Verse 21. They gave me also gall for my meat. This was the sole refreshment cruelty had prepared for him. Others find pleasure in their food, but his taste was made to be an additional path of pain to him.
And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. A criminal's draught was offered to our innocent Lord, a bitter portion to our dying Master. Sorry entertainment had earth for her King and Saviour. How often have our sins filled the gall cup for our Redeemer? While we blame the Jews, let us not excuse ourselves.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 21. They gave me also gall, etc. Such are the comforts often administered by the world, to an afflicted and deserted soul. George Horne.
Verse 21. Gall and vinegar are here put together to denote the most unpalatable forms of food and drink. The passion of our Lord was providentially so ordered as to furnish a remarkable coincidence with this verse. The Romans were accustomed to give sour wine, with an infusion of myrrh, to convicts on the cross, for the purpose of deadening the pain. This practice was adhered to in our Saviour's case ( Mark 15:23 ). Though in itself not cruel, but the contrary, it formed part of the great process of murderous persecution. On the part of the Roman soldiery it may have been an act of kindness; but, considered as an act of the unbelieving Jews, it was giving gall and vinegar to one already overwhelmed with anguish. And so Matthew, in accordance with his general method, represents it as a verification of this passage ( Matthew 27:34 ). He does not contradict Mark's account, before referred to, but merely intimates that the wine and myrrh thus offered were to be regarded as identical with the gall and vinegar of this prediction. And, in order to prevent the coincidence from being overlooked, our Lord, before he died, complained of thirst, and vinegar was administered. Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 21. Gall for my meat. Since the life of sin first began in tasting, contrary to the obedience due to God, the Redeemer of sinners willed to be obedient even unto death, upon the cross, and to end his life, in fulfilment of the prophecy with the bitter taste of gall and vinegar, that, in this manner, we, seeing the beginning of our perdition and the end of our redemption, might feel ourselves to be most sufficiently redeemed and most perfectly cured. Thome de Jesu (1582), in "The Sufferings of Jesus."
Verse 21. Vinegar. Commentators have frequently remarked the refreshing quality of the Eastern vinegar. I shall not repeat their observations, but rather would ask, why the psalmist prophetically complains of the giving him vinegar to drink, in that deadly thirst, which, in another Psalm, he describes by the tongue's cleaving to the jaws, if it be so refreshing? Its refreshing quality cannot be doubted; but may it not be replied, that, besides the gall which he mentions, and which ought not to be forgotten, vinegar itself, refreshing as it is, was only made use of by the meanest people? When a royal personage has vinegar given him in his thirst, the refreshment of a slave, of a wretched prisoner, instead of that of a prince, he is greatly dishonoured, and may well complain of it as a bitter insult, or represent such insults by this image. Sweet wines, as appears from the ancient Eastern translators of the Septuagint, were chiefly esteemed formerly, for that which our version renders "royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the King," ( Esther 1:7 .) they translate, "much and sweet wine, such as the King himself drank." Perhaps, it was with a view to this, that the soldiers offered our Lord vinegar (wine that was become very sour), in opposition to that sweet wine princes were wont to drink: for Luke tells us that they did this in mockery (Lu 23:36.) "And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar." Medicated wine, to deaden their sense of pain, was wont, we are told, to be given to Jewish criminals, when about to be put to death; but, they gave our Lord vinegar, and that in mockery -- in mockery (as they did other things) of his claim to royalty. But the force of this does not appear, if we do not recollect the quality of the wines drank anciently by princes, which, it seems, were of the sweet kind. Thomas Harmer.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 21. The conduct of men to Jesus throughout his entire life, rendering to him evil for all his good, and where good would have seemed to be the inevitable return.