For the director of music. To the tune of ‘Lilies’. Of David.
Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.
You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you.
Lord, the Lord Almighty,(Ps 69:1-12 NIV)
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn;
when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me.
Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards.
This Psalm is quoted many times (7) in the NT referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. These types of Psalms are sometimes called Messianic Psalms. The primary understanding of the Psalm relates to the Psalmist, but the ultimate fulfilment is in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Psalmist utilises a number of metaphors to describe his present feelings. The oppression of the wicked is like the threat of drowning when you are in deep waters and the water is lashing over your face, and the panic that ensues as you feel that at any moment life will be taken from you. As he tries to keep his head above water his feet are sinking in the mire, and he is losing his foothold and in fear of slipping under the water. He is in deep waters and is afraid that soon he will be engulfed. His throat is now parched dry and he is wearied crying out, waiting for the Lord to turn to hear his cry, ‘Save me, O God, save me, O God, save me O God.’ What else could he say, he is so desperate that there is nothing further to say other than this plaintive cry ‘Save me, O God.’ His eyes now fail him as he strains to see if God is coming to his aid. He is weary but he has not given up hope that God will come to his aid.
Those who hate the Psalmist number more than the hairs of his head, and they hate him without any reason. They have accused him of stealing and are pressurising him to restore what he did not steal.
The Lord Jesus quotes this verse
But this is to fulfil what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’(Jn. 15:25 NIV)
Perhaps it is the Psalmist’s foolishness that has got him into this problem. He confesses that God knows his folly. The Psalmist’s guilt is not hidden from the Lord. While the Psalmist may have been foolish, he is not guilty of that of which he is being accused.
A big concern of the Psalmist is that his foolish behaviour may have brought disgrace on the people of God. He asks God to intervene and limit any shame that God’s people might experience. This is a very important lesson for us to learn. Because we are part of a church, we need to make sure that our behaviour doesn’t damage the witness of the church. The Psalmist addresses the Lord as the LORD Almighty. The LORD Almighty is the Lord over the universe, the covenant Lord and the Divine Warrior. The God of His people is the Great King, whose rule extends the ends of the earth and whose covenant love is displayed in His people. As Divine Warrior He is mighty to save.
Whatever stand the Psalmist has taken, he is suffering for the sake of the Lord. Among his own people the Psalmist is treated like a stranger, like a foreigner with no right to be there. In his zeal for worship in the house of God, this all-consuming zeal has brought abuse upon him. The mocking of the Lord and the insults aimed at God breaks the heart of the Psalmist. When he mourns because of the behaviour of others, he becomes the cause for further ridicule. People make sport of the Psalmist, and hurl insults at him as he passes by the city gate. In the bars and taverns the drunkards sing their songs about the Psalmist.
When we hear people take the Lord’s name in vain, it is painful to listen to. When we take a stand to rebuke them for doing it we can suffer verbal abuse. It is a lesson for us to learn, to attempt to acquire the zeal for God’s house that the Psalmist has. When you take a stand and then make a mistake like the Psalmist did, the enemy seize on the opportunity to challenge you. How sad when someone makes a mistake and it is their own people in their own church that point the finger of ridicule. We all make mistakes, surely the best place to make a mistake should be in the church, where brothers and sisters are there to help you recover. Let us always be in the group that is working for the recovery of the Lord’s people.
Lord help us to take a stand for our Saviour. Keep us from bringing shame upon the witness of the church. Help us to have a great zeal for the church. When one of our members makes a mistake, help us to be with those who will close in around them to love them, support them and reassure them. Lord we are all frail and make mistakes all the time. Help us to be sympathetic when others err. Lord help us to show greater love to our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we pray in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.