Psalms 69-72

Good morning! Today with Psalms 69-72 we finish the subsection of the Psalms that are attributed directly to King David.

How many of us have ever felt like the waters are up to our neck, and we cannot save ourselves? This is the situation from which David writes in Psalm 69. We might wonder what led to this experience in the historical figure’s life, but it’s perhaps better to reflect on when we’ve been in a similar place. The possible situations are many: grief, depression, unjust persecution, political disfavor or a general state of overwhelm. All these have a feeling of quicksand taking over, with no solid footing to stand on. From such a place, David pleads to God with this bold reminder: I’m a visible follower of you, so you’ll need to take care of me if you want people to think well of you. The writer calls down curses on enemies also, and laments their mistreatment. The line “for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” will resonate in the ears of Christians who connect this psalm of despair and abandonment with Jesus on the cross. (There’s something reassuring about the fact that one such as Jesus may have felt all these same emotions too.) The closing verses call for praise—more desirable than sacrifices—to God, and then express confidence that God will save the people, restoring their cities so that generations to follow may live in them still.

Psalm 70 may have been a liturgical piece, since the opening description identifies it as “for the memorial offering”.  The opening 3 verses call for humiliation of one’s enemies, and then the remaining two call on God to be swift in deliverance. One interfaith connection here is found in verse 4. The cry “God is great!” is what Muslims are saying when they cry out “Allahu Ackbar!” Muslims too are the faithful who “love your salvation”.

Psalm 71, the second to last psalm attributed to David, takes stock of life from the vantage point of old age, asking for God’s deliverance to continue in elderly years. (Anyone who has witnessed the feebleness of old age can relate with the mix of anxiety and faith in that prayer.) However good David’s life has been so far, he knows that it’s because of God’s faithful providence. “So”, he continues, “don’t let me be mistaken as my life comes closer to the end!” The God who has brought him this far will not leave him stranded now, and praise to this saving God will go on forever.

Psalm 72 acknowledges the handing-over of rule from David to his son and heir Solomon with a beautiful plea for divine blessing, justice, righteousness, and deliverance. The writer waxes poetic in calls for Solomon’s long life (measured on a cosmic scale). Note David’s understanding that a righteous ruler’s success is measured according to the peace, prosperity and health that comes to the whole people, including the weak and needy. As a consequence of this righteousness, the psalm closes by asking for divine blessing to be manifested in abundant possessions and everlasting renown. This blessing of the new king finishes with a couplet of praise for God, and a notation that this is the end of David’s prayers. Happy reading!

Read Psalms 69-72.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Psalms 73-76. Thanks for reading!

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