The Messiah in His Great Passion.
A PROPHECY OF THE MESSIAH’S SUFFERING. — To the chief musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, that is, “Of the hind of the dawn,” a psalm of David. The words “Of the hind of the dawn” refer either to the melody or chant according to which this psalm was to be rendered, or they summarize the contents. As the hind is the emblem of the hunted soul panting for deliverance, so the dawn pictures the deliverance which follows the dark night of misery and wretchedness. In the humiliation of His great Passion, Christ was like the hind; in the exaltation following His overthrow of the enemies of mankind the rich beauty of the eternal morning dawned over Him. V. 1. My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Here the speaker, the Messiah, speaking through the prophecy of His servant David, plunges immediately into the midst of His bitter cry of anguish which marked the climax of His suffering on the cross. Prophecy and fulfillment come together here; we are taken fully a thousand years into the future to Calvary, the Mount of Suffering. There it was that Christ cried out these words, as He felt the damnation of hell closing in upon Him, Matt. 27, 45. 46. It was not only the fatherly love of God, His heavenly Father and King, which had been withdrawn from Christ in those terrible hours of unspeakable suffering, but His very goodness had likewise forsaken Him. Without the slightest comfort and consolation He endured the tortures of the damned. So unfathomably deep was that suffering that the Messiah Himself felt constrained to ask, Why? The counsel of God; with which He had from eternity declared Himself in complete harmony, was, for the time being, hidden from His consciousness. And yet He clings to God as to His God and Father, His cry of excruciating misery thereby proving the almighty call of victory wherewith the Messiah conquered hell and all its hosts. Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring? Rather, Far from My help are the words of My roaring. The Messiah’s heartrending cry over His being forsaken by God is here explained and further extended. The cry of His pain and torture assumed the nature of a roaring; it rose up on high, during an eternity of agony, without, however, bringing Him help. V. 2. O My God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. There was no rest, no easement, no repose, for the suffering Messiah; He must drink the cup of God’s anger to its very dregs. V. 3. But Thou art holy, and His holiness is acknowledged by the Messiah even in the depths of His suffering, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel, praised in all of Israel’s hymns of thanksgiving, magnified by all true believers. V. 4. Our fathers trusted in Thee; they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them, showing His mighty deliverance time and again. V. 5. They cried unto Thee and were delivered, they escaped the threatened danger, the attacks of the enemies; they trusted in Thee and were not confounded, they did not harbor vain hopes when they placed their trust in Jehovah. But the Messiah is constrained to cry out, by way of contrast, v. 6. But I am a worm and no man, He is like a worm which has been stepped on and winds back and forth in pain; He no longer resembles a man, a human being, His sufferings being more than human nature could endure; a reproach of men, and despised of the people, heaped with shame and contempt during the entire period of His suffering. V. 7. All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn, making Him a target of their blasphemous mockery, cp. Luke 23, 35; they shoot out the lip, in a grimace conveying their contempt; they shake the head, wagging it in a gesture denoting their doubt as to His being in His right mind, saying, v. 8. He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him, literally, “Roll it upon Jehovah,” jeeringly urging Christ to cast His troubles upon the Lord; let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him. That was the bitter, blasphemous irony and mockery which the Jews flung at Christ there on Calvary’s mount, taunting Him with being a cursed criminal, forsaken of God. V. 9. But Thou art He that took Me out of the womb, the unshaken trust of the Messiah in the God of His salvation appearing here; Thou didst make Me hope, causing Him to trust with full confidence, when I was upon My mother’s breasts, in earliest infancy. V. 10. I was cast upon Thee from the womb, from His birth; Thou art My God from My mother’s belly, His heavenly Father’s care having enveloped and kept Him during His entire life, thus giving Him evidence that He was His God, His highest and most precious Treasure. Note that the human mother of Christ is referred to four times in this passage, and it is remarkable that in the entire Old Testament a human father is never mentioned or suggested, only a mother, Is. 7, 14; Gen. 3, 15. The fact that God is still His God causes the Messiah once more to turn to Him with an imploring cry. V. 11. Be not far from Me, for trouble is near, a most terrible distress was threatening; for there is none to help, no human being, no creature, to bring Him relief. Instead of finding helpers among men in the world, the very opposite holds true. V. 12. Many bulls, numerous and dangerous enemies, have compassed Me; strong bulls of Bashan, the rich meadow country northeast of Gilead, have beset Me round, threatening Him from all sides. V. 13. They gaped upon Me with their mouths, stretching them wide open, in order to tear Him to pieces, as a ravening and a roaring lion. Both the Jews and the arch-enemy of Christ are here included in this description. V. 14. I am poured out like water, His life is in the process of dissolution as the result of all these sufferings, and all My bones are out of joint, due to the torture of the cross; My heart is like wax, from the agony and terror of His soul; it is melted in the midst of My bowels. V. 15. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, all his vitality having left Him; and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws, in the agony of burning thirst from which He suffered on the cross; and Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death, laid there by God, in accordance with the eternal counsel concerning man’s salvation. Both the Jews and the heathen would have had no power over Christ if it had not been given them from above; the death of Christ took place by the will of God. V. 16. For dogs have compassed Me, as the Messiah, in resuming His complaint, cries out; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me; they pierced My hands and My feet, digging through them with the nails which fastened Jesus to the cross. V. 17. I may tell all My bones, for He was so wasted away with suffering that every bone was to be seen; they look and stare upon Me, partly in indifference and partly in hatred. V. 18. They part My garments among them and cast lots upon My vesture, Luke 23, 34; John 19, 23. 24. Such were the indignities that were heaped upon the Lord. Therefore He cries out once more: v. 19. But be not Thou far from Me, O Lord, remaining at a distance; O My Strength, haste Thee to help Me, speedily coming to His assistance. V. 20. Deliver My soul from the sword, from the murderous weapons, from the instruments of torture; My darling, His precious life, from the power of the dog, the low and mean tormentors. V. 21. Save Me from the lion’s mouth, Satan himself being referred to here; for Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns, the wild oxen representing all His fierce enemies. The Messiah is so confident that God will hear Him that He states, Thou hast heard, Thou hast answered Me. All the forces of evil, the very powers of death, could not keep Him in subjection. It is the Christian’s great comfort that Christ suffered willingly, that He endured all the sufferings laid upon Him to the end, to the time when He knew that redemption had been gained, that all was finished.
A PROPHECY OF THE MESSIAH’S GLORY. V. 22. I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, proclaiming it aloud; in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee. It is the delivered, the victorious Messiah who speaks in the last part of the psalm. The dawn of salvation has arisen upon the hind that was pursued. Christ, the Messiah, risen from the dead, is now enthroned at the right hand of God, while He is at the same time in the midst of His brethren, in the glorious Word of the Gospel. Those who believe in Him are the congregation of Jehovah, and their songs of praise rise in honor of His redemption. V. 23. Ye that fear the Lord, in humble reverence flowing from true faith, praise Him; all ye, the seed of Jacob, His spiritual children, glorify Him; and fear Him, all ye, the seed of Israel, all these terms being descriptive of the congregation of believers, of the Church of Christ. V. 24. For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, the poverty of the poor, the natural, miserable state of all men; neither hath He hid His face from Him, in indifference and anger; but when He cried unto Him, He heard, the Lord delivered all men, who were in spiritual misery and poverty, from sin, death, and the power of the devil. V. 25. My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation, the believers of the Old and of the New Testament forming one great body, the same people of God, the one in hope and anticipation, the other in possession and realization; I will pay my vows before them that fear Him, the great sacrifice by which He atoned for our sins. And now that the great deed is accomplished, Christ distributes the fruit and blessing of His atoning work. V. 26. The meek, the poor sinners who realize their own unworthiness and desire only the grace and mercy of Jehovah, shall eat and be satisfied, partaking of the fullness of Christ’s redemption; they shall praise the Lord that seek Him, full of the deepest gratitude for the benefits given by Him; your heart shall live forever, kept by the strength of the Redeemer in the Gospel. V. 27. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, even the heathen from the extreme borders of the world, from distant lands, for His salvation is not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee, men from all tongues and peoples. V. 28. For the kingdom, namely, that of grace and glory, is the Lord’s, Jehovah is its Ruler; and He is the Governor among the nations. Not that all nations, in all their individual component elements and members, will bow under the reign of the Messiah; but He has representatives from all parts of the earth who will finally be received into His kingdom by faith. V. 29. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat, of the blessings of His grace, and worship, some of the powerful and influential people of the earth would bow under the Messiah’s reign; all they that go down to the dust, the most miserable among human beings, who hardly manage to keep their life from being snuffed out by the adversities of this world, shall bow before Him, the rich and the poor, the mighty and the lowly, being on the same level before Him; and none can keep alive his own soul, this being done by the power of the Redeemer through the means of grace. V. 30. A seed, a holy, chosen seed, consecrated to Him, shall serve Him, pledged to His ministry; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. As generation succeeds generation, there will always be spiritual children born to Him pertaining to His household. V. 31. They shall come and shall declare His righteousness, the faithfulness of Jehovah in keeping His promises concerning the salvation of men, unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this. As long as men live on the earth, till the last mortal has been born into this world of sin, shall the glorious victory of Christ be proclaimed in His great cry: “It is finished!” Thus mightily did the Messiah, through the mouth of His prophet, preach of the coming salvation through the sufferings, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His victory is ours by faith.