God’s Word for You
Psalm 22:6 From the womb
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 31, 2023
9 But you are the one who brought me out of the belly.
You made me trust when I was at my mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast on you from the womb.
From the belly of my mother you have been my God.
There is more than one word for “belly” in Hebrew. There is the thing below the rib cage in general (“its belly and thighs were made of bronze” Daniel 2:32). Then there is the place where food goes (Job 20:23; Jonah 1:17) or a cruel spear thrust (2 Samuel 2:23; Judges 3:21). And finally it is the simple word for a woman’s abdomen, so delightful when she is pregnant and it looks “like a mound of wheat” (Song of Solomon 7:3). Another more technical word means the womb itself (Hosea 12:4; Ecclesiastes 11:5). In my translation above I have taken cues from the EHV to distinguish between these words, and I have used “belly” for one and “womb” for another.
This passage has at least four points of significance for us:
1, David describes his faith as coming to him while in the womb.
This is David’s simple confession of faith. In a similar vein, he confesses to having been sinful from the same moment (“Surely I was sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” Psalm 51:5). Sinful man inherits original sin at conception and is in need of a Savior already at that time. But what God demands or requires, he also gives, and therefore we have been given the means of grace. In the matter of coming to faith, this is especially the realm of baptism and the teaching of the gospel.
2, By extension, we can see how faith comes through the Means of Grace even when we do not understand its workings.
It is not for us to question how little children can believe, but to accept what the Scriptures say. I can attest from my own earliest memories that I believed in Jesus as my Savior even before I learned to talk, because I remember thinking about the lessons my parents read to me at bedtime while I was a toddler, the same age that I remember wandering around my mother’s flower beds and sounding out all of the new words I was learning: cup, bird, fence, spoon, grass, and so on. However old such a child is (18 months? 2 years?), I already at that age knew that Jesus took away my sins. Conversion is a miracle of God, whether it happens to a child or a grownup. Koehler adds:
“With regard to unbaptized children we have reason to assume that, as in the Old Testament the girls were received into the covenant without circumcision, so God has a way to save infants of Christian parents if they die before it is possible to baptize them. We do not dare to assume this with regard to the children of unbelievers; here we are in the realm of the unsearchable judgment of God.” (A Summary of Christian Doctrine p. 208).
3, We are reminded that the human soul is present even before a person is born, and therefore we are warned (as in other places) not to end a human life while it is still in the womb.
An inanimate object such as a stone cannot sin. Nor can a living thing without a soul, such as a flower, or a bird, or an ape. But “the soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4), and therefore a being in the mother’s womb who is sinful (Psalm 51:5) is a being with a soul. the Old Testament demanded retribution for a human life if a woman was hurt by another person and miscarried her baby. “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely… and if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Exodus 21:22-24). In ancient times, ending a pregnancy was a common sin. In his original doctor’s oath, Hippocrates included a statement that said: “I will not give drugs that will induce an abortion.” A north African plant that is depicted in ancient coins from Libya was the usual abortion-inducing drug (and a major Libyan cash crop), but it was overused and overharvested to extinction. A human being has a soul and is in need of a Savior. An infant is a creation of God (Psalm 139:13), and parents are responsible for that infant’s care. The Fifth Commandment teaches us not to murder, whether an elderly person, a person in the bloom of youth, or a baby in the womb. Do not murder.
4, David prophesies the incarnation of Christ in the womb of Mary his mother, and the life of complete trust in the Father that Jesus had as a helpless infant.
David foresees the incarnation of the Savior as a human being. This was because a human was needed to repair what a human failed to do: “Since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). The Bible also teaches us the integrity of the human nature of Christ. Christ has the essential parts of the human nature. Jesus said, for example, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). He had a real, fleshly body (John 2:21). He was not a ghost, and in fact he categorically denied that he was a ghost even after his resurrection: “A ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). Since the human nature of Jesus is truly human, it shares the human weaknesses that belong to humanity since the fall into sin, “not because this was necessary, but because Christ out of love took these weaknesses onto himself along with the adoption of true humanity. Thus Christ is God and man in one person. The divine and human natures are united in one person” (Hoenecke).
Christ our Savior did this in order to offer to accomplish so very much for us!
- He lived the perfect human life demanded of all of us (Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:48).
- He suffered the terrible punishment of hell in our place, atoning for all of our sins by his sacrifice, for “it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), but “by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14).
- He instituted the sacraments as means of grace along with gospel preaching so that this forgiveness could be made even more certain in us (2 Peter 1:19), by a physical washing and the physical eating and drinking. This is the washing of baptism (Titus 3:5) and the meal of the Lord’s Supper.
- He called and trained his apostles to proclaim this gospel to the world.
So through this one, the incarnate Son of God already at his mother’s breast, vulnerable, weak, in need of so much, yet also the Creator of the universe and the Savior of all, including that same mother (as she confessed, Luke 1:47). He came to rescue us, to suffer scorn and punishment in our place. And through him we have the gift of everlasting life.
Pastor Timothy Smith