Psalm 22 – Christ’s Sufferings and Glory” & Lions and Other Wild Beasts in Ancient Israel

 To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.

1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were    not confounded.

6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

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.

10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a 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 in the midst of my bowels.

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.

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

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.

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.

25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live forever.

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.

28 For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations.

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.

30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

God’s spiritual benefits to faithful souls.  God’s economy revealed in the crucifixion, the resurrection, the church, and the kingdom.

The Negev is a desert and semi-desert region of southern Israel.
The region’s largest city and administrative capital is Beersheba (pop. 196,000), in the north.

At its southern end is the Gulf of Aqaba and the resort city of Eilat.

It contains several development towns, including Dimona, Arad and Mitzpe Ramon, as well as a number of small Bedouin cities, including Rahat and Tel as-Sabi.

There are also several kibbutzim, including Revivim and Sde Boker; the latter became the home of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, after his retirement from politics.

Lions and Other Wild Beasts in Ancient Israel

For the modern reader the ferocity of wild beasts is something of a cliché; we can mouth the analogy “as bold as a lion” without having had any firsthand experience with the terror these animals can inspire.

In ancient Israel, though, such creatures were an all too real danger and a pervasive source of fear.  Menacing carnivores incldued bears, lions, leopards, wolves, and jackals. 

This picture of the Assyrian lion hunt is still fresh and clear because it still exist in stone.
Assyrian sculptors portrayed the royal huntsman at every moment of the action, beginning with the pursuit and ending with the kill.

The situation of the ancient Israelite herdsman was all the more acute in that he had to defend his livestock from these beasts or face personal ruin.  The shepherd literally stood between the predator and its prey (1 Sam 17:36-37). 

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of lions and bears from Iron Age, and many carnivores continued in the region until the fairly recent past.  Leopards still survive in parts of Negev.

Relief sculptures from Nineveh (c. 950 B.C.) depict the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal hunting lions from the relative safety of his war chariot, indicating that these animals were neither rare nor exotic in the ancient Near East.

In Ps 22:13-14 David likened his enemies to a roaring lion that made his heart melt; not doubt many Israelites knew what was to be paralyzed with fear by the roars, growls, howls, and snarls of wild beasts.