Psalms

Psalm 22, written by David hundreds of years before Christ, prophesies particular details about Jesus’ crucifixion.  The church has known this for centuries, including the authors of the New Testament.  Consider this statement from the NASB study bible:

(It is) The anguished prayer of David as a godly sufferer victimized by the vicious and prolonged attacks of enemies whom he has not provoked and from whom the Lord has not (yet) delivered him.  It has many similarities with Ps 69, but contains no calls for redress such as are found in 69: 22 – 28.  No other psalm fitted quite so aptly the circumstances of Jesus at His crucifixion.  Hence on the cross He took it to His lips, and the Gospel writers, especially Matthew and John, frequently alluded to it (as they did to Ps 69) in their accounts of Christ’s passion.  They saw in the passion of Jesus the fulfillment of this cry of the righteous sufferer…No other psalm is quoted more frequently in the NT.

If you have never thought this way about Psalm 22, consider then the parallels with Matthew 27.

David wrote

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  Psalm 22: 1

Jesus quoted that verse from the cross:

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”  that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Matthew 27: 46

David wrote about mocking:

“All who see me sneer at me; they separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”  Psalm 22: 7 – 8

Matthew records the mocking of Christ, with similar language:

“He saved others; He cannot save Himself.  He is the king of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.  He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”  Matthew 27: 42 – 43

David alludes to crucifixion, although Roman crucifixion would not have been known to him, and references the dividing of garments.

They pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones.  They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.  Psalm 22: 16 – 18

Matthew indicates they crucified Jesus and then cast lots for His clothes.

And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.  And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there.  Matthew 27: 35 – 36

The gospel of Matthew contains more quotations and allusions to the Old Testament than any of the other gospels – a clue that as he wrote he intended his words to be particularly meaningful to Jews, for they were the ones who knew Scripture and could weigh the evidence as to whether Jesus was the Messiah.

I wonder what it would have been like to be a Jew in the first century, familiar with Psalm 22, reading Matthew 27 for the first time and seeing the words of the psalmist fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ.

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