Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Matthew 24:45-51; Romans 11:1-24; Psalm 69:13-36; Deuteronomy 1-2
The second half of Psalm 69 repeats the graphic description of drowning with which the psalm began. The rising waters of his troubles are about to engulf him. He has no solid footing to stand on. He is hoarse from shouting out, but he continues to call out to God for help. He needs help quickly, and has only two things to rely on. One is God’s character: he appeals to God’s kindness and compassion for mercy. The other is his enemies’ character: their crimes leave them deserving judgment. They have so insulted and tortured him, they should be punished.
The Israelites at Kadesh Barnea did the very opposite (Deuteronomy 1:27-28). They questioned God’s character, declaring that he hated them and was the cause of their problems. They focused on the physical size and strength of their enemies. Moses reminded them that God had carried them like a father does his son, and that he would continue to protect them (vv. 30-31). By refusing to see this, they allowed their hearts to melt in fear.
The psalmist has also been deeply impacted by his circumstances. The false accusations have broken his heart, leaving him ill (Psalm 69:20). He hoped for sympathy or consolation, but found none. For his hunger, his enemies gave him wormwood, a disgustingly bitter herb; for his thirst they gave him vinegar (v. 21). As a result of his affliction, he is hurting and in pain. But unlike the Israelites in Moses’ day, he continued to turn to God for protection (v. 29). He has nothing to offer God but praise for who he is. The original Hebrew uses a pun which is lost in English (vv. 30-31). Instead of offering an ox (shor) he offers a song (shir). This pleases God even more as he wants to hear the prayers of those in trouble and brought low.
As we struggle with adversity, or what others say about us, we should remember that God hears the prayers of the needy. He is compassionate even when others are not. He cares for us and will protect us, even when others tear us down. Although Psalm 69 began with waters threatening to overwhelm the psalmist, it ends with the seas praising God. The psalmist began floundering in deep waters, but finishes praising God along with everything else that moves in the seas. In spite of how difficult our circumstances may be, we can turn to God and he will help us to see where his hand is at work in whatever is going on around us.