Tuesday, October 04, 2022

2022.10.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 69:1–18

Read Psalm 69:1–18

Questions from the Scripture text: Into whose hands was this Psalm committed (superscript)? What musical note is attached? Who penned it? What is the immediate request of Psalm 69:1? How does David describe the urgency of the situation? How does Psalm 69:2 flesh out this urgency? How does Psalm 69:3 describe David’s condition in this circumstance? What is he doing to cope? What actual details of the circumstance does Psalm 69:4a–b add—who are how many? What are they like (verse 4c)? What makes this worse (verse 4d)? What are they saying David has done (verse 4e)? What verdict has been reached (verse 4f)? What is David’s own view of himself, and Whom does he know knows this (Psalm 69:5)? For whom else is he concerned (Psalm 69:6a)? What else does he call them (verse 6b)? What is he concerned about happening to them? What was he willing to have happen to himself and why (Psalm 69:7)? Who have begun treating him what way (Psalm 69:8)? Why is he willing to endure this shame—what has eaten him up (Psalm 69:9a)? What have fallen on him (verse 9b)? From whom? How did he respond (Psalm 69:10a)? Which of the two reproaches was worse (verse 10b)? How deep was this reproach (Psalm 69:11a)? What did his enemies/brothers conclude from this mourning (verse 11b)? Who else has heard and adopted these conclusions (Psalm 69:12)? But with whom is the Psalmist primarily concerning himself (Psalm 69:13)? How is he addressing Him (verse 13a)? What does he trust about the timing of the answer (verse 13b)? What does he trust about the source of the answer (verse 13c)? What does He trust about the character and conclusion of his Hearer (verse 13d)? What is he asking God for (Psalm 69:14a–b)? From whom does he ask to be delivered (v14c)? From what does he ask to be delivered (verse 14d)? How many times does he repeat this in how many ways (Psalm 69:14-15c)? What is he asking for in Psalm 69:16a? Why? What does he ask God to do in verse 16b? According to what? What does he ask God not to do (Psalm 69:17a)? Why (verse 17b)? What does he add to his request in verse 17c? What particular request does he make in Psalm 69:18a? What other request would this fulfill (verse 18b, cf. Psalm 69:1Psalm 69:14)? 

What sort of distress may come upon those who genuinely love God and His house? Psalm 69:1–18 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eighteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that just as Christ was wrongfully hated, mocked, and executed, so also those who are united to Him are conformed to His character and even His suffering. 

A Psalm about the persecution of Jesus. From the beginning of His ministry, it was clear that Jesus was the One about Whom David ultimately wrote this Psalm. We’ve seen that in several Psalms, most famously Psalm 16, which both Peter and Paul preached, was actually more properly about Christ than about David. Now, we recognize Psalm 69:9 from our passage as describing Jesus in John 2:17 in His first visit to the temple in His public ministry. Later, on the night that He was betrayed, He quotes Psalm 69:4 as being about Himself in John 15:25.

When we get to the imprecatory (prayer for cursing) portion of the Psalm, it will be important to remember that these are attacks upon Christ. Refusing to glorify God or give Him thanks is an attack upon God (cf. Romans 1:21–23, Romans 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:8a). And rejecting the claims of Christ is an attack upon Christ (Romans 1:3–5, Romans 16:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:8–10). 

The intensity of the persecutionPsalm 69:1-3. It is a great mistake to think that believers will not suffer. David, of course, did not suffer to the extent of Christ, Whose suffering was anticipated in David’s own. But David’s own suffering was great. The metaphor in Psalm 69:1 is already strong, before the richness filled in of the “deep mire” and “floods overflowing” in Psalm 69:2. And the pain of the circumstances in verse 2 is felt with great intensity in his experience of them in Psalm 69:3. How many believers have been weary with crying, throat dry, looking for God until it feels like all ability to look for Him has been extinguished! This is not an anomaly. Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (cf. Acts 14:22). Everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (cf. 2 Timothy 3:12).

The occasion of the suffering: unjust persecutionPsalm 69:4-5. On the one hand, we can always learn from and be sanctified through our suffering. We know that God, Who has already punished all our sin upon Christ (cf. Romans 8:1), uses it in this way (cf. Romans 5:3–5; James 1:2–4). Like David in Psalm 69:5, whenever we suffer we may recognize before the Lord that we don’t deserve any better from Him. But, it is often the case that we ought rightly to be treated better by others.

If they hated Christ without a cause (Psalm 69:4a, cf. John 15:25), then we shouldn’t be surprised when the same happens to us. A believer’s life may include being targeted by a multitude (Psalm 69:4b) and the mighty (verse 4c). Was not our Lord denounced by a multitude and jointly condemned by the throne of Herod and the emissary of the empire (cf. Acts 4:27)? We should expect no better (cf. John 15:20). And when we are not only falsely accused but condemned (Psalm 69:4e–f), let us remember that the sinless Lord entered into union with us precisely to bear our sin (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). 

Accept it from Scripture, dear Christian. You will be accused. Only determine so to live in honor of your Lord that, as much as possible, the accusations and judgments will be false (cf. 1 Peter 2:11–12, 1 Peter 2:19–20). Thus, you will have a fellowship not only with David and other believers as our Psalm shows, but with Christ Himself Whom this Psalm prophecies (cf. 1 Peter 2:21–23). Part of “returning to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” is living for righteousness under fire as He did (cf. 1 Peter 2:24–25).

The danger in persecutionPsalm 69:6. David’s great concern here is that he would sin (Psalm 69:5), and the result  would be an unnecessary causing of believers grief or doubt over how we have represented the faith (Psalm 69:6, cf. Psalm 73:15). If we are honest with the Lord about our weakness, and if we are conscientious about how this may affect those whom He loves and redeems, then our prayers should feature concern that we not cause shame and dishonor to believers.

The opportunity in persecutionPsalm 69:7Psalm 69:9. Our suffering presents that danger, but also an opportunity to suffer for the Lord’s sake (Psalm 69:7a). If it is His wisdom that our suffering would be best, then we are willing to submit to His will. And if it is submission to Him that makes us willing to suffer, then it is an opportunity to display that He is worth that cost.

Indeed, the Lord Himself has great zeal for His house (Psalm 69:9a)—His worship, the display of His gospel, the redemption of His people. And if we mirror this zeal, those who despise Him will despise us for it as well (verse 9b). This was, of course, most true when He Himself came for the sake of His house, to die for the sake of His house, and the reproach fell upon Him (cf. John 2:17, John 2:18; Romans 15:3). But it continues to be true in all of the sufferings of His people (cf. Romans 8:36). 

The worst persecutionsPsalm 69:8Psalm 69:10-12. As many Psalms relate and prophesy, the hardest oppression and persecution is not that which comes from enemies but from family and close friends (Psalm 69:8; cf. Psalm 41:9; Psalm 55:12–14). This was most true for our Lord (cf. Mark 3:21; Luke 8:19; John 7:3–5). Here, David’s dear ones take his distress as further occasion to mock (Psalm 69:10-11), and take the lead in spreading his shame from the highest to the lowest (Psalm 69:12). As with David and Himself, Jesus tells us that many believers will find their nearest ones becoming their worst enemies (Matthew 10:21, Matthew 10:34–36; Luke 12:53, Luke 21:16). 

Knowing it in advance does not make the pain to be less; the pain is great because family and friendships are great gifts designed for great blessing. The relation of the first and second Persons of the Trinity are the original from which created fatherhood and sonship arise. Election in the Son and the adoption and union that come from it are the original from which brotherhood arises. Knowing from Scripture that their enmity is prophesied doesn’t make the pain of that enmity small!

But knowing it in advance prepares us to embrace God’s good will and intentions for us in their evil intentions (cf. Genesis 50:20). And knowing that this suffering is something that we share with Christ makes the suffering itself almost pleasant as it is sweetened by the sharing of it with Him Whom our soul loves (cf. Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29; Colossians 1:24).

The hope in persecutionPsalm 69:13-18. The worse our persecutions, the more we see the blessedness of the One to Whom they drive us. Many have experienced the soul-suffocating effects of dwelling upon their enemies (or frenemies) and their attacks. But having had these attacks prophesied should turn us to the One Who not only has prophesied them, but uses them for our good.

By the grace of the Spirit, David turns his attention away from his persecutors to his Redeemer: “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Yahweh” (Psalm 69:13a–b). The Lord’s timing is right (verse 13b). The Lord’s steadfast love is great (verse 13c).  The Lord’s salvation is sure and true (verse 13d).  The Lord’s steadfast love is good (Psalm 69:16a). His “compassionate compassions” are a multitude (verse 16b). O how salubrious the persecution that turns us to Him! And when we find Him as He is, we remember our persecutions as they are: light and momentary. When we cry out to be delivered from it (Psalm 69:14), to be sustained in it (Psalm 69:15), and to have fellowship through it (Psalm 69:17-18), we are crying out for nothing less than what God has promised, and we can do so with the confidence of those who are agreeing with God.

O that we would learn by the same Spirit! This is not ignorance of who man is and what man is doing; he “calls a spade a spade.” It is simply giving more credence to Who God is and what God is doing; he calls the Savior the Savior!

When have you been falsely accused? Why should you prepare to be? What good purposes will the Lord have in it? How, then, should you plan on responding when the persecution comes.

Sample prayer:  O Lord, our prayer is to You in Your acceptable time, in the abundance of Your steadfast love and the faithfulness of Your salvation! Hear us, for Your steadfast love is good, and turn to us according to the abundance of Your compassionate compassions! As we come to You, draw near to our souls and redeem them we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP69A “Save Me, O God” or TPH69B “Thy Lovingkindness, Lord, Is Good and Free”

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