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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 69

Verse 1

Psalms 69:0.

David complaineth of his affliction: he prayeth for deliverance: he devoteth his enemies to destruction: he praiseth God with thanksgiving.

To the chief musician upon Shoshannim: A Psalm of David.

Title. לדוד שׁושׁנים על למנצח lamnatseach al shoshanniim ledavid.] As a great part of this psalm is most applicable to David's distress at that time, it is most likely that he composed it when under the persecution of Saul: and Bishop Patrick supposes that he revised it again upon those straits to which he was reduced by Absalom, and at which time he supposes him to have added the 35th verse, where he mentions Zion; for that was not in the possession of the Israelites during the reign of Saul. Every one must perceive, that there are many passages in this psalm which, if they are applicable to David at all, refer in a much higher sense to the passion of our Blessed Saviour. Theodoret observes, that it is prophetical, and foretold the sufferings of our Saviour, and the final destruction of the Jews on that account, The title of the Syriac version is to the same purpose. Dr. Patten, in his Vindication of David, observes very judiciously, that the Book of Psalms was dictated by the Spirit of God, and some of them prophetical of the kingdom and person of Christ; many parts of them being spoken by David, not only with reference to his circumstances at that time, but likewise as Christ's representative. This psalm, which seems to breathe the most vehement resentment, and, in our translation, appears like an execratory prayer upon David's enemies, is to be understood in this sense, and is cleared of that imputation by the authority of St. Peter and St. Paul, Acts 16:20.; Rom 11:9 the former of whom cites these passages as prophetical of the traitor Judas. This psalm is by St. Paul interpreted as foretelling the state, not only of Judas, but of all those his obstinate countrymen who rejected the salvation offered by Jesus Christ. In the same passage Isaiah is cited as foretelling their spiritual blindness. David, therefore, and Isaiah mean the same thing, a prediction of what the Spirit of God foreshewed them, though their forms of expression be different. The two apostles cite their respective passages as prophecies, but in the imperative form; a testimony which I presume sufficiently frees that form, wherever David in similar cases makes use of it, from all imputation of rancorous resentment. And this apostolical interpretation of the scope of this psalm, which seems to be execratory, is indisputably the true key to open the design and meaning of all others of the like tendency. David in all of them, however his forms of expression may vary, pronounces only the decrees of God against the enemies of Jesus Christ, whose person the Psalmist here assumes, as in many other Psalms.

Psalms 69:1. For the waters are come in unto my soul The figurative expressions in this and the following verse denote very great difficulties and distresses. See on Psalms 42:7.

Verse 4

Psalms 69:4. I restored that which I took not away What I have not taken away, I restore upon the spot. i.e. "I have been so far from provoking their malice, that I have been content, rather than quarrel with them, to part with my own right, and to make them satisfaction for wrongs which I never did them." The Liturgy version, which is followed by many, begins the fifth verse with this clause: to which the next is supposed to refer: O God thou knowest my simpleness, &c. as much as to say, "Thou knowest the simplicity of my heart, and that though I have been guilty of offences towards thee, yet have I never injured those who thus cruelly hate and persecute me."

Verse 7

Psalms 69:7. For thy sake i.e. "Merely because I adhere to thee, and will use no unlawful means to right myself." See 1 Samuel 24:10; 1 Samuel 24:22.

Verse 9

Psalms 69:9. For the zeal of thine house That is, "My concern for thy holy worship has drawn a confederacy of irreligious men upon me, who are now just upon the point of compassing my ruin." But this verse had a more eminent completion in our Redeemer. See Joh 2:17 and Romans 15:3.

Verse 10

Psalms 69:10. When I wept, &c.— When I bemoaned my soul with fasting. Psalms 69:12. They that sit in the gate] i.e. As it is generally interpreted, the judges or chief persons of the state; for the gates of cities were the places of judicature, as we have had occasion frequently to remark. But St. Hilary interprets this of those who sat to beg at the gates of the city; which seems a more probable interpretation, better to agree with the design of the Psalmist, and to suit with the drunkards mentioned in the next clause.

Verse 13

Psalms 69:13. But as for me, my prayer, &c.— But as for me, let my prayer come unto the, O Lord, in a favourable moment. Mudge. In the truth of thy salvation means, "according to the faithfulness wherewith thou hast promised to deliver those who depend upon thee."

Verse 16

Psalms 69:16. Thy loving-kindness is good Gracious or bountiful. The Hebrew word חסדךֶ chasdeka, in this, as in many other places, signifies abundance of goodness or mercifulness.

Verse 19

Psalms 69:19. Mine adversaries are all before thee i.e. "None of them, nor of their secret plots and subtle lies, whereby they seek to defame and undo me, are hidden from thy all-seeing view."

Verse 20

Psalms 69:20. Reproach hath broken my heart Dr. Delaney observes, that there were two circumstances of distress which attended upon David's fall, not sufficiently considered, though they are beyond all question the greatest and the severest which human nature can suffer: the first is, the distress that he endured on account of the obloquy and reproach brought upon the true religion, and the truly religious, by his guilt: and the second, the reproach and endless insults brought upon himself, even by his repentance and humiliation before God and the world. Both these, says he, are fully set forth in the present psalm, from Psalms 69:3-20. Let any ingenuous man, who feels for virtue, and is not feared to shame, put the question to himself: I appeal to his own heart, whether he would not infinitely rather die than endure the state there described: In one day forsaken by his friends, scorned by his enemies, insulted by his inferiors; the scoff of libertines, and the song of sots! What then must we think of the fortitude and magnanimity of that man who could endure all this for a series of years? Or rather, how shall we adore that unfailing mercy and all-sufficient goodness, which could support him thus, under the quickest sense of shame and infamy, and the deepest compunctions of conscience; which could enable him to bear up steadily against guilt, infamy, and the evil world united, from a principle of true religion! and in the end even rejoice in his sad estate; as he plainly perceived it must tend finally to promote the true interest of virtue, and the glory of God; that is, must finally tend to promote that interest, which was the great governing principle and main purpose of his life! Life of David, book 4: chap. 3.

Verse 21

Psalms 69:21. They gave me also gall, &c.— This was only figurative in respect of David, as it is here expressed, but it was literally true of our Saviour on the cross; and therefore what follows may as truly, and perhaps more properly, be considered as predictions of the punishment which should be inflicted on the persecutors of our Lord, than as imprecations of David against his enemies. See the first note on this psalm. The word ראשׁ rosh, rendered gall, is frequently joined with wormwood. See Deuteronomy 29:18. And from a comparison of this place with John 19:29. Bochart thinks the herb ראשׁ rosh, in this psalm, to be the same as the evangelist calls hyssop; a species of which in Judaea, he proves from Isaac Ben-Omran, an Arabic writer, to be bitter; adding, that it is so bitter as not to be eatable. And Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Nonnus, took the hyssop mentioned by St. John to be poisonous. Theophylact expressly tells us, that hyssop was added as being deleterious, or poisonous; and Nonnus, in his paraphrase, says,

One gave the deadly acid, mix'd with hyssop.
See Bochart, vol. 2: p. 590 and Parkhurst on the word ראשׁ.

Verse 22

Psalms 69:22. Let their table, &c.— Their table shall be for a snare before them, and their peace-offerings for a trap. This and the following verses are to be understood in the future tense, by way of prediction, and not of imprecation. The meaning of the whole verse is this, "The oblations and prayers of those who have dealt thus barbarously. with me, shall be so far from pacifying God, or being accepted by him, that like the offerings to false gods, styled the preparing a table, &c. Isa 65:11 they shall provoke God, and turn to their mischief." See Romans 11:9. The 25th verse had a most eminent completion in the final destruction of the Jewish state and nation.

Verse 26

Psalms 69:26. And they talk to the grief And they add to the pain. See Bishop Hare, and the LXX.

Verse 27

Psalms 69:27. Add iniquity, &c.— Or give, or permit, as the original word may be rendered. This sentence will be best translated according to the old version; Let them, or permit them to fall from one wickedness to another. It is not unusual with God, as a punishment of some great sin or sins, though not to infuse into men any malignity, yet by withdrawing his grace, and leaving them to themselves, to suffer them to commit more sins, and to be so far from being reformed, as daily to grow worse and worse; to be obdurate, and so, finally, never to enter into God's righteousness: i.e. into that way of justification, and obedience, which is required by him, and will be accepted of him; or into his mercy, as the original word frequently signifies, so as to be made partakers of it.

Verse 28

Psalms 69:28. Let them be blotted out of the book This means no more than that they should be cut off, and die before the usual time. We have before observed, that God is sometimes represented as recording and entering in a book the conception, birth, sufferings, actions, and punishments of his people: so here, and in other places, he is represented as keeping a list or roll in which the names of all his people are entered. The allusion seems to have been taken from the custom of generals and commanders of armies, who, upon the desertion or death of a soldier, strike him out of the muster-roll. This is what Ezekiel alludes to, Eze 13:9 where he calls it, The writing of the house of Israel; and to be written or entered in that list, signified the same thing as being acknowledged for one of God's people. Compare Isaiah 4:3. As great immorality and apostacy, such as are the subjects of this psalm, may well be deemed a sort of spiritual desertion, the allusion is applied here with great propriety.

Verse 29

Psalms 69:29. But I am poor and sorrowful But as for me, though I am low and full of pain, thy salvation, O God, shall protect me. See Bishop Hare and Mudge.

Verse 31

Psalms 69:31. This also shall please the Lord, &c.— i.e. This is the most acceptable sacrifice which can be presented to him; and this shall be used by the Christian church, instead of the sacrifices of the law. The horns and hoofs are mentioned as being conspicuous in an ox going to be sacrificed; being probably gilded, and adorned with flowers, as among the Romans and other people.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here, in the suffering son of Jesse, a lively figure of the suffering Son of God, of whom these things are chiefly spoken. He pours out his complaints to God, and they are many and grievous. Troubles, deep as the swelling flood, compassed him, and he was ready to sink under them; exhausted with strong crying and tears, and failing because no help appeared. Hated, persecuted by many and mighty foes, and cruelly as wrongfully: his dearest friends were afraid to own him, lest they should be involved with him in ruin: his zeal for God exasperated his enemies, and brought upon him a load of reproaches and infamy: and when he was engaged in the holy exercises of religion, they ridiculed his humiliations: the great, who sat in the gate, maligned and abused him; and the drunkards, in their midnight revels, made him the subject of their sport and songs. And herein he was,

1. A type of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose soul in the garden, deluged with anguish, seemed as if weighed down with the insupportable load, and the humanity unable to support it: with strong crying and tears he then made supplication to God, and on the cross with bitterness lamented the divine dereliction: though sinless and harmless, he paid the debt of sin that he had never contracted, and satisfied that justice which he had never injured: yet did those sinners, whose guilt he bore, persecute him with ceaseless hatred: fixed on his destruction, they suborned false witnesses against him, to take away his life: he was disowned by every friend; betrayed by one disciple; denied by another; forsaken of all: loaded with the most malignant reproaches by his enemies; his tears over them, and his efforts to save them, despised and rejected; insulted, with the most unrelenting cruelty, by the meanest as well as greatest; by governor, priests, elders, soldiers: his miracles imputed to diabolical agency; and his importunate cries upon the cross mocked and ridiculed.
2. Of believers, whose trials are often severe, and help often long delayed; whose souls are ready to faint; the objects of the world's malice and scorn; forsaken and given up by their once dearest friends and relations; treated as mad, and derided as foolish; opposed by the great, and often literally still the drunkard's song. But through much tribulation we must thus enter into the kingdom of God, through evil report and good report; and, while we carry our griefs to a compassionate Redeemer, must patiently expect the salvation of God.
2nd, While we have a gracious God to fly to, we need not be concerned about the malicious reproaches of the proud.
David, oppressed, has recourse to God for deliverance from his dangers, that his enemies might not prevail, nor his soul sink under his troubles. And he enforces his requests, (1.) By the acceptableness of the time: never could relief come so welcome, as when he is reduced so low. (2.) By the multitude of God's mercies, which now would be especially manifested. (3.) By his truth, his faithfulness being engaged for the answer of humble and fervent prayer. (4.) By the views of his great trouble, which God well knew; the shame, reproach, and dishonour that he endured for his sake, which required speedy help, and the comforts of his countenance, that he might not be discouraged. (5.) By the desolateness of his estate: all other friends have forsaken him, therefore the more needs he God to appear for him. (6.) By the insolence and cruelty with which he was treated, which he knew God would not behold with unconcern.
Such requests, in the days of his flesh, the Son of David made. God knew what sufferings he endured; what trouble and reproach he bore from foes without; what anguish, from the withdrawing of his sensible favour; how exceeding sorrowful, and how heavily his soul was burdened; no friend to pity or relieve; in his enemies' hands, ready to be swallowed up; the pit of the grave opening; death, with all its horrors, the death of the cross, approaching; and even when in his agonizing pangs extended on the tree, there insulted with vinegar mingled with gall, to mock his raging thirst. In his distress he prayed, and pleaded the multitude of his Father's mercies, and his truth engaged for the fulfilment of his promises. He begged to behold the light of his Father's countenance, which was hid from him; to be supported and carried through his work of redemption; that those who hated him, Satan and his servants, might be disappointed, and the grave unable to keep him prisoner: that he might be delivered from all his enemies, redeemed from death and hell, and finally victorious: and God abundantly answered his prayers in the resurrection-day, when all his reproach and sorrow were for ever rolled away, and his glory great as his sufferings had been.
Such also must be our recourse in our distresses, such our pleas, and such then assuredly will be the deliverance that we may expect from all our enemies.
3rdly, We have a prophetical denunciation of God's righteous judgments against the Jews; and we see them this day lying under his curse, and, in the fulfilment of the prophesy, standing evidences for the truth of the Christian religion. We have here,
1. The judgments denounced. (1.) Their comforts should ensnare them; or the sacrifices, part of which belonged to the offerer, to which they so obstinately adhered, in opposition to the true sacrifice of the Redeemer, whom they rejected; these should be made the means of hardening them against him, instead of leading them to him, as we see they were. (2.) They should be given up to judicial blindness, rejecting the clearest declarations of their own prophets. (3.) They should be in continual terrors, or bow down their backs always, as the apostle renders the words, Rom 11:10 which was not only the case when the Romans came and besieged Jerusalem, and made such a dreadful massacre; but to this day, they are aliens in almost all lands: and almost every where have been more or less harassed and plundered, and are still exposed to the same sufferings; not to speak of their horrors, when they shall see him whom they have pierced, coming in the clouds of heaven. (4.) They should feel the severity of his wrath, which they eminently did when their city and country were utterly destroyed and the land ploughed up; so that for a while none dwelt there; and to this day these desolations in a great measure continue, very few Jews being now found in the whole land of Palestine, and these miserably oppressed by the Turkish governors. (5.) They should add sin to sin; having crucified the Master, they would persecute the disciples, and, instead of being convinced by all that they suffered, would continue hardened and inveterate as ever. And, lastly, that their name should be blotted out from the living, as was literally in a great measure, fulfilled, when the Romans slew such vast numbers, that they seemed to threaten an entire excision of the whole Jewish race; and spiritually is accomplished in their exclusion from the blessings of the gospel, till they be again recalled, previous to the establishment of the universal reign of Christ.

2. The cause of these judgments is mentioned: their persecutions of Jesus, whom they esteemed stricken and smitten of God; and whom they with wicked hands crucified and slew; and, insatiate in their rage against his cause, contrived every method to insult God's wounded ones, as the word signifies, those who suffered for their fidelity to Jesus. Note; It is doubly cruel to grieve those already weighed down with sufferings; but diabolical malice sports at misery.

3. The Psalmist, in the person of the Redeemer, commends himself to God. But I am poor; in his humiliation for our sakes he became poor; so poor that he had not a place to lay his head; and sorrowful: from the cradle to the grave, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: sorrows, like unto which were no sorrows. Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high, or, thy salvation shall set me up on high. Either it is a prayer for, or his confident expectation of, the glory which should follow after his sufferings, when by death having overcome every enemy, he should arise, ascend, and reign on his eternal throne. Note; The poor and sorrowful believer may be comforted. If we have been planted with Jesus in the likeness of his sufferings and death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.

4thly, David in the prospect of this salvation of the Redeemer and his faithful people, triumphs, and calls on heaven and earth to join his praises.
1. He declares his own purpose to exalt and magnify God's holy name, and is assured that these grateful songs will please him beyond the most expensive sacrifices. These are all now abolished by the offering of the body of Jesus once for all; but the sacrifice of praise, with which God is well-pleased, will never cease being offered in earth and heaven for redeeming love. So cheap yet so acceptable a sacrifice then who will grudge?
2. The faithful people of God shall rejoice in beholding his salvation, manifest in the resurrection of Jesus. They will be encouraged now to seek God, because since he lives, they shall live also. Though in general poor in this world, and prisoners for Christ, God will not despise their prayer; he will hear their cry, and will help them. Note; As long as we have a heart to pray, we shall always have cause to rejoice.

3. He calls upon all men, and angels, yea, and every creature that moveth through the paths of the water, to praise God with him for his glorious salvation. His Zion shall be protected; his church, and the cities of Judah, the different assemblies of the faithful, be built up. The faithful seed shall inherit a portion in God's holy mountain, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; and they that love his name, his person, his worship, his word, his ways, shall dwell therein, as at present the children of God's family, and shortly to possess the enduring mansions in the skies, where, with Jesus, their exalted head, they shall take up their glorious and eternal abode. Well do such inspiring hopes demand our warmest praise!

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 69". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.