Psalms 21–23: The Good Shepherd & His Suffering

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 8: Wednesday

Posterity will serve Him;
It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.
They will come and will declare His righteousness
To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.”

Psalm 22:30–31

Today’s Bible reading is Psalms 21–23. Psalm 21 is a psalm of thanksgiving and praise. Psalm 22 begins in despair and ends in praise. Psalm 23 as I wrote earlier today, is David’s description of his relationship with God as he writes of the Lord as his shepherd.

Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm. If you compare it with the Gospel records of Jesus’ crucifixion Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19, you will find the prophecies fulfilled in its description of what Jesus endured on the cross. Leslie S. M’Caw and J. T. Motyer state:

“The details of Calvary are all so clearly here; mockery (v. 8), shame (vv. 13, 17), the pain of crucifixion (vv.14–16)…and the parting of garments (v. 18). All this took place by the agency of those who neither knew the Scriptures nor had any interest in fulfilling them, and provides dramatic and unanswerable evidence of the divine inspiration of the Bible and of the faithfulness of God to His Word.”1

Matthew in 27: 46, and Mark in 15:34, both record Jesus crying out in the ninth hour the first words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” In his commentary on Mark 15:34, C. E. Graham Swift writes:

“The cry of dereliction is the only word from the cross recorded by Mark and Matthew….We may not fathom the depths of the saying, for it brings us to the very heart of the atonement. But it is important that we do not interpret the words merely of the feeling and subjective consciousness of Jesus, as though the dereliction was not a fact….since God cannot look upon sin (Hab.1:13) He hid His face when our sin was laid upon His sinless Son. Jesus, the sinner’s substitute and sin-bearer, was in fact forsaken that we might never be (Heb. 13:5). This was indeed the supreme and unparalleled sorrow from which He shrank. [Matthew 26:42, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42].”2

It is fitting that Psalm 23 follows Psalm 22, for Jesus said:

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
John 10:11

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1Leslie S. M’Caw and J. T. Motyer, “Psalms,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised,
D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 465.
2C. E. Graham Swift, “Mark,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 884.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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