A speaker who quotes a well-known passage is compressing and
compacting a lot of information into a very small package. When you
start the recitation, you also know how it ends; the finale does not
come as an unexpected surprise. Interpreters who want to know the
whole story should not neglect to read the whole psalm, which does not end in defeat but in triumph.
That Psalm 22 speaks in images of such startling clarity and
vitality of a crucifixion, presents a problem for the unbeliever. John
Dominic Crossan is only the latest in a long line who must find some
way of turning things inside out. Here David Friedrich Strauss explains why Psalm 22 has got nothing
whatsoever to do with the Messiah's crucifixion: ". . .while Ps.
xxii. is the complaint of an oppressed exile. As to the 17th verse
of this Psalm, which has been interpreted as having reference to the
crucifixion of Christ, even presupposing the most improbable
interpretation of כארי by perfoderunt, this must in no case be
understood literally, but only figuratively, and the image would be
derived, not from a crucifixion, but from a chase, or a combat with
wild beasts; hence the application of this passage to Christ is now
only maintained by those with whom it would be lost labour to
contend." (Strauss, David Friedrich; Eliot, George (2014-02-07). The
life of Jesus critically examined (Kindle Locations 16242-16246).
Kindle Edition.) It is "lost labour," therefore, to contend on this
point with Jesus, who patently thought Psalm 22 was about Him; He
quoted it on the cross.
The psalm the Lord is quoting is a prayer, and as even the pagans
realized, one can pray on a cross: "Those who are shut in prison
hope for release, they say, and many a one hanging on the cross
still prays." (Ovid, Letters, Book I, Letter VI. To Graecinus). This
prayer is no admission of defeat, as will be seen.
The Suffering Servant
The suffering servant came into the world to bear the sins of many:
"Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
He was numbered with the transgressors, who do not feel the
warmth of God's presence and favor:
"For three hours, darkness was over
all the land. . .As that veil of night was lifting, the cry rose,
single, echoless, in all its uniqueness: 'My God, My God, why hast
Thou forsaken Me?' It was the only key to the darkness, which
otherwise would be an impenetrable mystery. Midst all that man could
do, Christ spoke words of forgiveness and blessing, but that which
He experienced in those three hours brought to His lips the cry of
direst agony. So the darkness contained that in which man had no
part. It was then that the Savior endured the forsakenness — and
that of His God — a forsakenness involved in His bearing our sins,
and thus in the making of atonement. The latter was a work wrought
entirely of God. Man had no share in it. His guilty hands might nail
the Lord Jesus to the Cross, but more than that he could not do;
he might add to his sins, but could do nothing for their removal. The
supreme sufferings of Christ were not at creature hands. They were
endured when 'the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.'" (H. C.
Hewlett, The Glories of Our Lord, pp. 94-95.)