A thousand years before Jesus, David, “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1, NKJV), penned the harmonious words found in the twenty-third Psalm which depicts Jesus caring for His sheep. He also wrote Psalm twenty-two which pictures the Messiah, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), dying for His sheep.
In chilling detail, David foresaw the Messiah’s agony upon the cross. “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?” (Psalm 22:1–2). It occurred just that way. Moments before the Savior died on the cross, at “about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice... ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’ ” (Matthew 27:46).
David must have envisioned the dying Savior, beaten, bloody, naked, crucified before a watching horde. “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by people. Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads: ‘He relies on the Lord; let him save him; let the Lord rescue him, since he takes pleasure in him” (Psalm 22:6-8). Matthew recorded the actual, historical events. “Those who passed by were yelling insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him and said, ‘He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him’ ” (Matthew 27:39–42).
The Psalmist describes, in horrifying detail, the gruesomeness of crucifixion. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are disjointed; my heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength is dried up like baked clay; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You put me into the dust of death... I can count all my bones; people look and stare at me” (Psalm 22:14-15, 17).
David then adds two details unique to Jesus’ sacrificial death. “They pierced my hands and my feet” and “they divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing” (Psalm 22:16-18). This, of course, was fulfilled exactly.
Though the Gospels don’t record the nails being driven into the Lord’s hands and feet, it does record the moment that Jesus revealed Himself as the Resurrected One. “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself! ... Having said this, he showed them his hands and feet” (Luke 24:39–40). There is no doubt that Jesus exposed the grotesque wounds in each of His extremities, validating and verifying His true identity.
After the Roman soldiers pierced His hands and feet, nailing Him to the Old Rugged Cross, “they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, a part for each soldier. They also took the tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it, to see who gets it.’ This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled that says: They divided my clothes among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing. This is what the soldiers did” (John 19:23–24).
Just as the nail-prints in the Master’s hands verified His identity for the earliest disciples, the fulfilled Messianic prophecies verify the truthfulness of Scriptures for us. They’re proof-positive that Jesus is, in-fact, the Savior of the world.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.