All the Ends of the Earth Shall Worship Before Yahweh

In Psalm 22 the deliverance of the king brings redemption to the nations. While it is true that David wrote this Psalm and that he experienced something of the like of which the Psalm speaks, the Psalm most clearly is a prophetic typology, which I define as follows:

Actual historical experiences of the anointed one, of those under his reign (believers in Yahweh), and of his adversaries (enemies of Yahweh), in the Psalms, that also serve as prototypes of escalated actual and historical experiences of Christ, of his people, and of his enemies.

David’s experience speaks prophetically and typologically of the experience of the new David.

In Psalm 22:1–21a he describes his trouble, confesses trust in Yahweh, and cries out for Yahweh to deliver him. Bulls and dogs, deadly animals, surround David, seeking his life (Psalm 22:12–13, 16–18). According to verses 7, 12, and 13, his enemies mock David’s trust in Yahweh—“He trusts in Yahweh; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him” (Psalm 22:8). This objective trouble, mockery, and insults, result in severe inner turmoil for David. David feels that he has lost his nature and become a worm (Psalm 22:6), he has no inner strength to sustain him (Psalm 22:14–15).

In the mist of all this objective and subjective turmoil, David confesses sound theology. His trouble has not changed his God, even though it is changing and transforming David from a human to a worm. Yahweh is still holy and is reigning on the praise of his people (Psalm 22:3). Yahweh is still the one who has cared for David for all his life (Psalm 22:9).

Above all these, David recognizes that while his trouble is real and that enemies actually are seeking his life, Yahweh is sovereign over it. Yahweh is the one who has laid David to the dust (Psalm 22:15c). Yahweh has forsaken him (Psalm 22:1–2). In the present David can only remember that Yahweh once delivered (Psalm 22:4–5), but all he sees is a chasm between Yahweh and him.

Although his prayers to this point have not been answered and Yahweh has turned his back on him, David prays without ceasing. Although he is forsaken by Yahweh, he plead “Be not far from me” (Psalm 22:11, 19), “Come quickly too my aid” (Psalm 22:19), “Deliver my soul” (Psalm 22:20), “Save me” (Psalm 22:21).

Yahweh responds to David’s prayers and rescues him and draws near to him—“You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen” (Psalm 22:21b).

This prototypically points to Christ, who was surrounded my deadly leaders who sought his life. He is the Messiah whom Yahweh truly rejected and lay him in the dust of the earth. But when all his enemies thought they had their final word, Yahweh spoke the Final Word, rescuing Christ from the grave—“He has done it” (Psalm 22:31).

The effect of David’s deliverance on the nations

David vows to praise Yahweh (Psalm 22:22, 25), a vow the writer of Hebrews attributes to Christ (Hebrews 2:12). The Anointed one calls on God fearers to Praise God (Psalm22:23) based on his deliverance (Psalm 22:24). Both the rich and the poor of the earth are affected by the Anointed One’s deliverance (Psalm 22:26, 29–31).

In Psalm 22:27–28, we see most clearly the redemptive blessing that the new David’s deliverance will have on the nations.

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations (Ps 22:27–28).

On this passage, I will ask and answer five questions:

  • What is it that the nations will remember?

Since they are coming to Yahweh, they are most likely remembering that Yahweh is Israel’s covenant God. What this means is that the whole earth lay in oblivion until Yahweh rescued his Anointed One, Jesus, the new and better David from the grave. The god of this age had and has blinded the minds of unbelievers to keep them from remembering that Yahweh is King and Israel’s covenant God in whom they must trust.

  • Why does he describe “the ends of the earth” as “the families of the nations”?

The phrase “families of the nations” reminds us of Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham in which he said, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:3). Yahweh has fulfilled his covenant with Abraham by rescuing Jesus the new David from the grave and through him now is causing the families of the earth to remember and return to him for their salvation.

  • How will the nations remember?

The nations will remember through preachers of Yahweh’s reign and name. David says, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you” (Psalm 22:22). This proclamation of Yahweh’s name will result in worship among the Jews. Given that the house of Jacob praise because the Anointed One’s preaching, we can assume that the nations will remember and worship Yahweh because of the same proclamation, which Christ now does through his church. How will they remember except someone preaches to them (Romans 10:14).

  • Why does David say they will return to worship not just say they will be saved?

Worship is the goal of salvation. To be saved is to be a worshiper of Yahweh. The structure off verse 27 is what most interpreters call “synonymous parallelism,” where the first line and its parallel restate and explain each other. The thought in the first line corresponds to that of the second line. With this understanding, verse 27b restates 27a.

All the ends          of the earth       shall   remember and turn     to             Yahweh, and

All  the families  of the nations    shall   worship                             before    you

The correspondence shows that salvation means to worship. To return to Yahweh in faith is to worship Yahweh. Yahweh is not only on the business of saving people from hell, as good as that is, he is about making worshipers for himself.

Jesus shares the same sentiment when he parallels salvation with worship in John 4:21–24:

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

When God saves, he makes worshipers of God.

  • How can we be sure that this will happen?

1) Yahweh has rescued the new and better David from the greatest enemy, death. David’s deliverance, symbolic of Christ’s deliverance, results in the nations returning to Yahweh. Note the two future tenses in verse 27—will return, will worship. Christ’s deliverance makes this certain.

2) Yahweh has bought these promises with the blood of the new and better David. All the “shalls” and “wills” of Yahweh are bought with the precious blood of Christ, the new and better David. “All the promises off God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter your Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

3) Yahweh is faithful. Even when circumstances change Yahweh remains holy and enthroned (Psalm 22:3) and trustworthy (Psalm 22:9). So he will fulfill every promise of his. If Yahweh has bought his promises for sinners by the blood of his Son, we can be sure that he will fulfill each one of them to show his Son that his blood is indeed sufficient.

4) Yahweh rules over all the nations on earth—He is sovereign over the nations and will ensure that his promises find fulfillment. Psalm 22:28 grounds the promises above in the control that Yahweh exercises over the nations. The “for” gives the basis of verse 27. Kingship is Yahweh’s and his reign is not restricted to the borders of Israel, he rules over the nations, who must come to worship before him. His reign means that no president, king, queen, tyrant, closed-country will hinder his purpose.

The work of evangelism in our neighborhood and church planting among the reached and unreached is bound to succeed because Yahweh is King over the nations. Let us go to our unbelieving neighbors with the confidence that Yahweh is King over them and will save them by the power of our proclamation of Him


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