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Psalm 69

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Cry of Distress and Imprecation on Adversaries
MT Intro
For the choir director; with stringed instruments. According to Shoshannim. A Psalm of David.
An Urgent Plea for Help in Trouble Prayer for Deliverance From Personal Enemies A Cry For Help Lament
69:1-4 69:1-3 69:1-3 69:1-3 69:1
        69:2
        69:3
  69:4 69:4 69:4 68:4
69:5-12 69:5-12 69:5 69:5-8 69:5
    69:6-8   69:6a,b
        69:6c,d
        69:7-9
    69:9-12 69:9-12  
        69:10-12
69:13-15 69:13-15 69:13-15 69:13-15 69:13
        69:14-15
69:16-19 69:16-18 69:16-18 69:16-18 69:16-18
  69:19-21 69:19-21 69:19-21 69:19-20
69:20-21        
        69:21-23
69:22-28 69:22-28 69:22-29 69:22-28  
        69:24-26
69:29-33 69:29-33   69:29-33  
        69:27-28
        69:29-31
    69:30-33    
        69:32-34
69:34-36 69:34-36 69:34-36 69:34-36  
        69:35-36

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm uses the two most common names for God.

1. Elohim (i.e., a title that focuses on Deity as creator, sustainer, and provider of all life of this planet) — Ps. 69:1,6,13,29,30,32,35 (also a variant form in Ps. 69:3, "God" [Eloah] and Ps. 69:6, "God" [Eloah] of Israel")

2. YHWH (i.e., a title that focuses on Deity as savior, redeemer, covenant-making God)

a. Lord of hosts (see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1), Ps. 69:6

b. YHWH, Ps. 69:13,16,31,33

 

B. The psalmist feels estranged from life, family, and friends (cf. Ps. 69:8) because of his trust in God (cf. Ps. 69:9).

Jesus uses this Psalm to describe His own feelings of rejection by fellow Jews. The difference is, the psalmist wants revenge and judgment (cf. Ps. 69:22-28), but Jesus asks for His persecutors' forgiveness based on their ignorance (cf. Luke 23:34).

C. This Psalm has many prayers, some expressed as imperatives and some as imperfects used in a jussive sense (see note at verse 6).

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 69:1-4
 1Save me, O God,
 For the waters have threatened my life.
 2I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold;
 I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.
 3I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched;
 My eyes fail while I wait for my God.
 4Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head;
 Those who would destroy me are powerful, being wrongfully my enemies;
 What I did not steal, I then have to restore.

69:1-4 This strophe is a prayer for deliverance (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative) using several metaphors of distress.

1. the waters have come up to my soul (cf. Ps. 69:2b; Ps. 32:6)

2. sink in deep mire (cf. Ps. 40:2)

3. no foothold (BDB 765, only here in the OT, similar to imagery in Ps. 40:2)

He repeats this prayer in verses 14-15. The Jews lived in semi-arid lands and were afraid of water. Even Solomon manned his fleet with Phoenicians, not Jews. Palestine is notorious for its dangerous flash floods in the rainy season.

69:1 "soul" This is literally nephesh (BDB 659). See note at Ps. 3:2. Here it may denote "neck," but if so, this is rare (see possibly Jonah 2:5).

69:2-3 The fluidity of imagery can be seen in the contrast between too much water in verse 2 and a parched throat in verse 3 (BDB 359, the word only here in OT, cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 295). Water is a powerful image.

1. waters of creation 4. tears 

2. flood 5. necessity for life and health

3. necessary annual rain

 

69:3-4 Verse 3 is figurative language describing sadness and weeping over the situation the psalmist finds himself in (cf. Ps. 69:10-11). That situation is described in verse 4.

1. many people (i.e., his people) hate him without cause (cf. John 15:25)

2. they want to destroy/kill him

3. they are powerful people (cf. Ps. 69:12)

The psalmist asserts that their hatred and attacks are without cause (cf. Ps. 69:4c). He uses this as a way to denote his innocense in all areas related to the Mosaic covenant. He is not claiming sinlessness (cf. Ps. 69:5). See Special Topic at Ps. 18:20-24.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 69:5-12
 5O God, it is You who knows my folly,
 And my wrongs are not hidden from You.
 6May those who wait for You not be ashamed through me, O Lord God of hosts;
 May those who seek You not be dishonored through me, O God of Israel,
 7Because for Your sake I have borne reproach;
 Dishonor has covered my face.
 8I have become estranged from my brothers
 And an alien to my mother's sons.
 9For zeal for Your house has consumed me,
 And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
 10When I wept in my soul with fasting,
 It became my reproach.
 11When I made sackcloth my clothing,
 I became a byword to them.
 12Those who sit in the gate talk about me,
 And I am the song of the drunkards.

69:5-12 This strophe describes the situation of all believers. We know we are sinful (Ps. 69:5) but we seek to live godly lives (cf. Ps. 69:9a). In light of this tension the psalmist has several requests.

1. may those who wait (i.e., trust) in You not be ashamed because of me

2. may those who seek You not be dishonored because of me

This psalmist is boldly asserting that his problems are caused by his faith in YHWH (cf. Ps. 69:7,9). It is this aspect of the Psalm that made it a perfect allusion for Jesus (cf. John 2:17). Also note that Paul, in Rom. 15:3, adds the substitutionary aspect (cf. Isaiah 53; Mark 10:45) from Ps. 69:9b to Jesus.

69:5 "my wrongs are not hidden from You" See note at Ps. 44:21.

69:6 "May. . ." This is the first in a series of imperfects used in a jussive sense. This Psalm has many of these.

1. may. . .not be ashamed, Ps. 69:6 — BDB 101, KB 116, Qal imperfect

2. may. . .not be dishonored, Ps. 69:6 — BDB 483, KB 480, Niphal imperfect

3. may. . .not overflow me, Ps. 69:15 — BDB 1009, KB 1474, Qal imperfect

4. may. . .not swallow me up, Ps. 69:15 — BDB 118, KB 134, Qal imperfect

5. may. . .not shut its mouth on me, Ps. 69:15 — BDB 32, KB 37, Qal imperfect

6. may. . .their table. . .become a snare, Ps. 69:22a — BDB 224, KB 243, Qal jussive

7. may it become a trap, Ps. 69:22b — assumed from #6

8. may their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see, Ps. 69:23 — BDB 364, KB 361, Qal imperfect

9. may Your burning anger overtake them, Ps. 69:23 — BDB 673, KB 727, Hiphil imperfect

10. may their camp be desolate, Ps. 69:25 — BDB 224, KB 243, Qal jussive

11. may none dwell in their tents, Ps. 69:25, — same as #10

12. may they not come into Your righteousness, Ps. 69:27 — BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect

13. may they be blotted out of the book of life, Ps. 69:28 — BDB 562, KB567, Niphal imperfect

14. may they not be recorded with the righteous, Ps. 69:28 — BDB 507, KB 503, Niphal imperfect

15. may Your salvation set me securely on high, Ps. 69:29 — BDB 960, KB 1305, Piel imperfect (used in a positive sense)

16. let heaven and earth praise Him, Ps. 69:34 — BDB 237, KB 248, Piel imperfect (used in a positive sense)

All of these (except #15 and 16) express the psalmist's prayers for God to act against his enemies. This is the element of the Psalm that is absent from Jesus' use of this Psalm from the cross.

69:10-11 The psalmist's very acts of prayer and humility became "a reproach" (BDB 357), "a byword" (BDB 605) to his powerful friends (i.e., "those who sit in the gate," Ps. 69:12a), as well as the drunkards (Ps. 69:12b).

▣ "fasting. . .sackcloth" See SPECIAL TOPIC: GRIEVING RITES at Ps. 30:11.

Notice the contrast between the people of verses 5-12.

1. the pious writer who serves God in prayer, fasting, and service

2. the impious at the gate (i.e., place of leadership) who belittle his devotion and make up drunken songs

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 69:13-15
 13But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, at an acceptable time;
 O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness,
 Answer me with Your saving truth.
 14Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink;
 May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters.
 15May the flood of water not overflow me
 Nor the deep swallow me up,
 Nor the pit shut its mouth on me.

69:13-15 The psalmist continues his prayers. They are expressed

1. to YHWH

2. at an acceptable time

Notice the psalmist's trust in YHWH even amidst his troubled times and knowledge that at the appropriate time He will answer and save (cf. Ps. 32:6; Isa. 49:8; 2 Cor. 6:2). There is an appropriate time (cf. Eccl. 3:1-8).

The psalmist trusts in YHWH's

1. lovingkindness (see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7), Ps. 69:13b

2. faithfulness (see Special Topic at Ps. 12:1), Ps. 69:13c

Notice the two imperatives.

1. answer me — BDB 722, KB 851, Qal imperative, Ps. 69:13c

2. deliver me — BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil imperative, Ps. 69:14a

Verses 14-15 describe what the psalmist seeks to be delivered from.

1. do not let me sink (cf. Ps. 69:1-2). There is a different parsing in

a. Analytical Key to the OT, by John Owens, where it is identified as a Qal imperative (p. 374)

b. OT Parsing Guide, by Beall, Banks and Smith, identifies it as a Qal cohortative (p. 439)

2. may I be delivered from. . . There is a different parsing in

a. Analytical KeyNiphal imperfect (p. 374)

b. Parsing GuideNiphal cohortative (p. 439)

The psalmist describes his adversaries as "his foes" and "deep places of water" (Ps. 69:14b). Verses 14 and 15 use the same imagery as Ps. 69:1-2 (cf. Ps. 124:4-5; Isa. 43:2).

69:15c "the pit" See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead? at Ps. 1:6, especially, Sheol, the holding place of the dead which is often parallel to "the pit" (cf. Num. 16:33; Ps. 28:1; 88:3-4; Pro. 1:12). It could refer to the grave (cf. Ps. 141:7).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 69:16-19
 16Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good;
 According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me,
 17And do not hide Your face from Your servant,
 For I am in distress; answer me quickly.
 18Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it;
 Ransom me because of my enemies!
 19You know my reproach and my shame and my dishonor;
 All my adversaries are before You.

69:16-19 This strophe is characterized by imperatives of entreaty.

1. answer me, Ps. 69:16 — BDB 772 I, KB 851, Qal imperative

2. turn to me, Ps. 69:16 — BDB 815, KB 937, Qal imperative (cf. Ps. 27:9; 102:2; 143:7)

3. quickly (lit. hasten), Ps. 69:17 — BDB 554, KB 553, Piel imperative

4. answer me, Ps. 69:17 — same as #1

5. draw near to me, Ps. 69:18 — BDB 897, KB 1132, Qal imperative

6. redeem me, Ps. 69:18 — BDB 145 I, KB 165, Qal imperative

7. ransom me, Ps. 69:18 — BDB 804, KB 911, Qal imperative (see SPECIAL TOPIC: RANSOM/REDEEM at Ps. 19:14)

Notice the basis for these prayer requests is:

1. YHWH's lovingkindness (BDB 338) is good, Ps. 69:16

2. YHWH's great compassion (lit. "mercies," BDB 933), Ps. 69:16

3. YHWH knows the psalmist's situation, Ps. 69:19

a. the psalmist's heart 

b. the adversaries' hearts

 

69:17 "Your servant" This could mean

1. a special leader, like Moses, Joshua 

2. a reference to David or his royal descendants (i.e., ultimately the Messiah)

3. the special Servant of the Messianic poems of Isaiah 40-55

4. just a title for a covenant believer (cf. Ps. 69:36)

 

69:19 Most English translations see Ps. 69:19 as going with Ps. 69:20-21.

Notice the eastern view of life that emphasizes one's reputation.

1. reproach — BDB 357, cf. Ps. 69:20

2. shame — BDB 102

3. dishonor — BDB 484

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 69:20-21
 20Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick.
 And I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
 And for comforters, but I found none.
 21They also gave me gall for my food
 And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

69:20-21 The Hebrew word for "gall" (Ps. 69:21) is "poison" (BDB 912 II), but can refer to bad wine (cf. Deut. 32:32). It is the LXX that changed it to "gall" or "bile" (green — cholē). In context this "poison" and "vinegar" refer to the insults of the psalmist's antagonists (i.e., covenant partners, close friends, and family, cf. Ps. 69:8).

This strophe is quoted in Matt. 27:34 as being fulfilled in Jesus' crucifixion. Verse 21b is alluded to in Mark 15:23; Luke 23:36; John 19:28-30. This Psalm and Psalm 22 are the two OT allusions and quotes that the NT uses of Jesus' crucifixion experience.

These Psalms are not predictive but typological. See notes at Psalm 22. Verses 22-28 do not fit Jesus' attitudes or words from the cross.

69:20 "I am so sick" This verb (BDB 633, KB 683) is found only here in the OT. The BDB suggests "sick" but KB suggests "incurable"; NJB has "passed cure." Possibly it means "in despair" (cf. NRSV, TEV, JPSOA). If "sick," then Ps. 69:29 is a parallel.

69:21 "vinegar" This term (BDB 330) refers to a cheap wine (cf. Num. 6:3). See Special Topic: Alcohol and Alcoholism at Ps. 4:7.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 69:22-28
 22May their table before them become a snare;
 And when they are in peace, may it become a trap.
 23May their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see,
 And make their loins shake continually.
 24Pour out Your indignation on them,
 And may Your burning anger overtake them.
 25May their camp be desolate;
 May none dwell in their tents.
 26For they have persecuted him whom You Yourself have smitten,
 And they tell of the pain of those whom You have wounded.
 27Add iniquity to their iniquity,
 And may they not come into Your righteousness.
 28May they be blotted out of the book of life
 And may they not be recorded with the righteous.

69:22-28 This strophe discusses what the psalmist requests that YHWH will do to his enemies. See notes at Ps. 69:6 (imperfects used as jussives). There are

1. three jussives

2. five imperfects used in a jussive sense

3. two imperatives

a. make their loins shake continually — BDB 588, KB 609, Hiphil imperative (this is the poetic opposite of Ps. 69:29b)

b. pour out Your indignation on them — BDB 1049, KB 1629, Qal imperative

 

69:22 This verse is quoted in Rom. 11:9-10, which deals with unbelieving Israel.

Verse 25 is quoted in Acts 1:20 about the "Field of Blood" purchased by the priests with Judas' betrayal money.

Verse 27a may be alluded to in Rom. 1:28, which deals with the sinfulness of all humanity (cf. Rom. 3:9-18, 23).

NASB"when they are in peace"
NKJV"their well-being"
TEV"sacred feasts"
NJB"their abundance"
REB"when they feel secure"

The MT has "security" (BDB 1022) but the Aramaic Targums have "sacrificial feasts" (cf. NRSV, TEV). The NRSV changes it to "a snare for their allies" (cf. JPSOA) using an idiom from Ps. 55:20 (i.e., close friends).

69:25 This is imagery from the Wilderness Wandering Period.

69:26 This verse seems to reflect Isa. 53:4 and 10 (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).

The verb form (BDB 319) of the noun translated "wounded" appears in Isa. 53:5 (BDB 319, KB 320, Poal participle). The verb "smitten" (BDB 645, KB 697, Hophal participle) also occurs in Isa. 53:4.

Verses 21 and 26 surely would have caused the Gospel writers to see a connection!

69:28 In the ANE citizens of a city's names were recorded on a role. The Bible uses this imagery to reflect God's knowledge. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE TWO BOOKS OF GOD at Ps. 9:5.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 69:29-33
 29But I am afflicted and in pain;
 May Your salvation, O God, set me securely on high.
 30I will praise the name of God with song
 And magnify Him with thanksgiving.
 31And it will please the Lord better than an ox
 Or a young bull with horns and hoofs.
 32The humble have seen it and are glad;
 You who seek God, let your heart revive.
 33For the Lord hears the needy
 And does not despise His who are prisoners.

69:29-33 This strophe describes what the delivered psalmist will do because YHWH's salvation has set him securely on high.

1. I will praise the name of God with song

2. I will magnify Him with thanksgiving

This implies a temple setting, as does verse 31 (a sacrifice). Verse 9 is also an allusion to the temple (i.e., "Your house" and "consumed as a sacrificial fire").

YHWH's deliverance of the falsely accused and abused psalmist causes others to rejoice and trust in Him (cf. Ps. 69:32-33).

69:29 "afflicted" From this term (BDB 776) and the rare word in Ps. 69:20, "sick" or "in despair," many commentators have asserted that the psalmist is ill, but I think the context denotes persecution and psychological distress, not physical illness, though they are often connected (i.e., cause and effect).

It is also possible that the metaphor of illness is used as another way to affirm the psalmist's sense of sin (cf. Ps. 69:5). Healing is often an idiom for forgiveness (cf. Ps. 103:3; Isa. 1:5-6).

69:31 This verse is used theologically by post a.d. 70 Judaism for the substitution of "praise" for "sacrifice" (cf. Ps. 40:7; 50:13-14; 51:16-17). Praise pleases God.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 69:34-36
 34Let heaven and earth praise Him,
 The seas and everything that moves in them.
 35For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah,
 That they may dwell there and possess it.
 36The descendants of His servants will inherit it,
 And those who love His name will dwell in it.

69:34-35 As so often in the Psalm, there is a final small strophe which is used in corporate worship (i.e., Ps. 103:19-22). The God of creation is also the God of Israel, who dwells in Zion/Judah with His people. They are characterized as

1. the seed of His servants

2. those who love His name

If this Psalm were of David's time, it would have "Israel," not "Judah," so either

1. David did not write it (i.e., cannot trust titles of the Psalms; they are absent in the Dead Sea Scrolls and often do not fit the textual information in the Psalm)

2. someone added the last strophe later, possibly after an exile.

 

69:34 "heaven and earth. . .seas" These three nouns are used to denote all of creation (cf. Exod. 20:4,11; Deut. 5:8; Ps. 96:11; 135:6; 146:6; Hag. 2:6).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. List the places this Psalm is quoted in the NT.

2. Why is it quoted so often?

3. How are the feelings expressed in this Psalm different from Jesus' attitudes?

4. List the verses that seem to point toward Isaiah 53.

5. Explain the symbolism of water used in this Psalm.

6. Is the corporate conclusion a later addition? If so, is it inspired?