In these verses, the Saviour speaks to the Father about the activity of the Jews at the cross. In this psalm (vv. 12-13), the Jews are depicted as bulls of Bashan (a bull was a ceremonially clean animal) whereas the Gentile soldiers, in the next section, are depicted as dogs (unclean animals according to the ceremonial law). Both are attacking the Saviour, although they use different methods.
The Jews are depicted as using mockery and scornful laughter, and this description in the psalm fits with the details recorded in the Gospels (Matt. 27:39-44). ‘The priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees, rulers and captains bellowed round the cross like wild cattle, fed in the fat and solitary pastures of Bashan, full of strength and fury; they stamped and foamed around the innocent One, and longed to gore him to death with their cruelties’ (Spurgeon). In verse 8, they use Jesus’ own words as part of their mockery. In itself, this depiction in the psalm, written so long before the event took place, is a reminder of the amazing accuracy of biblical prophecy.
The psalm informs us of the Saviour’s response as he endured these taunts. In his weakness on the cross (so graphically described in verse 6), he recalls another time when he was weak, which was when he was born (vv. 9 and 10). At his birth, he needed God to take care of him; at his death he also needed divine help. The Saviour here is using effective arguments in his prayer, and in this he is an example to us. The ‘Child now fighting the great battle of his life, uses the mercy of his nativity as an argument with God’ (Spurgeon). We should use credible arguments when presenting our personal needs to God. Jesus appealed to God’s faithfulness and mercy.
Now on the cross he is alone. He longs for a sense of the presence of God (v. 11) but all he sees is hostile enemies surrounding him. His physical strength has gone, he is in great pain, and he is racked by incredible thirst. But he knows why he is there. It is his silent Father who has brought him to the dust of death (v. 15).