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Psalm 22 “At Calvary”

Psalm 22:11 (ESV) … “Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.”

Here David lifts up his eyes, looks down the long corridor of time, and sees in striking detail the crucifixion of the Messiah who was yet to come.

We have to call this a psalm of prophecy—even as the apostle Peter referred to Psalm 132 as a psalm of prophecy (Acts 2:30–31)—because we can find nothing in David’s life that would require the language he uses in these verses and because we do find the cross of Christ answering detail after detail of the psalm.

Some have suggested that this prediction of the cross is so exact that it makes us think it had to be written by one standing at the foot of the cross. But this is not the psalm of an observer reporting an event. It was written almost a thousand years before the event, and it is written in the first person. Here we have one telling about his own experience. We have to say, therefore, that this psalm is the result of the Spirit of God taking over the pen of David in a strange and marvelous way so he, David, was able to write the very words of the Messiah himself.

The psalm falls into two easily discernible sections. The first is the Messiah’s description of the crucifixion (vv. 1–21a). The second is his description of the results of the crucifixion (vv. 21b–31). We might say the psalm is divided between the Messiah’s experience on the cross and his exultation in the results of the cross.[1]

That’s the agony of the cross—that’s the agony of the cross. How can we sit unmoved? How can we ignore such love? How can we go idly our way when Jesus Christ paid that price for us? You say, “Well, did He really take my Hell? He was only there for six hours on the cross.” My dear friend, in six hours, Jesus suffered everything you’d suffer for eternity. He, being infinite, suffered in a finite period of time, what you, being finite, would suffer in an infinite period of time. The sins of the world were distilled upon Jesus, and eternities were compressed upon the Lord Jesus. And, the Bible says concerning Him, “There is no sorrow like my sorrow” (Lamentations 1:12). No one ever suffered—no one ever suffered, no one ever suffered—like Jesus—no one.

[1] Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (pp. 193–194). Leominster: Day One Publications.


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