Psalm 22

Psalm 22

This is one of the most powerful psalms. A just man has suffered one catastrophe after another. Enemies hem him in on every side. He endures terrific physical and emotional pain. He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

But the psalmist does not despair. He recalls how God is the Holy One of Israel and won the trust of the people from the time he rescued them from Egypt and even from the time of Jacob.

His mood changes: “I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.”

Suddenly he thinks of his own past—that God drew him from the womb and made him safe at his mother’s breast. And just as quickly his enemies are like savage beasts. He wastes away; he is reduced to skin and bones. He cries out for help.

Then there is a complete change of tone. God rescues him and he is ready to praise God in front of all the people. His vision broadens and he foresees that all nations and even people who have died will worship the God of Israel.

Finally, the psalmist expresses his conviction that he will have descendants to serve God. They, in turn, will worship God and proclaim to the following generation that God is faithful and has always delivered his faithful ones from all their enemies.

In Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, we hear Jesus cry out the opening words of Psalm 22. No doubt they express Jesus’ experience of the dark night of the soul. We can suppose that he continued to pray the whole psalm, expressing how he shuddered at the venomous hatred of his enemies, but ending with a prayer of confidence in his Father’s care.

Featured image: Photoxpress/Mele Avery


About the Author

Hilarion Kistner, O.F.M., after ordination in 1955, did further studies in Scripture. He taught Scripture to seminarians for 15 years. He has been editor of Sunday Homily Helps for more than 25 years.