Psalm 22 Suffering and salvation
At the time of the writing of this psalm, David had reached what he thought was the farthest extreme of suffering. He was almost at the point of despair. Christians know that they are required to share the sufferings of Christ (Col 1:24), but David was probably unaware that, in the experiences recorded here, he was also having a share in those sufferings. His experiences were a foretaste of the greater sufferings that the messianic king Jesus would one day endure on the cross.
Although in his suffering the psalmist trusts in God, he is puzzled that God has not answered his prayers and rescued him. After all, God rescued people of former times who trusted in him (1-5). But, thinks the psalmist, he is hardly even a man. He feels more like a worm, so painful is the cruel mockery he receives from his enemies (6-8). He feels as helpless, yet as dependent, as a baby. He therefore pleads that as God looked after him when he was a baby, so he will look after him now (9-11).
The writer’s physical sufferings are beyond description. His enemies seem to him like wild animals that have surrounded their helpless victim (12-15). They are like a pack of vicious dogs that stare and gloat over him with a fierceness that tells him they are getting ready for the kill. Already they are biting at his hands and feet and tearing his clothes from him (16-18). In desperation he cries to God, for only God can save him now (19-21).
God did save him. He therefore will perform his duties according to the vow that he made when he called on God’s help. He invites all the people of Israel to join him in a sacrificial feast to celebrate the fulfilment of his vow. With him they can then praise God for his great deliverance (22-26; see Lev 7:11- 18 for the ceremony that marked the fulfilment of a vow). His joy overflows as he extends his call to people everywhere to bow before God and worship him because of his great salvation (27-29). From generation to generation people will praise God for all he has done (30-31).
The intensity of David’s feelings caused him to use words so extravagant that their fullest meaning extended beyond his own experiences to the death of Christ and the triumphant spread of the gospel (cf.
- 1-2 with Matt 27:46; cf. v. 6-8 with Matt 27:39-43; cf. v. 14-16 with John 19:18; cf. v. 18 with John 19:23-24; cf. v. 19-21 with Heb 5:7; cf. v. 22 with Heb 2:12; cf. v. 27-31 with Matt 28:19; Phil 2:9-11).