The Psalms have brought comfort to God’s people during all the ages from the time when they were written until today. As an example it appears that Jonah, while in the belly of the great fish, quoted parts of Psalm 42. In addition to finding consolation and encouragement in the Psalms, there is much practical, moral instruction for the saints of every dispensation. However, to correctly interpret the Psalms it is important to see that they are prophetic, looking forward to the time after the Rapture of the Church to heaven – depicting the experiences of the future remnant of the Jews on the earth during the time of the Tribulation (the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” Jer. 30:7).
Additionally, in line with their prophetic character, some of the Psalms are messianic. In other words, they speak of the life, sufferings, death, resurrection and future reign of the Lord Jesus. Portions of sixteen Psalms are quoted in the New Testament and applied to Christ or to His circumstances: 2, 8, 16, 18, 22, 40, 41, 45, 68, 69, 91, 97, 102, 109, 110 and 118. Besides these, there are others, such as Psalm 72, which would seem to clearly point to Him. The Lord told the disciples after His resurrection, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me” (Lk. 24:44). By His own words we are told that some of the Psalms speak of Him.
Let’s look briefly at Psalms 22 and 72 to see what we can learn of His sufferings and glory.
|“Oh solemn hour!
That hour alone in solitary might
When God the Father’s only Son,
As Man for sinners to atone,
Expires – amazing sight!
The Lord of glory crucified!
The Prince of life has bled and died.”
—J.G. Deck; Spiritual Songs #215
As we meditate on this psalm we realize that we are on holy ground. Most of the psalm is addressed directly to God Himself; and when we compare the first verse with Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 we realize that it is the Lord Jesus Himself, the Son of God, who is speaking. What profound words are written here.
• His Sufferings
The first five verses present His sufferings at the hand of God, as the Lord cried, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt. 27:46). The Hebrew name for God here is El, which means “the Mighty One.” It is His name as the One who is able to accomplish all His will. He is the Mighty One, to whom all things are possible (Mk. 14:36). Yet there was only one way to put away sin and our sins – for the Lord, the Holy One, to take our place and endure God’s forsaking and wrath.
Notice the personal pronoun “My.” Our blessed Lord who is “God over all” (Rom. 9:5 ESV) is also truly “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5KJV). Here we see that as Man the reality of His faith and confidence in His God never wavered – even in those awful hours of darkness when He was made sin (2 Cor. 5:21) and God, who is holy, forsook Him. In that time of ultimate extreme, beyond what any creature could know, He would still cling in faithfulness to God as His God. What a great difference we find in Him when compared to all others who have endured suffering. Job questioned God’s ways with him and in effect said that he was more righteous than God, as Elihu pointed out (Job 34:5,12, 35:2-3). But the Lord Jesus fully maintained God’s character: “Thou art holy, Thou who dwellest among the praises of Israel” (Ps. 22:3). How this unknowable depth of anguish only brings out the greatness and moral perfection of Him who has suffered for us!
In verses 4-5 the Lord Jesus, as it were, surveys the whole Old Testament history and sees the people crying to God and being delivered during the days of Moses, the judges, Samuel, David and others. However, if there was to be deliverance for us from the depths of sin and shame in which we lay, there could be no deliverance for our blessed Lord from His suffering and death until all was accomplished. In the language of the Old Testament the sacrifice must be fully consumed by the fire. Yet our Lord consumed all the fire, exhausting all God’s judgment. He has paid it all, He has finished all, and truly to Him belongs all the glory!
Next, we read of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus at the hands of wicked men (vv.6-18). In this we also see the perfection of our Lord’s humanity. He alone could state, “Thou art my God from my mother’s belly” (v.10, see Luke 1:35). Like David we all were conceived in sin and shapen [brought forth] in iniquity (Ps. 51:5, 58:3), born into this world as sinners and needing to be reconciled to God. But He, the sinless, holy Man was in relationship with God even from His mother’s womb.
We then have a kind of summary of what the Lord Jesus faced in His varied sufferings on the cross (Ps. 22:19-21). The sword would speak of what came directly from the hand of God in those hours of darkness, as in Zechariah 13:7. The dog speaks of the people who reviled, mocked and crucified Him (used especially of the Gentiles since the bulls of Bashan in Psalm 22:13 refer to the Jewish leaders). The lion tells of Satan’s power that was against Him. There, at the cross He met all and gained the eternal victory!
The last part of verse 21 is the turning point of this psalm: “Thou has heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” At the uttermost [farthest] extremity He was heard. As Hebrews 5:7 tells us, He was heard in that He feared and was delivered out of death. The work being completed, God Himself intervened and raised Him from the dead thus showing His complete satisfaction, not only in the work that was done but in the glorious Person who had accomplished that work – our Lord Jesus Christ, His eternal Son (Rom. 6:4)!
• Blessings For His Own
The remainder of Psalm 22 speaks of the results of His work in an ever-widening sphere of blessing from “the congregation” to “the great congregation” and finally to “all the ends of the earth” (JND). How amazing to think that the results of His work will eventually have an effect on the whole world (Col. 1:20). It begins with “the congregation.” “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee” (Ps. 22:22 KJV). This is quoted in Hebrews 2:12 and applied to His brethren today who form the Church, which is God’s. How wonderful that on the resurrection day, fresh from His mighty victory with all power in heaven and earth committed into His hands, His earliest thoughts were of His people. He first appeared to Mary Magdalene and gave her the message: “Go to My brethren, and say I ascend to My Father and your Father, and to My God and to your God” (Jn. 20:17). Notice that it is not until after His resurrection that He called His own His brethren. He could always say “My God,” but now He can say “My brethren.” What a great privilege is ours as believers to be in this association with Him as He is leading many sons to glory (Heb 2:10). Here we also find that He leads the singing in the midst of His gathered saints. He is our worship leader!
Next, the “great congregation” (v.25) brings in the thought of the restored nation of Israel in a future day. And finally, “all the ends of the earth” (v.27) will be brought into blessing because of His work. Everything that has breath shall praise Him (Ps. 150:6) during His 1,000 year reign (the Millennium). With delight we who belong to the Church together with all the redeemed of all the ages shall acknowledge that “He hath done this” (v.31)!
This Psalm along with others such as Psalm 2 and 8 look forward to the future glorious kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Millennium when everything in heaven and earth shall be gathered together unto Him (Eph 1:10). In the Old Testament, however, only the earthly aspect of His reign was seen. Psalm 72 in particular looks at the effect of His rule for Israel though extending to the ends of the earth. Although no verses from this Psalm are directly quoted in the New Testament and applied to the Lord Jesus, the fact that the heading tells us it is “A Psalm for Solomon” would seem to point to the Lord. He is the true Son of David (Mt. 1:1) who shall sit on his throne, and He is “a greater than Solomon” (Mt 12:42)!
In Psalm 72:1-5 we see the character of His kingdom. First, we are told that He will reign in righteousness, not according to man’s standards but God’s. Second, His rule will also be characterized by undisturbed peace (v.3). Third, we read that He will be the help of the afflicted and needy (v.4 JND). He was this as He walked in this world at His first coming. Think of Him in Nain raising the widow’s only son (Lk. 7:11-15) or on the porch of Bethsaida healing the crippled man (Jn. 5:5-9). He is truly the Same (the existing One, who does not change), whether as the rejected King or as the reigning King! Fourth, we read that His reign shall continue as long as the sun and the moon, from generation to generation (Ps. 72:5). It will never be interrupted by death. He died once – now He lives forever!
His coming in glory is described in verse 6. The mown grass gives a striking picture of the results of the Tribulation judgments and His own intervention to save Israel and Jerusalem from every enemy. As His reign properly commences, it will be like refreshing showers that water the earth. What a vivid picture! Notice the expression “in His days” (v.7). Man has had his day and rule (really misrule) for 6,000 years. At last the Man after God’s own heart, the true King of glory, will sit upon His throne. He will have His day (Phil. 1:6,10)! Then the righteous shall flourish rather than be afflicted and there will be an abundance of peace.
The extent of His kingdom will be, not only the whole land of Israel (sea to sea), but the whole earth (from the river Euphrates to the ends of the earth, v.8). In the New Testament we have the further revelation that He will also rule over the heavens (Eph. 1:10). We read in this psalm that all will submit to Him. As Philippians 2:9-11 tells us, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. Those alive on earth during His reign will do so. We have the privilege already in this day of grace to bow and acknowledge Him as Lord; but soon the entire world will do so. Notice the word “all” in verse 11 – all kings and all nations – none will be exempt.
As we continue we again find in this psalm that the Lord Jesus is the Same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). He will have “compassion on the poor and needy” (Ps. 72:13 2). We think of those times on earth when He was moved with compassion as toward the leper who came to Him in Mark 1:41 and received His healing and touch, or the crowd in Mark 6:34 that the Lord would not send away fainting but provided food for their hunger. In the day when He publicly exercises all power in heaven and on earth He will be the same. Fellow believers, may we be encouraged that He is just the same for us today. He knows our needs, He is still moved with compassion toward us and He still ministers to us.
We are then told of the prosperity that will fill the earth during His reign (Ps. 72:15-17). No longer will there be famines because of war or human mismanagement of resources. In fact, the curse itself will be removed as a result of His work on the cross (Rev. 22:3) and consequently there will be abundance and fruitfulness from the mountain to the city. There will be no lack. The name of the One who will accomplish all of this is so precious to God and to His people that it will endure forever. Once men tried to blot out that name as they cried, “Crucify Him, crucify Him” (Lk. 23:21). God will make that name continue through all the ages.
The first book of the Psalms (Ps. 1-41) ends with the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, set before God’s face (Ps. 41:12). The second book (Ps. 42-72) ends with His being before all, ruling over all. Truly our God alone does wondrous things. The whole earth will be filled with His glory! The object and end of David’s faith and prayers (Ps. 72:18-20) was to see Christ, his Son who is far greater than Solomon, exalted in the earth. May we “love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8 KJV) when He will be glorified in this world that once rejected Him!
|“Lord Jesus come,
and take Thy rightful place
As Son of man, of all the theme;
Come, Lord, to reign o’er all supreme;
Lord Jesus, come.”
—Mrs. A. Dent; Spiritual Songs #449
May We Worship!
We have very briefly outlined a few simple thoughts from these wonderful portions of Scripture. May our God and Father lead our hearts to treasure more of what the Psalms present of Christ, His own beloved Son – both as to His sufferings and coming glory. May we be led to be more intelligent worshipers, in spirit and in truth, while we wait for His soon return.
By Kevin Quartell
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org