Psalms 22–24: A Prophetic Messianic Trilogy

Psalms 22, 23 and 24 form a prophetic, messianic trilogy pointing to the circumstances surrounding the death (Psalms 22 and 23), resurrection (Psalm 23) and enthronement of Yeshua as King over Israel (Psalm 24). Psalm 24 shows how a person can ascend the “mountain” of Elohim and come into the presence of our Father in heaven. This psalm also presents the Messiah as YHVH and as the doorway to righteousness and salvation for those who seek him. He is the only way to the Father in heaven, if one will only open the door of one’s heart and let him come into one’s life.

Psalm 22

Psalm 22:1–7, You forsaken me…enthroned in the praises. When it seems that Elohim has forsaken us and the heavens seem like brass, this is the time to praise Elohim, and his presence will come. It is also the time to recall and even remind him of all the good things that he has done for us in times past (vv. 4–5). This is despite the fact that the brutish and abusive behavior of others against us often makes us feel as low as a worm (vv. 6–7). Praising and trusting in Elohim at such times is counter intuitive to the natural human mind. It is in such times that one is inclined to cease believing in their Creator and, to one degree or another, forsake him and or abandon their faith altogether. Yet at these times, this is when the faithful saint seeks the Almighty all the more, even as Yeshua did while in praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and while hanging on the cross—the very thing to which this psalm prophetically pointed. For it is verse one of this psalm that Yeshua quoted while hanging on the cross dying. He was telling us that we was the fulfillment of the prophecies contained in this psalm. In fact, this psalm has several prophetic referential touch points to Yeshua’s last moments just prior to his ignominious death. They are:

Verse 1— “My Elohim, my Elohim, why have you forsaken me?”

Verse 6— “A reproach of men, and despised by the people.”

Verses 7–8— “All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in YHVH, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’”

Verses 9–10— “But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My El.”

verse 14— “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me.”

Verse 15— “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.”

Verses 16–17— “For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.”

Verse 18— “They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

Because of these prophetic references to the events surrounding Yeshua’s death, Psalm 22 ranks as one of the greatest messianic prophecies in the entire Tanakh. There are simply too many unique and direct references to the specific circumstances of Yeshua’s crucifixion as recorded in the Gospels to be merely coincidental. For example, how could the psalmist have known about the Roman mode of execution known as crucifixion some 1,000 years before this event occurred? Actually, the earliest crucifixions as recorded in history were performed by the Persians and Greeks as early as 500 BC, which is still some 500 years before David penned this psalm.

Psalm 22:3–4, Enthroned…delivered them. Praise and worship is a spiritual warfare weapon. (On the dynamic spiritual power of godly music, see 2 Chron 20:20–23 and notes at 1 Sam 16:23). 

Psalm 22:3–5, They trusted…you delivered. Praise and worship combined with  trusting faith in YHVH is a spiritual warfare weapon that brings the saints deliverance from their enemies. 

Psalm 22:12, Bulls of Bashan. Bashan is in the area of Mount Hermon in northern Israel. The southern base of Mount Hermon, in ancient times, was regarded by the pagans as Satan’s seat and the gates of hell. There the pagans erected a temple to the demon-god Pan. Later it became known as Caesarea Philippi, and there Yeshua confronted Satan by declaring that the gates of hell would never prevail against his church (Matt 16:18).

Psalm 22:26, See notes on Psalm 49:15.

Psalm 23

Natan’s Reflections on Sheep and on Being a Shepherd of Sheep on the Family Farm

David, the author of this psalm, was a literal shepherd of sheep as we all know. This is something that both David and I had in common. This is because I lived on sheep farm from age six to 24, and like David, it was my duty to care for the sheep. We can learn a lot about ourselves and other people when we hang out with sheep. Being a shepherd makes the Bible come alive, since YHVH Yeshua likens his people to sheep, and he is our Good Shepherd who cares for us (John 10:11, 14).

During my time on the family farm, it was my responsibility to care for the sheep including feeding them twice daily, caring for the lambs, protecting the sheep from predators, keeping the gates and fences that surrounded them in good conditions, cleaning their barns, helping the ewes give birth as needed, tending to sick and wounded sheep, leading them from pasture to pasture, shearing them, and finally, butchering them. I have wrestled with sheep, chased them, led them, fed them, fondled them, sheared them and even butchered them. I loved the sheep that were under my care, and to this day, decades later, I still feel a deep, visceral love in my gut when the thought of sheep come to my mind. Whenever I have the opportunity to be around sheep, if they are tame,you will find me out with them fondling their heads and scratching them behind their ears. 

Later, I married and became the father of four children and had the opportunity to shepherd my own flock of human sheep. After that, my wife and I started a congregation which I pastored or shepherded (as I like to say) for 18 years where I shepherded “sheeple.” 

Here are a few of my reflections on literal sheep and caring for them and how they are like YHVH’s people (or “sheeple”).

Sheep are defenseless. About all they can do is run from a predator, and they are not fast runners. They will run until they tire out, and then will simply fall down exhausted becoming a hapless victim. When a ewe feels threatened, especially when she has lambs, she will look at you in the eye and stomp her hoof determinately in the ground as it to say, “Don’t come any closer, or I will…do something to you, but I don’t have a clue what….” It is all show, for there is nothing she can do, but hope to out run  her attacker. In reality, it’s a pitiful and hopeless situation. 

Sheep are not the most intelligent animal on the farm nor the dumbest, but are somewhere in the between goat and turkeys. Of the animals we had on our farm, our sheep dog was the most intelligent, then the goats, followed by cattle and lastly the sheep. After that came the fowl. In order of intelligence were geese, pigeons, chickens, ducks and the stupidest of all were the turkeys. Frankly, the ducks didn’t seem much smarter, at least to me. Chickens are not much better.

Sheep are skittish. If they don’t know you, they will not allow you to approach them, but will run off. If they know and trust you, they will allow you to come up to them, or they will come up to you when you call them—especially if they think you have food (e.g. grain). At night, when it was dark and they could not see you, I could walk among them and they would not run away. I would simply let them hear my voice, and they were immediately at ease. This reminds me of the Bible verses where Yeshua, the Good Shepherd said that his sheep here his voice and he calls them by name (John 10:3, 16, 27).

Sheep will happily and trustingly follow their shepherd whom they know and trust. I trained the sheep to following me from one pasture to another while shaking a bucket of grain. They would follow me single file wherever I led them. There was always a lead sheep—usually the oldest, tamest and smartest ewe. The other sheep knew and trusted this matriarch, and she knew and trusted me knowing that I would lead her to a good pasture. Similarly, Yeshua raises up trusted leaders (shepherds) among his people who have earned their trust, and they follow the leader as he or she follows Yeshua. This is what Paul asked of the saints in Corinth: “Follow [or imitate] me as I follow [or imitate] Messiah,” (1 Cor 11:1). 

Sheep are smelly. Their wool gets all manner of pasture debris (e.g. sticks, dirt and whatever else) caught in it, and they are unable to clean themselves. A sheep pelt (minus the sheep) is not easily cleaned. With the help of much soap and rubbing by hand, it takes a long time to get all of the dirt out that has accumulated since the sheep was last shorn, which occurs once a year—usually in the spring. When the pelt gets wet, it takes days to dry out, since thick wool holds a lot of moisture. This is why Gideon used a wet then a dry sheep fleece as a miraculous test to prove the veracity of the Heavenly Messenger’s word to him (Judg 6:36–40).

Sheep lead well, but they drive badly. As already noted, sheep will follow a trusted shepherd wherever he leads them. However, if you try to drive a flock of sheep (without the aid of well-trained sheep dogs), each one will flee frantically in as many directions as there sheep. This reminds me of the Bible verses that says without a loving shepherd to lead them, YHVH’s people, like sheep, will scatter (Zech 13:7; Matt 26:7). Sheep need a shepherd, even as we need trusted human leaders, and ultimately Yeshua is the head or Chief Shepherd (1 Pet 5:4) of us all.

Without a shepherd, sheep will wander. Though I was the shepherd of our flock of sheep, we had fences to keep the sheep contained, so they would not wander. Fences also prevent predators from getting in with the sheep. Similarly, without Yeshua and his Torah-Word to lead, guide and protect us, we, as his sheep, will also go astray, for as we read, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way,” (Isa 53:6). Yeshua’s word is like a fence that protects us from the destructive forces of sin, as well as those who would prey on us and lead us astray (e.g. false teachers and shepherds, and Satan himself, who comes as an angel of light to lure us away from the safe pastures of YHVH’s ways of Truth and righteousness that lead to everlasting life).

In times Bible times, shepherds carried a rod and staff. The rod was a weapon to club predators who might attack the sheep. The staff was to guide and direct the sheep—to keep them in line while moving them from place to place. On our farm, our rod was a gun that we kept at the door, which we used on occasion to protect our sheep from attacking dogs. Our staff were our fences and barns that kept the sheep contained.

When brought into a new pasture, sheep will gorge themselves with so much fresh grass that sometimes their stomachs will bloat and they will become sick. Invariably, our sheep would get the runs from all the green grass and their rear ends were a greenish mess! As crass as this may sound, I saw the same thing happen many times while pastoring YHVH’s sheeple. People would leave the mainstream Christian church in malnourished, virtually starved condition because they had not been fed well from the whole Word of Elohim including his Torah. About all they knew was that Jesus loved them and that they were saved by his grace. Once the treasures of Torah and the Old Testament were opened up to them, they would gorge themselves on the wonderful knowledge contained there and, in turn, forget about Yeshua and his loving grace. As a result, they would start to eat and devour one another and become spiritually sick. Sheeple can become messed up pretty quickly when fed an unbalanced biblical diet. In some Hebraic circles, this proclivity has given rise to the pejorative term “Messyanics” or “Messy Antics” instead of Messianics.

Sheep love to be fondled and scratched on the head and behind the ears. Domesticated animals, like sheep, are YHVH’s gift to humans. One of YHVH’s first commands to Adam and Eve was to tend and keep the garden and then to care for and name the animals. Most of our animals (except the chickens) all had names. I grew up around animals, and even our farm animals (we always had a hundred or more of them at any one time) became my pets. I loved them as it was my job to care for them every morning and evening, from birth until the time we had to butcher them to feed our family. Many animals crave for and thrive on human affection and respond affectionately when loved and fondled. We can all relate to household pets like dogs and cats, but sheep, goats and cattle thrive on human affection as well. So do chickens. Have you ever picked up, cradled a hen in your arms while petting it? The sweetest and most mellifluous will flow forth from them as evidence of their happiness. There was much love and affection exchanged between myself and the animals I cared for on the family farm. They looked me as their protector and provider. Their dependence on me was evident, for if I slept in and failed to get up early enough to feed them in the morning, the farm would erupt with a chorus of mooing, baahing to inform me that I was derelict in my dutie.

Sheep trust their shepherd. I could move freely among the sheep day or night without them fearing me. This was not true of strangers.

Sheep know the voice of their shepherd even in the night darkness when they cannot see who the person is. As already noted, one word from me, and they were immediately at peace. Similarly, those of us who have a personal relationship with Yeshua, our Chief Shepherd (1 Pet 5:4) have learned to know, trust and long to hear his voice to guide and comfort us as we navigate the rough seas of this life.

Sheep require a fair amount of care to keep healthy. Their hooves have to be trimmed. They need shearing and deworming. Sometimes they need help giving birth to their young. From time to time and mother will reject its newborn lamb, and so the lamb has to be hand fed until it is able to feed on grass. I had to suckle motherless lambs many times. We would actually bring them into our warm house and keep them there until their wool had grown sufficiently, so that they could endure the cold weather outside without a mother to snuggle up against.

A shepherd always has to be alert to potential predators attacking his sheep. Even though we had fences and barns for the sheep’s protection, we still kept a watchful eye over them day and night. My bedroom was in the attic of the old farmhouse that my grandfather had built in the early 1920s. I always slept with the window open not only for fresh air, but so that I could hear any worrisome sounds coming from the sheep pasture below. We kept a goat a amongst the sheep who wore a bell. If I heard the goat’s neckbell ringing, this alerted me to the fact that the sheep were running—something that they normally wouldn’t be doing at night. Instantly, I was up, dressed, and downstairs where I would grab the gun, the flashlight and run out the door with our border collie dog right behind me to check on the sheep. A few time while giving birth to a lamb at night, a ewe would beginning bleating in pain. This was our clue that she needed our help. I would wake up my mom and we would run down to the sheep pasture to perform midwifery service to the ailing ewe. To this day, I tend to be a light sleeper, and often awake at the slightest sound as a result of years of sleeping with one ear open listening for worrisome sounds coming from the sheep pasture. Similarly, the ears of YHVH are open to the cries of his people who diligently seek him.

Lambs are like puppies—very sweet and lovable. What person doesn’t love a puppy? YHVH loves his spiritual lambs, as well, in ways that we are unable to fully fathom and appreciate. After all, let’s not forget that he gave his only begotten Son to be the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the world to redeem sinful humans. That’s you and me!

Psalm 23:2, Still waters. Sheep can only drink from calm waters; they may drown if they drink from rushing waters (their nostrils are too close to their mouth).

Psalm 23:3, Paths. Heb. ma’gal meaning “circumvallation or a winding movement; especially one thing around another.” The paths of righteousness are circular or cyclical in nature. This seems to be direct allusion to the cycles of YHVH’s calendar and appointed times (weeks, months, years, jubilees, sabbaths or feasts) which not only help to keep men on YHVH’s paths of righteousness, but aids man in his spiritual growth or climb upward as he becomes more and more like YHVH. Ma’gal is used in this way also in Pss 17:5; 65:11; Prov 2:6; 4:11; 26; Isa 26:7.

Psalm 23:2, Still waters. Sheep can only drink from calm waters; they may drown if they drink from rushing waters (their nostrils are too close to their mouth).

Psalm 23:3, Paths. Heb. ma’gal meaning “circumvallation or a winding movement; especially one thing around another.” The paths of righteousness are circular or cyclical in nature. This seems to be direct allusion to the cycles of YHVH’s calendar and appointed times (weeks, months, years, jubilees, sabbaths or feasts) which not only help to keep men on YHVH’s paths of righteousness, but aids man in his spiritual growth or climb upward as he becomes more and more like YHVH. Ma’gal is used in this way also in Pss 17:5; 65:11; Prov 2:6; 4:11; 26; Isa 26:7.

Psalm 23:4, Your rod. The shepherds rod was like a policeman’s club. It was made of hard wood with a knob at the end, or it had knob nails driven into it to make it a better weapon (Manners and Customs, p. 149).

Psalm 24

Psalm 24:1, The earth is YHVH’s. While the earth and the entire creation belongs to YHVH, Satan is the ruler of the kingdoms of this world (Matt 4:8), the prince of the power of the air (or the earth’s atmosphere; Eph 2:2) and the god of this age or world (2 Cor 4:4).

Psalm 24:2–6, Who may ascend. Mountains in the Scriptures as well as in pagan and secular cultures have long been a metaphor for seats governmental power and authority, and still are (think Capital Hill, and Vatican Hill, for example). To start with, the patriarchs all visited Mount Moriah also known as Beth-el or the house of El to commune with Elohim. YHVH then appeared to Moses and the children of Israel from Mount Sinai. Later, the temple in Jerusalem was constructed on Mount Moriah or Mount Zion. Yeshua spent much time teaching from such places as the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Transfiguration. Jacob dreamed of a ladder to heaven that started at Mount Moriah and ascended to the very gate of third or highest heaven itself, which is the abode of YHVH Elohim (Gen 28:17). Yeshua then goes on tersely and cryptically to explain that he is that ladder in Jacob’s dream that his disciples must “climb” to come into the presence of his Father in heaven (John 1:51 cp. 14:6).

Finally, Isaiah prophesies a time coming when Elohim will come down from his dwelling place in the highest heaven, will split the heavens above the earth and will shake the mountains of human governmental systems, so they fall to the earth. This is when Yeshua will destroy the end times Babylon the Great new world order Antichrist system at his second coming. (Isa 64:1–4 cp. Rev 18), and then replace it his world-ruling millennial government from the mountain in Jerusalem. 

Mountain as symbols of governmental power teach us that there are levels of authority that are above us to which we must submit. Ultimately, YHVH exits at the summit of all authority structures. The amazing thing is that the arms of Creator of the universe are open wide as he invites his lowly human creations to come into his presence. But there are conditions to coming into the presence of such a glorious, holy (pure) and righteous Being, which are laid out in these verses. Not everyone will meet those requirements.

Psalm 24:6, Those who seek him…seek his face. Heaven is no place for those who do not want to be there, and who do not seek the face of Elohim! The atheists and unrepentant God-hating rebels will receive the desires of their heart: a future devoid of their Creator. 

Psalm 24:7–10, Lift up your heads, O you gates! Heaven’s gates are beckoning humans to come to their Father in heaven—to come into the everlasting presence of the Most High Elohim.

The King of glory shall come in. There is no other King of glory but Yeshua the Messiah to whom the gates of heaven opened wide to receive after his resurrection from the dead. He is the first of the first fruits of those who will resurrect from the dead to be accepted by YHVH Elohim and to be allowed in his presence. This is because he fulfilled the conditions listed in the first six verses of this psalm.

Thus, this psalm is not only a messianic prophecy predicting the resurrection of Yeshua, but is also a divine invitation showing humans what they must do come into the presence of Elohim and who will lead them to that glorious and blessed place.


2 thoughts on “Psalms 22–24: A Prophetic Messianic Trilogy

  1. Two things I want to say for your consideration,
    1) Yeshua nailed our iniquities and our infirmities to His cross, Is 1:18 ‘Come, NOW. let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. thought they be red as crimson, they shall be as wool,” I was taking Vit,D3 as “cholecalciferol” when I learned this is sourced from lamb’s wool (it is in the lanolin) and is a virus killer! How like Him to put it in the lamb!
    2) The worm-there is a red worm that embeds itself in the tree and according to, the crimson worm yields a red dye that according to rabbinic literature was used to dye curtains in the tabernacle!
    So many levels……….this is a beautiful post . Thanks Natan.

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