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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Psalms 69

Verses 1-36


The personal sufferings of Christ when entering into the distress of the godly in Israel, brought upon them by reason of the sins of the nation, and for which, in the government of God, they are smitten.

The experiences described in the psalm, though applicable to others, are only fully entered into by Christ. Seeing that the experiences can be known in measure by others, it becomes plain why the sufferings stop short of atonement, with the consequent forsaking of God which Christ alone can endure, as set forth in Psalm 22 .

Moreover, the sufferings depicted, while known in part during the lifetime of the Lord, yet culminate upon the cross, for there alone could the Lord be said to be smitten of God. But while the smiting of God, as the portion of Israel, is entered into, yet the suffering from the enmity of the guilty Jewish nation is prominent. Such wickedness merits judgment; hence in the psalm there is the call for judgment, rather than looking for the grace that brings blessing to man.

Nevertheless the judgment of the guilty nation prepares the way for the restoration of Israel with which the psalm closes.

(vv. 1-3) The opening verses present the Lord's personal sufferings on the cross. Later in the psalm we hear of the enmity of man that was endured in the path that led to the cross. Here the extreme suffering is first brought before us - that which the Lord endured in His own soul. All that which the godly in Israel felt in measure, He felt fully, as only a perfect Man could. The nation had “no standing” before God; into this position the Lord entered in spirit on the cross. Yet in this position the remnant were waiting for God; and this confidence was perfectly expressed by Christ, who, in the midst of His distress, can say, “I wait for my God.”

(v. 4) The hatred of the Jewish nation towards the godly remnant was perfectly felt by the Lord on the cross. His infinite perfection enabled Him to say in an absolute way that they hated Him “without a cause,” and those who sought to destroy Him were wrongfully His enemies. Moreover, His enemies were many and were strong. With Him He had to meet, not simply the enmity of an individual, but, at the Cross the hatred of a nation, led by its powerful leaders. Of Him the proverbial expression was true, “I restored that which I took not away.” As one has said this “is equivalent to saying, 'I am treated as guilty, though I was innocent'” (cp. Jer_15:10 ).

(v. 5) From the raging of the nations that surround the cross the holy Sufferer turns to God. Israel was suffering under the government of God for sins. Into this suffering the Lord enters. He can appeal to God as knowing the real occasion of His sufferings - the sins of the nation - which He confesses as if they were His own. Here, however, it is the confession of sins, not the judgment of sins that makes atonement as in Psalm 22 .

(v. 6) He waits upon God (v. 3); but there are others who wait on the Lord of hosts. For such He looks to God that they may not be put to shame and confusion, through the sufferings of the One to whom they looked for redemption (cp. Luk_24:19-24 ).

(vv. 7-12) Now we are permitted to see the sufferings of the Lord in the path that led to the cross. Because of His faithfulness to God He suffered reproach and shame from a world that loved darkness rather than light.

Moreover, in His own country, and in His own house, He was treated as a stranger and an alien ( Mat_13:54-58 ).

Furthermore, the zeal of God's house, that led Him on two occasions to cleanse that house, brought Him into reproach with men whose hatred of God was vented upon Christ ( Joh_2:13-17 ; Luk_19:45-48 ).

If He wept and fasted in soul as He foresaw the misery their sins would bring upon the nation, it was turned to His reproach. Outside their city He wept over the very sinners who, inside the city, were plotting to take His life ( Luk_19:41-48 ). If the sins of the nation made Him the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, the very sorrows, symbolized by the sackcloth, became the occasion of men using Him as a proverb to warn others from following in His steps. His public protest against ungodliness drew out the hatred of the leaders - those who sat in the gate; and made Him the subject of ridicule by the abandoned, for He was the song of the drunkard.

(vv. 13-19) The Lord has recounted His sufferings from man. We are now permitted to see that they become the occasion for manifesting the perfection of His confidence in God. There was nothing in Him, as with us, to betray Him into an expression of resentment, or exasperation. The wickedness of men only turns Him to God. “As for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord.” He turns to God with all the consciousness that He is heard, for He turns to God in an acceptable time. When suffering for sin from the hands of God, we know from Psalm 22 , that He cried and was not heard. Here, where the sufferings from the hands of men are in view, His cry is accepted. His confidence in the unbounded mercy, and in the truth of God's saving power, is undimmed by all that He is passing through. He looks to God for deliverance from His distress, from those that hate Him, and from death.

He speaks as One who knows by experience the loving-kindness of the Lord, and the greatness of His tender mercies, and as One who needs these mercies as the servant of Jehovah surrounded by enemies. His consolation is that all is known to God. The One with the loving-kindness and the mercies, is the One who knows His reproach, His shame, His dishonour; His very adversaries are all before God.

(vv. 20-21) Thus he looks to God alone in the day when the reproaches of men had broken His heart. To look elsewhere for comfort were useless, for in this world there were none to take pity. He looked, indeed, for some to take pity, for some to comfort, but He found none. So far from pity and comfort, they only answered His cry with gall and vinegar.

(vv. 22-28) The rejection of the grace of the Savior, and the causeless hatred that nailed Him to the cross, leaves man exposed to judgment, for they have rejected the only One who could shelter from judgment. Thus there follows the call for retributive judgment to fall upon those who had shown themselves to be the causeless enemies of Christ. It is a judgment that overtakes men in this world, though by implication it may indeed lead to eternal judgment. Of this judgment the Lord warned the city of Jerusalem, instructed His disciples, and admonished the daughters of Jerusalem ( Luk_19:42-44 ; Luk_21:20-24 ; Luk_23:28-31 ).

The world's earthly prosperity will become its snare; and with the failure of all that men trusted in, the world will be plunged into darkness of mind. Not knowing how to act there will come upon the earth “distress of nations, with perplexity.” Their loins will continually shake, “Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” God's indignation will be poured out upon them, and their habitation will be destroyed. Their house will be left desolate, their city trodden down of the Gentiles.

The judgment that overtakes men is because of the unpitying cruelty which delighted in persecuting One whom God had smitten. In this suffering others have their share. The very grief of those who are wounded in spirit by the sin of the nation becomes the occasion to draw out the persecution of that nation. The rejection of the grace of Christ is the crowning sin that is added to their iniquities. Such can have no part in the righteousness of God that brings salvation, no part in the book of life, nor in the portion of the righteous.

(vv. 29-31) If, however, the sufferings of Christ at the hands of men lead to judgment of the nation, they will also have a glorious answer in the exaltation of Christ. Therefore, though “poor and sorrowful,” the Lord can say, “Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.” With His exaltation there will be praise to God, in which Christ will take the lead, and which will replace the sacrifices of old.

(vv. 32-36) If the Lord leads the praise, the lowly followers of Christ that seek God, will be glad as they see the answer to the cry of the needy, and learn that, though men may persecute, yet the Lord will not despise His captive people.

Further the praise that commences with the exalted Messiah will be taken up by heaven and earth, the seas and everything that moves therein. Zion will be saved, the cities of Judah re-established and re-inhabited, and the children of the servants of Jehovah will inherit the land. They that love His Name shall dwell therein.

Thus we learn that while the suffering of Christ from the guilty nation brings judgment upon the nation, it also leads to the exaltation of Christ. Furthermore the execution of judgment upon the nation prepares the way for the blessing of the godly remnant and the restoration of Israel.

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 69". "Smith's Writings". 1832.