OUTLINE OF MESSIAH'S CAREER ACCORDING TO PSALM TWENTY-TWO
לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד׃ אֵלִי אֵלִי לָמָה עֲזַבְתָּנִי רָחוֹק מִישׁוּעָתִי דִּבְרֵי שַׁאֲגָתִי׃ אֱלֹהַי אֶקְרָא יוֹמָם וְלֹא תַעֲנֶה וְלַיְלָה וְלֹא־דֻמִיָּה לִי׃ וְאַתָּה קָדוֹשׁ יוֹשֵׁב תְּהִלּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ בְּךָ בָּטְחוּ אֲבֹתֵינוּ בָּטְחוּ וַתְּפַלְּטֵמוֹ׃ אֵלֶיךָ זָעֲקוּ וְנִמְלָטוּ בְּךָ בָטְחוּ וְלֹא־בוֹשׁוּ׃ וְאָנֹכִי תוֹלַעַת וְלֹא־אִישׁ חֶרְפַּת אָדָם וּבְזוּי עָם׃ כָּל־רֹאַי יַלְעִגוּ לִי יַפְטִירוּ בְשָׂפָה יָנִיעוּ רֹאשׁ׃ גֹּל אֶל־יְהוָה יְפַלְּטֵהוּ יַצִּילֵהוּ כִּי חָפֵץ בּוֹ׃ כִּי־אַתָּה גֹחִי מִבָּטֶן מַבְטִיחִי עַל־שְׁדֵי אִמִּי׃ עָלֶיךָ הָשְׁלַכְתִּי מֵרָחֶם מִבֶּטֶן אִמִּי אֵלִי אָתָּה׃ אַל־תִּרְחַק מִמֶּנִּי כִּי־צָרָה קְרוֹבָה כִּי־אֵין עוֹזֵר׃ סְבָבוּנִי פָּרִים רַבִּים אַבִּירֵי בָשָׁן כִּתְּרוּנִי׃ פָּצוּ עָלַי פִּיהֶם אַרְיֵה טֹרֵף וְשֹׁאֵג׃ כַּמַּיִם נִשְׁפַּכְתִּי וְהִתְפָּרְדוּ כָּל־עַצְמוֹתָי הָיָה לִבִּי כַּדּוֹנָג נָמֵס בְּתוֹךְ מֵעָי׃ יָבֵשׁ כַּחֶרֶשׂ כֹּחִי וּלְשׁוֹנִי מֻדְבָּק מַלְקוֹחָי וְלַעֲפַר־מָוֶת תִּשְׁפְּתֵנִי׃ כִּי סְבָבוּנִי כְּלָבִים עֲדַת מְרֵעִים הִקִּיפוּנִי כָּאֲרִי יָדַי וְרַגְלָי׃ אֲסַפֵּר כָּל־עַצְמוֹתָי הֵמָּה יַבִּיטוּ יִרְאוּ־בִי׃ יְחַלְּקוּ בְגָדַי לָהֶם וְעַל־לְבוּשִׁי יַפִּילוּ גוֹרָל׃ וְאַתָּה יְהוָה אַל־תִּרְחָק אֱיָלוּתִי לְעֶזְרָתִי חוּשָׁה׃ הַצִּילָה מֵחֶרֶב נַפְשִׁי מִיַּד־כֶּלֶב יְחִידָתִי׃ הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי מִפִּי אַרְיֵה וּמִקַּרְנֵי רֵמִים עֲנִיתָנִי׃ אֲסַפְּרָה שִׁמְךָ לְאֶחָי בְּתוֹךְ קָהָל אֲהַלְלֶךָּ׃ יִרְאֵי יְהוָה הַלְלוּהוּ כָּל־זֶרַע יַעֲקֹב כַּבְּדוּהוּ וְגוּרוּ מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל־זֶרַע יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ כִּי לֹא־בָזָה וְלֹא שִׁקַּץ עֱנוּת עָנִי וְלֹא־הִסְתִּיר פָּנָיו מִמֶּנּוּ וּבְשַׁוְּעוֹ אֵלָיו שָׁמֵעַ׃ מֵאִתְּךָ תְּהִלָּתִי בְּקָהָל רָב נְדָרַי אֲשַׁלֵּם נֶגֶד יְרֵאָיו׃ יֹאכְלוּ עֲנָוִים וְיִשְׂבָּעוּ יְהַלְלוּ יְהוָה דֹּרְשָׁיו יְחִי לְבַבְכֶם לָעַד׃ יִזְכְּרוּ וְיָשֻׁבוּ אֶל־יְהוָה כָּל־אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ וְיִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְפָנֶיךָ כָּל־מִשְׁפְּחוֹת גּוֹיִם׃ כִּי לַיהוָה הַמְּלוּכָה וּמֹשֵׁל בַּגּוֹיִם׃ אָכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ כָּל־דִּשְׁנֵי־אֶרֶץ לְפָנָיו יִכְרְעוּ כָּל־יוֹרְדֵי עָפָר וְנַפְשׁוֹ לֹא חִיָּה׃ זֶרַע יַעַבְדֶנּוּ יְסֻפַּר לַאדֹנָי לַדּוֹר׃ יָבֹאוּ וְיַגִּידוּ צִדְקָתוֹ לְעַם נוֹלָד כִּי עָשָׂה׃
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? 0 my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou answerest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, 0 thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: They trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: They trusted in thee, and were not put to shame. But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me, laugh me to scorn: They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, Commit thyself unto the Lord; let him deliver him: Let him rescue him, seeing he delighteth in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb; Thou didst make me trust when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb; Thou art my God since my mother bare me. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; For there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gape upon me with their mouth, As a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; And my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; And thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: A company of evil-doers have inclosed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I may count all my bones. They look and stare upon me; They part my garments among them, And upon my vesture do they cast lots. But be not thou far off, 0 Lord: 0 thou my succor, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword, My darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth; Yea, from the horns of the wild-oxen thou hast answered me. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: In the midst of the assembly will I praise thee. Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; And stand in awe of him, all ye the seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Neither hath he hid his face from him; But when he cried unto him, he heard. Of thee cometh my praise in the great assembly: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied; They shall praise the Lord that seek after him: Let your heart live for ever. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord; And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's; And he is the ruler over the nations. All the fat ones of the earth shall eat and worship: All they that go down to the dust shall bow before him, Even he that cannot keep his soul alive. A seed shall serve him; It shall be told of the Lord unto the next generation. They shall come and shall declare his righteousness Unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done it" (Psa. 22).
Psalm 22 throws a very luminous ray of light upon the first advent of the Hebrew Messiah, which event, as was learned in the two preceding chapters of this book, is assumed in Psalm 2 and 110. In Psalm 2 the writer, David, assumed the first coming of the Messiah into the world when he stated that the nations in the end-time will attempt to throw off allegiance to God, and to His Messiah. In Psalm 110, likewise, he assumed the first coming when he stated that God invited King Messiah to sit at His right hand until He brings into subjection the latter's enemies. The hostility of the Messiah's enemies, referred to in this Psalm, is set forth in a most vivid, graphic, detailed and individualistic way.
The Psalm falls into three clearly marked divisions in the English translation: verses 1-11; 12-21, and 22-31.
I. THE SUFFERING SERVANT
A. The Execution of the Sufferer
In approaching the study of this passage it is well to note the clear outline and individuality of the sufferer. Note his birth, "but Thou art He that took me out of the womb; Thou didst make me trust when I was upon my mother's breasts." That the Psalmist is depicting an individual is seen from the fact that the sufferer speaks of his "bones" and "heart" (verse 14 (15), "tongue" and "jaws" (verse 15(16), "hands and feet" (verse 16(17), and "his garments" (verse 18(19).
His situation is described very minutely. He is in a certain place for "All they that see me laugh me to scorn" (verse 7(8), and "a company of evil-doers have inclosed me" (verse 16(17). He has been deprived of his clothing, for says he, "I may count all my bones" (verse 17(18). In this nude condition public gaze is directed upon him for "they look and stare upon me." His enemies have stripped him and have his garments, for "they part my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots" (verse 18(19). He has suffered bodily mistreatment for "they pierced my hands and my feet" (verse 16(17).
Furthermore, the implication of the words יַבִּיטוּ יִרְאוּ¹ "they looked about, they gazed at me" is doubtless that the observers have difficulty in seeing or identifying the sufferer. This inference suggests two possibilities: firstly, that he is associated with others in suffering and the observer upon his arrival at the scene has difficulty in distinguishing him from the others; secondly, that darkness obscures the scene on account of which the onlookers experience difficulty in gazing upon him.
Finally, the sufferer has been subjected to at least one form of bodily suffering, namely, "they have bored through my hands and my feet."²
At the time of the suffering the victim is friendless and alone; for his friends have either forsaken him or are in the background.
He has violent, bitter, and strong enemies, which fact is proved by his being a "reproach of men" and "despised of the nation." The first of these expressions refers to the contempt of men in general toward him; the second, to the bitter hatred of his own nation. Those looking upon him "laugh him to scorn" and taunt him with the words "commit thyself unto the Lord; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, seeing He delighteth in him." These enemies he compares to "strong bulls of Bashan"; likewise, he compares each of them to a "ravening and a roaring lion" and finally he calls them "dogs," after which statement he plainly shows that they are wicked men, for he refers to them as a "company of evil-doers." Among his opponents are the officials or representatives of the government, for he refers to the latter in his prayer, "deliver my soul from the sword." The sword is a symbol of the government, its power, and its use of weapons to enforce law. See Isa. 2:4.
His sufferings are extreme and prolonged. His strength is poured out like water; the members of his body are violently pulled; hence "all my bones are out of joint"; his physical vigor and resistance are diminishing, for his "heart is like wax"; it is melted within him; his physical strength approaches the vanishing point, for "my strength is dried up like a potsherd"; he suffers from thirst because his "tongue cleaveth to my jaws"; and finally, he is conscious of the near end of life, for "Thou hast brought me into the dust of death."
This innocent victim has been trusting in his God from the day of his birth for "Thou art He that took me out of the womb; Thou didst make me trust when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon Thee from the womb; Thou art my God since my mother bare me." In this crisis he recognizes that he still sustains his life-long relationship to God who at present has withdrawn from him, which withdrawal is the occasion of his enemies' persecuting him.
The sufferings, groanings, and cryings of this innocent sufferer do not for a moment draw forth the slightest intimation of any guilt or sin on his part. When the sufferings seem to reach their climax, suddenly the groanings cease. This cessation comes with the words at the close of verse 21(22); עֲנִיתָנִי "Thou hast answered me." In the words of another let it be said "When it ceases it ceases altogether; there is absolutely no recurrence of pain, no trace further of a single sob."
B. The Delivered Sufferer
With verse 22(23) the curtain, as it were, rises. He who has agonized in such excruciating pain, and who has also suffered such inward mental and spiritual agony in verse 22(23), now steps forward into the midst of his brethren to whom he declares the Name of God. It cannot be doubted that it is the same voice that thus suddenly breaks out into praise, for the meter is the same, the direct address to the Lord is the same, and, allowing for change of tone, the theme is the same: the lament has been "he hath not heard"; the joy now is "he hath heard." Moreover, as if to make this point clear, the very terms of the announcement, which the late sufferer now makes to his brethren brings to them vivid reminiscences of the shame and pain through which he has passed: by man he has been detested and deeply humbled, God hid His face, and the sufferer has cried for help. Now all is changed and by every sign of continuity of speech, one is warranted to rest in the conclusion that it is the same voice that tells the joyful news. Among the certain marks identifying the late sufferer with the speaker in the great assembly in verses 22-31 (23-32), is the use of the personal pronoun "I" which refers to him who lately cried, but who, having been heard, now praises God for his deliverance. In an impersonal way he refers to his affliction out of which the Lord has delivered him, in the following words: "For he has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Neither hath he hid his face from him; But when he cried unto him, he heard." It is doubtless, probable that those referred to by "ye that fear the Lord, praise Him," are Gentile worshipers of God, and those called "all ye the seed of Jacob ... all ye the seed of Israel," the purified and cleansed remnant of Israel, both of whom constitute the great assembly to whom he declares God, His Deliverer's Name and in the midst of which he praises God, saying, "Of thee cometh my praise," because God has heard and delivered him from his sufferings.
Before and during the suffering the tortured one has no brethren in view, but later on there is a vast throng to whom he proclaims God's Name. In verses 27-31 (28-32) he sees the time when the whole world shall constitute one great kingdom of God and all nations shall worship God and Him only.
That there is a connection on the one hand, between the suffering of the subject of this Psalm and, on the other hand, the gathering of "the great assembly" and the consolidation of all kingdoms into "the kingdom" of the Lord, over which He rules, is evident from the fact that the delivered triumphant sufferer appears in the midst of the great assembly and proclaims the Name of God to his brethren.
Since God has answered him, the triumphant sufferer in verse 22 tells the Lord that he will proclaim the latter's Name among his brethren in the midst of the assembly. The question arising here is what assembly? Which question is answered in the following verse: "Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; And stand in awe of him, all ye the seed of Israel." This verse gives part of the speech which he will make to the assembly; therefore those constituting the assembly are the fearers of the Lord and the seed of Jacob, the Hebrew people. Thus both Jews and Gentiles will constitute this great assembly. The speaker continues in verse 24 his message: "For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither has he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard." In these words he announced to this great throng that his God heard his prayer and delivered him. In verse 25 he, turning from the audience, lifts his voice in praise to God in the following words: Of thee (God) cometh my praise in the great assembly: I will pay my vows before them that fear him." His praise of God to this great assembly consists of his ascribing glory to God because the latter heard him in his distress and delivered him. Continuing his speech in the great assembly the speaker proclaims: "The meek shall eat and be satisfied; They shall praise the Lord that seek after him: Let your heart live forever. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord; And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's; And he is the ruler over the nations."
II. WHO IS THIS SUFFERER?
Of whom is the Psalmist speaking? To this question one of four answers is usually given. These answers are: (1) David, (2) the nation of Israel, (3) a remnant of Israel, (4) the Messiah of Israel. All four answers cannot be correct in the absolute sense of the term. Amid this diversity of opinion it behooves each one to seek honestly and conscientiously from the context and from parallel passages which answer is the correct one. (1) In support of the first answer, namely, that David is the sufferer, let it be said that though he did suffer much, being persecuted by Saul severely, his sufferings never reached such depth of sorrow as that of the sufferer of this Psalm. Therefore one cannot allow the language to stand as it is proclaiming its message and at the same time apply it to him.³
(2) In reply to the position that Israel is the sufferer, likewise, let it be noted that the context and the personal individual tone precludes such an interpretation. The writer readily admits that Israel through twenty centuries has suffered untold persecution at the hands of the so-called "Christian nations" but this fact does not identify the Hebrew people as the innocent sufferer of this Psalm. That the nation may be compared to an individual who is sick is readily admitted, for Isaiah (1:2-9) used that figure; but, in this case the context clearly indicates that though he uses the expressions "the whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it but wounds, and bruises and fresh stripes: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil," he is speaking of the nation.
If these words were taken out of their context, one would be forced according to the rules of interpretation of language to believe that the prophet was speaking about some one individual who was sick; but since the context shows clearly that he is reproving the nation for its sins, it is very obvious that the sick man is the nation and not an individual.
To put this interpretation beyond all possibility of debate the reader will bear with the writer in his using the following illustration. Should there appear in any publication a picture of a sick man lying in bed, while on a table near his head are several bottles of medicine, in the absence of clear positive evidence indicating definitely otherwise, one would conclude that the one who made the picture had some one individual in mind. But should the patient be a tall old man with chin whiskers, wearing a suit of clothes made of an American flag, every one, even a small child, would recognize that it does not refer to any individual but to the United States of America which is afflicted with some great national problem or calamity. Therefore in the absence of special features which show that Psa. 22 is to be interpreted in a symbolic representative way of the nation, one is forced irresistibly to the conclusion that such an interpretation does not accord with the facts as presented. Another fact that discredits the interpretation which makes the sufferer a symbol of the suffering nation is that this sufferer is conscious both of his relationship to God and of his absolute innocency; whereas Israel as a nation has always been and shall continue to be conscious of sin and rebellion against God and of alienation from Him because of these sins. (See Jer. 3:20f). These reasons lead one to the absolute conclusion that the sufferer of the passage is not the nation.
(3) The third interpretation, namely, that the sufferer is the pious remnant of the nation cannot be correct, for there is nothing in the context to indicate such a symbolic use; hence the objections brought against the second interpretation apply with equal force against this one. Furthermore, the sufferer is distinguished from the nation in verse 23, or a remnant of the nation. In verses 23 and 24 he (the sufferer) in the midst of the great assembly which consists of those who "fear the Lord" and "all the seed of Jacob" and "all ye the seed of Israel" addresses said assembly urging them to praise God. Therefore this interpretation is incorrect.
(4) The interpretation which makes the sufferer the Messiah remains to be discussed. As has been seen, he is an individual. It now remains to identify him, if possible. Likewise, it has already been shown that the sufferer of the first twenty-one verses, who has cried to the Lord, whose sufferings abruptly cease with verse 21, and who claims that God has answered him, is the same speaker who appears in the great assembly of fearers of God and all the tribes of Israel. In this great assembly he is the leading character, in fact, he is the master of the entire situation. In verse 22 he claims a special relationship to the entire assembly when he makes the statement, "I will declare Thy (God's) Name unto my brethren." Since the great assembly consists not only of the entire house of Israel, but also of the fearers of God, who doubtless are Gentile believers in God, and since he speaks to them as "my brethren," it is quite evident that he bears a special relationship to them that is above the natural and literal meaning of the word "brethren." He can call "all the seed of Jacob" his brethren, referring to fleshly ties, but to the fearers of the Lord, Gentile believers, he does not sustain that natural relationship. Hence brethren is used in a higher sense.
The language of verses 25 and 26 confirms the argument just made: "Of thee cometh my praise in the great assembly: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied; They shall praise the Lord that seek after Him: Let your heart live forever." The delivered sufferer claims that when he pays his vows, the meek shall eat and be satisfied. This language, of course, is an echo from the Torah, which granted to the priests the privilege of partaking of the offerings and vows of the people. Likewise, the poor, widows, fatherless, et al., were granted the privilege of sharing these things and thus being satisfied (see Deut. 14:28, 29; 26:12; 16:11). There is no Jew who is so very rich that, when he pays his tithes, offerings and vows to God, the meek of the world may partake and be satisfied. But since, when this sufferer pays his vows the meek (the word meek unqualified is all-inclusive, referring to the meek of all the earth) are satisfied, he stands in a class by himself. Of all individuals conceivable, there is but one whose wealth, power, and goodness of heart enable him to fulfill this passage, namely, the Messiah. This fact becomes apparent when one realizes that the Messiah is the only One Who will have the wealth of the nations (Psa. 2:7-9), the power (Isa. 9:6,7), and goodness of heart (Isa. 11:1-5); therefore the only conclusion to which one may come is that the sufferer is Israel's long expected Messiah, Who comes into the world and suffers for man; Who, as set forth in Psa. 110, returns to the right hand of God most high, and Who will return and reign in power and in righteousness over the entire world.
III. DETAILED ACCOUNTS OF THE SUFFERING OF MESSIAH
Having arrived at the definite conclusion that the sufferer is the Messiah of Israel, the reader, doubtless, wishes to catch a second glimpse of such an appalling and amazing scene. Let him note the fact once more that the sufferer is in one place, being surrounded by a howling mob whom he compares to mad bulls, roaring lions, barking dogs, and wild oxen. He is alone--not one soul to assist or even to encourage him. His nervous energy and powers of resistance are poured out like water. He has-been, or is being, subjected to some kind of physical, bodily torture that disjoints his bones. With the ebbing out of his life, his heart melts, whereas his courage diminishes. His strength is being rapidly exhausted, for he is dried up as a potsherd. His tongue becomes swollen because of extreme thirst and excruciating pain until it cleaves to his jaws. He sees that he is rapidly approaching death. The company of evil-doers whom he compares, as stated above, to enraged animals pierce his hands and his feet. They have removed his garments and exposed him to shameful public gaze, and certain ones divide his clothing among themselves, and for his outer garments cast lots. Soldiers who bear the sword are present and are playing an active part in the execution and death of the sufferer. Thus expires in a shameful way Israel's Messiah.
This same picture of the suffering of Messiah is set forth by Isaiah in 53:1-9. וְהוּא מְחֹלָל מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מְדֻכָּא מֵעֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ מוּסַר שְׁלוֹמֵנוּ עָלָיו וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ נִרְפָּא־לָנוּ׃ "Whereas He was pierced because of our transgressions, bruised because of our iniquities; the punishment for peace to us lay upon Him and through His stripes came healing to us." The prophet in this passage speaks of the servant of the Lord, who, as will be seen in Chapter XVIII, is none other than Israel's Messiah.
This same picture of the piercing of Messiah is seen in the prophecy of Zech. 12:8-12:
בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יָגֵן יְהוָה בְּעַד יוֹשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִַם וְהָיָה הַנִּכְשָׁל בָּהֶם בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא כְּדָוִיד וּבֵית דָּוִיד כֵּאלֹהִים כְּמַלְאַךְ יְהוָה לִפְנֵיהֶם׃ וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אֲבַקֵּשׁ לְהַשְׁמִיד אֶת־כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם הַבָּאִים עַל־יְרוּשָׁלִָם׃ וְשָׁפַכְתִּי עַל־בֵּית דָּוִיד וְעַל יוֹשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִַם רוּחַ חֵן וְתַחֲנוּנִים וְהִבִּיטוּ אֵלַי אֵת אֲשֶׁר־דָּקָרוּ וְסָפְדוּ עָלָיו כְּמִסְפֵּד עַל־הַיָּחִיד וְהָמֵר עָלָיו כְּהָמֵר עַל־הַבְּכוֹר׃ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִגְדַּל הַמִּסְפֵּד בִּירוּשָׁלִַם כְּמִסְפַּד הֲדַדְרִמּוֹן בְּבִקְעַת מְגִדּוֹן׃ וְסָפְדָה הָאָרֶץ מִשְׁפָּחוֹת מִשְׁפָּחוֹת לְבָד מִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית־דָּוִיד לְבָד וּנְשֵׁיהֶם לְבָד מִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית־נָתָן לְבָד וּנְשֵׁיהֶם לְבָד׃
"In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; And he that stumbleth among them at that day shall be as David; And the house of David shall be as a godlike being, As the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, That I will seek to destroy all the nations That come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, And upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, The spirit of grace and of supplication; And they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; And they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, And shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, As the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart: The family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart" (Jewish Pub. Soc. Tr.). At the bottom of the page in this translation appears a footnote on the pronoun "they" of the dependent clause "because they have thrust him through."
This note makes the "Nations" of verse 9 the antecedent of the pronoun "they." To pass over the nouns immediately preceding this pronoun and to make it refer to the word "nations" in verse 9 is to violate a well known and thoroughly established law of grammar, which holds in every language, namely the noun which immediately precedes a pronoun and which agrees with it in gender, number and person (if the language be an inflected one) is to be taken as the antecedent of this pronoun, that is the noun to which it refers, unless there are clear indications in the context pointing otherwise. If this rule is applied to the case in hand, the antecedent of the pronoun "they" is "the inhabitants of Jerusalem" because it immediately precedes. The context in this instance does not indicate otherwise; hence one will do well to follow this rule and make the antecedent of "they" the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
If one ignores the rule stated above and passes over the noun immediately preceding this pronoun and makes it refer to the second noun preceding, may he not with equal propriety and justification go a little further back to the third or fourth noun preceding and claim one of them to be the true antecedent? An investigation of the preceding context shows that the nouns to which this pronoun might, on this principle, refer are, beginning with the first one immediately preceding and going backward, "the inhabitants of Jerusalem," verse 10; "nations," verse 9; "the house of David," verse 8; and the "inhabitants of Jerusalem," verse 8. Now, dear reader, may the author ask you to read this verse for yourself honestly and conscientiously in order that you may see the truth as it is written? To refresh the memory may he request you to re-read the quotation in the second paragraph above?
Further confirmation of the conclusion just reached is drawn from the prediction of verses 10 to 12, which please re-read. These verses explain who the "they" are who mourn and who are the ones referred to in the clauses: and "they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; and they shall mourn for him"--those thrusting him through being the ones mourning. Therefore the entire context leads one to the irresistible conclusion that "the inhabitants of Jerusalem," "the family of the house of David," "the family of the house of Nathan," et al., the ones mourning, are the ones who "have thrust him through."*
¹ That these Hebrew words have such significations is clearly seen in I Samuel 17:42.
² The word כארי "bored through" or "pierced" undoubtedly is to be taken literally. The Masoretic scholars, who invented the vowel pointings and who did their work about the 8th century of the Christian era, have pointed the text and made it read "like a lion my hands and my feet." Of course their selection of the vowel pointings for this line was determined by their theological interpretation of the passage. It is a well-known fact that the fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity had become in their day more or less chronic by reason of the fact that the controversy had lasted about seven hundred years. It is quite possible that honest scholarly men might be influenced unconsciously by theological bias; hence a translation or interpretation of such a crucial passage as this one, which was made by scholarly devout men prior to the rise of the controversy, would more likely represent the original meaning of the passage. Such a translation as that made by the Hebrew-Greek scholars who translated the Septuagint is more reliable on such controverted points as this one. This translation uses the word ωρυξαν "digged through." This fact confirms the reading of the English translation, namely, "they pierced my hands and my feet."
³ The question arises, "if the writer were not speaking of his own personal experiences, how is it that he uses the personal pronouns 'I,' 'my' and 'me'?" The answer is found in the fact that the prophets frequently spoke in the first person when they did not refer to their own personal experience. A notable example of this principle is found in Isa. 48:12-16, "Hearken unto me, 0 Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Yea, my hand hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spread out the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. Assemble yourselves, all ye, and hear: who among them hath declared these things? He whom the Lord loveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken yea, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; from the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord יהוה hath sent me, and his Spirit." Here Isaiah spoke as if he were the originator of the message, using the personal pronouns of the first person. An examination of the text shows that the real speaker is the One Who founded the heaven and the earth by His omnipotent power. Hence though the prophet uses the pronouns of the first person, he is speaking for God. Therefore when the author of Psalm 22 speaks in the first person it becomes necessary for one to examine the entire context to see whether the experience there related can possibly be the experience of the author or whether he though speaking from the point of view of the first person, is speaking of the suffering of another.
Growing out of this principle of prophecy is another well-established principle which obtains throughout the prophetic word, namely, the prophet frequently begins to speak of his own personal experience and then moves out into a larger circle of experience which by far transcends the events of his life.
* The identification of the penitent remnant of Israel in the future, when it turns unto the Lord, with that generation of the Hebrew people which rejects the Messiah at his first advent is a usage of language common to all nations, especially with the Semitic peoples with whom the solidarity of the race was a fundamental conception. Especially, is this true when two generations of the same stock, though widely separated by time, are animated by the same ideals, attitudes and ideas.
<<<< previous next >>>>