The opening words of Psalm 22, from Jesus on the cross, points us to the almost unbearable tension tearing apart one wrestling with both the closeness of his relationship with his heavenly Father and the grim darkness of evil, suffering, and alienation. Through the darkness and through death, God’s purposes were to be fulfilled.
1) Lots would be cast for the Messiah’s Outer Garment (Psalm 22:18 “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”) David describes the torturous method of death by crucifixion. Although it was not known in his day, he describes it very clearly. He probably did not know at the time that he was prophesying the crucifixion of the Messiah. In verse 18 he describes the disposition of the garments of the One being crucified.
2) The Messiah would be pierced through His hands and His feet (Psalm 22:16 “For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;”) Evil men surrounding the person in Psalm 22 were compared to wild dogs that would band together and kill their prey. Jesus was similarly surrounded at His execution by those who wished to see him destroyed. The person David describes had his hands and feet pierced by a lion’s claw. Similarly, Jesus had his hands and feet pierced at His execution.
3) The Messiah would be stared upon (Psalm 22:17 “I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.”) David describes the one who is the center of attention being stated at when he was in pain. At the crucifixion of Jesus, a crowd stood around and watched to see if a miracle might take place. The Pharisees, Saducees and chief priests also watched wanting to satisfy themselves that the one they wanted killed did in fact die. Others came out of curiosity and others came in grief.
4) The Messiah would be scorned and mocked (Psalm 22:7-8 “All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”) When David wrote Psalm 22, he was in great agony. We don’t know the particulars of his situation, but almost the very words that he wrote in verses 7-8 were repeated by the jeering chief priests, scribes and elders at the crucifixion of Jesus.
5) The Messiah would be forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1 “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? “) When David starts his Psalm, he feels that he is completely abandoned by God. He asks God why He is so far from him. Jesus at His crucifixion quoted the very same words, since He also felt the complete abandonment of God the Father. The physical pain seemed not to bother Jesus as much as the spiritual pain of abandonment by God the Father.
For Jesus, the Messiah, there was no fulfillment of God’s purposes except through death and a resurrection life which lay on the other side of death.