Tuesday, 11 August 2015

PSALM 22v11-21 - 'THE DUST OF DEATH'

'THE DUST OF DEATH'
1. DAVID AS POET AND PROPHET (AGAIN)
11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet--
17 I can count all my bones-- they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver 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!
(1) See David the Poet.
How carefully he crafts his Psalms.
This section divides into two parts marked by the refrain do not be far off - v11&19.
In the first part v11 there is none to help, in the second the LORD is his help v19 - O you my help,
See how the images change from v12 bulls to, v13 lion to v16 dogs and then in reverse v20 dog, v21 lion and oxen.
We feel with him what it is to be v14 poured out like water...and then be v15 dried up like a potsherd.
He describes the different sensations he feels in his body: my bones, my heart, my breast; my strength, my tongue my jaws, my hands and feet, my bones, my garments, my clothing.
He says v15 you lay me in the dust of death and goes on to ask for deliverance for -v20 my precious life.
Enter into the poetry of the Psalms, get a feel for it and the Psalms will come alive for you.
(2) See David the prophet:
We cannot but see Jesus on the cross. No one today could miss it.
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet--
17 I can count all my bones-- they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
Before the cross no one but Jesus (and the prophets?) saw his suffering.
1 Peter 1v10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, v11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. v12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
The Spirit predicted the sufferings of Christ, but how much did the prophets see and understand?
Nowhere in any Jewish writings is there any trace of anyone seeing the suffering Messiah here, or in any of the other Psalms, or in Isaiah 53. No one expected the cross. This is why Peter reacted so strongly when Jesus first spoke of the cross - Mark 8v31-33.
The cross is not just to be admired, it is to be appropriated, taken up by everyone who would follow Jesus - Mark 8v34-38.
2. THE SUFFERINGS OF DAVID AND THE MESSIAH
(1) David feels alone.
David, who has earlier spoken of feeling forsaken by God calls for the Lord not to be far from him: v11 Be not far from me,
He states the reason for this plea: for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
Where were David's mighty men? See 2 Samuel 23v8-39.
Sometimes even the mightiest of men (and women) cannot help (as much as they may wish they could).
See Psalm 27v9-10.
We can request help for one another in prayer. I am sure the faithful were praying for David.

(2) David feels surrounded.
i. As by a herd of strong bulls of Bashan bulls from Bashan
Remember Og king of Bashan whose bed was made of iron, 9 cubits in length (Goliath was 6 cubits and a span tall) and four cubits in width (Deut 3v11)
Og's 60 cities were taken by the Israelites. The region is a large fertile plain east of modern-day Jordan. It became famous for it's rich pasture and it's large livestock.
Ezekiel 39:18 You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth--of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan.
Amos 4:1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’
Micah 7:14 Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, who dwell alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land; let them graze in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old.
He is a weak worm, they are strong bulls, who outnumber him and are far more powerful than he.
ii. The bulls change to become lions.
It is as if the lion opens it's mouth and is about to bite off David's head. (Remember the Lion tamers act in the circus) The lions that open their mouths against David are no well fed, contented, trained, circus act - they are ravening and roaring.
Lions rip open their prey. He is their prey!
iii. His strength has gone.
v14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
v15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
A potsherd is a fragment of a clay baked vessel.
Job 2v8 And he took a piece of broken pottery (AV - a potsherd) with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.
What does it feel like to be really terrified?
(Has anyone here ever been really terrified?) This is what David felt.
iv. The lions become dogs.
16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me;
Dogs are not pictured in the Bible as family pets, man's best friend.
1 Kings 14:11 Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat,
1 Kings 16:4 Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat,
1 Kings 21:23 And of Jezebel the LORD also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’
Jeremiah 15:3 I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the LORD: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy.
Philippians 3:2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Dogs are pictured as savage animals who will pray on a man's flesh and lick up his blood. David is surrounded by dogs...a company of evil doers encircle him.
v. The suffering intensifies
they have pierced my hands and feet--
17 I can count all my bones-- they stare and gloat over me;
There is more than physical suffering here, there is the mental suffering caused by the company of evildoers who are against him:
They stare and gloat over me;
And far from helping him they want to profit from his death. He sees their eagerness to take the very cloths he stood up in.
v18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
vi. The depths of his physical and mental suffering are described by that memorable phrase:
you lay me in the dust of death.
Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Job 30:19 God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
David knew what it was to feel as though he was going to die (or at least that there was a very real possibility that he was going to die at that time.)
When Jesus read this Psalm he learned that what David described as something he felt, it was as if...., he would experience for real. He would suffer and die such a death as described here.
A wonderful insight into the cross given 1,000 years earlier (cf. Before William the Conqueror!)

3. DAVID RENEWS HIS PLEA FOR HELP AND THIS TIME HE IS ANSWERED
19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver 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!
Faith waits on God and keeps waiting and will not be disappointed. Even in death? Especially in death.
For David, this time, it is rescue. For Jesus it will be death.



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