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God’s Word for You

Psalm 22:7-8 Let him deliver him

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, March 30, 2023

7 All who see me mock me.
  They insult with their lips. They shake their heads.
8 They say, “Trust in the LORD.”
  “Let him deliver him.
  Let him rescue him, if he delights in him.”

In his commentary on the Psalms, Dr. John Brug describes these verses as “God’s present absence.” God doesn’t seem to be here with his Son while Jesus suffers on the cross. The people mock Jesus and insult him. If only tomatoes were a Middle Eastern plant, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they threw rotten tomatoes at him, too. Here David’s original circumstance, whatever it was, recedes into the background. I’m sure he was having a terrible time of it, hiding from jealous Saul or whatever it was that was taking place. These words could even be part of the taunting of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:43). But these words, especially verse 8, were quoted almost exactly as we have them here, at the cross of Jesus.

The curious phrase in verse 7, “They insult with their lips,” is more literally, “They open wide (or stick out) their lips.” It could refer to the ‘pppfft’ noise of a Bronx cheer, or a boo or hiss, or some other derisive insult common to their generation or culture. Such things change over time. Children in my time stuck out their tongues at each other, and they still do that today. Shaking or wagging the head may have had a slightly different meaning than what we would think of: “All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem” (Lamentations 2:15).

Another term worth looking closely at is “Trust!” in verse 8. This is a word that usually means “roll” (gol) as in Gilgal (that name is explained in Joshua 4:19-24). “Roll” or “be round” is also related to the word gulgoth “skull” (Judges 9:53; 2 Kings 9:35). Although the verb (“roll”) is not a direct reference to the hill where Jesus was crucified, it is curious to see a little shadow of that place falling (as it were) on the text. “Roll” in this case seems to mean “roll [all your cares] on the Lord,” in the same way that we read “Cast your cares on the Lord” (Psalm 55:22), and “cast all your anxiety on him” (1 Peter 5:7). But the speakers here in the Psalm are mocking, so either we should read the phrase as “He trusted in the Lord,” or as a taunt: “Trust in the Lord!”

The Romans set crosses up where they would be seen by many people. Jesus was nailed up just outside the walls of the city at the hill known as Golgotha, the place of the skull (Mark 15:22). The first people to mock the Lord were people on the road going into or coming out from the city. One such traveler was Simon of Cyrene in north Africa. The soldiers grabbed him and forced him to carry the cross for staggering Jesus (Mark 15:21). There soldiers mocked him, ordinary citizens mocked him, the other men being crucified mocked him, and then the chief priests and scribes came out and mocked him, too, like criminals returning to the scene of their crime. They, the religious leaders, were the ones who said, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God’” (Matthew 27:43).

Does this surprise us at all? In previous generations, “they mocked his messengers, and whenever the Lord spoke, they scoffed at his prophets.” So when the Son came, what happened? Isn’t this exactly what Jesus had foreseen and taught about? In the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, he described a landowner trying to collect the rent from his tenants. “They seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him” (Matthew 21:35,37-39). If Moab will become “a place of weeds and salt pits, a wasteland forever… for insulting and mocking the people of the Lord Almighty” (Zephaniah 2:9), what will they receive who mocked the Son of God in person as he suffered and perished on the cross of shame for their sins? Surely “they will look on the one they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10), “even those who pierced him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him” (Revelation 1:7). They will sink to their knees in terror, all those who looked at him with derision and not with faith, and they will shriek and wail as they fall into the everlasting abyss where no one will be able to help them forever.

Jesus made dozens and dozens of prophetic predictions about himself, especially his suffering, death, and resurrection. And every single one of them was fulfilled exactly as he said. The prophets did the same thing, and not one of their predictions failed to be carried out just as they said.

He endured the mocking and the insults. But his Father was not absent. This was his “present absence,” when he seemed to be gone, when he had turned his face away from his Son on account of our sin that he bore, but the Father did not forget about his Son. In this way he was present. The one who truly delights in him did rescue him, from the grave itself. He set him at his right hand where he put all things under his feet, and asks: “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” So we give him honor and glory and praise, now and forever, because the Father truly rescued him. And on account of his Son, he will rescue us.

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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