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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 69

Verses 1-36

The Chaldee paraphrase ascribes this psalm to David, and with great care regards it as highly prophetic of the Messiah. St. Paul therefore knew the high authority he had, in quoting it against the Jews. Romans 11:9. We never heard of this psalm being written in Babylon, till we heard of Arianism.

Psalms 69:5 . Oh God, thou knowest my foolishness. Our version errs here by copying the Latin. All the first critics read the text subjunctively. Thou knowest whether the accusation of folly which is brought against me be true. So Beza in his Psalms. Claude likewise: “Tu connois si l’ accusation de folie donc ils me chargent est veritable.”

Psalms 69:8 . I am become a stranger unto my brethren. When David fell under odium, his friends stood aloof; yea, his mother’s children were afraid, and slow to own him. It was the fear of Saul that first drove them to his camp. All this was true of Christ, in a much higher sense.

Psalms 69:12 . They that sit in the gate, the chamber, but oftener the open area of justice, where the elders of the city sat to hear complaints. Among the cannaille, the dregs of the wicked, he was the drunkards’ song. A spirit of wicked joy seized them, when they heard that David was undone.

Psalms 69:21 . They gave me gall vinegar to drink; the usual potion to benumb the pains and tortures of a violent execution. Therefore David in his troubles saw in the Spirit the sufferings of Christ. John 19:28-29. Matthew 27:48.

Psalms 69:22 . Let their table become a snare; yea, a trap to them. The Jews after our Saviour’s time, having rebelled against the Lord, rebelled also against the Romans. Under pretence of a great passover they attracted the young men from Galilee to Jerusalem, and involved them in their rebellion. Literally then did their table become a snare to them.

Psalms 69:25 . Let their habitation be desolate. שׂירה tirah, Let their palaces, their castles, their mansions be desolate. This literally happened to David’s enemies, after the battle on Gilboa, and extensively so after the Romans burned Jerusalem.

Psalms 69:27 . Add iniquity to their iniquity; that is, add one affliction in close succession after another. Among the ancients afflictions and sins were words of similar import, as in Psalms 103:3.

Psalms 69:28 . Let them be blotted out of the book of the living. The Jews were very exact in keeping genealogies of their families: to be blotted out, in the lowest sense, was to be cut off by temporal death. Among the Romans it was a species of outlawry, as in Exodus 32:32. But the Lord in his heavenly temple has a higher record. Let us not trouble our heads here about mysteries that belong to God alone, but pray that our name may be written in his book, and that we may have a copy of it in our own heart.


We here find David in the deep waters of persecution and trouble, and more copious in his grief than in any other psalm. As usual he looks forward, with his wounded soul and weeping eyes, to the Messiah. He became so absorbed in the spirit of faith and afflicted piety, as to describe his Lord’s sorrows more than his own. So the Saviour was pleased to weep in his tears, and grieve in his grief. Hence this psalm is six times cited in the new testament. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. John 2:17. The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. Romans 15:2. Let their table be made a snare and a trap to them. Romans 11:9. Let his habitation be desolate. Acts 1:20. And the offering our Saviour vinegar and gall on the cross. Christ also sunk in the mire of Gethsemane; he was weary and exhausted with offering strong cries and tears to God; he was hated without a cause; he was a stranger to his brethren, for they believed not on him; the zeal of God’s house did eat him up, not only when he purified the temple, but by a life of doing good. In a word, the rulers who sat in the gate, slandered him by the foulest names, and would not scruple to make him their song in wine. How striking and impressive is this portrait of our Saviour’s anguish. How singularly was David led to enlarge on his own sorrows, that he might correctly describe the sufferings of his Lord.

In this psalm we have David’s fervent prayer; and the more to move the divine compassion, he paints the particulars of his grief, from the thirteenth to the twenty second verse, in new shades, and repeats his supplications by appeals, to the gracious character of God. Oh how sublime and fervent are the aspirations of his soul. Prayers so urged become impetuous, the suppliant becomes more meet for salvation, and mercy yields to the entreaties of distress. So the Saviour repeated his prayer in the garden, going forward about a stone-cast, while the disciples slept; so he was left alone, and his own arm brought salvation. So he tasted the gall, he died, he sunk into the pit, but the grave could not so shut her mouth as to retain him.

We have the sentence which David in the spirit of prophecy passed on his enemies. When reading the whole of Augustine’s City of God, I particularly remarked this passage that David’s imprecations on his enemies are not spoken with a view to desire their destruction, but are a species of prophetic denunciations. We nowhere read that the Benjamites fell victims to their table; but we know that Judas received the sop at supper. What is still more remarkable, when the Jews had formed the plot to throw off the Roman yoke, they invited all the able young men to the passover that year, and instigated them to the rebellion, in which most of them perished. And when they would not see the light of our Saviour’s ministry and miracles, God in just retribution blinded their understanding, and hardened their hearts. He poured his indignation upon them, and made their habitations desolate: they wickedly expelled the christians from their city by persecution, and God expelled them with the sword. He added to them iniquity to iniquity, when he brought on that generation the blood of all the righteous, shed from Abel to Christ; and thus, as a nation, he blotted them out from the book of the living. Surely that man must be as blind as the Jews themselves, who does not see that David spake of sorrows and of judgments superior to his own.

We have the psalmist’s confidence and gratitude. He praised the Lord with a song of salvation; and praise of this kind was more acceptable than sacrifice, which was about to be abolished. Yea, he invites heaven and earth to praise the Lord; and the gentile world did praise him on their conversion, and a new song was sung by all the angels in heaven. Revelation 5:9. The Lord will preserve his Zion, and make her an eternal excellency. Thus we see here, as in Psalms 22:0., from sorrow he rises to joy, and launches forth by faith to speak of the Messiah’s kingdom and glory. Thus shall all our tears be turned to joy, and all our sighs to songs of praise.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 69". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.