To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, A Psalm of David.
1 Save me, O God: for the waters are come in unto my soul.
2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
3 I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
4 They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.
5 O God, Thou knowest my foolishness: and my sins are not hid from Thee.
6 Let not them that wait on Thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek Thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.
7 Because for Thy sake I have borne reproach: shame hath covered my face.
8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.
9 For the zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up: and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon me.
10 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
11 I made sackcloth also my garment: and I became a proverb to them.
12 They that sit in the gate speak against me: and I was the song of the drunkards.
13 But as for me, my prayer is unto Thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of Thy mercy hear me, in the truth of Thy salvation.
14 Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.
15 Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
16 Hear me, O LORD: for Thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies.
17 And hide not Thy face from Thy servant: for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.
18 Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.
19 Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before Thee.
20 Reproach hath broken my heart: and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none: and for comforters, but I found none.
21 They gave me also gall for my meat: and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.
23 Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not: and make their loins continually to shake.
24 Pour out Thine indignation upon them, and let Thy wrathful anger take hold of them.
25 Let their habitation be desolate: and let none dwell in their tents.
26 For they persecute him whom Thou hast smitten: and they talk to the grief of those whom Thou hast wounded.
27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into Thy righteousness.
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.
29 But I am poor and sorrowful: let Thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.
30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
31 This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.
33 For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not His prisoners.
34 Let the heaven and earth praise Him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.
35 For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.
36 The seed also of His servants shall inherit it: and they that love His name shall dwell therein.
Though you may be alone and persecuted, you can count on the salvation of God and the destruction of His enemies.
You feel the abandonment of friends and the persecution of the enemy. You feel as though you are about to drown in a sea of opposition and trial. If you have ever walked into the furnace of persecution, you know that it is not easy to be subjected to dishonor, shame, spitting, slander, and torture. While it is doubtful you will ever feel the full brunt of the painful sentiments contained in this psalm, there will be times in your life when you will be able to identify with parts of it.
Since this is a Messianic psalm, we know that our Head, our Savior Jesus Christ, felt every nuance of these words to the ultimate degree. We should therefore, at the least, identify ourselves with our Savior in these words. As we read the psalm, remember that the eternally-blessed Son of God humbled Himself to the shame of the cross. Therefore, out of a zeal for Christ and His precious church, we should be willing to take on all persecution and reproach for His cause. Yet, with the saints of all ages, we still cry out to God for vindication and deliverance.
Verses 1–3. Young children are not always aware of the fierceness of the battle, the pressures of life, and the pain of persecution. But as children mature into their teenage years and young adulthood, they will begin to understand psalms like this. They will begin to experience the feelings of overwhelming discouragement and even depression. They will experience the loss of loved ones, the abandonment of friends, and the oppression of the enemy.
The Psalmist pictures himself as one sinking in quicksand or drowning in a flood. If you have ever experienced such traumatic circumstances, you know the feeling of helplessness and the sinking sense that your life is slipping away. He is also weighed down by his troubles, and he has cried so much that he is about to collapse from sheer exhaustion.
Verses 4–12. David continues with a compendium of the troubles that overwhelm his soul. Of all of the pressures of life, there is probably nothing more difficult than living with the constant awareness that there are people who hate you and want to kill you. Sometimes they falsely accuse you of having done terrible things, and it is impossible to vindicate yourself. This is what David is up against here in this psalm.
To complicate the burdens in his life, David adds the matter of his own sins in verse 5. It is one thing to come under attack from enemies: it is quite another for your conscience to accuse you of your own sin and foolishness. David meets this sin head to head by confessing it to God.
Another consideration in this matter of persecution is the effect that it has on other believers. If a Christian leader is slandered by the world, falsely accused, and imprisoned, what effect might that have on other believers? If, for example, I am arrested and put in prison for my faith, will others think that Christians are evil people? David is concerned that the shame and reproach he bears will be shared with his brothers and sisters in the Lord. His concern for the reputation of the house of God is preeminent. When the persecuted saints in China and North Korea are tortured and the church is forced into hiding, we should cry out to God as David did, “For the zeal of Your house has eaten me up: and the reproaches of them that reproached You are fallen upon me.” Jesus quoted this passage when He cleansed the temple of those who were perverting the worship.
When a man is overcome with grief and weeps for many days, he is typically despised by the world about him. Nobody wants to invite him to parties. Some may pity him, but most despise him. Even the town drunks look down upon him and make up songs to mock him.
Verses 13–18. In the ultimate sense, David is not concerned about what others think about him. Relationships are always in flux, and we apply both time and energy to sustain them. But of all of the hundreds of relationships that we will maintain throughout our lifetimes, there is only one that is of primary importance. Only our relationship with God is of essence. Only God has the power to save us from all of the predicaments of our life. Our salvation, redemption, safety, and success in the rest of our relationships are all in His hands. So here David deals with God and God alone. In his tears, he wrestles with God for favor, mercy, and strength. Throughout these six verses David repeatedly asks God to save him, come close to him, hear him, turn to him, and deliver him from his troubles.
Verses 19–28. In what will turn out to be a prophetic reference to David’s son, Jesus Christ, in His sufferings at the cross, David again recounts the shame he has suffered because of his enemies. He begs God for vindication. But how does this comport with the words of Jesus when He says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”? We must draw a distinction between God’s enemies and our enemies. If you refer to verse 26, you can see that David shifts from speaking of his enemies to speaking of those who persecute the One whom God has smitten. And, we know that the One whom God has smitten is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both God and man. As the One who was personally offended by those crucifying him, Jesus did the right thing. He loved His enemies and prayed for those who despitefully used Him. Yet at the same time, He was in the process of crushing the enemies of God by His sacrifice on the cross. Make no mistake about it, God was vindicated of His enemies at the cross of Christ (Col. 2:15). It is appropriate to pray for God’s judgment on those who persecute Christ and His church.
Verse 26 also contains a powerful lesson about the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of men. The death of Christ was part of the predetermined plan of God. As David puts it here, God smote Him. But the suffering and death of the Son of God came by means of the wicked hands of men (Acts 2:23). Thus, we see that each of the wicked actions of men, which they do of their own free will, is part of the sovereign plan of God. Yet these men are still responsible for the evil things that they do, even though they are part of God’s sovereign plan! How can God be sovereign and man remain responsible for his actions? If God was not sovereign, then He would not be God. We must resolve in our minds that it is not necessary for us to know how God is sovereign over the free actions of men. There is much we do not understand about God. For instance, we have no idea how He creates a universe, and we are stymied in our explanations of His Trinitarian nature. God is altogether wonderful, and our response should be wonder and praise.
Verses 29–36. While the Psalmist prays for God’s judgment on the proud and rebellious, or those that refuse to repent, he prays for God’s salvation for himself. Does this seem presumptuous of David? Only if he speaks from a position of humility and brokenness before God may he plead for mercy for himself and pray for God’s judgment on the proud. Otherwise, if he were proud, he would be praying for judgment upon himself! So he prays for God’s salvation as well as a final resurrection and glorification. He acknowledges his commitment to praise God in song and magnify Him with a thankful heart, noting that this is more pleasing to God than animal sacrifices.
Thus, our psalm ends with God-centered praise. He is confident that God will “build the cities of Judah,” even as the church continues to grow through the centuries. This will happen by God’s powerful work and by faithful children of the servants of God inheriting the kingdom and expanding the church into future generations. And though the church may appear to languish from time to time in human history, we take encouragement from passages like this. Indeed, the meek will inherit the earth!
When we are overwhelmed by our own sin and the trials of our lives, we should read psalms like this one and pray these petitions until we cease to be discouraged. If we do not bring God into it, but rather focus on ourselves and our troubles, we will never find God’s salvation. Even as Jacob wrestled with God, telling Him, “I will not let You go unless You bless me,” we must take our burdens to God, seeking God’s deliverance and blessing with relentless faith.
1. Whereas the psalm begins with an introspective focus on our own troubles, it ends with a declaration of God’s salvation and praise for His certain victory in history. Worship may include an honest assessment of ourselves, our discouragement, our sin, and our weakness, but it must end with a focus on God, His glory, His salvation, and His work.
2. The psalms continually draw the lines between the wicked and the righteous, the humble and the proud. Either you will be on God’s side, or you will be against God and persecute His Messiah and His church. As we repeat lyrics like this, “Pour out your indignation on those who persecute Christ’s church,” we are laying it on the line. Are you going to persecute Christ’s church, or are you going to love Jesus Christ? Whose side are you on?
1. How does David picture himself in his trials and tribulations?
2. What are the references to Jesus in this psalm?
3. What does it mean to say that God sovereignly works through the evil works of men?
4. Name several Deliverance psalms.
5. If the psalm begins with discouragement and cries for help, how does the psalm end?
1. How does a psalm like this help us to take on our trials without grumbling? How does it teach us to suffer rightly?
2. Do we have a desire to protect the reputation of the church of Christ? Are you ever afraid you might do something to cast shame upon the church?