'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? why art Thou far
from My salvation, from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry by day,
and thou answerest not; and by night, and there is no rest for Me: and
Thou art holy, Thou that dwellest amid the praises of Israel'
In Psalm 22, we have one of the many Old Testament prophecies which
refer directly to our Lord Jesus Christ. This one, however, is
distinguished from the rest because it foretells facts concerning His
unique and unfathomable sufferings which are not to be found in other
predictions. Here we have them in all their simple, solemn, and
pathetic sweetness from the lips of the Holy Sufferer Himself.
Three Outstanding messianic Psalms
Many Psalms give glimpses of Jehovah's Anointed One Who was to come,
but three of them are conspicuous among the rest by the vivid details
of His sufferings which they make known beforehand. Besides Psalm 22,
there are Psalm 69 and Psalm 102. All three foretell in words of song
the amazing pathway of the Hope of Israel laughed to scorn by all who
saw Him and the Saviour of men without a place to lay His head. Each of
the three Psalms presents its own particular phase of the sufferings of
Christ followed by its appropriate sequel, but the one which touches
our affection and devotion most deeply is Psalm 22.
The theme of Psalm 69 is the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ as
He unflinchingly bore the reproach of Jehovah in the face of those who
hated Him without a cause. High and low were His enemies. Those that
sat in the gate spoke against Him, and He was the song of the
drunkards. 'Save me, O God' He cried,' for the waters are come into My
soul.' Jehovah heard and answered, as the latter part of the Psalm
shews. God will bring righteous and overwhelming retribution upon the
ungodly generation that rejected and crucified their Messiah. The
sufferings caused by the enmity of man are followed by the righteous
judgement of those who caused those sufferings.
Psalm 22 is differently framed, and its theme is unique. here,
though the sufferings depicted are far deeper and more poignant, the
result for man is not judicial but merciful. Not a word is uttered
about wrath and judgement for man. Indeed, one might almost call Psalm
22 the nearest approach in the Old Testament to the revelation of the
super-abounding grace of God in the New. Instead of thunderbolts of
wrath from God falling upon those who maltreated the Messiah, the Psalm
ends with praise arising to God from all mankind. The sufferings of
Christ will yield what the whole world has never yet rendered to
God-united and universal praise. Now, there is praise from a few here
and a few there; but the Psalm views a time when all the world will be
rejoicing in God and giving Him what is due to His name, giving Him, in
fact, what man's tongue was designed to render-intelligent and
heartfelt praise. And 'in that day' all the 'kindreds of the nations'
will worship before Jehovah of Israel in consequence of the sufferings
of Christ which are set forth in the prophetic monologue of this Psalm.
Psalm 102 so celebrates the sufferings of Christ. There Messiah is
presented in His humiliation among and by men and in His invariable
attitude of meek and lowly submission to whatever was the will of God.
The Psalm is called 'the prayer of the afflicted when he is
overwhelmed'. In His infinite greatness, Christ 'emptied Himself', and
obediently took the poor man's place in a world of self-sufficiency and
self-exaltation. he was forsaken of men, and left to mourn 'as a
sparrow alone upon the housetop'. In His distress, Messiah cried, 'O My
God,' desiring that He might not be taken away in the midst of His
days. Thereupon Jehovah vindicates His suffering and outcast Son (vv.
24-27). Though the days of His humiliation might be shortened, was He
not the Creator of the earth and the heavens? All creation perishes,
but Messiah abides unchanged continually, the Same 'yesterday and today
and for ever'. Thus, the prayer of the afflicted One is answered by a
divine witness to the intrinsic glory of His person; and the passage is
quoted in Heb. 1:10-12 as a crowning testimony to the glory of the
eternal Son, by Whom God spoke to men in new Testament days.
Sufferings and Praises
In Psalm 22, however, the sufferings of Christ are from God.
Forsaking by God is expressed in its opening stanzas, and affords the
key to the whole Psalm. The ferocity of men appears as in other Psalms,
but the abandonment of the Messiah of Israel by the Holy One of Israel
is, as it must necessarily be, the predominating features of the
prophecy. Moreover, it is the holy Sufferer Himself Who confesses that
he is forsaken by His God. He Who endured it describes it. He is,
indeed, the Speaker throughout this Psalm. And as He records His own
sufferings, so He declares the praises to God that follow as their
effect. We learn that propitiation or atonement being accomplished, the
earth, in due course, will become full of praises to God.
you will recollect how beautifully this combination of propitiation
and praise is portrayed in Leviticus 16 by the blood and incense. There
the great work of Christ's atonement is foreshewn in type. The blood of
both the bullock and the goat is taken from the court of the tabernacle
into the most holy place and sprinkled there upon and before the
mercy-seat. Aaron enters that most holy place where Jehovah's presence
rests enthroned upon the mercy-seat with blood and incense. The
sprinkling of the blood of sacrifice in the required manner is
accompanied by the fragrant fumes rising from the burning incense and
affording a sweet odour to Him Who sits between the cherubim. Thus the
type illustrates how the incense of praise is intimately associated
with the propitiation Christ made in respect of our sins. His atoning
work is the abiding basis for the believer's worship now, and for the
homage of all men in the millennial day and kingdom.
As we were reminded this afternoon, the Father 'seeketh'
worshippers; and if we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have
been constituted worshippers on the basis of the propitiatory work of
the Lord Jesus, and the Father seeks that we worship Him as we are
thereby entitled to do. What then can we offer to God the Father that
will be acceptable? Shall we bring any material offering in our hands?
Shall we bring anything in our hearts springing from our own natural
affections and efforts? You surely know that we can find nothing in
ourselves worthy of His acceptance.
Where then as worshippers shall we find what is sure to be
acceptable to God the father? everything that concerns the Son, the
Lord Jesus Christ, is well-pleasing to the Father. And if one subject
concerning Him is more acceptable than another, it is that which
relates to His sufferings and death, whereby 'God was glorified in
Him'. As worshippers, therefore, we need to have in our hearts a clear
sense of the vast work of atonement accomplished upon the cross when
He, the blessed Son of God, Who knew no sin, was 'made sin for us' by
God (2 Cor. 5:21).
Scripture often refers to Christ's atonement in easy words that even
an infant may recite, but how profound and unfathomable is their full
significance! They are, however, for us to meditate upon continually,
allowing the Holy Spirit to develop and enlarge their meaning and
implication before our eyes so that our hearts may break forth in
worthier songs of praise as we remember that the holy, perfect, sinless
Son of God was upon the cross 'made sin for us' by God. We cannot fully
understand the profound doctrine, nor need we do so in order to worship
God. But when we are before God in 'the holiest of all' and recall that
the death of Christ is the most notable occurrence in the world's
history and that something was done there and then of immeasurable
value and requiring no repetition, then songs of irrepressible praise
will swell within us. the incense of acceptable praise will ascend to
the eternal throne.
The Sufferer and His God
Let us bear clearly in mind that in this Psalm we hear the words of
Christ Himself addressed to God. Most of us are familiar with the
bitter cry which forms the forefront of the Psalm and provides the
keynote to its pervading theme. We read, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou
forsaken Me?' Here the pathetic words occur prophetically. In the
Gospels they are found historically. Matthew and Mark record that the
Lord uttered them upon the cross. In the depths of His anguish, the
Lord used the words, having the fullest sense of their profound
significance and also the knowledge that the prophecies of Psalm 22
were being fulfilled in Himself. At the due moment He had appeared in
the world for the putting away of sin by the sacrifice of Himself. In
this work the Blessed One stood alone-the God-forsaken One. This awful
experience He Himself proclaimed aloud that whosoever would might
hear-'Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani?' As so often, those who heard did not
understand His speech. Thy said, 'Let be, let us see whether elias will
come to save Him.' That this crucified One should thus address God in
heaven was beyond their comprehension. The fact is that therein lies
the central truth of the propitiation which Christ made for our sins
and for the whole world.
This occasion is, I believe, the first time that we read in the
Gospels of our Lord using the words, 'My God', when addressing Him. The
Son was constantly in communion with the Father, hearing His word and
doing His commandments. In converse with His Father, we read of Him
answering and saying, 'I praise Thee, father, Lord of the heaven and of
the earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent
and hast revealed them unto babes. Yea, Father, for thus has it been
well-pleasing in Thy sight' (matt. 11:25,26).
This communion of the Son with the father was unbroken, not only
during His public ministry when He was preaching the gospel to the
poor, healing the sick, and doing His multitudinous deeds of mercy
among men, but also, as you will remember, during that solemn midnight
hour in Gethsemane. There the Lord was alone, apart from His disciples,
prostrate upon the ground, and His sweat was as it were great drops of
blood falling down to the ground. Yet in this agony of anticipation,
the Blessed One was not altogether alone. As He said to His disciples
earlier that night, Ye 'shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone,
for the Father is with Me' (John 16:32). Throughout His 'strong crying
and tears', communion with the Father was unbroken. 'Abba, Father', He
cried. 'O My father, if it be possible...' 'O My father, if Thou be
willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine,
be done'. Knowing fully what the Father's will had decreed for the
morrow, the obedient Son acquiesced in Gethsemane as He had always
done. 'The cup which My Father has given me, shall I not drink it?'
But here the Lord is speaking from the cross. It is now not 'My
Father' as in the garden, but 'My God'. The question of sin has arisen,
and God, Who is Judge of all, is the appropriate name of address. God
is the righteous governor of the world. His nature is opposed to sin,
and His essence demands the punishment of sin. There can be no
communion between holiness and unholiness, between light and darkness.
And there, Him Who knew no sin God had made sin for us. In the
consciousness of sin-bearing, and of being 'made a curse for us,' He
exclaimed, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?'
So our Lord in the midst of His suffering for sin confessed Himself
forsaken by His God, but still addressed Him as 'My God'. This
relationship of Jesus subsisted from His earliest infancy. In this very
Psalm, He declares, 'Thou art My God from My mother's belly' (v. 10).
From the manger in Bethlehem right onwards He the perfect and blessed
Man, recognised God as the One Whom He obeyed and on Whom He depended.
But here it was a time of noontide darkness, and there was an
immeasurable difference. His God in Whom He trusted God forsaken Him!
Christ had come into the world to take the place of the unholy and
unrighteous under the judgment of the righteous and Holy God. He
Himself was the Holy One. 'That Holy Thing which shall be born of thee
shall be called the Son of God,' the angel said to Mary (Luke 1:35).
the very demons in Capernaum said to Him, 'I know Thee Who Thou art:
the Holy One of God.' And what charge did Peter lay against the Jews
after Pentecost? 'Ye denied the Holy One.' And when the apostle
referred to the resurrection of Jesus (acts 2:27), quoting from Psalm
16:10, He said, 'Neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see
But here Christ, the Holy One, acknowledges His God as the Holy One:
'O My God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not...but Thou art
holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.' What is the
explanation? The Holy One was the sin-bearer. The Just One stood in the
place of the unjust. 'He bare our sins in His own body on the tree.'
Oh, deepest of all deepest depths! Oh, profoundest of all unravelled
mysteries that this should be! the human heart stands still in silent
awe before the impenetrable veil for ever screening from mortal gaze
the Saviour in that dread hour. One only was there in the darkness and
in the shadow of death. he alone can speak of it. He has spoken. His
words are before us. 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken ME?'
We cannot understand this cry of anguish wrung from the heart of
Christ, nor fathom its import. Apart from its interpretation, however,
we possess the truth and blessedness of the fact through the
ministrations of the Holy Spirit. Our faith lays hold of this poignant
utterance of the suffering Christ. It tells us of the price paid for
our redemption. It measures for us the value of the sacrifice made upon
the cross for our sins and for the glory of God in respect of them. The
Holy Christ was forsaken by the Holy God!
Hence, the more we meditate upon this great cry in the presence of
the Lord from Whose lips it came, the more we learn of His atoning
work. Then He was standing where He had never stood before-beneath the
weight of our guilt and of God's wrath against it. During His life of
ministry, He was not bearing our sins, as some wrongly imagine. It was
upon the tree that He bore our sins in His own body, as Peter tells us.
There He suffered for us, for our forgiveness, for our redemption, that
we might be brought to God, that the blessings of God in all their
fullness might flow unhinderedly into our souls.
But there is another aspect of the work of atonement that we must
never forget. Because of man's sin God's glory was at stake. God's
eternal attribute of justice was in question. Was God the Holy One Who
abhorred sin? or was He One Who would favour sin and overlook its due
penalty? the Lord Jesus supplies the answer in His Person, and upon the
cross He upheld the immutable holiness of God. There he declared in the
ears of the universe, 'Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the
praises of Israel,' witnessing to that holiness by the confession of
His own abandonment.
The Holy Sufferer had been made sin and was deserted, left alone
because of it. In His agony Christ called aloud to His God. 'My God, My
God,' He said. The repetition means much-deep emotion, pressing need.
When Abraham stood at the altar on which Isaac lay bound, holding aloft
the knife to slay his only son, the angel of Jehovah called, Abraham,
Abraham. Twice the father's name called from heaven. There was urgent
need for the patriarch to hearken. Not a moment must be lost. More
urgent still was the cry of the blessed Lord. He was in the depths of
His anguish, submerged beneath the waves of divine wrath against sin;
and the cry rang out in the desolate waste, 'My God, My God, why hast
Thou forsaken Me?'
These are the words of the beloved Son of God, the Only-begotten of
the Father, God manifest in flesh. Let us ponder over them and brood
upon them, again and again. Let them penetrate our inmost souls. To do
so purifies the spirit and enlightens the heart. We behold fresh
visions of the grandeur of God's grace, and we glory more and more in
the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see more and more of the light
and love of God in Him Who stood alone in that dread place of darkness
and curse. And we adore more fervently Him Who loved and endured to the
end, never even when abandoned by him losing touch with his God,
calling Him 'MY God' in the confidence that He would be heard for His
piety (Heb. 5:7).
- Part 2 -
We learn from the Gospels of seven utterances made by our Lord
during His crucifixion. Three of them were spoken during the earlier
hours, and four during the later period. the only one of the seven
found in more than one Gospel is the cry of Christ's abandonment by His
God, recorded by both Matthew and Mark. It is evident from this double
testimony of the Holy Spirit that this cry demands our reverent
attention and prayerful meditation, especially.
First, the Lord, when they bound Him to the tree of cursing, prayed,
'Father, (He did not say 'My God'), forgive them, for they know not
what they do' (Luke 22:34). Again, while the sun still shone brightly
in the heavens, Jesus saw Mary His mother and the beloved disciple. he
said to her, 'Woman, behold thy son,' and to him, 'Behold thy mother'
(John 19:26,27). His sympathies were not dulled by His sorrows and His
sufferings. Further we can hear His gracious and assured promise to the
believing robber sharing the horrors of crucifixion at His side,
'Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise' (Luke
23:43). though poorer than the poorest of the poor, the Lord could
still give. Cast out of His inheritance, stripped even of His garments,
He seemed to possess nothing, yet He bestows upon this converted
criminal the right of entrance to paradise itself. What joy there was
in heaven over the one sinner who had repented!
But then the noonday sun was super-naturally eclipsed. There was
darkness over the whole land from the sixth to the ninth hour. The Holy
Sufferer was hidden from the eyes of men. He was closeted with God; and
in the 'night season' He was not silent. But out of the prevailing
darkness came the cry, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?' John
also records (19:28-30) two other utterances, 'I thirst' and 'It is
finished,' both spoken with the assuredness of omniscience. What had to
be done had then been accomplished.
What then had been finished? What had been done? Who can describe
it? Who can measure it? Was it not that stupendous work of propitiation
which in respect of all His attributes satisfied God as to sin,
enabling Him to be just and the justifier of the unjust who believe in
Jesus? The Lord knew what He had accomplished. He knew what He had
endured, and that in His suffering He was forsaken of God.
Moreover, the Son of God knew that the appointed offering for sin
had been made and that the sacrifice was acceptable. He knew that the
darkness had passed, and that He had emerged into the sunshine of God
and the Father's delight and complacency. We have next the seventh
utterance, 'Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit' (Luke 23:46).
And He passed into paradise, there to welcome the penitent robber who
had believed on Him and for whose sins He had made Propitiation to God.
Propitiation and Praise
In the third verse, Messiah provides the answer to His own inquiry,
'Why hast Thou forsaken Me?' The answer is, 'Thou art holy, O Thou that
inhabitest the praises of Israel. 'the holiness of Jehovah required the
judgment of sin before either His people or the praises of His people
could be acceptable to Him. Propitiation for sins is the foundation of
worship and praise, because the place where Jehovah dwells is holy.
Now the children of Israel were a people separated from all other
nations of the earth of offer praises to Jehovah continually. The
tabernacle was built in the wilderness and the temple on Mount Zion
that He might dwell among them and receive their tribute to His name.
Jehovah appointed that daily, morning and evening, the priests should
burn 'the most holy incense' to Him in the holy place. Incense is a
figure of the sweet-smelling praise that God seeks from the lips of man.
Israel was elected in order that in their daily service of praise
they might illustrate what Jehovah required from all men. He brought
them out of the house of bondage, showing them His mercy when the
destroying angel passed by their dwellings, and His redemption when
their enemies were drowned in the Red Sea. Immediately, the song of
praise ascended to Jehovah from His redeemed people. Moses and the
children of Israel celebrated His victory, ascribing their deliverance
to the strength of His right arm (Exodus 15).
Moreover, in this national praise-song, Israel looked forward to the
mountain of Jehovah's inheritance, His dwelling-place, the sanctuary
established by His own hands in the land of promise. Then 'they
believed His words; they sang His praise.' But soon they forgot
Jehovah's mighty works, disobeyed His commandments, and worshipped the
idols of the heathen that knew not God. They forsook the Holy One of
Israel, and neglected their daily offering of praises before His
dwelling-place. Israel sinned grievously, and provoked the righteous
wrath of their God, the One Who inhabits the praises of Israel.
To this great sin by that favoured nation especially the Holy
Sufferer seems to make allusion in verse 3. Because of their sins, not
His own, He was forsaken, and His cries were unheard. Jesus was
standing in the breach. He had given Himself a sacrifice for sins. He
was making propitiation for sin. By His suffering, He would bring
holiness where there was now unholiness, righteousness where there was
unrighteousness, and praise where there was now but 'cursing and
bitterness.' By His atoning work, the Lord Jesus would satisfy every
claim the Holy One inhabiting the praises of Israel made in respect of
the sins of men; but in the meantime that Holy One was irresponsive to
The close connection between propitiation and praise is plainly
marked in the construction of the Psalm. The former part, to the middle
of verse 21, depicts Christ upon the cross, while the rest of the Psalm
foretells the results of Christ's atonement in imbuing Israel and all
the nations to the ends of the earth with the spirit of praise to
The fathers Delivered, but Christ Abandoned
In verse 4 the Spirit of Christ still speaks. The Lord upon the
cross contrasts Himself with pious men of olden days. 'Our fathers
(Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and others) trusted in Thee; they
trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. They cried unto Thee, and were
delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.' Was it not,
therefore, contrary to God's past dealings that the Lord Jesus should
be forsaken by God in His sufferings, and His cries for deliverance
disregarded? Abraham was not perfect in his piety, yet his prayers were
heard. Job was noted for his patience in suffering, but showed much
impatience with his 'friends,' and confessed to Jehovah, 'Behold, I am
vile.' Job, too, was heard and delivered.
But when the Messiah in His agony cried out to God, there was
silence in the heavens. No arm of Jehovah was outstretched to save Him
in that hour. What the will of God had given Him to do, He must do by
Himself, enduring all alone, unaided. And in His soul was the bitter
sense that in His extremity, God was not helping Him as He had helped
the fathers in Israel. Why was this change? Because He, Son of man, Who
knew no sin, had been 'made sin' to make expiation for sin. Then and
then only, for this and for this only, did God forsake His obedient
Servant that the glory of 'the death of the cross' might shine undimmed
throughout the ages of eternity.
But the patience and lowliness of our Lord comes into view in that
dark hour. As the forsaken One, He says, 'But I am a worm and no man.'
He accepts a place of nothingness among the sons of men. He obliterates
self entirely. Now as always, 'Christ pleased not Himself.' As a 'worm
and no man,' He surrendered every claim upon divine deliverance. This
is the crowning evidence of that Blessed One's perfect humility and
self-abnegation. The worm is the symbol of utter weakness, and the Lord
Who was 'crucified in weakness' applied the figure to Himself to
justify the seeming neglect of His God.
On the cross, the Lord is not oblivious to the thoughts and words of
the bystanders. They add to His sorrows and sufferings. He is
reproached and despised of the people. They taunt Him because no
deliverance comes to Him from God in Whom it was well known that He
trusted. But, unperceived by onlookers, Christ in the midst of His
crucifixion maintains unbroken confidence in His God (verse 9-11). As
in Bethlehem and Nazareth, in Capernaum and Chorazin, in Bethany and
Jerusalem, so at Calvary, Jesus was ' the leader and completer of
faith' (Heb. 12:2). Despising the shame of the cross, He abode
steadfastly in the will of God according to His own word, 'Not My will,
But Thine be done.' Man mocked, Christ suffered, God was glorified.
At the commencement of His ministry when our Lord was tempted of
Satan, He was in the wilderness with the wild beasts (Mark 1:13). When
upon the cross, He sees men around Him behaving towards Him like the
cruel and shameless beasts that perish. He is beset by 'strong bulls of
Bashan' and by the 'ravening and roaring lion.' Unclean and destructive
'dogs' have compassed Him about. Nailed to the tree in the midst of
them, He is helpless. He is poured out like water. His strength is
dried up like a potsherd. All His bones are out of joint.
Such is the confessed weakness of Christ crucified as the assembly
of evil-doers surround Him and work their wicked will on Him Whose
hands and feet they have pierced. They strip Him of His raiment and
gamble for His vesture. they gloat upon His nakedness as a sight for
their wicked hearts to enjoy amid the solemnities of the paschal feast!
In these verses (12-18), Christ by the prophetic Spirit is
describing His sufferings from man as they were multiplied and
concentrated at the cross. But throughout, Messiah expresses His
unwavering dependence on Jehovah. He says, 'Thou art My God... Thou art
He that took me out of the womb... Thou art My God... Be not far from
Me' (vers. 9-11). Thus the Christ spreads out before His God the story
of His sorrow and suffering form man led on by the prince of this
world. All that the power of darkness brought Him in that hour He
received as the will of God for Him. As the self-emptied Son of God, He
was obedient even down to the death of the cross. And in
depth of humiliation to which He had come, He owns the supreme purpose
of God that brought Him there: 'Thou hast brought Me into the dust of
death' (ver. 15).
The Cry of Conquest, 'It is Finished'
But the end comes. The intensity of prayer is replaced by the
fervency of praise. The Lord pleads with Jehovah: 'O My strength, haste
Thee to help Me. Deliver My soul from the sword; My darling (only one)
from the power of the dog; save Me from the lion's mouth' (vers.
19-21). Then in the middle of verse 21, the Speaker suddenly changes
His tone. Hitherto in the Psalm, unanswered supplication has been His
theme. Now, the answer has been given; the reply is received. 'Yea,
from the horns of the buffaloes (unicorns) hast Thou answered Me.'
No statement is made in the Psalm concerning the immeasurable
significance of the change from asking to receiving by the One Who at
the outset confessed Himself forsaken of God. It is left to us to
ponder upon the fact that the same Voice that said to God, 'Save me
from the lion's mouth,' adds afterwards, 'Thou hast heard me from the
horns of the unicorns.' The One Who previously said, 'O My God, I cry
... but Thou hearest not' (ver. 2) now declares to Him, 'Thou hast
heard Me.' With strong crying and tears, with prayers and
supplications, He had called upon God in His suffering upon the cross
as the sin-bearer. then the moment came when He knew that His work of
propitiation for sins had been accomplished, and that because of His
piety He had been heard by Him who was able to save Him out of death
(Heb. 5:7). His piety or holy fear had been tried to the uttermost; and
in the very bottomless depths of suffering when abandoned by God on
behalf of guilty man His unfaltering obedience shone untarnished and
undiminished, approved of God though derided by man.
now deliverance had come even when He was transfixed 'by the horns
of the unicorns' and under 'the power of the dog.' The throne of
righteousness in heaven and the cross of Calvary on earth were united
when Christ Jesus had offered His one sacrifice for sins. His atoning
blood was upon the golden mercy-seat beneath the cherubim of glory. His
eternally efficacious work of expiation for sin was completed 'in the
body of His flesh' upon the cross. this fact, the Lord Himself in His
omniscience announced to men, to angels, to demons. 'When therefore
Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished; and having
bowed His head, He delivered up His spirit' (John 19:30). The apostle
John thus records the Son of God's verbal testimony to the conclusion
of His own work. It was but one word as originally uttered upon the
cross, but if fell from the lips of omniscient omnipotence, and will
reverberate to the ends of the universe throughout the ages of the ages.
After hearing the Lord's own pronouncement upon the work He had by
Himself undertaken in respect of sin that God might be just and the
justifier of him who believes in Jesus, can we entertain the notion
that nevertheless something more remained to be done to establish fully
the glory of God? Is it possible that when Christ gave Himself for us,
an offering and sacrifice to God, and said, It is finished, there still
remained something more to be done in order to make propitiation for
sins? Unless supported by plain scripture, such a suggestion by its
implications discredits Christ Himself and impoverishes both His word
and His work.
Opening the gates of Praise
The Forsaken One having been heard from the horns of the unicorns,
propitiation having been made, the service of praise at once begins.
The fragrant odours of the most holy incense mingle with eyes uplifted
to heaven, the captain of salvation, now made 'perfect through
sufferings,' says, 'I will declare Thy name to My brethren; in the
midst of the congregation will I praise Thee' (ver. 22). Here is the
prophetic promise of the results of an accomplished atonement. The name
of God as the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit should be
thereupon unfolded, and Christ Himself would be the Leader of worthy
praise to God in the midst of His assembled worshippers.
Historically, it was in this strain that out Lord spoke of His God
to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection. He said, 'I ascend unto My
Father and your Father; and to My God and your God' (John 20:17), a
declaration not made nor true before. But now atonement for sin had
been made, the righteousness of God in respect of His grace had been
established, and it was consistent with the glory of God that a new
relationship of believers should be announced. Accordingly through the
work finished upon the cross, our Lord associated His feeble and
failing disciples with Himself as His brethren. Now they were entitled,
not merely because they had been born afresh by water and by the
Spirit, but because of Christ's offered and accepted sacrifice for
sins, to stand before God as sons in an acceptance like that of Christ
Himself-'My Father and your Father.' The Lord connects His own with
Himself as His brethren. As He had said, 'Except a corn of wheat fall
into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth
forth much fruit' (John 12:24). 'My God' was the cry of the Lord when
alone and forsaken, when bearing our sins in His body; none could then
share that cry. But now He says to His brethren 'My God and your God.'
This new link was the first-fruits of Christ's atoning sufferings and
But the harvest follows the first-fruits. Throughout the remaining
stanzas of this psalm, the unfolding of ever widening circles of praise
to Jehovah continues. All the seed of Jacob and of Israel shall glorify
and fear Him. All the ends of the earth and the families of the nations
shall remember, shall turn unto Him, and shall worship before Him. And
in the concluding verse, we read, 'They shall come and shall declare
His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He has done
this.' The final phrase, 'that He hath done this (it)' is suggestive.
The words are general, and some might ask, Who has done it? and What
has He done? But to every spiritual mind the reference is obvious. It
is the unrivalled act of making propitiation performed by Christ on the
cross, where He was set forth as a mercy-seat to declare the
righteousness of God in respect of sins (Rom. 3:23-26).
Christ Himself in His utterance, 'it is finished,' was the first
witness to His own completed work. His followers, led by the Spirit of
God, have continued that testimony on earth throughout succeeding
generations. Expiation for sins is the foundation of all praise,
worship, and service. And heaven and earth shall yet unite in ascribing
all worthiness to the Lamb that was slain. Every heart and voice of the
redeemed shall joyfully confess to the glory of God that 'He hath done
Let this psalm, beloved friends speak continually to us of 'the
affliction of the afflicted' One (ver. 24); and may it awaken our songs
of praise, imparting to them a holy savour befitting the sanctuary of
God and the presence of Christ. His sufferings and sacrificial death
form the everlasting basis of acceptable worship. The Father seeks
worship in spirit and truth. Who can render this save those who know
Christ Jesus and who rest in faith upon His finished work! May we have
the happy experience that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the midst of His
assembly as the Leader and Theme of its praises as often as we remember
that 'He hath done this' and indeed whenever we gather unto His
W. J. Hocking