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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Psalm 22

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The Book of Psalms

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET

PSALM 22

Psa 22:1-31. The obscure words Aijeleth Shahar in this title have various explanations. Most interpreters agree in translating them by "hind of the morning." But great difference exists as to the meaning of these words. By some they are supposed (compare Psa 9:1 ) to be the name of the tune to which the words of the Psalm were set; by others, the name of a musical instrument. Perhaps the best view is to regard the phrase as enigmatically expressive of the subject--the sufferer being likened to a hind pursued by hunters in the early morning (literally, "the dawn of day")--or that, while hind suggests the idea of a meek, innocent sufferer, the addition of morning denotes relief obtained. The feelings of a pious sufferer in sorrow and deliverance are vividly portrayed. He earnestly pleads for divine aid on the ground of his relation to God, whose past goodness to His people encourages hope, and then on account of the imminent danger by which he is threatened. The language of complaint is turned to that of rejoicing in the assured prospect of relief from suffering and triumph over his enemies. The use of the words of the first clause of Psa 22:1 by our Saviour on the cross, and the quotation of Psa 22:18 by John ( Jhn 19:24 ), and of Psa 22:22 by Paul ( Hbr 2:12 ), as fulfilled in His history, clearly intimate the prophetical and Messianic purport of the Psalm. The intensity of the grief, and the completeness and glory of the deliverance and triumph, alike appear to be unsuitable representations of the fortunes of any less personage. In a general and modified sense (see on JF & B for Ps 16:1), the experience here detailed may be adapted to the case of all Christians suffering from spiritual foes, and delivered by divine aid, inasmuch as Christ in His human nature was their head and representative.

      1. A summary of the complaint. Desertion by God, when overwhelmed by distress, is the climax of the sufferer's misery.
      words of my roaring--shows that the complaint is expressed intelligently, though the term "roaring" is figurative, taken from the conduct of irrational creatures in pain.

      2. The long distress is evinced by--
      am not silent--literally, "not silence to me," either meaning, I continually cry; or, corresponding with "thou hearest not," or answerest not, it may mean, there is no rest or quiet to me.

      3. Still he not only refrains from charging God foolishly, but evinces his confidence in God by appealing to Him.
      thou art holy--or possessed of all the attributes which encourage trust, and the right object of the praises of the Church: hence the sufferer need not despair.

      4, 5. Past experience of God's people is a ground of trust. The mention of "our fathers" does not destroy the applicability of the words as the language of our Saviour's human nature.

      6. He who was despised and rejected of His own people, as a disgrace to the nation, might well use these words of deep abasement, which express not His real, but esteemed, value.

      7, 8. For the Jews used one of the gestures ( Mat 27:39 ) here mentioned, when taunting Him on the cross, and ( Mat 27:43 ) reproached Him almost in the very, language of this passage.
      shoot out--or, "open."
      the lip--(Compare Psa 35:21 ).

      8. trusted on the Lord--literally, "rolled"--that is, his burden ( Psa 37:5 Pro 16:3 ) on the Lord. This is the language of enemies sporting with his faith in the hour of his desertion.

      9, 10. Though ironically spoken, the exhortation to trust was well founded on his previous experience of divine aid, the special illustration of which is drawn from the period of helpless infancy.
      didst make me hope--literally, "made me secure."

      11. From this statement of reasons for the appeal, he renews it, pleading his double extremity, the nearness of trouble, and the absence of a helper.

      12, 13. His enemies, with the vigor of bulls and rapacity of lions, surround him, eagerly seeking his ruin. The force of both figures is greater without the use of any particle denoting comparison.

      14, 15. Utter exhaustion and hopeless weakness, in these circumstances of pressing danger, are set forth by the most expressive figures; the solidity of the body is destroyed, and it becomes like water; the bones are parted; the heart, the very seat of vitality, melts like wax; all the juices of the system are dried up; the tongue can no longer perform its office, but lies parched and stiffened (compare Gen 49:4 2Sa 14:14 Psa 58:8 ). In this, God is regarded as the ultimate source, and men as the instruments.

      15. the dust of death--of course, denotes the grave. We need not try to find the exact counterpart of each item of the description in the particulars of our Saviour's sufferings. Figurative language resembles pictures of historical scenes, presenting substantial truth, under illustrations, which, though not essential to the facts, are not inconsistent with them. Were any portion of Christ's terrible sufferings specially designed, it was doubtless that of the garden of Gethsemane.

      16. Evildoers are well described as dogs, which, in the East, herding together, wild and rapacious, are justly objects of great abhorrence. The last clause has been a subject of much discussion (involving questions as to the genuineness of the Hebrew word translated "pierce)" which cannot be made intelligible to the English reader. Thought not quoted in the New Testament, the remarkable aptness of the description to the facts of the Saviour's history, together with difficulties attending any other mode of explaining the clause in the Hebrew, justify an adherence to the terms of our version and their obvious meaning.

      17. His emaciated frame, itself an item of his misery, is rendered more so as the object of delighted contemplation to his enemies. The verbs, "look" and "stare," often occur as suggestive of feelings of satisfaction (compare Psa 27:13 54:7 118:7 ).

      18. This literally fulfilled prediction closes the sad picture of the exposed and deserted sufferer.

      19, 20. He now turns with unabated desire and trust to God, who, in His strength and faithfulness, is contrasted with the urgent dangers described.

      20. my soul--or self (compare Psa 3:2 16:10 ).
      my darling--literally, "my only one," or, "solitary one," as desolate and afflicted ( Psa 25:16 35:17 ).

      21. Deliverance pleaded in view of former help, when in the most imminent danger, from the most powerful enemy, represented by the unicorn or wild buffalo.
      the lion's mouth--(Compare Psa 22:13 ). The lion often used as a figure representing violent enemies; the connecting of the mouth intimates their rapacity.

      22-24. He declares his purpose to celebrate God's gracious dealings and publish His manifested perfections ("name," Psa 5:11 ), &c., and forthwith he invites the pious (those who have a reverential fear of God) to unite in special praise for a deliverance, illustrating God's kind regard for the lowly, whom men neglect ( Psa 22:24 ). To hide the face (or eyes) expresses a studied neglect of one's cause, and refusal of aid or sympathy (compare Psa 30:7 Isa 1:15 ).

      25, 26. My praise shall be of thee--or, perhaps better, "from thee," that is, God gives grace to praise Him. With offering praise, he further evinces his gratitude by promising the payment of his vows, in celebrating the usual festival, as provided in the law ( Deu 12:18 16:11 ), of which the pious or humble, and they that seek the Lord (His true worshippers) shall partake abundantly, and join him in praise ( Psa 22:26 ). In the enthusiasm produced by his lively feelings, he addresses such in words, assuring them of God's perpetual favor ( Psa 22:26 ). The dying of the heart denotes death ( 1Sa 25:37 ); so its living denotes life.

      27-31. His case illustrates God's righteous government. Beyond the existing time and people, others shall be brought to acknowledge and worship God; the fat ones, or the rich as well as the poor, the helpless who cannot keep themselves alive, shall together unite in celebrating God's delivering power, and transmit to unborn people the records of His grace.

      30. it shall be accounted to the Lord for, &c.--or, "it shall be told of the Lord to a generation." God's wonderful works shall be told from generation to generation.

      31. that he hath done this--supply "it," or "this"--that is, what the Psalm has unfolded.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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