Sorrow Trembles Into Song: A Response to Psalm 69

After the heights of psalm 68 we are plunged back int the depths of sorrow in the harrowing words of psalm 69. This is the psalm of someone whose goodness and simplicity has been met with hatred and contempt, whose zeal for God has met with mockery and persecution, who is ‘weary with crying, whose throat is dry’. even as we read its opening verses we cannot help thinking of Jesus, and wondering what it was like for him to read this psalm. By the time we get to verse 22: ‘They gave me gall to eat: and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.’ we know that it is one of those psalms that prophesy his passion. And yet when we read the psalm in the full light of Christ’s atoning death then we also come up sharply against the contrasts as well as the similarities: for after verse 22 this psalm becomes a call for vengeance on wickedness and on the enemies of God culminating in the two terrible verses:

Let them fall from one wickedness to another: and not come into thy righteousness.

Let them be wiped out of the book of the living: and not be written among the righteous.

What are we to make of that? If we are to read this psalm in and through Christ then we must understand that Christ is not only the suffering righteous one in the psalm but that he suffers precisely to redeem the wicked people whom the psalm condemns, that in one sense all the vengeance that psalm calls down falls on Christ himself and he takes it willingly for us. His will is not that we should be ‘wiped out of the book of the living’ but on the contrast that our names should be written in the lamb’s book of life. As Paul put it ‘He was made to be sin who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God.’.

This is a mystery beyond our fathoming, but I have tried to evoke a little of it in my response to this psalm especially in the last three lines:

Christ takes this psalm and turns it inside out
He does not pour out indignation, but
Instead pours out the life-blood of his heart.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title.

These poems will all be gathered together and published on January 30th under the title David’s Crown. I am very much looking forward to seeing it appear as a proper book and there is already an amazon page for the book if you wish to pre-order it Here

LXIX Salvum me fac
His day is coming, it will not be long!
But first he came to suffer with us here.
That sorrow might yet tremble into song,
The psalmist here foresees and counts each tear
Our saviour weeps, sees how he was accused
So falsely, sees the spite, the shame, the fear
Surrounding him, the way he was abused
By those he came to save, the way his zeal
Was mocked and taunted, mercy was refused.
And all this was for me, that he might seal
Me in the book of life, not raze me out.
They cried for vengeance, but he came to heal.
Christ takes this psalm and turns it inside out
He does not pour out indignation, but
Instead pours out the life-blood of his heart.


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Filed under imagination

3 responses to “Sorrow Trembles Into Song: A Response to Psalm 69

  1. Malcolm,

    Do you have any idea when this book will be available in the U.S.? It sounds like the sort of thing my mother would love.

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks. It’s published in the uk on 30th jan. my publisher is working to establish a US Amazon page for it and I’ll share that link as soon as have it.

  2. bgulland72

    Thanks for the helpful introduction to this (again) powerful psalm, and I like the insight of Christ ‘turning it inside out’

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