This amazing prophetic psalm is in two parts. The first part, vs. 1-24, describes prophetically the crucifixion of Messiah Yeshua; the second part, vs. 25-31, describes prophetically the result of Yeshua’s sacrifice: the restoration of all the families of the nations to God to worship before Him (vs. 27). This is a direct thematic connection backward to the Tower of Babel rebellion against God (Gen 11:1-9), where all the families of the nations gathered together as one to reject God as Creator and God (and is the historical root of paganism), and a direct thematic connection forward to the vision of John recorded in Rev 7:9-10, of all the families of earth, gathered together as one before the Lord on His throne, worshiping Him.
I have the chiastic structure worked out for the first part:
1a) Psa 22:1-2, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? … You do not hear;
1b) Psa 22:3, But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel;
1c) Psa 22:4-10, As our fathers trusted in You, and You delivered them, so have I since birth:
–> 1a) Psa 22:4-5, Our fathers trusted in You + You delivered them + they were not ashamed;
–> central axis) Psa 22:6-8, But I am a worm, reproached + despised + ridiculed by the people;
–> 2a) Psa 22:9-10, You have been my God from birth, I have trusted in You from the womb:
—-> 1a) Psa 22:9a, You are He;
—-> 1b) Psa 22:9b, Who took Me out of the womb;
—-> central axis) Psa 22:9c-10a, You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts/ I was cast upon You from birth;
—-> 2b) Psa 22:10b, From My mother’s womb;
—-> 2a) Psa 22:10c, You have been My God;
1d) Psa 22:11, Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help;
central axis) Psa 22:12-18, The amazing prophecy of the Messiah’s crucifixion;
2d) Psa 22:19, But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me;
2c) Psa 22:20-21, Deliver + save me from the sword + dogs, lions, bulls/You have answered Me;
2b) Psa 22:22-23, I will declare Your name + praise You/ praise + glorify + fear Him offspring of Israel;
2a) Psa 22:24, He has not despised the afflicted nor hidden His face from Him, but when he cried to Him, He heard.
There is so much in this Psalm to unpack! For today, I could not get away from David’s use of the word “worm” to describe the man of Jacob who was under such great reproach of men. It put me in mind of a similar passage in Isaiah:
“Fear not, you worm Jacob, You men of Israel! I will help you,” says the Lord And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Isa 41:14
I did some digging, and it turns out this is the only other place in the Hebrew Bible where the word “worm” is used like this, not speaking of worms, or wormwood as bitterness, but of a man or the men of Israel.
“Worm” is in Hebrew, Strong’s H8438, a specific species of worm, the female of the species ‘coccus ilicis’, the scarlet worm. The dried body of this worm was used for scarlet dye in the ancient world, thus the many times in Torah when, in the instructions for the building of the tabernacle, “blue, purple, and scarlet stuff” or material is specified, this same word for the scarlet worm is used for the color scarlet.
“When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might ‘bring many sons unto glory’ (Hbr 2:10)! He died for us, that we might live through him! Psa 22:6 describes such a worm and gives us this picture of Christ. (cf. Isa 1:18)”
– Henry Morris. Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Baker Book House, 1985, p. 73
It is amazing that the prophetic metaphor of the scarlet worm is here and also in the tabernacle of the blue, purple, and scarlet stuff, which is likewise a prophetic metaphor of the Messiah, His deity, and His action as the mediator between God and men. The scarlet dye was applied to white wool to make it scarlet … and the blood of Messiah is applied to us, to make we who are stained scarlet with sin, to be white as wool.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Isa 1:18