No believer can read this Psalm without being confronted with the reality of Christ’s crucifixion. It inspires adoration – and a desire to understand what we can learn from this astonishing text. While we’ll never know if our Lord actually sang these words while hanging form that accursed tree, its words are infused with a holy wonder that can only inspire reverence and awe.
The music for this Psalm has long since disappeared, but its original Hebrew title ‘Aijetleth Shahar’ is translated as ‘the Deer of the Dawn’ – perhaps a metaphor for Christ himself. It would be consistent with Scripture to conclude that the music was chosen to magnify and strengthen the hallowed text. It was solemn, yet filled with the glory of the suffering Servant.
Like 54 other Psalms, the title for this Psalm includes the words "to the Chief Musician" or "to the Choirmaster." Most scholars conclude that it was meant to be sung by the Temple choir, that group of singers chosen for a lifetime of musical service. Their selection, by the way, did not depend on their availability on "rehearsal night" or for their love of music. They sang because God placed them in His temple – the dwelling place of His "Shekinah glory."
Today, all believers make up the "Temple choir". Singing is not optional for God’s saints, the Holy Spirit of God dwells in His blood-bought ones. They are His temple! And like that ancient choir, singing holy songs of praise demands the best of our ability. The temple songsters were the very ‘best of the best’. No half-hearted effort was tolerated. For the true believer no less is expected. We may not be the ‘best’, but we must always give our best!
Ps 22:3 states: God is enthroned (or inhabits) the praises of Israel.
This verse becomes an instructive metaphor and leads us to the heart of this essay: Our music must provide a throne for God – Not a platform for ourselves. When Christians sing, every aspect of their song must bring attention and glory to God!
A little later in the Psalm, (verse 22) Jesus declares that He will "praise God in the midst of the congregation…" This raises the significance of the Christian’s song to an even higher plane.
Not only does our holy God indwell the Christian’s song, Christ promises to lead the Church in glorious praise to the Father. With Christ as Conductor of His sacred choir, our songs must bear the mark of the Master Musician.
So sing! Sing your songs and hymns. Your holy calling demands no less. Even when you cannot sing aloud, let your mind frame the music in praise to our great God.
Christ’s crucifixion may seem like a strange place for song to occur. But, this "Song of the Cross" looks to the day when our endless song of praise will be sung to our great Saviour! To God by the Glory!