Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 22:21

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Save me from the lion's mouth - Probably our Lord here includes his Church with himself. The lion may then mean the Jews; the unicorns, רמים remim (probably the rhinoceros), the Gentiles. For the unicorn, see the note on Numbers 23:22. There is no quadruped or land animal with one horn only, except the rhinoceros; but there is a marine animal, the narwhal or monodon, a species of whale, that has a very fine curled ivory horn, which projects from its snout. One in my own museum measures seven feet four inches and is very beautiful. Some of these animals have struck their horn through the side of a ship and with it they easily transfix the whale, or any such animal. The old Psalter says, "The unicorn es ane of the prudest best that es, so that he wil dye for dedeyn if he be haldyn ogayn his wil."

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Save me from the lion‘s mouth - His enemies represented as fierce and ravening lions, compare Psalm 22:13,

For thou hast heard me - The word “heard” in this place is equivalent to “saved” - or saved in answer to prayer. The fact of “hearing” the prayer, and answering it, is regarded as so identical, or the one as so certainly following from the other, that they may be spoken of as the same thing.

From the horns of the unicorns - The idea here is, that he cried to God when exposed to what is here called “the horns of the unicorns.” That is, when surrounded by enemies as fierce and violent as wild beasts - as if he were among “unicorns” seeking his life - he had called upon God, and God had heard him. This would refer to some former period of his life, when surrounded by dangers, or exposed to the attacks of wicked men, and when he had called upon God, and had been heard. There were not a few occasions alike in the life of David and in the life of the Saviour, to which this would be applicable. The fact that he had thus been delivered from danger, is now urged as an argument why God was to be regarded as able to deliver him again, and why the prayer might be offered that he would do it; compare Psalm 22:9-11. To see the force of this it is not necessary to be able to determine with accuracy what is meant here by the word rendered unicorn, or whether the psalmist referred to the animal now denoted by that term. The existence of such an animal was long regarded as fabulous; but though it has been proved that there is such an animal, it is not necessary to suppose that the psalmist referred to it. Gesenius renders the word - ראם re'êm - “buffalo” (Lexicon) So also DeWette. See the notes at Job 39:9-10, where the meaning of the word is fully considered. The word occurs elsewhere only in Numbers 23:22; Numbers 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalm 29:6; Psalm 92:10; Isaiah 34:7, in all which places it is rendered “unicorn,” or “unicorns.”

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.