The most powerful verses in this Psalm are in this section.
16: [Walk to Golgatha, the crucifixion] Dogs surround accusing me the assembly of the wicked like lions have enclosed me (fastened nails), (or they pierce) my hands and my feet.
A point this Psalms brings out, Jesus is surrounded by the wicked, who are posed by metaphors: dogs, bulls, and lions. A weird part of this verse, there is a simile for lions that most do not translate. I believe there is a disagreement whether the word ka-ari is a noun or a verb. Adding ka to a noun makes it a simile (like or as), but this could also be a verb.
Some Jewish translations use the verb for biting others use like lions. I found a Hebrew professor’s breakdown of this word which said it could be a noun or verb, but as a verb means to pierce. Since I have focused on reading this Psalms through the eyes of Jesus, pierced fits perfectly. If I read this Psalm through the eyes of David, like lions also fits. This verse has many paths, which is why it is called scripture.
17: [The Cross] I may count all my bones; they look and stare upon me.
Who is they? The bones, or those that surround Jesus?
18: [The Cross] They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19: [The Cross] But be not far from me, Lord, my strength, hurry to help me.
Verses 17 – 19 are straightforward translation; however, after the set day for me to break down verse 19 passed, I kept being drawn to the word strength. I reviewed its translation a few times, which means help or strength from a variation of a ram, but it’s not the same Hebrew word for strength in verse 15.
With each passing day, my strength was like a beacon, calling to me each time I read Psalms 22. I did not know why, but there was something significant the Holy Spirit wanted me to see. I wrote the word down in Hebrew and started pulling it apart, and with teary eyes, O how I had missed it! Boy did I ever miss it! It wasn’t the translation, but how the word was written.
The Hebrew word used is אֱיָלוּתִי, formed by adding two suffixes to the word אֱיָל (elay), a masculine noun, and means anyone that functions as the “strong authority.” Adding the suffix וּתִ makes it feminine plural and the Yod י at the end makes it possessive (my). I also learned, this is the only time elay is transformed into a feminine plural in the Bible.
I pondered, “Why would David transform strength into a feminine and plural?” “Who is Jesus calling out to help him?” Taking the word ram, and making it feminine plural, I arrive at sheep. I am reminded Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice.” Is Jesus calling out to the church, his future bride, His strength, the reason He is on the cross, to hurry and help spread the Gospel to a lost and dying world? Instead of flashing back on the events, is Jesus now looking into the future, the church age, drawing his strength from the future, his willingness to die for her?
20: [Christ’s death] Publicly deliver my soul from the sword (spear, death); my Only One from the paw of the dog (power of the wicked one).
As I saw in Psalms 69, this verse marks a change in the Psalm. It is not clear to me who is seeing what. On one hand, I can read David viewing the cross asking for the deliverance of his own soul, but deliverance here is nitsal used with the exodus, so it’s a public display of deliverance. In the second part, David is asking for the deliverance of My Only One, which is used with my only son in other verses. Does this psalm now switch from the view of Christ to the view of David?
I believe this Psalm marks the death of Christ. David may be talking about saving his soul from death, but it could also be the last request of Jesus, save my soul from the sword, from hell. Then the second part changes and David prays for the God to save “My Only One” from the paw of the dog. Previous versus use the plural form of dogs, bulls and lions in relation to the wicked. Now we see the singular for dog, being for one wicked being, the Devil.
21: [Tomb, Hell, and Resurrection] Save me from the mouth of the lion, from the horns of the reemim (wild oxen), YOU HAVE ANSWERED ME!
As I saw at the start of the chapter in the second verse and how it related to the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ did not get an answer to his prayer, but instead accepted His fate by saying, “not my will, but your will.” The summation of the previous 20 verses leads to this verse. The main event! As this Psalm teaches, from the beginning in the womb, Jesus trusted God for deliverance, God would deliver him. He went to the cross, to the point of death, trusting God would deliver Him! He is now dead, his lifeless body in the tomb, his soul in the mouth of the lion, hell.
From the horns of the reem (wild oxen) I suggest means since the beginning of time. This is a strange interpretation, but comes from the Hebrew letter A, which in primitive Hebrew was an ox head with horns. The horns pointed to before the letter A, or the beginning of time.
Now we arrive at the moment, the lamenting is over, the pain is over, it is finished. As this is a song, I can see this verse being a crescendo, and ending with an FF as the last word of the verse is onithni, You have answered Me (with a shouting emphasis). The Psalmist tells us, the prayer of Jesus was now answered. From the beginning of time, this prayer was going to be answered. The third day is complete and the long awaited answer to the prayer arrives. Jesus is delivered! Resurrected, conquered death! He’s Alive! He’s Alive! Raised from the dead! His prayer is answered, he is quietly and publicly delivered! The work of Salvation is complete!
I wanted to end on a high note, but in reviewing different translations, the Hebrew word onithni (you have answered me) is left out? Not translated as something else, but omitted. I find this most unfortunate and don’t understand why. I feel the whole purpose of the Psalm was for the answered the prayer. It marks the transition point of the Psalm, from lament to praise. I looked at this word esoterically, Ayin – to see, experience. Nun – sprouting seed, emergence, Hei – Lifted Up. Esoterically, I see the resurrection.