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The Psalm of the Cross: Part 1

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
October 7, 2021 8:00 am

The Psalm of the Cross: Part 1

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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October 7, 2021 8:00 am

The Good Shepherd, gives His life for the sheep. This week on The Bible Study Hour, we’ll continue our study of the Psalms with Psalm 22, also known as the psalm of the cross. This psalm of David gives us a prophetic picture of Christ’s suffering, as well as a window into the mind of Christ as He hung on the cross.

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The good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep today on the Bible study our will continue our study of the Psalms with Psalm 22, also known as the Psalm of the cross. This Psalm of David gives us a prophetic picture of Christ's suffering as well as a window into the mind of Christ as he hung on the cross to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Psalm 22 is an Old Testament prophecy of the crucifixion, but it also tells us how Jesus himself viewed his suffering and death. What did he think about as he hung on the cross and what can that teach us about despair, deliverance and God's presence. You have your Bible turn to Psalm 22 and let's find out together. I wonder if you never heard anybody talk about Jesus Christ as the shepherd and point out that is described in the New Testament as is people's Shepherd in three ways is called the good Shepherd and John 10 verses 11 and 14 the one who dies for his people having his life for them is described as the great Shepherd in Hebrews 13 verse 21. It was risen from the dead to empower his people and then thirdly in first Peter 54 is called the chief Shepherd is the one who rules from heaven over the under shepherds faithfully rewarding those who fulfill their task in obedience to him. If you have you may also have heard it pointed out that in Psalms 2223 and 24 we have an Old Testament parallel to that Psalm 22 have a picture of Jesus Christ as the good Shepherd dying on the cross, calling out to his father as he feels abandoned by the 23rd Psalm you have Jesus portrayed as the great Shepherd, the one who is directing his people and who is present with them and all of the various aspects of their work, and finally in the 24th Psalm you have them in glory ruling is a great Shepherd over the church. Maybe that's a little bit stretched hand you may have even thought that yourself particularly in regard Psalms 23 and 24 and I think a good case can be made but it is certainly not stretching the point defying Jesus as the suffering Shepherd and Psalm 22 Psalm 22 is a Psalm of the cross is just nothing like that anywhere in the Bible and it is the greatest picture and all the word of God of death by crucifixion of scholars don't always like that they like to see writings in terms of their historical context, and explain them, from Latin, and there is difficulty with that particular approach. Psalm 22 the Germans have an interesting phrase for that though it is used more often in New Testament studies. Technically, than Old Testament studies, but it applies there as well. The German Frazier sits in layman means a life setting and the theory behind it is that you only understand passage when you understand the context into which threatened the very good principle, and generally I follow that myself as much as I can. The difficulty is that it just doesn't fit this long. There is nothing that we can relate this to other than the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on some of try. There are songs that deal with sickness for extreme suffering in the life of the one who was writing though. I think as I study some of those analyses that even they are a bit far-fetched, some background for that. They said well this is why get into description of a severe illness. This is in the description of an illness. This is a crucifixion and execution. And there's just nothing like that that we know certainly nothing in the life of David and David is identified as the author of the Psalm. We described this and must we say that David as a prophet, was simply filled by the Holy Spirit to set down in writing what was going to be fulfilled directly and explicitly, by Jesus Christ for many centuries later Derek Kidner is a very sober commentator on the Psalms a good one and usually very cautious in matters like this, but when it comes with a strong recognize the validity of what I've been saying this is what he writes.

No incident recorded David can begin to account for this long language of the Psalm defines a naturalistic explanation. The best accountant in the terms used by Peter concerning another Psalm of David when he wrote being therefore a prophet.

He foresaw and spoke of the Christ. I'm convinced that that's the only way we can usually approach something else we need to see about it to not only that it's an Old Testament prophecy of the crucifixion, but that this is the way Jesus himself saw the crucifixion and the reason I say that is that he seems to have been meditating on this Psalm while he hung up on the cross. Something to get some of the background of this in mind, Jesus was arrested the night before when he was carrying in the garden to disseminate with his disciples.

They would've been normally on their way back to Bethany, where they were spending each night at this final Passover week, but Jesus, knowing that this was the time for his arrest and crucifixion was deliberately waiting sent Judith out to do as he said what you are going to do it meant he knew of the trail and that's what Judy is getting gathered abandoned man. They came and they met Jesus in the garden where he was arrested they took him to the house of the high priest.

He had a preliminary trial, sort of an arraignment that evening was illegal. Of course, to do that by dark resting and was illegal by dark.

Also according to Jewish law, but nevertheless they did that and they prepare for a formal trial by the Sanhedrin early in the morning, trial by the Sanhedrin a bit longer than they thought they had worked out most of the details the previous evening and then they went to Pilate's residence in Jerusalem to secure the death penalty because although they had determined that Jesus was worthy of death because of blasphemy as they understood is teaching us. They didn't have the power to execute the death sentence.

Pilate did, they thought that would be a routine matter, it wasn't, while pilot being delayed and cautious in his judgment, but finally they got and then they led Jesus out to be crucified. There was about the third hour of the day at 9 o'clock in the morning or after that perhaps getting on toward noon because the lady described time in those days with my three hour blocks. That was the first hour the third hour the sixth hour so forth.

Jesus sometime in the morning was let out the crucifixion only ask the question here is, he's gone through all of the harrowing experiences of the rest of the unjust trial in the beating.

As we know, he was beaten in pilots household by the soldiers is being taken out now in a weakened condition carrying his cross so emaciated by his treatment that he was about to fall under readily ask the question, what is he thinking about at this particular moment of the morning. He seems to have been thinking about other people and that is very typical of them is what we would expect when he saw the women of Jerusalem following after him and crying. He turned to the many said don't weep for me weep for yourselves and for your children and then he prophesied the terrible things were coming to Jerusalem, which did, the time of the rebellion and the harsh depression of that rebellion by the Romans.

When he got to the cross and the soldiers were nailing him to anything for been thinking of them praying he said father forgive them for they know not what they do when he was hanging on the cross and the thief was next to him and that exchange was taking place.

He was thinking of the thief and the said to him, as he responded in faith in Jesus Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Behold, I tell you the day you will be with me in paradise. And then he was even thinking of his mother was there the foot of the cross of John the beloved disciple apparently and he said to his mother. Mother, behold, your son son behold your mother all that time.

He seems to have been thinking not about himself and his sufferings but about others is the sixth hour the day, noon time something happened that changed all that.

The sky grew dark.

This was the period of the crucifixion, in which Jesus was bearing the sin of his people, and God the father, as it were shielded and with the darkness. These were private moments. It's as if God had closed the bronze doors of heaven about the suffering of his son, so that what transpired there might be between himself and Jesus during those hours. Those hours of darkness.

Jesus apparently began to meditate on this all now he is thinking of himself and his suffering and what it means. We have a couple clues that were not told about it. Specifically, in the New Testament, but the clues are there and there these first of all, at the beginning of that. All that he cried out with a quotation from the first verse of Psalm 22, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me why are you so far from saving me, so he seems to have had that song in mind a little later on. According to John's account the quotes from the 69th song cries out.

I first John tree set in a very special way, says Jesus, in order that the scriptures might be fulfilled, called out. I first you could say well he wasn't thinking about the fulfillment of the Scriptures. It just happened that way, and it was so that the scriptures might be fulfilled, but if he was thinking about the 22nd Psalm, which describes his crucifixion probably was thinking about the 69th Psalm which is a somewhat close parallel to it in the picture we have there is that Jesus hanging up on the cross is meditating upon the meaning of his death by thinking through the Psalms and that when he came to that particular reference in the 69th Psalm in his mind. Certainly, knowing all these great Psalms and other passages by heart realize that I did not been accomplished. It says in that Psalm in my agony. They gave me vinegar to drink, so he called out. I first and that's what they do and so Psalm 6912 is fulfilled.

Then finally toward the end of the three hour period of darkness.

He calls out as we know it is finished were told he did that with a loud voice, and after that he yielded up his spirit. Now that final quotation, as I believe it is also comes from the solvents a little bit hidden in the English translation verse 31 of Psalm 22 says in the very last line, for he has done it but in the Hebrew, there is no object. The word, it isn't there. He could equally be it so it can be translated is done is finished, completed, I believe what Jesus was doing that was quoting the last line of the solvent. What that shows is that he was thinking through its as well as thinking through other Scriptures during that time of crucifixion was interesting that he did that to say because the first half of this describes suffering itself in a very vivid and exact way were going to come back to it. There is a turning point in the Psalm when he senses that God's presence is restored to him again that would correspond to the passing of the three hours of darkness is the period in which he was made sin for us was behind him, and finally, at the very end. You have a triumphant expression of the fact that what has been done on the cross really was effective and as a result of that the day was coming when he was going to proclaim the name of God in the great assembly into his brothers in a huge company gathered in from all the nations of the world was going to come because of what he did there. So Jesus didn't die in despair, Bible commentators thought Albert Schweitzer among them. He thought he died, leaving me truly was forsaken by God and that permanently. Rather, he died knowing that God had done in him what God had determined to do in the crucifixion from before the foundation of the world. It's a very, very great soul and a great indication of our Lord thinking Charles Spurgeon 12 S. five man in his day, who had written a book on the song called something like the Christ of the cross. He had one sermon for every verse 31 and all it was a long book.

I am not going to follow his example, but I am going to treat this into parts because the two parts are so distinct now let's look at the first part, the part in which we have the despair of Jesus sends a description of crucifixion. I want you to see something interesting about that. First of all, the obvious thing is composed with an alternating structure of stanzas or six stanzas there very nicely delineated in the new international version. I have a pattern and not just random in the first the third and the fifth stanzas. Jesus is describing what is happening. His sense of despair mockery of the people and the physical pain and agony of the crucifixion and the alternating stanzas to four and 60s praying that is specifically calling out to God and he's remembering what God is done on behalf of the fathers of Israel and the first of those 20 is done in his own life from the womb and what he needs to be done presently in the last of the interesting thing about those. In addition to the fact that they alternating going from a description of the suffering to the reflection of God in his presence and back again three times what we have in addition to that alternating structure is a decline in the one an increase in the other. That is a decline in the intensity of the first in an increase in the intensity of the second is agony over the crucifixion seems to diminish. At least it moves from what obviously was the greater agony, a sense of being forsaken by God to mere physical pain through the stage of psychological pain. So in the first the third and the fifth you have this, my God, why have you forsaken me, look at all these people are mocking me and doesn't it hurt Missy and does heard it was excruciatingly painful but in that kind of a pattern is becoming less significant and what you have in the alternating stanzas is a sense of the growing presence of God. Jesus remembers the presence of God with the fathers you help them and he remembers the presence of God in his own life from a will mop you help me and finally at the end he's calling out to God, he says help me answer me answer me now and that's where the turning point takes place. Let's do something very interesting. Dawson says even when God seems far from you. You want to pray because it's through the discipline of praying that you sense God's presence again and you find the answer to the things that are driving you to your knees in the first place is probably our case why God sent them the look on this works out. First of all, stanza one hit is a picture of Jesus being forsaken by God and crying out in the midst of his dereliction. Now that's the question how is that possible we could perhaps understand how a mere man would cry out this way, and indeed be forsaken, or on the other hand, you could understand how somebody was not forsaken. Nevertheless an extreme agony in his frail human condition think he wants, but this isn't a mere man, this is Jesus Christ the son of God, the second person of the Trinity was not mistaken. He never was and yet how can the second person of the Trinity, the forsaken by the first person of the Trinity.

How do you put that together. Can God ever turn his back on God, or in other terms, how can there ever be a division of the Godhead. I know the answer to that.

I do know the kind of suggestions that have been made.

Most of them inadequate. Some people upset when Jesus cried out on the cross, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me he wasn't saying that he literally believed he was forsaken that he was simply calling attention to the song. He was saying.

Remember Psalm 22, that's what I'm going through something like that doesn't satisfy particularly, certainly not in that moment of his life. Some of said well he thought he was forsaken, but he really wasn't Corsi really wasn't in the final analysis, that's what the Psalm shows the covers the presence of God again and in the end it's a triumph, but is hardly satisfactory either because in order to say that you have to say that Jesus Christ got it wrong and is agony really misunderstood what his father was doing very hard to say that I say I don't find myself able to explain it. I am sure there is no division in the Godhead, but at the same time, the Bible does teach that God turned his back upon Jesus Christ when he was made sin for us, because that's the meaning of the atonement. That's what it is to make atonement for sin.

What does sin do since separation between ourselves and God and the punishment percent eternal punishment for sin is eternal separation is what hell is Jesus Christ took our hell.

Then there is some sense in which he must've experienced alienation from the father and that's what is crying out of the other take it literally. Instead of trying to figure it out in metaphysical or philosophic terms, we should bow humbly before I can say this is what the eternal son of God endured for us. He who had never known any division whatsoever between himself and his father nothing but perfect communion from eternity past of this moment, in some sense without the presence of his father being withdrawn as his father hid his face from them in the moments that he bore our sins. I suppose it's because of that, more than anything else of the Psalm has spoken so powerfully to people down through the ages.

When we come to the second stanza, and here he is reminding himself that father so this the fathers of Israel going all the way back to Abraham. I suppose put their trust in God and God heard them and deliver them another two ways you can take that, taken by a contrast and therefore see it as an expression of our mother's trust in God and you heard them but you haven't heard me. I'm forsaken could see it that way it would perhaps have an overtone of that on the other hand, what Jesus could be doing here is saying our fathers trusted in you and you deliver them. Surely you're going to deliver me, even though at the moment you turn your face from me. I think it's the latter. The reason I think it's the latter. Is this in verse three he says you are enthroned as the holy one. He begins not with that reminder of what God did to the fathers, but the nature of God the father himself. God is a holy God is what he says. That is, he does what is right and what is right is to hear the fathers when they trusted and answered them to be heard. That one is going to hear the sun as well. So what you have here, I think, is not an ironic expression of despair but rather of return are not bouncing back from the agony expressed in the very first versus my God, my God, why have you forsaken me reminder of the fact that the fathers trusted were not forsaken and if they were forsaken. I won't be as well. You see how it's beginning to operate and you turn to the third stanza. Now here's a description of all the people gathered around and scorned by men and despised by the people, all who see me mock me. They hurled insults, shaking their heads. Trust in the Lord, let the Lord rescue it met the Lord delivered them since he delights in him that was fulfilled exactly not only the words but even the gesture. Matthew writes about the reader how Matthew describes these moments. Matthew 27, 39 those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying you who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, come down from the cross of your the son of God same way, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and the elders mock him, he saved others, they said, but he can't save himself. He is the king of Israel come down from the cross and will believe in you trusted God.

Let God rescue him now if he wants them, for he said, I am son of God. Interesting how all minutely the details of the salt written so many hundreds of years before will fulfilled at the time of the crucifixion. Some buddy who has counted this up, says that there were at least 24 specific Old Testament prophecies that came to fulfillment in just a short period of hours at the time of Jesus death. The fourth stanza turns back to God and his faithfulness again here swear I've said that it brings us a step closer to the victory that we find as we get to verse 21. Here Jesus is thinking of God's deliverance of him who brought me out of the womb and made me trust in you, even at my mother's breast from birth I was cast upon you for mother's womb. You've been my God, do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there's no one to help us a way of saying this and that not only is he did and stands until you help the fathers surely are going to help me, but it's a way of saying you help me my whole life has been an illustration of your presence in the wisdom of trusting, you certainly are going to be with me now that the weights moving we come to the fifth of the six stanzas and here you have a description of the crucifixion itself. The physical suffering worth noting on this that is a very good description of the physical agony of crucifixion. I don't know anybody who has done that better and in a shorter space in CI Scofield. It was behind the famous Scofield reference Bible you have Scofield reference Bible. Many still do. In spite of the popularity of the new international version. You'll find a footnote at this place at the bottom of the page and what Scofield wrote is this Psalm 22 is a graphic picture of death by crucifixion bones of the hands, arms, shoulders and pelvis out of joint. The profuse perspiration caused by intense suffering action of the heart affected strength exhausted the extreme thirst that hands and feet pierced nudity with the modesty are all associated with this mode of death. Then he goes on the accompanying circumstances are precisely those fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ. The desolate cry of verse one periods of light and darkness. In verse two, contemptuous and humiliating treatment of verses six through eight of 12 and 13. The casting of lots for his clothing. Verse 18. These were all literally fulfilled and then he adds when it's remembered that the crucifixion was a Roman not Jewish form of execution.

The proof of inspiration is irresistible, so it is but you know it's not only a description of the physical suffering that you find here. You also have a description of those who were his enemies are described in some powerful images strong bulls of Bashan, in verse 12, roaring lion staring at their prey. In verse 13 and finally, in verse 16 dogs to have surrounded it and that's what his enemies appeared to be Gary Kidner, whom I mentioned earlier said not only that, but we also have an analysis of the motivation of these people why people in group will do such things to other people.

Resentment of those who make high claims. Verse eight suggests that the compulsion of crowd psychology verse 12 on greed even for trivial gains. Verse 18 and perverted taste that is enjoying a harrowing spectacle simply because sin is murderous, and sinners have hatred in them all that emerges here and that stanza thing I like to say a special word about the word pierced that you find in verse 16 when I say that because some may be aware that there is a technical problem involving that word in the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Middle Ages. That is the oldest will Hebrew texts that we have the word is not pierced. That word is the word lion with the bow pointing to it that provides a translation like a lion. So if you would translate that is the Masoretic text transiting you'll see that down at the bottom of the new international version of the footnote verse 16 you have something like this is a lion in my hands and my feet now as I say that's the oldest text so you gotta be very careful when you suggest any disagreement with that, especially if you don't have a textual variation based on usually I don't like to do any kind of speculation like that. It does seem, however, that in this case.

Translation pierced is right in the Masoretic text is wrong and for these reasons. First of all, the Septuagint text which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced several hundred years before the time of Christ does have the word pierced in Greek is nothing to do with why now that would be presumably an unbiased text because the crucifixion hadn't taken place that you might say, well, Christians of Kings that pierced because they wanted to sound like a crucifixion but the Jewish translators of the Septuagint is never any reason for doing that in the crucifixion hadn't taken place. So apparently that people who produced black and now you're talking a thousand years before the Masoretic text, and perhaps even more people who had that obviously thought it did mean pierced the same thing is true of all the ancient versions at the second reason certainly the words as a lion, not really mean anything. As a matter of fact they don't even provide adequately for the sentence because they leave it without a verb, you have to read a verb into it to say that sentence before that says a band of evil men has encircled me and then you have to kind of say yes and subsequently as a lion and then you have to supply something tying my hands and my feet or something like that doesn't read well.

It would seem with all those factors considered that the text probably is exactly as we hadn't originally matter fact that differences only a tiny part of the letter in the Greek word and the bow pointing which in any case we know was applied later.

It may even have been that the bow pointing was supplied to give meaning is a lion rather than the word pierced because the worker so obviously reflected the crucifixion. We don't know that that is a possible explanation.

At any rate, what we have here is a very graphic and brilliant accountant for the death Christ endured in any way become to this extent of the last of salons were looking at here you have the transition. Jesus is already reminded himself of God's faithfulness to the fathers and then he reminded himself of his faithfulness to him throughout his entire life. Now he calls out to the Lord be not far off. Come quickly to help me and you do find the answer. Inexplicably, that's not reflected in the new international version, though most of the commentators even the liberal ones recognize that there's a change year. You will notice down at the bottom the note that the word save me in verse 21 could be translated. You have heard you have heard me what is really hard to understand is that positioning of that in the new international translation of the Hebrew, that verb comes right at the end, stands off by itself and you look at it in the Hebrew text. You can't miss it what it really says verse 21 is this rescue me from the mouth of Lyons, from the horns of the wild oxen. You have hurt me.

That's what the text literally says that's the point at which the presence of God breaks through again. Jesus knows that he has been hard not permanently forsaken. Though God the father turned his back on them when he was made sin and explains the triumphant note, we find from this time forward, but let me say at this point we have found here.

A description of Jesus dying for his people more graphic than anything we can find anywhere else in the Bible and the question that you must answer truths compels you to answer it before you move on is does not describe the death of Jesus Christ for you.

One thing to say. Oh, he died on the cross. Even impressive I supposed to say always invent a wonderful description written so many hundreds of years before the crucifixion, but you know you can see that in parish the many theologians and hell.

The question is did Jesus die for you, you know, Charles Wesley, that great evangelist component of the Methodist Church you left to so many hymns wrote to him in which she marvelous at that and ask the question and can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior's blood died he for me who caused his pain for me who him to death pursued work of the Lord Jesus Christ was so wonderful to Wesley that he meditates upon it and muses upon it throughout the entire him finding it amazing, amazing, loving says send mystery even to angelic mind and although he couldn't understand it. How the second person of the Godhead. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, would die for him even though it is beyond his comprehension. Wesley nevertheless knew that he did and that he had indeed died for Wesley has a line in there, in which he says to his mercy all immense and free for all my God, I found out me, that's the question you say has it found out you wonderful thing to know that Jesus died for sinners. Lots of people who don't even know that is why we try to go to the with the gospel. That's even wonderful thing to be able to analyze it somewhat, as we have done, but you can do all of that sentence still parish what you have to do is come to Jesus personally reviewed on what you do with all you have to do is say to Jesus something like this juices on the center and I know I deserve judgment for my sin but I also believe that you died for me on. I believe in you and I want to follow you. I want you to be my Savior and my Lord will do that.

That alone will be evidence that is already at work in your heart that has indeed died for you and now you be able to say of Psalm 22 that is on just a Psalm of Christ's cross, that is my song, because that's what he did for me Jesus Christ was forsaken, so that I might not ever have to be forsaken. You took my hell so I might have his help, his prayer father, we thank you for this great song and for the wonderful picture of the work of Jesus Christ for us were thankful that you gave it yet. We are bold to ask for one gift more that by this song and by the ministry of your Holy Spirit whom you sent to take the words of Scripture and apply them to the heart that you would also apply the screws to many right now.

By so doing, bring them to faith and cause him to pass from eternal death into eternal life, which is what it means to know Jesus Christ personally. We pray in his name.

Amen. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our the listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaimed biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians or vascular free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888. Please take the time to write to us and share how the Bible study our has impacted you. We love to hear from you and pray for you. Our address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Please consider giving financially to help keep the Bible study our impacting people for decades to come.

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