April 5: Psalm 69


April 5: Psalm 69

A psalm of the Passion

Maundy Thursday

Common Meter 86.86             Morning Song, p. 30
Langloffan, p. 69

Save me, O God, because the floods come in upon my soul;

I sink in mire where none can stand; deep waters o’er me roll.

I with my crying weary am; my throat is parched and dried;

My eyes grow dim while for my God still waiting I abide.

The men that with no cause at all bear hatred unto me

More than the hairs upon my head in number seem to be.

Those wrongfully my enemies who seek my soul to slay

Are very strong; I must restore what I took not away.

O God, my foolishness and sins are surely known to Thee.

Let none that wait on Thee be shamed, Lord God of hosts, through me.

O Thou, the God of Is-ra-el, let none that seek Thy face

Be ever made to suffer shame for my acts of disgrace.

For I have borne reproach for Thee; my face is veiled with shame.

To brothers strange, to mother’s sons an alien I became.

For zeal within me for Thy house has been consuming me,

And all reproaches cast at Thee have fallen now on me.

When I was weeping in my soul, my fasting was my shame;

When I in sackcloth clothed myself their byword I became.

The men who sit within the gate have talked about me long;

And those who gave themselves to drink about me made a song.

But in a time accepted, Lord, to Thee my prayers ascend;

In Thy abounding love and truth, O God, salvation send.

Deliver me from out the mire, and me from sinking keep;

Deliver me from those that hate, and from the waters deep.

Let not the flood me overflow; let me not swallowed be

By gaping deep; let not the pit close up its mouth on me.

Because Thy mercy, Lord, is good, O answer Thou my plea;

In all of Thy compassion great, O turn Thou unto me.

Ne’er from Thy servant hide Thy face; I’m pressed; soon answer me.

Draw near to me; redeem my soul; my foes come; ransom me.

Well known to Thee is my reproach, my shame and my disgrace;

The adversaries of my soul are all before Thy face.

My heart is broken by reproach, and I am sick and weak.

I never find the sympathy and comforters I seek.

They also gave me bitter gall in all the food I ate;

They gave me vinegar to drink the time my thirst was great.

O let their peace become a trap; a snare their table make;

In darkness let their eyesight fail, and cause their loins to shake.

On them Thine indignation pour; in wrath them overtake;

And let their camp be desolate; their tents let all forsake.

For they have persecuted him Whom Thou Thyself didst smite;

They advertise the pain of those on whom Thy wounds did light.

Keep adding their iniquities; sum up their wickedness;

And let them never enter in to share Thy righteousness.

And from the record book of life O let them be erased;

Upon the roll of righteous men let not their names be placed.

But as for me, afflicted, poor, and deep in pain am I;

By Thy salvation, O my God, let me be set on high.

The name of God I with a song most cheerfully will praise;

And I in giving thanks to Him His name will highly raise.

For this will please the Lord far more than will the offering

Of any ox with horns and hoofs, or bullock, which I bring.

The humble ones have seen all this, and are with gladness thrilled.

All ye who seek for God, O let your heart with life be filled.

Because Jehovah hears the prayers that from the needy rise,

His captive people, to Him dear, He never will despise.

Let heav’n and earth give praise, and all with which the sea is filled;

For God will Zion surely save, and Judah’s cities build.

They’ll dwell in their inheritance, their children’s heritage;

His servants, those who love His name, dwell there from age to age.

From the very beginning, the Christian reading of Psalm 69 has uniformly interpreted this prayer in the context of the Lord’s suffering and death. This is the prayer of the Man of sorrows who described His approaching Passion as the baptism with which He must be baptized. He was “hated without cause; weary with crying; a flood overwhelmed him, and his throat was parched (verses 2-4). “Zeal for Your house has consumed me” is a verse explicitly cited in the New Testament with respect to the Lord’s purging of the temple (John 2:17). The very next line says: “The reproaches of those who reproached You have fallen on me,” a verse later cited in Romans as bearing on the sufferings of the Lord. The Christian Church has ever been persuaded that Psalm 69 expresses the sentiments of that soul “exceeding sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38).  In Psalm 69, we are given a vision into the very heart of Christ in the circumstances of His Passion (verses 14-15). This is the Christ who in dereliction sought in vain the human companionship of His closest friends during the vigil prior to His arrest (verse 20). And according to all four Gospels, the dying Christ was offered some sort of bitter beverage, a sour wine or vinegar, as He hung on the Cross. This is the very word used at the end of verse 21 of Psalm 69: “And for my food they laid out gall, and for my drink they gave me vinegar.” But there is another dimension to the Passion of the Lord – the resolve of His victory. This is the Christ whom death could not hold, who descended a very conqueror into hell to loose the bonds of them that sat in darkness, and who “went and preached to the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19). This sense of Christ’s victory also dominate the final lines of Psalm 69 (verses 30-36). The victory of Christ is the foundation of the Church, those described when our psalm says, “and they shall dwell there and hold it by inheritance, and the seed of His servants will possess it.” (Reardon, p. 135-136)