Messiah’s Crucifixion,
A Savour Of Life & Death

a brief study of Psalm 69, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 3 October 2008

Psalm 69 is an imprecatory psalm. An imprecatory psalm is a psalm where the singer calls upon God to deal with his enemies severely.

But Psalm 69 is also recognised almost universally as a Messianic Psalm. A Messianic psalm is a psalm that speaks of the Messiah or contains the words and experience of the Messiah, Christ in a prophetic way.

The commentator Hengstenger remarks that…

In the New Testament there is no one Psalm, with the exception of the 22nd, which is so frequently quoted and applied to Christ, … not only by the Apostles, but also by Christ himself [as the one before us].

The Lord Jesus told his disciples that the Jews would hate him “without a cause” (Jn 15:25) according as it was prophesied in Psalm 69:4.

When he cleared the temple area of buyers and sellers, the disciples remembered that it was prophesied in Psalm 69:9, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Jn 2:17).

The apostle Paul referring to the same verse exclaims,

“For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Rom 15:3).

Then when the Lord was crucified, the soldiers gave him vinegar mixed with gall as a kind of painkiller. Our Lord would not take it. But their action fulfilled the first part of Psalm 69:21. Later on, however, in order to fulfil the second part of the verse, the Lord said, “I thirst” (Jn 19:28). In fact, we are told that he said “I thirst” not so much because he needed a drink, but so as to fulfil Scripture. He was thirsty, no doubt. But more important than having his thirst quenched, was having Scripture about himself fulfilled!

Clearly, then, Psalm 69 is not merely the word of David, but contains the word of Christ. To what extent does it contain the word of Christ? Some commentators feel that it is only “partly typological of Christ,” which is to say that the psalm is not about Christ, but a few verses were selected to be applied to Christ in the New Testament. However, such a view will make the New Testament use of this psalm rather dubious and subjective. So it appears to me that the only consistent way of looking at this psalm is to see it as the Word of Christ. It was written by David as a type of Christ under the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ, but the experience in it finds its fullest expression at the Cross.

Thus Bishop George Horne confidently declares that the content of this psalm and the way in which the church has always used it, “direct us to consider it as uttered by the Son of God, in the day of his passion.”

Our Lord might not have said the words in this psalm audibly. However, it is not difficult for us to see as we read this psalm, how the words of it must have filled our Lord’s heart as he hung on the cross.

We may divide this psalm roughly into four parts.

·  In the first part, verses 1-12, our Lord describes the situation he was in.

·  In the second part, verses 13-21, He prays for deliverance.

·  In the third part, verses 22-28, He calls upon the Father to deal justly with his enemies.

·  In the final part, verse 29-36, our Lord anticipates the Father’s deliverance.

Let’s look at these four parts briefly. We shall not be able to scrutinise every verse, but I trust we will get a peek into our Lord’s heart as he hung on the Cross.

1. The Situation (vv. 1-12)

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 &c.

Our Lord was truly in deep mire and deep waters. A multitude of people had unjustly clamoured for his blood. He was buffeted left and right. He had false accusations hurled against him, for which he could not defend himself.

In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before, he had cried with strong cryings and tears as he anticipated what was going happen. And the worst had indeed happened.

He has now been nailed to the Cross. His throat is dry. His eyes fail with tears. Breathing and speaking must have been very difficult.

But our Lord was not on the cross for his own sake. He was there for our sake. The foolishness and sins that he confesses in verse 5 are not his own, for if they are, his enemies would indeed have just cause to hate him.

But no; our Lord was imputed with our sin; and he was being punished for our sin. And he was still thinking about us on the Cross. He desires that those who wait upon the Father be not ashamed or confounded for His sake. He was praying for his disciples that the Father would preserve them through the great trial that had come upon them. And He prayed that His zeal for the Father’s house may not become occasion for shame and confusion of his disciples. Like an elder brother who loves his siblings, he did not want them to suffer on his account!

But as the suffering was intense, so he prayed also for deliverance.

2. Plea for Deliverance
(vv. 13-21)

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…

Our Lord was in the mire and water. His suffering was real and intense on the cross. He was facing the consequence of our sins alone. He was heart-broken, full of heaviness in his heart, and he was alone, for none could share his burden (v. 19-20)

He was suffering not for his sin. Nevertheless, he appeals not to his righteousness in his prayer for deliverance, for He was bearing our sin. Our Lord appealed rather to the Father’s loving kindness and tender mercy.

16 Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.

Here is how we must pray for deliverance, brethren and children. Never pray as if you deserve to be delivered. If there is anyone who ever deserved to be delivered, it is our Lord. And yet He appealed to the lovingkindness and mercies of the Father.

But our Lord in his perfect righteousness also did something which most of us will find difficult to imitate, for he called upon His Father to deal justly against his enemies.

3. Call for Judgement & Justice
(vv. 22-28)

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. &c

These are frightful words, which none of us will dare to take in our lips against our enemies. But our Lord is perfectly just. His enemies are not only his enemies, but also God’s enemies. In that they had rejected the Son of God and crucified him, they had rejected the alone living and true God, and the only way to be saved.

All this is despite the great privilege that they had having the Law of God, of hearing His teachings and seeing the miracles He performed. It is no wonder our Lord was so angry with them.

Yes, our Lord is not only loving and forgiving. He is capable of being angry too. Remember how he made scourge and drove out all the money changers and sellers of doves in the temple. Remember how he even overthrew their tables (Mt 21:12; Mk 11:15;  Jn 2:15).


These words of imprecation are therefore not inconsistent with our Lord’s character as some claim. Our Lord was zealous for holiness and truth. He does not fit into the modern idea of a loving person, which is a person with no backbone and principles, who never gets angry with anyone for any reason.

Our Lord shows sympathy to those who were misled. He prayed for them for their forgiveness. But for those who were hardened, who ought to know and yet reject Him, He pulls no punches. They deserve eternal damnation. He calls upon His father to glorify himself by displaying His wrath and justice. He would have them blotted out of the Book of Life, not that they would have been in the book in the first place, but that they might be sharply distinguished from the righteous who would enjoy life eternal and free in him.

And so, as He concludes the psalm, He turns again to seek the good of His people as He expresses…

4. Hope of Deliverance
(vv. 29-36)

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. &c

Our Lord came to save his people. He knew that His Father would receive His sacrifice and hear his prayers. He knew that His Father would raise Him from the dead. He knew that He would praise the Father in union with the people whom he came to save.

Together they would offer the calves of their lips and their worship would please the Father better than the Old Testament animal sacrifices.

The proud Jews who rejected Him and remained harden in their unbelief would suffer God’s judgement.

But the humble would see and understand, and be glad. They would seek the Father, verse 32—

32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.

And the Father would hear their prayers and free them from their bondage to sin, verse 33:

33 For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.

God, will in this way build up Zion, or the Church of Christ (v. 35). He will do so from generation to generation. He will fill spiritual Zion unto His own praise by all who loves His name. 

Let therefore heaven and earth, and all creatures great and small praise His holy Name (v. 34)!


Psalm 69 is well-known as an imprecatory Psalm. But as we can see, it is much more than an imprecatory Psalm. It is rather, an out-pouring of our Lord’s heart as the savour of life unto life for the saints and the savour of death unto death for the unbelieving.

Let us be reminded of the severity and goodness of the Father, such as we see in this psalm. For the Father loves His Son, but punished Him severely because of our sin.

So those for whom the Lord suffered and died for can enjoy an abundantly life which include deliverance from sin, union with Christ, and everlasting joy.

On the other hand, those who remain in unbelief and hardness of heart, trample underfoot the blood of Christ and can expect the everlasting judgement of God.

Your sin must either have been already punished in Christ, or you shall be punished for them. Those of us whose sins have been punished in Christ can sing about the suffering of Christ in Psalm 69 with gratitude and a full realisation that we are the ones who deserve to suffer the heart-ache, heaviness of heart and loneliness which our Lord experience on the Cross. Amen.

—JJ Lim