Help! I’m Drowning!

Psalm 69

People from all walks of life, all ages, in all kinds of places doing unpredictable and bizarre and radical things. Radical in the sense of life-altering, many times irreversibly. Destroying property, taking lives – their own and others, road rage, assaults, drug overdose. List goes on, and of course are many underlying and intermediate causes. Significant cause, though – despair from being overwhelmed. Common solution to despair: lash out or check out. Lash out at whoever gets within reach including God. Check out, thinking that will solve the problem.

There is a third option, the one the Psalmist exercised – cry out. Not once, not quietly – repeatedly, loudly, pleading for help. In this case, crying out to the one who alone is able to deliver from any situation. True, God works through means, using pastors and parents and others to provide guidance and help. Ultimately, though, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills; From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” (Ps. 121:1-2)

A. the situation v.1-12

A sufferer describes his own condition, (1-4)

neck-deep in alligators, or in this case, water; treading water just to be able to breathe, …some of the time (1)

no firm footing, standing on quicksand; perhaps things counted on for stability suddenly shift or disappear (2a)

strong current, threatening to permanently overwhelm – steady stream of stuff, one thing after another, keep coming with no let-up or end in sight (2b)

exhausted from shouting for help, sore throat, tired eyes (3)

“Few, very few, of his saints follow their Lord in prayer as far as this. We are, it is to be feared, more likely to be hoarse with talking frivolities to men than by pleading with God.” Spurgeon

really a poetic description – not truly drowning in water but feelings / emotions are the same

overwhelmed by their number (4a) count up all the enemies of the Cross, all the inventive ways they have of trying to do harm to Christ

their power (4b) have great strength and many resources, far outstripping anything we might muster up; often have positions that can facilitate their evil-doing

their injustice (4d) “They make me “pay back” what I did not steal!” NET – not simply hassles and accusations; involves true hardship to respond to unjust actions

hatred and opposition absolutely without cause – enemies for no reason (4a, d)

He represents himself as suffering for God’s sake, (5-12).

Lord, you know my sins; these guys are accusing falsely (5) I’m not perfect but I’m not guilty of that

keep me from dishonoring others in how I deal with this (6) others watch how we deal with adversity

here’s root cause of mistreatment: outworking of curse pronounced on the serpent (7)

Gen. 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.”

identification as one devoted to God is all it takes to set stage for humiliation, or at least the attempt

when zeal for God and his cause increases, Satan’s opposition intensifies as carried out by his agents (9)

note: real target is God; since he’s out of reach and local Christian isn’t, they take the heat

e.g., Muslim violence, mandates as part of Obamacare, China opposition to churches

increased piety – weeping, fasting, mourning, repentance and humiliation – cause for further insult (10-11)

commitment to cause of God alienates from others

causes division among family members (8) see Jesus: Luke 12:52-53

encourages public slander – media, politicians, lobbyists (12a)

great irony: those who have given up hope (drunkards) mock the one who has genuine hope, what the drunkard needs (12b)

B. the desired solution v.13-28

He therefore prays to be delivered, (13-18)

situation absolutely hopeless unless God shows mercy, delivers, answers prayer (13)

water and mud and sinking and drowning a graphic picture of real problem: need deliverance from enemies, those who hate (14-15)

“an emotional attitude toward persons and things which are opposed, detested, despised and with which one wishes to have no contact or relationship. The hated …are considered foes or enemies and are considered odious, utterly unappealing.” TWOT

request for deliverance made on basis of God’s love and mercy, not merit of one praying (16)

circumstances are really desperate: at end of rope, no room for a knot, no strength for grip (17)

whatever you do, don’t put me on hold! Need help soon, about out of resources

additional reason for request: nature of the enemy – enemy of God’s people is enemy of God (18)

again, going back to Garden: nature of things – those who love God love his people; those who hate God hate his people; if one, then the other

He again describes his suffering, but with more explicit reference to its cause, the malice of his enemies, ver.(19-21)

need for help not a surprise to God – he knows all things, including depth of malice (19)

picture of someone who is at end of resources – physical, emotional, spiritual (20a)

in dire need of human comfort (20a-21) not wrong for God’s people to need that; it’s why he puts us in families

finds none to show sympathy, none to comfort – even just sit there and say nothing, best comfort Job’s friends gave

Job 2:13And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

instead of finding those who would help, they try to hurt – what would cause harm and discouragement

could be seen as giving enemies one final chance to do the right thing; they don’t

He therefore prays that they may be destroyed, (22-28)

not prayed with vindictive or vengeful spirit – is a request that God would deal decisively with his sworn enemies

wasn’t first response to opposition, hardship; request for God to act in judgment only came when was obvious enemies were set in rebellious ways

let them be done in by their own devices, hoist by their own petard (22-23)

let it be God who deals with them – God will ensure perfect justice is carried out (24)

let their evil stop with this generation – don’t let them pass on their malice to offspring (25)

take off the leash – let them continue in rebellion to confirm their just destiny: destruction (27)

let them be thoroughly destroyed – the thought of dealing with this much evil in next life is too much (28)

==> how can this be just? by character and actions have clearly showed their depraved rebellious nature (26)

C. the expected outcome v.29-36

He anticipates a favourable answer to his prayers and the happiest effect upon his brethren, (29-33)

things look really bad now but the future is bright (29)

one relying on God for deliverance has confidence – will praise and thank him for good outcome (30)

thankful praise and worship pleases God and encourages other saints (31-32)

God doesn’t abandon those who are his even when they are oppressed (33)

Nay, he expects to see the same mercy exercised towards the church or chosen people, (34-36)

all creatures called to witness and praise God’s remarkable deliverance of his people (34-35)

in particular, God will establish and preserve his church from her enemies (35)

“David in the whole of this psalm spake in the name of the whole Church; for he now transfers to the Church what he had spoken in particular concerning himself. …But what above all kindled this ardor in the heart of David was his concern for the preservation of the Church.” Calvin

God’s deliverance not limited to present – extends to future generations of true believers (36)

D. our sympathetic high priest

what’s first thing we think/say when we’re overwhelmed and well-meaning soul tries to comfort or encourage? But you just don’t understand!! Might even be tempted to think that of God, that he doesn’t really understand, at least not from experience. Well, guess again!

v.4 – ​John 15:25 “But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.'”

v.8 – John 7:5 “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.”

v.9 – John 2:17 “​Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

v.21 – Mark 15:23, 36 “​Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it.” “​Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink”

don’t forget Heb. 4:15 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

there is a Man upstairs, the God-Man who was overwhelmed, at the end of his rope, prayed for deliverance from what was coming next

his Father delivered him through “the flood”, not from it; he understands our predicaments from both perspectives – omniscience of God, experience of Incarnate Son

that coupled with his loving-kindness make him the perfect sympathizer – he knows best time and best means for our help

our task: cry out to God for help, trust him for help, praise and thank him for help no matter how dire situation seems

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