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The prophecies of Jesus as the coming Messiah are some of the most beautiful and powerful features of the Holy Scriptures. The Old Testament is replete with prophetic gems in the form of direct statements, references, and symbolism. They give insight as to what the Christ will do, His sufferings, and even the very words He will speak. The Psalms also contain messianic prophecies in poetic form. One particular grouping, Psalms 22, 23, and 24, portray the characteristics of Christ’s suffering, His authority, and His deity. This grouping of psalms is sometimes referred to as the “Cross, the Crook, and the Crown.”
The CROSS (Psalm 22)
Nothing in the world is more iconic than the cross of our Savior. Within its many faceted representations, first and foremost, we are reminded of the pain and suffering afflicted upon the pure Lamb of God as He was sacrificed for our sins. In Psalm 22, there is language employed within which cannot be attributed directly to the writer, David, but only to that which Christ endured. The psalmist compares His many enemies to bulls, dogs, and lions. Each description incorporating a different social class of the evil hearts who desired to see Him killed. His exceedingly deep sorrow and His physical suffering are vividly depicted. This language is precisely descriptive of the kind of agony He faced upon the cross. Through these descriptions, it becomes clear that David never suffered this type of pain and thus, they must belong to the Lord.
The CROOK (Psalm 23)
The next psalm transitions from the agony portrayed in the previous one to a scene of peace and sanctuary. The psalmist changes from saying “My God, why have you forsaken me?” to, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” This portrayal implies that the pure Lamb of God has been exalted from sacrificial lamb to shepherd. His staff, that is, the “crook,” now becomes our master, guide, and protector.
The psalm is summed up in the words, “I shall not want.” For in Him we shall have no need, want, or fear as there is none greater than He in this material world. His protection and provision fulfills all that we could ever desire. We are reminded of His covenant to deliver us into His Promised Land – an everlasting home in heaven. But, as sheep, we are dependent upon Him to provide the means necessary. Jesus did this through His sacrifice and establishment of the kingdom.
The CROWN (Psalm 24)
The coronation of the Lord in Psalm 24, sometimes referred to as the Song of the Ascension, is prefaced with a declaration that the earth belongs to the Lord. God created it and He is sovereign over all that it contains. With this point established, the psalmist asks, “Then who may ascend to minister and dwell in His holy place?” The people answered, “Only he who is clean, pure, and perfect.” From this point they began searching, trying to find this one who may bring this glory.
Just as the psalmist entreats his listeners to “look up” so they may identify the Messiah, so too must we. Although many of His generation rejected Him, having failed to recognize Him as the Messiah, the question of “Who is this King of Glory?” was still answered on that day of Pentecost. Peter stood up and declared to the crowd that the Man whom they had killed had been raised up by God and made both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36) Jesus was crowned and had now ascended to His rightful throne.