If you like to dig deeper into the Scriptures then Psalm 69 is for you. There are approximately 300 quotes from the Old Testament (OT) Scriptures that are found in the New Testament (NT) and a good number of these quotes are taken from the Psalms. Wilcock says, “along with [Psalms] 22 and 110, [Psalm 69] is one of the three psalms most often quoted in the New Testament.” (# 5)
So, what in this psalm is quoted by the NT writers and why?
“The first section, verses 1-4, is centred on me, the suffering servant of God. There could scarcely be a more unnerving image of what it was like for Christ to be forsaken by his Father. Psalm 22:1 gave him his words; these verses give a picture – a flood, or (worse) a quicksand, with nothing firm to grasp in any direction, as the psalmist vainly calls for help and looks for God. If that kind of disorientation is your nightmare, Christ has been through it before you, and for you. It is verse 4, however that [Jesus] actually quotes…[on the day before] Good Friday…To the disciples in the upper room he explains that he will go to the cross because of those who hate [him] without reason.” (# 5)
1 Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
3 I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
4 Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me.
These words of Jesus (quoting from verse 4 above) are found in John 15:25 – But this is to fulfil what is written…” They hated me without reason.”
Wilcock adds: “According to the passage in John (15:18-25), such hatred is born precisely where the evidences of the gospel are seen but rejected.” (# 5)
Later in this psalm we see “further foreshadowing’s of Christ…[in verses 7 – 9] how he identified himself with his Father’s house (v. 9a) and with his Father’s cause (v.9b). In his cleansing of the temple his disciples saw a zeal for God’s house like the psalmist’s zeal (John 2:17)…And he was so committed to his Father’s will that Paul could see the second part of [verse 9] also come true in its fullest sense in him (Romans 15:3). As Jesus said, Father and Son stand together: insult the one, and you insult the other [see John 5:23}.” (# 5)
7 For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
8 I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
9 for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
The next section where the NT writers quote from this psalm in relation to Christ are in verses 19-21. Again, Wilcock says: “…note verse 21 [where] the gall [is] mixed into wine as an anaesthetic drug and offered to Christ before he was crucified, and the vinegar [is] given him just before he died, according to Matthew’s account [Matthew 27:34, 48]. John, without actually quoting, says that Scripture was fulfilled in the latter incident [John 19:28-30].”
19 You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.
20 Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.
21 They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
In summary, let me quote from Blaiklock:
“This psalm has been described as messianic. That term can be too loosely held, for the author of this prayer is deeply conscious of his sin and also uses language which is quite unlike that of Christ. Say rather that it is quoted in the New Testament more frequently than any psalm other than the twenty second. Events in the Gospels remind the apostles of familiar words from a book they had no doubt [learned] by heart…This is not to say that the psalm is directly prophetic. As with Psalm 22, the writer, in the fervour of his committal to God of his agony and aspiration, breaks a barrier of time and finds his mind and speech merging with the eternal.” (#37)
As the writer in Hebrews 4:12 writes:
“…the Word of God is living and active.” Here we see just a glimpse of what that means as what was written in a psalm is understood in its fulness a thousand years later in the coming of Jesus.
Father, thank you for the wonder and often divine mystery of the Scriptures that we discover as we move away from a superficial reading of your word and begin to dig deeper and allow your Spirit to teach us new and marvellous things. Amen