It seems impossible that one could spend much time in shepherding others and not have moments like David describes in verse 13 of Psalm 22. When no matter your best efforts and good intentions, the sheep seem like roaring lions attacking their prey.
As this psalm continues, however, we find a vivid description of much deeper suffering – of bones disjointed, of strength exhausted, and of dehydration and a thin frame.
In what we know about David’s life, when was he in such a condition? We know Saul considered him his prey, but when did David experience such intense physical suffering? Even Warren Wiersbe notes that “we have a difficult time finding an occasion in [David’s] life that would call forth this kind of psalm. According to what we know, the Lord never deserted [David] in his hour of need but always provided friends to help him and deliverance from his enemies.”
Then who is the psalmist speaking of in this passage that, on further investigation, describes a first-century criminal execution. David lived hundreds of years before that time but wrote what we know as Psalm 22 with such graphic detail that my own body ached as I read the words.
It was the “Messianic Psalm!” Just weeks before the time those of us who follow Christ remember with deep gratitude the painful and excruciating death of our Savior, I’d landed in the psalm prophesying the death of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, our Messiah, the sacrificial Lamb of God.
With transparency and shame, I confess that when I first read the early portion of the third stanza of this psalm, I was immediately taken to my own past leadership pain and heartache.
Like roaring lions attacking their prey, they come at me with open mouths.
How self-centered I am! How quickly I think of me, my own pain, my own experience – all of which clearly pales in comparison to what my Shepherd suffered … for me.
Today, let’s express our gratitude for the sacrificial pain of our Lord. Let’s take the focus off of ourselves and thank Him, praise Him, and worship Him together. Let’s pray for those in our lives whose suffering is greater than our own, and let’s live as a sacrificial example of The Good Shepherd.