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Meditations on Lent 2006

 

Introduction to Series of Meditations on  PSALM 22

This psalm 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.

These meditations for the Lenten season of 2006 will stay focused on the Great Events of the Cross and the Resurrection.  Please use these meditations to deepen your relationship to Jesus during this special time.

Ash Wednesday

Psalm 22 is a kind of gem among the Psalms, and is peculiarly excellent and remarkable. It contains those deep, sublime, and heavy sufferings of Christ, when agonizing in the midst of the terrors and pangs of divine wrath and death, which surpass all human thought and comprehension. I know not whether any Psalm throughout the whole book contains matter more weighty, or from which the hearts of the godly can so truly perceive those sighs and groans, inexpressible by man, which their Lord and Head, Jesus Christ, uttered when conflicting for us in the midst of death, and in the midst of the pains and terrors of hell. Wherefore this Psalm ought to be most highly prized by all who have any acquaintance with temptations of faith and spiritual conflicts. -  Martin Luther

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Psalm 22, verse 1 a

This was the startling cry of Golgotha: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. The Jews mocked, but the angels adored when Jesus cried this exceeding bitter cry. Nailed to the tree we behold our great Redeemer in extremities, and what see we? Having ears to hear let us hear, and having eyes to see let us see! Let us gaze with holy wonder, and mark the flashes of light amid the awful darkness of that midday midnight. First, our Lord's faith beams forth and deserves our reverent imitation; he keeps his hold upon his God with both hands and cries twice,

My God, my God! The spirit of adoption was strong within the suffering Son of Man, and he felt no doubt about his interest in his God. Oh that we could imitate this cleaving to an afflicting God! Nor does the sufferer distrust the power of God to sustain him, for the title used -- "El" -- signifies strength, and is the name of the Mighty God. He knows the Lord to be the all sufficient support and succor of his spirit, and therefore appeals to him in the agony of grief, but not in the misery of doubt. He would fain know why he is left, he raises that question and repeats it, but neither the power nor the faithfulness of God does he mistrust. What an enquiry is this before us!

Why hast thou forsaken me? We must lay the emphasis on every word of this saddest of all utterances. "Why?" what is the great cause of such a strange fact as for God to leave his own Son at such a time and in such a plight? There was no cause in him, why then was he deserted? "Hast:" it is done, and the Savior is feeling its dread effect as he asks the question; it is surely true, but how mysterious! It was no threatening of forsaking which made the great Surety cry aloud, he endured that forsaking in very deed. "Thou:" I can understand why traitorous Judas and timid Peter should be gone, but you, my God, my faithful friend, how can you leave me? This is worst of all, yea, worse than all put together. Hell itself has for its fiercest flame the separation of the soul from God. "Forsaken:" if you had chastened I might bear it, for your face would shine; but to forsake me utterly, ah! why is this? "Me:" your innocent, obedient, suffering Son, why leave you me to perish? A sight of self seen by penitence, and of Jesus on the cross seen by faith will best expound this question. Jesus is forsaken because our sins had separated between us and our God.

Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? The Man of Sorrows had prayed until his speech failed him, and he could only utter moanings and groanings as men do in severe sicknesses, like the roarings of a wounded animal. To what extremity of grief was our Master driven? What strong crying and tears were those which made him too hoarse for speech! What must have been his anguish to find his own beloved and trusted Father standing afar off, and neither granting help nor apparently hearing prayer! This was good cause to make him "roar." Yet there was reason for all this which those who rest in Jesus as their Substitute well know.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 325

 1st Thursday of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Psalm 22, verse 1 a

The title of the twenty-second Psalm is Aijeleth Shahar - the morning hart. The whole Psalm refers to Christ, containing much that cannot be applied to another: parting his garments, casting lots for his vesture, etc. He is described as a kindly, meek and beautiful hart, started by the huntsman at the dawn of the day. Herod began hunting him down as soon as he appeared. Poverty, the hatred of men, and the temptation of Satan, joined in the pursuit. There always was some "dog," or "bull," or "unicorn," ready to attack him. After his first sermon the huntsmen gathered about him, but he was too fleet of foot, and escaped. The church had long seen the Messiah "like a roe, or a young hart, upon the mountains," had "heard the voice of her Beloved," and had cried out, "Behold, he cometh, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills;" sometimes he was even seen, with the dawn of the day, in the neighborhood of the temple, and beside the enclosures of the vineyards. The church requested to see him "on the mountains of Bether", and upon "the mountains of spices." The former probably signifying the place of his sufferings, and the latter the sublime acclivities of light, glory, and honor, where the "hart" shall be hunted no more. But in the afternoon, the huntsmen who had been following the "young roe" from early daybreak, had succeeded in driving him to the mountains of Bether.

Christ found Calvary a craggy, jagged, and fearful hill -- "a mountain of division." Here he was driven by the huntsmen to the edges of the awful precipices yawning destruction from below, while he was surrounded and held at bay by all the beasts of prey and monsters of the infernal forest. The "unicorn," and the "bulls of Bashan," gored him with their horns; the great "lion" roared at him; and the "dog" fastened himself upon him. But he foiled them all. In his own time he bowed his head and gave up the ghost. He was buried in a new grave; and his assailants reckoned upon complete victory. They had not considered that he was a "morning hart." Surely enough, at the appointed time, did he escape from the hunter's net, and stand forth on the mountains of Israel ALIVE, and never, NEVER to die again.

Now he is with Mary in the garden, giving evidence of his own resurrection; in a moment he is at Emmaus, encouraging the too timid and bewildered disciples. Nor does it cost him any trouble to go thence to Galilee to his friends, and again to the Mount of Olives, "on the mountains of spices," carrying with him the day dawn, "robed in life and beauty for ever more."

- written by Christmas Evans, 1766-1838

1st Friday of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Psalm 22, verse 1 a

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? We contrast this with John 16:32, "I am not alone, because the Father is with me." That these words in David were notwithstanding the words of Christ, there is no true believer ignorant; yet how cross our Lord's words in John! Answer: - It is one thing to speak out of present sense of misery, another thing to be confident of a never separated Deity. The condition of Christ in respect of his human state (not the divine), is in all outward appearances, like ours; we conceive the saints' condition very lamentable at times, as if God were for ever gone. And Christ (to teach us to cry after God the Father, like children after the mother, whose very stepping but at the door, oftentimes makes the babe believe, and so says that his father is gone for ever), presents in his own sufferings how much he is sensible of ours in that case. As for his divine nature, he and his Father can never sunder in that, and so at no time is he alone, but the Father is always with him.

- written by William Streat, in "The Dividing of the Hoof," 1654

1st Saturday of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Psalm 22, verse 1 a

When Christ complains of having been forsaken by God, we are not to understand that he was forsaken by the First Person, or that there was a dissolution of the hypostatic union, or that he lost the favor and friendship of the Father; but he signifies to us that God permitted his human nature to undergo those dreadful torments, and to suffer an ignominious death, from which he could, if he chose, most easily deliver him. Nor did such complaints proceed either from impatience or ignorance, as if Christ were ignorant of the cause of his suffering, or was not most willing to bear such abandonment in his suffering; such complaints were only a declaration of his most bitter sufferings. And whereas, through the whole course of his passion, with such patience did our Lord suffer, as not to let a single groan or sigh escape from him, so now, lest the bystanders may readily believe that he was rendered impassable by some superior power; therefore, when his last moments were nigh he protests that he is true man, truly passible; forsaken by his Father in his sufferings, the bitterness and acuteness of which he then intimately felt.

-written by Robert Bellarmine (Cardinal), 1542-1621

1st Sunday in Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
Psalm 22, verse 1

Here is comfort to deserted souls; Christ himself was deserted; therefore, if thou be deserted, God deals no otherwise with you than he did with Christ. You may be beloved of God and not feel it; Christ was so, he was beloved of the Father, and yet he had no present sense and feeling of his love. This may be a great comfort to holy souls under the suspension of those comforts and manifestations which sometimes they have felt; Christ himself underwent such a suspension, therefore such a suspension of divine comfort may consist with God's love. You may conclude possibly, "I am a hypocrite, and therefore God has forsaken me;" this is the complaint of some doubting Christians, "I am a hypocrite, and therefore God has forsaken me;" but you have no reason so to conclude: there was no failure in Christ's obedience, and yet Christ was forsaken in point of comfort; therefore desertion, in point of comfort, may consist with truth of grace, yea, with the highest measure of grace; so it did in our Savior.

-written by John Row 1677

Monday in the 1st Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. Psalm 22 v2

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not. For our prayers to appear to be unheard is no new trial, Jesus felt it before us, and it is observable that he still held fast his believing hold on God, and cried still, "My God." On the other hand his faith did not render him less importunate, for amid the hurry and horror of that dismal day he ceased not his cry, even as in Gethsemane he had agonized all through the gloomy night. Our Lord continued to pray even though no comfortable answer came, and in this he set us an example of obedience to his own words, "men ought always to pray, and not to faint." No daylight is too glaring, and no midnight too dark to pray in; and no delay or apparent denial, however grievous, should tempt us to forbear from importunate pleading.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 325

Tuesday in the 1st Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. Psalm 22 v2

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not, etc. How like is this expostulation to that of a human child with its earthly parent! It is based on the ground of relationship -- "I am thine; I cry day and night, yet I am not heard. Thou art my God, yet nothing is done to silence me. In the daytime of my life I cried; in this night season of my death I intreat. In the garden of Gethsemane I occupied the night with prayers; with continual ejaculations have I passed through this eventful morning. O my God, thou hast not yet heard me, therefore am I not yet silent; I cannot cease till thou answerest." Here Christ urges his suit in a manner which none but filial hearts adopt. The child knows that the parent yearns over him. His importunity is strengthened by confidence in paternal love. He keeps not silence, he gives him no rest because he confides in his power and willingness to grant the desired relief. This is natural. It is the argument of the heart, an appeal to the inward yearnings of our nature. It is also scriptural, and is thus stated, "If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke 11:13.

-written by John Stevenson, in "Christ on the Cross", 1842

Wednesday in the 1st Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. Psalm 22 v2

Well, what hears God from him, now he hears nothing from God, as to the deliverance prayed for? No murmuring at God's proceedings; nay, he hears quite the contrary, for he justifies and praises God: But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Observe whether thou canst not gather something from the manner of God's denying the thing prayed for, which may sweeten it to thee! Haply thou shalt find he denies thee, but it is with a smiling countenance, and ushers it in with some expressions of grace and favour, that may assure thee his denial proceeds not from displeasure. As you would do with a dear friend, who, may be, comes to borrow a sum of money of you; lend it you dare not, because you see plainly it is not for his good; but in giving him the denial, lest he should misinterpret it, as proceeding from want of love and respect, you preface it with some kind of language of your hearty affection to him, as that you love him, and therefore deny him, and shall be ready to do for him more than that comes to. Thus God sometimes wraps up his denials in such sweet intimations of love, as prevents all jealousies arising in the hearts of his people.

-written by William Gurnall 1617-1679

Thursday in the 1st Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Ps 22 v3

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. However ill things may look, there is no ill in thee, O God! We are very apt to think and speak hardly of God when we are under his afflicting hand, but not so the obedient Son. He knows too well his Father's goodness to let outward circumstances libel his character. There in no unrighteousness with the God of Jacob, he deserves no censure; let him do what he will, he is to be praised, and to reign enthroned amid the songs of his chosen people. If prayer be unanswered it is not because God is unfaithful, but for some other good and weighty reason. If we cannot perceive any ground for the delay, we must leave the riddle unsolved, but we must not fly in God's face in order to invent an answer. While the holiness of God is in the highest degree acknowledged and adored, the afflicted speaker in this verse seems to marvel how the holy God could forsake him, and be silent to his cries. The argument is, thou art holy, Oh! why is it that thou dost disregard thy holy One in his hour of sharpest anguish? We may not question the holiness of God, but we may argue from it, and use it as a plea in our petitions.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 325-6

Friday in the 1st Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Ps 22 v3

But thou art holy. Here is the triumph of faith -- the Saviour stood like a rock in the wide ocean of temptation. High as the billows rose, so did his faith, like the coral rock, wax greater and stronger till it became an island of salvation to our shipwrecked souls. It is as if he had said, "It matters not what I endure. Storms may howl upon me; men despise; devils tempt; circumstances overpower; and God himself forsake me, still God is holy; there is no unrighteousness in him."

-written by John Stevenson, in "Christ on the Cross", 1842

Does it seem strange that the heart in its darkness and sorrow should find comfort in this attribute of God? No, for God's holiness is but another aspect of his faithfulness and mercy. And in that remarkable name, "the Holy One of Israel", we are taught that he who is the "holy" God is also the God who has made a covenant with his chosen. It would be impossible for an Israelite to think of God's holiness without thinking also of that covenant relationship. "Be ye holy; for I, the Lord your God am holy," were the words in which Israel was reminded of their relation to God. See especially Leviticus 19:1. We see something of this feeling in such passages as Psalms 89:16-19 99:5-9 Hosea 11:8-9; Isaiah 41:14 47:4.

-written by J. J. Stewart Perowne 1864

Saturday in the 1st Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them Ps 22 v4

Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. This is the rule of life with all the chosen family. Three times over is it mentioned, they trusted, and trusted, and trusted, and never left off trusting, for it was their very life; and they fared well too, for thou didst deliver them. Out of all their straits, difficulties, and miseries faith brought them by calling their God to the rescue; but in the case of our Lord it appeared as if faith would bring no assistance from heaven, he alone of all the trusting ones was to remain without deliverance. The experience of other saints may be a great consolation to us when in deep waters if faith can be sure that their deliverance will be ours; but when we feel ourselves sinking, it is poor comfort to know that others are swimming. Our Lord here pleads the past dealings of God with his people as a reason why he should not be left alone; here again he is an example to us in the skilful use of the weapon of all prayer. The use of the plural pronoun "our" shows how one with his people Jesus was even on the cross. We say, "Our Father which art in heaven," and he calls those "our fathers" through whom we came into the world, although he was without father as to the flesh.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 326

Sunday in the 2nd Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them v4
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. Ps 22 v5

They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. As if he had said, "How is it that I am now left without succor in my overwhelming griefs, while all others have been helped?" We may remind the Lord of his former lovingkindnesses to his people, and beseech him to be still the same. This is true wrestling; let us learn the art. Observe, that ancient saints cried and trusted, and that in trouble we must do the same; and the invariable result was that they were not ashamed of their hope, for deliverance came in due time; this same happy portion shall be ours. The prayer of faith can do the deed when nothing else can. Let us wonder when we see Jesus using the same pleas as ourselves, and immersed in griefs far deeper than our own.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 326

Monday in the 2nd Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5
But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Ps 22 v 6

But I am a worm, and no man. This verse is a miracle in language. How could the Lord of glory be brought to such abasement as to be not only lower than the angels, but even lower than men. What a contrast between "I AM" and "I am a worm"! yet such a double nature was found in the person of our Lord Jesus when bleeding upon the tree. He felt himself to be comparable to a helpless, powerless, down trodden worm, passive while crushed, and unnoticed and despised by those who trod upon him. He selects the weakest of creatures, which is all flesh; and becomes, when trodden upon, writhing, quivering flesh, utterly devoid of any might except strength to suffer. This was a true likeness of himself when his body and soul had become a mass of misery -- the very essence of agony -- in the dying pangs of crucifixion. Man by nature is but a worm; but our Lord puts himself even beneath man, on account of the scorn that was heaped upon him and the weakness which he felt, and therefore he adds, "and no man." The privileges and blessings which belonged to the fathers he could not obtain while deserted by God, and common acts of humanity were not allowed him, for he was rejected of men; he was outlawed from the society of earth, and shut out from the smile of heaven. How utterly did the Saviour empty himself of all glory, and become of no reputation for our sakes!

A reproach of men -- their common butt and jest; a byword and a proverb unto them: the sport of the rabble, and the scorn of the rulers. Oh the caustic power of reproach, to those who endure it with patience, yet smart under it most painfully!

And despised of the people. The vox populi was against him. The very people who would once have crowned him then contemned him, and they who were benefited by his cures sneered at him in his woes. Sin is worthy of all reproach and contempt, and for this reason Jesus, the Sin bearer, was given up to be thus unworthily and shamefully entreated.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 326

Tuesday in the 2nd Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5
But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Ps 22 v 6

But I am a worm, and no man. A fisherman, when he casts his angle into the river, doth not throw the hook in bare, naked and uncovered, for then he knows the fish will never bite, and therefore he hides the hook within a worm, or some other bait, and so, the fish, biting at the worm, is caught by the hook. Thus Christ, speaking of himself, saith, "Ego vermis et non homo." He, coming to perform the great work of our redemption, did cover and hide his Godhead within the worm of his human nature. The grand water serpent, Leviathan, the devil, thinking to swallow the worm of his humanity, was caught upon the hook of his divinity. This hook stuck in his jaws, and tore him very sore. By thinking to destroy Christ, he destroyed his own kingdom, and lost his own power for ever.

-written by Lancelot Andrewes. 1555-1626

Wednesday in the 2nd Week of Lent

But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Ps 22 v 6

I am a worm. Christ calls himself "a worm"... on account of the opinion that men of the world had of him... the Jews esteemed Christ as a worm, and treated him as such; he was loathsome to them and hated by them; every one trampled upon him, and trod him under foot as men do worms... The Chaldee paraphrase renders it here a weak worm; and though Christ is the mighty God, and is also the Son of man, whom God made strong for himself; yet there was a weakness in his human nature, and he was crucified through it, 2 Corinthians 13:4: and it has been observed by some, that the word (t[lwt) there used signifies the scarlet worm, or the worm that is in the grain or berry with which scarlet is dyed: and like this scarlet worm did our Lord look, when by way of mockery he was clothed with a scarlet robe; and especially when he appeared in his dyed garments, and was red in his apparel, as one that treadeth in the wine fat; when his body was covered with blood when he hung upon the cross, which was shed to make crimson and scarlet sins as white as snow.

-written by John Gill 1697-1771

Thursday in the 2nd Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5
But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  v 6
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying Ps 22, v7

All they that see me laugh me to scorn. Read the evangelistic narrative of the ridicule endured by the Crucified One, and then consider, in the light of this expression, how it grieved him. The iron entered into his soul. Mockery has for its distinctive description "cruel mockings;" those endured by our Lord were of the most cruel kind. The scornful ridicule of our Lord was universal; all sorts of men were unanimous in the derisive laughter, and vied with each other in insulting him. Priests and people, Jews and Gentiles, soldiers and civilians, all united in the general scoff, and that at the time when he was prostrate in weakness and ready to die. Which shall we wonder at the most, the cruelty of man or the love of the bleeding Saviour? How can we ever complain of ridicule after this?

They shoot out the lip, they shake the head. These were gestures of contempt. Pouting, grinning, shaking of the head, thrusting out of the tongue, and other modes of derision were endured by our patient Lord; men made faces at him before whom angels vail their faces and adore. The basest signs of disgrace which disdain could devise were maliciously cast at him. They punned upon his prayers, they made matter for laughter of his sufferings, and set him utterly at nought. Herbert sings of our Lord as saying, --

"Shame tears my soul, my body many a wound; Sharp nails pierce this, but sharper that confound;
Reproaches which are free, while I am bound.

Was ever grief like mine?"

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 327

Friday in the 2nd Week of Lent

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying Ps 22, v7

All they that see me laugh me to scorn, etc. Imagine this dreadful scene. Behold this motley multitude of rich and poor, of Jews and Gentiles! Some stand in groups and gaze. Some recline at ease and stare. Others move about in restless gratification at the event. There is a look of satisfaction on every countenance. None are silent. The velocity of speech seems tardy. The theme is far too great for one member to utter. Every lip, and head, and finger, is now a tongue. The rough soldiers, too, are busied in their coarse way. The work of blood is over. Refreshment has become necessary. Their usual beverage of vinegar and water is supplied to them. As they severally are satisfied, they approach the cross, hold some forth to the Saviour, and bid him drink as they withdraw it. Luke 23:36. They know he must be suffering an intense thirst, they therefore aggravate it with the mockery of refreshment. Cruel Romans! and ye, O regicidal Jews! Was not death enough? Must mockery and scorn be added? On this sad day Christ made you one indeed! Dreadful unity -- which constituted you the joint mockers and murderers of the Lord of glory!

-written by John Stevenson, in "Christ on the Cross", 1842

Saturday in the 2nd Week of Lent

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying Ps 22, v7

It was after his crucifixion, and during the hours that he hung upon the cross, that his sufferings in this way -- the torment of beholding and hearing the scorn and mockery which was made of the truth of his person and doctrine -- exceedingly abounded, and in such and so many kinds of mockery and insult that some consider this to have been the chief pain and sorrow which he endured in his most sacred passion. For as, generally, those things are considered the most painful to endure of which we are most sensible, so it seems to these persons, that sufferings of this kind contain in them more cause for feeling than any other sufferings. And, therefore, although all the torments of the Lord were very great, so that each one appears the greatest, and no comparison can be made between them; yet, nevertheless, this kind of suffering appears to be the most painful. Because in other troubles, not only the pain and suffering of them, but the troubles themselves, in themselves, may be desired by us, and such as we suffer for love's sake, in order by them to evince that love. Wherefore, the stripes, the crown of thorns, the buffetings, the cross, the gall, the vinegar, and other bodily torments, besides that they torment the body, are often a means for promoting the divine honour, which it holds in esteem above all else. But to blaspheme God, to give the lie to eternal truths, to deface the supreme demonstration of the divinity and majesty of the Son of God (although God knows how to extract from these things the good which he intends), nevertheless are, in their nature, things, which, from their so greatly affecting the divine honour, although they may be, for just considerations, endured, can never be desired by any one, but must be abhorrent to all. Our Lord then, being, of all, the most zealous for the divine honour, for which he also died, found in this kind of suffering, more than in all other, much to abhor and nothing to desire. Therefore with good reason it may be held to be the greatest of all, and that in which, more than in all other, he exhibited the greatest suffering and patience.

-writen by Fra Thome de Jesu, in "The Sufferings of Jesus," 1869

Sunday in the 3rd Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4
They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5
But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  v 6
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying  v7
He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. Ps 22 v8

Saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. Here the taunt is cruelly aimed at the sufferer's faith in God, which is the most tender point in a good man's soul, the very apple of his eye. They must have learned the diabolical art from Satan himself, for they made rare proficiency in it. According to Matthew 27:39-44, there were five forms of taunt hurled at the Lord Jesus; this special piece of mockery is probably mentioned in this psalm because it is the most bitter of the whole; it has a biting, sarcastic irony in it, which gives it a peculiar venom; it must have stung the Man of Sorrows to the quick. When we are tormented in the same manner, let us remember him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, and we shall be comforted. On reading these verses one is ready, with Trapp, to ask, Is this a prophecy or a history? for the description is so accurate. We must not lose sight of the truth which was unwittingly uttered by the Jewish scoffers. They themselves are witnesses that Jesus of Nazareth trusted in God: why then was he permitted to perish? Jehovah had aforetime delivered those who rolled their burdens upon him: why was this man deserted? Oh that they had understood the answer! Note further, that their ironical jest, seeing he delighted in him, was true. The Lord did delight in his dear Son, and when he was found in fashion as a man, and became obedient unto death, he still was well pleased with him. Strange mixture! Jehovah delights in him, and yet bruises him; is well pleased, and yet slays him.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 327

Monday in the 3rd Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5  But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  v 6 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying  v7 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  v8
But Thou art he that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breast, v9 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. Psalm 22 v10

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.

I was cast upon thee from the womb. (v 10) Into the Almighty arms he was first received, as into those of a loving parent. This is a sweet thought. God begins his care over us from the earliest hour. We are dandled upon the knee of mercy, and cherished in the lap of goodness; our cradle is canopied by divine love, and our first totterings are guided by his care.

Thou art my God from my mother's belly. The psalm begins with "My God, my God", and here, not only is the claim repeated, but its early date is urged. Oh noble perseverance of faith, thus to continue pleading with holy ingenuity of argument! Our birth was our weakest and most perilous period of existence; if we were then secured by Omnipotent tenderness, surely we have no cause to suspect that divine goodness will fail us now. He who was our God when we left our mother, will be with us till we return to mother earth, and will keep us from perishing in the belly of hell.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 327

Tuesday in the 3rd Week of Lent

But Thou art he that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breast, v9 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. Psalm 22 v10

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.

-
written by Martin Luther

I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. There is a noble passage in Eusebius, in which he shows the connection between our Lord's incarnation and his passion: that he might well comfort himself while hanging on the cross by the remembrance that the very same body then "marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men" (Isaiah 52:14), was that which had been glorified by the Father with such singular honour, when the Holy Ghost came upon Mary, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her. That this body, therefore, though now so torn and so mangled, as it had once been the wonder, so it would for ever be the joy, of the angels; and having put on immortality, would be the support of his faithful people to the end of time.

-written by J. M. Neale, 1860

Wednesday in the 3rd Week of Lent

But Thou art he that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breast, v9 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. Psalm 22 v10

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."

-written by John Stevenson, in "Christ on the Cross", 1842

Thursday in the 3rd Week of Lent

Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Ps 22, v 11

The crucified Son of David continues to pour out his complaint and prayer. We need much grace that while reading we may have fellowship with his sufferings. May the blessed Spirit conduct us into a most clear and affecting sight of our Redeemer's woes.

Be not far from me. This is the petition for which he has been using such varied and powerful pleas. His great woe was that God had forsaken him, his great prayer is that he would be near him. A lively sense of the divine presence is a mighty stay to the heart in times of distress.

For trouble is near; for there is none to help. There are two "fors," as though faith gave a double knock at mercy's gate; that is a powerful prayer which is full of holy reasons and thoughtful arguments. The nearness of trouble is a weighty motive for divine help; this moves our heavenly Father's heart, and brings down his helping hand. It is his glory to be our very present help in trouble. Our Substitute had trouble in his inmost heart, for he said, "the waters have come in, even unto my soul;" well might he cry, "be not far from me." The absence of all other helpers is another telling plea. In our Lord's case none either could or would help him, it was needful that he should tread the winepress alone; yet was it a sore aggravation to find that all his disciples had forsaken him, and lover and friend were put far from him. There is an awfulness about absolute friendlessness which is crushing to the human mind, for man was not made to be alone, and is like a dismembered limb when he has to endure heart loneliness.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 328

Friday in the 3rd Week of Lent

Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. Ps 22: 12

The mighty ones in the crowd are here marked by the tearful eye of their victim. The priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees, rulers, and captains bellowed round the cross like wild cattle, fed in the fat and solitary pastures of Bashan, full of strength and fury; they stamped and foamed around the innocent One, and longed to gore him to death with their cruelties. Conceive of the Lord Jesus as a helpless, unarmed, naked man, cast into the midst of a herd of infuriated wild bulls. They were brutal as bulls, many, and strong, and the Rejected One was all alone, and bound naked to the tree. His position throws great force into the earnest entreaty, "Be not far from me."  -taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 328

Strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. These animals are remarkable for the proud, fierce, and sullen manner in which they exercise their great strength. Such were the persecutors who now beset our Lord. These were first, human, and secondly, spiritual foes; and both were alike distinguished by the proud, fierce, and sullen manner in which they assaulted him.  -written by John Stevenson, in "Christ on the Cross", 1842

Saturday in the 3rd Week of Lent

They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. Ps 22:13

They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. Like hungry cannibals they opened their blasphemous mouths as if they were about to swallow the man whom they abhorred. They could not vomit forth their anger fast enough through the ordinary aperture of their mouths, and therefore set the doors of their lips wide open like those who gape. Like roaring lions they howled out their fury, and longed to tear the Saviour in pieces, as wild beasts raven over their prey. Our Lord's faith must have passed through a most severe conflict while he found himself abandoned to the tender mercies of the wicked, but he came off victorious by prayer; the very dangers to which he was exposed being used to add prevalence to his entreaties.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 328-9

Sunday in the 4th Week of Lent

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. Ps 22:14

Turning from his enemies, our Lord describes his own personal condition in language which should bring the tears into every loving eye.

I am poured out like water. He was utterly spent, like water poured upon the earth; his heart failed him, and had no more firmness in it than running water, and his whole being was made a sacrifice, like a libation poured out before the Lord. He had long been a fountain of tears; in Gethsemane his heart welled over in sweat, and on the cross he gushed forth with blood; he poured out his strength and spirit, so that he was reduced to the most feeble and exhausted state.

All my bones are out of joint, as if distended upon a rack. Is it not most probable that the fastenings of the hands and feet, and the jar occasioned by fixing the cross in the earth, may have dislocated the bones of the Crucified One? If this is not intended, we must refer the expression to that extreme weakness which would occasion relaxation of the muscles and a general sense of parting asunder throughout the whole system.

My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. Excessive debility and intense pain made his inmost life to feel like wax melted in the heat. The Greek liturgy uses the expression, "thine unknown sufferings", and well it may. The fire of Almighty wrath would have consumed our souls for ever in hell; it was no light work to bear as a substitute the heat of an anger so justly terrible. Dr. Gill wisely observes, "if the heart of Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, melted at it, what heart can endure, or hands be strong, when God deals with them in his wrath?"

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 329

Monday in the 4th Week of Lent

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. Ps 22:14

He was faint. Such a feeling of languor and faintness supervened that language fails to express it, and the emblem of "water poured out" is employed to represent it. As the water falls from the vessel to the earth, see how its particles separate farther and farther from each other. Its velocity increases as it falls. It has no power to stay itself midway, much less to return to its place. It is the very picture of utter weakness. So did our Lord feel himself to be when hanging on the cross. He was faint with weakness. The sensations experienced when about to faint away are very overpowering. We appear to our own consciousness to be nothing but weakness, as water poured out. All our bones feel relaxed and out of joint; we seem as though we had none. The strength of bone is gone, the knitting of the joints is loosened, and the muscular vigour fled. A sickly giddiness overcomes us. We have no power to bear up. All heart is lost. Our strength disappears like that of wax, of melting wax, which drops upon surrounding objects, and is lost. Daniel thus describes his sensations on beholding the great vision, "There remained no strength in me: for my vigour was turned into corruption, and I retained no strength." Daniel 10:8. In regard, however, to the faintness which our Lord experienced, we ought to notice this additional and remarkable circumstance, that he did not altogether faint away. The relief of insensibility he refused to take. When consciousness ceases, all perception of pain is necessarily and instantly terminated. But our Lord retained his full consciousness throughout the awful scene; and patiently endured for a considerable period, those, to us, insupportable sensations which precede the actual swoon.

-written by John Stevenson, in "Christ on the Cross", 1842

Tuesday in the 4th Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5  But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  v 6 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying  v7 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  v8  But Thou art he that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breast, v9 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. v10 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. v 11 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. v12 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. v 13  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. v14
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you have brought me into the dust of death. Ps 22: 15

Most complete debility is here portrayed; Jesus likens himself to a broken piece of earthenware, or an earthen pot, baked in the fire till the last particle of moisture is driven out of the clay. No doubt a high degree of feverish burning afflicted the body of our Lord. All his strength was dried up in the tremendous flames of avenging justice, even as the paschal lamb was roasted in the fire.

My tongue cleaveth to my jaws; thirst and fever fastened his tongue to his jaws. Dryness and a horrible clamminess tormented his mouth, so that he could scarcely speak.

Thou hast brought me into the dust of death; so tormented in every single part as to feel dissolved into separate atoms, and each atom full of misery; the full price of our redemption was paid, and no part of the Surety's body or soul escaped its share of agony. The words may set forth Jesus as having wrestled with Death until he rolled into the dust with his antagonist. Behold the humiliation of the Son of God! The Lord of Glory stoops to the dust of death. Amid the mouldering relics of mortality Jesus condescends to lodge! Bishop Mant's version of the two preceding verses is forcible and accurate:

"Poured forth like water is my frame;
My bones asunder start; As wax that feels the searching flame, Within me melts my heart."
"My withered sinews shrink unstrung Like potsherd dried and dead: Cleaves to my jaws my burning tongue The dust of death my bed."

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 329

Wednesday in the 4th Week of Lent

My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you have brough me into the dust of death. Ps 22: 15

Inflammation must have commenced early and violently in the wounded parts -- then been quickly imparted to those that were strained, and have terminated in a high degree of feverish burning over the whole body. The animal juices would be thus dried up, and the watery particles of the blood absorbed. The skin parched by the scorching sun till midday would be unable to supply or to imbibe any moisture. The loss of blood at the hands and feet would hasten the desiccation. Hence our Lord says, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws." The fever would devour his small remaining strength. And THIRST, that most intolerable of all bodily privations, must have been overpowering. His body appeared to his feeling like a potsherd that had been charred in the potter's kiln. It seemed to have neither strength nor substance left in it. So feeble had he become, so parched and dried up that CLAMMINESS OF THE MOUTH, one of the forerunners of immediate dissolution, had already seized him; "My tongue cleaves to my jaws, and thou hast brought me into the dust of death." -written by John Stevenson, in "Christ on the Cross", 1842

A potsherd is a word which denotes a piece of earthenware, frequently in a broken state. As employed in the verse under consideration, it seems to derive considerable illustration from the corresponding word in ARABIC, which expresses roughness of skin, and might well convey to the mind the idea of the bodily appearance of one in whom the moisture of the fluids had been dried up by the excess of grief.
-written by John Morison, 1829

Thursday in the 4th Week of Lent

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. Ps 22: 16

We are to understand every item of this sad description as being urged by the Lord Jesus as a plea for divine help; and this will give us a high idea of his perseverance in prayer.

For dogs have compassed me. Here he marks the more ignoble crowd, who, while less strong than their brutal leaders, were not less ferocious, for there they were howling and barking like unclean and hungry dogs. Hunters frequently surround their game with a circle, and gradually encompass them with an ever narrowing ring of dogs and men. Such a picture is before us. In the centre stands, not a panting stag, but a bleeding, fainting man, and around him are the enraged and unpitying wretches who have hounded him to his doom. Here we have the "hind of the morning" of whom the psalm so plaintively sings, hunted by bloodhounds, all thirsting to devour him.

The assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: thus the Jewish people were unchurched, and that which called itself an assembly of the righteous is justly for its sins marked upon the forehead as an assembly of the wicked. This is not the only occasion when professed churches of God have become synagogues of Satan, and have persecuted the Holy One and the Just.

They pierced my hands and my feet. This can by no means refer to David, or to any one but Jesus of Nazareth, the once crucified but now exalted Son of God. Pause, dear reader, and view the wounds of thy Redeemer.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 329-30

Friday in the 4th Week of Lent

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. Ps 22: 16

Dogs have compassed me. So great and varied was the malignity exhibited by the enemies of our Lord, that the combined characteristics of two species of ferocious animals were not adequate to its representation. Another emblematical figure is therefore introduced. The assembly of the wicked is compared to that of "dogs" who haunt about the cities, prowl in every corner, snarl over the carrion, and devour it all with greediness - - like "dogs", with their wild cry in full pursuit, with unfailing scent tracking their victim, with vigilant eye on all its movements, and with a determination which nothing can falter, they run it on to death. The Oriental mode of hunting, both in ancient and modern times, is murderous and merciless in the extreme. A circle of several miles in circumference is beat round; and the men, driving all before them, and narrowing as they advance, inclose the prey on every side. Having thus made them prisoners, the cruel hunters proceed to slaughter at their own convenience. So did the enemies of our Lord: long before his crucifixion it is recorded that they used the most treacherous plans to get him into their power.

They pierced my hands and my feet. Of all sanguinary punishments, that of crucifixion is one of the most dreadful -- no vital part is immediately affected by it. The hands and the feet which are furnished with the most numerous and sensitive organs, are perforated with nails, which must necessarily be of some size to suit their intended purpose. The tearing asunder of the tender fibres of the hands and feet, the lacerating of so many nerves, and bursting so many blood vessels, must be productive of intense agony. The nerves of the hand and foot are intimately connected, through the arm and leg, with the nerves of the whole body; their laceration therefore must be felt over the entire frame. Witness the melancholy result of even a needle's puncture in even one of the remotest nerves. A spasm is not infrequently produced by it in the muscles of the face, which locks the jaws inseparably. When, therefore the hands and feet of our blessed Lord were transfixed with nails, he must have felt the sharpest pangs shoot through every part of his body. Supported only by his lacerated limbs, and suspended from his pierced hands, our Lord had nearly six hours' torment to endure.

-written by John Stevenson, in "Christ on the Cross", 1842

Saturday in the 4th Week of Lent

I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. Ps 22: 17

So emaciated was Jesus by his fastings and sufferings that he says, I may tell all my bones. He could count and recount them. The posture of the body on the cross, Bishop Horne thinks, would so distend the flesh and skin as to make the bones visible, so that they might be numbered. The zeal of his Father's house had eaten him up; like a good soldier he had endured hardness. Oh that we cared less for the body's enjoyment and ease and more for our Father's business! It were better to count the bones of an emaciated body than to bring leanness into our souls.

They look and stare upon me. Unholy eyes gazed insultingly upon the Saviours's nakedness, and shocked the sacred delicacy of his holy soul. The sight of the agonizing body ought to have ensured sympathy from the throng, but it only increased their savage mirth, as they gloated their cruel eyes upon his miseries. Let us blush for human nature, and mourn in sympathy with our Redeemer's shame. The first Adam made us all naked, and therefore the second Adam became naked that he might clothe our naked souls.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 330

Sunday in the 5th Week of Lent

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. Ps 22:18

The garments of the executed were the perquisites of the executioners in most cases, but it was not often that they cast lots at the division of the spoil; this incident shows how clearly David in vision saw the day of Christ, and how surely the Man of Nazareth is he of whom the prophets spake: "these things, therefore, the soldiers did." He who gave his blood to cleanse us gave his garments to clothe us. As Ness says, "this precious Lamb of God gave up his golden fleece for us." How every incident of Jesus' griefs is here stored up in the treasury of inspiration, and embalmed in the amber of sacred song; we must learn hence to be very mindful of all that concerns our Beloved, and to think much more of everything which has a connection with him. It may be noted that the habit of gambling is of all others the most hardening, for men could practise it even at the cross foot while besprinkled with the blood of the Crucified. No Christian will endure the rattle of the dice when he thinks of this.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 330

Monday in the 5th Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5  But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  v 6 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying  v7 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  v8  But Thou art he that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breast, v9 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. v10 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. v 11 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. v12 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. v 13  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. v14 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you have brought me into the dust of death. v15 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. v16 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. v17
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. Ps 22:18


Instruments will not be wanting to crucify Christ, if it were but for his old clothes, and those but little worth; for these soldiers crucify him, though they got but his garments for their reward. Christ did submit to suffer naked, hereby to teach us:

That all flesh are really naked before God by reason of sin (Ex 32:25 2 Chronicles 28:19), and therefore our Surety behoved to suffer naked.

That he offered himself a real captive in his sufferings, that so he might fully satisfy justice by being under the power of his enemies, till he redeemed himself by the strong hand, having fully paid the price; for therefore did he submit to be stripped naked, as conquerors use to do with prisoners.

That by thus suffering naked he would expiate our abuse of apparel, and purchase to us a liberty to make use of suitable raiment, and such as becometh us in our station.

That by this suffering naked he would purchase unto them who flee to him, to be covered with righteousness and glory, and to walk with him in white for ever, and would point out the nakedness of those, who, not being found clothed with his righteousness, shall not be clothed upon with immortality and glory. 2 Corinthians 5:2-3.

He would also by this, teach all his followers to resolve on nakedness in their following of him, as a part of their conformity with their Head (1 John 4:17 Romans 8:35 Hebrews 11:37), and that therefore they should not dote much on their apparel when they have it.

-written by George Hutcheson - 1657

Tuesday in the 5th Week of Lent

But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Ps 22:19

But be thou not far from me, O Lord. Invincible faith returns to the charge, and uses the same means, viz., importunate prayer. He repeats the petition so piteously offered before. He wants nothing but his God, even in his lowest state. He does not ask for the most comfortable or nearest presence of God, he will be content if he is not far from him; humble requests speed at the throne.

O my strength, haste thee to help me. Hard cases need timely aid: when necessity justifies it we may be urgent with God as to time, and cry, "make haste;" but we must not do this out of wilfulness. Mark how in the last degree of personal weakness he calls the Lord my strength; after this fashion the believer can sing, "when I am weak, then am I strong."

-
taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 330

Wednesday in the 5th Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5  But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  v 6 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying  v7 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  v8  But Thou art he that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breast, v9 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. v10 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. v 11 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. v12 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. v 13  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. v14 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you have brought me into the dust of death. v15 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. v16 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. v17 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. v18 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. v19
Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Ps 22:20

Deliver my soul from the sword. By the sword is probably meant entire destruction, which as a man he dreaded; or perhaps he sought deliverance from the enemies around him, who were like a sharp and deadly sword to him. The Lord had said, "Awake, O sword", and now from the terror of that sword the Shepherd would fain be delivered as soon as justice should see fit.

My darling from the power of the dog. Meaning his soul, his life, which is most dear to every man. The original is, "my only one," and therefore is our soul dear, because it is our only soul. Would that all men made their souls their darlings, but many treat them as if they were not worth so much as the mire of the streets. The dog may mean Satan, that infernal Cerberus, that cursed and cursing cur; or else the whole company of Christ's foes, who though many in number were as unanimous as if there were but one, and with one consent sought to rend him in pieces. If Jesus cried for help against the dog of hell, much more may we. "Cave canem", beware of the dog, for his power is great, and only God can deliver us from him. When he fawns upon us, we must not put ourselves in his power; and when he howls at us, we may remember that God holds him with a chain.


-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 330

Thursday in the 5th Week of Lent

Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Ps 22:20

My darling had better be rendered "my lonely, or solitary one." For he wishes to say that his soul was lonely and forsaken by all, and that there was no one who sought after him as a friend, or cared for him, or comforted him: as we have it, Psalms 142:4, "Refuge failed me; no one cared for my soul; I looked on my right hand, but there was no one who would know me;" that is, solitude is of itself a certain cross, and especially so in such great torments, in which it is most grievous to be immersed without an example and without a companion. And yet, in such a state, everyone of us must be, in some suffering or other, and especially in that of death; and we must be brought to cry out with Psalms 25:16, "Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me, for I am desolate and afflicted." - written by Martin Luther.

Verse 20. The dog. It is scarcely possible
for a European to form an idea of the intolerable nuisance occasioned in the villages and cities of the East, by the multitudes of dogs that infest the streets. The natives, accustomed from their earliest years to the annoyance, come to be regardless of it; but to a stranger, these creatures are the greatest plague to which he is subjected; for as they are never allowed to enter a house, and do not constitute the property of any particular owner, they display none of those habits of which the domesticated species among us are found susceptible, and are destitute of all those social qualities which often render the dog the trusty and attached friend of man... The race seems wholly to degenerate in the warm regions of the East, and to approximate to the character of beasts of prey, as in disposition they are ferocious, cunning, bloodthirsty, and possessed of the most insatiable voracity: and even in their very form there is something repulsive; their sharp and savage features; their wolf like eyes; their long hanging ears; their straight and pointed tails; their lank and emaciated forms, almost entirely without a belly, give them an appearance of wretchedness and degradation, that stands in sad contrast with the general condition and qualities of the breed in Europe... These hideous creatures, dreaded by the people for their ferocity, or avoided by them as useless and unclean, are obliged to prowl about everywhere in search of a precarious existence... They generally run in bands, and their natural ferocity, inflamed by hunger, and the consciousness of strength, makes them the most troublesome and dangerous visitors to the stranger who unexpectedly finds himself in their neighbourhood, as they will not scruple to seize whatever he may have about him, and even, in the event of his falling, and being otherwise defenceless, to attack and devour him... These animals, driven by hunger, greedily devour everything that comes in their way; they glut themselves with the most putrid and loathsome substances that are thrown about the cities, and of nothing are they so fond as of human flesh, a repast, with which the barbarity of the despotic countries of Asia frequently supplies them, as the bodies of criminals slain for murder, treason, or violence, are seldom buried, and lie exposed till the mangled fragments are carried off by the dogs.

- From "Illustrations of Scripture, by the late Professor George Paxton, D.D., revised and enlarged by Robert Jamieson," 1843.

Friday in the 5th Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5  But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  v 6 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying  v7 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  v8  But Thou art he that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breast, v9 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. v10 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. v 11 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. v12 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. v 13  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. v14 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you have brought me into the dust of death. v15 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. v16 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. v17 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. v18 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. v19 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. v20
Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. Ps 22:21

Having experienced deliverance in the past from great enemies, who were strong as the unicorns, the Redeemer utters his last cry for rescue from death, which is fierce and mighty as the lion. This prayer was heard, and the gloom of the cross departed. Thus faith, though sorely beaten, and even cast beneath the feet of her enemy, ultimately wins the victory. It was so in our Head, it shall be so in all the members. We have overcome the unicorn, we shall conquer the lion, and from both lion and unicorn we shall take the crown. -taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 331

Save me from the lion's mouth.
Satan is called a lion, and that fitly; for he hath all the properties of the lion: as bold as a lion, as strong as a lion, as furious as a lion, as terrible as the roaring of a lion. Yea, worse: the lion wants subtlety and suspicion; herein the devil is beyond the lion. The lion will spare the prostrate, the devil spares none. The lion is full and forbears, the devil is full and devours. He seeks all; let not the simple say, He will take no notice of me; nor the subtle, He cannot overreach me; nor the noble say, He will not presume to meddle with me; nor the rich, He dares not contest with me; for he seeks to devour all. He is our common adversary, therefore let us cease all quarrels amongst ourselves, and fight with him.
- written byThomas Adams

Save me... from the horns of the unicorns
On turning to the Jewish Bible we find that the word (~ar) is translated as buffalo, and there is no doubt that this rendering is nearly the correct one, and at the present day naturalists are nearly agreed that the reem of the Old Testament must have been now the extinct urus...The presence of these horns affords a remarkable confirmation to a well known passage in Julias Caesar's familiar "Commentaries." The uri are little inferior to elephants in size (magnitudine paulo infra elephantos;) but are bulls in their nature, colour, and figure. Great is their strength, and great their swiftness; nor do they spare man or beast when they have caught sight of them.
-written byJ. G. Wood, M.A., F.L.S., in "Bible Animals." 1869

Saturday in the 5th Week of Lent

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? v1  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. v2  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. v3 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. v4  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  v5  But I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  v 6 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying  v7 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  v8  But Thou art he that took me out of the womb: Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breast, v9 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. v10 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. v 11 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. v12 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. v 13  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. v14 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you have brought me into the dust of death. v15 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. v16 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. v17 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. v18 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. v19 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. v20  Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. v21
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ps 22:22

The transition is very marked; from a horrible tempest all is changed into calm. The darkness of Calvary at length passed away from the face of nature, and from the soul of the Redeemer, and beholding the light of his triumph and its future results the Savior smiled. We have followed him through the gloom, let us attend him in the returning light. It will be well still to regard the words as a part of our Lord's soliloquy upon the cross, uttered in his mind during the last few moments before his death.

I will declare thy name unto my brethren.
The delights of Jesus are always with his church, and hence his thoughts, after much distraction, return at the first moment of relief to their usual channel; he forms fresh designs for the benefit of his beloved ones. He is not ashamed to call them brethren, "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." Among his first resurrection words were these, "Go to my brethren." In the verse before us, Jesus anticipates happiness in having communication with his people; he purposes to be their teacher and minister, and fixes his mind upon the subject of his discourse. The name, i.e., the character and conduct of God are by Jesus Christ's gospel proclaimed to all the holy brotherhood; they behold the fulness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in him, and rejoice greatly to see all the infinite perfections manifested in one who is bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. What a precious subject is the name of our God! It is the only one worthy of the only Begotten, whose meat and drink it was to do the Father's will. We may learn from this resolution of our Lord, that one of the most excellent methods of showing our thankfulness for deliverances is to tell to our brethren what the Lord has done for us. We mention our sorrows readily enough; why are we so slow in declaring our deliverances?

In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Not in a little household gathering merely does our Lord resolve to proclaim his Father's love, but in the great assemblies of his saints, and in the general assembly and church of the firstborn. This the Lord Jesus is always doing by his representatives, who are the heralds of salvation, and labor to praise God. In the great universal church Jesus is the One authoritative teacher, and all others, so far as they are worthy to be called teachers, are nothing but echoes of his voice. Jesus, in this second sentence, reveals his object in declaring the divine name, it is that God may be praised; the church continually magnifies Jehovah for manifesting himself in the person of Jesus, and Jesus himself leads the song, and is both presenter and preacher in his church. Delightful are the seasons when Jesus communes with our hearts concerning divine truth; joyful praise is the sure result.

-
taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 331

Palm Sunday

Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. Ps 22:23

Ye that fear the Lord praise him. The reader must imagine the Saviour as addressing the congregation of the saints. He exhorts the faithful to unite with him in thanksgiving. The description of "fearing the Lord" is very frequent and very instructive; it is the beginning of wisdom, and is an essential sign of grace. "I am a Hebrew and I fear God" was Jonah's confession of faith. Humble awe of God is so necessary a preparation for praising him that none are fit to sing to his honour but such as reverence his word; but this fear is consistent with the highest joy, and is not to be confounded with legal bondage, which is a fear which perfect love casteth out. Holy fear should always keep the key of the singing pew. Where Jesus leads the tune none but holy lips may dare to sing.

All ye the seed of Jacob glorify him. The genius of the gospel is praise. Jew and Gentile saved by sovereign grace should be eager in the blessed work of magnifying the God of our salvation. All saints should unite in the song; no tongue may be silent, no heart may be cold. Christ calls us to glorify God, and can we refuse?

And fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. The spiritual Israel all do this, and we hope the day will come when Israel after the flesh will be brought to the same mind. The more we praise God the more reverently shall we fear him, and the deeper our reverence the sweeter our songs. So much does Jesus value praise that we have it here under his dying hand and seal that all the saints must glorify the Lord.

-
taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 332

Monday in Holy Week

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. Ps 22:24

Here is good matter and motive for praise. The experience of our covenant Head and Representative should encourage all of us to bless the God of grace. Never was man so afflicted as our Saviour in body and soul from friends and foes, by heaven and hell, in life and death; he was the foremost in the ranks of the afflicted, but all those afflictions were sent in love, and not because his Father despised and abhorred him. It is true that justice demanded that Christ should bear the burden which as a substitute he undertook to carry, but Jehovah always loved him, and in love laid that load upon him with a view to his ultimate glory and to the accomplishment of the dearest wish of his heart. Under all his woes our Lord was honourable in the Father's sight, the matchless jewel of Jehovah's heart.

Neither hath he hid his face from him. That is to say, the hiding was but temporary, and was soon removed; it was not final and eternal.

But when he cried unto him, he heard. Jesus was heard in that he feared. He cried in extremis and de profundis, and was speedily answered; he therefore bids his people join him in singing a Gloria in excelsis.

Every child of God should seek refreshment for his faith in this testimony of the Man of Sorrows. What Jesus here witnesses is as true today as when it was first written. It shall never be said that any man's affliction or poverty prevented his being an accepted suppliant at Jehovah's throne of grace. The meanest applicant is welcome at mercy's door:

"None that approach his throne shall find A God unfaithful or unkind."

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 332

For he hath not despised nor abhorred the prayer of the poor, neither hath he hid his face from me; but when I cried unto him, he heard me. Let him, therefore, that desires to be of the seed of Israel, and to rejoice in the grace of the gospel, become poor, for this is a fixed truth, our God is one that has respect unto the poor! And observe the fulness and diligence of the prophet. He was not content with having said "will not despise", but adds, "and will not abhor;" and, again, "will not turn away his face;" and again, "will hear." And then he adds himself as an example, saying, "When I cried", as our translation has it. As if he had said, "Behold ye, and learn by my example, who have been made the most vile of all men, and numbered among the wicked; when I was despised, cast out, rejected, behold! I was held in the highest esteem, and taken up, and heard. Let not this state of things, therefore, after this, my encouraging example, frighten you; the gospel requires a man to be such a character before it will save him. These things, I say, because our weakness requires so much exhortation, that it might not dread being humbled, nor despair when humbled, and thus might, after the bearing of the cross, receive the salvation."

-written by Martin Luther

Tuesday in Holy Week

My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. Ps 22:25

My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation. The one subject of our Master's song is the Lord alone. The Lord and the Lord only is the theme which the believer handleth when he gives himself to imitate Jesus in praise. The word in the original is "from thee", -- true praise is of celestial origin. The rarest harmonies of music are nothing unless they are sincerely consecrated to God by hearts sanctified by the Spirit. The clerk says, "Let us sing to the praise and glory of God;" but the choir often sing to the praise and glory of themselves. Oh when shall our service of song be a pure offering? Observe in this verse how Jesus loves the public praises of the saints, and thinks with pleasure of the great congregation. It would be wicked on our part to despise the twos and threes; but, on the other hand, let not the little companies snarl at the greater assemblies as though they were necessarily less pure and less approved, for Jesus loves the praise of the great congregation.

I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
Jesus dedicates himself anew to the carrying out of the divine purpose in fulfilment of his vows made in anguish. Did our Lord when he ascended to the skies proclaim amid the redeemed in glory the goodness of Jehovah? And was that the vow here meant? Undoubtedly the publication of the gospel is the constant fulfilment of covenant engagements made by our Surety in the councils of eternity. Messiah vowed to build up a spiritual temple for the Lord, and he will surely keep his word.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 332

Wednesday in Holy Week

The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. Ps 22:26

The meek shall eat and be satisfied. Mark how the dying Lover of our souls solaces himself with the result of his death. The spiritually poor find a feast in Jesus, they feed upon him to the satisfaction of their hearts, they were famished until he gave himself for them, but now they are filled with royal dainties. The thought of the joy of his people gave comfort to our expiring Lord. Note the characters who partake of the benefit of his passion; "the meek," the humble and lowly. Lord, make us so. Note also the certainty that gospel provisions shall not be wasted, "they shall eat;" and the sure result of such eating, "and be satisfied."

They shall praise the Lord that seek him.
For a while they may keep a fast, but their thanksgiving days must and shall come.

Your heart shall live for ever.
Your spirits shall not fail through trial, you shall not die of grief, immortal joys shall be your portion. Thus Jesus speaks even from the cross to the troubled seeker. If his dying words are so assuring, what consolation may we not find in the truth that he ever liveth to make intercession for us! They who eat at Jesus' table receive the fulfilment of the promise, "Whosoever eateth of this bread shall live for ever."

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 332

The meek shall eat and be satisfied:
they shall praise the Lord that seek him; your heart shall live for ever. A spiritual banquet is prepared in the church for the "meek" and lowly in heart. The death of Christ was the sacrifice for sin; his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed. The poor in spirit feed on this provision, in their hearts by faith, and are satisfied; and thus, whilst they "seek" the Lord, they "praise" him also, and their "hearts" (or souls), are preserved unto eternal life.

-from the Practical Illustrations of the "Book of Psalms", 1826

Thursday in Holy Week

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Ps 22:27

In reading this verse one is struck with the Messiah's missionary spirit. It is evidently his grand consolation that Jehovah will be known throughout all places of his dominion.

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord. Out from the inner circle of the present church the blessing is to spread in growing power until the remotest parts of the earth shall be ashamed of their idols, mindful of the true God, penitent for their offences, and unanimously earnest for reconciliation with Jehovah. Then shall false worship cease, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee, O thou only living and true God. This hope which was the reward of Jesus is a stimulus to those who fight his battles. It is well to mark the order of conversion as here set forth; they shall "remember" -- this is reflection, like the prodigal who came unto himself; "and turn unto Jehovah" -- this is repentance, like Manasseh who left his idols and "worship" -- this is holy service, as Paul adored the Christ whom once he abhorred.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 333

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him. This passage is a prediction of the conversion of the Gentiles. It furnishes us with two interesting ideas; the nature of true conversion -- and the extent of it under the reign of the Messiah.

The NATURE of true conversion: -- It is to "remember" -- to "turn to the Lord" -- and to "worship before him." This is a plain and simple process. Perhaps the first religious exercise of mind of which we are conscious is reflection. A state of unregeneracy is a state of forgetfulness. God is forgotten. Sinners have lost all just sense of his glory, authority, mercy, and judgment; living as if there were no God, or as if they thought there was none. But if ever we are brought to be the subjects of true conversion, we shall be brought to remember these things. This divine change is fitly expressed by the case of the prodigal, who is said to have come to himself, or to his right mind. But further, true conversion consists not only in remembering, but in "turning to the Lord." This part of the passage is expressive of a cordial relinquishment of our idols, whatever they have been, and an acquiescence in the gospel way of salvation by Christ alone. Once more, true conversion to Christ will be accompanied with the "worship" of him. Worship, as a religious exercise, is the homage of the heart, presented to God according to his revealed will...

 
The EXTENT of conversion under the kingdom or reign of the Messiah: "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him." It was fit that the accession of the Gentiles should be reserved for the gospel day, that it might grace the triumph of Christ over his enemies, and appear to be what it is, "the travail of his soul." This great and good work, begun in the apostles' day, must go on, and "must increase," till "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn", and "all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him." Conversion work has been individual; God has gathered sinners one by one. Thus it is at present with us; but it will not be thus always. People will flock to Zion as doves to their windows. Further, conversion work has hitherto been circumscribed within certain parts of the world. But the time will come when "all the kindreds of the earth" shall worship. These hopes are not the flight of an ardent imagination; they are founded on the true sayings of God. Finally, while we are concerned for the world, let us not forget our own souls. So the whole world be saved and we lost, what will it avail us?

- Condensed from Andrew Fuller, 1754-1815.

Friday in Holy Week

For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations. 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. Ps 22:28-9

For the kingdom is the Lord's. As an obedient Son the dying Redeemer rejoiced to know that his Father's interests would prosper through his pains. "The Lord reigneth" was his song as it is ours. He who by his own power reigns supreme in the domains of creation and providence, has set up a kingdom of grace, and by the conquering power of the cross that kingdom will grow until all people shall own its sway and proclaim that he is the governor among the nations. Amid the tumults and disasters of the present the Lord reigneth; but in the halcyon days of peace the rich fruit of his dominion will be apparent to every eye. Great Shepherd, let thy glorious kingdom come.

All they that be fat upon earth, the rich and great are not shut out. Grace now finds the most of its jewels among the poor, but in the latter days the mighty of the earth shall eat, shall taste of redeeming grace and dying love, and shall worship with all their hearts the God who deals so bountifully with us in Christ Jesus. Those who are spiritually fat with inward prosperity shall be filled with the marrow of communion, and shall worship the Lord with peculiar fervour. In the covenant of grace Jesus has provided good cheer for our high estate, and he has taken equal care to console us in our humiliation, for the next sentence is, all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him. There is relief and comfort in bowing before God when our case is at its worst; even amid the dust of death prayer kindles the lamp of hope.

While all who come to God by Jesus Christ are thus blessed, whether they be rich or poor, none of those who despise him may hope for a blessing.

None can keep alive his own soul. This is the stern counterpart of the gospel message of "look and live." There is no salvation out of Christ. We must hold life, and have life as Christ's gift, or we shall die eternally. This is very solid evangelical doctrine, and should be proclaimed in every corner of the earth, that like a great hammer it may break in pieces all self confidence.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 334

None can keep alive his own soul. And yet we look back to our conversion, and its agonies of earnestness, its feelings of deep, helpless dependence -- of Christ's being absolutely our daily, hourly need -- supplier -- as a past something -- a stage of spiritual life which is over. And we are satisfied to have it so. The Spirit of God moved over our deadness, and breathed into us the breath of life. My soul became a living soul. But was this enough? God's word says, No. "None can keep alive his own soul." My heart says, No. Truth must ever answer to truth. I cannot (ah! have I not tried, and failed?) I cannot keep alive my own soul. We cannot live upon ourselves. Our physical life is kept up by supply from without -- air, food, warmth. So must the spiritual life. Jesus gives, Jesus feeds us day by day, else must the life fade out and die. "None can keep alive his own soul." It is not enough to be made alive. I must be fed, and guided, and taught, and kept in life. Mother, who hast brought a living babe into the world, is your work done? Will you not nurse it, and feed it, and care for it, that it may be kept alive? Lord, I am this babe. I live indeed, for I can crave and cry. Leave me not, O my Saviour. Forsake not the work of thine own hands. In thee I live. Hold me, carry me, feed me, let me abide in thee. "For thy kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations. 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." In our work for God, we need to remember this. Is not the conversion, the arousing of sinners, the great, and with many, the sole aim in working for God? Should it be so? Let us think of this other work. Let us help to keep alive. Perhaps it is less distinguished, as it may be less distinguished to feed a starving child than to rescue a drowning man. But let us walk less by sight, more by faith. Let us not indeed neglect to call to life those who are spiritually dead. But Oh! let us watch for the more hidden needs of the living -- the fading, starving, fainting souls, which yet can walk and speak, and cover their want and sorrow. Let us be fellow workers with God in all his work. And with a deep heart feeling of the need of constant life supplies from above, let us try how often, how freely, we may be made the channels of those streams of the "water of life", -- for "none can keep alive his own soul."

- written by Mary B. M. Duncan, in "Bible Hours." 1856.

Saturday in Holy Week

A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.  They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this. Ps 22:30-31

A seed shall serve him. Posterity shall perpetuate the worship of the Most High. The kingdom of truth on earth shall never fail. As one generation is called to its rest, another will arise in its stead. We need have no fear for the true apostolic succession; that is safe enough.

It shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. He will reckon the ages by the succession of the saints, and set his accounts according to the families of the faithful. Generations of sinners come not into the genealogy of the skies. God's family register is not for strangers, but for the children only.

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 333

A seed shall serve him.
This figurative expression signifies Christ and his people, who yield true obedience to God -- they are called by this name in a spiritual and figurative, but most appropriate sense. The idea is taken from the operations of the husbandman who carefully reserves every year a portion of his grain for seed. Though it be small, compared with all the produce of his harvest, yet he prizes it very highly and estimates it by the value of that crop which it may yield in the succeeding autumn. Nor does he look only to the quantity, he pays particular regard to the quality of the seed. He reserves only the best, nay, he will put away his own if spoiled, that he may procure better. The very smallest quantity of really good seed, is, to him, an object of great desire, and if by grievous failure of crops, he should not be able to procure more than a single grain, yet would he accept it thankfully, preserve it carefully, and plant it in the most favourable soil. Such is the source from which the metaphor is taken.

- written by John Stevenson.

They shall come.
Sovereign grace shall bring out from among men the blood bought ones. Nothing shall thwart the divine purpose. The chosen shall come to life, to faith, to pardon, to heaven. In this the dying Saviour finds a sacred satisfaction. Toiling servant of God, be glad at the thought that the eternal purpose of God shall suffer neither let nor hindrance.

And shall declare his righteousness
unto a people that shall be born. None of the people who shall be brought to God by the irresistible attractions of the cross shall be dumb, they shall be able to tell forth the righteousness of the Lord, so that future generations shall know the truth. Fathers shall teach their sons, who shall hand it down to their children; the burden of the story always being that he hath done this, or, that "It is finished." Salvation's glorious work is done, there is peace on earth, and glory in the highest. "It is finished", these were the expiring words of the Lord Jesus, as they are the last words of this Psalm. May we by living faith be enabled to see our salvation finished by the death of Jesus!

-taken from The Treasury of David, chapter 22, p 333

A people that shall be born.
What is this? What people is there that is not born? According to my apprehensions I think this is said for this reason -- because the people of other kings are formed by laws, by customs, and by manners; by which, however, you can never move a man to true righteousness: it is only a fable of righteousness, and a mere theatrical scene or representation. For even the law of Moses could form the people of the Jews unto nothing but unto hypocrisy. But the people of this King are not formed by laws to make up an external appearance, but they are begotten by water and by the Spirit unto a new creature of truth.

-written by Martin Luther.

 


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