PSALM 22 – 01 – When Christ Surveyed the Cruel Cross


Most of us will be familiar at least with the title of the famous hymn written by Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748) – When I survey the Wondrous Cross. Charles Wesley (18 December 1707 – 29 March 1788) reportedly said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one. However what is significantly missed is that it was written from the divine and not from the human perspective. In Psalm 22 – The Psalm of the Cross – we principally see Christ Himself, not some human being, be it king David or someone else surveying the cross and it’s surrounds. The Lord Jesus Christ actually surveyed it prophetically, through David the King some 1000 or so years before the event. In fact seeing it in its fullest prophetical significance this is a view of the Cross by Christ from before the dawn of creation –

Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world John 17:24;

According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love Ephesians 1:4;

Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 1 Peter 1:20.

Sometime in 1979/80 shortly after Kathleen and I and our family moved to Katoomba, NSW to take up ministry under my lifelong friend the late Aeron Morgan who was then principal of the Commonwealth Bible College (AOG), Aeron asked me to give a series of lectures on the Messianic Psalms. I was musing on this Psalm 22 as I drove down the main highway to Sydney, suddenly it was as if I was transported to the scene of the Cross. I began to see Christ looking in five directions as He surveyed the Cruel Cross;

  • HE LOOKED UP and saw GOD – verse 1 – “My God … My God …”;
  • HE LOOKED DOWN and saw self – v1 – “Why have you forsaken me”?
  • HE LOOKED BACK and saw history – v4 – you delivered them…”;
  • HE LOOKED OUT and saw His enemies – “bulls … dogs …lions …”;
  • HE LOOKED FORWARD and saw victory – vs. 22-31 – IT IS FINISHED.

That outline has remained with me and new truth has dawned as I have continued to meditate in the Word of the Lord. The latest came to me on Saturday March 7, 2015 and is intimated by my opening comments, in which have given rise to a new slant on Dr. Watts’ great hymn. I trust I am not being presumptuous if I dare change the title to make my point: I know that I can’t hold a candle to the great hymnists – Watts and Wesley.

When Christ surveyed the Cruel Cross:

When Christ surveyed the Cruel Cross, On which He the Prince of Glory must die,

He turned His back on all His gain, To submit to excruciating suffering and pain.

“My mighty One, why have you forsaken me”? Would be His cry, upon that Cross;

Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

I cry in the daytime, but you do not hear. In the night season, I am not silent.

But you are Holy, You who inhabits the praises of Israel.

I see from My Head, My Hands, My Feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

The whole realm of nature is mine; and I willingly surrender it all to death;
To share my Love so amazing, so divine, and redeem man’s soul his life his all.

Our response is the only one that is possible, in the immortal words of Watts and Wesley:

Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, DEMANDS my soul, my life, my all.

To Christ, who won for sinners grace, By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race, Forever and forevermore.

I am reminded of the great CT Studd (1860-1931), who played cricket for England in the first “ashes” match in 1882 which was won by Australia. He was part of the Cambridge Seven and later responsible for setting up The Heart of Africa Mission, which became The World Evangelisation Crusade (WEC International). He gave away an inherited fortune to help missions and needy people. According to

On January 13, 1887, before he even knew the amount he was to inherit, he wrote several large cheques for George Muller’s orphan work and for missions. It turned out there was still some money left. Studd gave it away. He gave the final £3,400 to the woman he was about to marry as a wedding gift. But Priscilla Livingstone Stewart was as sure of God as her husband. She determined to “start clear” at her wedding and gave that sum away, too.

Naturally, they ran short of money often after that. Yet they found God faithfully supplied them. “Funds are low again, hallelujah! That means God trusts us and is willing to leave His reputation in our hands,” said C. T. Studd on one such occasion.

Although he believed that God sometimes healed physical illnesses through prayer and the anointing of oil, he also accepted that some ailments are chronic, and in his last years he regularly took morphine, causing some controversy.

CT Studd is noted for his quotes about his indebtedness to Christ and His great sacrifice. I grew up on his famous:

“Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Past, Only what’s done for Christ will last”, – famous to many who are unaware that its author was CT Studd. It’s a quote I and my family employed on the occasion of the tragic death of my 14 year old brother and I have used it many times to challenge people around the grave side. I have concluded this blog with an extended version of the poem taken from

Other well known statements by CT STUDD include:

“Some wish to live within, the sound of Church or Chapel bell;
I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell;” and

“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”

Another marvellous tribute from history comes from the Moravian Mission whose early young missionaries sold themselves into slavery in order to witness to the ostracised lepers in a leper colony. This famous quote has survived – “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”

This is the major thrust of this blog built around the famous hymn to as much as possible refocus away from the fame of men and onto Christ who Himself viewed that WONDROUS CROSS before any other.

Here’s a poem built on CT Studd’s confession:

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

— extra stanza —

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
C.T Studd

FROM – PhilipLPowell

Philiplpowell – The Truth shall set you free – Word Press

NEXT – Looking up Christ Sees God

This entry was posted in CHURCH, Devotional, Psalm 22 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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