The Psalms of Holy Week

Psalm 22
Psalm 118
Psalm 69
Psalm 110
Isaiah 53

When Jesus spoke the first verse of Psalm 22, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me," from the cross on Good Friday, he was speaking to an audience, almost all of whom had learned the Psalm by heart in childhood.

And when the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, wrote their accounts of Jesus' suffering and death, all four referred repeatedly to Psalms 22, 69, and 118, as well as to chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah, even though they knew many people in their audience did not know the scriptures as well as the Gospel writers did.

The Gospel writers may have used a Jewish style of scholarly writing, called anthological exegesis, in which current happenings are intermixed with texts from the Bible to deepen and clarify the points being made. John Dominic Crossan is a modern scholar who likes to look at this sort of writing.

These four passages form a strong foundation for the events of Holy Week.

Matthew and John also refer to Isaiah 50 and Psalm 110.

You might want to begin a Lenten Bible study with Isaiah 53, looking at what Jesus, the servant king, did for his people, then continuing with Psalms 69 and 118.

Look at Isaiah 50 to see Jesus' suffering, and then read the triumph of Psalm 22, when the goodness of God is revealed through all the pain.

After setting the scene with these four psalms - two laments, one psalm of praise and one coronation psalm - and a servant song from Isaiah, read the Palm Sunday story, letting all the events of Holy Week resonate against the depth and strength of scriptural prophecy.

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