Psalm 69 – The Man of Sorrows

Intro: Ever get a song stuck in your head. (Last week – 3 days of “Out of the Ivory Palaces…” – too much of a good song?) This illustrates to me the teaching power of a song. Children can memorize scripture and facts easier when placed in a song. So it doesn’t surprise us that God taught His people through inspired songs, called the Psalms. In collaboration with our theme about Jesus I want to look at Psalm 69. Let’s read the first 16 verses.

I. A Psalm of David: We are told in the subscription at the beginning that this is a psalm “to the chief musician, set to the lilies, a psalm of David”. Although these words are not part of the inspired text, we know from the words of Paul in Romans 11 that this is a Psalm of David. We know that David was a prophet, so this is inspired teaching. The transcription, to the chief musician” would seem to point to its use in worship, and “set to lilies” may refer to the tune in which it was offered.

A. A Song About Jesus? I am convinced that this is a song that should stick in our heads. It is a song about Jesus in that it is Messianic, or predictive and descriptive of the coming Messiah. (This Psalm is quoted five times in the N.T.) I want to explore it today under that heading, looking a few of these connections.

1. Some view these words as entirely about Jesus. This seems untenable, as vs. 5 accounts the foolishness and guilty acts of the subject. Jesus was without sin. But I think it is certain that this Psalm speaks of Christ and was viewed in this sense by apostolic writers. At least three times N.T. quote from this text and apply the fulfillment to Christ. So it would seem that the Psalm speaks about David and Christ at the same time. This may seem difficult for us, but not for the original audience.

2. It is helpful for us to understand how the Jews interpreted the scriptures. Several important premises:

          • They viewed the Old Testament scriptures as inspired of God. It was one book given by God to the people.
          • The scriptures spoke to every generation, and were especially relevant (by God’s design) to the time of the coming Messiah. They saw the scriptures as timeless, speaking to each generation.
          • The context of a passage gave it meaning.
          • The same words in a new context might state another point as true as the original. We often view things this way as well.
            •  Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner during the War of 1812. Certainly the words apply to that event. However, the song has a different but related meaning to soldiers today who have fought in recent wars. The words “the bombs bursting in air” does not call to their minds the war of 1812 but the war they just fought in.
            • The Song, It is well with My Soul was written by P.P. Bliss when he found out his family had been lost at sea. His despair was the original context, yet when we sing the song in worship we do not think of Mr. Bliss. It has a different meaning because it is being viewed in a different context. We sing it to express how God can carry us through whatever losses we may endure.
            • Psalm 69 is clearly about David and his difficulties. Yet his figurative language was understood to be about the coming Messiah, and it did find its ultimate fulfillment in His suffering.

II. They Hate Me With Out a Cause – The opening words of this Psalm are severe cry for help. David is overwhelmed. – drowning in the sea; sinking in the quicksand (mire). There is no place to stand. He describes himself as being weary from crying. His throat is dry, his voice is horse, and his eyes are so filled with tears that he cannot see. The physical suffering is immense, and the Psalmist describes it in emotionally charged words.

A. Notice Ps 69:4Those who hate me without a cause Are more than the hairs of my head; They are mighty who would destroy me, Being my enemies wrongfully; David became a hunted man because of Saul’s jealousy and hatred. Bit David did nothing to deserve it. He was “hated without a cause

1. verse 4 is a text that is specifically applied to Jesus. As Jesus speaks with his disciples in the upper room He uses the Psalmist words to describe His own personal rejection in John 15:18-25: 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

a. It is one thing to suffer physical pain. It is another to suffer the emotional and psychological pain of being rejected by others. It is even something further to suffer all of these things for “no cause”. Jesus did nothing wrong. Even the treacherous Pilate could find no fault in Him.

b. Those who follow Jesus can expect to be hate for no reason. Matt 5:11-12Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. When our society begins to assault us as homophobes and haters, do not be surprised or shaken. We are not the first.

III. Scorn and Zeal: David continues to catalogue his suffering. In vs. 5 he admits his wrong-doing (suffering often causes self-examination) and prays earnestly that his actions do not cause others to turn away from God – “Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.” Ps 69:6. That is a powerful prayer for all of us. What do you pray for when you are suffering? Have you ever prayed that about the influence you are having on others?

A. “I have become a stranger to my brothers, And an alien to my mother’s children” (Ps 69:8). This was certainly true of David on the occasion when he came to face Goliath. He brother, Eliab, false accused David of just wanting to see a good fight, and scorned him. But John tells us that Jesus also faced this rejection. His own family (brothers) did not believe that He was the Messiah. (John 7:5). That type of rejection and seeming failure must have been difficult.

B. “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up” (v. 9) But we also recognize the words of v. 9 in the gospel account of Jesus’ life. John 2:13-1713 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” This is not the Jesus we often picture. Jesus is indignant (zeal = heat) at the insult of irreverence in His “Father’s house“.

1. The two cleansing of the temple were themselves Messianic pronouncements foreshadowed in the prophet. One commentator states… “The cleansing is far more than a Jewish reformer’s act; it is a sign of the advent of the Messiah.” In Mal 3 it is written: “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple … but who may abide the day of his coming? … and he shall purify the sons of Levi.” It was this very event that began the murderous plots against Jesus’ life. Would it not have gone easier if he had just “cooled it” a little?

2. His boldness for the cause reminds the disciples of David’s plight as voiced in the 69th Psalm. David’s great zeal (ardor, earnestness) for God’s cause could not be turned back. When others were afraid, David boldly stood up for God’s honor. But there was a price to pay for such zeal.

3. Both David and Jesus were willing to suffer for the honor of God and His cause. The other half of v. 9 is the result:

C. “the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. (v. 9) When God’s people take a stand, there are reproaches to bear. These words are also quoted in the NT by Paul in Romans 15 in the midst of an admonition for Christians to bear with each other, and not to please themselves. Rom 15:3 – For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”

1. The reference to reproaches is significant. The reproaches Jesus suffered resulted from his not pleasing himself. If Christ had been willing to please people, He could have avoided much suffering and hatred by others. But He came to do the will of the Father. His living for the glory of the Father caused the enemies of God to heap all of their scorn and opposition upon him.

2. This is our reproach as well. The writer of Hebrews calls on those who had begun to serve Jesus to not turn back. Heb 13:12-13Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. Many have turned back when serving Christ began to cause reproach from the world around them. They would follow Jesus only so far. When it became clear that He was a man of sorrows and reproach, and not a man of self-gratification, they quit.

D. Let their table become a snare before them, And their well-being a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see; (v. 22-23) One last NT reference from the Psalm may be in order here. In Romans 11 the apostle Paul is discussing the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah by the Jews, and the subsequent preaching of the Gospel, and salvation, of the Gentiles. Paul is clear to point out that Jewish nation had refused to come to faith in Christ, even though they were the first to hear the gospel. Rom 10:21But to Israel he says: “All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.”

1. Yet God has not cast off His people, Israel. There is a remnant according to the election of grace that did and will respond to the gospel of Christ and be saved- (through grace, not the works of the law – 11:5-6)

2. And then Paul states… What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8 Just as it is written: “God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day.” 9 And David says: “Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, And bow down their back always.” (Rom 11:7-10) As Paul is lamenting the failure of his own brethren to come to faith in Christ (as therefore to be lost) he remembers the words of the 69th Psalm. The rejection of Jesus by His own people had been foretold. The very things that God had provided for them (their table) became a stumbling block to accepting Christ (the law, The Temple, the Priesthood, etc.) And so now many were blind and refused to believe is a crucified Savior.

3. During a difficult period of his life, David was truly a man of sorrows, rejected by those of his own people for that very reason. So Jesus as well became this Man of Sorrows, and many have rejected Him. Have you?

Conclusion: “They gave me also gall for my food; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Ps 69:21). Did David drink sour wine (vinegar) in his dark hours? I don’t know, but we recognize these words don’t we? All four gospel writers tell us about Jesus and his taste of sour wine just before He died. It was on the cross. These are words right from the cross. This is the man of sorrows, and you must see Him there on the cross, dying for you. Some suggest that this offer of bitter drink was an act of mercy to allay Jesus’ suffering, but Luke seems imply that even the offer of the drink was designed to mock Jesus. Luke 23:36-37 – ” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.”

  • The Psalm ends in the ray of hope and encouragement: God hears the prayer of the suffering one and saves. Ps 69:32-36The humble shall see this and be glad; And you who seek God, your hearts shall live. 33 For the Lord hears the poor, And does not despise His prisoners. 34 Let heaven and earth praise Him, The seas and everything that moves in them. 35 For God will save Zion And build the cities of Judah, That they may dwell there and possess it. 36 Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it, And those who love His name shall dwell in it.

Will you be one of the humble and see this and be glad.

“Man of Sorrows what a name for the son of God who came ruined sinners to reclaim, Halleluiah, what a Savior.”