This chapter is exactly the words of Christ as he hung on the cross: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). How much of a contrast these words are compared to Psalms 20 and 21, where we see the Father saving Christ, answering Him, fulfilling His desires, granting Him glory. Instead, it seems the Father is not answering (v.2), is not granting Christ rest (v.2), is leaving Christ weary and like a worm, scorned by mankind (v.6). Is He not the Promised One whose bonds with the Father shall never be broken? Are not the promises of the Old Testament to be fulfilled in Jesus? Were not the deliverance of the fathers but types and shadows of Christ’s deliverance? Is the Father not the One whom Christ looked upon even when He was born of Mary? Was He not already loved by Jesus in the womb of the Virgin (v.9-10)?
In Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”, he says:
This is beyond all others the Psalm of the Cross. It may have been repeated word by word by our Lord when hanging on the tree… It is the photograph of our Lord’s saddest hours, the record of His dying words… Before us we have a description both of the darkness and the glory of the Cross, the sufferings of Christ and the glory that 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.
This is the Passion and Suffering of our Lord Jesus; He was persecuted by the bulls of Bashan, by the ravenous wolves and enemies (v.11-13), enduring extreme physical pain (v.14-15). When had David’s hands and feet been pierced (v.16)? When had David suffered this level of suffering and torture at the hands of the enemy? These are but the words of the Spirit granting the author an insight in the life of the Saviour in the act of salvation; even the division of the garments is prophetic (Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24).
Yet, it is because of these promises that Christ still trusts in the Father, pleading Him to deliver His soul from the sword and from the mouth of the lion (c.f. Daniel 6). It is in Christ’s persecution that the Father shows His compassion to the despised, the abhorred, the afflicted (v.24, 26), and through God’s work that everyone – Jew or Gentile – shall turn to the LORD and worship Him (c.f. Hebrews 2:10-12); that His righteousness is achieved on the cross for the benefit of those yet unborn (v.31)! Indeed, David ends this prophecy resolutely and with confidence – He has done it. Can we proclaim with same conviction that what the LORD has done is applicable to our daily lives today, that we claim His victory as our own even as David did before the crucifixion was yet to occur?
In the coming chapters we turn to Christ’s thoughts before His final words on the cross as prophesied in Psalm 31:5.