Summary: June 23, 2002 -- FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST -- Proper 7 Psalm 69:8-11 [12-17] 18-20 (NRSV: 7-10 [11-15] 16-18) Answer me, O LORD, for your love is kind. (Ps. 69:18) Color: Green Title: “Hope and trust”
June 23, 2002 -- FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST -- Proper 7
Psalm 69:8-11 [12-17] 18-20 (NRSV: 7-10 [11-15] 16-18)
Answer me, O LORD, for your love is kind. (Ps. 69:18)
Title: “Hope and trust”
The heading of this psalm attributes it to David, but Jeremiah could have written it, so well does it describe him. Classified as a “Lament of an Individual,” it parallels Jeremiah’s life experiences and prayers. Jeremiah suffered the mocking described in verses twelve and thirteen, had the trust in God of verse thirty-four, and prayed for God’s justice on his enemies as in verses twenty-three to twenty-nine. As verses two and three, describe, Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern, sinking in its mire as in Jeremiah 38. As in verse nine, he was rejected by his family in Jeremiah 12:6. Like verse eight, says, he certainly suffered shame and disgrace for God’s sake as in Jeremiah 15: 10-17; 20: 7-8. Whether Jeremiah composed the psalm or not and there are several other parallels between this psalm and Jeremiah, it certainly speaks for him and about him as well as describing key aspects of his message. Moreover, except for the prayer for just vengeance upon his enemies, the psalm also describes Christ. This, no doubt, accounts for it being a favorite among New Testament writers. Verse five, is quoted or alluded to in John 15:25; v.10 in John 2:17; Romans 15:3; v. 22 in Matthew 27:34, Mark 15:23, Luke 23:36, John 19:29; vv. 23-25 in Romans 11: 9-10; v. 25 in Revelation 16:1; and v. 26 in Acts 1:20.
The psalm is probably postexilic in origin, composed before or during the reconstruction of the Temple. Its structure reveals two major divisions: lament verses two to twenty-nine and thankful praise verses thirty to thirty-seven. The first section fluctuates between the statement of the lament (vv. 1b-5; 7-12; and 21-22) and a prayer for deliverance (vv. 6, 13-18 and 22-28). Vv. 22-28 can also be classified as a prayer for justice against his enemies.
In verse one, For the leader; according to “Lilies.” Of David: This heading attributes the psalm to David and gives “Lilies” as the name of the melody or tune model it is to be sung by.
Verses two to four, save me, O God: The psalmist uses imagery for approaching death in rising flood waters to describe his situation. He might as well be in Sheol. It could not be worse.
In verse five, more numerous: The metaphors of exaggeration continue. His enemies cannot be counted they are so many. Yet, they hate him without basis. He has done nothing wrong.
Must I now restore what I did not steal?: This must be interpreted as a metaphor as well. To be forced to make restitution for something one did not steal would hardly put a person in the dire straits described in verses two to five. What the psalmist means in this exaggeration is that he is innocent of whatever charges there may be against him. Nowhere in the psalm, but for this exaggerated exception, does he specify any criminal complaint against him. He chalks it all up to “zeal for thy house,” God’s house or household, that is, God’s people. The psalmist may be one of those working zealously to rebuild the Temple after the return from the exile, but more deeply he would be one committed to rebuilding the people’s zeal for God and his ways.
In verses six and seven, you know my folly: While admitting he is no saint, he prays that those who are associated with him in “zeal for thy house,” are not shamed because of real sins. Whatever his sins may be, he does not deserve the treatment he is getting. It is all out of proportion. May his religious associates not be painted with the same brush.
In verses eight to thirteen, for your sake: Of course, he notes that what he prayed for in verses six and seven, namely, that his associates in faith are not brought down with him, did not happen in his case. His claim, lament, complaint, here is that he is being pursued and persecuted, gossiped about and made mockery of precisely because of his association with Yahweh and his religious zeal. No doubt in line with Jeremiah’s plight for zealously demanding that Temple behavior, sacrifices, should be matched by extra-temple behavior, morality, the psalmist is suffering unjustly.
In verses fourteen to sixteen: The psalmist uses the same descriptive flood language as in verses two and three, to describe the cause for his need of God’s rescue from his enemies.
In verse seventeen, answer me: He asks for help, confident he will receive it because of the way God is, namely, because of his generous, loyal love and abundant mercy. This verse is at the heart of the psalm.