March 24, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
More Metaphors in Psalm 22
V 16 For dogs have compassed Me about
V 16 The assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me
V 13 A ravening and a roaring lion
V 12 Many bulls . strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round
V 21 Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorn
As mentioned in a previous meditation, the Psalms are poetic in nature and employ metaphors along with other figures of speech to create imagery which can, at times, reveal more about an event than simply detailing the event itself would provide. The Lord Jesus Himself employed word-pictures in His use of parables to teach lessons and impart truth in an effective manner, as well.
Each of the metaphors mentioned in Psalm 22 adds another nuance to the reality of Calvary. “Dogs have compassed Me” (v 16), “deliver . from the power of the dog” (v 20), tell us of theUnclean, fierce and rapacious Gentile foes who vented their hatred on Christ. No doubt, to be posted to Judea was not a prize promotion for a Gentile soldier. Living amongst a bigoted and strange people, the Gentile soldiers would find frustration and hostility toward the Jew building with each passing month. Now they had a Jew to be able to vent all their pent up emotion upon. Think of what Herod and His men of war did and said to Christ. Elsewhere it tells us concerning the Roman soldiers that “many other things blasphemously spake they against Him” (Luke 22:65). How He must have felt the uncleanness of all those who sought to crush Him at Calvary!
But the Assembly of the Wicked (v 16) also closed in upon their prey. The Ungodly character of His foes was evident. All that was contrary to the character of God was seen displayed by men at the cross. Cruelty, vindictiveness, spite, callousness, hatred, blindness, and anger – these and a host more of the works of the flesh reached a flood tide on that fateful day, as they were unleashed upon the Son of God.
The Lion, the picture of Untamed ferocity ravening and roaring after its prey, was seen at Calvary. Perhaps this is a picture of Satan, expressing all the untamable character of evil; or perhaps it is humanity with its fleshly nature in view. But whichever view is taken, it suggests the hostility and strength with which His foes sought to crush Him.
The Bulls suggest the Unrelenting nature of their attacks. The bulls are characterized as “strong” and compassing and besetting Him. Calvary is a scene where it appears that men were never content with what they did to Christ. They rejected Him and then crucified Him. Not content to just see Him upon a cross, they hurled epithets and blasphemy in His face. Not content with His shame and reproach, they taunted Him with offers of vinegar to ease His parched lips, only to withdraw it (Luke 23:36). Had it been possible to do anything worse to Christ, the evil heart of man would have done it. Calvary is the full revelation of the heart of humanity.
The final metaphor in this section to be considered is the Unicorn. Scholars differ on what is being referred to here but most agree it is the wild ox in its Unrestrained inflicting of harm on its victim. The horns of the unicorn would impale its victim and repeatedly gore and smash it to the earth. The cross was a scene of man’s unrestrained brutality, vented upon the sensitive and tender “hind of the dawn.”
Compare and contrast these metaphors with the metaphors of Psalm 23.