Reflections of the Psalms – Psalm 69

Posted on: May 17th, 2020

Most people have heard, or used, the expression “I’m up to my neck in trouble!” This expression vividly portrays a person on the verge of being swamped by the problems that he, or she, is facing. Usually the wish that accompanies the statement is that someone will “bail” him out.

The expression may be in use today, but it has been around a long time. In Psalm 69, David said almost the same thing when he wrote, “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.” Yes, David was “up to his neck in trouble” and his plea for help was going out to God. David’s constant dependence upon the Lord was the key to his strength. With the Lord, David could defeat the Goliath’s of the world, but without the Lord, David was capable of truly terrible acts such as the murder of a loyal soldier.

From the first part of the psalm, it is clear that David had become the focus of much criticism and disdain from many people in his kingdom. Verse 4 is especially telling. “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; those who would destroy me are powerful, being wrongfully my enemies; what I did not steal, I then have to restore.” David is saying, “I did not do it. But I’m still being blamed!” He did not steal anything, but he’s not believed.

In verse 5, he states his defense before God, “O God, it is You who knows my folly, and my wrongs are not hidden from You. May those who wait for You not be ashamed through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; may those who seek You not be dishonored through me, O God of Israel…” There are two important points here. First, too many people (Christians included!) seem to think that as long as no one knows what is happening, all sorts of things that are not Christ-like can be done in safety. All such thoughts are dangerously wrong. Nothing is hidden from the Lord. Every act and thought that is contrary to God’s will is revealed to the Lord. The secret person that no one really knows is laid bare before the piercing eyes of the Lord. No wonder, as people considered their sinful condition on the Day of Pentecost, they cried out in anguish, “Men and brethren what shall we do?”

The second point shows one of the admirable qualities in David that should be reflected in all Christians today. His prayer was that no actions on his part would be a barrier, or burden, to others seeking God. As King, he had tremendous influence, and that influence could build up or tear down his people. Paul wrote in Romans 14:12-13, “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Unlike David, Christians are Holy and Royal Priests. If anything, a Christian’s responsibilities are even greater. Every Christian should be known as a Christian. If friends, fellow workers, neighbors do NOT know that a person is a Christian then something is very wrong!

People tend to “lump” other people or things into categories: “All teenagers are resentful and rebellious!”; “Grownups don’t want us to have a good time!”; “That isn’t music – it’s noise!”; “Who can listen to that long-haired stuff?” If a Christian does something good, his, or her, actions can help another person further along to the Lord. However, any bad, hateful, or sinful actions can snuff the hope of that person ever becoming a Christian.

Yes, when people know that a person claims to be a Christian, they will watch that person to see if they are truly trying to live what they believe. Positive actions can lead to the saving of countless souls, but the person who says he is a Christian and lives the life of a sinner will cause an unknown number of people to reject everything connected with the hope offered in Jesus Christ. David knew that, and his prayer included his hope that his actions would not reflect badly upon the faithful of Israel.

What a responsibility Christians have! Each Christian should begin the day with the same words that David wrote in Psalm 69:6. Each Christian’s actions, every day of every week, of every month, and of every year WILL reflect upon the Father and Jesus Christ His Son.

James Shelburn