This is a well-known messianic psalm that is divided into two parts; verses 1-21 describe the sufferings of the Messiah and verses 22-31 detail his subsequent glory. While some messianic psalms are based on events in the life of the authors, it is obvious that no Old Testament figure experienced either the depths of the suffering or the height of the glory that is portrayed in the psalm.
Each section of the psalm begins with a verse that is quoted in the New Testament as being the words of Jesus. Verse 1 was said by him when he was on the cross and verse 21 is used in Hebrews 2:12 to express the intention of Jesus after he had ascended to heaven.
The obvious difference between the account of Christ on the cross that is found in Psalm 22 and the reports of the sufferings of Jesus that are found in the Gospels is the personal nature of the words of the psalm. In the psalm we read the attitudes and feelings of the Saviour whereas in the Gospels we read a narration of what Jesus said or did on the cross. Of course, in the Gospels we do see the feelings of the Saviour, but they are stated in more depth in Psalm 22. Spurgeon likens the first half of the psalm to a photograph of Christ’s sad hours on the cross.
The title of the psalm is ‘The Hind of the Morning’ and when we read the psalm we can see the significance of the title. The enemies of Jesus are likened to wild animals (bulls, lion, dogs) attacking a graceful, gentle deer.
Some take the reference to the ‘morning’ to indicate that his enemies began attacking Jesus as early as they could (Herod, after the visit of the wise men, was the first of many hunters who sought to kill him). That is true, although I suspect the reference to the ‘morning’ points to something else. Normally when a deer was surrounded by such fierce animals, its demise was certain. With Jesus it was different. Although he would go through a dark experience, it would not result in night but in day, indeed an eternal day. The Hind went into the darkness in order to ensure that there would be a Morning. We will consider other verses of the psalm in the next few readings.