For dogs encompass me;16 a company of evildoers encircles me;they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—17 they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, 18 and for my clothing they cast lots.9 But you, O LORD, do not be far off O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
These verses from Psalm 22 clearly identify it as Messianic. The details given correspond directly to events of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which took place a thousand years after David wrote the psalm.Verse 16 says, “they have pierced my hands and fee,” which is consistent with Roman crucifixion,” and “I can count all of my bones,” may refer to the posture of the victim, with arms spread wide above the height of the shoulders, exposing the ribs. That the soldiers attending the execution would “divide [his] garments among them,” would in itself be a particular detail unique to Christ’s crucifixion, but verse 18 also says, “for my clothing they cast lots.” John 19:23-24 indicates that Jesus’s tunic was woven of one piece of fabric, so rather than tearing it, they cast lots. That both of these details correspond to the crucifixion of Jesus is remarkable. Fulfillment of prophecies like these confirm our belief and trust in both the Old Testament Scriptures and the gospels, and with the gospels their testimony to the person and work of Jesus.
We do not know the circumstances in which David originally wrote the psalm, but he was obviously in dire circumstances. He calls to the Lord, “Do not be far off! Quickly come to my aid!” He appears to be tormented by his enemies in a military context, since his plea is to be delivered from “the sword (v.20).” He reveals his contempt for his enemies, calling them “dogs (vv. 16, 20),” but admits their ferocity, too, also calling them lions (v. 21). Finally, the stanza ends with David saying exultantly, “You have rescued me . . . !” Whether this rescue was a previous event he is calling the Lord to remember, or the resolution of the present situation, we know that David was indeed saved because he died an old man in Jerusalem and not by the hands of his enemies on the battlefield.
In addition to the assurance of our faith in Scripture, Messianic Psalms like these strengthen our faith in several ways. Since we know that David was rescued, we know that the Lord hears the prayers of His faithful servants and does indeed deliver our “souls, our precious lives.” Christ, too, was vindicated in His crucifixion. He gave His life up to the evildoers, but that was His mission, and in the end He rose again. His vindication is that God the Father accepted His sacrifice as atonement for the sins of all of His people. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12).” So we can have hope of God’s care and deliverance from trials and persecutions in this life, and also forgiveness of sin and eternal life with Him