The Suffering Servant

Psalm 22

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 22

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.


Jesus said to his 12 friends, "We will go to Jerusalem. Everything that the prophets wrote about me will happen. The Jews will give me to the Romans. They will mock me. They will not be kind. They will spit on me. They will hit me. They will kill me. But the third day I will rise again". (Luke 18:31-33)

(spit means shoot out what is in your mouth.)

Psalm 22

(Part 1 ~ David is Suffering)

  The leader (must use) the music of "The Hind of the Morning".
  (This is) a song of David.

v1   My God!
  My God, why have you left me by myself?
  Why is my help far away?
  I am crying out in agony!

v2   My God!
  I cry out for help all day long.
  You do not answer.
  I cry out all through the night.
  You send me no peace.

v3   But you are the Holy God!
  The praise of Israel is like a throne for you.

v4   Our fathers trusted in you.
  They trusted in you and you made them safe.

v5   They cried out to you and you saved them.
  They trusted in you and you did not disappoint them.

Word list

suffering ~ feeling a lot of pain; hurting badly

hind ~ a female deer: a deer is like a big goat

agony ~ when it hurts very much

Psalm 22:1 - 5 This is a very sad psalm until verse 21. We do not know when David wrote this psalm. Verses 1 and 2 tell us that David was in agony. We do not know where the pain was. Perhaps it was all over his body. He asked God for help. God did not answer. "You send me no peace" means "I am still crying because you give me no help". David thinks that God has forgotten him! But David remembered in verses 3 - 5 that God always gave help. He gave help to the fathers of Israel. This means all the Jews that lived before David. This made David sad. God always gave help to his people. Why did God not give help to David? So the psalm begins, "Why have you left me by myself?"

(Part 2 ~ Men Hate David)

v6   But I am a worm. I am not a man.
  People scorn me. Everybody hates me.

v7   Everyone that sees me mocks me.
  They say bad things. They shake their heads.

v8   (They say) If the LORD likes him so much
  perhaps he (the LORD) will save him.
  Perhaps he will rescue him.

v9   But you, LORD, you:
   brought me from the womb
   made me trust you at the my mother's breast

v10   I trusted you, LORD, from the womb.
  From the womb of my mother you were my God.

v11   Do not stay far from me. Trouble is near.
  There is nobody to give me help.

Word list

worm ~ a very small animal that lives in the ground

shake ~ move from side to side

rescue ~ another word for save

womb ~ where a mother keeps her baby before birth

Psalm 22:6 - 11 As in verses 1 - 5 , there are 2 parts here:

    in verses 6 - 8 people say bad things about David

    in verses 9 - 11 David tells God that he still trusts God

In Psalm 22:1 - 5 it was God that made David sad. God did not answer David. Here, it is people that make David sad. They say bad things about him. It makes David feel very small, like a worm. People say, "He trusted in the LORD. The LORD can give him help". People do not mean it. They are really laughing at David. They are mocking him. But David does trust in God. He has trusted in God since he was a baby! Isaiah wrote about the suffering servant. He wrote the book of the Bible that we call Isaiah. We now know that Jesus was the suffering servant that Isaiah wrote about. In Psalm 22 it was Jesus also, though part of it was true for David.

(Part 3 ~ Trouble is All Round Me)

v12   Many bulls are all round me.
  They are strong bulls of Bashan.
  They make a circle with me in the middle.

v13   They open wide their mouths towards me.
  They are like lions that tear their food.
  They roar while they do it.

v14   They are pouring me out like water.
  All my bones have become separate.
  My heart is becoming soft like butter.
  It is changing to milk inside me.

v15   My mouth is dry, like a bit of broken pot.
  My tongue is sticking to the roof of my mouth.
  You laid me down in the dirt of death.

v16   A lot of bad men have made a circle round me.
  They are everywhere like dogs.
  Sharp points are in my hands and feet.

v17   I can count all my bones.
  They look at me all the time.
  They mock me.

v18   They took my clothes.
  They threw dice for my coat.

v19   But LORD, do not stay far away!
  You can make me strong, so hurry to give to me help!

v20   Save my life from the sword.
  Save everything that I love from the dogs.

v21   Save me from the mouth of the lion.
  You heard me from the horns of wild bulls.

Word list

bull, lion, dog ~ animals

roar ~ make a loud noise like an angry animal

stick ~ make 2 things stay together

throw dice ~ a game people usually play to win money

horns ~ sharp bones with points on the head of a bull

Psalm 22: 12 - 21 Again there are two parts:

    in verses 12 - 18 there is trouble round David

    in verses 19 - 21 David prays to God about it

Here we find 2 ideas. There are things that happened to David. Also there are things that happened to other people. There are many pictures of suffering. The important part is "you heard me". David has "prayed through". This means that he prayed until he knew that God heard him.

(Part 4 ~ David Praises God)

v22   I will tell your name to my brothers.
  I will praise you in the congregation.

v23   Everyone that is in awe of the LORD ... praise him!
  All the seed of Jacob, honour him!

v24  All the seed of Israel, worship him because:
  God did not hate or forget the man that suffered
  God did not hide his face from him
  God heard him when he prayed

v25   I will praise you in the great congregation.
  I will keep my promises.
  The people that are in awe of you will see it.

Word list

congregation ~ the people of God; the church

in awe of~ a bit afraid of

seed ~ here it means children, grandchildren, and so on

Jacob, Israel ~ the seed of Jacob and Israel means the Jews

honour ~ say and do good things to someone

Psalm 22:22 From here to the end the psalm changes. It is not about suffering. It is full of praise. This is because God heard when David prayed. This psalm is not only about David. It is also about Jesus. Near the end of the Bible is a book called Hebrews. In it, Jesus says: I will tell your name to my brothers. I will sing praises to you in the church. (Hebrews 2:12) This is wonderful! Jesus sings praises to God with us in church.

Psalm 22:23 People in awe of God love him, but also know how great he is. They do not become too friendly. Seed is a special Bible word. In the Old Testament it sometimes means the Jews. In the New Testament it often means Christians.

Psalm 22:24 "the man" and "him" mean David. David suffered. David prayed. God answered David. This is also true of Jesus. Jesus suffered when he died for us. But God raised Jesus from the dead. God answered when Jesus prayed. Jesus died for us so that God would save us!

Psalm 22:25 Jesus will keep his promises to us. We must believe!

(Part 5 ~ The Congregation Thanks God)

v26   The poor will eat. They will have plenty.
  The people that look for the LORD will praise him.
  Your heart will always be alive.

v27   People everywhere will remember.
  They will turn to the LORD.
  Families from every country will worship you.

v28   The LORD rules over every nation
  because he is king.

v29   All the rich people on earth will eat well.
  They will worship God.
  All that die will bend in front of him.
  Nobody can keep himself alive.

v30   Our children will become his servants.
  They will tell their children about the LORD.

v31   They will say that the Lord is righteous.
  They will say this to people that are not yet born:

Psalm 22:26 - 31 There is a book in the Bible that we call Leviticus. It is full of rules. One rule is in Leviticus 7:16. It says, "Eat your sacrifice on the day that you make your promise". A sacrifice was an animal that the Jews killed. They burned part of it. This was God's part. They ate the other part. Verses 26 and 29 are about this. The rich and the poor will eat the sacrifice. As a result people will praise God (verse 26) and worship God (verse 29).

On the evening before he died, Jesus ate supper with his friends. To us, this was Thursday evening. To the Jews it was the start of Friday! We call this supper the Last Supper. On that Friday, Jesus was the sacrifice. He went to heaven, where God lives. That was God's part. Our part is the Lord's Supper. When we eat the Lord's Supper:

    we remember that Jesus died for us

    we tell everybody that Jesus died for us

    we remember that Jesus will come back to the earth

Psalm 22:26 - 31 gives us help to remember all this. It is very important to tell our children. What do we tell them? We tell them that GOD HAS DONE IT! Jesus was God. Jesus died for us. Psalm 22:1-21 is about this. But Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive today. He is alive in Heaven. He is alive in the Church. Psalm 22:22-31 is about this.

The Story of Psalm 22

We do not know when David wrote Psalm 22. He was very ill, or he was hurt badly. He writes about his suffering. But he also writes about the sufferings of other people. Here is an example. People often torture other people. Torture means hurt very much. Near Judah was a place called Tyre. In Tyre this is how they tortured people: they fixed them to wood with nails. The nails went through their hands and feet. A nail is a piece of sharp iron, a few inches long. Psalm 22:16 talks about this.

So Psalm 22 is more than a psalm about the sufferings of David. His own agony made him think about the agony of other people. Christians believe he wrote about the agony of one very special person. We call that person the Messiah, or Christ. The Bible has 2 parts. The Old Testament tells us what happened before Jesus came to earth. The New Testament tells us about Jesus and the Church. One of the books in the New Testament is Acts. In Acts 2 is something that Peter said. He said it 7 weeks after Jesus died and rose again. In Acts 2:30 Peter said, "David was a prophet. He wrote about Christ". Christ is another name for Jesus. A prophet says what will happen in the future.

In the New Testament are 4 Gospels. They all tell us about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection was when God raised Jesus from the dead. Someone said, "Psalm 22 is like the story of the death of Jesus in a 5th Gospel!" People killed Jesus by crucifixion. This means that they fixed him to a cross of wood. They fixed him to it with nails. He hung on the cross until he was dead. 2 days before Easter is Good Friday. On Good Friday Christians remember how Jesus died. Many of them read (or sing) Psalm 22 on Good Friday. They believe that it is not only about the suffering of David. It is about the suffering of Jesus. Though he was God, Jesus was also a servant. We call him the suffering servant. From Psalm 22:22 to the end the psalm becomes happy. This is because God raised Jesus from the dead. Because Jesus died for us, we believe that God will raise us from the dead too. We must thank God for the death of Jesus for us!

The Death of Jesus

1.  Matthew 27:35 They crucified Jesus.

2.  Mark 15:34 At 3 o'clock in the afternoon Jesus said, "My God! My God, why have you left me by myself?"

3.  John 19:24 They said, "Don't tear his coat. Throw the dice for it. The winner will have the coat".

4.  Luke 22:35 All the people stood and watched Jesus.

5.  Matthew 27:41,43 The leaders of the priests mocked Jesus. They said, "He trusted in God. We want to see God save him!" (the priests worked in the Temple in Jerusalem)

6.  John 19:29 (Before he died,) Jesus said, "I am thirsty".

7.  John 19:34 (After he died,) one of the soldiers pushed a spear into Jesus. Immediately blood and water came out. (a spear is a long stick with a sharp end)

Something to do

Above are some parts of the Gospels. They tell us something about the death of Jesus. Read each part, then look at Psalm 22. Can you find a prophecy of what happened in the Gospels? The answers are below for you to check. Cover them until you want to check them. (Prophecy is what a prophet says).


1.  Psalm 22:14-17

2.  Psalm 22:1

3.  Psalm 22:18

4.  Psalm 22:17

5.  Psalm 22:8

6.  Psalm 22:15

7.  Psalm 22:14


2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

January 2001

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