Psalm 69 is used throughout the New Testament to describe the sufferings of Jesus. But for now, it’s King David who’s under attack, not from his enemies but from his brothers and fellow countrymen (Psalm 69:8). David feels like he’s drowning under their accusations (Psalm 69:2). David knows he’s done wrong and that he’s guilty before God, but the punishment his enemies demand isn’t proportionate to the crimes he’s committed (Psalm 69:4-5).
David understands that his public zeal for God means he’s a hypocrite to his critics in light of his recent sins (Psalm 69:9). But David also understands their false accusations are a symptom of their anger at God. Regardless of actual guilt, David prays the disgrace, shame, and rejection he’s experiencing will not spill over to the community of the truly faithful (Psalm 69:6-8, 10-11). And he prays that God will rescue him from the flood of insinuations directed his way (Psalm 69:13-15).
Appealing to God’s justice and love, David asks for mercy (Psalm 69:16). He doesn’t want God to look away or hide his face (Psalm 69:17). He wants God to see that his enemies are merciless and heartless. He wants God to see how they poison his water with vinegar and bile (Psalm 69:19-21). And knowing God’s love for him, David asks for retribution against his enemies. David wants their food poisoned, their eyes blinded, their homes abandoned, and their souls damned (Psalm 69:22-27).
Confident in this kind of rescue, David praises God with a song—perhaps this song (Psalm 69:30). David knows God prefers this type of wholehearted trust in his vindication over the hooves and horns of sacrifices (Psalm 69:31). And then the psalm transforms from a personal prayer for retribution into the cry of a nation in captivity (Psalm 69:32-33). Like David, trapped by his accusers and confident in God’s vindication, Israel should cry out for God to restore her kingdom from those who threaten it (Psalm 69:34-36).
Where is the Gospel?
Like David, Jesus is hated without cause by his Jewish brothers and countrymen. In a public display of his zeal for God, Jesus turns over the tables of a market set up inside God’s house (John 2:17). But in a sham trial, his Jewish brothers falsely accuse him of blasphemy and demand punishment they think proportionate (Matthew 26:65; Romans 15:3). Angry at God, they crucify the innocent Jesus. In cruelty they give him bile and vinegar to drink (Matthew 27:34, 48; John 19:28). Similar to David, Jesus asks why God hides his face from his sufferings (Mark 15:34).
In David’s deepest moments of pain, he prays that God’s love would move him to enact justice against those who falsely accuse him. But in Jesus’ final moments on the cross, he asks God to forgive those who crucified him (Luke 23:34). Jesus willingly accepts punishment disproportionate to his innocence so that the guilty can be forgiven (1 Peter 3:18).
Shockingly, Jesus dies like David wanted his accusers to die: food poisoned with bile, eyes blinded by blood, and damned to three days among the dead. This means David’s demands for justice begin to come to pass in Jesus’ own body. In Jesus, innocent sufferers are given their first taste of proportional justice for the crimes done against them. Jesus doesn’t just die for our sins, but demonstrates what justice will look like for the sins done against us. God will poison, blind, and damn those who falsely accuse and abuse the sons and daughters of God.
So wholeheartedly trust, not in sacrifices of hooves or horns, but in the sacrifice of Jesus. In him the guilty are forgiven since their punishment is taken by Jesus. And in him the innocent are given a downpayment and demonstration of the final justice guaranteed to their enemies.
See for Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see the God who both forgives and judges. And may you see Jesus as the one who answers in himself both God’s and our demands for justice.