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Psalm 69

Seeking God’s kingdom

Suffering for God’s sake rarely appeals. Yet he uses such suffering to turn evil into good in both our lives and the lives of those around us and to move us toward his new creation, where suffering will be no more.

A David psalm.

Save me, God—
the water’s come up to my neck!
2 I’m sinking into deep slime
with no foothold anywhere to be found!
I’m in deep water
the current sweeping me away.
3 My throat is hoarse
worn out from calling
my eyes strained
from looking for my God.
4 More people hate me for no reason
than I’ve got hairs on my head.
My treacherous enemies
who would destroy me are powerful.
Must I now give back
what I never stole?

5 God, you know
what a fool I’ve been—
none of my sins are hidden from you.
6 Yahveh, God of heaven’s armies
don’t let those who hope in you
be humiliated because of me.
God of Israel
don’t let those who seek you
be disgraced because of me.
7 It’s because of you
I’ve been insulted
and am totally disgraced.
8 I’ve become an outcast
to my own family
a pariah to my own flesh and blood.
9 My passion for your house has consumed me
and the insults of those insulting you
have fallen on me.
10 When I humbled myself, fasting
they scoffed
11 and when I wore sackcloth
they ridiculed.
12 I’ve become the talk of the town
the taunt of the town’s drunks.

13 But me, I keep on praying
that you’d make me flourish, Yahveh.
In keeping with your amazing grace, O God
answer me with your faithful deliverance.
14 Rescue me from this quagmire—
don’t let me go under!
Save me from my enemies
and the deep water I’m in!
15 Don’t let the surging tide sweep me away
and the ocean deep swallow me!
Don’t let the Pit close its gaping mouth on me!
16 Answer me, Yahveh
in your unfailing love.
In the overflow of your tender mercy
turn to me.
17 Don’t hide your face from your servant.
Answer me quickly
because I’m in dire straits!

18 Come to my side and rescue me.
Save me from all my enemies.
19 You know how I’ve been insulted
disgraced and dishonored
and who all my enemies are.
20 Their insults have broken my heart
and left me in despair.
I looked for someone to take pity
but found no one—
someone to comfort me
but got only blank stares.
21 They gave me poison to eat
sour wine to slake my thirst.
22 Let their banquets be their own undoing—
their abundance their downfall.
23 Make their eyes grow too dim to see.
Shake them uncontrollably to their core.
24 Vent your fury on them
till your burning anger overtakes them.
25 Make their camp desolate
their tents deserted.
26 For they harassed the one you struck
and doubled the pain of the one you wounded.
27 Charge them with one crime after another—
don’t let them off the hook!
28 Blot their names
out of the register of the living—
don’t count them
among those who trust in you.[1]

29 But as for me, wounded outcast that I am
raise me up by your saving power, O God.
30 I will praise God in song
and honor him by giving thanks.
31 This will please Yahveh more
than sacrificing an ox or bull
horns and hooves.
32 When the downtrodden see it
they’ll be glad.
You who seek God
take heart.
33 For Yahveh listens to the destitute
he doesn’t despise captives.

34 Praise him, heaven and earth
the seas and everything that moves in them!
35 For God will save Zion
and build up Judah’s cities.
His people will live there
and make the land their own.
36 His servants’ descendants will inherit it
and those who love his name will live there.

Powerful oppressors have alienated David from his community and family, a terrible fate in the Middle East. Now everyone gossips about him and makes him the butt of their jokes. Totally isolated, he’s convinced he’ll die unless God acts swiftly, decisively. Hence, his urgency-bordering-on-panic.

David knows he’s a sinner and has done foolish things, but he’s done nothing to harm his enemies. They insult him simply because he’s passionate about “God’s house”—that is, about pleasing God—and that commitment has cost him everything.[2] Hating God, his enemies attack him instead, which explains their cruel lack of compassion. Interestingly, David accepts that his suffering comes from God’s hand, yet he holds his persecutors responsible for their part in it.

Seeing it as either him or them, David asks God to rescue him and take his enemies down—to exclude them from the faith community’s protection and show no leniency. He believes he’ll do this because God cares for his servants in distress. David anticipates his own joyful praise after being rescued and calls creation to join in celebrating the God who cares for the oppressed. Finally, David imagines the day when everyone in Zion flourishes, just as God always intended.

Lord, it’s often hard to imagine a world where everyone flourishes. Yet that’s what your kingdom will be. Help me to believe that wholeheartedly and seek your reign and way of living passionately. Break every form of oppression. I rejoice to know you care for the needy. Including me. Amen

In your spare moments today, pray this prayer:

Make me flourish, Yahveh. In keeping with your unfailing love
O God, answer me with your faithful deliverance.


[1] These prayers mirror David’s enemies’ evils. But instead of trying to implement the Torah’s eye-for-eye provision himself, he asks God to repay his enemies for their evil. Though we struggle with such verses, Acts 1:16, 20 quotes verse 25 in relation to Judas and Rev. 16:1 echoes verse 24 and Rev. 21:27 echoes verse 28 in relation to those who have no part in the new Jerusalem.

[2] Many assume this was zeal for pure Israelite worship in the Tabernacle, as in Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. Pure worship was likely part of David’s concern, but we can take the words “your house” more broadly. As Marvin E. Tate says, the house of God wasn’t just a building, but rather “extended to the whole household of God”; Psalms 51-100 (Dallas: Word, 1990) 196. Thus, in David’s mind, God’s house may have been pitted against the rebellious “house of Saul.”

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.