Deliverance from Defeat
God, I recall a time when I experienced injustice. I bring it before You in prayer.
Read PSALM 69
1 Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
3 I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
4 Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.
5 You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you.
6 Lord, the Lord Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.
7 For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
8 I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
9 for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
10 When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn;
11 when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me.
12 Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards.
13 But I pray to you, Lord,
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.
15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.
16 Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me.
17 Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.
18 Come near and rescue me;
deliver me because of my foes.
19 You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.
20 Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.
21 They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
22 May the table set before them become a snare;
may it become retribution and a trap.
23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.
24 Pour out your wrath on them;
let your fierce anger overtake them.
25 May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
26 For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
27 Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.
29 But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
may your salvation, God, protect me.
30 I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
32 The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!
33 The Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his captive people.
34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that move in them,
35 for God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
36 the children of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will dwell there.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectTo whom do you turn when people come against you? Are you quick to turn to other people or do you seek God first?
The psalmist is in a bad way. He laments his lot in the opening verses and reveals that he is the subject of gossip (12) because of his zealous service for God. But prayers for help (13–18) soon turn into prayers for vengeance, asking God to act against his oppressors (22–28). Yet the psalm closes in thanksgiving (30–36), recalling the worthiness of God despite the psalmist’s despair.
Two things stand out. One is that there is a powerful honesty in expressing pain and anger to God. The Psalms, and much of the Old Testament, are written for those who suffer at the hands of the powerful. If we miss that context, then prayers for vengeance stop being desperate cries for justice and become oppressive themselves.
Secondly, this psalm is heavily quoted in the New Testament and applied to Jesus: from the zeal in cleansing the Temple through to the vinegar to drink (9,21). Arguably only Jesus, as God, is really in a position to pass judgment on his enemies. And we should hear this as judgment on behalf of the suffering, not as a general call for revenge. Christians may then find good news in Psalm 69’s portrait of deliverance from apparent defeat.
Give thanks that Jesus has defeated all that oppresses humanity and that someday he will enact justice in our world.
God, I praise You for delivering me. “Let heaven and earth praise You, the seas and all that move in them.”