Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume VIII/Expositions on the Book of Psalms/Psalm XXII
To the end, for the taking up of the morning, a psalm of David.
1. “To the end,” for His own resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself speaketh. For in the morning on the first day of the week was His resurrection, whereby He was taken up, into eternal life, “Over whom death shall have no more dominion.” Now what follows is spoken in the person of The Crucified. For from the head of this Psalm are the words, which He cried out, whilst hanging on the Cross, sustaining also the person of the old man, whose mortality He bare. For our old man was nailed together with Him to the Cross.
2. “O God, my God, look upon me, why hast Thou forsaken me far from my salvation?” (ver. 1). Far removed from my salvation: for “salvation is far from sinners.” “The words of my sins.” For these are not the words of righteousness, but of my sins. For it is the old man nailed to the Cross that speaks, ignorant even of the reason why God hath forsaken him: or else it may be thus, The words of my sins are far from my salvation.
3. “My God, I will cry unto Thee in the daytime, and Thou wilt not hear (ver. 2). My God, I will cry unto Thee in the prosperous circumstances of this life, that they be not changed; and Thou wilt not hear, because I shall cry unto Thee in the words of my sins. “And in the night-season, and not to my folly.” And so in the adversities of this life will I cry to Thee for prosperity; and in like manner Thou wilt not hear. And this Thou doest not to my folly, but rather that I may have wisdom to know what Thou wouldest have me cry for, not with the words of sins out of longing for life temporal, but with the words of turning to Thee for life eternal.
4. “But Thou dwellest in the holy place, O Thou praise of Israel” (ver. 3). But Thou dwellest in the holy place, and therefore wilt not hear the unclean words of sins. The “praise” of him that seeth Thee; not of him who hath sought his own praise in tasting of the forbidden fruit, that on the opening of his bodily eyes he should endeavour to hide himself from Thy sight.
5. “Our Fathers hoped in Thee.” All the righteous, namely, who sought not their own praise, but Thine. “They hoped in Thee, and Thou deliveredst them” (ver. 4).
6. “They cried unto Thee, and were saved.” They cried unto Thee, not in the words of sins, from which salvation is far; and therefore were they saved. “They hoped in Thee, and were not confounded” (ver. 5). “They hoped in Thee,” and their hope did not deceive them. For they placed it not in themselves.
7. “But I am a worm, and no man” (ver. 6). But I, speaking now not in the person of Adam, but I in My own person, Jesus Christ, was born without human generation in the flesh, that I might be as man beyond men; that so at least human pride might deign to imitate My humility. “The scorn of men, and outcast of the people.” In which humility I was made the scorn of men, so as that it should be said, as a reproachful railing, “Be thou His disciple:” and that the people despise Me.
8. “All that saw Me laughed Me to scorn” (ver. 7). All that saw Me derided Me. “And spake with the lips, and shook the head.” And they spoke, not with the heart, but with the lips.
9. For they shook their head in derision, saying, “He trusted in the Lord, let Him deliver Him:” “let Him save Him, since He desireth Him” (ver. 8). These were their words; but they were spoken “with the lips.”
10. “Since Thou art He who drew Me out of the womb” (ver. 9). Since Thou art He who drew Me, not only out of that Virgin womb (for this is the law of all men’s birth, that they be drawn out of the womb), but also out of the womb of the Jewish nation; by the darkness whereof he is covered, and not yet born into the light of Christ, whosoever places his salvation in the carnal observance of the Sabbath, and of circumcision, and the like. “My hope from My mother’s breasts.” “My hope,” O God, not from the time when I began to be fed by the milk of the Virgin’s breasts; for it was even before; but from the breasts of the Synagogue, as I have said, out of the womb, Thou hast drawn Me, that I should not suck in the customs of the flesh.
11. “I have been strengthened in Thee from the womb” (ver. 10). It is the womb of the Synagogue, which did not carry Me, but threw Me out: but I fell not, for Thou heldest me. “From My mother’s womb Thou art My God.” “From My mother’s womb: My mother’s womb did not cause that, as a babe, I should be forgetful of Thee.
12. “Thou art My God,” “depart not from Me; for trouble is hard at hand” (ver. 11). Thou art, therefore, My God, depart not from Me; for trouble is nigh unto Me; for it is in My body. “For there is none to help.” For who helpeth, if Thou helpest not?
13. “Many calves came about Me.” The multitude of the wanton populace came about Me. “Fat bulls closed Me in” (ver. 12). And their leaders, glad at My oppression, “closed Me in.”
14. “They opened their mouth upon Me” (ver. 13). They opened their mouth upon Me, not out of Thy Scripture, but of their own lusts. “As a ravening and roaring lion.” As a lion, whose ravening is, that I was taken and led; and whose roaring, “Crucify, Crucify.”
15. “I was poured out like water, and all My bones were scattered” (ver. 14). “I was poured out like water,” when My persecutors fell: and through fear, the stays of My body, that is, the Church, My disciples were scattered from Me. “My heart became as melting wax, in the midst of my belly.” My wisdom, which was written of Me in the sacred books, was, as if hard and shut up, not understood: but after that the fire of My Passion was applied, it was, as if melted, manifested, and entertained in the memory of My Church.
16. “My strength dried up as a potsherd” (ver. 15). My strength dried up by My Passion; not as hay, but a potsherd, which is made stronger by fire. “And My tongue cleaved to My jaws.” And they, through whom I was soon to speak, kept My precepts in their hearts. “And Thou broughtest Me down to the dust of death.” And to the ungodly appointed to death, whom the wind casteth forth as dust from the face of the earth,  Thou broughtest Me down.
17. “For many dogs came about Me” (ver. 16). For many came about Me barking, not for truth, but for custom. “The council of the malignant came about Me.” The council of the malignant besieged Me. “They pierced My hands and feet.” They pierced with nails My hands and feet.
18. “They numbered distinctly all My bones” (ver. 17). They numbered distinctly all My bones, while extended on the wood of the Cross. “Yea, these same regarded, and beheld Me.” Yea, these same, that is, unchanged, regarded and beheld Me.
19. “They divided My garments for themselves, and cast the lot upon My vesture” (ver. 18).
20. “But Thou, O Lord, withhold not Thy help far from Me” (ver. 19). But Thou, O Lord, raise Me up again, not as the rest of men, at the end of the world, but immediately. “Look to My defence.” “Look,” that they in no wise hurt Me.
21. “Deliver My soul from the sword.” “Deliver My soul” from the tongue of dissension. “And My only One from the hand of the dog” (ver. 20). And from the power of the people, barking after their custom, deliver My Church.
22. “Save Me from the lion’s mouth:” save Me from the mouth of the kingdom of this world: “and my humility from the horns of the unicorns” (ver. 21). And from the loftiness of the proud, exalting themselves to special pre-eminence, and enduring no partakers, save My humility.
23. “I will declare Thy name to My brethren” (ver. 22). I will declare Thy name to the humble, and to My Brethren that love one another as they have been beloved by Me. “In the midst of the Church will I sing of Thee.” In the midst of the Church will I with rejoicing preach Thee.
24. “Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him.” “Ye that fear the Lord,” seek not your own praise, but “praise Him.” “All ye seed of Jacob, magnify Him” (ver. 23). All ye seed of him whom the elder shall serve, magnify Him.
25. “Let all the seed of Israel fear Him.” Let all who have been born to a new life, and restored to the vision of God “fear Him.” “Since He hath not despised, nor disregarded the prayer of the poor man” (ver. 24). Since He hath not despised the prayer, not of him who, crying unto God in the words of sins was loath to overpass a vain life, but the prayer of the poor man, not swollen up with transitory pomps. “Nor hath He turned away His face from Me.” As from him who said, I will cry unto Thee, but Thou wilt not hear. “And when I cried unto Him He heard Me.”
26. “With Thee is My praise” (ver. 25). For I seek not Mine own praise, for Thou art My praise, who dwellest in the holy place; and, praise of Israel, Thou hearest The Holy One now beseeching Thee. “In the great Church I will confess Thee.” In the Church of the whole world “I will confess Thee.” “I will offer My vows in the sight of them that fear Him.” I will offer the sacraments of My Body and Blood in the sight of them that fear Him.
27. “The poor shall eat, and be filled” (ver. 26). The humble and the despisers of the world shall eat, and imitate Me. For so they will neither desire this world’s abundance, nor fear its want. “And they shall praise the Lord, who seek Him.” For the praise of the Lord is the pouring out of that fulness. “Their hearts shall live for ever and ever.” For that food is the food of the heart.
28. “All the borders of the earth shall remember themselves, and be turned to the Lord” (ver. 27). They shall remember themselves: for, by the Gentiles, born in death and bent on outward things, God had been forgotten; and then shall all the borders of the earth be turned to the Lord. “And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in His sight.” And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in their own consciences.
29. “For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He shall rule over the nations” (ver. 28). For the kingdom is the Lord’s, not proud men’s: and He shall rule over the nations.
30. “All the rich of the earth have eaten, and worshipped” (ver. 29). The rich of the earth too have eaten the Body of their Lord’s humiliation, and though they have not, as the poor, been filled even to imitation, yet they have worshipped. “In His sight shall fall all that descend to earth.” For He alone seeth how all they fall, who abandoning a heavenly conversation, make choice, on earth, to appear happy to men, who see not their fall.
31. “And My Soul shall live to Him.” And My Soul, which in the contempt of this world seems to men as it were to die, shall live, not to itself, but to Him. “And My seed shall serve Him” (ver. 30). And My deeds, or they who through Me believe on Him, shall serve Him.
32. “The generation to come shall be declared to the Lord” (ver. 31). The generation of the New Testament shall be declared to the honour of the Lord. “And the heavens shall declare His righteousness.” And the Evangelists shall declare His righteousness. “To a people that shall be born, whom the Lord hath made.” To a people that shall be born to the Lord through faith.
- Lat. XXI.
- [This was read on the anniversary of our Lord’s passion, as appears from the (omitted) Second Exposition.—C.]
- John xx. 1–17.
- Rom. vi. 9.
- Rom. vi. 6.
- Vid. Ps. xxxvii. § 6 and xliii. § 2, and Enarr. i. Ps. lviii. § 2, and Ep. 149. [Opp. S. August. ed Migne, tom. iv. pp. 399, 483, 691, etc.—C.]
- Ps. cxix. 155.
- John ix. 28.
- Matt. xxvii. 39.
- Matt. xxvii. 43.
- John xix. 6.
- Matt. xxvi. 56.
- Ps. i. 4.
- These seven words from the Oxford ms.
- [The garments he elsewhere makes the sacraments, his vesture the undivided unity of the Church. See his Second Exposition, here omitted.—C.]
- [The original Hebrew seems to me a foreshadowing of the Romans, as Peres (Dan. v. 28) points to the Persians.—C.]
- [Here he makes Part II. to begin; i.e., the triumph over death and the grave.—C.]
- Or, “to My Brethren that are humble, and,” etc.
- John xvii. 6, 21.
- John viii. 50.
- [Here the African Psalter reads, “divites terræ,” the counterpart of pauperes in ver. 26. Would this had been followed in our English, which makes a ludicrous transition in this sublime prophecy.—C.]