Continuing our examination of the five prophecies that the Watchtower claims found fulfillment in Jesus.
In part two we examined the “born in Bethlehem” claim and found it sorely wanting in its “fulfillment.” But even if it could be established that the prophecy really did mean that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (which it can’t), and even if we could establish that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem (which we can’t), how remarkable would that be, really? Lots of people were born in Bethlehem: that didn’t make them the Messiah.
This isn’t rocket science. The prophecy was about a ruler of Israel. Jesus never was a ruler in Israel. Therefore, Jesus did not fulfill that prophecy.
Let’s look at the next piece the Watchtower presents as evidence:
“They divide my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing.”
— Psalm 22:18
“Now when the soldiers had nailed Jesus to the stake, they took his outer garments and divided them into four parts… But the inner garment was without a seam, being woven from top to bottom. So they said to one another: ‘Let us not tear it, but let us cast lots over it to decide whose it will be.’”
–John 19:23, 24
Here are some interesting facts about this so-called prophecy:
- This was not a prophecy; it is part of the lyrics to a song (sung to the tune of “The Doe of the Dawn” according to the superscription.)
- The lyrics referred to David: not the Messiah (see the superscription again.)
- The poetical context is being ignored.
In this song, someone had their garments stolen. There’s nothing extraordinary about such an incident. This happens to lots of people every day, and it does not make them the Messiah.
Let’s examine the context by looking at the surrounding verses (from the KJV):
Ps.22:16: For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
Ps.22:17: I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
Ps.22:18: They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Ps.22:19: But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
Ps.22:20: Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
Ps.22:21: Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
Now, if we’re going to take verse 18 of this song literally, then we should at least be consistent and take the other verses literally as well. But this presents a problem because:
- Jesus was not surrounded by dogs.
- Nor was he ever described as being remarkably thin (“telling all his bones.”)
- Nor was his soul ever threatened with a sword (Jesus claimed that a sword could not harm the soul in any event. Mt. 10:28)
- Nor did Jesus have a “darling” who was threatened by the power of a dog.
- Nor was Jesus ever in a lion’s mouth.
- Nor was Jesus ever near any horns of unicorns, since such mythical beasts do not exist.
- Nor did God help Jesus when they pierced his hands and feet and cast lots for his garments. That is why Jesus–quoting from the first verse of this song–cried out: “My God, my god, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46)
Now, this last point is simply not possible according to another Psalm [following the Watchtower’s lead of using songs to establish biblical doctrine]:
The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
—Psalm 34:17, 22 (KJV)
According to the Bible, Jesus was the most righteous servant of God who ever lived. If the above verses are true, then God would have heard his cry and delivered him. According to the “Gospels”, however, Jesus’ cry went unheard, and God left him desolate. So, the above verses cannot be true if the Gospel stories are true, and vice versa.
Since the book of Psalms is not in harmony with the story of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, we can’t use it as proving the truth of that story.
The Psalm strikes me as something of a “blues” tune. The singer (taking on the persona of David) is lamenting the hard times he’s having. It’s as if he’s in the mouth of a lion, surrounded by snarling dogs, his clothes ripped from his body and made the object of sport. He’s starving and his feet and hands are pierced by the horns of unicorns. It seems that even his god has forsaken him! It’s all poetical: as we would expect in a song.
Did you ever hear the song “The Gambler” made famous by Kenny Rogers? Someone took this once-popular song and wrote a screenplay based on it. The writer had to manufacture a biography for the screenplay’s main character, as well as a series of anecdotal incidents to fill out the story for the made-for-TV movie. The song lyrics provided the grist for his mill, suggesting many of the incidents and dialog that made it into the screenplay.
I think the same thing happened here with the once-popular song now known as Psalm 22. Matthew manufactured a biography of Jesus (“son of David”) partially based on this song about David. That’s why seemingly trivial incidents (such as how the soldiers divided up his clothing, and how they didn’t bother to break a dead man’s legs) are so carefully recorded, and the main character is even given to quoting the first verse of the song!