Bible Studies on the Messianic Psalms
Psalm 22 Part 2 – It is finished, He has done it!

By I Gordon

Introduction

We have been looking at Psalm 22 – the greatest Messianic Psalms concerning the cross. Last time we looked specifically at what the Psalm says related to the physical suffering of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t the nicest or easiest thing to talk about either because this Psalm outlines in some detail what crucifixion was like for Jesus. In fact I know of no other passage in the Bible, including the Gospels, which outline in such detail what Jesus experienced as Psalm 22. The first part of this study isn’t that easy either for we will look at the wrath and abandonment of God that Jesus experienced on the cross... but there is light at the end of this tunnel! This Psalm also speaks of the dawning of a new day and what the result will be for believers, Israel, and the ends of the earth. We’ve been trying to follow this Psalm in the order that Jesus experienced it so we started with the wrath of man and kind of ate the middle out of this pie (argh, Psalm) last time. So today we’ll partake of the start and end... verses1-6 and 21-31, in less detail. But let’s start with a recap of the events that unfolded from the Gospels:

Matthew 27:45-54 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. (46) About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (47) When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah." (48) Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. (49) The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." (50) And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (51) At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. (52) The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. (53) They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (54) When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

Strange, strange times indeed... Darkness in the middle of the day... The temple curtain torn in two from top to bottom... An earthquake that rent rocks and broke open tombs... people being raised from the dead... Full on supernatural times indeed! Oswald Chambers said ‘ All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell is terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning.’ So we don’t want to ignore its meaning. Let’s have a look at Psalm 22 and see if it can help shed further light upon what happened that day!

God or My Father?

Psalms 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

The first 6 verses of Psalm 22 not only record the very words from the cross but also the very thoughts of our Savior at that time. They record how He was feeling and what He was thinking. Let’s look first at this penetrating question. It portrays the innocent Lamb of God, separated from His Father, alone for the first time ever, and facing the wrath of God. ‘My God, My God’ – can you think of any occasion when Jesus spoke to Yahweh and called Him ‘God’? I can’t. It’s not that it is wrong. It’s just not how Jesus prayed for He used the more personal intimate title of ‘Father’. Without anything else, that phrase alone used by Jesus indicates that something has changed in His relationship with His Father. What comes next is more telling.

And then there is ‘the ‘Why’?

Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me?’ – The dreaded ‘why’ question. Can you think of Jesus ever asking God ‘why’ something happened? We have probably all asked ‘why’ about something with God. Possibly many things! It is that great troubling question we ask when we feel confused or possibly forsaken by God. Why is this happening? Why is this not happening? Why aren’t you doing something? Why don’t you care? It is, in most cases, the word we speak when we are operating on our own understanding and resources away from the presence of God. We don’t ask ‘why’ when His presence is near. [1] Through all the trials and difficulties that Jesus went through, He never asked ‘why?’ Yet on the cross, at the very end, He did and it is linked with the worst ‘why’ of all – ‘Why have you forsaken me?’

Forsaken – Such a horrible word!

Hands up who wants to be forsaken? Jesus had known what it was to be forsaken by his disciples. Zechariah’s prophecy was fulfilled earlier that I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (Zech 13:7). But forsaken by God? That had never, ever, happened before. Like, never in eternity. ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’ This is a critical question that we all need to be clear about its’ answer. Why was Jesus forsaken? Do you know the answer to that question? You, and I, are the answer. Christ was forsaken by God so that we might never be forsaken. The great exchange was taking place. He took our rightful place so that we might be given His. As the song says: ‘I’m forgiven because you were forsaken; I’m accepted- You were condemned.’ Or, as scripture says ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ (2 Cor. 5:21). Remarkable truth! We may go through times of darkness or even prolonged silence where it seems that God has left us but it isn’t true. The promise to His people remains and is true to the end: "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU." (Heb 13:5)

What’s with the night?

(2) O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

If Jesus was put on the cross at 9am in the morning and taken off it shortly after 3pm in the afternoon, where does the night come into it? You may recall that the Gospels inform us that half of that time on the cross was in daylight and half was in darkness. From 12pm – 3pm there was darkness across the land. As a slight detour, I decided to check this out, looking for historical confirmation outside of the Bible for this event. There were several historical sources that spoke of a great darkness around this time. One was a Greek historian who identified both the year and the time of day.

Phlegon of Tralles was a Greek who wrote a 16 volume history called “Olympiads between 117-138 AD”. Much of his work is now lost but a fragment concerning a unique darkening of the Sun at midday is well known with over seven ancient historians quoting it. He wrote: "In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [AD 32-33], a failure of the Sun took place greater than any previously known, and night came on at the sixth hour of the day [noon], so that stars actually appeared in the sky; and a great earthquake took place in Bithynia and overthrew the greater part of Niceaea."

That’s pretty amazing! Here is a Gentile historian living outside of Israel recording the exact year (the 4th year of the 202 nd Olympiad is 33 AD) and the exact time of day that this darkness occurred. And he said it was greater than any ever before it. Darkness as if it was night, in the middle of the day so that even the stars could be seen! And he mentions an earthquake occurring during that time as well which is exactly as the Gospels writers recorded. [2] So darkness covered the land from noon till 3pm. A solar eclipse right? The interesting thing is that there is no way this could have been a regular solar eclipse. Firstly the timing is out. A full eclipse of the sun, so that darkness could be on the land, lasts no more than 7 minutes and 31 seconds, to be precise! That is the maximum time for a total eclipse given the orbital speeds of the earth and the moon. This darkness lasted three hours. Secondly, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon is directly between the Sun and the earth, but Passover, when Jesus was crucified, always occurs on a full moon and a full moon can only occur when the moon is on the far side of the earth so that we can see the full exposure of the moon to the sun’s light. So it wasn’t possible that this event, this darkness, was a natural eclipse. It isn’t natural. It is supernatural. It reminds us of the prophecy recorded in Amos where God states:

Amos 8:9 "It will come about in that day," declares the Lord GOD, "That I will make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight.’

The earthquake mentioned by historians and the gospel writers at the time of Jesus’ death is interesting as well. We read from Mathew’s gospel that as well as the darkness there was an earthquake at the point of Jesus’ death and the veil in the temple was torn in two. The institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University published a paper on all earthquakes in Israel since 100BC. They noted one at 30AD and another at 33AD which was in Jerusalem and Judea and even caused damage to the temple. [3] Imagine seeing this supernatural darkness and experiencing the earthquake at the time that Jesus died… what would you think? The Bible records that “When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Matt 27:54)

So what does all this mean?

John W. Lawrence, a pastor and graduate of Dallas theological seminary wrote an article called ‘The death of death’ in which were these interesting and contrasting points of Jesus’ time on the cross:

“During the first three hours the sufferings of Christ on the cross were at the hands of men. During the last three hours, He suffered at the hands of a righteous and holy God. From 9 a.m. until noon, man was at the cross pouring out his worst—mocking, reviling, deriding—while during the very same time God was offering up for man His very best. From noon until 3 p.m., man was offering up his best—the only sinless one who had ever lived—while at the same time God was pouring out His worst. During the first three hours our Lord was the “sinless” Son of God (Heb. 7:26); during the last three hours He was “made sin” (2 Cor. 5:21), and He became the accursed thing. Because God cannot look on sin, neither did He allow man to look on the Lord during this time. God, for the only time in eternity past or future, was separated from the Son, and a veil was hung over the light of the sun in order that man might realize the gravity of the moment. During the first three hours, Calvary was only a hill outside the city of Jerusalem where the Son of Man was crucified; during the final three hours, Calvary became the brazen altar of God where the Son of God was slain for our sins. During the light, Christ bore the weight of His own body on the cross; during the last three hours He bore the sins of the whole world.

What was it like for the spotless and sinless Lamb of God to be ‘made sin’ as Paul states? There is a mystery here that we will one day see but can’t pry too deeply into yet… One day we will know! I know what it is like to sin. Maybe you do too. I know what it is like to fail, sometimes repeatedly in an area, and experience all the guilt that goes with that. But what would it have been like for Jesus, who had had nothing but continual fellowship with His Father throughout eternity, to now face the darkness, abandonment and wrath of God? Again, ‘tis a mystery too deep for us but in Psalm 22 we do get a glimpse of how Jesus was feeling:

Ever felt like a worm? Jesus did!

Psalms 22:3-6 yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel .In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. (6) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.

Jesus sees the holiness of God and remembers His faithfulness to the fathers, the saints of old. God saved them and they were not disappointed. We should do the same. Remember God’s faithfulness. Remember the times He has delivered you in the past. If you are tempted to think of the negative things in your life, remind yourself of what you do have. I was doing a little of that the other night but was stopped in my tracks as I read one of the Psalms which said Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalms 103:2)

Yet here Jesus is, in physical darkness, in spiritual darkness, forsaken of God [4] . Faced with the abandonment and wrath of God and the guilt of sin, there is only one conclusion... ‘I am a worm and no man!’ You can’t get much lower than that! But there is also a wonderful illustration in this statement as well for the word used for ‘worm’ is not the common Hebrew word for worm (‘Rimmah’) but the word ‘Tola’ which denotes a special type of worm – the scarlet worm. The scarlet [5] worm is a beautiful type of the Lord Jesus in His death. In order for this worm to bring forth life, it attaches itself to the trunk of a tree, lays its eggs and dies. In dying it stains the tree scarlet. Just as this worm lays aside the right to live to bring forth life, so the Lord Jesus was willing to lay aside His life to bring forth many sons unto glory. In the process of dying the worm stained the tree scarlet which is a graphic picture of Christ’s shed blood on the cross.

Further to this, H. A. Ironside makes this interesting point: In Israel and Syria they use the tola [to obtain] the beautiful permanent scarlet dye (which they often used it clothing) .... It was very expensive and was worn only by the great and the rich and the noble. It is referred to again and again in Scripture. Solomon is said to have clothed the maidens of Israel in scarlet. Daniel was to be clothed in scarlet by Belshazzar. And that word “scarlet” is literally “the splendour of a worm.” “They shall be clothed in the splendour of a worm.” Now the Lord Jesus Christ says, “I am a worm; I am the tola,” and He had to be crushed in death that you and I might be clothed in glory. The glorious garments of our salvation are the garments that have been procured as a result of His death and His suffering. What a wicked thing to refuse the garment of salvation, to think of spurning it and turning away from it when Christ had to go through so much in order to prepare it for us.

That’s what Jesus went through… What about the light? What about the glory?

Psalms 22:21-31 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. (22) I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. (23) You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! (24) For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. (25) From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. (26) The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him-- may your hearts live forever! (27) All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, (28) for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. (29) All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him-- those who cannot keep themselves alive. (30) Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. (31) They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn-- for he has done it.

We won’t do this verse by verse but I do want to point out some things from this passage.

Everything changes from verse 21 in this Psalm from the moment we read ‘You answer me’. We had earlier seen that Jesus had said that He was crying out but there was no answer. This led to the question ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’ But here we see that the answer did come. And I believe this answer came to Jesus before He died as evident by the two last sentences Jesus said from the cross – ‘It is Finished!’ and ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit!’ Jesus knew again why He was there and that it was now finished – Paid in full! Also His relationship with His Father was restored so that He could confidently commit His spirit into the hands of His Father once again. Let me just point put a few things:

1) First thing that stood out was the blessing of being in God’s family

Psalm 22:22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

The one who was crucified is now shown to be alive and in the midst of his people. We are on resurrection ground! And it says that the only begotten Son of God… is going to have brothers! There is going to be other ‘sons and daughters of God’! Isa 53:10 But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. Like the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying, if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He would not remain alone! Having paid the price for their sins, He could then give others the right to become God’s children.

John 1:11-12 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. (12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (13) Who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Born of God! Born again spiritually by the life of God within them… I don’t think we even start to scratch the surface on the wonder of what this will means and will mean! And it says Jesus will declare God’s name to them. What name of God did Jesus declare to the believers? It was that which was most special to Him – that of ‘Father’. As Jesus said to Mary following His resurrection:

John 20:17 Jesus *said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"

Again, I don’t think we grasp this very well. That we have been born again from above, born of God, born of incorruptible seed… that we are now in the family of God and cry out, through His spirit within us, ‘Abba Father’ – literally ‘daddy’. We don’t grasp that for we don’t see what God has done very well. One day we will. We will have our eyes open to fully declare, as John did, ‘how great is the love of God that we could be called children of God!’ And I don’t think we grasp the extent of the love of God for His children. Read Job:

Job 14:14-15 says "If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait ‘till my change comes. (15) "You will call, and I will answer You; You will long (yearn) for the work of Your hands”.

I liked that. We often speak about how we should long for the Lord. But we probably don’t think so much about how He longs, or yearns, for us, the work of His hands!

2) Secondly, the extent of the blessings

(23) You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

We’ve seen the blessing to the church that we could be God’s own children. The sphere of His favor here is widened in verse 23 to include the descendants of Israel. God has a grand plan for the church but don’t forget that He also has a special plan for the nation of Israel. Not according to their goodness or righteousness but simply according to His promises made to that people. But it doesn’t end there…

(27) All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, (28) for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

Never forget that the blessings of Calvary extend to the very ends of the earth. Things will not always be as they are now. The earth is the Lords and He is coming to reclaim His inheritance. In the Messianic Kingdom, which these verses speak of, all the nations will live in the blessing of God with the curse removed. And all nations shall go to Jerusalem to meet with the King!

3) Thirdly, not one vow or promise will not be fulfilled!

(25) From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

Jesus will fulfill His vows! He will fulfill His word. Think for a moment of what Jesus has promised; the covenants, the promises, both to the church and Israel. The home that He is preparing for us… the conditions of peace and righteousness on this earth… then a new Heaven and a new earth… It will all be fulfilled. I will fulfill my vows He says.

(26) The poor (or meek) will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him-- may your hearts live forever!

Remember Jesus’ promises in the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew 5:3-5 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (4) "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (5) "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.’ This will all be fulfilled. His promises, His vows, His word… will be fulfilled and all will be the result of what happened because of that day 2000 years ago on Calvary.

4) Generations to come will be told of what He has done!

(30) Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. (31) They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn-- for he has done it.

One generation after another will be told of the Lord. Here we are, 2000 years on and we are still talking about Him! We are proclaiming His righteousness and declaring that He has done it just as this Psalm said we would. It will be the same even hundreds of years into His Messianic reign after He returns. People will continue to be born into this world that had no idea what He did. They will be told of what He accomplished at the cross as well as all the marvellous stories of what happened at His second coming! Of course, these people will not just have to live by faith. They will be able to go up to Jerusalem and meet Him!

Now, just as we close, I’ll draw your attention to the final phrase in this Psalm. It says ‘He has done it’. This final phrase in this passage it very interesting. Harry Ironside says that in the Hebrew it could just as accurately be translated, “They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that it is finished.” This is what the Amplified Bible does. It adds both saying ‘they shall come and shall declare His righteousness to a people yet to be born--that He has done it [that it is finished]! The generations to come will be told that it is finished. Paid in full! So the Psalm begins with one phrase Jesus said on the cross ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ and ends with one of the very last things Jesus said on the cross – ‘It is finished!’

We’ve seen a lot in this Psalm. We’ve traced it through from the physical and spiritual darkness of the cross right through to the dawning of a new day when He shall reign and all the ends of the earth will talk about Him who did it all. Maranatha...come Lord Jesus!


[1]  Even Job, amazing as he was, began asking ‘why’ as the suffering continued and the confusion rose.

Job 7:20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target?
Job 7:21 Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?
Job 13:24 Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?

[2]  Another historian, Sextus Julius Africanus, in his History of the World in five volumes (completed in approximately 220 A.D) records more of what Phlegon wrote: ‘Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth--manifestly that one of which we speak.’

[3]  The following link mentions this fact and has other points about the darkness in general: http://www.alightshiningindarkness.com/ebooks/crucifixion-darkness

[4]  Thinking back over the saints of old, Jesus probably would have recalled God’s words to Joshua when He said: Joshua 1:5 ‘ Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.‘ Yet here He is, the greater Joshua, having been forsaken. He would have recalled the great words of Kind David who wrote : ‘I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread.‘ (Psalm 37:25) Yet here He is, the greater son of David, abandoned and facing God’s wrath.

[5]  You may remember that Jesus, when being mocked and ill-treated by the Roman Soldiers prior to the cross, was stripped and they placed a scarlet robe on Him. They did so to mock Him as the ‘King of the Jews’ but how prophetic it was also of the death He was about to die in shedding His blood for the sins of the world!