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God’s Word for You

Psalm 22:14-15 All my bones are pulled apart

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, April 2, 2023

14 I am poured out like water,
  and all my bones are pulled apart.
  My heart is like wax;
  it has melted away in my chest.
15 My strength is dried up like broken pottery.
  My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
  You lay me in the dust of death.

Historically, David is writing about something in his own life. As we have already pointed out, there is nothing in this poem to suggest his years as king, but since he had few enemies as a shepherd boy apart from the lion and the bear (1 Samuel 17:34-35), it makes good sense that this was an event during the years when he was a captain in Saul’s army, hated by Saul his own king. In the hot, dry climate of Palestine, David’s favorite hiding places took him to isolated clefts or plateaus of rock that were difficult places to be in the best of times. No wonder David’s tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. Just climbing up to one of these high perches would have stretched out his limbs until his bones felt like they were out of joint.

But prophetically, David takes us to the torment of our Savior, especially at the hands of the Romans and their cruel tortures. Deprived of sleep, water, or any comforts or personal dignity at all, Jesus truly felt the end of his life approaching. This is what he means by “being poured out like water.” Paul spoke the same way when he was in Roman prisons (Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6).

Jesus was also laid over the rostrum in the Roman fortress to be whipped (flogged, Mark 15:15; John 19:1). A wicked servant was to be whipped until he bled (Sirach 42:5), but they whipped Jesus for no reason at all except that whipping weakened a man so that he was less likely to fight off being crucified. Even there under the lash, chained down and unable to move, he would have felt as if every bone was being dislocated from its neighbor. Any human heart, any amount of bravery, gives way in such circumstances. Men become hopeless or furious, and the heart melts like wax (Micah 1:4; Psalms 68:2, 97:5).

Broken pottery is dried up and useless. This is the meaning of the beginning of verse 15. Jerusalem actually had a gate for tossing out old broken pottery (Jeremiah 19:2). Such a junk pile becomes nothing but sharp gravel in the end. The Lord’s human strength was spent.

We’ve already spoken about a tongue sticking to the roof of its mouth. (Psalm 137:6; Lamentations 4:4; Ezekiel 3:26). This is why Jesus said he was thirsty during his ordeal (John 19:28, and of course, he was losing a lot of blood). Perhaps he just needed to wet his mouth and throat enough to cry out some of his final words.

David looks ahead to the grave when he says, “You lay me in the dust of death.” That dust (Job 17:16) is also what would have been on the minds of the men being crucified as they were brought at last to the hill and as they saw the tombs cut into the emptied-out quarry beyond. If modern archaeology is correct in its findings about the site of the crucifixion, there were tombs that were just a matter of a few yards away—but most of the criminals who were crucified would not be buried in such nice tombs. They would be tossed into the common public grave-ditch south of the city, the criminal’s graves.

Death. It was death approaching. Death is the penalty for sin, the penalty that removes a sinner from this life and sends him into the punishment of the life of the world to come, the unending punishment of hell. This is what awaited us all on account of our sin, except that Jesus took on death all by himself. “When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck and killed it” (1 Samuel 17:35). Jesus entered into the grave by means of death itself, but he overcame it. Death had claimed him without cause; death made a fatal mistake. Death was overcome by the death of Christ. Paul explains:

“The gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:16-17).

David gives us insight into his suffering. None of us needs any more insight into the depth of our sin. We give our thanks and praise to Jesus for covering over all of that sin. What he did was agonizing, but it spared us from the same agony, forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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