Psalm 22 – David or Jesus?

The church has said from the start that Psalm 22 is about Jesus.  He is reported to have repeated the first line from the cross – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Mt 27:46)  The verses from v. 14-18 in particular offer parallels to Jesus.

Now if you are of a naturalistic mind, you may decide that Jesus adopted this psalm when he was in his extreme state – a rather brilliant bit of literary analysis for a man being tortured.  Or you might decide that the Church or the Gospel Writers found this connection, or shall we say, made this connection to Jesus.  There is some quibbling over the verb “piercing” in v. 16, though it is accepted by the Septuagint.

If you allow for the work of God in the world – then we can see that this somehow affirms Jesus.  How so?  Did David have a vision?  Was David persecuted and his life served as a preview of Jesus?

God often offers revelation in extreme situations.  To Moses, not wanting to go to take on Pharoah with a shepherd’s stick, the Lord revealed his name.  Job, in suffering, speaks of his faith in a redeemer (ch 19) and receives a word from the Lord.  Jonah, at the bottom of the sea, calls for mercy and receives his life and a lesson on God’s universal love – not restricted to Israel and her friends.

So too, David, in whatever trouble he was in, turned in lament to God, and in the process he was given a revelation regarding his distant ancestor, the last king in the House of David (II Samuel 7). 

This speaker in Psalm 22 gives us the mind of the Lord in the act of being the Savior – alternating in vv 1-24 from his situation to his affirmations about God. (v. 1-2; 3-5; 6-8; 9-11; 12-18; 19-24).    The second half gives the mind of the Lord about what will happen afterward  vv. 22-26; 23-31.  V. 19 (See ESV) and v. 24 bring the suffering to a positive conclusion.

Is this why the author of Hebrews says that “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…“? (Heb 12:2)   

 We have concluded that there is no Gospel without the miraculous – from the Creation, to the Exodus, to the Prophets, the Incarnation, the miracles of Jesus and the Resurrection.  Carve out the miraculous and you are left with nothing at all.

So we take Psalm 22 to be a revelation of Christ to David, in his own time of trouble.

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What about Blood? – Leviticus 17:11

An interesting passage in Levitucus 17 instructs the people of Israel not to eat the blood of any animal.  This comes after many chapters describing the various sacrifices that were given to the people to offer at the place of worship.  Leviticus is a bloody book by anyone’s reckoning.

Here is the statement:

Leviticus 17:11 – ESV
    For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

Life is in the blood.  Some say that the blood of sacrifices suggest the offering of a life to God.  However, scholars such as Leon Morris looked at the word usage and it is clear that blood is tied to suffering and to death.  So it seems better to think that the blood here refers to the life that is lost in death. 

Out of respect for the system of blood sacrifice, those living in the Land of promise were to refrain from consuming it.  After centuries of sacrifices and further centuries of blood-letting in ordinary eating, one might ask, Why?

It is because the Lord “gave” the blood to make “atonement.”  The act of atonement – that is a sacrifice that pays for the penalty of sin as a substitute for the worshipper – is a gift of grace to be revered.

It is interesting that the offering is not a gift from the worshipper to God, but a gift provided by God to the Worshipper.