Saturday, March 3, 2012

AMAZING Stuff in Psalm 22

What if a thousand years ago when the Viking Leif Ericson sailed to the new continent he brought with him some written lyrics that sang of a tragedy in which huge flying ships would crash into twin 110 story tall buildings? How fantastic would that sound for the next millennium until airplanes were invented and buildings scraped the skies?

But what if that song had a second verse that named the exact number of victims, the time of day, the nationalities of the perpetrators? Would you not decide that the writer was clairvoyant or, perhaps, divine? Apply that logic to the prophetic passages in the Bible and be AMAZED.

Psalm 22 was written a thousand years before Christ was born and hundreds of years before the cruel spectacle of crucifixion made its way to the region of Israel. The psalm begins with the very words Christ spoke on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The verses alternate between complaints (you do not answer, trouble is near, evil men surround me) and trust in God (you are the praise of Israel, they cried to you and were saved). Clear imagery of Christ’s suffering on the cross is used in verses 12 through 18 and then the next three verses make four earnest petitions: come quickly to help me; deliver my life from the sword; rescue me; save me.

You can split the psalm in two after verse 21 as the mood changes to one of praise and thanksgiving thereafter (He is Risen!) and ends with the assurance that future generations will be told about the Lord.

One AMAZING word picture comes way back in verse 6: “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.” This portrait of Jesus on the day of his crucifixion is enhanced by the very specific worm that is mentioned: the coccus ilicis. This worm was crushed for its use as a scarlet dye. The female would attach itself to a tree and protect her larvae even through her death, whereupon the tree (picture the cross) and the offspring were stained with the scarlet red coloring (picture Christ’s blood).