Psalm 22:20

ESV Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!
NIV Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
NASB Save my soul from the sword, My only life from the power of the dog.
CSB Rescue my life from the sword, my only life from the power of these dogs.
NLT Save me from the sword; spare my precious life from these dogs.
KJV Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
NKJV Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog.

What does Psalm 22:20 mean?

Old Testament writing often uses a mirror image pattern known as chiasm. David earlier compared his enemies' attacks to those of bulls (Psalm 22:12), lions (Psalm 22:13), and dogs (Psalm 22:16). In verses 20 and 21, he will complete the mirror-image by mentioning those same animals in the opposite order: dogs, lions, oxen.

This passage is symbolic of great pain in David's life, but also literally describes the suffering of Jesus during His crucifixion. This is one reason Christ mentions part of this psalm from the cross (Matthew 27:46).

David's foes carried swords, but in regards to Jesus the Messiah "sword" may refer to the power of the Roman government to execute a criminal. It was Pilate, the Roman governor, who authorized Jesus' crucifixion.

"My precious life" in this verse translates a Hebrew phrase meaning "my only one." The term was applied in Old Testament times to an only child. It appears in Genesis 22:2 where God summoned Abraham to take Isaac—his only son through his wife, Sarah—to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering. Here it refers to the only life David has, and prophetically to the life Jesus was offering for our sins on the cross. Jesus made His soul an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10, 12).

Mention of the power of the dog in Psalm 22:20 refers again to David's foes and to those who crucified our Savior. In ancient times, dogs were seen as lowly pack scavengers who attacked the vulnerable. Similarly, Jesus' enemies banded together to strike.
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