Bible passage: Psalm 22:1,7,8,16,17,18
Written: About 1000 BC
People are sometimes curious, when they read Matthew 27:46 or Mark 15:34, why Jesus, while dying on the cross, said "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Those words are actually the first line of Psalm 22, which according to Jewish tradition was written by King David about 1,000 years before Jesus was crucified.
Psalm 22 speaks of a man who cries out to God for deliverance from intense persecution. There are parallels between the details in Psalm 22 and the details written in the New Testament about Jesus' crucifixion, such as:
In Psalm 22:7, it speaks of a man surrounded by others who scorn and despise him. This is what happened to Jesus in Matthew 27:39 and Mark 15:29.
In Psalm 22:7, it speaks of a man being mocked, which is similar in the descriptions of Jesus' crucifixion given in Matthew 27:31, Mark 15:20 and Luke 22:63; 23:36.
In Psalm 22:8, it says, "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." In Matthew 27:43, Jesus’ enemies taunted him by saying, "He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him."
In Psalm 22:16, it speaks of a man who was numbered with the transgressors, meaning an innocent man being regarded as being one of a group of criminals. Jesus too was numbered with the transgressors when he was crucified next to two criminals, as described in Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27, Luke 23:32 and John 19:18.
In Psalm 22:16, it speaks of a man whose hands and feet are either pierced, or mauled, or disfigured, depending on which is truly the best English translation of the original verse. In John 19:23,34,37 - Jesus' hands and feet were pierced with nails during the crucifixion process.
In Psalm 22:17, it speaks of a man who would be surrounded by others who stared and gloated at him. This too was the situation for Jesus during the crucifixion, according to Matthew 27:36 and Luke 23:35.
In Psalm 22:18, onlookers gamble for pieces of clothing that belonged to the person being persecuted. As explained in Matthew 27:35, Roman soldiers gambled (cast lots) for articles of Jesus' clothing while he was being crucified.
There are other descriptions in Psalm 22 that sound like an accurate description of what would happen to a person being crucified, such as the disjointing of bones, the drying up of a person's strength, an intense sense of thirst, a heart melting like wax (Jesus was stabbed in the side with a spear during his crucifixion), and being "poured out" of one's body. When Jesus was stabbed, blood and water poured out from the wound.
Many Christian scholars have written about their views of the significance of Psalm 22 and the crucifixion of Jesus. The late Charles Briggs, who had been a professor at the Union Theological Seminary, said "These sufferings [of Psalm 22] transcend those of any historical sufferer, with the single exception of Jesus Christ. They find their exact counterpart in the sufferings of the cross.... This ideal is a Messianic ideal, and finds its only historical realization in Jesus Christ."
- Research and commentary is based on the book 100 Prophecies. © Ray Konig and AboutBibleProphecy.com.
Here is Psalm 22:1,7,8,16,17,18:
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD ; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
(New International Version translation)