“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1).
PSALM 22 IS A PROPHECY OF THE MESSIAH’S SUFFERING. The familiar words of v.1 were spoken by Jesus while He was in the throes of death, as recorded in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. Among those expecting a personal Messiah, many would have been horrified at the very thought of the Messiah being killed — but that is exactly what David, as a prophet (2 Samuel 23:1,2), had predicted. Psalm 22 ends on a note of triumph (vv.21b-31), indicating that the Messiah’s death would not be the end of the story, but it is v.1 that Matthew and Mark single out. Their quotation of Jesus’ cry of agony on the cross showed God allowing Him to suffer, exactly as David had said in Psalm 22 that the Messiah would suffer.
When Jesus began to tell His disciples what was going to happen to Him, they did not comprehend it (Luke 9:43–45; 18:31–34). After it happened, however, Jesus explained that His suffering had to take place. “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled . . . that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44–47). The Messiah’s death was not an unexpected interruption of God’s plan. It was the most important part of the plan, foretold in the Scriptures long before.
We will look at some of the details of Psalm 22 in tomorrow’s reading, but for now, I ask you simply to get a Bible and read the Psalm. It is the gruesome, heartbreaking picture of an innocent person being tortured to death. Death by crucifixion was intended to be torture, and Jesus was certainly not the only man to be put to death in this way by the Roman government, but as you read Psalm 22, just contemplate what it means that the Son of God was subjected to a death like this — and that even the particulars of it were foreseen ten centuries before it took place.
“Psalm 22 makes it clear that Messiah was first to come and die for the sins of the world. It is a picture of the crucifixion, years before crucifixion was a method of capital punishment. The parallels between this Psalm, written nearly 1,000 years before Jesus, and the Gospel account are uncanny” (Mitch Glaser).