Follow Along

Get new posts by email:

Sunday, March 14, 2021

“The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck” Psalm 69 [Matt's Messages]

“The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
March 14, 2021 :: Psalm 69


Good thing “I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, and I work for a non-profit organization” (as Walt Kaiser would say). I was wrong about that one.

It has been quite a year for the whole world in dealing with this pandemic. And it’s been quite a year for our little church. It’s been really hard, but God has been really good.

For 52 Sundays now we have provided one of these videos for use in worship at home. We finished the Gospel of Matthew, then we went through the Letter to the Philippians, and then we settled into the Fortifying Truth of the Psalms. 

And, Lord-willing, we’re going stay there in the Psalms for a little bit longer. They are so rich and so sweet and so good for our hearts!

During this season of the church’s year, we tend to focus on the Passion of Jesus, on that crucial last week before His crucifixion. We focus on Jesus’ sufferings and what He went through for us on the Cross.

And there are a number of Psalms, written a thousand years before Jesus was even born, that predicted, prefigured, and foreshadowed Jesus’ passion.

For the next 3 Sundays, I want us to look at “Psalms of the Passion.” Psalms that, upon reflection, obviously are singing about the suffering of our Lord Jesus.

And the first one will be Psalm 69. Psalm 69.

Psalm 69 is probably quoted more than any other Psalm in the New Testament. If the New Testament were hyperlinked with little blue text underlines every time there is a quote, there would probably be more links to Psalm 69 than any other Psalm in the Psalter. You’ll hear the echoes as we read it.

As we read Psalm 69, we can’t help but hear and see the Lord Jesus.

That’s how the apostles felt as they wrote the New Testament. Again and again they said, “This psalm is about Jesus.” 

And it’s also about us. Psalm 69 is a prayer song for us to use as a model when we need help and are under hateful attack.

King David was under attack from his enemies. He was experiencing overwhelming persecution, and he felt like he was going to drown.

Last time, in Psalm 30, we read about a time when David had been pulled up from almost drowning. This time it feels like he’s just about to go down for the count.

He says that “The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck.”

And he calls out to the LORD for help. 


Psalm 69, verse 1.

“For the director of music. To the tune of ‘Lilies.’ Of David. Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.”

I wonder what the tune “Lilies” sounded like? It’s the same tune as Psalm 45, that beautiful wedding song that we studied a month ago. David used it for this song as well, which is more of a lament, a sad song.

David clearly is suffering, isn’t he? The waters are up to his neck, and there is no place to put his foot to keep his head above water. He’s floundering and going to drown. And he’s been yelling for help, and nobody is coming. His throat is parched and his eyes are going blind searching for God’s rescue.

You get the sense of someone lost at sea and about to die a watery death.

But all of that is just metaphorical. He’s not literally drowning in the water. He’s under attack from hateful persecutors. Verse 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.”

Do you get the picture?

David is the victim of injustice, of slander.

He’s got irrational enemies with no good reason to hate him, but yet they do.

And they are seeking to destroy him. Can you feel it?

They have claimed that he’s stolen something. We don’t know what. Perhaps they are saying that he stole the throne from Saul. Or that he’s embezzling funds that were meant for the building of the temple for his own use. Or that he’s stealing from the people with excessive taxes to buy the building materials for the temple.

We don’t know what their slander was. But we know that David was paying for it!

He was suffering for it, even though he was innocent of the charges.

Sound like anybody you know?

Nobody was ever hated like Jesus was hated for no good reason.

There’s no good reason to hate Jesus, but He sure was, and He sure is.

And Jesus suffered for crimes He did not commit. That’s what Passion Week is all about.

Now, David is not claiming to be sinless. God knows! Verse 5.

“You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you.”

But he’s saying, “This thing I’m suffering for today is not my guilt! God knows that I am guilty, but not of this. This suffering is undeserved.”

And, of course, every iota of Jesus’ suffering was undeserved.

King David was worried that the shame that was coming to him though he had not done anything to deserve it was going to rub off on God’s holy people because it was smearing him, their king. Verse 6.

“May those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me, O Lord, the LORD Almighty; may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel.”

This is another way of asking for rescue.

David is saying that if he dies in unjust disgrace, it will bring unjust disgrace on God’s holy people. He’s thinking of others, not just himself. And He’s thinking about the LORD and how it all reflects on Him. Verse 7.

“For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother's sons; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”

You can’t help but hear Jesus here, can’t you?

David sings that he experiences scorn and shame for the LORD.

He is alienated from his family. And he is insulted.

“...the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”

Why? Because David has zeal, passion, for the house of the LORD!

What does that mean? Well, it means that he wanted to be with the LORD.

He wanted to worship Him and be in His presence. For David that meant worship at the tabernacle, and being the chief cheerleader and instigator for the building of the temple, God’s house.

David never got to build the temple, but he amassed all of the stuff that his son Solomon would need to build it later. David cared deeply about meeting with God in holy worship. Zeal!

And that was, apparently, getting him into deep trouble. V.10

“When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn; when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me. Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards.”

Do you feel how shamed he was?

Not ashamed. He knew he wasn’t doing wrong. He was doing right.

But they were heaping the shame on him, regardless. In their eyes, he could do no right. Everything he did was wrong.

And I don’t care what anybody says, that kind of mocking is deeply painful. It hurts.

I think that we ought to draw from this that we ought to expect to be hated for loving God.

David’s true crime was a zeal for God’s house, a love of true worship, a love for being with God Himself. What we call around here “a life-changing relationship” with Lord. That was David’s crime.

And he was mocked and scorned and shamed and slandered and attacked for it.

So you and I should not be surprised when we experience the same, as well.

The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, said to His disciples, “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also...” (John 15:20b). And then He said that his enemies have seen Him do His divine miracles...“yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'” (John 15:24-25). That’s Psalm 69, verse 4!

No good reason but that He loved the Lord. And He had zeal for His house. After Jesus cleansed the temple, His disciples realized that He was fulfilling verse 9 (according to John 2, verse 17).

Jesus was hated for no good reason, except His zeal, and He died for it.

And we, as His followers, should expect the same kind of treatment.

Assuming we have the same kind of zeal.

We should aspire to have that kind of zeal for which we might then be persecuted.

Do you have a passion for the Lord?

It sure got David in trouble.
And it got Jesus in trouble.

“The insults of those who insult you fall on me.” The Apostle Paul quoted verse 9 in Romans 15:3 to apply to Christ and what He went through on the Cross for you and me.

Remember when He was insulted? We looked at it closely a year ago.
Remember when He was scorned and made the butt of the jokes?

When they put the crown of thorns on His head?
When they blindfolded Him and spit on Him and hit him and asked, “Prophesy! Who hit you?”
Remember when Jesus was the song of the drunkards?

All of this so far is written as part of David’s big prayer request that he started with in verse 1.

It’s a prayer for salvation, for rescue. David is in deep trouble, overwhelming trouble.

And he’s calling out for help.

I have three summary points for this message that try to capture this song in 3 short prayer requests. 

Here’s the first one:

#1. RESCUE ME!

That’s what David is pleading to the Lord. “Lord, please rescue me. I’m about to drown.” They are mocking me. Verse 13.

“But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters. Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Come near and rescue me; redeem me because of my foes.”

This kind of prayer, “Rescue me,” is a major theme of the psalms. I’m sure you’ve seen it again and again. David and others are in trouble, and they ask the Lord to get them out of the trouble.

And that’s a good prayer for you and me to pray, too, isn’t it?

“Rescue me!”

“Lord, I need your help. If you don’t come through, I’m a goner.”

Sometimes, David has gotten himself into his trouble by his own mistakes, errors, and sins.

But other times, like here, he’s been basically doing what he’s supposed to do as a God-loving, God-fearing, thumbs-up king of Israel.

But it’s getting him into trouble.

I think sometimes we wonder what wrong we’ve done to get into such trouble, when we’re actually doing it right. We just have to expect trouble!

And when trouble comes, we can plead with the Lord to get us out of it.

“Rescue me!”

Are you in trouble right now? Are you taking it to the Lord in prayer?

David knows the heart of God, and that He loves His people and loves to rescue them from trouble. Look again at verse 13.

“But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor [in your perfect timing]; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. [Verse 16] Answer me, O LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.”

That’s God’s heart for His covenant people. He loves to get them out of trouble.

And bring them justice. That’s summary point number two:

#2. JUDGE THEM!

One more time, in verse 19, David says just how bad these attacks on him are. And he says that God knows all about it. V.19

“You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; all my enemies are before you.  Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”

David was left alone and abandoned. No help, no sympathy, no comfort, no friends.

And, I think this is metaphor here for David. When he needed their friendship of food and drink, they gave him poison and vinegar, so to speak.

But it was literally true for the Lord Jesus (see Matthew 27:34, 48 and John 19:28-29).

What the soldiers gave Jesus when He on the cross made His suffering so much worse!

So David prayed prayers of imprecation. Those are prayers of cursing.

David asks God to judge his enemies. Not only to rescue him from his enemies, but to do to them what they are have been trying to do to him. Verse 22.

“May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and a trap. [Backfire.] May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.”

So much we could say about those words.

They are holy words.

This is not evil. This is not wrong. These are God-authorized prayers, righteous expressions of righteous anger and a righteous desire for justice.

We have to be careful with them. They are powerful words. They shouldn’t just be thrown around. But they are holy.

Notice, for example, that these holy words are expressed in prayer. This is not David cursing out his enemies to their faces.

This is David asking God to bring vengeance on, not just David’s enemies, but God’s enemies.

And notice that David is not taking revenge himself. He is not being a vigilante dispensing his own justice. He is pleading with God to bring His own justice.

If these enemies will not repent.

I’m sure that David would be happy if they did. 

But if they persist in persecuting the king for having zeal for the Lord, they should surely pay for it!

Do you know how the New Testament applies verse 25? It’s to Judas. Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus and refused to repent. So let Judas’ place be deserted (Acts chapter 1, verse 20).

These are holy words. And the New Testament talks like this, as well.

The New Testament has imprecations, too. There is justice and judgment to come.

Remember how the Lord Jesus talked about the judgment coming when He would return, just a few days before He went to the Cross? Matthew 24 and 25.

We can pray today that the Lord will bring justice.

That’s what we’re praying when we pray, “Your kingdom come!”

For those who kick God’s people when they are down (v.26), “For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those who hurt.” For those who unrepentantly and without remorse persecute the righteous, we pray that they will receive the Lord’s justice!

Now, of course, we can pray for more than that. The Lord Jesus also taught to pray for God’s blessing on our enemies. To bless them and not curse them.

And He showed us how on the Cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

We can pray for that, too.

Because Jesus, who perfectly fulfilled this Psalm, also took on Himself the punishment that our sins deserved.

He bore God’s wrath for us, receiving in His body on the Tree, the justice that our sins deserved.

So that if anyone repents and puts their faith in Jesus, justice will still be done, and they can be forgiven and included in the Lamb’s book of life.

But if they will not turn, then we can also pray that God’s justice will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

So that praise comes to Him forever. That’s our last point, point number three.

#3. PRAISE HIM!

Rescue me. Judge them. Praise Him! 

In verse 29, David lays out his request for rescue one last time and then pivots to praise. Verse 29.

“I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me. [And then when you do...] I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs. [More than an expensive sacrifice.] The poor will see and be glad–you who seek God, may your hearts live! The LORD hears the needy and does not despise his captive people. [He loves to save them! And He loves to hear our praise. Verse 34.] 

Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them, for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will settle there and possess it; the children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there.”

David fully expects to be rescued once again.

He expects God to turn the situation around and to fix everything!

Now, notice that nothing has changed. David is still about to drown. At any moment his lungs might fill with water, and he go down into the depths.

But David knows God.

And David knows that God will, one day, fix everything.

And so David plans to praise Him. No matter what.

For Jesus, of course, that “fixing everything” came after death.

Jesus had to die before He experienced the vindication and salvation of the resurrection.

We have not been promised salvation from every bit of our earthly troubles.

COVID or cancer or a car-wreck may take any of us down.

Our enemies may take us down.

But we know that, ultimately, the LORD will prevail!

One day, the Lord will fix everything in creation.

So we and all creation should fix ourselves to praise Him.


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning”

0 comments: