Scripture Focus: Psalm 69.1-2, 14-15
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. 

14 Rescue me from the mire, 
do not let me sink; 
deliver me from those who hate me, 
from the deep waters. 
15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me 
or the depths swallow me up 
or the pit close its mouth over me. 

Reflection: The Mire and the Monster
By John Tillman

Jesus taught that David was a prophet and spoke through “the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 12.36) As the “Son of David,” Jesus took up and lived out many of David’s psalms of salvation and lament. Psalm 69 is one of the psalms that the Holy Spirit brought to the gospel writers’ minds when they recorded the life of Christ. 

Jesus did not quote this psalm from the cross, as he did with Psalm 22, however, gospel writers quoted both verse 9 (John 2.17) and 21 (Matthew 27.34; Mark 15.23; Luke 23.36; John 19.28-30) as pictures of Jesus.

The imagery of death by drowning may not sound, at first, like language describing the cross. Jesus, however, thought of his coming death in these precise terms. Jesus described his death as similar to Jonah’s. (Matthew 12.38-41; Luke 11.29-32) Sinking in deep water, with seaweed wrapped around his head, swallowed by a monster of the deep and taken down to the depths with no hope of return. (Jonah 2.1-9)

The psalmist describes his fate in this way. First, he is stuck in mirey mud. He cannot pull his feet out. The mire rises. He is sinking in his muddy trap as the watery mud rises up his body, trapping his limbs and restricting his movement. The weight of the mud restricts his breathing as it rises to his neck and above his chin. He is thirsty yet about to drown. He pleads with God not to allow the depths of the pit to swallow him.

David’s prayers in Psalm 69 were answered. He was pulled out. For the Son of David, God had a different answer.

The death Psalm 69 describes is a fitting image for us to reflect on Christ’s final journey to Jerusalem. On Palm Sunday, he stepped purposefully into the muck and mire and allowed himself to sink. On Good Friday, Jesus hung on the cross as the muddy mire of sin itself rose up his neck, over his chin, covered his mouth, nose, and eyes, and he was swallowed up. The monster’s mouth closed over him as the stone rolled over the tomb’s entrance.

God’s answer when we are stuck may be to pull us out, like David. But eventually, we will follow the path of the Son of David. We will be pulled under the muck into death, but that is not the end. That monster’s mouth has been broken, and Jesus himself will take our hand and pull us out.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
O Lord, my God, my Savior, by day and night I cry to you. Let my prayer enter into your presence. Psalm 88.1-2

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Song of Songs 1 (Listen 2:16)
Psalm 69 (Listen 4:04)

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