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"Suffering and Victory at Easter" (posted April 4, 2015)

   My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?
   For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet.
   Save Me from the lionís mouth and from the horns of the wild oxen!
   You have answered Me.
   I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
   - Psalm 22:1, 16, 21, 22

In Psalm 22 we have one of the many Old Testament prophecies which refer directly to our Lord Jesus Christ. This one, however, is distinguished from the rest because it foretells facts concerning His unique and unfathomable sufferings which are not to be found in other predictions. Here we have them in all their simple, solemn, and pathetic sweetness from the lips of the Holy Sufferer Himself.

Many psalms give glimpses of Jehovahís Anointed One who was to come, but three of them are conspicuous among the rest by the vivid details of His sufferings which they make known beforehand. Besides Psalm 22, there are Psalm 69 and Psalm 102. All three foretell in words of song the amazing pathway of the Hope of Israel, laughed to scorn by all who saw Him and the Savior of men without a place to lay His head. Each of the three psalms presents its own particular phase of the sufferings of Christ followed by its appropriate sequel; but the one which touches our affection and devotion most deeply is Psalm 22.

The theme of Psalm 22 is unique. Here, although the sufferings depicted are far deeper and more poignant, the result for man is not judicial but merciful. Not a word is uttered about wrath and judgment for man. Indeed, one might almost call Psalm 22 the nearest approach in the Old Testament to the revelation of the super-abounding grace of God in the New. Instead of thunderbolts of wrath from God falling upon those who maltreated the Messiah, the psalm ends with praise arising to God from all mankind.

The sufferings of Christ will yield what the whole word has never yet rendered to Godóunited and universal praise. Now there is praise from a few here and a few there; but the psalm views a time when all the world will be rejoicing in God and giving Him what is due to His nameógiving Him, in fact, what manís tongue was designed to render: intelligent and heartfelt praise.

Being forsaken by God is expressed in its opening stanzas and affords the key to the whole psalm. The ferocity of men also appears, as in other psalms; but the abandonment of the Messiah of Israel by the Holy One of Israel is, as it must necessarily be, the predominating feature of this prophecy. Moreover, it is the Holy Sufferer Himself who confesses that He is forsaken by His God. He who endured it also describes it. He is, indeed, the speaker throughout the psalm. And as He records His own sufferings, so He declares the praises to God that follow as their effect. We learn that, propitiation and atonement being accomplished, the earth in due course will become full of praises to God.

William J. Hocking

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