23. Devastated

Meditations in David’s Psalms : 23 : Devastated  – Psa 22:12-18

Psa 22:14    I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.

And so the psalm swings back again to the harsh reality of what was facing David. Remember the order had been Pleading – negative (v.1,2), Trust in history – positive (v.3-5), Insulted – negative (v.6-8), Relationship from childhood – positive (v.9-11). Now the following verses fall clearly into the negative category.

We might first note characteristics of these particular verses that appear clearly expressed at the Cross. “All my bones are out of joint” (v.14). The very process of hanging on the cross meant severe strain was put on all the joints. “My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth” (v.15). John records, Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.” (Jn 19:28,29) John saw that Jesus was specifically fulfilling prophetic scripture. “They have pierced my hands and my feet.” (v.16) Peter declared on the day of Pentecost, “you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross,” (Acts 2:23) which was probably done through his hands and feet. Then “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (v.19) Matthew records, “When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” (Mt 27:35) plus the footnote – “A few late manuscripts: lots that the word spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled: “They divided my  garments among themselves and cast lots for my clothing”

These things are very clear and obvious things, but then we may ask ourselves, do the contents of the other verses in this passage tell us things about Jesus experience on the Cross? Most of the time in the Gospels we are not shown the things going on in the background, the things pertaining to powers and principalities and to Satan. But is it clear from the Gospel accounts that Satan was lurking in the background (in the foreground at Jesus’ temptation). In this time of Jesus immense vulnerability, is it not reasonable to suppose that that when David refers to bulls and lions seeking to tear him to shreds that was also the very thing that Satan and his demonic followers were doing to Jesus when he hung on the Cross?

Prophetic Scriptures indicate that in accordance with the laws of sacrifice passed down from Moses, the lamb to be offered had to be spotless – and remain spotless. The battle on the cross would surely be to get Jesus to curse God and cease to be spotless. That the divine side of Jesus could not do that is probably true, but the human side of him that made up the Son of God in human form, could easily have done that. Thus the battle, as Jesus takes the sin of the world on himself, would be brought by the powers of darkness to rail against him and abuse and chide him until he snapped – but he never did.

The writer to the Hebrews was thus able to say, “we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” (Heb 4:15) He never gave way, he never sinned. If what we have said about these verses is true they give a slight sense of something of the awful battle that was waged on the Cross, unseen by the watchers but experienced by Jesus. So let’s just note those verses in their awfulness, written by David but apply to Jesus on the Cross:

12Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

13Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.

16Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me,

The consequence of the physical, emotional and spiritual effects on Jesus then follow: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.” (v.14a) Emotional and spiritual and then physical. “My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” (v.14b,15) All of his natural resources are expended. “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.” Physical anguish and social rejection.  The other verses we have referred to already.

Now we come to the difficult part. With most of David’s writings it is relatively easy to speculate what must have been happening to him, but when we come to these verses it is impossible to envisage the awfulness of what he must have been going through. Enemies out to get him? Yes, certainly, but that doesn’t account for the vividness of the writing which speaks of such physical torment as well as the other forms of torment. This is what makes this writing remarkable and adds to our conclusion that here it is truly prophetic lifting David out of himself to feel something of the awfulness that the messiah, the Coming One would experience. In no other way can these words be understood. They are truly remarkable and if they are as we describe, they must surely leave us gasping in awe at the picture of the battle that took place as Jesus hung on the Cross. Incredible!

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