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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 69



Verse 1

1. Waters—Great “waters” are a common emblem of extreme distress and danger. Psalms 18:4; Psalms 32:6.

Unto my soul—I am as one upon the point of strangulation by drowning. The waters are rushing into me, even to my heart. See Lamentations 3:54; Jonah 2:4

Verse 2

2. Deep mire—The figure changes to mud, quicksand without bottom. Yet God can save even here. Comp. Psalms 69:15 and Psalms 68:22; Psalms 40:2

Verse 3

3. My throat is dried—Literally, burnt, parched, by grief and weeping.

Eyes fail—Pine away, consume, as Leviticus 26:16, and 1 Samuel 2:33, from excessive weeping.

Verse 4

4. They that hate me—These bear a threefold distinction.

1. They are more than the hairs of mine head. Psalms 39:12.

2. They are mighty,

3. They hate without cause—wrongfully. The whole psalm is highly Messianic, and our Lord directly refers to this latter description of his enemies, John 15:25. Then I restored that, etc.I surrendered that which I had never taken, and which they had no right to demand. I was made legally answerable for acts which I never committed. See Jeremiah 10:15. The language seems to be used proverbially. Bishop Mant versifies it:

“For rapine, which my hands ne’er knew,

Content I paid the atonement due.”

How true of David! How much more true of Christ!

Verse 5

5. Thou knowest my foolishness—Suddenly complaint turns to confession. Suffering connects with remembered sin, which, though now forgiven, still develops its consequences. David never fully recovered from the deadly effects of the great sin of his life. “He does not attempt to assert his innocence before God, but that his enemies are unjust and malicious in their attacks.”Perowne.

Verse 6

6. Ashamed for my sake—Literally, ashamed in me. The form of speech is exactly similar to “offended in me.” Matthew 11:6. The meaning is, Let not them that wait on thee be turned out of the way on account of my sufferings and apparent abandonment. The humility, poverty, and persecutions of Jesus were the occasion of turning many aside. See Matthew 13:21; Matthew 13:57; Matthew 26:31; Matthew 26:33

Verse 7

7. Because for thy sake—The true point of the temptation to weak faith, deprecated Psalms 69:6, is here fully brought out. My sufferings are not for my faults, as between me and my enemies, but for thy sake. Romans 15:3. I suffer because I am innocent, because I love God and hate sin. As applied to Christ how true! Fidelity to all the will of God provoked the hatred and hostility of the world. See on Psalms 69:4; John 7:7; John 15:24

Verse 8

8. A stranger unto my brethren—Historically, no doubt, the statement might measurably be applied to David, but prophetically and more emphatically to Christ. Mark 3:21; John 7:5

Verse 9

9. The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up—Hath consumed or devoured me; absorbed my faculties and my being. This is directly applied to Christ, John 2:17. It may be supposed improbable that David, the king, so popular at home and so renowned abroad, should suffer persecution for his religious zeal; but all history declares that the restraints of pure religion provoke enmity, and have been the chief source of persecution of the Church in all ages, not less in kingly courts than among the baser sort, nor less from one’s own family and kin than from strangers. See Matthew 10:21; Matthew 10:36; John 7:5. David’s family (Psalms 69:8) looked for selfish aggrandizement, he for the glory of God. Joab and Abishai, his nephews, and in power next to himself, had no sympathy with his piety.

The Hebrew particle for, should here take its causal signification, “Because the zeal,” etc. “The house of God must be understood of his worship,” (Hupfeld,) which was chiefly at the tent on Mount Zion, or the tabernacle at Gibeon.

Verse 10-11

10, 11. When I wept… with fasting… sackcloth—Possibly because of the public depravation of morals, and the alienation from spiritual worship; perhaps for his own sin. Psalms 38, 41, 51.

That was to my reproach— They made it the theme of jibes and merriment, as if it were unfitting my station, or insincere and for effect.

I became a proverb—That is, a by-word, a theme of satirical discourse, as Deuteronomy 28:37; 2 Chronicles 7:20; Psalms 44:14; Jeremiah 24:9

Verse 12

12. In the gate—The usual place of courts, trade, and business, and hence of large gatherings of the people.

Speak against me—I am the common theme of talk and criticism, and men freely give utterance to their unfriendly opinions.

Song of the drunkards—Drinkers of שׁכר, (shekar,) strong drink. This is the last and lowest lodgment of a dishonoured name. The drunkard’s song knows nothing below it in the description of the vile.

Verse 13

13. But as for me—The emphatic contrast between his conduct and theirs now appears. In all these particulars how fitly are the character and circumstances of the suffering Saviour set forth!

Psalms 69:14-15 are similar to Psalms 69:1-2, which see.

Verse 15

15. The pit shut her mouth upon me—David had used the figures of deep “waters” and of “mire” without bottom, and now he adds the horror of having the “mouth” of the “pit” into which he had sunk close upon him, thereby shutting out the last ray of hope. The allusion does not appear to be to Numbers 16:32. באר, (beer,) well, pit, may allude to the dangerous asphaltum pits, (Genesis 14:10;) but as in David’s time such pits were rare, and not objects of common dread, we may take the word in its most common signification of well. Stanley says of the numerous vestiges of ancient wells in Palestine, that “they have a broad margin of masonry round the month, and often a stone filling up the orifice.” This covering the well’s mouth when a human person was within was a figure of burying alive, which the psalmist deprecated. See 2 Samuel 17:18-19

Verse 16

16. Good—To be understood in the sense of perfect adaptation to satisfy the soul’s want, and all wants of the creature. Psalms 63:3

Verse 19

19. Thou hast known—He returns to a review of his miserable state, and of the conduct of his enemies, and comforts himself in the thought that all is “known” to God, and this appeal to the omniscience of God implies that he will, in his own time, arise to judgment. Only to the righteous is the perfect knowledge of God a consolation.

Verse 20

20. To take pity—To bemoan me, or lament with me. The passage is elliptical, but the idea is clearly that he expected sympathysome one to sorrow with himand found none. For this sense of the word see Job 2:11; Job 42:11; also Jeremiah 48:17, where it is rendered mourn and bemoan. David was cut off from the sympathy of kindness; but more emphatically so was Messiah in his sufferings, who is here typified. See John 16:32; Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 63:5

Verse 21

21. They gave me… gall for… meat— “Gall,” here, properly denotes active poison of any kind, whether in food or drink. See Jeremiah 8:14; Amos 6:12. Sometimes the word signifies a poisonous herb, as Deuteronomy 29:18; Hosea 10:4. Comp. 2 Kings 4:38-41.

They gave me vinegar to drink—A direct foreshadowing of the sufferings of Christ, quoted Matthew 27:34; Matthew 27:48; John 19:29. When they came to the place of crucifixion “they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall.” Mark says, “wine, (that is, soured wine, vinegar,) mingled with myrrh,” or bitter drug, answering to “gall,” Matthew 27:34. This was to stupify him, and so render him less sensible to pain; but he declined it. Later they offered him vinegar as a stimulant, of which it does not appear that he drank further than tasting, as it was put to his lips.

Verse 22

22. From this to Psalms 69:28 the strain turns to solemn imprecation. On the grammatical and moral sense of these so-called imprecations see notes on Psalms 109.

Let their table become a snare—Eating together is, in the East, proverbially both a token and a pledge of friendship. No Oriental betrays his own guest.

That which should have been for their welfare… a trap—Literally, and the things of peace for a trap. The idea in both members of the verse is, that they would be brought to such a condition of alarm, danger, and distrust, that the occasions and things which seemingly proffered the greatest safety and friendship would turn out to be only snares and traps. To this condition they had already reduced David; but, more than this, the passage prophetically applies to Christ, and the perfidy of Pharisees and false friends.

Verse 23

23. Let their eyes be darkened—The Hebrew verb is simply in Kal, future, as in the preceding verse, and should be rendered, Their eyes shall be darkened; the darkness being that of the mind, and the fruit of perversity. Men become blinded by evil desire, passion, and prejudice, and in this state rush madly on to ruin, God, meanwhile, withdrawing his Spirit in judgment. See Romans 1:21-26; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.

Their loins… shake—That is, through fear and apprehension, as not knowing whom to trust. See Psalms 69:22. “Loins” are here mentioned as the foundation of a man’s strength. Paul quotes it: “Bow down their back alway,” which would be only the effect of weakness and trembling of the “loins” and limbs. Romans 11:10

Verse 25

25. Let their habitation be desolate—Again the verb should take the declarative, not the optative, sense: Their habitation shall be laid waste.

The imagery is nomadic, after the true Arab life, and the word “habitation” may take the sense of encampment, or village life in the desert, with the radical idea of fortified, or strong, “habitation,” where the greater safety was enjoyed. To lay these waste by plunder and rapine, or by divine judgments, was a most terrible calamity to a Shemite. In Psalms 69:23 their “loins” are represented as shaking through fear and alarm; here their safest dwellingplaces are laid waste, and they hence rooted out.

Let none dwell in their tents—The Apostle Peter says of this entire verse, that “the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake [it] before concerning Judas.” Acts 1:16-20. It is, therefore, in harmony with eternal justice, and with the spirit of the New Testament, no less than with that of the Old.

Verse 26

26. They persecute… whom thou hast smitten—Such is their cruelty to man and their impiety to God. David acknowledges the hand of God in his affliction; but this does not justify the excessive cruelty of his enemies.

They talk—Not their acts only, but their words, aggravate the sorrow of one already suffering under the strokes of divine chastisement.

Verse 27

27. Add iniquity unto… iniquity—That is, “Let it all stand against them in thy book; one sin after another, as committed, not being blotted out, but only swelling the fearful reckoning.”Perowne. Hold them accountable for every act, omitting nothing. See Jeremiah 18:23; Ecclesiastes 12:14. The terribleness of such a condition can be realized only by comparing such passages as Job 9:3, Psalms 130:3; Psalms 143:2.

Let them not come into thy righteousness—That is, as wicked men let them not avail themselves of the benefits or immunities of righteousness, as if they were righteous persons. The case is now supposed to have gone to judgment, and the offenders stand by their works alone. This corresponds with the first member of the verse. As they have despised mercy and stand upon justice, so add up their sins without omitting one, and withhold the benefits of law which would accrue to a righteous man. However harsh this may seem, it is simply the course of justice. An irregular and inexact accountability, with an undiscriminating award of justice, belong only to the worst of human governments. But such expressions as these always assume the case to be one of obstinate and contemptuous impenitence, like Matthew 23:33-36. Only upon the contingency of their remaining in this state do the maledictions, or rather, the forewarning predictions, apply, for they are to be construed as warnings to arrest their course. See on Psalms 109:6. A righteous God could not treat them otherwise. With such as despise both justice and mercy, human obligation and divine authority, the law must take its course. Penalty, in such a case, is the last resource of government for the protection of the innocent, the support of law, and the vindication of the character of God. The whole current of the imprecatory psalms carries along with it this view, and is herein coincident with the whole scheme both of moral government and redemption, whether under the Old Testament or New. God has no law, either in respect to its precept or penalty, concerning which it is not proper for us to pray that it may be applied or enforced according to his mind and published purpose. See Matthew 6:15; Matthew 7:2; Matthew 18:35; James 2:13; Revelation 6:10

Verse 28

28. Blotted out of the book of the living—Or, the book of life. The allusion is to the public genealogies, where the names of all the living were recorded. These civil lists were the ultimate vouchers of pure Hebrew descent and citizenship, and of title, not only to lands, but also to Church privileges and covenant blessings. To erase the name was to extinguish these rights, but does not necessarily suppose natural death. See Exodus 32:32-33; Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1. Only in the New Testament is the idea clearly developed of a “book of life” containing the names of such only as are entitled to the life of future and eternal blessedness. Philippians 4:3; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15

Verse 30-31

30, 31. I will praise the name of God—The just distinction between the righteous and the wicked, and their treatment according to character, prayed for Psalms 69:22-28, shall vindicate the pure in heart, and call forth their praise and thanksgiving, which shall be more pleasing to God than the offering of an ox or bullock.

That hath horns and hoofs—This description simply distinguishes the animal as full grown and possessing the “legal qualifications for being sacrificed.” Of the same class of clean animals they might also take for food, signifying that “man, offering the support of his own life, appeared to offer that life itself.”Witsius. Leviticus 11, and Deuteronomy 14.

The humble shall see… and be glad—It is this class who are interested in the regular process of justice in government. These, taking God’s side of law and holiness, pray that both may be upheld, which can only be, in the case of obstinate offenders, by the enforcement of penalty. Psalms 69:30-34 magnify the praises of Jehovah for his righteous government and the redemption of his people.

Verse 35

35. God will save Zion—Despite the roaring, threatening tumult of rebellion. This verse of itself suits well enough the perilous times of Jeremiah, and not less the time of David, who uses the same language at a time when his capital and chief cities stood in their strength, as in Psalms 51:18. It cannot, therefore, be urged, as some do, against the Davidic origin of the psalm.

Verse 36

36. Seed also of his servants shall inherit it—This is the result to which faith has struggled up, and where it now calmly rests. Jerusalem and the cities of Judah shall be fortified, not destroyed; the kingdom of David shall be established, the misrule of the wicked shall end, and God’s servants and such as love his name shall dwell therein. This was God’s will and his answer to David’s prayer; and by the light of this, the ultimate object sought, must all the imprecatory petitions be construed; that is, they sought and contemplated only this end, and were conditioned on their necessity in order to effect it.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 69:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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Monday, November 30th, 2020
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