May 19, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Afflicted One
He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted.
There are expressions relating to Christ which are contained in the seldom read portion of Psalm 22, namely verses 21-31. One of them is “The Afflicted.” The word is frequently translated in other Psalms and occurrences as “poor” or “lowly” and carries with it the thought of both station in life and material poverty. It is the word found in Psalm 72 which tells of the coming King and His care for the poor and needy, a segment of the populace passed over by the great and mighty of earth, viewing them as expendable.
Christ is thus described in His sufferings as the “afflicted one.” Brought low by the cruel and calculated dealings of men, stripped of all possessions and made the song of drunkards, He was brought low in both His material possessions and the esteem of men.
The word for “affliction” is only found once in all the Old Testament. It is unique here and unique as well in all the annals of history. There was never affliction such as His. But a root word for afflict is found in Genesis 15:13. The furnace of Egyptian bondage that the nation of Israel would know was prophesied by God to Abram: “They (Egypt) shall afflict them 400 years.” The totaled suffering of Israel under the lash of the taskmaster is spoken of as their affliction. But at Calvary, the Lord Jesus knew an affliction greater than the cumulative sufferings of the nation for 400 years.
The afflictions of Christ at Calvary were from the hand of man. Every form of mockery and every punishment that evil hearts could devise were inflicted upon Him. Historians tell us of the three forms of scourging that Romans gave to their captives, the fustigatio – less severe for lesser crimes; the flagellatio – brutal flogging administered to criminals; the verberatio – most terrible and usually prior to crucifixion. The criminal was stripped, tied to a post, and beaten with a whip containing bone or lead pieces. The scourging of John 19:1 was probably the first of the three; an attempt to evoke sympathy from the crowd. The third form of scourging followed later, just before going out to Calvary.
But His greatest affliction was when He was “afflicted with all Thy waves” (Ps 88:7) and the crushing weight of divine judgment against sin was felt in all its intensity and immensity by Him at Calvary.
But our text reminds us that God did not think lightly or abhor what happened to His Son. The word for abhor means to detest something as unclean. Such was the value of the work and such the worth of the Person, that when “He cried, He heard.” Resurrection was God “hearing” the cry of His afflicted One and raising Him.
The One Who became poor, lowly, and despised, the Afflicted One, will one day be Governor among the nations (v 28), and have the Kingdoms of the earth for His possession. All shall serve Him and all shall bow down before Him.
Isaiah 49:7 says that the nation despised and abhorred Jehovah’s Servant. Find the various Scriptures which speak of the Lord Jesus being “despised.”