Psalm 69: The Plea

Wednesday of Holy Week

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 69. The verses offered for today’s liturgy describe someone who is abused and abandoned by the community he depended on:

Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
    I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
    for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
    and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Psalm 69: 21-22

The psalmist goes on, into today’s passage and throughout the whole psalm, to proclaim his innocence and call on God for justice – one might say even vengeance.

Heap punishment upon their punishment;
let them gain from you no vindication.
May they be blotted from the book of life;
not registered among the just!

Psalm 69: 28-29

Several Gospel writers include parts of Psalm 69 to describe Jesus’s situation throughout his Passion and Death. However, we find Jesus not invoking divine vengeance but forgiving those who persecute him.

Does Christ’s forgiveness mean that he didn’t feel heart-broken, angry, perhaps even wishing, as the psalmist does, that the tables would be turned onto his harassers? 

We don’t really know what he felt. We can only imagine. What we do know is what Jesus chose. Jesus chose forgiveness.

As we pray with Psalm 69 today, let us remember that we cannot help our feelings. They come unbidden. What we can control are our choices. In the sufferings of our lives, may we have the strength to choose as Jesus did.


Poetry: John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Forgiveness’

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!


Music: Antonio Vivaldi – Domine ad adjuvandum me festina (Psalm 69)

Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto,
sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Alleluia

O Lord, make speed to save me:
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end, Amen. Alleluia.

2 thoughts on “Psalm 69: The Plea

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