Some think they find Christ in the title of this psalm, upon Aijeleth Shahar—The hind of the morning. Christ is as the swift hind upon the mountains of spices (Song 8:14), as the loving hind and the pleasant roe, to all believers (Prov. 5:19); he giveth goodly words like Naphtali, who is compared to a hind let loose, Gen. 49:21. He is the hind of the morning, marked out by the counsels of God from eternity, to be run down by those dogs that compassed him, Ps. 22:16. But others think it denotes only the tune to which the psalm was set. In these verses we have,
I. A sad complaint of God’s withdrawings, Ps. 22:1, 2.
1. This may be applied to David, or any other child of God, in the want of the tokens of his favour, pressed with the burden of his displeasure, roaring under it, as one overwhelmed with grief and terror, crying earnestly for relief, and, in this case, apprehending himself forsaken of God, unhelped, unheard, yet calling him, again and again, “My God,” and continuing to cry day and night to him and earnestly desiring his gracious returns. Note, (1.) Spiritual desertions are the saints’ sorest afflictions; when their evidences are clouded, divine consolations suspended, their communion with God interrupted, and the terrors of God set in array against them, how sad are their spirits, and how sapless all their comforts! (2.) Even their complaint of these burdens is a good sign of spiritual life and spiritual senses exercised. To cry out, “My God, why am I sick? Why am I poor?” would give cause to suspect discontent and worldliness. But, Why has thou forsaken me? is the language of a heart binding up its happiness in God’s favour. (3.) When we are lamenting God’s withdrawings, yet still we must call him our God, and continue to call upon him as ours. When we want the faith of assurance we must live by a faith of adherence. “However it be, yet God is good, and he is mine; though he slay me, yet I trust in him; though he do not answer me immediately, I will continue praying and waiting; though he be silent, I will not be silent.”
2. But is must be applied to Christ: for, in the first words of this complaint, he poured out his soul before God when he was upon the cross (Matt. 27:46); probably he proceeded to the following words, and, some think, repeated the whole psalm, if not aloud (because they cavilled at the first words), yet to himself. Note, (1.) Christ, in his sufferings, cried earnestly to his Father for his favour and presence with him. He cried in the day–time, upon the cross, and in the night–season, when he was in agony in the garden. He offered up strong crying and tears to him that was able to save him, and with some fear too, Heb. 5:7. (2.) Yet God forsook him, was far from helping him, and did not hear him, and it was this that he complained of more than all his sufferings. God delivered him into the hands of his enemies; it was by his determinate counsel that he was crucified and slain, and he did not give in sensible comforts. But, Christ having made himself sin for us, in conformity thereunto the Father laid him under the present impressions of his wrath and displeasure against sin. It pleased the Lord to bruise him and put him to grief, Isa. 53:10. But even then he kept fast hold of his relation to his Father as his God, by whom he was now employed, whom he was now serving, and with whom he should shortly be glorified.
II. Encouragement taken, in reference hereunto, Ps. 22:3-5. Though God did not hear him, did not help him, yet, 1. He will think well of God: “But thou art holy, not unjust, untrue, nor unkind, in any of thy dispensations. Though thou dost not immediately come in to the relief of thy afflicted people, yet thou lovest them, art true to thy covenant with them, and dost not countenance the iniquity of their persecutors, Hab. 1:13. And, as thou art infinitely pure and upright thyself, so thou delightest in the services of thy upright people: Thou inhabitest the praises of Israel; thou art pleased to manifest thy glory, and grace, and special presence with thy people, in the sanctuary, where they attend thee with their praises. There thou art always ready to receive their homage, and of the tabernacle of meeting thou hast said, This is my rest for ever.” This bespeaks God’s wonderful condescension to his faithful worshippers—(that, though he is attended with the praises of angels, yet he is pleased to inhabit the praises of Israel), and it may comfort us in all our complaints—that, though God seem, for a while, to turn a deaf ear to them, yet he is so well pleased with his people’s praises that he will, in due time, give them cause to change their note: Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him. Our Lord Jesus, in his sufferings, had an eye to the holiness of God, to preserve and advance the honour of that, and of his grace in inhabiting the praises of Israel notwithstanding the iniquities of their holy things. 2. He will take comfort from the experiences which the saints in former ages had of the benefit of faith and prayer (Ps. 22:4, 5): “Our fathers trusted in thee, cried unto thee, and thou didst deliver them; therefore thou wilt, in due time, deliver me, for never any that hoped in thee were made ashamed of their hope, never any that sought thee sought thee in vain. And thou art still the same in thyself and the same to thy people that ever thou wast. They were our fathers, and thy people are beloved for the fathers’ sake,” Rom. 11:28. The entail of the covenant is designed for the support of the seed of the faithful. He that was our fathers’ God must be ours, and will therefore be ours. Our Lord Jesus, in his sufferings, supported himself with this—that all the fathers who were types of him in his sufferings, Noah, Joseph, David, Jonah, and others, were in due time delivered and were types of his exaltation too; therefore he knew that he also should not be confounded, Isa. 50:7.
III. The complaint renewed of another grievance, and that is the contempt and reproach of men. This complaint is by no means so bitter as that before of God’s withdrawings; but, as that touches a gracious soul, so this a generous soul, in a very tender part, Ps. 22:6-8. Our fathers were honoured, the patriarchs in their day, first or last, appeared great in the eye of the world, Abraham, Moses, David; but Christ is a worm, and no man. It was great condescension that he became man, a step downwards, which is, and will be, the wonder of angels; yet, as if it were too much, too great, to be a man, he becomes a worm, and no man. He was Adam—a mean man, and Enosh—a man of sorrows, but lo Ish—not a considerable man: for he took upon him the form of a servant, and his visage was marred more than any man’s, Isa. 52:14. Man, at the best, is a worm; but he became a worm, and no man. If he had not made himself a worm, he could not have been trampled upon as he was. The word signifies such a worm as was used in dyeing scarlet or purple, whence some make it an allusion to his bloody sufferings. See what abuses were put upon him. 1. He was reproached as a bad man, as a blasphemer, a sabbath–breaker, a wine–bibber, a false prophet, an enemy to Caesar, a confederate with the prince of the devils. 2. He was despised of the people as a mean contemptible man, not worth taking notice of, his country in no repute, his relations poor mechanics, his followers none of the rulers, or the Pharisees, but the mob. 3. He was ridiculed as a foolish man, and one that not only deceived others, but himself too. Those that saw him hanging on the cross laughed him to scorn. So far were they from pitying him, or concerning themselves for him, that they added to his afflictions, with all the gestures and expressions of insolence upbraiding him with his fall. They make mouths at him, make merry over him, and make a jest of his sufferings: They shoot out the lip, they shake their head, saying, This was he that said he trusted God would deliver him; now let him deliver him. David was sometimes taunted for his confidence in God; but in the sufferings of Christ this was literally and exactly fulfilled. Those very gestures were used by those that reviled him (Matt. 27:39); they wagged their heads, nay, and so far did their malice make them forget themselves that they used the very words (v.43), He trusted in God; let him deliver him. Our Lord Jesus, having undertaken to satisfy for the dishonour we had done to God by our sins, did it by submitting to the lowest possible instance of ignominy and disgrace.
IV. Encouragement taken as to this also (Ps. 22:9, 10): Men despise me, but thou art he that took me out of the womb. David and other good men have often, for direction to us, encouraged themselves with this, that God was not only the God of their fathers, as before (Ps. 22:4), but the God of their infancy, who began by times to take care of them, as soon as they had a being, and therefore, they hope, will never cast them off. He that did so well for us in that helpless useless state will not leave us when he has reared us and nursed us up into some capacity of serving him. See the early instances of God’s providential care for us, 1. In the birth: He took us also out of the womb, else we had died there, or been stifled in the birth. Every man’s particular time begins with this pregnant proof of God’s providence, as time, in general, began with the creation, that pregnant proof of his being. 2. At the breast: “Then didst thou make me hope;” that is, “thou didst that for me, in providing sustenance for me and protecting me from the dangers to which I was exposed, which encourages me to hope in thee all my days.” The blessings of the breasts, as they crown the blessings of the womb, so they are earnests of the blessings of our whole lives; surely he that fed us then will never starve us, Job 3:12. 3. In our early dedication to him: I was cast upon thee from the womb, which perhaps refers to his circumcision on the eighth day; he was then by his parents committed and given up to God as his God in covenant; for circumcision was a seal of the covenant; and this encouraged him to trust in God. Those have reason to think themselves safe who were so soon, so solemnly, gathered under the wings of the divine majesty. 4. In the experience we have had of God’s goodness to us all along ever since, drawn out in a constant uninterrupted series of preservations and supplies: Thou art my God, providing me and watching over me for good, from my mother’s belly, that is, from my coming into the world unto this day. And if, as soon as we became capable of exercising reason, we put our confidence in God and committed ourselves and our way to him, we need not doubt but he will always remember the kindness of our youth and the love of our espousals, Jer. 2:2. This is applicable to our Lord Jesus, over whose incarnation and birth the divine Providence watched with a peculiar care, when he was born in a stable, laid in a manger, and immediately exposed to the malice of Herod, and forced to flee into Egypt. When he was a child God loved him and called him thence (Hos. 11:1), and the remembrance of this comforted him in his sufferings. Men reproached him, and discouraged his confidence in God; but God had honoured him and encouraged his confidence in him.