Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 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 Ps 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 Ps 22:1 by our Saviour on the cross, and the quotation of Ps 22:18 by John (Joh 19:24), and of Ps 22:22 by Paul (Heb 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 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.
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
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.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
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.
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
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.
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
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.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
7, 8. For the Jews used one of the gestures (Mt 27:39) here mentioned, when taunting Him on the cross, and (Mt 27:43) reproached Him almost in the very, language of this passage.
shoot out—or, "open."
the lip—(Compare Ps 35:21).
He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
8. trusted on the Lord—literally, "rolled"—that is, his burden (Ps 37:5; Pr 16:3) on the Lord. This is the language of enemies sporting with his faith in the hour of his desertion.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.
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."
I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.
Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
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.
Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
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.
They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
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 Ge 49:4; 2Sa 14:14; Ps 58:8). In this, God is regarded as the ultimate source, and men as the instruments.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
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.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
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. Though 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.
I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
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 Ps 27:13; 54:7; 118:7).
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
18. This literally fulfilled prediction closes the sad picture of the exposed and deserted sufferer.
But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
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.
Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
20. my soul—or self (compare Ps 3:2; 16:10).
my darling—literally, "my only one," or, "solitary one," as desolate and afflicted (Ps 25:16; 35:17).
Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
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 Ps 22:13). The lion often used as a figure representing violent enemies; the connecting of the mouth intimates their rapacity.
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
22-24. He declares his purpose to celebrate God's gracious dealings and publish His manifested perfections ("name," Ps 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 [Ps 22:24]. To hide the face (or eyes) expresses a studied neglect of one's cause, and refusal of aid or sympathy (compare Ps 30:7; Isa 1:15).
Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
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 (De 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 [Ps 22:26]. In the enthusiasm produced by his lively feelings, he addresses such in words, assuring them of God's perpetual favor [Ps 22:26]. The dying of the heart denotes death (1Sa 25:37); so its living denotes life.
The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
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.
For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations.
All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.
A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
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.
They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
31. that he hath done this—supply "it," or "this"—that is, what the Psalm has unfolded.