Ridicule and Resolve
(6) But I am a worm, and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people. (7) All those who see me mock me. They sneer with the lip and wag the head (saying), (8) “He trusts in Yahweh to deliver him. Let (Yahweh) rescue him since he delights in him.” (9) Yet, you are the one who took me from the womb. You caused me to trust (in you) while at my mother’s breasts. (10) On you I was cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. (11) Do not be far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.
These verses expand on the theme emphasized at the close of the opening segment, “trusting Yahweh in adversity.” Two groups of related terms vividly portray the jeopardy in which the psalmist finds himself. The first group, “worm and not a man...reproach...despised...mock...sneer the lip and wag the head,” describe the alienation David feels from those who have rejected him and are mocking him for trusting in Yahweh (vs. 6-8).
In contrast, a second group of terms, “womb...my mother’s breasts...cast from my birth...from my mother’s womb,” expresses the nurture and support David experienced throughout his life (vs. 9-11). Yahweh has characteristically provided him with the care that a nursing mother would shower upon her newborn child. In accordance with his life experience, David perseveres in trusting Yahweh to deliver him even when his enemies are taunting him and God seems distant and unresponsive.
I. Ridicule: the taunting of my enemies (6-8)
II. Resolve: my determination to trust in Yahweh (9-11)
For those who know Yahweh, trusting him is the only option when enemies mock us and he seems far away.
Ever since Jesus quoted the opening verse of Psalm 22 as his cry of anguish on the cross, believers have recognized that this psalm provides us with unique insight into what the Savior was thinking and feeling during those terrible hours of his suffering and shame. Crucifixion remains one of the most agonizing and appalling methods of execution ever devised by human beings. The prolonged physical torture is almost too horrible to imagine and, even worse, everything took place in full view of all who happened to be passing by. Spectators would customarily jeer and mock, hurling their insults and abuse at the naked victim whose shameful death was intended to serve as a deterrence to crime, an example of the fate that awaited anyone who dared to defy the Roman Empire.
The taunting described in these verses prophetically anticipates what took place at Christ’s crucifixion according to Matthew’s account: “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can't save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God”’” (Mt. 27:39, 42 & 43).
As we consider these verses, we should express gratitude to God in several ways. First, we should be thankful for the Son’s willingness to bear such ridicule and abuse from those whom he had come to save. Then, we must not forget the wonderful gift of life that each of us has received by trusting in the one who endured so much suffering for us. Finally, we should turn our thoughts to those who continue to reject God’s gift of life in Christ, earnestly praying that they might recognize their need for the Savior and place their faith in the one who died for their redemption.