(Some rough notes for a sermon):
In Psalm 69, David cries out to the Lord for deliverance from his enemies. He compares himself to a man sunk in the mire while the waters rush in. He screams out to God for salvation as the water rises to his neck. He has called out for so long, that his throat has become hoarse; his eyes have become dim with waiting for rescue.
The major pivot in the Psalm comes in verse 29: “But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!” After this petition, David moves to the expression of hope and joy, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
What takes place in this petition that David can now rejoice? David Dickson explains,
but I am poor and sorrowful, let thy salvation, O God, set me up. 3. The conscience of humiliation under God’s hand, is a great evidence of delivery out of whatsoever trouble; if a man in a righteous cause be emptied of self-conceit and carnal confidence, and brought down to poverty of spirit, and affected with the sense of sin and misery following upon it, and withal go to God in this condition, he may be sure to be helped; the poor in spirit are freed from the curse: but I am poor and sorrowfull, saith the psalmist here, let thy salvation set me up on high. 4. The man afflicted and persecuted for righteousness, humbled in himself, and drawn to God for relief, shall not only be delivered, but also shall be as much exalted after his delivery, as ever he was cast down: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high. 5. The kindly sufferer of righteousness, will have no deliverance, but such as God will allow him, as God shall bring unto him; and as he looketh not for delivery another way, so he looketh for a glorious delivery this way; let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.
David has shown from experience, what Paul learned from Christ:
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
It is also what Peter exhorts:
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:7-10.
In our afflictions, we seek to free ourselves from trouble by our own efforts. Now we may permissibly seek relief. Paul slipped out of Damascus in a basket. We may call upon God for relief, as did David and Paul. But we may find that our relief comes in death — for David’s Psalm describes in part what Christ experienced in full. Christ was the one for whom the waters of death overwhelmed. They gave him gall upon the cross. God waited so long that it seems God had failed. Yet in the moment of absolute weakness, in death itself, God vindicated Christ:
23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ Acts 2:23-28
The loss of humility when brought to God in absolute dependence results in joy, for humility is an inlet for faith, and faith is an inlet for Christ, and in Christ are all hopes and joys found.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Philippians 3:8-15