As the twilight deepened swiftly to darkness, our safari vehicle passed hunting lions. A short distance farther on from them, in the long grass, a young deer was lying alone. Its head was visible above the tall stalks, and it was turning anxiously, looking this way and that, bewildered and frightened. It must have sensed the lions’ approach. Our African guide explained that sometimes the herd fled and left behind a young deer as a kind of sacrifice to the approaching hunters. One would die; the predators’ appetite would be satisfied; the rest of the herd would be safe.
The image of that beautiful, defenceless creature waiting in terror for the hunters is hard to forget. In some ways it reminded me of the setting of Psalm 22 – the title or tune of the Psalm:
“To the Chief Musician. Set to ‘The Deer of the Dawn’.”
The above painting is an attempt to depict something of the setting of this Psalm.
Dawn has just broken. In the morning mist, a young deer is standing. The rest of the herd are fleeing; left alone, the deer of the dawn is the sacrifice for their safety. Surrounded by ferocious enemies – lions, wild dogs, and wild bulls – the deer does not run or attempt to hide. It will soon be overcome by its hunters.
This is the poignant setting – the title or tune – of Psalm 22, which speaks prophetically and in precise detail of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for the sin of mankind. The Psalm opens with words which would be spoken and fulfilled by Christ 1,000 years after they were written:
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”
It was for the redemption of mankind; to bring the hope of eternal safety to the human race.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Image source: Unsplash