Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
Psalm 69. The state of soul of which this most important psalm is the expression demands the utmost attention and patient inquiry. We have all along seen the remnant of Israel before us, or Christ associated with that remnant. It is the case here. He who speaks is doubtless, first of all, David; but evidently a greater than he. The state described is this:He is in the deepest distress, sinking in deep mire, has to weigh before God the foolishness and sins which have been the occasion of it. He is in the midst of numerous and mighty enemies, who are such without a cause. Whatever sins may be dealt with, personally He has been faithful. The zeal even of God's house has eaten Him up, and He is suffering reproach for the God of Israel's sake. Hence He prays that this may not be a stumbling-block to others, seeing that One so faithful to God should find such distress and trouble. Yet He is not forsaken of God. On the contrary His prayer is to Jehovah in an acceptable time. He looks to be heard in the multitude of God's mercies and the truth of His salvation. His complaint is of His enemies; yet He sees Himself smitten of God, and among those whom He has wounded. His desire is for vengeance against men; it is not the testimony of grace.
If we look at the godly man in the remnant of Israel, all this answers perfectly. He acknowledges his sins all the sins of his nation. Yet he suffers reproach and causeless enmity for the name of the God of Israel: and the more faithful he is, the more he suffers it. Faith yet makes him know that he prays in an acceptable time (we have seen this to be the character of the last psalms) to the God of Israel. Yet he is in the deepest distress. His eyes fail while waiting for God. His care for the good of Israel, his submission to injury, only makes him their scorn. He looks for the destruction of his adversaries and persecutors, for whom no mercy is of avail (they will it not); assured that Jehovah hears the poor and despises not His prisoners. All creation is to praise Him, for God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell therein and have it in possession. The seed also of His servants shall inherit it; and they that love His name shall dwell therein. All this is exactly and precisely the position and feeling of the godly remnantthe maschilim.
But in Verse 21, (Psa 69:21), and indeed, though of more general application, in Verse 9, (Psa 69:9), we have what has been literally fulfilled in Christ. The use of Verse 22 (Psa 69:22) in the epistle to the Romans leads us to the same conclusion; and many other verses, though applicable to others, have their fullest application to Christ. Yet He is not speaking as forsaken of God at all. Yet, though His life is referred to, His sufferings on the cross, as we have seen, are reached in the description given of them; yet there is no trace of grace and mercy flowing from them. They are man's part in them, not God's forsaking; and judgment on man sought, not righteous grace announced. Yet withal trespasses are confessed before God, and the persecutions are of One whom God has smitten. Hence, I cannot but see in this psalm, after His righteous life, in consequence of which He suffered reproach (and which He rehearses as regards the great principles which had governed it), Christ entering in heart and spirit into the sorrow and distress of Israel, into which, as to God's government, they had brought themselves; yet not the forsaking or the rejecting that was Christ's alone as bearing and expiating sin. Still, they are smitten of God and wounded by Him; and into this Christ could enter, because He (in the highest and fullest sense, though it be not the general subject of this psalm in general) was smitten of God. The subject is the persecution by the Jews, but the persecuted One was smitten of God, and felt how terrible was the wickedness that taunted and reproached Him who had taken that bitter cup, which we too had filled by our sins. Christ was smitten of God upon the cross, and felt the reproach and dishonor then cast upon Him.
As regards the trespasses recalled to mind in Verse 5, (Psa 69:5), [See Note #1] I apprehend they are in connection with the government of God as to Israel; and that, though the fact of smiting is referred to, its expiatory power is not at all treated of in this psalm. Only judgment is sought for; that is not the fruit of expiation (compare Psalm 22). But it gives to us, for that very reason, a fuller apprehension of all the personal sufferings of Christ at that time; not that which stands wholly and entirely alone His atoning and expiatory work. Were this only revealed, it is so immensely great, it would have eclipsed His personal sufferings as a man, as such, gone through at that time; and this it is, blessed be God, which we have in this psalm what accompanied the great act of the smiting of God.
Further, as already remarked, in no case is the assumption of sins or their confession, on the head of the victim, the act of expiation. It is the assumption of that which had to be expiated.