Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Did Jesus refer to all of Psalm 22 when He was near death on the cross?

Today, I made a passing comment during the noon 'Journey Through the Bible Class' regarding Jesus' recitation of Psalm 22:1 from the cross. (Jesus said, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?")

A question was asked, "Did Jesus have in mind the entire psalm when He recited its grim beginning?" I believe that He did.

This notion is buttressed by the fact that there are scholars who believe that Psalm 22--the entire psalm--was part of the Scripture recitation appointed for the time of day--3:00pm--when Jesus cited verse 1.

So much for my comments during class.

But I could have also added that it's also likely, I think, that Jesus had the entire psalm in mind because of the content of the psalm. It can be outlined, more or less, in the following way:

1. Despair (vv. 1-2)

2. Remembrance of God's past faithfulness (vv. 3-5)

Acknowledgment of others' mockery of the psalmist's faith (vv. 6-8) 

(Of course, Jesus endured similar mockery both before and during His crucifixion. As was true for the psalmist, Jesus endured the jeers of those who said, if Jesus was so great and so dependent on God the Father, "let Him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now, if He wants to..." [Matthew 27:42-43])

3. Affirmation that only God can help and the psalmist's need of help (vv. 9-18)

4. A confident plea for help (vv. 19-24)

5. Words of praise to God the deliverer (vv. 25-28)

6. Celebration of new, I would say, resurrected life (vv. 29-31)

In these last verses, the psalmist affirms that He will live beyond suffering and death:

"To him [God], indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him." 

People who place their hope in the God we meet in the crucified and risen Jesus, will live to praise God, even after they have gone to the dust and we will bow down to worship God. They also know that as they go through suffering and death, they have by their sides a God Who has been there and conquered both sin and death for them, so that they can look forward to eternity with God.

Job, the tragedy-plagued believer in the Old Testament, makes an affirmation similar to that made by the psalmist: 

"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another..." (Job 19:25-27)

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