The Whipping Boy

Psalm 69

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 69

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

Words marked with a *star are described in the word list at the end.

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Jesus came to his own country, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:11)

The Story of Psalm 69

We do not know if David wrote this psalm. Some Bible students think that Jeremiah wrote it. Jeremiah was a *prophet that lived 400 years after David. Jeremiah told people what he thought God was saying to them. They did not like it. They hurt Jeremiah but there was no reason to hurt him. What he said was true. Maybe David did write the psalm and Jeremiah wrote some more verses for it. Both David and Jeremiah had enemies.

At the top it says:

    use *lilies. Lilies are beautiful flowers. Maybe it is the name of beautiful music also.

    for David. Maybe this means "for the set of psalms that David started". We call the psalms "The Psalms of David" today, when we know that he did not write them all.

Our name for the psalm is The Whipping Boy. What does this mean? The son of a king is a *prince. *Princes had teachers. When the *prince made a mistake, the teacher did not hit (or whip) the *prince, but he hit a boy that had lessons with the *prince. The boy had done nothing wrong, but the teacher whipped him. He was a whipping boy, someone for the teacher to whip, hit or beat instead of the *prince. Today, a whipping boy is anyone that is hurt when someone else has done wrong!

They often hurt David and Jeremiah when they had done nothing wrong. They were both "whipping boys". But the most important "whipping boy" of all was Jesus. They hurt him and killed him when he had done nothing wrong. Everybody that has ever lived has done wrong, and God should *punish us all. *Punish means "hurt someone for doing wrong". But God *punished Jesus for what we did wrong. In Psalm 69 are several things that happened to Jesus, as well as to David or Jeremiah. The psalm is not only about Jesus, but it makes Christians think about Jesus. That is why many Christians sing it on Good Friday, the day when we remember Jesusí death.

Psalm 69: Verses 1 - 4

  (This is) for the music leader.
Use (the music that they call) "*Lilies".
(It is) for David.

v1   Save me, God! Because the waters have come to *(take) my life.

v2   I am going down into deep *mud and there is nowhere to put my feet.
  I have come into deep waters and *floods rush over me.

v3   I have shouted so much for help that I am weak.
  My mouth is hot and dry. My eyes hurt from looking for God.

v4   More people *hate me than (I have) hairs on my head.
  They have no reason to be my enemies.
  Many people try to destroy me with their *lies.
  They made me give back something that I did not rob them of.

What Verses 1 - 4 mean

In verses 1 - 3 the *psalmist (maybe David or Jeremiah) gives us a picture. It is of a man drowning. He shouts to God, "Save me". He wants God to pull him out of the water. In verse 4 he tells us that the water is a picture of his enemies. His enemies are trying to destroy him just *like the water tried to drown the man in the picture. He tells us two other things:

    there is no reason for them to try to kill him

    they made him give back something they say he took.

We do not know what this was. The *psalmist says that he did not take it from them.

Psalm 69: Verses 5 - 12

v5   You, God, know that I am a fool.
  I cannot hide my *sin from you.

v6   Master, do not let the people that put their hope in you
  be ashamed because of me.
  You are the *LORD of the armies (of *heaven).
  Do not let the people that follow you
  be ashamed because of me.
  You are the God of Israel.

v7   Because I love you people say bad things about me.
  They make me feel ashamed.

v8   I have become a stranger to my brothers
  and my own motherís sons do not know me.

v9   I am angry for your house and it burns me up inside.
  People *insult you, but they do it by *insulting me!

v10   When I cry and eat no food people still *insult me.

v11   When I wear clothes made from *sacks people laugh at me.

v12   People that sit by the gate talk about me
  and people that are drunks sing songs about me.

What verses 5 - 12 mean

In verses 5 - 6 the *psalmist says that he has *sinned, or broken Godís rules. He asks that other people will not get hurt because of this. The armies (of *heaven) are, maybe, *angels not people. Heaven is where God lives and *angels live there with him.

In verses 7 - 9 enemies of God want to say bad things to him. But they cannot see God. So they do and say bad things to Godís servants instead! In verses 22 - 29 the *psalmist says what he wants God to do to these enemies.

In verse 10 we call "eating no food" fasting. They thought that it made God answer their *prayers. In verse 11 people wore clothes made from *sacks ("sackcloth") when they wanted to say "sorry" to God. In verse 12 the leaders of the people sat by the gate of their town. It was the place where they decided what to do.

Psalm 69: Verses 13 - 18

v13   But me ... I am praying to you, *LORD,
  (at a) time when you will hear me.
  God, because you have so much kind love,
  answer me and make me really safe.

v14   Take me out of the *mud
  and do not let me fall into it any more.
  Save me from the people that *hate me
  and from the very deep waters.

v15   Do not let:
    *floods of waters pour over me
    the deep seas drown me
    the *pit close its mouth round me.

v16   Answer me, *LORD, because your kind love is (so) good.
  Turn to me because you have so much *mercy.

v17   And do not hide your face from your servant.
  Because of my trouble, answer me very soon.

v18   Come near to my *soul and make it safe.
  Buy it back because of my enemies.

What verses 13 - 18 mean

The *psalmist repeats some of what he said in verses 1 - 4. In verse 13 "the time when you will hear me" maybe is a special meeting of Godís people. "Any more" in verse 14 means that he does not want a bigger lot of *mud over him. In verse 15 the *pit was a special place. The Jews thought that when they died they went to a place under the ground called *Sheol. In one corner of *Sheol was a *pit, or deep hole. Very bad people went there and never came out again! That is why the *psalmist talks about his *soul in verse 18. He is thinking about the part of him that will live when his body dies. He does not want it to live in *Sheol and its *pit. It is difficult to say who God will buy his *soul back from at the end of the verse. Maybe he means *Sheol. Christians say that Jesus bought our *souls back from *hell and that the enemy was the devil. The *psalmist did not know this.

Psalm 69: Verses 19 - 22

v19   You (God) know that people *insult me
  and say that I am a *disgrace and make me ashamed.

v20   *Insults have broken my *heart.  I feel *helpless.
  I looked for *sympathy, but there was none.
  I wanted someone to *comfort me, but did not find anyone.

v21   But they put poison in my food
  and they gave me *vinegar to drink.

v22   I want (the food on) their table to be a *trap (for them)
  and a *trap for all their good friends!

What verses 19 - 22 mean

The *insults (or bad things that people say about someone) in verse 19 have broken the *heart of the *psalmist in verse 20. This means that they have made him so sad that he wants to die. He looked for someone to listen to him and give him some help, but nobody did. Rather, they gave him a poison called gall and *vinegar to drink. This is where we have some *imprecations. They are in verses 22 - 29. Look later for what imprecations are. Here, the idea of his enemies giving him poison makes him want them to eat poison! So he says in verse 22 that he wants their food (on their table) to *trap them and their friends. The poison that they gave him in verse 21 was gall. It had a bad taste, the opposite of sweet. Maybe it came from a plant, or a snake. Matthew 27:34 says that they gave Jesus *vinegar and gall to drink just before they crucified (killed) him. But he did not drink it. Mark 15:23 says there was *myrrh in the *vinegar, which would make the pain less.

Psalm 69: Verses 23 - 29

v23   I want their eyes to be in the dark so that they cannot see.
  I want their bodies to bend over always,

v24   (because) you are so angry with them.
  Pour out your anger on them!

v25   I want the places where they stay to be empty
  and nobody to be in their *tents.

v26   For they *persecute the people that you (God) hurt
  and talk about (more) pain for the people that you *punish.

v27   Make a note of all their *sins
  and do not let them have your *righteousness.

v28   Take their names out of the book of life.
  Take them off the list of *righteous people.

v29   But I have pain (in my body) and trouble (in my mind).
  God, *protect me and make me safe.

What verses 23 - 29 mean

By verse 25, they are not in their towns but in *Sheol where no one can see them. Verses 27 - 28 are the worst *imprecations we could ask! Not only does the *psalmist ask that his enemies die and go to *Sheol (verse 23). He asks more! He asks that God will not make them *righteous and that he will take away their names from the book of life. To Christians, this means that he is asking God never to let these enemies become Christians. Jesus said that we must pray for our enemies. He showed us what words to say, when his enemies killed him. Jesus said, "Father, *forgive them". When God *forgives us he makes us *righteous and puts our names into his book of life. Look at Psalms of *Imprecation for more.

Psalm 69: Verses 30 - 36

v30   I will *praise Godís name with songs
  and I will say how great he is by giving thanks.

v31   This will bring more pleasure to the *LORD
  than an *ox or a bull with *horns and *hooves.

v32   Poor people will see it and be happy.
  People that are looking for God will have brave *hearts again.

v33   For the *LORD hears what people need
  and he does not think bad things about his people in *captivity.

v34   Let the skies and the earth *praise him!
  And let the seas and everything that moves through them *praise him!

v35   For God will make Zion safe.
  He will build again the cities of Judah.
  Then (his servants) will live there and it will be theirs.

v36   As for the children of his servants,
  it will stay their *inheritance also.
  The people that love Godís name will always remain there.

What verses 30 - 36 mean

The ox and the bull in verse 31 were *sacrifices. This means that they burnt them to bring pleasure to God. He told them to do this in the Book of Leviticus. But God wants us to thank and *praise him more than giving him *sacrifices. The only *sacrifice Christians have is Jesus. That happened when people crucified (killed) him. When Christians thank and *praise God, God gives them help. They become brave again when life is difficult, verse 32. Even people in prison because they love God and Jesus may become brave again, verse 33. Some Bible students think that verses 35-36 came later than the first 34 verses. Someone wrote them after they came back to their land from Babylon, where they had been *prisoners.

Psalm 69 in the New Testament

Many of the psalms have prophecies in them. This means that they say what is going to happen before it really happens. Many of these prophecies are about Jesus. A good example is Psalm 22.

Psalm 69 is not a psalm full of prophecies. It tells us about what happens to many of Godís people, *like Jeremiah. Because people *hate God, but cannot touch him, they hurt Godís people. Sometimes they kill them. We call hurting and killing people "persecution". People often *persecute those who:

    are from a different country

    believe something different.

They *persecuted Jesus. For this reason, some of the things in Psalm 69 did happen to Jesus. When Jesusí friends wrote the New Testament, they remembered the things in Psalm 69 that happened to Jesus. But they did not only happen to Jesus, they happened to other servants of God also.

Jesus used one of the verses in Psalm 69 to explain to his friends that someone would *persecute them also. He called this someone Ďthe worldí. By that, he meant the people that did not love, *trust and obey him. Here is part of what Jesus said in John chapter 15:

v18  If the world *hates you, remember this. It hated me before it hated you.

v20  Remember the words that I said to you. The servant is not more important than his master. If they *persecuted me, they will also *persecute you.

v23  He that *hates me hates my Father also.

v25  But this happened that the word would come true, the word in the scripture: "they *hated me without a reason".

Not all the chapter is here, there is not enough room for it here. Try to get a Bible, and read all the chapter. The scripture Jesus talked about was Psalm 69:4. Jesus put two parts of the verse together, people *hate me ... they have no reason.

Psalms of *Imprecation

Many of the psalms are *prayers. *Prayers are the words that we say to God. Most of the psalms ask God for good things, but a few do not. They ask for bad things to happen to people. We call these "Psalms of *Imprecation". We could call them "Psalms with Bad *Prayers".

Christians do not like these bad *prayers. Christians tell us that Jesus was not *like this. He did not pray for bad things to happen to his enemies. When they crucified him he prayed, "Father, *forgive them. They do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). We must be *like Jesus and pray for good things to happen, even to our enemies.

But Bible students still think that they must explain the bad *prayers. They are in the Bible, and Paul tells us that all the Bible is of use to us, 2 Timothy 3:16. One use is to tell us how not to pray for our enemies! Many of our enemies (because they are really Godís enemies) have become Christians through *prayers. But some famous Bible students explain them another way. *Saint Augustine (1600 years ago) and Bonhoeffer (60 years ago) said that these were not the words of the *psalmist. They were the words of Jesus speaking in the *psalmist. They said what would happen to Godís enemies if they did not ask him to *forgive them before they died. After that, they could not:

    ask God to *forgive them

    ask God to make them *righteous

    ask God to put their names into his book of life.

If we explain it *like this, then some of the words that Jesus did say are important. He will say to some people after they die, "I did not know you. Go away, you are bad people" (Matthew 7:23).

It is not our job to say what will happen to people when they die. That is for God to say. Augustine and Bonhoeffer tell us that God has already said it in the Psalms of *Imprecation. Our job is to pray that God will not say it to people that we meet.

Something to do

Some of the things in Psalm 69 happened to Jesus and his friends. See "Psalm 69 in the New Testament". Here are some more verses from the New Testament. See if you can find which verses in Psalm 69 they come from. Sometimes the words are not quite the same. This is because the New Testament uses the Greek Old Testament most times, not the Hebrew Old Testament. Our translation comes from the Hebrew Old Testament.

1.  John 1:11. He (Jesus) came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him.

2.  John 2:17. His friends remembered what was in the scripture. "I am angry for your house and it burns me up inside". (This happened after Jesus had been to the *temple in Jerusalem. He sent out the people there who were selling things. He was angry because they should not have done it there. "Scripture" is a word for "something written in their Bible".)

3.  Acts 1:20. In the Book of Psalms it says, "Let the place where he lived be empty and do not let anyone live there". (The friends of Jesus said this after Judas killed himself. Judas was a special friend (or *disciple) of Jesus. He took the Roman soldiers to Jesus when they were looking for him. We say that Judas "*betrayed" Jesus. After this, Judas was so sad that he killed himself.)

4.  Matthew 27:29. They laughed at him (Jesus) and said, "You are the Great King of the Jews!" (The Roman soldiers did this before they crucified (killed) Jesus. This was after Judas *betrayed Jesus. The soldiers did not mean what they said. They said it in *scorn, or "bad fun". You may find more than one verse in the psalms that makes you think of Matthew 27:29.)

5.  Romans 11:9-10. And David said, "Let their table become a *trap. Let their eyes be in the dark so that they cannot see". (Paul wrote this about the Jews who would not receive Jesus.)

6.  Romans 15:3. Even Jesus did not look for pleasure for himself. As the scripture says, "The *insults of the people that *insulted you fell on me". (Paul wrote this to tell people not to look for an easy time.)

7.  Matthew 27:34. They gave him (Jesus) *vinegar to drink mixed with gall. When he had tasted it, he would not drink it. (This was just before they crucified (killed) Jesus.)

Here are the answers if you want to check if you were right.

John 1:11 verse 8

John 2:17 verse 9

Acts 1:20 verse 25

Matthew 27:29 verses 12, 20

Romans 11:9 verses 22, 23

Romans 15:3 verse 9

Matthew 27:34 verse 21

Word list

angel ~ a servant of God (usually) in *heaven.

betray ~ lead an enemy to someone.

captivity ~ "in captivity" means "caught, so not free".

comfort ~ being kind to people and making them strong.

disciple ~ someone that follows and obeys a teacher.

disgrace ~ what you feel when people say you are bad.

floods ~ water on the land where it should not be.

forgive ~ give away (usually *forgive *sin, which means give away the *sin to somebody else, read note in Psalm 67).

grace ~ being kind to someone when you do not have to be.

hate ~ the opposite of love.

heart ~ part of our body; the Jews thought that you used your *heart to think; so to know it "in your heart" or "by heart" means that you remember it.

heaven ~ the home of God.

hell ~ where bad people go when they die.

helpless ~ people that cannot get help from anybody.

hooves ~ what is on a bullís feet.

horn ~ on the head of animals *like cows and goats.

imprecation ~ a *prayer for something bad to happen to an enemy.

inherit ~ when someone that dies gives you something.

inheritance ~ what someone that dies gives to you.

insult ~ bad words or saying bad words to someone.

lies ~ words that are not true.

like ~ another word for "as".

lilies ~ beautiful flowers.

LORD ~ a special name for God; only his people use it (look after Psalm 25).

mercy ~ when you do not *punish (hurt) people that you should.

mud ~ ground made soft with a lot of water.

myrrh ~ it has a special smell.

ox, bull ~ animals *like cows that they burnt for God.

persecute people ~ hurt or kill people for what they are.

pit ~ a hole in the ground (the *Pit was a hole in the corner of *Sheol where very bad people went after they died).

praise ~ (noun, or being something) words that say that someone or something is very good.

praise ~ (verb, or doing something) say that someone or something is very good.

praise God ~ say how great that God is.

prayer ~ words that you say when you pray.

prince ~ son of a king.

prisoners ~ people that are not free.

prophet ~ someone who speaks for God (makes a prophecy).

protect ~ stop an enemy hurting or killing someone.

psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm.

punish ~ hurt someone when they do something wrong(hit them with a stick or put them in prison).

righteous ~ very very good; only God is very righteous (or has righteousness); doing what is right.

righteousness ~ being very good.

sack ~ a large bag made of material that is not soft.

sacrifice ~ an animal killed and burnt for God.

sacrifice ~ burn an animal to make God happy (see after Psalms 4 and 50).

saints ~ another name for Godís people, or Christians.

scorn ~ laugh at someone in a bad way.

Sheol ~ where the Jews thought that dead people went.

sin ~ (noun, or being something) a not obeying of Godís rules.

sin ~ (verb, or doing something) not obey Godís rules.

soul/spirit ~ the part of us that lives on after our bodies die.

sympathy ~ knowing how someone feels.

take my life ~ kill me.

temple ~ a special building where people *worship God.

tent ~ a small house made of animalsí skins.

trap ~ something that you use to catch an animal or bird.

trust ~ (noun, or being something) believing that someone will help.

trust ~ (verb, or doing something) believe that someone will help.

vinegar ~ made when drinks *like beer are open to the air.

worship ~ say that someone is very wonderful.


© 2000-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

July 2001

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