Psalm 22 (LXX)
“The LORD is my Shepherd”
This Psalm is one of the most beloved and most quoted among Christians. We as Orthodox Christians are very familiar with it, especially as it is part of the prayers in preparation to receive Holy Communion.
St. Gregory of Nyssa saw in this Psalm both a prophecy and a summary of the Sacraments: “…Christ teaches the Church that, first of all, you must become a sheep of the Good Shepherd (verses 1-3)… Then you must be buried with Him into death by baptism. But this is not death, but a shadow and image of death (verse 4). Then He prepares the mystical table and He anoints you with the oil of the Spirit (verse 5). Finally He presents the wine that gladdens the heart of man and produces that sober inebriation characteristic of the true Christian (verse 6)”.
In verse 3, King David writes: “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. King David’s experience of God’s love and compassion comforts the souls of those who read or chant this Psalm. Anyone, no matter how sinful and how far they may have strayed from God, can return to the way of righteousness and God’s embrace.
Eusebius of Caesarea comments on verse 5 (“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over”): In these lines the Word clearly designates the sacramental unction (Chrism) and the holy sacrifice of Christ’s table (Holy Communion)”.
Finally, St. Gregory of Nyssa comments on verse 6 (“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”): “Christ provokes in it (i.e. the soul) that sober intoxication which elevates the dispositions of the heart from temporary to eternal things… He who has tasted this inebriation trades the passing for that which has no end and remains in the house of the Lord all the days of his life”.
Source: December-January 2014 Lychnos Edition