Psalm 69

Psalm 69
Save Me, O God
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.

(1)Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.
(2)I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
(3)I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

(4)More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore?
(5)O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

(6)Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
(7)For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face.
(8)I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother's sons.

(9)For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
(10)When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.
(11)When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.
(12)I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.

(13)But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
(14)Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.
(15)Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.

(16)Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
(17)Hide not your face from your servant, for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
(18)Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies!

(19)You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.
(20)Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. 
I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.
(21)They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

(22)Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.
(23)Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually.
(24)Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them.
(25)May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents.
(26)For they persecute him whom you have struck down, and they recount the pain of those you have wounded.
(27)Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you.
(28)Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

(29)But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

(30)I will praise the name of God with a song: I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
(31)This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.
(32)When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
(33)For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

(34)Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.
(35)For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it;
(36)the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.

The NKJV titles this psalm: An Urgent Plea for Help in Trouble. To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.” A Psalm of David.

The “Lilies” or Shoshannim (Hebrew) could be a tune or an instrument or a style of worship. Psalm 45 has the same title.

This song is of great sorrow. Some scholars say it is Messianic, meaning a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, not all of it can be ascribed to Jesus, as we will learn. Other scholars believe it is not Messianic, but it is one of the most quoted psalms in the New Testament. Many of the trials David speaks of were also trials of Jesus.

We commence our exposition of this Psalm with much trembling, for we feel that we are entering with our Great High Priest into the most holy place.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God. Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they are mighty who would destroy me, being my enemies wrongfully; though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it.
Psalm 69:1-4 NKJV

This is beautiful poetry filled with sorrow and grief. David paints a picture for us. He drowning in water and stuck in the mud. His voice is gone and his eyes are weary from crying out for help from God.

Is it a relief to know that a man after God’s own heart could be overwhelmed with fear and sorrow and still hold fast to his faith? David knew God was faithful and would rescue him. But he didn’t know when or how, so he still cried for help.

I think it’s okay to lose it sometimes, to feel like we will drown in our worry. But we must always hold fast to the promises of God.

Bible scholars see David in one of the caves in the wilderness, hiding from Saul, as he writes this psalm. Saul, being king of Israel, had the ability to turn a nation, a people, against one young man because of his own jealousy and fear. David was alone and afraid. He had only God. But these verses speak even better of another; David’s Greater Son, as He is often called.

David could only imperfectly say, “I have stolen nothing,” but his Greater Son could say it in a remarkable way. The devil tried to take what was not his–God’s honor and glory in heaven. Adam took what was not his–the fruit forbidden to him. Moses took what was not lawful for him to take–the life of an Egyptian foreman. David took what was not his–Bathsheba into his bed. Yet Jesus refused to take what was rightfully His; He did not consider it robbery to be equal with God (Philippians 2:6), choosing to set aside divine privileges that were rightfully His. For this, Jesus was condemned by humanity: He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God (John 19:7).

David Guzik, pastor,
O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You. Let not those who wait for You, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed because of me; let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel. Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother's children; because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that became my reproach. I also made sackcloth my garment; I became a byword to them. Those who sit in the gate speak against me, and I am the song of the drunkards.
Psalm 69:5-12 NKJV

“You know my foolishness…” can never be applied to the Lord Jesus Christ.

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT

What a reassurance: “You know my mistakes, they are not hidden from you.” Does this make confession easier? Let’s add an important piece to this thought… “You know my foolishness; my sins are not hidden from You, and You love me still!”

Verse 6 is also a reassurance. David knows there are followers of the Truth in Israel still. While he runs for his life from what feels like the world at his heels, he prays for those he’s left behind, that he won’t let them down.

These were the faithful Israelites, the “true seed of Abraham” as distinguished from the great majority of the people. Such devout souls, of course, were praying for David’s survival, but as the partisans of Saul closed in upon the fugitive, David recognized that, if he were to be destroyed, the faithful of the whole kingdom also would have been hunted down and destroyed by Saul. Therefore, David prayed that God would not allow such a thing to happen.

James Burton Coffman, preacher & Bible scholar, 1905-2006

These next few verses are of a broken and abandoned heart. David is filled with shame and sadness, those he loves the most have turned away from him. We know that some of David’s brothers remained faithful to him and came out to the cave to hide with him. But at the point of writing this, David feels abandoned. None are brave enough to fight for David.

And oh, do these verses speak of David’s Greater Son. He was abandoned by those closest to Him. He was made a mockery and a byword.

For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we mighty have hope.
Romans 15:3-4
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 
Isaiah 53:3

Alas, my Lord, what pangs must have smitten Thy loving heart to be thus forsaken by those who should have loved Thee, defended Thee, and, if need be, died for Thee.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink; let me be delivered from those who hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the floodwater overflow me, nor let the deep swallow me up; and let not the pit shut its mouth on me. Hear me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies. And do not hide Your face from Your servant, for I am in trouble; hear me speedily. Draw near to my soul, and redeem it; deliver me because of my enemies.
Psalm 69:13-18 NKJV

Thus begins David’s appeal to God to rescue him. David knew God loved him. David knew God was faithful. So in his darkest hours, David kept his eyes on the Lord. He uses the analogy of drowning again to plead for God’s saving grace.

But as for me, I call out to You, O God, hear me…in Your timing.

Oh, what a prayer. When we need the Lord to rescue us, can we say the same? Help me, Father, in Your good and perfect timing.

He turned to Jehovah in prayer as being the most natural thing for the godly to do in their distress. To whom should a child turn but to his father.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor; my adversaries are all before You. Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Psalm 69:19-21 NKJV

David now speaks of his broken heart. Can you just feel his desperation? He is deserted and broken. His soul is heavy. No one stood up for him. No one defended him. The Message translates these verses with even more vivid description.

You know how they kick me around--pin on me the donkey's ears, the dunce's cap. I'm broken by their taunts, flat on my face, reduced to nothing. I looked in vain for one friendly face. Not one. I couldn't find one shoulder to cry on. 
Psalm 69:19-20 The Message

David has no one he can turn to. No one is on his side….except for the One who really matters. The One he speaks to is listening. The One who he cries out to understands. The One who listens will deliver him.

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:28-30 NIV

David speaks in a metaphor about gall and vinegar. Jesus experienced this as He was dying on the cross to fulfill Scripture. Bible scholars question why David would ever drink gall or vinegar. The idea isn’t viable. People don’t do that. But if he was as broken as he’s claiming to be, those cruel people around him could force something so horrible upon him. David’s words, probably being but a metaphor for him, were a prophecy that Jesus fulfilled.

Let their table become a snare before them, and their well-being a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see; and make their loins shake continually. Pour our Your indignation upon them, and let Your wrathful anger take hold of them. Let their dwelling place be desolate; let no one live in their tents. For they persecute the ones You have struck, and talk of the grief of those You have wounded. Add iniquity to their iniquity, and let them not come into Your righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not written with the righteous.
Psalm 69:22-28 NKJV

Where Jesus called upon God to forgive His enemies, David calls for God’s vengeance. Paul writes about this section of Psalm 69 in Romans 11 when he discusses the Jews that turned their backs on the Messiah.

Up to this point in the psalm, “Christ and his Passion have been foreshadowed,” but here the impassable gulf between the Type and the Antitype, between David and Christ, begins to widen before us. Christ prayed for his enemies; David cursed his; Christ was not willing that any should perish, but here David actually prayed for his enemies to be blotted out of the Book of Life.

James Burton Coffman, Bible scholar, 1905-2006
But I am poor and sorrowful; let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bull, which has horns and hooves. The humble shall see this and be glad; and you who seek God, your hearts shall live. For the LORD hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners. 
Psalm 69:29-33 NKJV

Oh ye poor and sorrowful ones, lift up your heads, for as with your Lord so it shall be with you. You are trodden down today as the mire of the streets, but you shall ride upon the high places of the earth ere long; and even now ye are raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

Ultimately, David knew that God was faithful. He knew that God would preserve his life, that God would raise him up as king over Israel, and that God provided a place of safety and security and peace and joy in a life to come. So David’s heart would be directed toward Him for all of his earthly life.

Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them. For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there and posses it. Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His name shall dwell in it.
Psalm 69:34-36 NKJV

David closes with a prayer of blessing upon the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, even though it probably hadn’t become a city yet.

David’s cry and plead for help once again turns to joy and blessing. May we live out David’s example to cry to God in our time of sadness and grief. God is faithful to hear us. God is listening. God will deliver us in His time and His perfect will.

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Father in heaven, thank you for this beautiful poem of your comfort and blessing upon David and those who read it now seeking Your goodness and faithfulness. Thank you for the prophetic words that spoke of Jesus. Thank you for the beauty and comfort of Your Word. Strengthen us today. Give us peace and joy and love today as we wait for Your good and perfect will. Amen.


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