Bible scholars named Psalm 22 the “Messianic Psalm” as it depicts great pain. It has also been called, “The Psalm of the Cross,” because of references to the sufferings of the innocent Son of God during His crucifixion. The psalm has no confession of sin or any hint of complaining.
New Testament Messianic references to Psalm 22
Though the psalmist appears to be referring to his own experience, many references in the New Testament prove the Messianic aspect of this psalm (Matt. 27:35, 39, 43, 46; Mark 15:24, 34; Luke 23:34, 35; John 19:24, 28). Thus, the psalm has a dual application (Deuteronomy 18:15).
Psalm 22 has two sections. The first 21 verses show grievance and supplication of the sufferer. The last ten verses (22–31), show praise after deliverance. The psalmist describes his enemies as lions, bulls of Bashan (v. 12, 13), and dogs (v. 16) that are ready to kill.
Psalm 22 predicts the sufferings of Christ
The author predicts the mental anguish of Christ as He experienced God’s wrath and separation from the sinner. “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him” (Psalm 22:8). Unknowingly, Jesus’ persecutors used the same words of prophecy when they mocked Him (Matthew 27:43). Through them, the devil attacked Christ’s faith in His Father’s love (v. 40). Even though Christ trusted in God, it appeared that His Father had forsaken Him because He bore the penalty of man’s sins (Isaiah 53:4, 5).
The Psalmist foretold of Christ’s extreme agony on the cross: “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death” (Psalm 22: 14,15).
Also, he predicted that the Savior’s hands and feet will be nailed to the cross: “They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22: 16-18). This prophecy was fulfilled when the Romans soldiers forced nails through Jesus’ hands and feet (John 20:25–27) and cast lots on His garment (Matthew 27:35; Luke 23:34; John 19:23, 24).
The Psalm ends with a note of praise
The Psalmist’s prayer ends with a thanksgiving for he knows that the Lord is near to help: “…You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You” (Psalm 22:21, 22). Although the victim is engulfed by the wicked, he knows that he is not forgotten nor forsaken by God. Hopelessness and sadness are replaced by faith, peace and praise. The Psalm ends with a victorious song of praise (v. 22-31). Likewise, Jesus on the cross showed complete faith in the Father when He declared, just before He died, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5).
In His service,