Psalm 69, written by David, is a Psalm of affliction. It most likely was written at the time David was fleeing from Saul. What is striking about it is that it contains eight passages that apply to Christ-passages that were fulfilled during His ministry. How could anyone know these passages applied to Christ unless inspired by the Holy Spirit? Both the Old and New Testament writers were led by the Holy Spirit. The Bible states: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy [Spirit]” (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
So too were the New Testament writers. Jesus promised to lead His followers into all truth (John 16:13). The Apostle John later stated,”We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). The Psalm begins: Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. (Ps. 69:1-4) This figurative description of David’s plight indicates the deep emotional trauma he was experiencing in view of Saul’s power.
Recall on more than one occasion God directly intervened to save David from the hand of Saul (1 Sam. 23). David knew what he was up against. Saul had the power to muster whatever forces he needed to capture David, and many Israelites used Saul’s hatred of David as a motivation to hate David also, even after all the mighty deeds he had done against the enemies of the nation-deeds of war that had surpassed the deeds of Saul. But notice in second paragraph above,the italicized portion of verse four is applied to Christ. “But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25). Jesus, addressing His disciples, spoke of the persecution He and His followers would face.
Regarding this, He quoted Psalm 69:4. The word “law” is used here because the entire Old Testament was spoken of as the law, even though the quote was from the Palms. Only by means of the Holy Spirit could Christ have known that this text applied to Him. Psalm 69 continues: “O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel” (Ps. 69:5-6). As He was sinless, this text could not possibly apply to Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21). But David knew he made mistakes and asked God that his sins and errors would not bring disgrace and persecution upon those true believers who trusted in God’s promises.
By the time of David’s fall from Saul’s grace, if David had been killed, those who had any sympathy for David would have been marked for certain persecution or even death. David then describes the cause of his suffering. Aside from Saul’s jealously over David’s successes and the threat it posed for Saul’s kingdom, David’s devoutness and dedication to God surely must have rankled Saul’s temperament. David writes: Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards. (Ps. 69:7-12) Amazingly, no less than three verses above apply to Christ. These are verses seven through nine. Notice their application. The first, verse seven, is quoted in Romans 15:3. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” Led by the Holy Spirit, Paul was inspired to see how this verse, written by David, was a reference to Christ. The next verse, Psalm 69:8, is referred to in John 7:5: “For neither did his brethren believe in him.” And the last, verse nine, is quoted in John 2:17. Immediately after Christ had driven the money-changers out of the Temple , ” . . . his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” David then earnestly beseeches God to deliver him, again using figures of speech which liken his plight to hopelessness: But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies. (Ps. 69:13-18) David knew he was in imminent danger-a situation of urgent necessity.
We can certainly assume these were the private pleas David made to God when he was being pursued and all but captured by Saul. His capture would have meant certain death. David prayed that God would show Himself faithful to the promises He had made to those seeking His salvation. David is reminded again of the contempt and shame he is forced to endure. “Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee. Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Ps. 69:19-21). There is no indication in the Scriptures that what is mentioned above took place in the life of David. He always had faithful supporters and friends who sustained him, and he was never given gall and vinegar.
These texts clearly apply to Christ. Verse 20 is quoted by the prophet Isaiah. “And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me . . . ” (Isa. 63:5). This is unmistakably a reference to the Messiah. Verse 21 is quoted in all four gospels (Matt. 27:34, Mark 15:36, Luke 23:36, John 19:28-30). Matthew’s account states: “They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink” (Matt. 27:34). Two more quotes are found in the following verses: Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. (Ps. 69:22-28). Christ and the Passion are foreshadowed above, though the curses that are pronounced upon the wicked are not indicative of the attitude Christ had toward sinners and toward those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34).
Two of the above verses are mentioned in the New Testament and applied to the circumstances of that day. Verses 22-23 of Psalm 69 are quoted in Romans 11:7, 9-10. “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded . . . . And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.” Verse 25 of Psalm 69 is applied to Judas Iscariot. “For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take” (Acts 1:20). David, afflicted and suffering, desired to be delivered from this weak human condition. But he knew he had to have God’s help. The word “prisoners” in verse 33, implies a reference to those who were straightened or deprived of their freedom in their cause for God. One of their most important qualities is humility. A prophet thus expressed it: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). To express this desire and quality David wrote: But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy 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 bullock that hath horns and hoofs. The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God. For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners. (Ps. 69:29-33)
The Psalm closes with a hopeful outlook for the future, exercising faith that God’s promises would be kept. “Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein. For God will save Zion , and will build the cities of Judah : that they may dwell there, and have it in possession. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein” (Ps. 69:34-36). Regardless of the circumstances of the nation under the abusive rule of the wicked Saul, David foresaw his own future based on the promises that God had given him years before. He could look beyond the present and have confidence in the joyous future that lay ahead under his rule and that of his descendants. It would be a kingdom where righteousness would be the standard for all of the descendants of Israel .