An Exposition of Psalm 22 -- By: Mark H. Heinemann

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 147:587 (Jul 1990)
Article: An Exposition of Psalm 22
Author: Mark H. Heinemann


An Exposition of Psalm 22

Mark H. Heinemann

Lecturer in Practical Theology
German Theological Seminary, Giessen, West Germany

“Extraordinary” is the word for Psalm 22. The craftsmanship of its poetry, the boldness of its images, and the sweep of its historical scope all contribute to this impression. But the most striking thing about Psalm 22 is its messianic character. God inspired David to write in such a way that certain aspects of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ were clearly prefigured: His perplexed cry, “My God, my God”1 (v. 1; see Mark 15:34), the mockings of the onlookers (Ps 22:6–8; see Matt 27:39–43), the piercing of His hands and feet (Ps 22:16; see John 20:24–27), and the casting of lots for His garments (Ps 22:18; see John 19:24). The fact that the writer to the Hebrews quoted Psalm 22:22 in Hebrews 2:12 as the words of Jesus certainly validates the view that the psalm is messianic.

In the course of studying the psalm, the messianic aspect must be kept in mind. A number of intriguing questions arise. What experiences was David describing? In what ways do his descriptions go beyond his own experience, if any? Did he knowingly prophesy?

But in seeking to answer these questions, it is important to note that the psalm has a message in itself for both the readers of that day and those of the present. This message is summarized in Psalm 22:24: “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and He has not hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him, He heard.” Despite his feelings of being forsaken by God and man, and despite his terrible sufferings at the hands of his enemies, David kept praying in faith down to the last moment, and

ultimately found that God had heard his cries for help and had answered him. The messianic aspect serves to underline this theme in that Jesus Christ became the ultimate example of this kind of faith under similar circumstances.

Psalm 22 has three virtually equ...

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