Theme: Died He for Me?
In this week’s lessons we look at how this psalm, written hundreds of years before Christ, describes the details of Jesus’ suffering and death by crucifixion.
Scripture: Psalm 22:1-21
6. The turning point (vv. 19-21). As I suggested at the beginning of this study, the climax of the first part of Psalm 22 and the turning point between part one and part two comes in this section as the suffering one finds his communion with God restored.
Yet the change is abrupt in spite of the steady progress from despair to renewed trust which I have been outlining. Strangely, the New International Version does not capture this well. It ends the section with the words “save me from the horns of the wild oxen.” But the verb literally means “you have heard” (see NIV note), and it is held to the very end so that the final couplet actually reads: “Rescue me from the mouth of the lions, from the horns of the wild oxen. You have heard me!”
As I said earlier, this is a cry of triumph, not despair. It marks the moment at which the period of darkness was past and Jesus, having suffered a true alienation from the Father as punishment for our sins, becomes aware of God’s presence and favor once again.
At this point the psalm takes on an entirely different tone, as it begins to celebrate the great victory of the cross. That victory is so great and its effects so extensive that it deserves to be explored by itself in the next study. But we cannot go on to that discussion without first asking if the atonement described in part one was for you. In what is probably the greatest of all Charles Wesley’s hymns, that great evangelist and poet of the Methodist church asks:
And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain? For me, who him to death pursued?
That possibility was so wonderful to Wesley that he composed the entire hymn around it, describing such love as “amazing” and the death itself a “mystery” beyond the ability even of angels to fathom. But though he could not exhaust its meaning or ever cease to marvel at such love, Wesley knew that it was indeed for him that Christ died and that his only hope of salvation lay in that atonement: ‘Tis mercy all, immense and free; for, O my God, it found out me.
The question is whether it has found out you. It is a wonderful thing to know that Jesus died for sinners. It is amazing to study a prophetic picture of Christ’s suffering and death, as we have done. But all that can happen, and yet the person who hears can still perish in sin because he or she has not trusted in Jesus personally. Have you done that? Will you do it? All you have to do is tell him that you trust him, saying, “Thank you, Jesus, for dying for me. I am ready to follow you as my Lord and Savior.” If you will pray that prayer, you will find that Jesus has indeed made atonement for your sins. He was forsaken so you might never be forsaken. He bore your sins so that you might not have to suffer for them.
What is the turning point of the psalm?
How does the second part of this psalm (vv. 22-31) compare with the first part we have studied this week?
Application: Who do you know who needs to hear from you about the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ for sinners?
For Further Study: James Boice’s clear teaching and practical application of the Psalms is available as a three-volume paperback set. Order your copy today and take 25% off the regular price.