The Treasury of David

Psalm 22

Title. “To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar. A Psalm of David.” This ode of singular excellence was committed to the most excellent of the temple songsters; the chief among ten thousand is worthy to be extolled by the chief Musician; no meaner singer must have charge of such a strain; we must see to it that we call up our best abilities when Jesus is the theme of praise. The words Aijeleth Shahar are enigmatical, and their meaning is uncertain; some refer them to a musical instrument used upon mournful occasions, but the majority adhere to the translation of our margin, “Concerning the kind of the morning.” This last interpretation is the subject of much enquiry and conjecture. Calmet believed that the psalm was addressed to the music master who presided over the band called the “Morning Hind, “and Adam Clarke thinks this to be the most likely of all the conjectural interpretations, although he himself inclines to the belief that no interpretation should be attempted, and believes that it is a merely arbitrary and unmeaning title, such as Orientals have always been in the habit of appending to their songs. Our Lord Jesus is so often compared to a hind, and his cruel huntings are so pathetically described in this most affecting psalm, that we cannot but believe that the title indicates the Lord Jesus under a well known poetical metaphor; at any rate, Jesus is the Hind of the morning concerning whom David here sings.

Subject. This is beyond all others The Psalm Of The Cross. It may have been actually repeated word by word by our Lord when hanging on the tree; it would be too bold to say that it was so, but even a casual reader may see that it might have been. It begins with, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and ends, according to some, in the original with “It is finished.” For plaintive expressions uprising from unutterable depths of woe we may say of this psalm, “there is none like it.” It is the photograph of our Lord’s saddest hours, the record of his dying words, the lachrymatory of his last tears, the memorial of his expiring joys. David and his afflictions may be here in a very modified sense, but, as the star is concealed by the light of the sun, he who sees Jesus will probably neither see nor care to see David. Before us we have a description both of the darkness and of the glory of the cross, the sufferings of Christ and the glory which shall follow. Oh for grace to draw near and see this great sight! We should read reverently, putting off our shoes from off our feet, as Moses did at the burning bush, for if there be holy ground anywhere in Scripture it is in this psalm.

Division. From Psalms 22:1-21 is a most pitiful cry for help, and from Psalms 22:21-31 is a most precious foretaste of deliverance. The first division may be subdivided at the Psalms 22:10, from Psalms 22:1-10 being an appeal based upon covenant relationship; and from Psalms
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 22:9


But thou art he that took me out of the womb. Kindly providence attends with the surgery of tenderness at every human birth; but the Son of Man, who was marvellously begotten of the Holy Ghost, was in an especial manner watched over by the Lord when brought forth by Mary. The destitute state of Joseph and Mary, far away from friends and home, led them to see the cherishing hand of God in the safe delivery of the mother, and the happy birth of the child; that Child now fighting the great battle of his life, uses the mercy of his nativity as an argument with God. Faith finds weapons everywhere. He who wills to believe shall never lack reasons for believing.

Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. Was our Lord so early a believer? Was he one of those babes and sucklings out of whose mouths strength is ordained? So it would seem; and if so, what a plea for help! Early piety gives peculiar comfort in our after trials, for surely he who loved us when we were children is too faithful to cast us off in our riper years. Some give the text the sense of “gave me cause to trust, by keeping me safely”, and assuredly there was a special providence which preserved our Lord’s infant days from the fury of Herod, the dangers of travelling, and the ills of poverty.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Ver. 7-9. See Psalms on “Psalms 22:7 for further information.

Ver. 9-10. Faith is much strengthened by constant evidences of God’s favour. Herewith did he support his faith that said to God, Thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. “Thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels.” Psalms 71:5-6. It was not only the disposition of Obadiah towards God, but also the evidence that thereby he had of God’s affection towards him, that made him with confidence say to Elijah, “I fear the Lord from my youth.” 1 Kings 18:12. By long continuance of ancient favour, many demonstrations are given of a fast, fixed, and unremovable affection. So as if, by reason of temptations, one or more evidences should be questioned, yet others would remain to uphold faith, and to keep it from an utter languishing, and a total falling away. As when a house is supported by many pillars, though some be taken away, yet by the support of them which remain, the house will stand. William Gouge.

Ver. 9-10. David acknowledges ancient mercies, those mercies which had been cast upon him long ago, these were still fresh and new in his memory, and this is one affection and disposition of a thankful heart—to remember those mercies which another would have quite forgotten, or never thought of. Thus does David here; the mercies of his infancy, and his childhood, and his younger years, which one would have imagined, that now in his age had been quite out of his mind; yet these does he here stir up himself to remember and bring to his thoughts. Took me out of the womb: when was that? It may have been threescore years ago when David penned the Psalms. He thinks of those mercies which God vouchsafed him when he was not capable of thinking, nor considering what was bestowed upon him; and so are we taught hence to do, in an imitation of this holy example which is here set before us: those mercies which God hast bestowed in our minority, we are to call to mind and acknowledge in our riper years. Thomas Horton.

Ver. 9-10. Here the tribulation begins to grow lighter, and hope inclines towards victory; a support, though small, and sought out with deep anxiety, is now found. For after he had felt that he had suffered without any parallel or example, so that the wonderful works of God as displayed toward the fathers afforded him no help, he comes to the wonderful works of God toward himself, and in these he finds the goodwill of God towards him, and which was displayed towards him alone in so singular a way. Martin Luther.

Ver. 9-10. The bitter severity of the several taunts with which his enemies assailed our Lord, had no other effect than to lead the Saviour to make a direct appeal to his Father… That appeal is set before us in these two verses. It is of an unusual and remarkable nature. The argument on which it is founded is most forcible and conclusive. At the same time, it is the most seasonable and appropriate that can be urged. We may thus paraphrase it, “I am now brought as a man to my last extremity. It is said that God disowns me; but it cannot be so. My first moment of existence he tenderly cared for. When I could not even ask for, or think of his kindness, he bestowed it upon me. If, of his mere good pleasure he brought me into life at first, he will surely not forsake me when I am departing out of it. In opposition, therefore, to all their taunts, I can and I will appeal to himself. Mine enemies declare, O God, that thou hast cast me off—but thou art he that took me out of the womb. They affirm that I do not, and need not trust in thee; but thou didst make me hope (or, kept me in safety, margin) when I was upon my mother’s breasts. They insinuate that thou wilt not acknowledge me as thy Son; but I was cast upon thee from the womb; thou art my God from my mother’s belly.” John Stevenson.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Ver. 6-18. Full of striking sentences upon our Lord’s suffering.
The Treasury of David.

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