Psalms 69


The psalmist describes his afflicted state, and the wickedness

of his adversaries, 1-21;

he declares the miseries that should come upon his enemies,


enlarges on his afflicted state, and expresses his confidence

in God, 29-34;

prophesies the restoration of the Jews to their own land and

temple, 35, 36.


The title is: "To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, A Psalm of

David." See this title explained on Ps 45:1.

The Psalm is supposed to have been written during the captivity,

and to have been the work of some Levite Divinely inspired. It is

a very fine composition, equal to most in the Psalter. Several

portions of it seem to have a reference to our Lord; to his advent

passion, resurrection, the vocation of the Gentiles, the

establishment of the Christian Church, and the reprobation of the

Jews. The ninth verse is quoted by St. John, Joh 2:17. The

twenty-first verse is quoted by St. Matthew, Mt 27:34, 48; by

St. Mark, Mr 15:23; by St.

John, Joh 19:29; and applied to the sufferings of our Lord, in

the treatment he received from the Jews. St. Paul quotes the

twenty-second as a prophecy of the wickedness of the Jews, and

the punishment they were to receive. He quotes the twenty-third

verse in the same way. See the marginal references. Those portions

which the writers of the New Testament apply to our Lord, we may

apply also; of others we should be careful.

Verse 1. The waters are come in unto my soul.] I am in the

deepest distress. The waters have broken their dikes, and are just

ready to sweep me away! Save me, Lord! In such circumstances I can

have no other help.

In the first, second, third, fourteenth, and fifteenth verses,

the psalmist, speaking in the person of the captives in Babylon,

compares their captivity to an abyss of waters, breaking all

bounds, and ready to swallow them up; to a deep mire, in which

there was no solid bottom, and no standing; and to a pit, in which

they were about to be inclosed for ever. This is strongly

figurative, and very expressive.

Verse 3. I am weary of my crying] A pathetic description of the

state of the poor captives for about seventy years.

Verse 4. Then I restored that which I took not away.] I think,

with Calmet, that this is a sort of proverbial expression, like

such as these, "Those who suffered the wrong, pay the costs."

Delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi. "Kings sin, and the people are

punished." "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's

teeth are set on edge." Our fathers have grievously sinned against

the Lord, and we their posterity suffer for it. See on Ps 69:12.

Some have applied it to our Lord. I restored, by my suffering and

death, that image of God and the Divine favour, which I took not

away. That is, In my human nature I expiated the crime that human

beings had committed against God. But such applications are very


Verse 5. Thou knowest my foolishness] Though we have been

brought into captivity in consequence of the crimes of our

fathers, yet we have guilt enough of our own to merit a

continuation of our miseries. How can such words as are in this

verse be attributed to our blessed Lord, however they may be

twisted or turned?

Verse 6. Be ashamed for my sake] The sins of the Jews were a

great stumbling-block in the way of the conversion of the

Gentiles. They had been the peculiar people of the Lord. "How,"

say the Gentiles, "can a pure and holy Being love such people?"

They were now punished for their crimes. "How," say the Gentiles,

"can God deal so hardly with those whom he professes to love?" The

pious among the captives felt keenly, because this reproach seemed

to fall upon their gracious and merciful God.

Verse 7. For thy sake I have borne reproach] The Gentiles have

said, "Why such an obstinate attachment to the worship of a Being

who treats you so rigorously, and who interests not himself in

your comfort and deliverance?" And in these cuttting reproaches

some of the ungodly Jews took a part: "I am an alien to my

mother's children."

Verse 9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up] The strong

desire to promote thy glory has absorbed all others. All the

desires of my body and soul are wrapped up in this. This verse is

very properly applied to our Lord, Joh 2:17, who

went about doing good; and gave up his life, not only for the

redemption of man, but to "magnify the law, and make it


Verse 12. They that sit in the gate] At the gates were the

courts for public justice; there were complaints lodged, and

causes heard. No doubt many vexatious complaints were made against

the poor captives; and false accusations, through which they

grievously suffered; so that, literally, they were often "obliged

to restore that which they had not taken away." See Ps 69:4.

The song of the drunkards.] These poor miserable people were

exposed to all sorts of indignities. Though the conduct is base,

the exultation over a fallen enemy is frequent. How miserable was

this lot! Forsaken by friends, scorned by enemies, insulted by

inferiors; the scoff of libertines, and the song of drunkards;

besides hard travail of body, miserably lodged and fed; with the

burning crown of all, a deep load of guilt upon the conscience. To

such a life any death was preferable.

Verse 13. My prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time]

This seems to refer to the end of the captivity, which Jeremiah

had said should last seventy years, Jer 25:11, 12: "The whole

land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations

shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come

to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish

the king of Babylon," &c. The conclusion of this period was the

accepted time of which the psalmist speaks. Now, they

incessantly pray for the fulfilment of the promise made by

Jeremiah: and to hear them, would be the truth of God's salvation;

it would show the promise to be true, because the salvation-the

deliverance, was granted.

Verse 16. Thy loving-kindness is good] The word chesed

signifies exuberance of kindness; and the word rachamim,

which we translate tender mercies, signifies such affection as

mothers bear to their young: and in God, there is rob, a

multitude, of such tender mercies towards the children of men!

Verse 18. Deliver me because of mine enemies.] Probably they now

began to think that the redemption of these captives was not an

impossible thing; that it was not far off; and therefore they had

great rage, because they found their time was but short.

Verse 19. Thou hast known my reproach] This is one of the most

forcible appeals to mercy and compassion that was ever made. The

language of these two verses is inimitable; and the sentiment

cannot be mended. I can devise no comment that would not lessen

their effect.

Verse 21. They gave me also gall for my meat] Even the food,

necessary to preserve us in their slavery, was frequently mingled

with what rendered it unpleasant and disgusting, though not

absolutely unwholesome. And vinegar, sour small wines, was given

us for our beverage. This is applied to our Lord, Mt 27:34, where

the reader is requested to consult the notes.

Verse 22. Let their table become a snare] The execrations here

and in the following verses should be read in the future tense,

because they are predictive; and not in the imperative mood, as if

they were the offspring of the psalmist's resentment: "Their table

SHALL become a snare;-their eyes SHALL be darkened; -thou WILT

pour out thine indignation upon them;-thy wrathful anger SHALL

take hold of them;-their habitation SHALL be desolate,-and none

SHALL dwell in their tents."

The psalmist prophesies that the evils which they had inflicted

on the Israelites should be visited on themselves; that as they

had made them eat, drink, labour, and suffer, so God should in his

judgment treat them.

Verse 27. Add iniquity unto their iniquity]

tenah avon al avonam; give iniquity, that is, the reward of it,

upon or for their iniquity. Or, as the original signifies

perverseness, treat their perverseness with perverseness: act,

in thy judgments, as crookedly towards them as they dealt

crookedly towards thee. They shall get, in the way of

punishment, what they have dealt out in the way of oppression.

Verse 28. Let them be blotted out] They shall be blotted out

from the land of the living. They shall be cut off from life,

which they have forfeited by their cruelty and oppression. The

psalmist is speaking of retributive justice; and in this sense all

these passages are to be understood.

And not be written with the righteous.] They shall have no title

to that long life which God has promised to his followers.

Verse 29. I am poor and sorrowful] Literally, I an laid low, and

full of pain or grief. Hence the prayer, "Let thy salvation, O God

set me on high!" My oppression has laid me low; thy salvation

shall make me high!

Verse 31. An ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.] Oxen

offered in sacrifice had their horns and hoofs gilded; and the

psalmist might mention these parts of the victim more

particularly, because they were more conspicuous. Others think

that full-grown animals are intended, those that had perfect

horns, in opposition to calves or steers. I think the first

the preferable sense; for the horns, &c., of consecrated animals

are thus ornamented in the east to the present day.

Verse 32. The humble shall see this, and be glad] Those who are

low, pressed down by misfortune or cruelty, shall see this and

take courage; expecting that thou wilt lift them up also; and thus

the heart of those who seek the Lord shall be revived.

Verse 33. For the Lord heareth the poor] ebyonim, of the

beggars. He perhaps refers here to the case of the captives, many

of whom were reduced to the most abject state, so as to be obliged

to beg bread from their heathen oppressors.

His prisoners.] The captives, shut up by his judgments in

Chaldea, without any civil liberty, like culprits in a prison.

Verse 34. Let the heaven and earth praise him] The psalmist has

the fullest confidence that God will turn their captivity, and

therefore calls upon all creatures to magnify him for his mercy.

Verse 35. God will save Zion] This fixes the Psalm to the time

of the captivity. There was no Zion belonging to the Jews in the

time of Saul, when those suppose the Psalm to be written who make

David the author; for David after he came to the throne, won the

stronghold of Zion from the Jebusites. 2Sa 5:7; 1Ch 11:5.

Will build the cities of Judah] This refers to the return from

the captivity, when all the destroyed cities should be rebuilt,

and the Jews repossess their forfeited heritages. Some apply this

to the redemption of the human race; and suppose that Zion is the

type of the Christian Church into which the Gentiles were to be

called. What evangelists and apostles apply to our Lord, we safely

may. What others see so clearly in this Psalm relative to Gospel

matters, I cannot discern.


There are three parts in this Psalm:-

I. The psalmist's prayer, and the reasons for it, Ps 69:1-21.

II. Declaration of God's judgments against his enemies,

Ps 69:22-28.

III. His profession of thanks, Ps 69:29-36.

I. His prayer: "Save me, O God!" And then his reasons.

1. His present condition: "The waters are come in unto my soul."

2. "I sink in deep mire."

3. "I am come into deep waters."

4. "I am weary of my crying."

5. "My throat is dried" with calling on thee.

6. "Mine eyes fail while I wait for my God."

When he considered his enemies, he found reason to cry. They


1. Malicious: "They hate me without a cause."

2. Numerous: "More than the hairs of my head."

3. Powerful: "My enemies are mighty," Ps 69:1-4.

1. He declares his innocence with respect to their accusations,

and the oppression he suffered: "I restored that which I took not


2. Begs to be heard, lest he should be confounded before his


3. Shows that he suffers for God's cause.

4. He was zealous for the Divine worship.

5. He was a deep penitent.

On which account he was a subject of reproach:-

1. To the high-those who sat in the gate.

2. To the low and base: "I was the song of the drunkards."

He renews his petition, and presses on God to hear him:-

1. Because of his being ready to sink. Ps 69:13-15.

2. Because of God's goodness, mercy, and truth: "In the

multitude of thy mercies," &c.

3. Because he was God's servant, and would not desert his


4. Because of his enemies, who would have a sinful triumph if he

was not delivered.

And he pleads their ill usage as a reason why God should help


1. They were scorners, and God knew it: "They are all before

thee," Ps 69:19.

2. Reproach had almost broken his heart.

3. His friends had abandoned him, Ps 69:20.

4. His enemies were inhuman: "They gave me gall," &c.,

Ps 69:22.

II. Prophetic declaration of God's judgments against them:-

1. Their "table should be a snare to them," Ps 69:22.

2. They should be given up to judicial blindness, Ps 69:23.

3. They should be enfeebled in their bodies: "Make their loins

shake," Ps 69:23.

4. God's "wrath should be poured out upon them," Ps 69:24.

5. Their country should be wasted, Ps 69:25.

6. They should have the punishment due to their iniquity,

Ps 69:27.

7. They should come to an untimely death: "Let them be blotted

out," Ps 69:28.

III. His profession of thanks. Having spoken of his own

condition, that he was poor and sorrowful, he now breaks out into


1. "I will praise the name of God," Ps 69:30.

2. This will be the most acceptable sacrifice, Ps 69:31.

The effect of his deliverance would be double:-

1. It would "gladden the poor," Ps 69:32, 33.

2. All "creatures would take an interest in it," Ps 69:34. All

shall praise God.

And for this he gives the following reasons:-

1. God's goodness to his Church: "He will save Zion."

2. He will confirm his kingdom among them: "He will build," &c.

3. They shall have peace and security: "That they may dwell

there, and have it in possession," Ps 69:35.

4. All that love his name should have it perpetually, Ps 69:36.

The cruel, the oppressor, the scorner, the irreligious, the

hypocrite, shall have nothing of God's approbation here, and shall

be excluded from his heavenly kingdom for ever.

Copyright information for Clarke