The Messiah in the Psalms Lesson 12

Psalms

November 26, 2017

The Sanctuary | Hazelwood, Missouri

By Daniel L. Segraves

Psalm 132

Psalm 132 is the longest of the fifteen psalms included in the “Songs of Ascents.”  A variety of theories have been offered as to the significance of these psalms.  A common theory is that the ascents refer “to journeys made by pilgrims to the three annual festivals observed in Jerusalem (Deut. 16:16).  . . . The psalms on this theory are a collection for use by pilgrims either in their journey or in processionals during a festival.”[1]  Another suggestion is that these psalms were a liturgy for “a choir ranged up a flight of fifteen stairs, such as we know existed in the Jerusalem temple.”[2]  It is also pointed out that “in the book of Ezra exiles returning from captivity in Babylon are repeatedly said to ‘go up’ to Jerusalem, and Ezra’s own ‘journey’ (7:9) is literally his ‘going up,’ his aliyah, the noun in our psalm headings.”[3]

We will read these psalms from the perspective of the third suggestion, for if we “look at the term within the book of Psalms . . . the word appears to refer to Israel’s ‘coming up’ out of exile, thus setting the theme of these psalms within the context of Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity.”[4]

     Throughout the OT, the notion of the return from Babylonian captivity is seen as a picture of the times of the Messiah (cf. Isa 40).  The Psalms of Ascents are thus to be read within Psalms as an expression of the hope of God’s faithfulness to David and the fulfillment of his messianic promise.  . . . The central psalm is Ps 132, which specifically recounts the Davidic covenant of 2 Sa 7.[5]

            Peter understood Psalm 132 to be about the Messiah.  On the Day of Pentecost, in order to affirm that Jesus was the promised Messiah, Peter referred to Psalm 132:11.  Peter said, concerning David, “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:30-31).

Peter coupled Psalm 132:11 together with Psalm 16:10, indicating that both psalms are about the Messiah.  Psalm 132:11 reads, “The Lord has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it: ‘I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.’”  The fruit of David’s body is the Messiah, Jesus Christ.[6]

In Psalm 132, verses 1-10 form a prayer request that concludes with the words, “For Your Servant David’s sake, do not turn away the face of Your Anointed” (10).  The word translated “Anointed” is from Mashiyach, which transliterates into English as “Messiah.”  Verses 11-18 in Psalm 132 form the answer to the prayer request, with verse 11 promising that the Lord will not turn away the face of His Messiah.  He will, instead, as He swore to David, set the Messiah, a physical descendant of David, on David’s throne.

We do not know who wrote this psalm or when it was written.  What we do know is that it contains extensive quotations: “a vow of David (vv. 3-5), an oath of the Lord concerning the Davidic succession (vv. 11b-12), a word of the Lord about the election of Zion (vv. 14-16), and another joined to it about the future of David’s dynasty (vv. 17-18).”[7]

The interpretation of individual psalms is aided more by the context in which they are found in the Psalter and by textual linkages than by speculations about authorship, provenance, and the circumstances under which they were originally written.  After the return from Babylonian exile, when the composition of the Psalter took its final shape, the psalms were apparently arranged in an intentional and interpretive form.  It is this form that is most helpful in determining meaning, not the concerns of historical criticism.

Psalm 132 begins as a prayer, asking the Lord to remember David “and all his afflictions” (1).  The prayer centers on David’s vow not to allow anything to stand in the way of finding “a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob” (2-5).  Although we do not find the precise words of this vow elsewhere in Scripture, we know that these verses reflect David’s desire to find a place for the Ark of the Covenant that was more suitable than Baale Judah (II Samuel 6:2).[8]  Another name for Baale is Kirjath Jearim (Joshua 15:9), which means “city of forests.”  The Ark had been taken to Kirjath Jearim after it was returned by the Philistines (I Samuel 6:20-21; 7:1-2).  It remained there for twenty years.[9]  The Israelites lamented this situation, and their lament finds full expression in David’s vow: “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty one of Jacob (3-5).”

Then comes a possible link that looks not only backward to the historic event of the return of the Ark to Jerusalem, but also ahead to the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem: “Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of the woods” (6).  The word “woods” is translated from ya‘ar, a form of which is transliterated “Jearim.”  As it relates to the Davidic event, this refers to the fact that the Ark had been kept in the wooded district around Kirjath Jearim.  But as it looks ahead to the birth of the Messiah, it may refer to the fact that He was born in Bethlehem.

In seeking to interpret this psalm, it is essential to remember that as it is now placed in the Psalter, it looks ahead to the coming of the promised Messiah (11).  David is dead, and the throne of David is empty.  The Ark has not been seen since 587 b.c., when the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the temple.[10]  So, for its post-exilic readers, the words “let us go into His tabernacle; let us worship at His footstool.  Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength” (7-8) cannot refer only to an event in the distant past, when David finally returned the Ark to Jerusalem or when Solomon’s temple was completed.  There would be little hope to be gained from a recitation of a past, long gone and impossible to revive.  Instead, these words now look ahead to a new tabernacle and Ark, and priests who will “be clothed with righteousness” and saints who will “shout for joy” (9).

A significant link in making this connection is found in Micah 5:2, a post-exilic prophecy: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”  The New Testament sees this as a prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  (See Matthew 2:6; John 7:42.)  Ephrathah is consistently connected with Bethlehem in the Hebrew Scriptures.  (See Ruth 4:11; I Chronicles 2:50; 4:4.)  The Messiah would come from Ephrathah and, as Psalm 132 looks ahead to the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, it connects that fulfillment with Ephrathah, that is, with Bethlehem.  The statement, “We found it in the fields of the woods” (6b) brings to mind Luke’s record that the shepherds, the poor among Israel[11] and the first to discover and worship the Messiah, “were in the same country [around Bethlehem] living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).  It was here in the fields that an angel of the Lord told them the good news of a Savior, Christ the Lord, born in the city of David, Bethlehem (Luke 2:9-12).

Under the Old Covenant, the Ark was God’s dwelling place.  Under the New Covenant, God “tabernacles” or dwells among us in the Incarnation.[12]  As sacred as it was, the Ark of the Covenant was merely a shadow or type of the presence of God that would take up residence among human beings in the Person of Jesus Christ.[13]  In a very real sense, when the shepherds found Jesus in Bethlehem-Ephrathah in a manger, they went into His tabernacle and worshipped at His footstool (Psalm 132:7).  Because of the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, God’s priests are clothed with righteousness and His saints shout for joy (Psalm 132:9, 16).[14]

Although David’s more immediate sons were not obedient to God and thus lost the privilege of sitting on David’s throne (12), God would nevertheless keep His promise that the Messiah would descend from David and sit on David’s throne (11).  This was included in Peter’s message on Pentecost, as he explained that Jesus is now exalted to the right hand of God (Acts 2:33; Psalm 110:1).  From this position of exaltation, Christ pours out the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33).  The same Person who was crucified has been made both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).

It was this message, composed in part from a quote from Psalm 132:11, that cut those who heard Peter to the heart, causing them to say, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).  Peter replied, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

All of this happened in Jerusalem, on Mount Zion, in harmony with the final verses of Psalm 132:

For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: “This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.  I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread.  I will also clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall shout for joy.  There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.  His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon Himself His crown shall flourish” (13-18).

These words have a New Covenant ring.  In the first century, Jewish Christians read these words:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12:22-24).

In an extended allegory comparing Hagar to Mount Sinai and Mount Sinai to the earthly Jerusalem, Paul wrote, “but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26).  Bruce points out that the

events of the Exodus and the wilderness wanderings . . . are treated in the apostolic age as parables of Christian experience.  But Christians have come to no sacred mountain which can be touched physically but to the heavenly dwelling-place of God, the true and eternal Mount Zion.  . . . by virtue of accepting the gospel, the readers of [Hebrews] had come to that spiritual realm some of whose realities are detailed in the following clauses.[15]

This does not negate the promise of “the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2).

. . . the new Jerusalem has not yet come down to mankind, but in the spiritual realm they already have access to it.  They have become fellow-citizens with Abraham of that well-founded city for which he looked; it is the city or commonwealth which comprises the whole family of faith, God’s true dwelling-place.  Even now this city has not been manifested in its fullness; it is still in one sense “the city which is to come” (13:14), but the privileges of its citizenship are already enjoyed by faith.[16]

On the other hand, the Jerusalem that is only earthly, which Paul compared to Hagar and Mount Sinai, is compared by John with Sodom and Egypt (Revelation 11:8).  It seems quite apparent that promises like those found in Psalm 132:13 should not be limited to the earthly Jerusalem.  Although God does indeed love that city and continued to extend mercy to it by pouring out His Holy Spirit there to inaugurate the new era, His Spirit is not confined to that geographic location.  When He says, “This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it” (Psalm 132: 14), this cannot mean that God dwells in the earthly Mount Zion alone.  He dwells in the Mount Zion that is also identified as the heavenly Jerusalem, the church (Hebrews 12:22-23).

Just before His departure, Jesus commanded His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, for it was the place where the Holy Spirit would be poured out.[17]  In this pouring out, people were abundantly blessed and satisfied.  They were clothed with salvation and shouted for joy.  There the horn [strength or government] of David began to grow[18] and a lamp was prepared for the Messiah.[19]  The Messiah’s enemies will be “clothed with shame, but upon Himself His crown shall flourish” (18).  But Jesus also informed His disciples that what began in the earthly Jerusalem would extend over the entire earth: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Psalm 132 is a key text among the “Songs of Ascents,” assuring the returning exiles that God’s promise was not confined to the past.  Their historic focus on a sacred Ark was transformed into a future hope.  The throne of David would be filled once again, and the good news would first be heard in the fields around Bethlehem.

[1] James Luther Mays, Psalms, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1994), 385-386.

[2] Michael Wilcock, The Message of the Psalms 73-150, The Bible Speaks Today, ed. J. A. Motyer (Downers Grove, IL: 2001), 219.

[3] Wilcock, The Message of the Psalms, 219.

[4] John H. Sailhamer, NIV Compact Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan,1994), 343.

[5] Sailhamer, NIV Compact Bible Commentary, 343.

[6] See Matt 1:1; Luke 1:32; 3:31; Acts 13:22-23; Rom 1:3; Rev 5:5; 22:16.

[7] Mays, Psalms, 409.

[8] See II Samuel 6-7.

[9] The Ark was neglected during the time Saul was king (I Chronicles 13:3).

[10] Wilcock, The Message of the Psalms 73-15, 242.

[11] See Psalm 132:15.

[12] John 1:14. The word translated “dwelt” is eskēnōsen, which includes the meaning “to abide or dwell in a tabernacle or tent.”

[13] See Hebrews 9:1-10; 10:1-25; 12:24.

[14] See I Peter 2:5-9.

[15] F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), 355.

[16] Ibid., 357.

[17] See Luke 24:49-52; Acts 1:4-8.

[18] See Isaiah 9:6-7.  The word translated “grow” [tsamach] is also found in the messianic references to the “Branch.”  See Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Ezekiel 29:21; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12.

[19] “My Anointed” is a reference to the Messiah.  The “lamp” connects with II Samuel 21:17, where David is described as the “lamp of Israel” and with I Kings 11:36; 15:4, where David’s descendants Rehoboam and Abijam ruled in Jerusalem even after the division of the kingdom in order to give David a “lamp in Jerusalem.”  With the coming of the Messiah, this lamp will never go out.

The Messiah in the Psalms Lesson 11

Psalms

November 19, 2017

The Sanctuary | Hazelwood, Missouri

By Daniel L. Segraves[1]

Psalm 23

The words of Psalm 23 give great comfort to believers who experience painful and difficult circumstances in life. But as it is placed in the Psalter, following Psalm 22 with its content focused on the death of the Messiah and preceding Psalm 24 with its “King of Glory” content, Psalm 23 can be read as a reference to the Messiah’s hope as He walked “through the valley of the shadow of death” (verse 4). 

2 To say that sheep were made to “lie down” meant that they had eaten their fill; the sheep stood to eat. Sheep were frightened by rapidly running waters and would not drink from them. 

3 Compare the reference to “soul” (nephesh [life]) with Psalm 22:20, 29. Had the life of the Messiah not been restored, it would have meant that the Lord had not kept His promise to David and it would have reflected negatively on His character, as suggested by the words “for his name’s sake” (i.e., for the sake of His reputation). 

4 When Psalm 23 is read as a messianic psalm, “the valley of the shadow of death” refers to the Messiah’s experience on the cross. Even in the midst of this experience, the Messiah would fear no evil, for the Lord was with Him, comforting Him with His rod and staff. In the shepherd/sheep relationship, the rod and staff represented the shepherd’s presence, protection, and guidance. 

5 The phrase “in the presence of mine enemies” can refer to the Messiah’s experiences on the cross. (See Psalm 22:7-8, 11-13, 16-18, 20-21.) The table was a symbol of provision and blessing, as was the overflowing cup. (See Psalm 16:5.) The statement “thou anointest my head with oil” reminds us that the Messiah was the anointed One. 

6 Having passed through the valley of the shadow of death and having experienced the restoration of His soul (i.e., life), the Messiah testifies that goodness and mercy would follow Him all the days of His life. The word translated “follow” (radaph) meant “pursue” or “chase.” Goodness and mercy would not be passive in relation to the Messiah; His life would be characterized by the presence of these virtues. The “house of the Lord” was the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was not built when David was alive, so Psalm 23 could not have had its ultimate fulfillment with David. To translate the Hebrew yashab as “dwell” is to follow the Septuagint, Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate. The Hebrew text reads “I will return to the house of the Lord,” looking forward to the return of the Messiah, the anointed One, to the Temple. This messianic image is seen elsewhere in the Old Testament. (See Zechariah 9:8-9; Malachi 3:1.) In the most immediate context, this prepares the reader for Psalm 24, wherein the King of Glory, the Messiah, enters the “everlasting doors” into His holy place on the hill of the Lord. (See Psalm 24:3, 7, 9.) The Messiah will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, further signifying that Psalm 23 does not have its ultimate fulfillment in David. 

Psalm 24

As it pertains to the Messiah, Psalm 24 celebrates His return to Jerusalem, the hill of the Lord, and His holy place through the gates of the city and the “everlasting doors” of the Temple. The psalm also identifies those who will be permitted to fellowship with the Messiah upon His return. In the larger context of the Old Testament, the Messiah returned to His house. (See comments on Psalm 23:6.) As He entered His house, He was identified as the King of glory, the Lord of hosts (verses 7-10). In other words, the Messiah was God, as identified elsewhere. (See, e.g., Psalm 45:6; Isaiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:8.) The good news of Psalm 24, as it is read in conjunction with Psalms 22-23, was that the crucified Messiah would not stay in the grave. He would come forth in great glory and power, returning to rule the world from His holy place on the hill of the Lord. Those who were faithful to Him would be privileged to fellowship with Him in His victorious reign. 

1 The Messiah’s kingdom is universal in scope, covering not only the earth (‘eretz, the Promised Land), but the world (tēbēl). 

2 The Messiah is the Creator Himself. 

3 The hill of the Lord was Mount Zion. His holy place was the temple. Since the Messiah was entering His holy place, the question has to do with the qualifications of those who could fellowship with Him there. 

6 Jacob represents all those who seek the Lord.

Psalm 25

Psalm 25 focuses on Israel’s hope in the days following the Exile and during the time that the Psalter was being arranged in its final shape. This was the hope of the return of God’s people to the holy city in conjunction with the reign of the Messiah on His holy hill. Israel’s hope for the return of the Lord to His Temple was kindled by the prophets. (See, e.g., Isaiah 2:2-3; Micah 4:1-5; Zechariah 8:20-23.) These prophecies looked ahead to the millennial era, but they sparked hope in the hearts of the Jewish people that their fulfillment was imminent. Psalm 25 is placed to illustrate the kind of prayers that would be prayed when the King of glory came in through the lifted gates and the everlasting doors (Psalm 24:7-9) to take up His abode on the “hill of the Lord” (Psalm 24:3). As God answered these prayers, He was showing people His ways and teaching them His paths. (Compare Psalm 25:4; Isaiah 2:3.) Psalm 25 envisioned the Lord as having returned to His Temple, where He heard the prayers of His people. This was a psalm of David, who lived and died before the first Temple was built, but his words took on new significance as they were placed in a messianic context. The psalm is an acrostic with some irregularities. 

10 The Lord’s paths (i.e., His ways) are characterized by mercy and truth, but only those who “keep his covenant and his testimonies” enjoy His paths. In the larger messianic context of the Psalter, the idea of keeping the Lord’s covenant and testimonies should not be seen as a focus on the law of Moses but on the life of faith. Although the law of Moses was in effect when the individual psalms were written and when the Psalter founds its final shape, it was recognized that the rituals of the law did not bring delight to God. (See Psalm 51:16.) His delight was, instead, in “a broken and a contrite heart,” a heart of faith (Psalm 51:17). (Compare Psalm 32:1-2 with Romans 4:4-8.) Even Abraham, who lived four centuries before the law of Moses was given (see Galatians 3:17), was described by the Lord as a man who “obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:5). This was not because Abraham had some advance notice of the contents of the law of Moses (see Deuteronomy 5:3), but because he was a man of faith. (See Genesis 15:6.) The point is that the law of Moses was intended to bring a stiff-necked and rebellious people to a place of faith in the Messiah. (See Deuteronomy 9:6-7; Galatians 3:22-25.) But those who were not stiff-necked and rebellious were counted as righteous on the basis of their faith in God. They had in this sense kept His covenant, for they had already embraced the faith to which the covenant was intended to lead. 

11 To say “for thy name’s sake” means “for the sake of Your reputation.” (See comments on Psalm 23:3.)

[1] These notes were prepared for the Apostolic Study Bible (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 2014) by Daniel L. Segraves

The Messiah in the Psalms Lesson 10

Psalms

November 12, 2017

Daniel L. Segraves

Psalm 22

To read Psalm 22:1-22 and Matthew 27:33-46 together is to see the evident connection between these texts. Psalm 22 has long been viewed as a messianic psalm fulfilled in the sufferings of Jesus on the cross, an idea that is supported by a reading of Matthew. If Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm, we would expect the superscription to make some contribution to the messianic theme. The KJV offers a partial translation and transliteration. One translation of the Hebrew Aijeleth Shahar is “The Deer of the Dawn” (NKJV). The Septuagint translates the superscription as “For the end, concerning the morning aid, a Psalm of David.” When the superscription is read this way, the psalm begins by pointing to the resurrection of Christ: This was His aid or help on the morning of the first day of the week.

 
When read as the Messiah’s prayer, Psalm 22:1-21a describe His experiences on the cross in His own words. In Psalm 22:21b He proclaims that His prayer for deliverance has been answered. According to the New Testament, His prayer was not answered by sparing Him from the suffering of the cross, but by the Resurrection. In Psalm 22:22 the Messiah proclaims His intent to declare the name of the LORD in the midst of the assembly. (See Hebrews 2:11-12.)

 
1 Jesus prayed the words of the first half of this verse on His cross (Matthew 27:46). There is reason to think Jesus prayed the first twenty-two verses of this psalm. We know He prayed the first words recorded in this verse, and we know He prayed the words of verse 22 at some point in His life. (See Hebrews 2:12.) Some have thought Jesus’ plaintive cry indicated that at the moment of His greatest need, God abandoned Jesus. This was not the case. Instead, Jesus’ words indicated the genuine depth of the emotional trauma He experienced; His suffering was not only physical; it affected every aspect of His being, materially and immaterially. In the same way that any person in the midst of the horrors of painful circumstances might cry out, “God, where are you?” (see Psalm 10:1), so Jesus on the cross cried out of His experience of aloneness and the feeling of being forsaken. When Jesus uttered the words of Psalm 22:1, He acknowledged the messianic import of the psalm. Although we have no record that He prayed all of the words in Psalm 22:1-22, we should understand His use of the first words as representative of His entire experience. This is how the psalm was understood by the writers of the gospels. Jesus’ feeling of being forsaken was further developed in the words, “Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”

 
2 The prayer “in the night season” correlates with Matthew’s words, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45).

 
3 On the cross, Jesus acknowledged the holiness of God, which was demonstrated by His enthronement in “the praises of Israel.” The phrase “the praises of Israel” was a figure of speech referring God’s rule from between the cherubim on the ark of the covenant. (See Psalms 80:1; 99:1.) This made very significant the tearing of the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Jerusalem Temple at the time of Christ’s death. (See Matthew 27:51.) The tearing of this veil represented the access into God’s presence that is now available to all people of faith on the basis of Christ’s death. (See Hebrews 10:19-22.)

 
4-8 The Messiah contrasts His experience on the cross with the experiences of the “fathers” who trusted in God and were delivered. The statement “I am a worm” is a figure of speech intended to describe the extent of the reproach Jesus the Messiah experienced on the cross. The extent of the way the unbelievers despised the Messiah is seen in their ridicule of Him and their denial that God had any interest in the events of the cross.

 
7-8 Compare with Matthew 27:39-43.

 
9-10 The Messiah acknowledges the genuineness of His human existence and His dependence on God since His birth.

 
11 Compare with verse 1.

 
12-13 Bashan, a fertile region east of the Jordan River, was known for its sheep and plump but wild, dangerous cattle. The imagery of danger is vividly presented in these words.

 
14-15 The Messiah’s physical condition is described in metaphors expressing formlessness and His inner feelings of anguish; He could no longer function as a human being. Like a dried-out and useless potsherd, He had exhausted His resilience and was unable to cope with the trauma. Not only did Jesus experience dehydration; His bones were out of joint; He was brought to “the dust of death.”

 
15 Compare with John 19:28.

 
16 Compare with Luke 24:39-40; John 20:25, 27. Although there were domesticated dogs in Israel in the first century, there were also wild, vicious, scavenging dogs that roamed in packs. (See Psalm 59:6, 14.)

 
17 On the cross, the Messiah endured the shame of nakedness: All of His bones could be counted; the onlookers stared at Him.

 
18 Compare with Matthew 27:35.

 
19-21 The Messiah’s prayer in these verses recapitulates the danger He faced on the cross. Compare verse 19a with verses 1b and 11a and 19b with 1b. The sword was the chief weapon used by the Roman military. (See Romans 13:4.) The prayer returns to the imagery of the dog, the lion, and the bulls.

 
21-22 Finally, the sufferings were past. The Messiah declared, “Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” The writer of Hebrews saw Psalm 22:22 as being connected with the death of the Messiah and occurring after His death. The phrase “crowned with glory and honor” indicated that this occurred after the Resurrection. (See Hebrews 2:9-12.) The word translated “unicorns” (rēmiym) by the KJV refers to wild oxen.

 
23-24 David speaks to the congregation, to those who “fear the LORD,” about the suffering of the Messiah. He encouraged them to praise, glorify, and fear the LORD. The reason for this was that the LORD did not despise the Messiah in His afflictions, regardless of the assessment made by those who participated in His crucifixion (verses 6-8), nor did He hid His face from the Messiah, even though the Messiah felt forsaken (verses 1-2).

 
25-27 David speaks to the Messiah, declaring that he would praise the Messiah in the congregation of believers and that he would make public payment of his vows. The Messiah’s victory over death brought blessings for the poor. Those who sought the LORD would have reason to praise Him; their hearts would enjoy abundant life forever (verse 26). The death and resurrection of the Messiah would have universal impact. He would be worshiped by “the ends of the world” and “all the kindreds of the nations” (verse 27).

 
28 The resurrection of the Messiah further proved the universality of the rule of the LORD. In the larger context of Psalms, it was the evidence of the certainty of the Davidic covenant.

 
29 Those who would worship the Messiah included the prosperous and the suffering. His rule would be universal.

 
30-31 David looks to the future and declares that the events of Psalm 22 would be recognized as the work of the Lord. The worship of the Messiah would not end with the generation that saw the experiences of Psalm 22. He would be served by their posterity (verse 30). People yet to be born would hear of His righteousness and of the work accomplished on the cross (verse 31).