Psalm 22 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Psalm 22)

Verse 1

[1] My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

My God — Who art my friend and father, though now thou frownest upon me. The repetition denotes, the depth of his distress, which made him cry so earnestly.

Forsaken — Withdrawn the light of thy countenance, the supports and comforts of thy spirit, and filled me with the terrors of thy wrath: this was in part verified in David, but much more fully in Christ.

Roaring — My out-cries forced from me, by my miseries.

Verse 3

[3] But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

But thou art — Just and true in all thy ways, this he adds to strengthen his faith, and to enforce his prayers, and prevail with God for the honour of his holy name, to hear and help him.

Inhabitest — Whom thy people are perpetually praising.

Verse 6

[6] But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

A worm — Neglected and despised.

People — Not only of the great men, but also of the common people. Which doth not so truly agree to David as to Christ.

Verse 7

[7] All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

Shoot out — They gape with their mouths, in mockery. This and the next verse are applied to Christ, Matthew 27:39,43.

Verse 12

[12] Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

Bulls — Wicked and violent, and potent enemies; for such are so called, Ezekiel 39:18; Amos 4:1.

Of Bashan — As the cattle there bred were, and therefore fierce and furious.

Verse 14

[14] I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

Water — My spirits are spent and gone like water which once spilt can never be recovered; my very flesh is melted within me, and I am become as weak as water.

Bones — I am as unable to help myself, and as full of torment, as if all my bones were disjointed.

Wax — Melted, through fear and overwhelming grief.

Verse 15

[15] My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

Dried — I have in a manner no more moisture left in me, than is in a dry potsherd.

Cleaveth — Through excessive thirst and drought.

Death — Thy providence, delivering me into the power of mine enemies, and by thy terrors in my soul.

Verse 16

[16] For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

Dogs — So he calls his enemies for their insatiable greediness, and implacable fierceness against him.

Pierced — These words cannot with any probability be applied to David, but were properly and literally verified in Christ.

Verse 17

[17] I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

May tell — By my being stretched out upon the cross.

Verse 18

[18] They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

They part — This also cannot be applied to David, but was literally fulfilled in Christ, Matthew 27:35; John 19:24.

Verse 20

[20] Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

Darling — Heb. my only one; his soul, which he so calls, because it was left alone and destitute of friends and helpers.

Verse 21

[21] Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

Heard — Answered and delivered me.

Verse 22

[22] I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

Declare — When thou hast delivered me.

Thy name — that power and faithfulness and goodness, which thou hast manifested on my behalf.

Congregations — The same whom he calls the congregation, and the seed of Jacob and Israel: which also does not so fitly agree to David, who never gives this title to any, but such as were near a-kin to him, as it does to Christ, who extends this name to all his disciples, Matthew 12:48,49, and to whom this very text is applied, Hebrews 2:11,12.

Verse 24

[24] For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

Abhorred — He did not turn away his face from it, as men do from things which they abhor.

From him — For ever: tho' he did so for a time.

Verse 25

[25] My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

Great congregation — In the universal church, of Jews and Gentiles.

Verse 26

[26] The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

Satisfied — This is doubtless to be understood, of those spiritual blessings, that grace and peace, and comfort, which all believing souls have in the sense of God's love, the pardon of their sins, and the influences of God's spirit.

Seek him — That seek his favour.

Your heart — He speaks of the same persons still, though there be a change from the third to the second person, as is usual in these poetical books.

For ever — Your comfort shall not be short and transitory, as worldly comforts are, but everlasting.

Verse 27

[27] All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

The world — All nations from one end of the world to the other. So this is an evident prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles, and a clear proof, that this psalm immediately speaks of Christ; to whom alone, this and divers other passages of it, belong.

Remember — They shall remember their former wickedness with grief and shame, and fear; particularly in worshiping dead and impotent idols. They shall remember their great and manifold obligation to God, which they had quite forgotten, his patience in sparing them so long, in the midst of all their impieties, and in giving his son for them: they shall remember the gracious words and glorious works of Christ, what he did, and suffered for them; which possibly divers of them had been eye and ear-witnesses of.

The Lord — Into the only true God, and unto Jesus Christ, to whom this name of Jehovah is often ascribed in scripture.

Verse 28

[28] For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations.

For — This is added as a reason, why the Gentiles should be converted, because God is not only God and the Lord of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles, and of all nations.

Verse 29

[29] All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

Fat — Kings and princes, and the great men of the world.

Shall eat — Shall feed upon the bread of life, Christ and all his benefits.

Worship — This is added to shew what kind of eating he spoke of.

Go down — That is, all mankind, for none can escape death.

Verse 30

[30] A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

A seed — Christ shall not want a seed or posterity, for though the Jewish nation will generally reject him, the Gentiles shall come in their stead.

A generation — That believing seed shall be reputed both by God and men, The generation, or people of the Lord, as the Jews formerly were.

Verse 31

[31] They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

They — The seed last mentioned.

Come — From Judea and Jerusalem (from whence the gospel was first to go forth) to the Gentile world, to the several parts whereof the apostles went upon this errand.

His — God's righteousness: his wonderful grace and mercy unto mankind, in giving them Christ and the gospel; for righteousness is often put for mercy or kindness.

Unto — Unto succeeding generations. Whereby David gives us a key to understand this psalm, and teaches us that he speaks not here of himself, but of things which were to be done in after-ages, even of the spreading of the gospel among the Gentiles, in the time of the New Testament.

That he — They shall declare that this is the work of God, and not of man.