A Cry of Anguish in Great Distress
1For the leader; according to “Lilies.”* Of David.
2Save me, God,
3I have sunk into the mire of the deep,
where there is no foothold.
I have gone down to the watery depths;
the flood overwhelms me.b
4I am weary with crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
from looking for my God.c
5More numerous than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause.d
Those who would destroy me are mighty,
my enemies without reason.
Must I now restore
what I did not steal?*
6God, you know my folly;
my faults are not hidden from you.
7Let those who wait in hope for you, LORD of hosts,
not be shamed because of me.
Let those who seek you, God of Israel,e
not be disgraced because of me.
8For it is on your account I bear insult,
that disgrace covers my face.f
9I have become an outcast to my kindred,
a stranger to my mother’s children.g
10Because zeal for your house has consumed me,*
11When I humbled my spirit with fasting,i
this led only to scorn.
12When I clothed myself in sackcloth;
I became a byword for them.
13Those who sit in the gate gossip about me;
drunkards make me the butt of songs.
14But I will pray to you, LORD,
at a favorable time.
God, in your abundant kindness, answer me
with your sure deliverance.j
15Rescue me from the mire,k
and do not let me sink.
Rescue me from those who hate me
and from the watery depths.
16Do not let the flood waters overwhelm me,
nor the deep swallow me,
nor the pit close its mouth over me.
17Answer me, LORD, in your generous love;
in your great mercy turn to me.
18Do not hide your face from your servant;
hasten to answer me, for I am in distress.l
19Come and redeem my life;
because of my enemies ransom me.
20You know my reproach, my shame, my disgrace;
before you stand all my foes.
21Insult has broken my heart, and I despair;
I looked for compassion, but there was none,m
for comforters, but found none.
22Instead they gave me poison for my food;
and for my thirst they gave me vinegar.n
23May their own table be a snare for them,
and their communion offerings a trap.o
24Make their eyes so dim they cannot see;
keep their backs ever feeble.
25Pour out your wrath upon them;
let the fury of your anger overtake them.
26Make their camp desolate,
with none to dwell in their tents.p
27For they pursued the one you struck,
added to the pain of the one you wounded.
28Heap punishment upon their punishment;
let them gain from you no vindication.
29May they be blotted from the book of life;
not registered among the just!q
30But here I am miserable and in pain;
let your saving help protect me, God,
31*That I may praise God’s name in song
and glorify it with thanksgiving.
32That will please the LORD more than oxen,
more than bulls with horns and hooves:r
33“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, take heart!s
34For the LORD hears the poor,
and does not spurn those in bondage.
35Let the heaven and the earth praise him,
the seas and whatever moves in them!”
36For God will rescue Zion,
and rebuild the cities of Judah.t
They will dwell there and possess it;
37the descendants of God’s servants will inherit it;
those who love God’s name will dwell in it.u
* [Psalm 69] A lament complaining of suffering in language both metaphorical (Ps 69:2–3, 15–16, the waters of chaos) and literal (Ps 69:4, 5, 9, 11–13, exhaustion, alienation from family and community, false accusation). In the second part the psalmist prays with special emphasis that the enemies be punished for all to see (Ps 69:23–29). Despite the pain, the psalmist does not lose hope that all be set right, and promises public praise (Ps 69:30–36). The Psalm, which depicts the suffering of the innocent just person vividly, is cited often by the New Testament especially in the passion accounts, e.g., Ps 69:5 in Jn 15:25; Ps 69:22 in Mk 15:23, 36 and parallels and in Jn 19:29. The Psalm prays not so much for personal vengeance as for public vindication of God’s justice. There was, at this time, no belief in an afterlife where such vindication could take place. Redress had to take place now, in the sight of all.
* [69:1] “Lilies”: apparently the name of the melody.
* [69:5] What I did not steal: the psalmist, falsely accused of theft, is being forced to make restitution.
* [69:10] Zeal for your house has consumed me: the psalmist’s commitment to God’s cause brings only opposition, cf. Jn 2:17. I am scorned by those who scorn you: Rom 15:3 uses the verse as an example of Jesus’ unselfishness.