Psalm 69
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics

I. AS A MAN TO BE PITIED. The sufferings described are many and great. They threatened to be overwhelming. Without, there was no escape; within, there was no peace. Crying for help brought no rescue, and waiting upon God brought no deliverance. Hope deferred made the heart sick. Disappointment only called forth more bitter scorn from enemies, and made the ills that multiplied more and more hard to bear. Besides, there was the distressful feeling that the evils that had come were in large part unmerited, and that the hate of enemies was as unjust as it was unprovoked. When we find a man in such a case, we cannot but sympathize with him. He may be too magnanimous to crave our pity, but all the more our heart goes out to him in compassion, and our prayers are joined with his for deliverance (Job 6:14; Job 19:21; 1 Peter 3:8). It is one of the advantages of suffering that, while it may be a salutary discipline to the sufferer, it becomes a means of calling forth brotherly kindness and manly help from beholders.

II. AS A SINNER TO BE CONDEMNED. There are some who resent any condemnation of the psalmist. They say he was inspired, that he was one of the "holy men who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." This is true, but all the same, he speaks of himself as a sinner, and we are more likely to deal truly with him by taking him on his own judgment than by setting him up as if he were perfect, and as if his confessions of sin and folly were made in some non-natural sense. Besides, there are evident proofs here of the working of sin, of the flesh lusting against the spirit, of the struggle which all good men have to make against the rise of unholy passions in time of temptation. If we are to take the language (in vers. 22-28) just as we find it, and if we are to understand it as used by a man of undoubted but of imperfect piety, we cannot but regard it as highly culpable. There is more here than just indignation. The life of the psalmist had been made bitter by the rancour and hate of his enemies, and he seems to give way to wrath, and to hurl back upon his foes the curses which they had so cruelly heaped upon himself. But be this as it may, it is plain that we should guard against indulgence in such language. It is not for us to judge others; it is not for us to return evil for evil. Christ has taught us that they greatly erred who said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour, but hate thine enemy" (Matthew 5:43 45). Rather we are to love our enemies. And what our Lord taught us by word he illustrated in his life. Even of those whose hands were red with his blood, he said, "Father, forgive them;" and his return for all the hate and malice and cruelty of the wicked Jews was to send them first of all the gospel of peace (Luke 23:24; Luke 24:47). If we indulge in resentment, we not only hurt ourselves, but we wrong our brother, for, however badly a man may use us, he is still our brother, and we should not put a greater barrier between him and us by wrath, but rather try to bring him to a better mind by love and mercy (Romans 12:19-21).

III. AS A SAINT TO BE IMITATED. The very fact that we cannot and dare not follow the psalmist in all that we find here, is evidence of his imperfection. We are bound to use our reason - to examine things by the standard of God's Law and the Spirit of Christ. We should only imitate what is good, and what commends itself to our consciences and hearts as good (1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1, 2). But if we consider, we shall find much here to admire, and therefore to imitate. It would be well for us, like the psalmist, to call upon God in the day of trouble. We may be in straits, but he can help. We may be repulsed on all sides, and lonely, but he will not cast us off. We should also learn from the psalmist not to plead our own merits, but to cast ourselves on God's mercy. God knows what is best. Above all, we should do what the psalmist could only do imperfectly, in the dim light of the days before the gospel - we should look to Christ, and learn of him how to behave ourselves in times of suffering. - W.F.

The psalm is a prayer and complaint of one suffering severely from men for the sake of God.

I. GREAT SUFFERING. (Vers. 1-4.)

1. Exposing him to great danger. (Vers. 1, 2.) He is in peril of his life. "The floods overwhelm him."

2. Entailing great bodily exhaustion. (Ver. 3.) Weary of crying, parched throat, failing eyes.

3. Arising from the unjust hatred of his enemies, who are numerous and strong. (Ver. 4.) They that hate him without a just cause and wrongfully, are numberless and mighty.


1. Awakens a sense of personal unworthiness. (Ver. 5.) All suffering tends to this.

2. The sin of his enemies was sin against God. (Vers. 7-9.)

3. Intimate relatives and friends as well as strangers join in the persecution of his enemies. (Vers. 8-12.)


1. Others who trust in God will be put to shame if he is left to perish. Go back to ver. 6 for this. Faith in God is at stake.

2. His great misery is his argument for salvation. (Vers. 14, 15-17.) We may well use this plea.

3. The greatness of the Divine loving kindness and mercy. (Vers. 13-16.) This is the argument which is fullest of hope to those who have known God in all ages, but especially to those who have known God in Christ. - S.

Psalm 69:29-36
Psalm 69:29-36. The psalm closes with

Joyful hopes and vows of thanksgiving for salvation. These consequences flow from his confidence in God's salvation.


1. The thanksgiving of a grateful heart will show itself in song and service. (Ver. 30.)

2. Spiritual service is more acceptable to God than ceremonial. (Ver. 31.)


1. The humble, the afflicted, will see in it the pledge of their own deliverance. (Ver. 32.) God will make a difference between all the righteous and the wicked.

2. The experience of the righteous warrants the utmost trust in God. (Ver. 33.) "For the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners." That is a truth of experience as well as of faith and hope.

III. ZION AND THE CITIES OF JUDAH SHALL BE REBUILT. The revelations of God to his own experience gave him the hope of a wide and general deliverance; and in the distinction made by God between him and his enemies, security for the victory of the whole Church of God. He calls upon the heavens, the earth, and seas to praise God on this account (vers. 34-36). - S.

I. GRANDEST THEME. "Name of God." Take Exodus 3:14, where God is called the "I am;" or the next verse, where as "the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," he says, "This is my Name forever." Or take Exodus 34:6, or some of the great titles given to God: Jehovah-jireh (Genesis 22:14); Jehovah-tsidkenu (Jeremiah 33:16); Jehovah-shalom (Judges 6:24); Jehovah-nissi (Exodus 17:15). What a glorious subject, with endless variety of charm!

II. NOBLEST INSPIRATION. "Thanksgiving." This implies in the singer a right relation and a right spirit. We can only praise God aright as we know him as God, and as our hearts glow with love to him as our God and our Redeemer.

III. TRUEST POPULARITY. It is not what pleases the people that stands highest, but what pleases God. He looks to the heart. He distinguishes between the form and the spirit. The sacrifice which is acceptable to him is that which is offered in faith and love. The two mites of the humble widow far transcend the splendid gifts of the proud Pharisees.

IV. THE MOST POWERFUL ARGUMENT. (Ver. 33.) "For." Reference is made to God's love of the poor; God's rescue of the oppressed, his "prisoners," from Joseph in Egypt, down to John at Patmos; God's promotion of righteousness and mercy and peace.

V. THE MOST DELIGHTFUL CONCLUSION. (Vers. 34-36.) True in part of Judah and Zion, but finding its highest fulfilment in him who is the true King of men, and whose rule alone can unite Jew and Gentile, and bring joy to heaven and earth. - W.F.

I. THE GREATEST THING IN MAN. The "heart." It is the heart that marks character (Proverbs 23:7); that settles worth (1 Samuel 16:7); that determines destiny (Romans 10:9, 10; Proverbs 4:23). Even among men, the man who has "no heart," whatever else he may have, is despised; whereas he who has a kind heart, though he may have many failings, is beloved (cf. Nabal and David).

II. THE GREATEST WORK FOR MAN. "Seek God." This implies that, though man is separated from God through sin, there is a possibility of return. God has drawn near to us, and we may draw near to God. Christ is the true Mercy seat. In him God and man meet and are reconciled. The chief object of life is to seek God (Psalm 27:8; Isaiah 55:6). In his works and in his Word, in the Person of his Son and in doing his will by the Spirit, he is evermore to be found of those who truly seek him (Isaiah 45:19; Amos 5:8).

III. THE GREATEST BLESSEDNESS FOR MAN. "Live." Life is the greatest boon - but only when it is the life of the heart.

"We live by admiration, faith, and hope,
And ever as these are well and wisely fixed,
In dignity of being we ascend."
It is in Christ that we find our true life and our highest blessedness (cf. Demas and Paul, 2 Timothy 4:10; 2 Corinthians 6:11; 1 John 3:1). - W.F.

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