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A Closer Look at the Sufferings of Christ

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 69

Psalm 69 reveals details about Jesus’ earthly life that would be fulfilled a thousand years later. It also reveals something of God’s sovereign control, knowledge, and purposes; and it assures us that His plan for us, like His plan for Jesus, is right on schedule in every detail.


A Closer Look at the Sufferings of Christ

Psalm 69

We arrive today at Psalm 69, where we find David pouring out his heart to God. But this psalm is not just about David. This is what we call a messianic psalm. This is about Jesus Christ.

You need to keep in mind that David was not just an inspired poet; he was also an inspired prophet.[1] And under the inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit, David is now going to give us insight, not just into the facts of the Lord’s suffering, but also into the feelings the Lord experienced in His suffering. This is a deeply emotional psalm revealing the heart and emotions of the Messiah.

It begins with David crying out to God in verse 2 for deliverance from the “deep mire” into which he is sinking, a place “where there is no foothold.”

There was a gate in Jerusalem known as the Dung Gate, there at the southwest section of the city. All the sewage and garbage of the city was thrown out that gate and down into the valley of Tophet. The last thing you wanted to do was lose your footing and fall into that manure pile.

Well, the Lord didn’t accidentally slip into the manure pile of sin; He took on the sin of the world. He became saturated with sin, as He bore it all in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

Every perverted act, every selfish deed, every pornographic thought, every act of cruelty, every wrong thought, every malicious lie, every wicked deed, and every depraved word—every sin in human history, including every sin you and I will ever commit—our Lord willingly sank into that mire, that mud, that filth, and paid the penalty for it all.[2] He literally became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, Jesus not only died for us; He died as us—sinful and depraved.[3]

David again writes prophetically here in verse 8: “I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien [a foreigner] to my mother’s sons.” This prophecy came to pass when the Jewish nation rejected Jesus. But it also was fulfilled in His own family, for His own mother’s sons rejected Him.

When Jesus visited His hometown of Nazareth, the Jews responded with sarcasm and unbelief; they said:  

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? . . . And they took offense at him.” (Matthew 13:55-57)

Mark’s Gospel adds that when Christ’s family—His own siblings—heard that He had launched a public ministry and was calling disciples to follow Him, “they went out to seize him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind’” (Mark 3:21).John’s Gospel informs us, “Not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5).

Now we are told in the Bible that Jesus was Mary’s firstborn son. He was not her only son. She and Joseph would go on to have several more children. But Jesus was the firstborn; in fact, He was virgin-born. In other words, the Spirit of God miraculously brought an egg to life in Mary’s womb. This bypassed the sperm of Joseph, allowing Jesus to avoid the fallen nature of Adam, which is passed down through the male—through Adam’s seed (Romans 5:12).

But the Spirit of God used the egg of a human woman, allowing Jesus to have a sinless human nature as well as a divine nature from the Holy Spirit. So, Jesus, who is eternally God the Son, now enters the human race, born of a virgin, born without a sinful nature—fully human and fully God.

And we learn in Matthew 13 that later more children were born to Mary and Joseph. Matthew even gives us some names—James, Joseph, Simon, Judas (or Jude)—and indicates the presence of at least two unnamed sisters.

Given the understanding from the clues we have in the Gospels that Joseph died sometime before Christ’s public ministry began, we can only appreciate Mary all the more. For a number of years, she was a single mom raising at least seven children. Without falling into idolatry and false doctrine, we have every reason to appreciate Mary for her obedience and commitment to God.

But this was also a divided family. None of these siblings believed the claims of Jesus until after His resurrection. Jesus experienced the suffering that came from family division and strife.

David goes on to give another messianic insight here in verse 9: “Zeal for your house has consumed me.” Over in John 2, this is going to be directly applied to something Jesus does.

You might remember that early on in His ministry, Jesus came to Jerusalem at Passover and found the temple filled with money changers and people selling sacrificial animals to the worshipers. They were taking advantage of the people, charging inflated prices for the animals. The religious leaders had turned Passover into a money-making racket.

Jesus drove them out of the temple and said, “Do not make my Father’s house a house of trade” (John 2:16).

What was He doing? Well, during Passover, it was the duty of each family to clean their homes. Specifically, they were to get rid of any leaven, which most often represented corruption. So, the Jewish people cleaned house in the days prior to Passover.

And what was Jesus doing here in the temple, a place He called His “Father’s house”? He’s cleaning His Father’s house—cleaning out the corruption.

And John’s Gospel reports, “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’” (John 2:17). The disciples recalled this verse in Psalm 69 and applied it to the zeal Jesus had for His Father’s house.

Now here in verse 21 of Psalm 69 we find another amazing messianic prophecy. David writes, “For my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” This finds fulfillment at the cross. John 19:28 tells us that shortly before He died on the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

By the way, Jesus began His ministry hungry, as He was being tempted in the wilderness; and now He ends His ministry thirsty. And because of what He accomplished, you and I will one day never hunger or thirst again.

After Jesus cried out that He was thirsty, John 19:29 records, “A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.” Every detail prophesied in God’s plan of salvation came true.

Now here toward the end of Psalm 69, we are given the bigger picture:

For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it. (verses 35-36)

David’s psalm speaks prophetically of the life and death of Jesus, and every detail was fulfilled. Now here David’s psalm speaks prophetically of a coming kingdom over which the Messiah will reign. And we can be sure that too will be fulfilled one day.

Who is allowed to live in this coming kingdom? David answers that as he concludes this psalm in verse 36, saying, “Those who love his name shall dwell in it.”

So, do you love His name and all that it represents—His life, His suffering, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection? Do you look back to His death and claim Him as your Savior? Do you look forward to His coming again and claim Him as your King?

If you do, you have a future waiting for you that you cannot begin to imagine.

[1] John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms: Volume One (Loizeaux Brothers, 1988), 553.

[2] Ibid., 556.

[3] Ibid.

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