The Psalm of the Cross (Psalm 22)

This is beyond all others "The Psalm of the Cross." It may have been actually repeated word by word by our Lord when hanging on the tree; it would be too bold to say that it was so, but even a casual reader may see that it might have been. It begins with, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" and ends, according to some, in the original, with, "It is finished!" For plaintive expressions uprising from unutterable depths of woe, we may say of this Psalm, "There is none like it."

It is the photograph of our Lord’s saddest hours, the record of His dying words, the lachrymatory of His last tears, the memorial of His expiring joys. David and his afflictions may be here in a very modified sense, but, as the star is concealed by the light of the sun, he who sees Jesus will probably neither see nor care to see David.

Before us we have a description both of the darkness and glory of the cross; the sufferings of Christ and the glory which shall follow. Oh, for grace to draw near and see this great sight! We should read reverently, putting off our shoes from off our feet, as Moses did at the burning bush, for if there be holy ground anywhere in Scripture it is in this Psalm.

My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? (1) I can understand why traitorous Judas and timid Peter should be gone, but Thou, my God, my faithful Friend, how canst Thou leave Me? This is the worst of all, yea, worse than all put together. Hell itself has for its fiercest flame the separation of the soul from God.

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. (2) Our Lord continued to pray even though no comfortable answer came, and in this He set us an example of obedience to His own words, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." No daylight is too glaring, and no midnight too dark to pray in; and no delay or apparent denial, however grievous, should tempt us to forbear from importunate pleading.

But I am a worm and no man. (6) This verse is a miracle in language. How could the Lord of glory be brought to such abasement as to be not only lower than the angels but even lower than men? What a contrast between "I AM," and "I am a worm!" yet such a double nature was found in the person of our Lord Jesus when bleeding on the tree. He felt Himself to be comparable to a helpless, powerless, down-trodden worm, passive while crushed and unnoticed and despised by those who trod upon Him. He selects the weakest of creatures, which is all flesh, and becomes, when trodden upon, writhing, quivering flesh, utterly devoid of any might except strength to suffer.

All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn. (7) Men made faces at Him before Whom angels veil their faces and adore. The basest signs of disgrace which disdain could devise were maliciously cast at Him.

Many bulls have compassed Me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round. (12) The mighty ones in the crowd are here marked by the tearful eye of their victim. The priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees, rulers and captains bellowed round the cross like wild cattle, fed in the fat and solitary pastures of Bashan, and longed to gore Him to death with their cruelties. Conceive of the Lord Jesus as a helpless, unarmed, naked man, cast into the midst of a herd of infuriated wild bulls.

They look and stare upon Me. (17) Let us blush for human nature and mourn in sympathy with our Redeemer’s shame. The first Adam made us all naked, and therefore the second Adam became naked that He might clothe our naked souls.

You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You. (21,22) The transition is very marked; from a horrible tempest all is changed into calm. The darkness of Calvary at length passed away from the face of nature and from the soul of the Redeemer and, beholding the light of His triumph and its future results, the Savior smiled.