lord rescue him.”
Notice that the greatest mocking of all was their mocking of His deity! Satan tempted Him with the same tools in the wilderness: “If you are the Son of God, jump off this ledge of the temple and have your angels catch you before you hit the ground.”
(Fulfilled in Matthew 27:41-42: “In the same way the chief priests and teachers of the law mocked him. “He saved others, but he can’t save himself! Let him come down from the cross and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “’I am the son of God’”).
(Fulfilled also in Matthew 27:27-30: “Then the soldiers took Jesus into the praetorian and gather the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him and twisted it into a crown of thorns.”)
Psalm 22:12 and Psalm 22:16: Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths against me...Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men encircles me.
The priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees, rulers and captains close in on him. They stamp and foam around the innocent one as he imagines them goring him to death. They look like wild tigers, mouths open, leaping at his feet.
The term “dogs” was utilized in the first century to as a euphemism for an Roman soldiers. David prophesied Christ’s crucifixion by His Roman captors 950 years before it finally occurred.
(Fulfilled in Matthew 27:39-40: “Those who pass by hurled insults at him shaking their heads and saying come down from the cross if you are the son of God.”)
Broken and bleeding
Psalm 22:14:I am poured out like water. My heart has turned to wax, it has melted away within me.
John tells us that it was blood mixed with water that emerged. Obviously, the pericardial sac around his heart filled rapidly. The soldier’s sword pierced into that sac and the fluid came out with the blood.
It’s fair to say that Jesus died of a broken heart.
(Fulfilled in John 19:34: One of the soldiers pierced Jesus side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.)
Psalm 22:15:My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. (A potsherd is a piece of broken pottery). It’s dry as dust.“I thirst.”
Presently, a gracious man offered him a sponge of anesthetic vinegar to help ease some of the pain.
Even thirst was a form of torture. After a day or so with no water the tongue begins to turn black, crack and swell. Three days without water means death.
(Fulfilled in Matthew 27:48: Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.)
Rejected and pierced
Psalm 22:16:They pierce my hands and my feet.
“He was in the world, and though the world was made by Him, the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, and his own received him not. Yet to all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:10-12).
These were His men. He made them. But they didn’t recognize Him. The Creator held still as the ones that He created drove spikes into his flesh.
Take a long moment and think on this: It was not the nails, but His love, that held Him in place on the cross.
(Fulfilled in John 19:18: “Here they crucified him, and with him two others.”)
Psalm 22:17-18: All my bones are on display, people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
This may well be the worst humiliation Christ ever endured.
When a person was crucified, the crucifiers usually confiscated his clothes and sold them or used them for rags. Nothing is thrown away in a culture that has so little. Sometimes, they left a loincloth. Other times they did not.
This reminds us of Hebrews 12:2: “...He endured the cross, despising the shame...”
(Fulfilled in John 19:23-24: When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. Let’s not tear it, they said to one to another, let’s decide by lot who will get it).
Psalm 22:31:“They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for it is finished.”
How fitting that Psalm 22, which begins with the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," ends with the words, “it is finished.”
Jesus aptly culminated his work with these words, “It is finished.”
The gospel of salvation is now complete. There is no other name on earth by which we can be saved.
(Fulfilled in John 19:30: When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "it is finished.”)