Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Psalms
Book: Psalms
Chapter: 22

Complaints of discouragement. (1-10) With Prayer for
deliverance. (11-21) Praises for mercies and Redemption. (22-31)

1-10 The Spirit of Christ, which was in the prophets, testifies
in this psalm, clearly and fully, the sufferings of Christ, and
the Glory that should follow. We have a sorrowful complaint of
God's withdrawings. This may be applied to any Child of God,
pressed down, overwhelmed with grief and terror. Spiritual
desertions are the saints' sorest Afflictions; but even their
complaint of these burdens is a sign of spiritual Life, and
spiritual senses exercised. To cry out, My God, why am I sick?
why am I Poor? savours of discontent and worldliness. But, "Why
hast thou forsaken me?" is the language of a Heart binding up
its happiness in God's favour. This must be applied to Christ.
In the first words of this complaint, he poured out his soul
before God when he was upon the Cross, Mt 27:46. Being truly
Man, Christ felt a natural unwillingness to pass through such
great sorrows, yet his zeal and Love prevailed. Christ declared
the Holiness of God, his heavenly Father, in his sharpest
sufferings; nay, declared them to be a proof of it, for which he
would be continually praised By his Israel, more than for all
other deliverances they received. Never any that hoped in thee,
were made ashamed of their Hope; never any that sought thee,
sought thee in vain. Here is a complaint of the contempt and
reproach of men. The Saviour here spoke of the abject state to
which he was reduced. The history of Christ's sufferings, and of
his Birth, explains this Prophecy.

11-21 In these verses we have Christ suffering, and Christ
praying; By which we are directed to look for crosses, and to
look up to God under them. The very manner of Christ's Death is
described, though not in use among the Jews. They pierced his
hands and his feet, which were nailed to the accursed tree, and
his whole body was left So to hang as to suffer the most severe
pain and torture. His natural force failed, being wasted By the
Fire of Divine wrath preying upon his spirits. Who then can
stand before God's Anger? or who knows the power of it? The Life
of the sinner was forfeited, and the Life of the Sacrifice must
be the Ransom for it. Our Lord Jesus was stripped, when he was
crucified, that he might clothe us with the robe of his
Righteousness. Thus it was written, therefore thus it behoved
Christ to suffer. Let all this confirm our Faith in him as the
true Messiah, and excite our Love to him as the best of friends,
who loved us, and suffered all this for us. Christ in his Agony
prayed, prayed earnestly, prayed that the Cup might pass from
him. When we cannot rejoice in God as our song, yet let us stay
ourselves upon him as our strength; and take the comfort of
spiritual supports, when we cannot have spiritual delights. He
prays to be delivered from the Divine wrath. He that has
delivered, doth deliver, and will do So. We should think upon
the sufferings and Resurrection of Christ, till we feel in our
souls the power of his resurrection, and the Fellowship of his

22-31 The Saviour now speaks as risen from the dead. The first
words of the complaint were used By Christ himself upon the
Cross; the first words of the triumph are expressly applied to
him, Heb 2:12. All our praises must refer to the work of
Redemption. The suffering of the Redeemer was graciously
accepted as a full satisfaction for Sin. Though it was offered
for sinful men, the Father did not despise or abhor it for our
sakes. This ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. All
humble, gracious souls should have a full satisfaction and
happiness in him. Those that hunger and thirst after
Righteousness in Christ, shall not labour for that which
satisfies not. Those that are much in praying, will be much in
thanksgiving. Those that turn to God, will make Conscience of
worshipping before him. Let every tongue confess that he is
Lord. High and low, rich and Poor, Bond and free, meet in
Christ. Seeing we cannot keep alive our own souls, it is our
Wisdom, By obedient Faith, to commit our souls to Christ, who is
able to save and keep them alive for ever. A seed shall serve
him. God will have a Church in the world to the End of time.
They shall be accounted to him for a Generation; he will be the
same to them that he was to those who went before them. His
Righteousness, and not any of their own, they shall declare to
be the foundation of all their hopes, and the Fountain of all
their joys. Redemption By Christ is the Lord's own doing. Here
we see the free Love and compassion of God the Father, and of
our Lord Jesus Christ, for us wretched sinners, as the source of
all Grace and consolation; the Example we are to follow, the
treatment as Christians we are to expect, and the conduct under
it we are to adopt. Every lesson may here be learned that can
profit the humbled soul. Let those who go about to establish
their own Righteousness inquire, why the beloved Son of God
should thus suffer, if their own doings could atone for Sin? Let
the ungodly professor consider whether the Saviour thus honoured
the Divine Law, to purchase him the privilege of despising it.
Let the careless take warning to flee from the wrath to come,
and the trembling Rest their hopes upon this merciful Redeemer.
Let the tempted and distressed believer cheerfully expect a
happy End of every trial.