Psalm 22: Prophecies of Jesus' Crucifixion

Lea Sylvester

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My tongue cleaveth to my jaws (Psalm 22:15) — From loss of blood and other causes of diminished blood flow in His upper body, He was suffering from acute physiological shock, a life-threatening condition. One symptom of the condition is a profound thirst. These words from Psalm 22 may have prompted Messiah Yeshua to utter His fifth saying on the cross, "I thirst."

Thou hast brought me into the dust of death (Psalm 22:15) — The next statement summarizes Jesus' condition as He neared the end of His ordeal. In other words, His body had reached a nonviable state. He continued to live only by His own divine power.

Psalm 22:16-18

The next verses show more of the scene about the cross:

Dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me (Psalm 22:16) — "Dogs" was a Hebrew term of insult for Gentiles, alluding to their habit of eating unclean food. Jesus Himself once compared Gentiles to dogs (Matthew 15:26), although, with characteristic kindness, He turned insult into endearment by His choice of words. The label He put on Gentiles signifies a family pet. The term "dogs" here in Psalm 22 probably refers to the Roman soldiers who gawked with pleasure upon the spectacle of Jesus' death.

The assembly of the wicked (Psalm 22:16) — This comprehends all of the onlookers who hated Him — the soldiers and religious leaders, as well as the profane Jewish mob (Matthew 27:39-40; Luke 23:35). The psalmist/writer/speaker of the psalm evidently conceives of this hostile assembly as the antithesis of the "brethren," the "congregation," who would later rejoice at the deliverance of the righteous victim.

They pierced my hands and my feet (Psalm 22:16) — Could there be clearer proof that the psalm describes a crucifixion? In what other mode of execution does the victim suffer a piercing of his hands and feet?

I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me (Psalm 22:17) — "Tell" means "count exactly" (see Psalm 22:22, below). Another peculiar feature of crucifixion is that before the executioners hoisted the victim into the air, they confiscated at least his outer garments. Jesus also suffered this indignity (John 19:23). A further account of Jesus' garments comes next:

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture (Psalm 22:18) — It was customary at a Roman crucifixion for the attending soldiers to divide the garments of the condemned man among themselves. Accordingly, the garments of The Messiah were apportioned into four shares (John 19:23). The soldiers determined who would take His outer coat by casting lots (John 19:24; see also, Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:34).

Psalm 22:19-31

I will declare thy name (Psalm 22:22) — the word "declare" is derived from the Hebrew caphar, a primitive root, meaning, "to score with a mark as a tally or record, i.e., by implication, to inscribe, and also to enumerate; intensively, to recount, i.e., celebrate" (Strong's Concordance). This is a prophetic reference to Yeshua. As part of His ministry He declared or announced His Father's Name to His disciples, Hebrews 2:12.

And none can keep alive his own soul (Psalm 22:29) — This may be the inspiration behind Jesus' utterance "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46).

He hath done this (Psalm 22:31) — "It is finished" (John 19:30) was unquestionably His victorious restatement of the psalm's conclusion. The saying and the psalm's conclusion are each a single word. In Greek, tetelestai, in Hebrew, asah. The former is a close Greek translation of the latter, which carries the sense, "He has acted with effect." In other words, "He has accomplished the purpose of His action." What did Jesus mean by His last utterance? He meant that He had finished the work of our salvation. We find this, as well, in Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34.

Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) was obviously near death when He recited the concluding verses of Psalm 22. They look forward to the time when Jesus will be "governor among the nations" (Psalm 22:28) and when "all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him" (Psalm 22:29; compare with Philippians 2:9-11). Everyone will then recognize that no man can live forever except through Jesus' power, for He is the Lord of Life.

An uninformed reader of Psalm 22 might suspect that the writer is knowingly describing a crucifixion. The facts prove otherwise, however. This method of punishment was not widely used until approximately the sixth century B.C. This was long after any plausible date for Psalm 22. So, what we have in this psalm is supernatural knowledge of the future. This Psalm describes future event not fulfilled until Messiah Yeshua was crucified. Psalm 22 prophesies in great detail the horrific torture and subsequent death of the Lamb of God.

Image: Detail of the well at the Mission San Juan; San Antonio, TX; 2017; Courtesy Kersley Fitzgerald.

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Jesus-Christ

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Published 4-10-17