Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 22:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For dogs have compassed me - This may refer to the Gentiles, the Roman soldiers, and others by whom our Lord was surrounded in his trial, and at his cross.

They pierced my hands and my feet - The other sufferings David, as a type of our Lord, might pass through; but the piercing of the hands and feet was peculiar to our Lord; therefore, this verse may pass for a direct revelavion. Our Lord's hands and feet were pierced when he was nailed to the cross, David's never were pierced.

But there is a various reading here which is of great importance. Instead of כארו caaru, they pierced, which is what is called the kethib, or marginal reading, and which our translators have followed; the keri or textual reading is כארי caari, as a lion. In support of each reading there are both MSS. and eminent critics. The Chaldee has, "Biting as a lion my hands and my feet;" but the Syriac, Vulgate, Septuagint, Ethiopic, and Arabic read, "they pierced or digged;" and in the Anglo-Saxon the words translate: "They dalve (digged) hands mine, and feet mine."

The Complutensian Polyglot has כארו caaru, they digged or pierced, in the text; for which it gives כרה carah, to cut, dig, or penetrate, in the margin, as the root whence כארו is derived. But the Polyglots of Potken, Antwerp, Paris. and London, have כארי caari in the text; and כארו caaru is referred to in the margin; and this is the case with the most correct Hebrew Bibles. The whole difference here lies between י yod and ו vau . which might easily be mistaken for each other; the former making like a lion; the latter, they pierced. The latter is to me most evidently the true reading.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For dogs have compassed me - Men who resemble dogs; harsh, snarling, fierce, ferocious. See Philemon 3:2, note; and Revelation 22:15, note. No one can doubt that this is applicable to the Redeemer.

The assembly of the wicked have enclosed me - That is, they have surrounded me; they have come around me on all sides so that I might not escape. So they surrounded the Redeemer in the garden of Gethsemane when they arrested him and bound him; so they surrounded him when on his trial before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate; and so they surrounded him on the cross.

They pierced my hands and my feet - This passage is attended with more difficulty than perhaps any other part of the psalm. It is remarkable that it is nowhere quoted or referred to in the New Testament as applicable to the Saviour; and it is no less remarkable that there is no express statement in the actual history of the crucifixion that either the hands or the feet of the Saviour were pierced, or that he was nailed to the cross at all. This was not necessarily implied in the idea of crucifixion, for the hands and the feet were sometimes merely bound to the cross by cords, and the sufferer was allowed to linger on the cross thus suspended until he died from mere exhaustion. There can be no doubt, however, that the common mode of crucifixion was to nail the hands to the transverse beam of the cross, and the feet to the upright part of it. See the description of the crucifixion in the notes at Matthew 27:31-32. Thus, Tertullian, speaking of the sufferings of Christ, and applying this passage to his death, says that “this was the special or proper - ”propria” - severity of the cross.” Adv. Marcionem, iii. 19, ed. Wurtz, I. p. 403. See Hengstenberg‘s Christology, 1,139. The great difficulty in this passage is in the word rendered in our version, “they pierced” - כארי kâ'ăriy It occurs only in one other place, Isaiah 38:13, where it means as a lion. This would undoubtedly be the most natural interpretation of the word here, unless there were good reasons for setting it aside; and not a few have endeavored to show that this is the true rendering. According to this interpretation, the passage would mean, “As lions, they (that is, my enemies) surround (gape upon) my hands and my feet; that is, they threaten to tear my limbs to pieces.” Gesenius, Lexicon. This interpretation is also that of Aben Ezra, Ewald, Paulus, and others. But, whatever may be the true explanation, there are very serious objections to this one.

(a) It is difficult to make sense of the passage if this is adopted. The preceding word, rendered in our version “enclosed,” can mean only “surrounded” or “encompassed,” and it is difficult to see how it could be said that a lion could “surround” or “encompass” “the hands and the feet.” At all events, such an interpretation would be harsh and unusual.

(b) According to this interpretation the word “me” - “enclosed me” - would be superfluous; since the idea would be, “they enclose or surround my hands and my feet.”

(c) All the ancient interpreters have taken the word here to be a verb, and in all the ancient versions it is rendered as if it were a verb.

Even in the Masorah Parva it is said that the word here is to be taken in a different sense from what it has in Isaiah 38:13, where it plainly means a lion. Gesenius admits that all the ancient interpreters have taken this as a verb, and says that it is “certainly possible” that it may be so. He says that it may be regarded as a participle formed in the Aramaic manner (from כוּר kûr ), and in the plural number for כארים kâ'ăriym and says that in this way it would be properly rendered, “piercing, my hands and my feet;” that is, as he says, “my enemies, who are understood in the dogs.” From such high authority, and from the uniform mode of interpreting the word among the ancients, it may be regarded as morally certain that the word is a verb, and that it is not to be rendered, as in Isaiah 38:13, “as a lion.” The material question is, What does the verb mean? The verb - כוּר kûr - properly means “to dig, to bore through, to pierce.”

Thus used, according to Gesenius, it would mean “piercing;” and if the word used here is a verb, he supposes that it would refer to the enemies of David as wounding him, or piercing him, “with darts and weapons.” He maintains that it is applicable to David literally, and he sees no reason to refer it to the Messiah. But, if so, it is natural to ask why “the hands” and “the feet” are mentioned. Certainly it is not usual for darts and spears thrown by an enemy to injure the hands or the feet particularly; nor is it customary to refer to the hands or the feet when describing the effects produced by the use of those weapons. If the reference were to the enemies of David as wounding him with darts and spears, it would be much more natural to refer to the body in general, without specifying any of the particular members of the body. DeWette renders it “fesseln” - “they bind my hands and my feet.”

He remarks, however, in a note, that according to the ancient versions, and the codices of Kennicott and DeRossi, it means durchbohren - bore through. Aquila, Symmachus, and Jerome in five codices, says he, render it bind. The Septuagint renders it ὥρυξαν ōruxan - “they pierced.” The Latin Vulgate the same, “foderunt.” See the Syriac. For these reasons it seems to me that the common rendering is the true one, and that the meaning is, that, in some proper sense, the enemies here referred to “pierced or bored through” the hands and the feet of the sufferer. Evidently this could not be literally applied to David, for there is not the least authority for supposing that this ever happened to him; nor, as has been shown, was such a thing probable. A casual dart, or the stroke of a spear, might indeed strike the hand or the foot; but it would be unusual and remarkable if they should strike those members of the body and leave the other parts uninjured, so as to make this a matter for special notice; and even if they did strike those parts, it would be every way unlikely that they would “pierce them, or bore them through.”

Such an event would be so improbable that we may assume that it did not occur, unless there was the most decisive evidence of the fact. Nor is there the least probability that the enemies of David would pierce his hands and feet deliberately and of design. I say nothing in regard to the fact that they never had him in their possession so that they could do it; it is sufficient to say that this was not a mode of punishing one who was taken captive in war. Conquerors killed their captives; they made them pass under yokes; they put them under saws and harrows of iron (compare 2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Chronicles 20:3); but there is not the slightest evidence that they ever tortured captives in war by piercing the hands and the feet. But, as has been remarked above, there is every reason to believe that this was the ordinary mode of crucifixion. I conclude, therefore, that this must have had original reference to the Messiah. It is no objection to the interpretation that this passage is not expressly referred to as having been fulfilled in the Redeemer, for there are undoubtedly many passages in the prophets which refer to the Messiah, which are not formally applied to him in the New Testament. To make it certain that the prophecy referred to him, and was fulfilled in him, it is not necessary that we should find on record an actual application of the passage to him. All that is necessary in the case is, that it should be a prophecy; that it should have been spoken before the event; and that to him it should be fairly applicable.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
In these verses we have Christ suffering, and Christ praying; by which we are directed to look for crosses, and to look up to God under them. The very manner of Christ's death is described, though not in use among the Jews. They pierced his hands and his feet, which were nailed to the accursed tree, and his whole body was left so to hang as to suffer the most severe pain and torture. His natural force failed, being wasted by the fire of Divine wrath preying upon his spirits. Who then can stand before God's anger? or who knows the power of it? The life of the sinner was forfeited, and the life of the Sacrifice must be the ransom for it. Our Lord Jesus was stripped, when he was crucified, that he might clothe us with the robe of his righteousness. Thus it was written, therefore thus it behoved Christ to suffer. Let all this confirm our faith in him as the true Messiah, and excite our love to him as the best of friends, who loved us, and suffered all this for us. Christ in his agony prayed, prayed earnestly, prayed that the cup might pass from him. When we cannot rejoice in God as our song, yet let us stay ourselves upon him as our strength; and take the comfort of spiritual supports, when we cannot have spiritual delights. He prays to be delivered from the Divine wrath. He that has delivered, doth deliver, and will do so. We should think upon the sufferings and resurrection of Christ, till we feel in our souls the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 225

With convincing power Paul reasoned from the Old Testament Scriptures that “Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead.” Had not Micah prophesied, “They shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek”? Micah 5:1. And had not the Promised One, through Isaiah, prophesied of Himself, “I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting”? Isaiah 50:6. Through the psalmist Christ had foretold the treatment that He should receive from men: “I am ... a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him.” “I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” “I am become a stranger unto My brethren, and an alien unto My mother's children. For the zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon Me.” “Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.” Psalm 22:6-8, 17, 18; 69:8, 9, 20. AA 225.1

How unmistakably plain were Isaiah's prophecies of Christ's sufferings and death! “Who hath believed our report?” the prophet inquires, “and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. AA 225.2

“Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. AA 226.1

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 746

In the sufferings of Christ upon the cross prophecy was fulfilled. Centuries before the crucifixion, the Saviour had foretold the treatment He was to receive. He said, “Dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” Psalm 22:16-18. The prophecy concerning His garments was carried out without counsel or interference from the friends or the enemies of the Crucified One. To the soldiers who had placed Him upon the cross, His clothing was given. Christ heard the men's contention as they parted the garments among them. His tunic was woven throughout without seam, and they said, “Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.” DA 746.1

In another prophecy the Saviour declared, “Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.” Psalm 69:20, 21. To those who suffered death by the cross, it was permitted to give a stupefying potion, to deaden the sense of pain. This was offered to Jesus; but when He had tasted it, He refused it. He would receive nothing that could becloud His mind. His faith must keep fast hold upon God. This was His only strength. To becloud His senses would give Satan an advantage. DA 746.2

The enemies of Jesus vented their rage upon Him as He hung upon the cross. Priests, rulers, and scribes joined with the mob in mocking the dying Saviour. At the baptism and at the transfiguration the voice of God had been heard proclaiming Christ as His Son. Again, just before Christ's betrayal, the Father had spoken, witnessing to His divinity. But now the voice from heaven was silent. No testimony in Christ's favor was heard. Alone He suffered abuse and mockery from wicked men. DA 746.3

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 691

“He was taken from prison and from judgment:
And who shall declare His generation?
For He was cut off out of the land of the living:
For the transgression of My people was He stricken.
PK 691.1

“And He made His grave with the wicked,
And with the rich in His death;
Because He had done no violence,
Neither was any deceit in His mouth.”
PK 691.2

Isaiah 53:1-9. PK 691

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 224

The eyes of Jesus wandered over the multitude that had collected together to witness His death, and He saw at the foot of the cross John supporting Mary, the mother of Christ. She had returned to the terrible scene, not being able to longer remain away from her Son. The last lesson of Jesus was one of filial love. He looked upon the grief-stricken face of His mother, and then upon John; said He, addressing the former: “Woman, behold thy son!” Then, to the disciple: “Behold thy mother!” John 19:27. John well understood the words of Jesus, and the sacred trust which was committed to him. He immediately removed the mother of Christ from the fearful scene of Calvary. From that hour he cared for her as would a dutiful son, taking her to his own home. The perfect example of Christ's filial love shines forth with undimmed luster from the mist of ages. While enduring the keenest torture, He was not forgetful of His mother, but made all provision necessary for her future. SR 224.1

The mission of Christ's earthly life was now nearly accomplished. His tongue was parched, and He said, “I thirst.” They saturated a sponge with vinegar and gall, and offered it Him to drink; and when He had tasted it, He refused it. And now the Lord of life and glory was dying, a ransom for the race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father's wrath upon Him as man's substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. SR 224.2

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