“Many bulls … strong bulls … ravening and a roaring lion … My bones … My heart … My tongue … Dogs have compassed … evil doers enclosed … they pierced My hands and My feet.” Psalm 22:12-17 KJV
Many bulls … Strong bulls … As a ravening and a roaring lion … my bones … My heart … My tongue … dogs have surrounded me … a band of evildoers has encompassed me … They pierced my hands and my feet. Psalm 22:12-17 NASB
The Ferocity of His Foes
The imagery of the Psalmist is insightful. The awfulness of Calvary would be difficult to express in any other manner than in the word pictures we are given. Those present at the cross are likened to bulls, dogs, lions, and evildoers.
Perhaps in the bulls we see the leaders of the nation of Israel, the rulers and High Priests, the power brokers of the day. The “strong bulls” compassed Him about.
The dogs were the Gentiles who had placed Him upon the cross, ignorant as to His Person and insensitive as to His suffering. They were there with their blasphemy and barbarism, their “matter-of-a fact” way of crucifying a man and then gambling for his clothes.
And then the lion, described as a ravening and roaring lion. The powers of evil were there. Satan and his horde of demons assailed the Savior at the cross. We have no record of anything said; imagination does not have to travel far in its journey to think of what the Tempter would have attacked the Son of God with that day. The very same taunts that had marked him in the wilderness (Matt 3) no doubt were the same temptations he now mocked the Lord with: “Satisfy yourself! Show yourself! Spare yourself!”
Added to all this was the crowd of evildoers mocking and deriding Him there.
The Extremity of His Suffering
He was “poured out like water” suggesting the lack of any resistance and the totality of His sacrifice. Nothing was withheld. Would it be reverent to say that He suffered in His body, soul, and spirit? “Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death.” While the Lord’s body never saw corruption, there is contained in this expression, an echo from the garden. “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:19). He tasted death in all its awfulness on the tree.
“They look and stare upon Me.” I write very guardedly lest any wrong impression be made, or the bounds of sanctity be breeched. Sparsely clad while hanging on the tree, the Lord Jesus, before Whom the ranks of angelic beings veiled their faces, became the object of the gaze of men. Elsewhere we read of His reproach, shame, dishonor (Ps 69:19). In the rude and vulgar gaze of men was the culmination of His shame and dishonor. It was not enough to glance at Him; they stared at Him in their mockery and scorn.
Well might we sing,
Wondrous Thy humiliation, to accomplish our salvation
Thousand, thousand praises be, Precious Savior unto Thee.
Notice some of the word pictures and the insights which they provide: His tongue cleaving to His jaws; His strength dried up like a potsherd just taken from the kiln; His heart melted like wax.