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A Sigh And A Song

By Elie Nessim, October 3 1998 Printer Friendly Version

To the chief Musician; set to the 'Lilies'.  A Psalm of David. Save me O GOD, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing. I have come into deep waters where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry. My eyes fail while I wait for my GOD. Those 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. Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it. O GOD, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You. Let not those who wait for You, O LORD GOD of Hosts, be ashamed because of me. Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O GOD of Israel. Because for Your sake, I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother's children; because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that became my reproach.  I also made sackcloth my garment, I became a byword to them. Those who sit in the gate speak against me, and I am the song of the drunkards.'
This Psalm 69 is a Messianic Psalm. In these first twelve verses we really hear the voice of the Messiah!  The title itself is only found in two other Psalms; Psalm 45 and Psalm 80.  The 45th Psalm, the 80th Psalm, and the 69th, they all have the title in common, they are all Messianic; and they have a direct reference to the Messiah.

In Psalm 45, He is described as the 'bridegroom', the 'heavenly bridegroom', the 'King', the 'royal bridegroom'.  In Psalm 80, He is the 'Man of GOD's right hand', the 'Son of Man Whom GOD has made strong for Himself'.  Here, He is the 'righteous sufferer.' Same tone in this Psalm is found in Psalm 16 - the Resurrection Psalm; Psalm 22: 'They pierced my hands and my feet'; and Psalm 40; Psalm 109: there are common themes in those Psalms, as well as in this one.  We find the language is the same.

In verses 1 to 3, there is a prayer for help; and then from verse 4 through 12, he gives the reason why he needs help.  From verse 13 through 21, he prays for deliverance; and then from verse 22 to 28, there are curses pronounced against his adversaries.  From verse 29 to verse 36, he gives praises for his deliverance; so there is a happy conclusion to his suffering.

This is a picture of the Messiah.  For example, in verse 4: 'Those who hate me without a cause, are more than the hairs of my head.' Or at the end of verse 4: 'Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it.'  Or as the King James Bible puts it: 'I restored that which I did not take away.'  Verse 9 is another Messianic verse: 'Zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You, have fallen on me.'  We get another in verse 20: 'Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness.' Verse 21: 'They also give me gall for my food and for my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.' That is exactly what Messiah experienced.  In verse 25; the curse on the betrayer: 'Let their dwelling place be desolate; let no one live in their tents.'    

So we can see from these verses, that indeed the focus is on the Messiah.  It's similar in tone to other Messianic texts where the description of Messiah's suffering is given to us.  Literally - it was not fulfilled in David.  Although David wrote it; it was not fulfilled in him.  It was fulfilled in his great descendant, the Son of David; the Messiah. Where it applies to David, is where David's experience approximates to the experience of the Messiah.  It can apply to us in that sense too, where we also suffer for righteousness' sake.  Some of the language here, comes into focus for us as well, as far as we're concerned. 

We can say that this is the voice of the Messiah because when Peter wrote, in his 1st Letter, he said: 'The Spirit of the Messiah, Who was in the prophets, testified beforehand of the sufferings of the Messiah, and the glory that should follow;' so that many times we hear the voice of the Messiah.  For example, in Psalm 22: 'Dogs have encompassed me about; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.'  David did not know crucifixion.  Crucifixion was a fate that was a cruel form of punishment that was invented hundreds of years after David.  It was prophetic about the Messiah.

So we find that here, this is the voice of the Messiah, and we are going to approach this Psalm in this way.  There is a problem.  Verse 5: 'O GOD, You know my foolishness, and my sins are not hidden from You.' Would Messiah say a thing like that?  The Holy, the Righteous, the Pure, the Sinless One.  Why would He say a thing like that?  Some interpreters have concluded, 'Well maybe that's David speaking, interrupting the voice of the Messiah.'

Well let's take the route of consistency and say, 'It's still the Messiah speaking, from one end to the other.'  So the problem is, why does He speak about 'my foolishness' and 'my sins'? and the answer is because of the whole teaching of the Tanakh of substitution.  Messiah here is speaking as our substitute!  We read: 'All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.' He is speaking as our substitute where He has taken upon Himself all our iniquities; all our sins; and He calls them His own!

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