2,000 years ago as Christ hung on the cross, He said these words, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” If you read in the Gospels, the writer translates these words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” To a Western reader, these words sound like the pleas of Jesus as God the Father let Him die on the cross. To a first-century Jew though, these words marked the beginning of Psalm 22, the Death Psalm.
Psalm 22 was recognized as the final Psalm recited during someone’s last moments of life. It’s traditionally believed that King David wrote this psalm towards the end of his life as he watched his kingdom be threatened by his son, Adonijah. These are the words of a man tormented by death and in agony over what God has allowed to happen.
There are some incredible correlations between the Crucifixion and Psalm 22:
Psalm 22:16, “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.”
In first-century Israel, it was common to refer to Gentiles as “dogs” and Christ suffered a Roman (Gentile) crucifixion. The villains? None other than the Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the Law. Christ’s hands and feet were nailed to the cross, pierced for our sins (Isa. 53:5).
Psalm 22:17, “All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.”
Mark 15:29-31, “Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked Him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but He can’t save Himself!”
Psalm 22:18, “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”
Mark 15:24, “And they crucified Him. Dividing up His clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.”
Psalm 22:31, “…He has done it!”
John 19:30, “When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
You begin to wonder if God gave King David a prophetic vision before his final breath. For a first-century Jew, the Death Psalm took on an entirely different meaning as they watched Christ on the cross.