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Bible Gem 1287 - Examining the Psalm 22 Connection (Psalm 22 // Matt 27 // Mark 15)

September 29, 2019

For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. 

O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. 

Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 

In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. 

To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed. 

But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people. 

All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, 

"Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him." 

Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts

Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother's womb. 

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

Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 

They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion. 

I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 

My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. 

For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 

I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 

They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots

But You, O LORD, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance. 

Deliver my soul from the sword, My only life from the power of the dog. 

Save me from the lion's mouth; From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me. 

I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. 

You who fear the LORD, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. 

For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard. 

From You comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. 

The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! 

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations will worship before You. 

For the kingdom is the LORD'S And He rules over the nations. 

All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive. 

Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. 

They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.  (Psalm 22:1-31)



I tell Deeper Bible students repeatedly that the intention of Bible references to the Old Testament is for us to look up the whole passage not just the one verse which has been quoted. The verse quoted is simply a pointer to the passage the writer or speaker is wanting to you to pay attention to. What is interesting in this case is that as you will see from the above highlighted parts of Psalm 22, there are many relevant parts. This Psalm could have been written especially for the cross event. It is like a Commentary on the Cross. But hang on a minute, David lived from 1040 BC to 970 BC, so it is a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Normally commentaries come after the event not before. The Cross event took place in April 32 AD if we are to believe Anderson et al. (See Bible Gem 1145). So what is the connection between these passages? Furthermore pay attention to something else in terms of the links between Psalm 22 – Matthew – Mark 15. 


These are the words spoken by the leading priests and teachers of the Law in their mocking of Jesus immediately before Jesus cries out "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”

We must always look at the context in which things are said when handling Bible quotes.  Jesus statement didn't come out of the blue. It was set in context even though there were the hours of darkness in between. it was not a coincidence that the Chief Priest and Teachers of the Law were mocking Jesus and asking Jesus why He couldn’t save Himself. Notice the line in Psalm 22:8.

"Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” Let Him rescue Himself parallels the reading in Psalm 22:8 ""Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue Him.” Notice I have sneakily change the “him" to “Him”.  Who is in reference here? This requires our full attention. 


Especially so, given the degree to which Psalm 22 is filled with references to the events on and surrounding the Cross Event. This is the Psalm which points to the Cross. Some would even say predicts it – a prophecy of the coming crucifixion. As I have told you before, Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in BC 90 and then perfected by the Romans. It was not practised when David was writing this Psalm, nor any other Psalm. So what is going on here? Could there be another reason why Jesus cries out, “My God My God, Why have you forsaken me or forgotten me?” Or is it as some suggest, that Jesus is showing that He is full of doubt and discouragement - Jesus at the lowest ebb of his human weakness?  


Another alternative to consider is that Jesus, by using the first line of Psalm 22, some might say the title, is referring to the whole Psalm not just the one line. Passages of Scripture before there were Chapter and Verse references were often referred to by their first line, or the beginning of the passage "about the bush”. Or alternatively the Psalm which starts “My God My God, why have you forsaken me?” This was a perfectly normal thing to do. The rabbis did it all the time. Notice too in what I clipped from the early segments above, the ones who were mocking Jesus with these words were the Leading Priests and Teachers of the Law. They knew this technique well, they practised it all the time. 


To fully understand what is going on here you need to take a long hard look at the whole of Psalm 22, not just the one line that is quoted. The quote points to the whole, pay careful attention. Notice the flow of the Psalm. How it starts and how it ends. Notice how the Psalm has three sections. The first dealing with David’s relationship with God, the second dealing with David’s relationship with others around him and then the Psalm closes with vindication and praise going out to all people and to the nations. Take note of the connections between the Psalm and the events of the cross. No wonder there was confusion among the bystanders. Jesus was speaking in Aramaic. Many misunderstood what He was saying. They thought He was calling for Elijah to rescue Him. Others thought He was discouraged and in need of a sedative, a strong drink, Maybe He was even delirious. No, none of those things were in Jesus' mind. But the chief priests and teachers of the Law would have known what He was doing. They had been taunting Him with His claim to be God’s Son (v. 43), and His appeal for divine help would have been expected. Jesus was quoting a well-known Psalm, there would have been little doubt in the minds of the chief priests and teaches of the Law as to what Jesus was meaning.


There are many other points to note about this Psalm but don’t worry, I am not about to take a digression into Psalm 22 for the next number of weeks. We will simply just use these connections to point out why Jesus quoted from Psalm 22 and then we will move on to Chapter 24. Yes the final Chapter of Luke and then we will take a long rest to give you time to put it all together and prepare for the start of the Gems on Philippians. I know some of you would like me to just summarise Luke 24 in one Gem and be done with it. You think I drag this process out to the Nth degree. But yes the end of Luke is in sight now. Then i intend to go back to live Gems. This series has been a repost. When the new website is up and running and stable I will begin a new series on Philippians, live and interactive. 



Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others. Ian


The wise does at once what the fool does last. 


To thine own self be true. William Shakespeare


If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live it's whole life believing it is stupid.



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