PSALM 69: A DESPERATE CRY FOR SALVATION TO THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

PSALM 69:

A DESPERATE CRY FOR SALVATION TO THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

(A Psalm that explores how we can pray to the God of the bible for salvation or deliverance in all aspects of life and he will hear us and save us)

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INTRODUCTION

When I was a young Christian in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I along with many other young Christian friends was fascinated and encouraged by the stories of a man we all knew as Brother Andrew who through his book God’s Smuggler told of how he took bibles and other Christian literature into countries where they were banned and where Christians were persecuted for their faith in Christ.

Brother Andrew or Andrew Van de Bijl was born in the Netherlands in 1928 and bravely started taking bibles into Poland in 1955, The Soviet Union in 1957, China in 1960 and countries in the Middle East in the 1970’s. He often drove a small Volkswagen Beatle that later became the symbol of “Open Doors”, the organization he founded.

Brother Andrew trusted in the saving God of the Bible in the face of those who opposed him and he was able to tell of how God actually saved him or kept him safe on many occasions in his ministry and mission to the many dangerous anti – Christian countries he visited.

The God Brother Andrew trusted in is the same God David, the writer of Psalm 69 trusted in and like Brother Andrew he faced great opposition and persecution from people who opposed God. More and more we are hearing today of growing opposition to Christians and the Christian faith not only in countries where Christianity is outlawed but in countries like USA, Australia and The United Kingdom which have been called up to recently a Christian country. The media is reporting on both physical and social attacks on Christian believers by extreme Muslims, atheists and many other people.

It seems that the days of the Christian faith being generally accepted and respected in the western world are over and more and more Christians face danger and persecution for their faith in Christ.

Psalm 69 and other parts of the bible has a lot to say to us about how to face this persecution and I hope you will find encouragement and teaching on this from this Psalm talk.

We believe David wrote Psalm 69 because his name appears in the Hebrew Heading, which is almost as old as the actual text of the Psalms. No direct mention is given to when he wrote it but a lot of the ideas in the Psalm seem to point to the Rebellion of Absalom found in 2 Samuel 15 – 18.

Some commentators have suggested Jeremiah as the possible author but even though the level of opposition Jeremiah faced matches the wording of the Psalm and some references in the book of Jeremiah as well there is no reason to believe that the Hebrew heading is incorrect and that Jeremiah simply is a brilliant illustration of the kind of persecution David faced.

The Psalm also offers us insight into the persecution Jesus faced as well although unlike Psalm 22 it is not Messianic prophetic Psalm. Some of the verses in the Psalm have been cited and used by many New Testament writers, like John 15: 25, Romans 15: 3, 11: 9 – 10, Acts 1: 20 and Matthew 23: 28.

Leupold explains the connection of David and Jesus in the Psalm this way,

“David, the writer, becomes a typical example of the things that are experienced by all who are truly zealous for the Lords house. What David experienced Christ may have experienced in certain obvious instances, for he is David’s greater counterpart”.

In my explanation and application of this Psalm I have not only looked at Salvation or Deliverance from the perspective of salvation from physical enemies but also salvation from spiritual enemies like sin and the Devils evil forces which I think is backed up by Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 6: 12,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

And, Hebrews 12: 4,

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood”.

I am reminded here of a story I read years ago of a famous English Bishop in the 19th century travelling on a train who was approached by a female Salvation Army officer and asked, “Are you Saved”? His answer was threefold, “I am saved, being saved and will be saved”. This is the correct biblical answer to that question.

We are saved by the shedding of Jesus blood on the cross from sins condemnation, death, but once we take hold of this and believe in Jesus we are being saved by his continual work of regeneration or being made like Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Finally we will be saved when we are all glorified in Christ after our deaths or by his certain return to earth.

With this in mind my breakdown for the Psalm is:

  1. A DESPERATE CRY FOR SALVATION (1 – 12)
  2. A DESPERATE CRY FOR GOD’S LOVE TO SAVE HIM (13 – 21)
  3. A CRY FOR GOD TO JUDGE HIS ENEMIES (22 – 28)
  4. A WORD OF PRAISE FOR GOD’S SALVATION (29 – 36)
  1. A DESPERATE CRY FOR SALVATION (1 – 6)

I have divided this first section into two parts:

  1. The actual desperate call (1 – 3)
  2. Why he needed to make a desperate call (4 – 12)
  3. The actual desperate call (1 – 3)

Verses 1 – 3 are a beautiful piece of poetry that express David’s desperate and dangerous situation he was in probably when he was on the run form his rebellious son Absalom. For many weeks during this period he faced almost certain death from Absalom and his large army and even had to hide out in the wilderness of western Judea with most of his large family and many of his friends.

David cries in verses 1 and 2,

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me”.

David uses the poetic image of physical drowning to describe how he feels. The feeling of drowning seems to be a feeling many people with some kind of depression feel and I found on the net many stories of people facing or having faced depression speaking of feeling this way.

David is saying four things about his situation from these verses:

  1. His life is in great danger – vs. 1, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my necks”
  2. He feels there is no escape – vs. 2, “I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold”.
  3. The problems he face are deep and very difficult, vs. 2b, “I have come into the deep waters”
  4. He cannot stop the coming danger he faces, 2b, “The floods engulf me”.

However in such a desperate situation David knows only God can save him thus he prays, “Save me, O God”.

The image of drowning and the cry, “Save me, O God” reminds me of the story of Jesus walking on the water on Lake Galilee in Matthew 14 and how Peter stepped out and walked on the water for a bit but once he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind he began to sink. We read this in Matthew 14: 30 and 31,

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me”. Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”.

This is a great picture of both being saved from physical harm and being saved spiritually. Peter could do nothing to save himself as he was helpless and drowning and all he could do was look to Jesus and cry out, “Lord save me”. Jesus of course reached out and saved the drowning Peter. Also Jesus reaches out or has reached down from heaven to save us by dying for our sins on the cross.

Paul speaks in a number of places in his letters to the Churches about how we are powerless to save ourselves and only God can save us by reaching down from heaven to save us through the death and resurrection of his Son. Listen to Paul speaking about this in Romans 5: 6 – 8,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

In the next chapter of Romans Paul answers the question: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Romans 6: 1

He answers this question with the image of baptism being like coming up from a drowning death to new life in Christ in Romans 6: 2 – 4,

“By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life”.

Paul completes his argument with these words in Romans 6: 8 – 12,

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires”.

So in a way the image of drowning or even death should be an image that reminds us that Jesus has saved us and lifted us up from death or from the miry clay of sin so that we can live a new life no longer lost in the depths of sin and darkness.

In verse 3 David speaks no longer in images but simply declares,

“I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God”.

These words reveal yet again how desperate David felt at the time of writing and it does fit well in the time of Absalom rebellion where he faced great danger and the fact that his own beloved son had turned on him would have been for David a great emotional strain. Family can hurt us far more than strangers when they turn on us for some reason or another. David describes hear great emotional pain and turmoil, Wayne Jackson says this;

“His throat is parched and his vision fails as he waits for Jehovah’s deliverance. While circumstances may appear desperate, nonetheless he will wait for the Creator to respond to his needs. All of God’s children need to learn “Rest” in Jehovah and wait patiently for him”.

 Jackson goes on to quote Psalm 37: 7, which says;

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes”.

  1. Why he needed to make a desperate call (4 – 12)

David now spells out in the next 9 verses why he needed to make such a desperate call to God to save him. I have come up with four reasons given here:

  1. Hated without reason (4)
  2. Persecuted because he is a forgiven sinner (5 – 6)
  3. Scorned by family and friends (7- 8)
  4. Insulted because of his commitment to God (9 – 12)

Lets now look at each of these four reasons in detail:

  1. Hated without reason (4)

David faced great opposition throughout most of his life for simply being true to his calling of being the Lord’s anointed king and remaining faithful in service to his Lord. We have seen that this is a major theme that runs through the Psalms in the first two books of Psalms and that this theme is aptly described in Psalm 2: 2,

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed One”.

 David is God’s anointed one or king and David’s opposition we have seen did not just come from outside Israel but it came from within Israel as well and even form within his very own family in the person of his eldest son Absalom.

Verse 4 simply says,

“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”.

 During the rebellion of Absalom most of Israel turned on David and treated him as a state traitor worthy of death. This was not a new experience for David as in his early years before he rose to the throne of Israel he experienced the same thing at the hands of the jealous King Saul. David was a loyal servant of Saul yet he was treated as a traitor who wanted to overthrow king Saul.

Likewise Absalom spread lies about his father and ran a campaign of conspiracy against his father illustrated well by his deeds and words in 2 Samuel 15: 2 – 4,

“He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”

So Absalom led a rebellion against his father and his Fathers rule and the words of verse 4 read,

“Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me”.

 What then do the words, “I am forced to restore what I did not steal” mean?

Adam Clarke advocates that this a kind of “proverbial expression, like such as these, “Those who suffered the wrong, pay the costs.” “Kings sin, and the people are punished.” “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

 This proverbial expression which could have been well-known by the people of David’s day is saying that David was forced to give up his crown during the Absalom rebellion even though it rightfully belonged to him. Also during both the Saul affair and the Absalom rebellion David was forced to surrender his good name for that of a traitor and liar, which he certainly was not.

This verse is quoted by John in his Gospel in John 15: 25,

“But this is to fulfil what is written in their law; they hated me without reason”.

 David’s treatment as the Lord’s Anointed by the enemies of God as outlined in Psalm 2: 2 mirrors the same treacherous treatment the greater anointed King, Jesus Christ received at the hands of the enemies of God which include Satan and all his followers in his earthly ministry which led to his death on the cross. I will quote again what I quoted in this Psalm Talk introduction how Leupold explained the connection of David and Jesus in this Psalm,

“David, the writer, becomes a typical example of the things that are experienced by all who are truly zealous for the Lords house. What David experienced Christ may have experienced in certain obvious instances, for he is David’s greater counterpart”.

  1. Persecuted because he is a forgiven sinner (5 – 6)

David then gives us another strange but real painful taunt his enemies threw at him which led to his desperate cry for salvation to God. It is found in verses 5 and 6,

“You know my folly, O God, my guilt is not hidden from you. May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel”.

 David did not and could not deny his many sins especially if this is written after his sins of adultery and murder in the Bathsheba affair. These sins had a direct connection with the Absalom rebellion as it was predicted by the prophet Nathan as a result of David’s sins in 2 Samuel 12: 11 – 12,

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

This prophecy of Nathan was for filled by Absalom and David would have been painfully aware of this. Verse 5 seems to imply that not only was David aware of his sins but so to were his enemies who used them to persecute him and those of Israel who still supported him.

God forgave David through his amazing grace, which David will refer to in verse 16 of this Psalm. It is often true of great sinners today that even though God can forgive them other people cannot forgive or forget the sin they have committed.

As painful as the taunt of David’s enemies about his past sins David’s concern seems to be for his people, obviously the people in Israel who remained loyal to him like those we read about in 2 Samuel 15 who fled with David when he was under the threat of death from his son Absalom and those who came to his assistance while he was on the run from Absalom.

Verse 6 reveals this concern David has for these people owing to the implications of his past sins which help create the Absalom rebellion,

“May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the Lord Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me”.

 The sins of prominent Christians today can and do have an impact on the Church of Jesus Christ and many non-believers say they do not believe in God because of some kind of known sin they experienced or knew about at the hands of a professing Christian. This is not an acceptable reason for not honouring God in a persons life but it is used by Satan and his forces to hamstring the progress of the Christian Gospel in our world today.

  1. Scorned by family and friends (7- 8)

In verses 7 and 8 David speaks of another painful reason for his desperate cry to God to save him in his current time of difficulty. This is opposition and even scorn caused by his enemies, which include members of his own family, these verses say,

“For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother’s sons”.

 So those hitting out against him with scorn and a number of translations use the word “insults” or “taunts” for scorn even comes from members of his own family. He uses the family connection of brothers. We are not told in he 2 Samuel texts that David’s actual brothers turned on him during the Absalom rebellion. However family opposition that included scorn or taunts and insults came from his very own son and even Bathsheba’s grandfather Ahithophel, a former trusted adviser of David turned on David and sided with Absalom and certainly sought David’s demise at the hands of Absalom.

The taunts of family members would have been very painful for David and Jesus warns us that by being followers of him we can expect opposition from members of our family who obviously do not share our commitment to him. We see this in a passage like Matthew 10: 34 – 38,

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

For I have come to part asunder a man from his father, and a daughter from her mother, and a newly married wife from her mother-in-law—

And a man’s foes will be they of his own household.

He who loves [and takes more pleasure in] father or mother more than [in] Me is not worthy of me; and he who loves [and takes more pleasure in] son or daughter more than [in] me is not worthy of me;

And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me, cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me”.

I personally continue to experience the pain that is caused by family opposition from non converted family members and I continue to pray for my unconverted family and friends and offer words of advice with love from time to time to help them find faith in Christ for themselves.

  1. Insulted because of his commitment to God (9 – 12)

Finally we come to the crux of all the opposition David faced that led to his desperate cry for Salvation or deliverance from his painful situation. Verses 9 – 11 spell out all the outward signs of genuine commitment to the God of the bible in David’s time and verse 12 speaks of some of the types of people who was being given scorn and ridicule.

The outward signs David indulged in are:

  1. Zeal for the house of God (vs. 9)
  2. Earnest prayer (vs. 10 / 11)

The two ends of society are mentioned to illustrate the social scope of his attackers:

  1. The city leaders at the gate (vs. 12a)
  2. The towns drunks (vs. 12b)

Lets look at each of these more closely.

  1. Zeal for the house of God (vs. 9)

In David’s time in Old Testament times the centre of worship was the sanctuary, which in Solomon’s time became the Temple and in both times this would have been known as God’s house. Here the symbols of God’s agreement or covenant dwelt in the form of the Ark of the Covenant in the special secluded place called, “The Holy of Holies”. The Ark contained the two tablets of stone that contained had the 10 commandments written by God himself, the rod of Aaron and a piece of mamma the special food God provided for Israel in the wilderness wanderings.

David loved this place and went to a lot of trouble to set up and for this zeal or enthusiasm his enemies insulted him. Verse 9 reads like this,

“For zeal for your house consumes me, and insults of those who insult you fall on me”.

 David would have been separated from this special place of worship during the many weeks of the Absalom rebellion and how that would have effected him is well described by a Son of Korah who was probably with him at that time when he wrote Psalms 42 and 43. Psalm 42 verse 4 says,

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng”.

David did not hold back expressing his love for God’s house and the worship he too would have been involved in there and for this his enemies made fun of him and insulted him. Maybe they might say something like,

“Look a this self-confessed adulterer and murderer who raves on about God’s house with his many songs and fanatical dancing, well he has got what he deserves his Son Absalom is now the rightful king of Israel and soon he will be dead and gone”.

Insults like this are not hard to imagine during the time of the Absalom rebellion when David was on the run again and was sleeping rough in the desert area of western Judea and waited for what would have looked like certain death at the hands of his son Absalom.

This verse also is quoted in the New Testament particularly in connection with Jesus clearing of the temple money changes and animal sellers in John 2: 17. Wayne Jackson writes,

“No one has ever rivalled Jesus in his zeal for the cause of God”.

  1. Earnest prayer (vs. 10)

In Old Testament terms weeping, fasting and wearing sackcloth were signs of a person engaged in earnest prayer yet David says in verse’s 10 and 11,

“When I weep and fast I must endure scorn; when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me”.

 David faced ridicule and scorn when he practiced his sincere faith in God and these false accusations of hypocrisy is the basis of other Psalms like Psalm 26. Psalm 35: 13 – 16 spells out the kind treatment David got from those who opposed him when he practised earnest prayer for others,

“Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good and leave my soul forlorn. Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing. Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me”.

 When David was on the run from his son Absalom he would have been ridiculed by the majority of Israel that sided with Absalom. They would have interpreted David’s love of the cause of God, worship and earnest prayer as nothing more than hypocrisy and treated it with scorn and ridicule.

Here again is another parallel with David and Jesus for we read in Matthew 12: 24 how the Pharisees treated the powerful prayer and acts of Jesus when drove out demons,

“But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demands, that this fellow drives out demons”.

 Jesus was constantly ridiculed with scorn by the religious leaders of his day just a David was treated by his enemies.

David then tells us in verse 12 about the social widespread of these attackers. What he says in verse 12 represent the two ends of society which illustrate the social scope these attackers, they are:

  1. The city leaders at the gate (vs. 12a)
  2. The towns drunks (vs. 12b)
  1. The city leaders at the gate (vs. 12a)

The first part of verse 12 reads like this,

“Those who sit at the gate mock me”.

 Those who sit at the gate are nothing less than the leading men of the city who regularly sat at the gate of the city to discuss and make important decisions for the life of the city, Leopold writes this about the city gate,

“Where men congregated for the serious business of court trials and the like”.

 So some of these city leaders mocked David particularly when he had to flee the city of Jerusalem during the Absalom rebellion.

  1. The towns drunks (vs. 12b)

Then at the other end of society were the city drunks, who David speaks about in the second half of verse 12,

“And I am the song of the drunkards”.

 Leopold says the town drunks, “composed ditties about him” and of course these ditties were not full a flattery but were full of malice and contempt for David. It is bad enough that upright men of the city mocked David but when the town drunks turned on him also it would have been doubly painful and again add to the reasons why David made this desperate cry to God to save him.

  1. A DESPERATE CRY FOR GOD’S LOVE TO SAVE HIM (13 – 21)

In the second section of this Psalm David chooses to repeat his cry for salvation or deliverance form his terrible plight but this time he appeals to a special and unique attribute of the God of the bible, his love.

No other religion other than the religions that come from the bible speaks so clearly of a God of Love. Muslims speak of God’s mercy but do not believe that Allah is a God of love. The Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry that seeks to answer many questions about the difference between Muslim beliefs and those of Christians says this about Muslims actual beliefs about God being a loving God,

The Qur’an calls God “the loving” (Al Wadud), but the meaning is rather different from the Christian idea of God’s love. It implies “approval”; thus the Qur’an says that God loves (approves of) the good, but does not love (approve of) the evil-doers (3, Ali “Imran 29/32, 70/76 etc). The Qur’an speaks much of God’s goodness in creation and in sending prophets, but nowhere says that God loves the world, nor that God loves sinners, nor that “God is love” (cf. John 3; 16; Romans 5: 8 1John 4:8).

 Even though Christians share the Old Testament with Judaism modern Jews do not seem to have a strong or clear view of God being a God of love, It seems it is Christians alone who emphasize this with a clear revelation of God through the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ who revealed how much God loves us by going to the cross to die for our sins.

However David over and over again had a clear view of God as a great God of love and this second section is yet another example of David’s wonderful understanding of God’s love and how it was his only hope in the difficult situations he faced in his life.

I have broken this second section into two parts:

  1. The call for God’s love to save him (13 – 18)
  2. Why he needed to call on God’s love to save him (19 – 21)
  1. The call for God’s love to save him (13 – 18)

 If David is praying this prayer in the time of Absalom rebellion which he knew was a result of his terrible sins years before then the words of verse 13 should give all sinners seeking God’s help and forgiveness hope. David prays,

“But I pray to you, O Lord, in the time of your favour; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation”.

 Why David repeats his prayer for salvation or deliverance again is probably because he intense nature of the situation he was in when he prayed it. The words,

“In the time of your favour”

 Are explained well by Wayne Jackson when he writes,

“The expression denotes a time that is consistent with God’s good pleasure”.

 David prays something similar in Psalm 31: 15,

“My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me”.

 We must remember it took some weeks before Absalom and his rebellion was put down so David would have spent a number of weeks praying like we read in Psalm 69 and a number of other Psalms of David which were written in this difficult period of David’s life. David would probably have done a lot of work on this Psalm years after the Absalom rebellion as most authors do when editing and refining their original written works.

 So David calls to God for salvation or deliverance to happen in God’s good time but he does this based on God’s great love his most amazing attribute of all. He prays,

“In your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation”.

 David knew he did not deserve God’s help to save him as he was a former sinner, an adulterer and Murderer a fact his enemies made sure he remembered by their vicious verbal taunts. Yet David knew that the God of the Bible that he knew was a God of great love.

As I said before even modern Jews have not got hold of this clear and wonderful concept from the bible and it is bible-believing Christians alone who not only believe this but see it as the basis of their faith in God.

I mentioned that this is clear to bible believing Christians because they know that God loves them through the coming of Jesus to die on the cross for their sins. I like how John put it in 1 John 4: 7 – 10,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”.

 David knew that God loved him because he knew that the scriptures taught that his nation was saved from slavery in Egypt only because God loved them. He also knew God’s love because even though he did not deserve God’s love and help over and over again in his life God saved him especially after he had committed the sins of adultery and murder.

Grace or God’s unmerited love for us should be both the basis of our relationship with God and the inspiration by which we live. As Christians face more and more opposition today I believe it is only by the way we love our enemies and pray for them that will defeat them. Our love for some of our enemies will help turn them around to follow God with the same love and devotion we have shown them.

David knew this and that’s why he prayed,

“In your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation”.

He goes on to pray in the next two verses very much like he did at the start of this Psalm,

“Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters, Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me”.

 I mentioned in my introduction that some commentators believe that this Psalm was not written by David as the Hebrew heading says but rather it was written by the prophet Jeremiah some centuries later. This is because of the verses in this Psalm, which speak of the writer being in a miry pit.

In Jeremiah 38 we have a literal illustration of Jeremiah being lowed into a miry pit or cistern.

Jeremiah suffered this fate because of his faithful proclamation of God’s message to the people of Israel that because of their many sins they would be over – run and defeated by the Babylonians.

A Cushite man named Ebed – Melech went to king Zedekiah and successfully argued for Jeremiah’s release from the miry pit and Jeremiah was saved.

Even though this story fits well with some of the ideas in this Psalm, particularly the verses concerning the writer being in a miry pit I prefer the argument that David did write this Psalm and that the idea of being trapped in a miry or boggy pit is a poetic image that describes how he felt at the time of praying which fit well in the context of when he was on the run from Absalom and facing certain death.

In this situation he would no doubt have felt like he was trapped in a dark pit and was sinking into that bog with no way of getting out.

As I mentioned earlier in this Psalm talk I have read of many people who have suffered from mental depression feeling the same way. They speak of feeling like they are trapped in a dark hole unable to get out. Depression is a complex and involved mental problem and we all can feel some form of depression in our lives owing to difficult circumstances we might face. Some suffer from a more serious form of depression that must be treated by fully qualified professionals and I would advise anyone with this form of depression to seek medical help.

However I am sure, like David we can all go to God for help and deliverance from all forms of depression and like David we can find in the Love of God salvation or deliverance from the emotional miry bog we might have fallen into.

In verses 16 and 17 David returns to the theme of God’s love as the basis for his salvation or deliverance from his enemies, he prays,

“Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble”.

 Note how David says, “out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me”.

 No one deserves God’s love as we are all sinners under the judgment of God but because Jesus has paid for our sins on the cross God can and does save us. As I mentioned in my introduction this salvation is threefold reality which means we are saved, being saved and will be saved.

Paul speaks about this 3 way view of our salvation in a passage like 2 Corinthians 5: 17 – 21,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

Being the “righteousness of God” means that as Christian believers we have the assurance that when we die God through Christ will glorify us, which again is a completely unique idea, that only bible believing Christians have.

David wants this great God of love to turn to him (vs. 16b) and in verse 17, “Not hide your face from your servant”. I

In the Old Testament when God turned his face on people they were no longer blessed by him and were under his judgment as Isaiah puts it in Isaiah 59: 2,

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear”.

However when God turned his face towards his people he blessed them as we saw in Psalm 67: 1,

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us”.

In verse 17 David is asking for God to turn his face to him and bless him with salvation or deliverance and he adds,

“Answer me quickly, for I am in trouble”

Just as we saw in the first section of the Psalm David’s plight is so great he wants God’s help him quickly. He knew he was totally dependent on God’s help and love especially when his rebellious son Absalom forced him out and into the wilderness of western Judea. David at that time was, as the verse puts it, “in trouble”

His final plea to God in this section is verse 18 is,

“Come near and rescue me; redeem me because of my foes”.

He wants God to come near to him and “redeem” or save him from his enemies. Kidner explains the use of the word “redeem” this way,

“Redeem is the verb connected with the duty of a man’s next of kin to stand up for him in trouble”,

Which he points out comes up in verses like Leviticus 25: 25,

“”If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what the countryman has sold”.

Kidner goes on to say with this idea in mind a better translation would be, “Set me free”.

As Christians we know that Jesus came to redeem us from the penalty of sin to win our salvation for us as we see in verses like Titus 2: 13 – 14,

While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people who are his very own, eager to do what is good”.

Jesus knew this was his great mission on earth as he clearly states in Mark 10: 45,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

David was humanly speaking powerless against his enemies so he needed the great God of love he sought to serve to step in and save him like a poor man who needed his next of kin to redeem a debt he owed.

Likewise we are spiritually poor and cannot pay the debt of our sin and so we need God to pay that debt for us and this has been done by the death and resurrection of his son.

  1. Why he needed to call on God’s love to save him (19 – 21)

 Again as David did in the first section he now spells out why he was in that dark miry pit needing the salvation of God. He speaks of his enemies scorn and says two main things:

  1. The scorn of his enemies (vs. 19)
  2. How that scorn has effected him (vs. 20 and 21)
  1. The scorn of his enemies (vs. 19)

 David makes it clear that the verbal attacks of his enemies are vicious and decisive and in verse 19 he says,

“You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; all my enemies are before you”.

 David describes his verbal attacks by his enemies as scorn, disgrace and shame.

David feels scorn or disdain or even a feeling of being mocked, which he said in the first section, meant that even his sincere practice of his faith was treated as a joke as he was portrayed as a hypocrite. I have felt that kind of painful verbal attack myself being called a hypocrite many years ago by a close family relative as he abused me in a drunken rage.

When someone accuses me of being a hypocrite I usually do not try to defend myself and simply say that we are all hypocrites in some form or another but the difference is I know Jesus has forgiven me and I know I must repay him for that by seeking to not live as a hypocrite but generally seek to love others as he loves me. This is using the non Christians abuse as an opportunity to present the Gospel.

On another occasion when another close relative told me she did not believe in religion because so many who follow it are hypocrites I simply said, “Christians aren’t perfect they are just forgiven”.

David then said his enemies verbal attacks caused him to be disgraced which David certainly would have been during the Absalom rebellion when most of Israel sided with Absalom and caused great disgrace to the good name of David.

The persecution of Christians takes many forms and in the west it often comes in the form of non Christians finding fault in Christians or the Christian church and in doing so bring disgrace to the persons reputation or the good name of the church they are criticising.

When I read or see on TV news reports verbal attacks against a certain Christian or church I don’t believe it unto I check out all the facts as much as I can for often the attack is false or full of many errors that have distorted the truth. However if they are true I say again, “Christians are not perfect they are just forgiven”.

Finally David says in verse 19 these verbal attacks brought great shame to him which in the close nit Old Testament society would have been something that would cause a person much pain and difficulty. David was feeling this pain so he called on God for salvation or deliverance.

We should not be surprised when we face persecution because Jesus warned us it would come when he tells the disciple this in John 15: 18 – 20,

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also”.

In these same chapters of John’s gospel Jesus promises help for all disciples in the form of the Holy Spirit who will help us to testify for Jesus as he says in John 16: 12 – 15,

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

  1. How that scorn has effected him (vs. 20 and 21)

In verses 20 David makes it clear in his call to God for salvation or deliverance from his enemies how his enemies taunts or verbal attacks have made him feel he writes,

“Scorn has broken my heart and left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none.”

 David was deeply emotionally and spiritually wounded by his enemy’s verbal attacks. He speaks of a broken heart or spirit and when interrogators use personal abuse against their victims they are seeking to break their spirit so they will divulge information or cause their victim to change their beliefs or ideas. Christians right now in many parts of the world are suffering this kind of spirit breaking treatment at the hands of their tormentors and we must continually hold them up to God in prayer.

David and even more The Lord Jesus Christ suffered much verbal abuse for their sincere commitment to God and that verbal abuse must have hurt them deeply.

David says in this verse that the abuse made him feel helpless and when he looked for sympathy and comfort he found none.

In verse 21 we have a famous and in some ways controversial verse as it has some kind of direct reference to Jesus death on the cross. The verse reads,

“They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst”

 In the context of this Psalm this verse is saying as Wayne Jackson quoting a commentator named Kirkpatrick explains,

“They (David’s enemies) aggravated and embittered his sufferings, as though one were to mock a hungry man by offering him bitter and poisonous food, or a thirsty man by giving him sour and undrinkable wine”.

 All this meant David was in deep painful trouble and had to call to God for Salvation or deliverance.

How is this verse connected to what happened to Jesus on the cross?

For those who are not clear I what I am talking about let me quote Matthew 27: 48,

“Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink”.

 The wine offered to Jesus a little earlier in 34 of this passage for quenching his thirst is described this way,

“There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it”.

 So both gall and vinegar wine was offered to Jesus on the cross.

Kidner answers this question well with these words,

“What David offered in metaphor, Jesus was offered in fact”.

 We have seen that the type of verbal abuse and persecution David received from his enemies depicted poetically in this Psalm is similar and even more intensive to the verbal abuse and persecution Jesus suffered for us in his earthly ministry and on the cross.

David did sin badly and so some of the things verbally thrown at him had some fact to them but Jesus never sinned and therefore he suffered even more than the repentant and forgiven David.

  1. A CRY FOR GOD TO JUDGE HIS ENEMIES (22 – 28)

We come now to the most difficult section of the Psalm to interpret and apply because this section is yet again another form of imprecatory prayer (a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to one’s enemies). I spoken at length on this a number of times throughout my talks on the Psalms and I would now like to quote what I said about these types of prayers in the Psalms and how we as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ should interpret them.

“Note David is praying that God will do this punishment even David knew that God’s was the true agent of judgment and unless he was specifically called by God to carry out judgment on others he was not allowed to do this.

 In the New Testament because of the teaching of Jesus we are to pray for our enemies and also leave the Judgment of God to God alone.

As Jesus taught in Matthew 7: 1 – 5,

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”.

However as Christians we do have an obligation to warn others of the great and final judgment of God to come. Jesus actually spoke more about judgment than heaven and even in his model prayer he encourages us to pray for God’s Judgment to come, Matthew 6: 10a,

“Your Kingdom come”

And of course when God’s kingdom comes Jesus will return to conduct the final judgment of God as Jesus declares in Matthew 25: 31 – 33,

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”.

So because of the teaching of Jesus and the rest of the New Testaments teaching on how we are to treat those who oppose us and God and what it says about God’s Judgement to come when I come across imprecatory prayer (a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to one’s enemies) I read this as speaking about the final judgment of God to come when Jesus returns.

Of course God still sends his judgment on people and nations today but as Christians we are not allowed by Jesus to pray for or to bring this about. This is a very real difference between Christianity and Islam. Extreme Muslims believe God wants them to punish and destroy those who do not follow the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. It is clear then that because they believe these teachings are the word of God and to disobey them is to disobey God they can practice “Jihad” or holy war and destroy those who refuse to turn to Allah.

Unfortunately over 1,000 years ago Christians foolishly thought something similar to these extreme Muslims today and they carried out many ruthless and bloody crusades in the Muslim world of that time. Today Christians are suffering at the hands of Holy War from extreme Muslims but Christians must not retaliate with hate and vengeance but rather with prayer and love. I have read that some Christian ministers during the times of the crusades did try to show real love to their enemies the Muslim nations of that time.

I leave my reflections on this with one final warning from Jesus himself about using war and weapons to solve persecution in our world and lives. It comes from Jesus words to Peter on the night he was arrested and Peter used a sword to cut off the ear of one of the arresting officers, Matthew 26: 52,

“Put your sword back in its place, Jesus said to him. ‘For all who draw the sword will die by the sword”.

 Finally I am not saying Christians cannot be involved in military service and even go to war. As a young man I was a Christian pacifist but as I got older I realised more and more that because we are living in a sinful fallen world there is always going to be nations who will try to over fro other nations and we need a strong military defence to both deter and sometimes go to war to defend our nation and our way of life.

This means that those who serve in our armed forces are serving us by keeping our nation safe and I applauded them for that, However I am saying that as Christians we are not to seek revenge but seek peace and we can never justify the killing of God’s enemies as a way of dealing with persecution for our Christian faith. The way of the Gospel is love.

I have broken this third section into two parts:

  1. Turning the Tables to get what they seek to give (22 – 26)
  2. Being blotted out from the book of life ( 27 – 28)
  1. Turning the Tables to get what they seek to give (22 – 27)

 The central idea of David’s imprecatory prayer (a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to one’s enemies) in this Psalm is found in verse 22, which reads,

“May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and a trap”.

 David I think is praying here that the supposed secure position of his enemies be turned around as though his enemies are seated at a table in a position of power but actually they are actually sitting at the table of retribution or judgment and that table of supposed security is actually a trap that the next five verses spells out.

If this is written in the context of the Absalom rebellion then they are prophetic because Absalom thought he was now invincible when he had taken over Jerusalem and would have had a great dinner celebration once he had taken over his father’s kingdom. However within a matter of weeks the tables turned and he was a defeated man killed in battle and his father was restored to his rightful position as king of Israel.

Let me tell that what happened to Absalom and his followers will happen to all of God’s enemies in the final judgment when Jesus returns. This is what I think Jesus is talking about on the great day of Judgment in Matthew 19: 28 – 30,

“Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first”.

With this in mind we see the kind of things that happened to Absalom as God judged him as David had prayed he would and we will see the kind of things that will happen to all of God’s enemies in the final great judgment to come.

We see the following four things that God would do to Absalom in the next four verses:

  1. Utter defeat (vs. 23)
  2. God’s wrath overtaking them (vs.24)
  3. Becoming homeless (vs.25)
  4. Shown clearly as persecutors of God’s people (vs. 26)
  1. Utter defeat (vs. 23)

 Verse 23 is a powerful poetic image of the kind of thing that happened to Absalom and his followers and may I say again we will see will what ultimately will happen to all of God’s enemies in the final judgment.

The first is a poetic image of utter defeat in verse 23,

“May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs broken”

 The first image of utter defeat is that of going blind. It is though they will go about stumbling in the dark an image of helplessness. Spurgeon makes this interesting comment,

“They have loved darkness rather than light and in darkness they shall abide”.

 The next image in this verse of total defeat is that of broken backs. So great is their defeat at the hands of God that they will be smashed down and unable to walk. This is what happened to Absalom and his army. Joab and his men chased Absalom into a forest and his long hair was caught in some trees and as he dangled their Joab struck him dead with three spears. The defeat of Absalom army is described this way in 2 Samuel 18: 6 – 8,

“David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword”.

 This not a pretty sight a man struck with three spears while dangling from a tree by his hair and a large army smashed on the battle field where there would have been many broken and bleeding bodies lying on the ground. However this young man Absalom and his followers willingly chose to gather and oppose the Lord and the Lords anointed king and as we have seen in many Psalms, Psalm 2: 2 – 6 is the prophecy working its way out on that day,

“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.  He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

The last part of this important prophecy is really only for filled in the Lord Jesus Christ after he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. In Heaven Jesus is the great anointed king on Zion (a symbol for heaven) and from their one day Jesus will return to defeat and judge all of God’s enemies as we see in a verse like Matthew 25: 41,

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.

  1. Becoming homeless (vs.25)

David has been praying that the tables would be turned on his enemies that the dangerous and desperate situation he was currently in because of his enemies verbal and physical attack would turn around and they would be the ones facing a desperate and dangerous situation because God’s judgment would come on them.

Now in verse 25 David prays for another reversal of situations for his enemies and that is instead of him being out in the wilderness with no proper secure shelter his enemies might be the ones who experience this.

Absalom was seemingly secure in the safe and comfortable former lodgings of David in Jerusalem and David was at best in a tent out in the wilderness so David prays,

“May their place be deserted, let them be no one to dwell in their tents”.

Maybe these words of David reflect how he felt as a result of the Absalom rebellion, he felt deserted, a nobody dwelling in a tent out in the wilderness of western Judea. So how his enemies made him feel and the kind of situation he was now in he wanted God through his just judgment to now be the lot of his enemies.

  1. Shown clearly as persecutors of God’s people (vs. 26)

David then spells out clearly why his enemies deserved the judgment of God, he writes,

“For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt”.

 These words only make sense to me in the context of the Absalom rebellion. I have already indicated in this Psalm talk that the Absalom rebellion was prophesied years before it happened by the Prophet Nathan a result of David’s sins of adultery and murder. We find this prophecy in 2 Samuel 12: 11 – 12,

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

I mentioned this prophecy when I was seeking to explain what David said back in verse 5,

“You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you”.

 So David was suffering some kind of chastisement from God for his past sins during the Absalom rebellion. God had forgiven David’s sins out of his mercy and love to him but David still faced some of the fall out or consequences of his previous sins.

So verse 26 makes sense in this context as Absalom and his followers were verbally attacking David because God was chastising him. The colloquial saying, “Kick a dog while it is down” is a good one to describe what his enemies were doing to him. As he suffered from the results of God’s chastisement they sought to kick him or hurt him while he was in a very vulnerable situation.

As Jesus hung on the cross suffering for our sins he was verbally abused by many. Verse 26 could easily be applied to Jesus. He was being persecuted because God had allowed him to be wounded, suffer pain and hurt because of our many sins. Listen to some of the verbal abuse Jesus received when he was on the cross in Luke 23: 35 – 39,

“The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”.

So David is saying that his enemies who verbally attacked him were persecuting him as God was chastising him and for this they deserved God’s judgment to come upon them. Also those who verbally abused Jesus as he was dying on the cross to save us from our sins will also one day face the judgment of God along with those ever since who have abused and persecuted the faithful followers of Jesus.

There is a very interesting reference in the book of Revelation to those who crucified Jesus in Revelation 1: 7 and it is in connection with Jesus second coming,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pieced him; and all the people’s of the earth will mourn because of him, So shall it be! Amen”.

  1. Being blotted out from the book of life (27 – 28)

The final part of David’s imprecatory prayer (a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to one’s enemies) concerns the eternal destiny of his enemies. David first speaks of this in verse 27 when he says,

“Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation”.

 As I have often said when dealing with imprecatory prayers Jesus commands we do the opposite of them. David prays here “do not let them share in your salvation” Jesus says in Matthew 5: 44, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

I was looking on the net for the verses that speak of loving your enemies and found them listed by a man named Fritz Clery who in his introduction to the verses says this,

“This topic is something we all struggle with at times. We feel like how can I love someone who keeps sinning against me? They give me no reason to love them. To me this is a reflection of the gospel. Do you give God a reason to love you? A Christian sins before a holy God yet he still pours out his love unto us. There was a time when you were an enemy of God, but Christ loved you and saved you from the wrath of God”.

 I wonder how many early Christians prayed for Saul who became the apostle Paul when he was an unbeliever who persecuted many Christians before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and turned to Jesus as was saved.

However David is also saying that if a person continues to sin, “crime upon crime” and if, according to the New Testament fails to repent of those sins and believe in Jesus then of course they will not share in God’s salvation.

David makes this point even clearer in his final verse of imprecatory prayer, he writes,

“May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous”.

 This is even a clearer way of saying, “not share in God’s salvation” for if our name is not in God’s book of life in heaven then we are not saved. The book of life is the name Revelations refers to this book and in Revelation 3: 5 we read this,

“He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot his name from the book of life, but acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels”.

 Again David prays that his enemies be blotted out of the book of life and Jesus would say pray that your enemies or persecutors are found in the book of life because they turn in repentance and faith to him and are saved through your loving witness to them.

  1. A WORD OF PRAISE FOR GOD’S SALVATION (29 – 36)

We come then to the final section of this Psalm, which brings into this Psalm the note of praise that David often strikes in his Psalms usually towards the end of his compositions.

There is one problem with this final section and that is verse 29. Does verse 29 belong to the previous section, which we have seen is an imprecatory prayer (a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to one’s enemies). If it belongs to the imprecatory prayer then David is saying to God, look at how much I need your judgment God to come on my enemies because,

“I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me”.

 He has just prayed that his enemies be denied God’s salvation owing to their serious crimes against God. Now he wants that Salvation or deliverance to free him from his pain and distress.

Or does verse 29 belong to the last section that deals with praise and if it does it has a powerful message to us because David is saying,,

“I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me”.

And I will praise God’s name in song. This is the major point I have suggested in other Psalm talks that God wants us to praise him in all situations as Paul encourages us to do in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

 It is easy to be positive about God and acknowledge his help in our lives when everything is going well but to thank God or praise God when in pain and distress when we are being persecuted is a real act of faith in God.

For the rest of this final section I have broken it into two parts:

  1. Personal praise for God’s salvation (30 – 33)
  2. Universal praise for God’s salvation (34 – 36)
  1. Personal praise for God’s salvation (30 – 33)

 I call this a personal praise for God’s salvation because verse 30 reads,

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”

 Note David says he will do this and this Psalm is clear evidence he did do it. David wrote many Psalms, 73 Psalms that we know and even some other Psalms could have been written by him but are not directly attributed to him in the Hebrew Headings. In most of these Psalms a note of praise is struck and most of them seem to be songs,

David we might say was a serious singer of praise and he always seems keen to glorify God even in his most difficult times like his run from his son Absalom who sought to kill him. In Psalm 4, which follows a Psalm that is attributed to the time David ran for his life from his rebellious son, Absalom he wrote these words in verses 7 and 8 of that Psalm,

“You have filled my heart with great joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety”.

 David wrote these words of praise to God as he was about to lie down in the cold and dangerous wilderness after he had just declared in verse 6,

“Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord”.

 Now that’s faith to be able to sing a song of praise that glorifies God with thanksgiving in those circumstances.

David goes on to say something he has said before as well in verse 31,

“This will please the Lord more than ox, more than a bull with horns and hoofs”.

 David is saying regular Tabernacle or Temple worship sacrifices do not match songs of praise from the hearts of men and women song in times of stress and difficulty. David first spoke of this in his famous Psalm 51: 16 – 17 spoken as part of his song of repentance for his sins of adultery and murder, he writes,

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”.

 I think David is speaking about a sacrifice of praise which becomes a major theme in the New Testament for Christians, like Hebrews 13: 15,

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God, a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name”.

 And Paul says that our whole lives and bodies should be a living sacrifice to God in service, which becomes the basis of our worship of him in Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship”.

 The next two verses of this personal praise for God’s salvation say much the same thing. They contain the hope David has for God’s salvation that his praise is for. The ideas of these two verses come from David’s understanding of both the bible as he knew it at that time and the historical acts of God so far for his people Israel.

With this in mind let’s look at verse 32,

“The poor will see and be glad – you who seek God, may your hearts live!”.

 David knew from God’s word that he had (probably first five books of the bible) God’s stated attitude to the poor or defenseless people like Deuteronomy 10: 18,

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the aliens, giving him food and clothing”.

 Israel is commanded by God in the books of the law which they called the Torah, the first five books of the bible to help the poor, people like the fatherless, widows and aliens.

Why?

Well listen to the verses that follow Deuteronomy 10: 18, verses 19 – 20,

“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky”.

So David knew the kind of God he was trusting in, a God who saw the poor and wretched captive people of Israel in Egypt and who saved them out of Egypt giving them ultimately the promised land and making them a great nation.

But you might say, but David was not poor he was the King?

This is true but we have seen all through this Psalm his current situation was that of a poor man as he was probably out in the wilderness battling as the deposed king to stay alive and look after the many family and good friends who stayed loyal to him.

Besides in this verse David speaks of more than just the poor he says,

“You who seek God, may your hearts live!”.

 I believe it is the poor in spirit, those who recognize their true position before God as wretched aliens, as the people of Israel were physically in Egypt we all are because of our many sins that David is really thinking of here. He says and if these people seek God, their hearts, the whole being will live or in the context of this Psalm will be saved”.

Just as Jesus says in Matthew 5: 3,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”.

 The next verse, verse 33, virtually says the same thing,

“The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people”.

 Note who the needy are here, “his captive people” David is making a direct reference to the Salvation or Deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. Maybe he felt his situation at the time of writing this Psalm was as though he is a captive out in the wilderness of western Judea with the threat of Absalom closing in on him.

As sinners the New Testament sees us as captives or slaves of sin. Listen to the wonderful liberating words of Jesus in John 8: 34 – 36,

 “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”.

So David’s personal song of praise is that he looked forward to God’s Salvation or deliverance because his God is a God who loves the poor and needy in spirit who seek him and because of that love for them will save them. David then looked forward with praise for his salvation and deliverance.

As I said in my introduction our salvation has three parts, we are saved from our trespasses and sins and the condemnation they bring by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are being saved day-by-day and hour-by-hour by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives turning us into new spiritual beings or making us more like Christ. Finally we will be saved when either we die and go to be with Christ or are caught up alive in the ascension of the second coming of Christ where we will be glorified in Christ.

As Paul writes in Romans 8: 17 – 18,

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”.

 For this great threefold work of salvation in us we should always in all circumstances praise God and particularly The Lord Jesus Christ who has made it all possible for us.

  1. Universal praise for God’s salvation (34 – 36)

David then widens the scope of his praise for God and opens this in verse 34 with,

“Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them”.

 Wayne Jackson describes this praise this way,

“As he concludes, David calls for a universal anthem of praise in tribute to the almighty God, the entire creation in heaven, on earth, and in the sea is to honour the maker of all things”.

 The Apostle John incredible vision of God and heaven sees this type of praise going on all the time in heaven by those who surround the throne of God. In Revelation 5: 11, the praise to God goes like this,

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being”.

 But why does David suddenly spring into universal praise and why does he call for that in the midst of a time of distress and difficulty caused by his enemy’s persecutions?

Well the next two verses answer that, verses 35 and 36,

“For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will settle there and possess it; the children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there”.

Now we come to a very tricky part of the Psalm to interpret and it is these verses that have caused some commentators to say that this Psalm was written at a much later date than David’s time. Some commentators say that Jeremiah could have written this Psalm because of the reference to the rebuilding of Judah, which would have happened at the return from Exile by the Jews after being 70 years in Babylon. This then is an example of National Salvation or deliverance.

I go with commentators like Leopold who suggests this as an explanation of the rebuilding of Judah at the time of David, he writes,

“What happened in the uprising of Absalom and the subsequent disasters had apparently done great harm to the nation”.

 When you consider that 2 Samuel 18: 6 – 8, we can see great devastation hit the nation as a result of Absalom rebellion,

“David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword”.

For a nation the size of Israel of that time 20,000 men is a huge number and when you also consider the fact that does not include all the wounded. So in terms of population alone Judah would have had to rebuilt.

So what is David saying in his time in these last two verses?

David has been praying for personal Salvation or deliverance all through this Psalm owing to the persecution of his enemies and we think this could well be all the enemies David faced during the time of the Absalom rebellion.

He has just looked forward with the eyes of faith and praised God for personal salvation or deliverance from his enemies and now in these last two verses he is praising God for the Nations salvation or deliverance. This is the meaning of the opening words in verse 35,

“For God will save Zion”

 We have seen that Zion is a term used in the bible to represent a number of things and here it is being used to represent the Nation of Israel as it was gathered at Zion and the sanctuary there represented God dwelling with his people.

David foresees the devastation at the conclusion to the Absalom rebellion would cause and asks God to rebuild Judah. The next line,

“Then people will settle there and possess it”.

Is well explained by Albert Barnes when he writes,

“That his people may dwell there according to the ancient promise. The idea is, that he would be the protector of his people, and that all his promises to them would be fulfilled.”.

 Finally verse 36, is yet another poetic picture of the nations salvation,

“The children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there”.

 In Old Testament terms the for fillment of the possession of the Promised Land is God’s salvation for his people. This can be seen in this verse with the words,

“The children of his servants will inherit it”.

 Also the next phase,

“And those who love his name will dwell there”.

 So David is again praising God for the salvation of his people once again secure and settled in the Promised Land under God’s appointed King.

However how are these verses to be interpreted by Christians who must read these words with the eyes of the New Testament?

Some still think that in some way the nation of Israel as it was before the coming of Christ will be renewed and literally they interpret these words as prophecy to come. Maybe they see the return of Jews to Israel in modern times as this starting to work it way out.

However I do not think this is how the New Testament actually interprets this. Let me share just one passage from the book of Hebrews that demonstrates clearly that the concept of the Nation of Israel and the possession of a literal promised land have been superseded by the coming of Christ and now have a completely different and far more wonderful message of Salvation.

The passage is Hebrews 12: 22 – 24,

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel”.

 The historical fact that the Temple in Jerusalem was totally destroyed in AD 70 and the Jews dispersed from Israel for 2,000 years by the Romans surely points to the fact that God has done away with the old order of things and established the new order that is the New Covenant established and built on the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

That the new Israel of God is made up of people from all nations, Jews included and the fact that the Jerusalem we look forward to possessing is nothing more than heaven itself.

Revelation 21: 1 – 5 speaks of this new Heavenly Jerusalem to come and should be the grounds for our praise of universal salvation.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

I close my Psalm Talk on this Psalm as I usually do with a poem which is the words of a song I have composed inspired by verses 1 – 18 of this Psalm and a prayer as well.

 SAVE ME OH GOD

(Based on Psalm 69: 1 – 18)

Save me Oh God

From the waters that cover me

Lift me up

From miry clay set me free

For I fallen in deep waters

And a flood engulfs my soul

I’m warn out from calling on you Oh Lord

I long to be made whole.

 

Save me oh God

From my many enemies

Lift me up

From those who seek to destroy me

I know I have sinned and failed you Lord

But through your grace you’ve forgiven me

May those who trust in you Oh Lord

Not suffer because of me.

 

Refrain:

Answer me with your love

Save me Lord Above

Yes Jesus died upon the cross

Yes you’ve saved me Lord with Love

 

Save me Oh God

From the scorn my enemies cause.

Lift me up

To stand on your solid floors.

Sometimes I feel like a stranger

Lost in a world so cold

But love for you consumes me Lord

And makes me feel so bold.

 

Save me Oh God

Answer me through your goodness and love

Lift me up

Through your mercy raise me above.

Do not hide your face from me

Come quickly and rescue me

Redeem my many sins Oh Lord

And give me Liberty.

 

Refrain:

Answer me with your love

Save me Lord Above

Yes Jesus died upon the cross

Yes you’ve saved me Lord with Love

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

Father in heaven I thank you for your great Salvation freely given to me through the death and resurrection of your son Jesus Christ. Help me to live out you Salvation in the way I treat others especially those who seek to persecute me. Help me to show love even to my enemies remembering that I once was your enemy needing your salvation also but through your love you redeemed my life and brought me into your eternal kingdom and for this I want to praise you. In Jesus name I pray Amen.