• Joel

The Suffering Servant




Psa 22:1 To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar Ay-yeh-leth Shakh’ar, A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? Psa 22:2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. Psa 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psa 22:4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. Psa 22:5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. Psa 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Psa 22:7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, Psa 22:8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. Psa 22:9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. Psa 22:10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. Psa 22:11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Psa 22:12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. Psa 22:13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. Psa 22:14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. Psa 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. Psa 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.Psa 22:17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. Psa 22:18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.Psa 22:19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Psa 22:20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Psa 22:21 Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. Psa 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Psa 22:23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. Psa 22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. Psa 22:25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. Psa 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. Psa 22:27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Psa 22:28 For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations. Psa 22:29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. Psa 22:30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. 22:31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.


The Suffering Servant


Two parts of the structure to Psalm 22:

  1. The suffering (22:1-21)

  2. The glory (22:22-31)

Verses 1-21. In many respects this Psalm is one of the most sublime prophecies in the entire Bible. We have the foretelling of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. You might’ve noticed that the Psalm opens with “To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar.Ay-yeh-leth Shakh’ar, which means "the hind (doe/deer) of the morning." We’re not sure, but according to Jewish tradition, the rays of the rising sun appeared like the horns of the hind/doe, which for the nation was a great symbol of their coming redeemer. Again, the sun is a type of Christ here, who is the Sun of righteousness. It also brings to mind the lamb of the morning sacrifice offered as soon as the watchman on the pinnacle of the temple cried out, “The first rays of the morning burst forth.”


And then you have “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” which the Lord said on the cross in Matt 27, Mark 15. By saying those words, the Lord points us back to this Psalm so that we may know what He’s feeling internally while on the cross, so that we may know that His death was a fulfillment of prophecy, and so that we may also know that He was forsaken of God the Father, abandoned, cut off, fellowship with the Father broken for the first time since eternity past, because the Father cannot have any fellowship with sin while the sins of the world were being poured out onto His Son. Christ tasted the second death for every man, which is separation from God. God abandoned His Son on the cross so that none may be abandoned who place their faith in Him.


In Vs. 2, O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” He cried to His father throughout the entire ordeal, and although His Father refused to answer, we see in Vs. 3 that the Lord never stopped thinking about His Father’s perfect holiness. “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Vs. 6 – “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” And you can’t help but think of SS- John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Vs 7, “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head…” fulfilled in SS -Luk 23:35 “And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God…” In vs. 8, the scorners said of Him, “He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” Fulfilled in Matt 27:42-43, when they said of Him, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” Vs. 12 – the bulls of Bashan, long story short, the spiritual curtain pulled back, wild enormous demons that circled the cross and torment the Lord Jesus Christ. Vs 14, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” A counter-reference in SS - Psa 34:20 “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken” fulfilled in SS - Joh 19:36 “For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.” Vs 15, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws…” fulfilled in SS - John 19:28, when He said simply, “I thirst.” You also had SS - Psa 69:21 “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” fulfilled in SS - Mat 27:34 “They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.” Gall is like bile or poison. Vs 16 – “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” Dogs were the Gentiles, and He was surrounded by them. Interesting, that David prophesied the piercing of the Lord’s hands and feet at a time when death by crucifixion hadn’t even been invented yet. That method of death was unknown to anyone at the time this was written. Vs 18 – They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Fulfilled in SS - Mat 27:35 “And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” And in vs. 21 – “Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.” We know who that is. SS - 1Pe 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The devil was there and the Lord begged to be saved from the devil’s mouth. The entire demonic spiritual realm descended upon Him and tortured His soul. And you have at the end of this chapter, vs. 31, “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” Gaebelien pointed out that that phrase, “he hath done this” has the same connotation in Hebrew as what the Lord said on the cross when He cried out, “It is finished.” When God the Father witnessed the travailing of His soul, He was satisfied by His sacrifice for the sins of the world. SS - Isa 53:11 “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Darby- “It is this alone which makes us in any way apprehend what righteousness and judgment are.”


Gaebelein once wrote, “The precious, blessed, unfathomable work of the sin-bearer on the Cross and its far reaching results in blessing and glory is here unfolded to our faith, as well as for our joy and comfort. The heart of the atonement occupies the foreground, not the physical sufferings, but the suffering He endured from the side of God, when He made Him who knew no sin, sin for us. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"--But Thou art holy! That is the answer to the "Why?" And when the blessed One was thus forsaken, and faced as the substitute of sinners the holy, sin-hating God, He finished the work, the work which enables God to be just and the justifier of all who believe in Jesus. "It is finished!" was His triumphant shout... Still more astonishing are the details of His physical sufferings, which were all so minutely fulfilled on Calvary. Here we find foretold the piercing of hands and feet, the excessive thirst He suffered, the terrible agony by hanging suspended, every bone out of joint; the laughter and hooting of his enemies, the very expressions they used surrounding the cross are given here, and the dividing of the garments and casting lots and other details are prophetically revealed... What an evidence of divine inspiration!”


Then in vs 22-31, the joy in Israel that enlarges to all the world in the kingdom on earth wrought by the great salvation of Jehovah. You have first in vs. 22, the praise declared “unto my brethren,” “in the midst of the congregation.” Then praise amongst “all that fear Him,” all “the seed of Jacob,” all the seed of Israel.” In vs. 25, praise of Him is declared “in the great congregation,” the great, holy temple of the Lord. Then in vs. 27, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.” Thus this Psalm, which begins with His agonizing suffering, ends in mighty glory, a glory yet to come for Israel and for all the nations of the earth. Just imagine! The first 21 verses of this chapter about the sufferings of Christ were fulfilled some 2,000 years ago. But the glory to come in those last 10 verses, we could go home today in the Rapture and those verses will be fulfilled in 7 years! I’ll bet you 10-20 years from now, these verses will be fulfilled. We’re that close!


Appointed to Suffer


We’ve been making the point that there is no more powerful testimony than the suffering servant. One of the points some commentators have made about Psa. 22 and Isa. 53 is that we get in both chapters a portrait of Christ as the suffering servant and there is a point behind the concept of the suffering servant. The suffering servant of God never suffers needlessly. The suffering servant suffers because there is an endgame, and that endgame is not about himself or herself but that endgame is about everyone else. And that endgame has to do with the salvation of everyone else, which is a theme writ large in both Psa. 22 and Isa. 53. And there are a few other things to note about the suffering servant. We find that first, the suffering servant glorifies God, second, the suffering servant brings salvation to others, and third, that suffering servant is later glorified. The same is true for us, which is why we’ve been appointed to suffer and that began with the Apostle Paul. Act 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: Act 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. Was the Apostle Paul appointed to suffer simply because he was the chief of sinners, he was the leader of the rebellion against Christ? No. Christ Himself says For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. He would suffer to advance the cause of Christ. He would suffer for His name’s sake, which is the very same reason we have all been appointed to suffer. Paul said in Php 1:29For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; How is it that our suffering is for His sake? You might consider what Paul says in vs. 12: Php 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; Php 1:13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; Php 1:14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Notice that persecution is an opportunity for a furtherance of the gospel in which doors are opened that may otherwise have remained shut. The suffering is for His sake because our suffering helps to advance the cause of Christ. If Christ were here, He’d be suffering to advance His Gospel of Grace, which is the inevitable result of living in a spiritual warfare in a sin-cursed world. But He isn’t here, and we’ve been elected as ambassadors to advance the cause on His behalf, which means that we shall also suffer on His behalf, suffer in place of Christ, to advance His gospel. Notice how Paul’s incarceration made the brethren feel bold about speaking the word without fear.


These are the three points we’ll cover. How the suffering servant glorifies God. How the suffering servant knows that there is an endgame in mind always for that suffering and then how we’ll be glorified together. First…


The Suffering Servant Glorifies God


2Co 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. These two sentences are a cause and effect. The cause of what the Lord said results in Paul’s reaction. Plus, we have a cause and effect within each sentence. The Lord said. “My grace is sufficient for thee (the entire package of grace has equipped you to the end – the cause) for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (The result - It’s not that His power only works when we are weak, but we rely most on His power when we are weak and His power is perfect to carry us in our weakness. We access His strength though the study of His Word, through prayer, and meditation of His Word). And so what’s Paul’s reaction to what the Lord told him? Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities (he is boasting about the sufficiency of His grace during all of his times of weakness. Why? So), that the power of Christ may rest upon me (If you glorify Christ in your time of weakness, then you are exhibiting the attribute of His power, which becomes visible to everyone around you. You glorying about Christ and the sufficiency of His grace and His strength at work in your weakness makes His power visible to everyone including demons and angels. The evidence of that fact that His power is at work in you is seen when you glory in your infirmities!). The application here is simple. When we go through hard times, we MUST glory in our infirmities – praising God for all the He is and all that He’s accomplished in us by His grace – because that glorying has a psychological and emotional impact on those around us but it has the strongest impact on each one of us. Amen?


There is an Endgame in Mind


Which is why there is an emphasis in 2 Cor. 6 that we covered and in much Paul’s epistles – an emphasis on longsuffering. It’s not about God taking that problem away from us. It’s about God empowering us by His grace to be able to suffer long with patience, forbearance, and love. We looked at Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 1:11Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 1:12Giving thanks unto the Father… The emphasis is the empowerment we have from within according to what God’s made us in His Son. When we study His Word, when we realize how empowered we are by His grace, when we increase in knowledge in the will of God, when we get to know the person of Christ and His Father, we, through that process, become strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, which is His knowledge made alive in us by the Spirit. And so we learn that we’ve all been designed to be able to exhibit all patience, to exhibit all longsuffering, and to do it all with joyfulness. We are “strengthened with all might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph.3:16). We become strengthened by the Spirit when we study His Word in which we reckon all that we are in Christ, all the ways in which we’ve been blessed spiritually, and we get to know Christ and His Father, all of which manifests His life in us, all of which strengthens us, all of which makes us able to walk worthy of His Son, which makes us able to not only cope with any extremity of life but also to become longsuffering with all joy just like Christ. Patience and longsuffering are hallmarks of the entire Godhead’s empowering grace to us.


Us fulfilling the role of the suffering servant, all suffering long with joyfulness, we puts on display to everyone the fact that His life is manifest in us, and that we intimately know God because we are exhibiting an attribute common amongst the entire Godhead -the capacity to suffer long with joy. And we know that longsuffering isn’t meaningless. It isn’t without purpose. Longsuffering has an endgame in mind, and that endgame is the salvation of souls. Just as this dispensation is characterized by the longsuffering of the Lord, just as Paul taught Peter and the Jews that the longsuffering of the Lord IS salvation, so too our role as the suffering servant may lead to the salvation of those we know.


And Then We’re Glorified Like Christ Heavenly Places – Turn to Eph. 1.


We all know the verse about our seats in heavenly places. Eph_2:6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” But I’d like to look at Ephesians 1 instead.


Eph 1:20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” So Christ’s throne at the right hand of the father is considered a heavenly place, but notice it’s heavenly places with an “s.” “In the heavenly places.” Either there are multiple heavenly places in Heaven or “heavenly places” is just a phrase that encompasses all three heavens of which Heaven itself is a part. I think it means both. In the OT, there are 5 verses that say “the heaven and the heaven of heavens.” Why does the Bible make the distinction between heaven and heaven of heavens? Plus, there are 2 verses in the OT that say, plural, “heavens of heavens.” It may be that the third heaven is a heavenly place in and of itself, and that Heaven is so massive, beyond comprehension, that heaven has its own multiple heavenly places, and Christ is exalted above it all. The phrase “7th Heaven” isn’t Biblical but it’s possible. Ephesians 4:8 and 10: “He ascended up on HIGH”, “the same also that ascended UP FAR ABOVE ALL HEAVENS.” That verse screams to me that there is more than the 3 heavens, that it’s possible that Heaven itself is so massive beyond comprehension that there could be multiple heavenly places in Heaven. In Ephesians 1:19 concerning the mighty power of God which He wrought in Christ “when He raised Him from the dead, and – what? - set Him at His own right hand in the HEAVENLIES FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITY, AND POWER, AND DOMINION, AND EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” Christ isn’t sitting on the ground floor of Heaven. He is seated in the heights of Heaven itself, probably atop the highest of mountains in heaven, like the Mount of the Congregation, which is far above all the heavenly realms in heaven itself as well as all the first and second heavens, far above all principality and power and dominion. His exaltation is so high we cannot conceive how high it is. He is literally and figuratively seated above every power and every creature in Heaven and in Earth. Reaching the doors of Heaven isn’t enough to find Christ. You’d have to scale the heights of Heaven itself into the very heavenly places of heaven itself to find Christ in His seat of penultimate power above all things. Before Christ came down from Heaven He was in the form of God. Now in Heaven Christ is God in the form of man, exalted beyond comprehension at the right hand of the Father, where He is the Head of the Church, and we are to see Christ now as He is exalted far above all things. And we’re seated there with Him.


Conclusion


You remember in 2 Tim. 3, the Pauline prophecies about the last days of grace, and halfway down that chapter, Paul writes, 2Ti_3:10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience… How do we fulfill our role as suffering servants in the last days of grace? We remember Paul’s doctrine. We remember his manner of life, his purpose, his faith, and we also remember how he exemplified the fine art of longsuffering. We made the point, too, “My doctrine” is the cause, and all the other 8 characteristics are the result. Why? Because the sound doctrines of grace will define your whole manner of life, as it did Paul’s. The sound doctrines of grace will define your purpose in life, as it did Paul’s. The sound doctrines of grace will define your faith, as it did Paul’s. The sound doctrines of grace will enable you to master longsuffering, enable you to become a model of charity, exhibiting the attributes of agape love itself. The sound doctrines of grace will enable you to become patient, like Paul, and enable you even to the degree of enduring with joy persecutions and afflictions that we just might have to face before the Lord comes… We remember God’s marching orders for us in 2Ti_4:2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. Why do we have to exhort with all longsuffering? Because sometimes people don’t react well to the doctrine. But we suffer long with patience, forbearance, and love so they may come around to the truth.


All of this brings us back to where we started in 2 Cor. 6. When Paul went through suffering, he revealed to us that he was focused on pureness, knowledge, longsuffering, and kindness. We called it PKLK – Pureness, Knowledge, Longsuffering, and Kindness. The suffering servant is one who can master the art of longsuffering. When Paul said he was focused on longsuffering, he wasn’t simply focused on just getting through the suffering. He’s also focused upon patience, the calm temper with which you wait long to get through that suffering. And he’s also focused upon forbearance, command of temper, the restraint of acting in the flesh. Longsuffering, patience, and forbearance are distinct and yet, they’re all interconnected, because to master the art of longsuffering is to also master the art of patience and forbearance. Plus, longsuffering is part of the very nature of love itself. We looked at the longsuffering of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Us suffering long with joyfulness puts on display to everyone the fact that His life is manifest in us, and that we intimately know God because we are exhibiting an attribute common amongst the entire Godhead -the capacity to suffer long with joy. And we know that the suffering servant isn’t meaningless. The suffering servant isn’t without purpose. The suffering servant has an endgame in mind, and that endgame is the salvation of souls. Just as this dispensation is characterized by the longsuffering of the Lord, just as Paul taught Peter and the Jews that the longsuffering of the Lord IS salvation, so too the suffering servant may lead to the salvation of others. And if you’re out there, and you don’t know if you’re saved or not, now is the day of your salvation. Believe that Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again as a payment for all your sins, and thou shalt be saved. Let’s pray.

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