Psalm 69

 
Psalm 69
Christ Suffering Reproach Because of Israel’s Trespasses
 
Psalm 69. This is a Psalm of David, written to the tune of ‘Shoshannim’, meaning “Lilies” (Psalms 45). It is a Messianic Psalm that gives us the expressions of the suffering Savior on the cross (v.21), although it does not exactly focus on the work of atonement. It is Christ’s suffering because of His association with Israel, and suffering at the hands of men, as a righteous man in fellowship with His God. If Psalm 22 focuses on the abandonment of Calvary, Psalm 69 focuses on the first three hours. He was still in communion with God, although the suffering is intense. The Lord in prayer goes over His whole life with the Father, and He sees Himself as a “reproach” in many different spheres, culminating in the cross. Psalm 69 is quoted five times in the New Testament! Psalm 69 has been compared to the trespass offering, compared with Psalm 22 that has been compared to the sin offering. The great difference between Psalm 22 and 69 can be summarized by two expressions. In Psalm 69, in His sufferings at the hands of men, He could say “But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time”. But in Psalm 22, in His sufferings at the hands of God, His sorrowful conclusion is “but thou hearest not”. There are two parts to the Psalm. In vv.1-21 we have the suffering of Christ at the hands of men, and in vv.22-36 we have the results that flow from it; judgment on the guilty nation (vv.22-28), and blessing of the believing nation (vv.29-36). Prophetically, these sentiments also apply to the faithful remnant in the great tribulation. Psalm 69 – 72 form a complete group.
 
PSALM 69
To the chief Musician. Upon Shoshannim. A Psalm of David.
1 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into the depths of waters, and the flood overfloweth me.
3 I am weary with my crying, my throat is parched; mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
4 “They that hate me without a cause” [quoted John 15:25] are more than the hairs of my head; they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.
 
vv.1-4 Crying Out in the Depths of Distress. In the first part of the Psalm we have the agonizing cry of Christ for salvation in the depths of distress. There is a sense of being overwhelmed: ” the waters are come in unto my soul… I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into the depths of waters, and the flood overfloweth me.” The suffering is so extreme that the soul is overwhelmed. All this time, He was crying out to God repeatedly to deliver Him; so much that His throat was parched, His eyes failed, etc. The aspect of Christ’s suffering in Psalm is that of being hated, reproached, misunderstood, and mocked by men, especially His own earthly people. His enemies surround Him, numerous and mighty. But then we have this beautiful statement: “then I restored that which I took not away”. It is hard to say exactly what this means. Perhaps it is left purposefully vague. Christ was conscious that He was suffering, not for His own trespasses, but for the sins of others. He restored God’s pleasure in man, which Adam had taken away. God has received greater glory through the cross than the insult to His glory by entrance of sin. God is more glorified now than before sin entered the world! In the case of the trespass offering; “And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto” (Lev. 5:16; 6:5). 
 
5 Thou, O God, knowest my foolishness, and my trespasses are not hidden from thee.
6 Let not them that wait on thee, Lord, Jehovah of hosts, be ashamed through me; let not those that seek thee be confounded through me, O God of Israel.
7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; confusion hath covered my face.
8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s sons;
9 “For the zeal of thy house hath devoured me,” [quoted John 2:17] “and the reproaches of them that reproach thee have fallen upon me.” [quoted Romans 15:3]
10 And I wept, my soul was fasting: that also was to my reproach; —
11 And I made sackcloth my garment: then I became a proverb to them.
12 They that sit in the gate talk of me, and I am the song of the drunkards.
 
vv.5-12 Various Kinds of Reproach. In v.5 we can clearly see that Christ is identifying Himself with Israel. He who had no sins to confess, identified with His people, and confessed their transgressions as His own; “Thou, O God, knowest my foolishness, and my trespasses are not hidden from thee.” This isn’t exactly the same as suffering to expiate sin, as in Psalm 22, but Christ falling under the governmental judgment of God against sin, because He took the place as a representative for Israel; “for the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isa. 53:8). This thought of identification with the faithful remnant is continued in v.6; “Let not them that wait on thee, Lord, Jehovah of hosts, be ashamed through me; let not those that seek thee be confounded through me, O God of Israel.” The faithful remnant gauge the faithfulness of God by His care for the suffering Messiah. In vv.7-12 we have the moral reason for the suffering of Christ: the reproach He experienced was because He stood for God in the face of opposition; “Because for thy sake I have borne reproach”. This reproach came from all directions, including His natural family. Among all the things the Lord suffered from the hands of men, He found the unbelief of His family very hurtful (John 7:5). The focus of our Lord was completely and only for the glory of God; “the zeal of thy house hath devoured me”. There are many passions that can devour a person’s life, but for Christ is was the zeal of God’s house (John 2:17, c.p. John 4:34). So, Christ suffered reproach from the enemies of God, because He was fully devoted to God; “the reproaches of them that reproach thee have fallen upon me.” But also, He suffered reproach on account of the solemn and sorrowful demeanor in which Christ carried Himself through this world. He wept, fasted, wore sackcloth, etc. because of the moral condition of things around Him, but even this became a fresh cause for others to reproach and mock Him; “They that sit in the gate talk of me, and I am the song of the drunkards”.
 
13 But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, Jehovah, in an acceptable time: O God, in the abundance of thy loving-kindness answer me, according to the truth of thy salvation:
14 Deliver me out of the mire, let me not sink; let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the depths of waters.
15 Let not the flood of waters overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up; and let not the pit shut its mouth upon me.
16 Answer me, O Jehovah; for thy loving-kindness is good: according to the abundance of thy tender mercies, turn toward me;
17 And hide not thy face from thy servant, for I am in trouble: answer me speedily.
18 Draw nigh unto my soul, be its redeemer; ransom me because of mine enemies.
19 “Thou” knowest my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.
 
vv.13-19 Cry for Deliverance. The suffering Christ cries out to Jehovah for deliverance. The great difference between Psalm 22 and 69 can be seen in the expression of v.15. In Psalm 69, in Christ’s sufferings at the hands of men, He could say “But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time”. But in Psalm 22, in His sufferings at the hands of God, His sorrowful conclusion is “but thou hearest not”. He passed through all of these things in fellowship with His God, albeit with the knowledge that God was allowing Him to suffer. The loving-kindness and truth of God were pillars on which the faith of the suffering Christ rested. The hatred of Christ’s enemies are compared again to sinking in “deep mire”, going down into “the depths”, being overflown with “the floods of waters”, being swallowed by “the deep”, and eaten alive by “the pit”. Christ calls out to Jehovah to answer Him, turn toward Him, and shine His face toward Him. There is a sense of urgency; “for I am in trouble: answer me speedily”. Perhaps this is an allusion to the approaching hours of darkness? In v.18 He calls upon God to redeem and ransom His soul; not from sin, but from suffering “because of mine enemies”. The Lord has confidence that His God is keenly aware of His circumstances; “Thou knowest my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee”.
 
20 Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am overwhelmed: and I looked for sympathy, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
21 Yea, they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
 
vv.20-21 Indifference and Cruelty. In v.20 the expression of pain grows even stronger; “Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am overwhelmed”. Though He was the Son of God, His Divinity did not shield Him from the pain of His suffering. One by one, those interpersonal comforts that naturally strengthen the human spirit were removed; “and I looked for sympathy, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none”. The people looked upon Him, indifferent to His pain. At last Jesus was left alone. And yet, while He was forsaken by man, the Lord still had the fellowship of His Father; “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). But, in the abandonment of the last three dark hours, even that fellowship was taken away. On the cross, the soldiers cruelly offered Jesus “gall” for food, and “vinegar” for drink. “They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall” (Matt. 27:34).

Vinegar was thin wine that had gone sour. Gall or "bile" is a bitter and poisonous plant, perhaps the Poppy, which grows abundantly in Palestine. It was offered to those who were about to die in mockery, because the poison would stupefy the brain in those moments of agony. The Lord tasted it, felt the bitterness of human ingratitude, but would not drink of it (Matt. 27:34). He would accept no alleviation of the pain. The cruel soldiers were not content with merely refusing to give Jesus refreshment; instead they aggravated and embittered His sufferings by offering Him poisonous food and revolting drink. In short, they treated Him worse than an animal. "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Psa. 69:21). In Luke 23:36, the soldiers mocked the Lord by offering Him a drink (vinegar, not with gall), but their offer was in jest. It is helpful to see that the vinegar brought to Lord at the end, just before His death, is not said to be mingled with gall (Matt. 27:48, Mark 15:36, and John 19:30).1After saying, "I thirst", the Lord did drink what was brought to Him, that the scripture might be fulfilled (John 19:28). But He refused to drink the vinegar mingled with gall because it would have dulled His physical senses.2 In summary, Jesus was presented with some form of vinegar three times: first mixed with gall to dull His senses, which He refused, second to mock His thirst, and third after He said "I thirst" that scripture might be fulfilled, and also to demonstrate His Divine authority over circumstances. It is important to understand that the numbing poison Jesus refused earlier was different from what He drank afterwards.

 
22 “Let their table become a snare before them, and their very welfare a trap;
23 Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not, and make their loins continually to shake.” [quoted Romans 11:9-10]
24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let the fierceness of thine anger take hold of them.
25 “Let their habitation be desolate; let there be no dweller in their tents.” [quoted Acts 1:20]
26 For they persecute him whom “thou” hast smitten, and they talk for the sorrow of those whom thou hast wounded.
27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity, and let them not come into thy righteousness.
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of life, and not be written with the righteous.
 
vv.22-28 Invocation of Judgment. The Psalm takes a turn in v.22 and becomes imprecatory in character; i.e. it is a prayer for judgment on the Lord’s enemies. It is difficult in a sense to reconcile these verses, uttered in spirit by Christ on the cross, with the audible prayer, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). There is really no conflict because the prayer for governmental forgiveness would be realized by the believing nation, while the prayer for governmental judgment would be realized by the unbelieving nation. Saul of Tarsus is an example of one who moved from one company to another, through the sovereign grace of God. The sufferings of Christ at the hands of man brings judgment, but not so His sufferings to expiate sin; that brings blessing! In vv.22-23 the Lord prays for a judgment of governmental blindness that would come over Israel. This is quoted in Rom. 11:9-10 so that we have no doubt what it means. Their “table” refers to the Jewish system of sacrifice. In Christianity we too have a table, and it is totally different from the Jews’ table. The Jewish system would be allowed by God to become a blindfold for Israel, such that they wouldn’t see the truth they must believe for salvation. In exactly this way, the religious ordinances and practices of the Jews kept them from believing the gospel and repenting of their sin. The sacrificial system, which was established by God for Israel’s “their very welfare”, became a snare to them. It should have led them to Christ, who is pictured by the city of refuge. Sadly, this very system, in conjunction with the rejection of Christ, is what the book of Hebrews calls “the camp”. Then, in vv.24-26 the Lord prays for a severe judgment on the nation (“thine indignation”), which would result in them being driven out of their land and dispersed abroad (v.25). The moral reason is given in v.26; because Israel added injury to the suffering that Jehovah had already laid on Him; “for they persecute him whom thou hast smitten”. This is applied to Judas in Acts 1:20; showing that Judas’ place should be filled by another apostle. This connection shows that apostate Israel really committed the sin of Judas, and shares his curse. This judgment followed not long after the cross, when the Romans came in and killed millions of Jews, and scattered many more (A.D. 70). Thirdly, in vv.27-28 He prays for eternal judgment on those who reject Him. To “add iniquity unto their iniquity” is like God hardening their heart. Their names, written in the book of life by profession, would be blotted out.
 
29 But I am afflicted and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me secure on high.
30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving;
31 And it shall please Jehovah more than an ox, — a bullock with horns and cloven hoofs.
32 The meek shall see it, they shall be glad; ye that seek God, your heart shall live.
33 For Jehovah heareth the needy, and despiseth not his prisoners.
34 Let heavens and earth praise him; the seas, and everything that moveth therein.
35 For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah; and they shall dwell there, and possess it:
36 And the seed of his servants shall inherit it, and they that love his name shall dwell therein. 
 
vv.29-36 Deliverance of Christ and the Faithful Remnant. The second result of the rejection and reproach of Christ is that He is glorified, and the faithful are brought into blessing! As the sorrowful and afflicted Christ – who is in association with the sorrowful and afflicted remnant – He can count on God’s deliverance and blessing (v.29). In response He would praise and give thanks to God, and this would “please Jehovah more than” all the sacrifices under the Jewish system (v.31). The “meek” refers to the Jewish remnant, who will look upon the deliverance of Christ and be glad. It will encourage the remnant that Jehovah has heard the prayer of Christ. But not only the remnant, the “heavens and the earth” will give forth their praise in the Millennial day. God would not only save Christ, He will also save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Israel – the faithful remnant of Israel – will possess their land.
 
  1. This vinegar was lifted up on a sponge, which some historians believe was a Roman form of toilet paper. Amazing submission!
  2. We must not confound this circumstance with that mentioned in John where the Lord says, "I thirst." In Matthew's narrative it was the stupefying draft administered to prisoners before they suffered; and this the Lord would not drink. Whereas in John, the Lord, while on the cross, fulfils a scripture. In John He is regarded, not as One who did not suffer, but withal as the absolute Master over all circumstances. Alive therefore to the honour of Scripture, and in fulfilment of a word which had not as yet received its accomplishment, He says, "I thirst." "And they filled a sponge with vinegar. . . . and put it to His mouth." He did drink the vinegar then. But here in Matthew, on the contrary, "when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink" (ver. 34) — He wished for no alleviation from man. - Kelly, William. Lectures on the Gospel of Matthew. Loizeaux Brothers, 1943.