As we continue our study on the cross from the viewpoint of the person suffering in Psalm 22, we see once again a graphic description of the suffering that could only be fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no point at which the events described here took place in David’s life. We read, “For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me,” (Ps.22:16,17 NKJV). The psalmist describes being “surrounded by dogs”. The term “dogs” here speaks of the vileness and filth and fierceness that was thrown at the man on the cross. In the Old Testament biblical world dogs were not family pets, they were scavengers, eating dead things and waiting for things to die so they could eat them. Certainly, that was the case as Jesus hung on the cross in fulfillment of this prophecy, the religious leaders were acting just like dogs. Remember that just four days earlier on Palm Sunday, the masses were filled with great delight and celebration as Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. But before entering the city Jesus had wept over that place with a deep sadness in His heart (see Luke 19:41 – 44). The next part of the verse talks about the man having “his hands and feet pierced”. Usually, when a person was crucified they were tied to the cross, nailing was saved for the worst of criminals. There is no event in David’s life that is fulfilled in this passage. While we are not told by the gospel writers that Jesus was pierced in His hands and feet, we do find a definite fulfillment of this passage in the words of Thomas in John’s Gospel.
Remember that Thomas was not with the apostles on Resurrection Day when Jesus first appeared to them. He had a very difficult time believing that Jesus had actually risen from the dead. We read in John’s Gospel, “The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord”. So, he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe”. And eight days later His disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing”, (John 20:25-27 NKJV). Jesus was nailed to the cross and He had the scars to show to Thomas. Jesus’s death was the judicial murder of an innocent man according to circumstances and traditions of that age and yet God was orchestrating the whole scene. He was the one superintending the events to bring about His perfect will.
In verse 17 we see the continued suffering of this Man on the middle cross when we read, “I can count on my bones. They look and stare at Me”, (Ps.22:17 NKJV). The suffering in this verse describes a man whose skin is so tight because all of His joints were dislocated, and all of His weight was resting on His diaphragm. Death on the cross was the most painful and shameful of all methods of death ever comprised. The Romans as a final act of degradation would usually strip their victims naked. This is what the psalmist is referring to when he says, “They look and stare at Me”. In this sense, Jesus bore the shame of all of our sins. He is our high priest who has been tempted in every way as we have been. Remember the shame of Adam and Eve when they realized they had sinned against God, and the first thing they knew was that they were naked. Jesus bore all of our sorrows and all of our punishment on those long and shameful hours hanging on the cross.
As we enter into Good Friday next week, we will begin to see the transition that takes place as Jesus moves from victim to victor. Once again, I encourage you to consider Jesus’ sufferings on the cross as a demonstration of God’s great love for us. Think of our Lord Jesus allowing Himself to go through this incredible anguish because of His great love for you and me. This should result in great heart sacrifice and devotion in our lives for what Jesus has done. I have no greater privilege than to declare the majesty of the most amazing man who ever lived, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the King’s service,
Pastor Rich Sivo