Psalm 22 prophetically portrays the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, the day Christians remember the Suffering Servant who became a curse for us (Gal. 3:13-14). It conveys the agonizing death of the Christ more than a thousand years before it actually occurred on Calvary.
Psalm 23: The Psalm of the Resurrection
Psalm 23 continues the Easter story with the resurrection of Christ. Jesus lived the life we could not live and died the death we should have died in order to give us His righteousness and absorb the wrath and death we deserve. His resurrection proclaims victory over death. On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrected Jesus Christ who defeated death by His death, bringing good news of deliverance to the nations.
The psalm depicts the relationship of the LORD and a faithful follower as shepherd and a lamb. A shepherd lives with his flock and is its guide, provider and protector. This picture symbolizes the perfect dependence on God for which every believer should strive, yet at the same time, it finds ultimate fulfillment in the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, the Good Shepherd and the Lamb.
The Sufferer in Psalm 22 is crucified, yet the Lamb who was slain finds waters of rest in luscious pastures. The path of the Lamb has been righteous, and His life has been restored. Though he walked in the shadow of death, no evil overcomes Him. The Good Shepherd faithfully provides in life and now proves faithful to care for His sheep in the face of death. The Good Shepherd prepares a table of victory for the Lamb. The cup of wrath has been poured out onto the Lamb and has now become the overflowing cup of mercy.
Psalm 23 shows the depth of character and strength of the One who walks in the valley of the shadow of death on behalf of humanity. The Sufferer finds peace not in escape or apathy but in facing death and suffering. The focus of His resolve does not center on an end, but on the Lord Himself.
Psalm 24: The Psalm of the Resurrection and Ascension
Resurrection Sunday does not end the Easter story. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to many and restored the hope of the apostles (Acts 1:3). After 40 days, Jesus commissioned His disciples to bring glory to God by making disciples of all nations. On Ascension Sunday (May 21, 2012), Christians celebrate Christ’s ascension and eagerly await His second return. The first advent of Christ is marked by the bookends of His incarnation and ascension.
Psalm 24 begins with praise to the all-creating God who founded and established the world. Then two questions emerge: Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in His holy place (Ps. 24:3)? The answer is sobering: Only one with clean hands, a pure heart and a genuine trust in God (Ps. 24:4). But who is able to honestly and perfectly meet these requirements?
There is only One – the Sufferer of Psalm 22 who endured the scorn and torture of the cross and who was raised to life by the Good Shepherd (Ps. 23:1-6).
Christ Jesus has been vindicated and is able to ascend the hill of the Lord with the title, King of Glory. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered death and ransomed a people for God from every tribe, tongue and nation (Rev. 5:1-14).
The whole Easter story includes the major elements of the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, as well as the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012). Traditionally, the saints sing Psalm 24 on Ascension Day, praising the King of Glory who is able to ascend the hill of the Lord.
As Christians, our great hope is deferred, but may our hearts not be sick. For we know that the promise has been fulfilled in Christ, and underneath the Tree of Life, we will see the face of Jesus and night will be no more (Rev. 22:1-5).