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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

Messianic Psalms - Psalm 69: Man of Sorrows

Psalm 69

If there was ever a messianic psalm, it is Psalm 69. This psalm is ‘clearly about Jesus.’ In fact, James Boice writes, ‘it is one of the most obviously messianic psalms in the psalter. This why, for instance, next to Psalms 22 and 110, it is the psalm most frequently cited in the New Testament.’ Seven of its thirty-six verses are quoted in the New Testament, and there are themes that are developed in a general way in reference to Jesus Christ in the gospels. Jesus saw himself in this psalm (Ps 69:4; John 15:25) and the apostles saw Jesus (Ps 69:9; John 2:17; Rom 15:3).

Arno C. Gaebelein captures something of this flavor when he says of Psalm 69, “What a precious psalm it is! It begins with the cry of the one who bore our sins in his body, who suffered for our sake. It ends with the glorious results of his atoning work.” Alan Ross reminds us that “Psalm 69 is not only our psalm, a sinner’s psalm (aren’t they all!), but it is also the Savior’s psalm.” The psalm expresses what Jesus felt in the garden: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). “In Psalm 69 we are given a vision into the very heart of Christ in the circumstances of His Passion” (Patrick Reardon).

Thus, to deny Psalm 69's messianic character (as some do) because the psalmist did not intentionally prophesy a suffering messiah contradicts the apostolic interpretation of Psalm 69. This psalm filled Jesus’ praying imagination as the Father led him to the cross and then afterwards it gave the disciples a vivid prophetic description of the cross.

Here we see David praying knowingly for himself and providentially for the Son of David. Today we pray the psalm as a guide to the cruciform life we are called to live in Christ. We know that the march to Zion runs through “the miry depths” and “deep waters.” And when a passion for Christ takes hold of our lives, we should not be surprised when we are hated without reason.

As we look at Psalm 69 this coming Lord’s Day, we note that it begins with the cry of the One who bore our sins in his body, who ‘for us and our salvation,’ died. The psalm ends with a hymn of thanksgiving. It closes with a vison of God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven – the vison of a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1). Zion is saved. And the inhabitants of the land are those who “love his name.”

However, between its beginning in suffering and its ending in worldwide praise and thanksgiving, there is a sudden, startling center. In verses 22-28 we have recorded some of the most terrible imprecations in the Bible. Curse after curse falls from the lips of the suffering one. How do we understand this? What does this mean for us? What would Jesus say?

Join us this Sunday as we consider the curse of God. Will you be blessed by God or cursed? What makes the difference?

By His Grace,

Pastor Wayne



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