The Prayer of an Innocent Person

1For the leader; according to “The deer of the dawn.”* A psalm of David.


2My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Why so far from my call for help,

from my cries of anguish?a

3My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;

by night, but I have no relief.b

4Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;

you are the glory of Israel.c

5In you our fathers trusted;

they trusted and you rescued them.

6To you they cried out and they escaped;

in you they trusted and were not disappointed.d

7*But I am a worm, not a man,

scorned by men, despised by the people.e

8All who see me mock me;

they curl their lips and jeer;

they shake their heads at me:f

9“He relied on the LORD—let him deliver him;

if he loves him, let him rescue him.”g

10For you drew me forth from the womb,

made me safe at my mother’s breasts.

11Upon you I was thrust from the womb;

since my mother bore me you are my God.h

12Do not stay far from me,

for trouble is near,

and there is no one to help.i


13Many bulls* surround me;

fierce bulls of Bashan* encircle me.

14They open their mouths against me,

lions that rend and roar.j

15Like water my life drains away;

all my bones are disjointed.

My heart has become like wax,

it melts away within me.

16As dry as a potsherd is my throat;

my tongue cleaves to my palate;

you lay me in the dust of death.*

17Dogs surround me;

a pack of evildoers closes in on me.

They have pierced my hands and my feet

18I can count all my bones.k

They stare at me and gloat;

19they divide my garments among them;

for my clothing they cast lots.l

20But you, LORD, do not stay far off;

my strength, come quickly to help me.

21Deliver my soul from the sword,

my life from the grip of the dog.

22Save me from the lion’s mouth,

my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.m


23Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren;

in the assembly I will praise you:*n

24“You who fear the LORD, give praise!

All descendants of Jacob, give honor;

show reverence, all descendants of Israel!

25For he has not spurned or disdained

the misery of this poor wretch,

Did not turn away* from me,

but heard me when I cried out.

26I will offer praise in the great assembly;

my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.

27The poor* will eat their fill;

those who seek the LORD will offer praise.

May your hearts enjoy life forever!”o


28All the ends of the earth

will remember and turn to the LORD;

All the families of nations

will bow low before him.p

29For kingship belongs to the LORD,

the ruler over the nations.q

30*All who sleep in the earth

will bow low before God;

All who have gone down into the dust

will kneel in homage.

31And I will live for the LORD;

my descendants will serve you.

32The generation to come will be told of the Lord,

that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn

the deliverance you have brought.r

* [Psalm 22] A lament unusual in structure and in intensity of feeling. The psalmist’s present distress is contrasted with God’s past mercy in Ps 22:212. In Ps 22:1322 enemies surround the psalmist. The last third is an invitation to praise God (Ps 22:2327), becoming a universal chorus of praise (Ps 22:2831). The Psalm is important in the New Testament. Its opening words occur on the lips of the crucified Jesus (Mk 15:34; Mt 27:46), and several other verses are quoted, or at least alluded to, in the accounts of Jesus’ passion (Mt 27:35, 43; Jn 19:24).

* [22:1] The deer of the dawn: apparently the title of the melody.

* [22:7] I am a worm, not a man: the psalmist’s sense of isolation and dehumanization, an important motif of Ps 22, is vividly portrayed here.

* [22:1314] Bulls: the enemies of the psalmist are also portrayed in less-than-human form, as wild animals (cf. Ps 22:17, 2122). Bashan: a grazing land northeast of the Sea of Galilee, famed for its cattle, cf. Dt 32:14; Ez 39:18; Am 4:1.

* [22:16] The dust of death: the netherworld, the domain of the dead.

* [22:23] In the assembly I will praise you: the person who offered a thanksgiving sacrifice in the Temple recounted to the other worshipers the favor received from God and invited them to share in the sacrificial banquet. The final section (Ps 22:2432) may be a summary or a citation of the psalmist’s poem of praise.

* [22:25] Turn away: lit., “hides his face from me,” an important metaphor for God withdrawing from someone, e.g., Mi 3:4; Is 8:17; Ps 27:9; 69:18; 88:15.

* [22:27] The poor: originally the poor, who were dependent on God; the term (‘anawim) came to include the religious sense of “humble, pious, devout.”

* [22:30] Hebrew unclear. The translation assumes that all on earth (Ps 22:2728) and under the earth (Ps 22:29) will worship God.

a. [22:2] Is 49:14; 54:7; Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34.

b. [22:3] Sir 2:10.

c. [22:4] Is 6:3.

d. [22:6] Ps 25:3; Is 49:23; Dn 3:40.

e. [22:7] Is 53:3.

f. [22:8] Ps 109:25; Mt 27:39; Mk 15:29; Lk 23:35.

g. [22:9] Ps 71:11; Wis 2:1820; Mt 27:43.

h. [22:11] Ps 71:6; Is 44:2; 46:3.

i. [22:12] Ps 35:22; 38:22; 71:12.

j. [22:14] Ps 17:12; Jb 4:10; 1 Pt 5:8.

k. [22:18] Ps 109:24.

l. [22:19] Mt 27:35; Mk 15:24; Lk 23:34; Jn 19:24.

m. [22:22] Ps 7:23; 17:12; 35:17; 57:5; 58:7; 2 Tm 4:17.

n. [22:23] Ps 26:12; 35:18; 40:10; 109:30; 149:1; 2 Sm 22:50; Heb 2:12.

o. [22:27] Ps 23:5; 69:33.

p. [22:28] Ps 86:9; Tb 13:11; Is 45:22; 52:10; Zec 14:16.

q. [22:29] Ps 103:19; Ob 21; Zec 14:9.

r. [22:32] Ps 48:1415; 71:18; 78:6; 102:19; Is 53:10.

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