Psalm 22 (alt tune) overcomer - My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me? - through David

This has been by far the hardest psalm for me to digest, but it has also been the richest because it has given me the deepest appreciation for the Lord.  This psalm is not about me but 100% about the Lord. I feel this psalm cannot be sung often because it is so heavy. Maybe sing it a few times a year, but this may be due to the tune that I chose.

I had chosen this tune, "Thy way, not mine, O Lord, however dark it seems" and had memorized this Psalm to the tune before I had the understanding below of "hind of the dawn". Had I had that understanding earlier, I would have chosen more of a morning tune. The tune "Thy way not mine" is dirge-like, which adds to the heaviness of the psalm and makes me unable to sing it very often. After I complete this version, I will try putting it to the tune of hymn #708, "Fresh as the dew of the morning", which is my favorite hymn at this time (11/09). I don't know if it will work, but I will try it.

The current Jewish interpretation of Psalm 22 is similar to their interpretation of Isa 53, which is that the suffering person here is the nation of Israel. There are many psalms on the suffering of Israel as a people and they all speak plainly that the sufferings are of the people Israel. What would be the reason to have this one psalm about the sufferings of Israel and yet never mention that it is Israel that is suffering? Why make this one a riddle?
The striking thing about this psalm is the detail with which the sufferings are described. The detailed and lengthy account of the suffering here would be unfitting and exaggerated if it was a description of Israel's sufferings, yet every detail matches exactly with the Lord's crucifixion.
Of the many psalms that speak of Israel's sufferings, all of them also confess the great sins of Israel. Yet in Psalm 22 there is no mention of sin, repentence nor moral weakness of the God-forsaken One.
Specifically,  verse 6 says that I am a reproach of mankind and despised by the people. The people doing the despising is Israel (Num 23:9, etc). Verses 7-8 describe the mocking by religious people who use the Bible and the name of the Lord. These could not be Gentile persecutors, but Jewish. Verse 22 says that the God-forsaken One will expound God's name to "my brothers". If the God-forsaken One is Israel, who are "my brothers"? If you say "my brothers" are the nations, then show me a verse where the nations are Israel's brothers?
Lastly, Psalm 22 is located in the 1st of the 5 books of Psalms. All of the psalms in the 1st book of Psalms (Psalms 1 - 41) are individual experiences, not collective.

Outline of Psalm 22:
I. God why have You forsaken Me vv 1-11
  A. You have forsaken me vv 1-2
  B. You did not forsake our fathers vv 3-5
  C. I trust in You and am put to shame vv 6-8
  D. You have taken care of Me all My life - vv 9-10
  E. 1st Request - Do not be far from Me v11
II. Crucifixion vv 12-21
  A. Sufferings from Jews vv 12-13
  B. Sufferings from Gentiles vv 14-18
  C. 2nd (final) Request vv 19-21
III. Resurrection Ministry vv 22 - 31
  A. To the Jews vv 22-24
  B. To the church vv 25 - 27
  C. To the millenium nations vv 28 - 29
  D. Conclusion - preaching of the gospel vv 30-31

heading  -  "the hind of the dawn" is a unique phrase for the title of this unique psalm. I think "the dawn" refers to the Lord's coming as a thief to rapture His overcomers, those in whom He finds active faith on the earth (2 Pet 1:19; Rev 2:26-28; 22:16; Luke 17:34-18:8). The Lord will be at that time like a hart upon the mountains at dawn (Song of Songs 2:9, 17; 8:14; cf. Isa 35:6). We must be watching carefully and sensitive to Him or we will miss Him. This psalm will give us a deep appreciation of the Lord to make us ready for His return.
Dawn is also the time of the Lord's resurrection (Matt 28:1; Mk 16:2; Lk 24:1,22; Jn 20:1). The Lord often visits at dawn (Jn 21:4).

"Hart" and "hind" are the same word in Hebrew except that "hart" is masculine, meaning a male deer, and "hind" is feminine, meaning a female dear. The Lord will return as a hart upon the mountains at day break, and those Christians who overcome to be raptured at dawn, before the great tribulation, will be like a "hind of the dawn" to match Him. As Psalm 9 is to produce "virgins for the Son", Psalm 22 is to produce a "hind of the dawn" (Gen 49:21; 2 Sam 22:34; Ps 18:33; Prov 5:19; Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5; Hab 3:19).

v1  - This is the worst suffering - to be forsaken by God. God forsook Jesus on the cross (Matt. 27:46; Mk 15:34) because Jesus took the place of us, the sinners (Isa 53:4-6, 10-12; .Matt 8:17; 1 Pet 2:24; Zech 13:5-7; Matt 26:31; 20:28; Gal 3:13; Heb 9:15, 28; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 Jn 2:2; Rom 4:25; 5:6-8; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 5:2).

This being forsaken by God is especially painful because God has been taking care of Me all my life (vv 9-10).

Because the Lord bore this for us, a Christian should never experience God forsaking him. Paul wanted the Lord to forsake him for the sake of the Jews, but the Lord would not do it (Rom 9:1-3).

If God has forsaken the psalmist, David, here, or if it was referring to the people Israel, then there should be some mention of sins in this substantially long Psalm. But there is no word of confession of sins nor of moral weakness. That should tell the reader that this Psalm is not concerning any normal human being with a sinful nature. For example,  Psalm 13 "How long will You forget me, O Lord?" starts in a similar way to this Psalm. Ps 13 is a very short psalm of only 6 verses, so it cannot include many things, but even in those 6 verses David admits that if God does not answer him, he will be moved away from God (Ps 13:4), and he requests that God enlighten his eyes (Ps 13:3), which is admitting that he is in darkness.

"Roaring" is also used in v13 of the crucified One's persecutors. Roaring is loud and not polite (Lk 18:1-7).

v2  - I think this refers to the Lord's time on the cross during which there was day from the 3rd hour to the 6th hour and night from the 6th hr. to the 9th hr.  (Mt 27:45-46; Mk 15:25, 33-34; Lk 23:44; Amos 8:9). Before this, God answered all of Jesus' prayers (Jn 11:41-42).

v3  - It is difficult to translate this verse. Most translate it as, "You are sitting upon the praises of Israel" or "You dwell in the praises of Israel". I do not know of another statement like these in the Bible saying that God sits upon or that He dwells in His people's praises. If this was the meaning then there should be a preposition "upon" or "in" before "praises of Israel". In Hebrew the preposition can be omitted if the meaning is obvious without it, but here it would not be at all obvious. It would be bad writing to leave out the preposition if that was the meaning.

I think it means that the praises of Israel are that our fathers trusted in You.

The purpose of this verse is to show that God is fully in control. What is happening is according to His plan.

The result of the suffering described in this psalm is praise from:
1. The crucified One v22, 25
2. You that fear the Lord v23
3. All the seed of Jacob v23
4. Those who seek the Lord v26
5. All families of the nations v27
6. All the fat on the earth v29
7. All that descend to dust v29

v4 -5 - To practically trust in Him, that is to live by faith, is the best praise.

v6  - The fathers trusted and cried unto the Lord and were not put to shame, but the God-forsaken One has done the same, but is regarded as a worm and not even a person.

Reproach of mankind is by all nationalities (Num 23:9; etc). Despised by the people is by the Jews ( Isa 53:1-4; Ps 69:7-12,19-20; Isa 49:7; Jn 1:10; Heb 13:12).

His being not a person may refer to His not opening His mouth to defend Himself (Isa 53:7; Matt 26:63; 27:12-14; Mk 14:61; 15:5; Lk 23:9; Jn 19:9; 1 Pet 2:23; Acts 8:32) and also to His clothes being taken away in v18.

v7-8  - These words were spoken about the Lord while He was on the cross (Matt 27:39-43; Mark 15:29-32; Lk 23:35).

v8  - This verse is spoken sarcastically by the religious leaders.

We should roll our burdens upon the Lord. Some burdens are too heavy to lift, but we can roll them upon and unto the Lord (Ps 37:4-5; Prov 16:3).

This verse is similar to Ps 37:4-5. It seems that Psalm 22 is prophecying that the religious leaders would quote Ps 37:4-5 in mocking against the Messiah. Both Psalms 37 and 22 are by David. Psalm 37 was written when David was old (Ps 37:25). We do not know how old David was when he wrote Ps 22. Ps 22 is directly from God, but Ps 37 is David's mature observations on life. It seems that Psalm 22 prophecies that future people would quote Ps 37:4-5 to mock the Lord even before Ps 37 was written.

v10  - God was Jesus' God, not just from His birth, but even while He was in His mother's belly.
This makes God's forsaking of Him even harder.

It is good to tell the Lord our of our history with Him. It reminds us of all the Lord has done for us and that He has always been there with us.

v11  - The 1st of only 2 requests in this psalm. This request is not for the trouble to be gone, but for God to not be far away from Him.
Some troubles that we pass through may be the Lord's will for our profit. We should always pray that He would not be far away (Ps 35:22; 38:21; 71:12). This is very important, because if He were far away, our suffering would be to no profit. This is more important than for the trouble to be gone.

The trouble is because God is not helping Him because He has forsaken Him in v1 because Jesus has taken the place of us, the sinners.

v12  - Bulls are clean animals signifying the Jewish leaders (Amos 4:1). Unclean animals signify the Gentiles  (Acts 10:11-20, 28).

v13  - Lit -  They opened their mouths against Me, a ravening and roaring lion.
ref. Job 16:10-11; Lam 2:16;3:46.
The word "roaring" is the same as in v1.
ref. Luke 23:5,23

v14  - "Poured out" refers to death as a drink offering to God. (2 Tim 4:6; Phil 2:17;  Ps 2:6)

v15  - I translated the Hebrew word, malqowach, as "prey", not "mouth", because in the other 7 times this word is used in the Bible, it always means "prey" and never "mouth" nor a part of the mouth.
I think the experience described here is much worse than being extremely thirsty. I think it means His tongue writhed in agony (cf. Rev 16:10) like a snake squeezing its prey, trying to hold onto His dear life (Jer 21:9; 38:2; 39:18 45:5 the word "prey" in these verses is a different Hebrew word than here in Ps22:15), because it was the only part of His body that could freely move . This may have been induced by the vinegar given to Jesus right before He died. (John 19:28-30; Ps 69:21).

cf. Job 29:10, Lam 4:4, Ps 137:6 & Ezek 3:26 do not use the word malqowach.

v16  - Dogs signify Gentiles (Matt 15:24,26; Mark 7:26-28; Exo 22:31). These were the Roman soldiers who nailed His hands and feet (John 20:25, 27) and cast lots for His clothing.

The nails in the Lord's hands and feet did not just pierce His hands and feet, but cut deep holes in them pulling away at His flesh. Thus the Hebrew word used is literally, "they digged" (Job 6:27), not "they pierced".

Jewish English translations of the Bible translate the last phrase as "like a lion, my hands and my feet" instead of "they digged (or pierced) my hands and my feet". This is because the Masoretic Hebrew text says "kari", like a lion, instead of "karu", they dug.  Christian English versions have translated it based on the LXX which says "they dug my hands and feet". Today, due to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, there should be no doubt that the correct reading is "they dug my hands and feet". The Dead Sea Scrolls were copied about 100 years before Christ while the earliest Masoretic text was copied around 850 AD. The Dead Sea Scrolls have 2 copies of the disputed text in Psalm 22:16. Nahal Hever (abbreviated  5/6HevPs) has the Hebrew letters koph aleph resh vav, spelling "karu", not "kari". (Karu would normally be spelled just koph resh vav, without the aleph, however the Dead Sea Scrolls often add an aleph as a vowel). 4QPs(f) (see DJD 16 p. 88) has just the letters koph resh with the fragment ending at the resh. This is another witness in favor of karu, since there is no aleph between the koph and resh. Kari, like a lion, would require the aleph, since aleph is the first and thus most important letter of "lion". Karu is normally spelled without the aleph.
The 2 witnesses of the DSS manuscripts plus the LXX (which says "digged" in Greek) makes 3 witnesses.
Also, "like a lion, my hands and feet" does not make sense in this verse. There needs to be a verb there.

v18  - "They" here is still the Roman soldiers, the dogs, in v16.
ref Matt 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24.

v19  - This is the 2nd and final request in this psalm. The 1st request, v11, was only for the Lord to not be far away. This request begins with the same. The most important thing to pray here is for the Lord to not be far away from us (Ps 35:22; 38:21; 71:12).

v20  - In v11, He prayed only for the Lord not to be far away. Here, after the trouble is completed, He asks the Father to save His soul. The Father answered by resurrecting Him (v22).

v21  - He prayed to be saved from:
1) the sword - death
2) the hand of the dog - gentiles, specifically Romans (Acts 4:27)
3) the lion's mouth - Satan (2 Tim 4:17; 1 Pet 5:8)
4) the horns of the high ones - religious leaders (Acts 4:27)

Most translate the Hebrew word ramim as "unicorns" or "wild oxen", but that word is spelled differently, with an aleph between the resh and mem. The word here, ramim, is always translated "high ones", or "high places" (2 Sam 22:28; Job 21:22; Ps 78:69). The Hebrew word translated by KJV as "unicorn" is never spelled as it is here.

v22  - The Father answered Jesus by resurrecting Him from the dead.

By His resurrection, Jesus regenerated us to be His brothers (Matt 28:10; Jn 20:17; Heb 2:11-13, 17-3:1; 1 Pet 1:3; Rom 8:29), that is we have the eternal divine life of God as He did.

The Lord expounds the Father's name to us in the church and sings hymns of praise to the Father through us. Our knowledge of the Father and enjoyment of Him is much richer in the church than alone.

The Hebrew word which I translated as "expound" is the verb form of the word "book". It is also used in verses 17 & 30 of this Psalm.

v23  - First, those who fear the Lord praise Him for Jesus' death and resurrection. It doesn't say "all", because not all the Jews who feared the Lord believed in Him.
Then at Jesus' 2nd coming, all the seed of Jacob, that is all the Jews, will be saved and glorify Him (Rom 11:25-27; Isa 59:20-21). Then all the seed of Jacob will be restored once again be the seed of Israel. All the seed of Israel at that time will be both the church and all the Jews, the seed of Jacob.

v24  - This verse gives the reason why all the seed of Israel should fear, why all the seed of Jacob should glorify the Lord, and why all that fear the Lord shall praise Him: Because God has resurrected the Crucified One (Zech 12:10-13:1). Ref. Heb 5:7.

v25  - The great assembly is the universal church. It is not a small sect of those with the correct doctrines and practices, but includes all believers in Christ. Thus it is the great assembly.
"My promises" that the Lord will pay in the church are His New Covenant (Jer 30:31-34; Heb 8:6-13; 11:13; Rom 15:8; 2 Cor 1:20; 6:18; Gal 3:16-18; 2 Pet 1:2-4).
  The resurrected Lord does not just pay His promises, but is near to us while doing so. A great promise is that He will be near us (Matt 28:20; Eph 2:12-13).

v26  - The Lord's promises that He pays in the church are:
1. He will be near them that fear Him (v25)
2. The meek will eat (Phil 2:3-11;Matt 5:5; 18:3-4; 23:11-12; Lk 1:46-55; Prov3:34; 1 Pet 5:5-6; Rom 12:16; Eph 4:1-2) and rest (Mt 11:28-30; Heb 4:1-12; 2 Cor 2:13).
3. He leads them to seek the Father (Jer 31.34; Heb 8.11)  and praise Him (Heb 2:12)
4. They will have eternal life (Jn 3:14-16).

v27  - During the church age people in all the ends of the world (Acts 1:8) will remember the Lord's crucifixion and resurrection by eating Him (Lk 22:17-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26). People from every race and family will worship in His presence.

v28  - "because the Lord is King" is literally "because the kingdom is the Lord's".
In the millenium the Lord will rule in the nations.

v29  - Under the Lord's rule in the millenium, all the nations will prosper and worship the Lord. There will still be death during the millenium (Isa 65:20; Rev 20:7; 21:4).

"None can keep alive his own soul" refers to today as well as the future. No human being can earn eternal life by his works. We have eternal life through the Messiah's death on the cross (v26).

v30  - A seed shall serve Him (Isa 53:10). They are the seed of God.

v31  - (Acts 1:8) Those who hear the gospel of God's righteousness (Rom 1:16-17) will be born again (Jn 1:12-13; 3:3-8; Ezek 36:25-28, etc.)  to be God's people.

-copyright Steve Miller 2009
written 11/13/2009