Psalm 22

Psalm 22[a]

Suffering and Triumph of the Messiah

1 For the director.[b] According to “The Deer of the Dawn.” A psalm of David.

2 [c]My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why have you paid no heed to my call for help,
to my cries of anguish?
3 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I am afforded no relief.[d]
4 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
5 Our ancestors placed their trust in you;
they trusted, and you gave them deliverance.
6 They cried out to you and were saved,
they trusted in you and were not put to shame.
7 But I am a worm and not human,[e]
scorned by people and despised by my kinsmen.
8 All who see me jeer at me;
they sneer in mockery and toss their heads:[f]
9 “He relied on the Lord;
let the Lord set him free.
Let the Lord deliver him,
if he loves him.”[g]
10 [h]Yet you brought me out of the womb
and made me feel secure
upon my mother’s breast.
11 I was entrusted to your care at my birth;
from my mother’s womb, you have been my God.
12 Do not remain aloof from me,
for trouble is near
and no one can help me.
13 [i]Many bulls[j] are encircling me;
fierce bulls of Bashan are closing in on me.
14 They open wide their mouths against me
like ravening and roaring lions.
15 My strength is trickling away like water,
and all my bones are dislocated.
My heart[k] has turned to wax
and melts within me.
16 My mouth is as dry as clayware,
and my tongue sticks to my jaw;[l]
you have laid me down in the dust of death.
17 A pack of dogs surrounds me;
a band of evildoers is closing in on me.
They have pierced my hands and my feet;[m]
18 I can count all my bones.[n]
They stare at me and gloat;
19 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.[o]
20 [p]But you, O Lord, do not remain aloof from me.
O my Strength, come quickly to my aid.
21 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the grasp of the dogs.
22 Save me[q] from the lion’s mouth
and from the horns of wild oxen.
23 [r]I will proclaim your name to my family;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:[s]
24 “You who fear the Lord, praise him.
All you descendants of Jacob,[t] give him glory.
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel.
25 For he has not scorned or disregarded
the wretched man in his suffering;
he has not hidden his face[u] from him
but has heeded his call for help.”
26 I will offer my praise to you in the great assembly;
in the presence of those who fear him, I will fulfill my vows.[v]
27 [w]The poor[x] will eat and be filled;
those who seek the Lord will praise him:
“May your hearts live forever.”
28 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord.
All the families of the nations
will bow low before him.
29 For kingly power belongs to the Lord;
he is the ruler of all the nations.
30 All those who prosper on the earth will bow down before him;
all those who lie in the grave will kneel in homage.
31 [y]But I will live for the Lord,
and my descendants will serve him.
32 Future generations will be told about the Lord
so that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn
the deliverance he has accomplished.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 22:1 This psalm draws its inspiration from the “Songs of the Suffering Righteous Man (or Servant)” (Isa 52:13—53:12) and from the “Confessions of Jeremiah” (Jer 15:15; 17:15; 20:7); it ends, as they do, with the proclamation that the sufferings of the righteous man will restore life to humanity. Such a text seems planned, as it were, to become the prayer of Christ (Mk 15:34), and the Gospels have also singled out details from it that describe in advance the Passion of Jesus (e.g., Mt 27:35, 39, 43; Jn 19:23f, 28). The author of Hebrews even placed the words of verse 23 on the lips of Jesus (Heb 2:12). Indeed, no other psalm is so often quoted in the New Testament.
    In praying this psalm, we can keep in mind that Christ continues to pray it through the Church and Christians, since he continues the mystery of his abandonment in his Mystical Body.
  2. Psalm 22:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation. According to “The Deer of the Dawn”: nothing is known about these words.
  3. Psalm 22:2 Why? The question erupts from the heart of a righteous man. Yesterday he was still enjoying God’s favor as a son, but now he feels abandoned for no reason and afflicted with atrocious sufferings and made the laughingstock of free-thinkers. Has God changed?
  4. Psalm 22:3 But I am afforded no relief: the Hebrew text is obscure here. Some translate: “by night, and am not silent.”
  5. Psalm 22:7 I am a worm and not human: this passage clearly depicts the psalmist’s sense of isolation (see Job 25:6; Isa 41:14).
  6. Psalm 22:8 They sneer in mockery and toss their heads: words and gestures of scorn, also indulged in by Christ’s foes on Calvary (see Mt 27:39; Mk 15:29). See also note on Ps 5:10.
  7. Psalm 22:9 Cited in Mt 27:43. If he loves him: may be taken as “if God loves the sufferer” or “if the sufferer loves God.”
  8. Psalm 22:10 After recalling what the Lord had been for Israel (vv. 4-6), the psalmist now recalls what the Lord has been for him. I was entrusted to your care at my birth: the father customarily acknowledged the newborn by taking it upon his knees (see Gen 50:23; Job 3:12).
  9. Psalm 22:13 Around the beleaguered man there arises a wave of hostility; he experiences in his flesh the whole of human sorrow. The images are delusive, and the cries become pathetic. Here is a man whose life is being taken away.
  10. Psalm 22:13 Bulls . . . lions . . . dogs: these are metaphors for the enemies. Bashan: a land east of the Jordan that was noted for its good pasturage and the size and quality of its animals (see Deut 32:14; Ezek 39:18; Am 4:1).
  11. Psalm 22:15 Bones . . . heart: his combination of “bones” and “heart” (see note on Ps 4:8) was used to refer to the whole person (body and spirit) (see Ps 102:4; Prov 14:30; 15:30; Isa 66:14).
  12. Psalm 22:16 My mouth . . . jaw: see Jn 19:28 (“I thirst”). The dust of death: the netherworld, domain of the dead; the author is using the language of his day, as in Mesopotamian descriptions of the netherworld (see Job 7:9, 21).
  13. Psalm 22:17 Pierced my hands and my feet: his limbs are wounded by the dogs as he seeks to fend off their attacks (see also Isa 53:5; Zec 12:10; Jn 19:34). Although the phrase finds its complete fulfillment in Christ’s crucifixion, it is not expressly used by the evangelists in the Passion account.
  14. Psalm 22:18 I can count all my bones: this could also be translated as “I must display all my bones.” The meaning is that one is attacked and stripped of his garments (see v. 19).
  15. Psalm 22:19 Explicitly cited in Jn 19:24 as a prophecy fulfilled in the action of the soldiers who divided Christ’s garments among them on Calvary.
  16. Psalm 22:20 The scene shifts as the beleaguered psalmist is led to confront the God of the Covenant. He thus recalls God’s promises to be near his people and to protect them from all adversity. He throws himself on the Lord’s mercy and is comforted.
  17. Psalm 22:22 Save me: an alternative translation is: “You have heard me.” The psalmist knows he has been heard and will be delivered from death.
  18. Psalm 22:23 God reverses the righteous man’s condition; his hope returns. In the temple, he celebrates his deliverance and offers a sacrifice of communion amidst the poor who love God. Then the perspective is enlarged even more. The whole earth gives thanks to God who rules the world and dispenses justice. The poor are called to the table of God, and the line of the righteous shall never be extinguished from the midst of human beings. Indeed, the passion of the righteous man has changed something in the human world. Name: see note on Ps 5:12.
  19. Psalm 22:23 God reverses the righteous man’s condition; his hope returns. In the temple, he celebrates his deliverance and offers a sacrifice of communion amidst the poor who love God. Then the perspective is enlarged even more. The whole earth gives thanks to God who rules the world and dispenses justice. The poor are called to the table of God, and the line of the righteous shall never be extinguished from the midst of human beings. Indeed, the passion of the righteous man has changed something in the human world. Name: see note on Ps 5:12.
  20. Psalm 22:24 The taunts of the psalmist’s enemies are drowned out by the songs of God’s faithful. The true descendants of Jacob are those who fear the Lord and seek him (see Ps 24:6).
  21. Psalm 22:25 Not hidden his face: a metaphor for God withdrawing from someone (see Pss 13:2; 27:9; 69:18; 88:15; 102:3; 143:7; Isa 8:17; Mic 3:4).
  22. Psalm 22:26 This verse affirms the importance of public worship by stressing the praise of God in the great assembly as well as the pledging of freewill offerings. Vows were often made in time of trial (see Pss 50:14; 61:9; 66:1f) and were implemented when God had effected deliverance from the trial (Ps 65:2f).
  23. Psalm 22:27 In an allusion to the Messianic Banquet (see Ps 23:5; Prov 9:1f; Isa 25:6; 55:1; 65:13), the psalmist describes a worldwide company of people from every state in life who will ultimately take up God’s praise from age to age. It constitutes one of the grandest visions of the scope of the worshipers who will come to praise the saving acts of the Lord.
  24. Psalm 22:27 The poor: the anawim, originally the poor who depended on God for their livelihood; later, the humble, pious, and devout—those who hoped in God alone.
  25. Psalm 22:31 This is the more common translation (also found in the new Vulgate). An alternative translation is: “and those who cannot keep themselves alive. /Posterity will serve him; / future generations will be told about the Lord. / They will proclaim his righteousness / to a people yet unborn— / for he has done it.”

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