Life's troubles all but overwhelm the author of Psalm 69, like swirling, swift flood waters (verses 1-3). One of the psalmist's problems is hostile enemies, and thus he or she says in verses 4-5:
"More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
many are those who would destroy me,
my enemies who accuse me falsely.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?
O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you."
1. God's people do not merely have enemies; they have MANY enemies. The psalmist says that his enemies are more numerous than the hairs on his head. The wicked assume there is strength in numbers; thus, they band together against God's people, and their numbers are impressive and foreboding. When this happens, God's people must realize in faith that God is stronger than all human beings individually or corporately.
2. Often, people hate God's people in spite of the fact that God's people have done nothing to cause them to hate them. The author of Psalm 35 says in verses 7 and 19:
"For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life. . . .
Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,
or those who hate me without cause wink the eye."
Frequently, God's people do good for others, and the recipients of their good respond by doing evil to them. Jeremiah experienced this, and says in Jeremiah 18:20:
"Is evil a recompense for good?
Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember how I stood before you [Yahweh]
to speak good for them,
to turn away your wrath from them."
Tragically, those who return evil for good are often people who profess to be followers of God and Christ. One thinks of Judas betraying Jesus.
3. The enemies of the composer of Psalm 69 have "accused him falsely." Those who are striving to serve God have experienced this. It was typical of Jesus' opponents to bring false accusations against him. The same was true of Paul. We should not be surprised when people bring false accusations against us.
4. The psalmist had stolen nothing, yet her or his enemies were demanding that she or he restore what she or he had stolen. How unfair this is! Yet wicked people do not care how they hurt people they wish to hurt.
5. The psalmist does not pretend to be without sin. He or she freely confesses his or her sins to God, and admits that no human being can hide his or her sins from God. The problem is that other human beings are condemning the psalmist for certain sins; and it is inappropriate for human beings to put themselves in God's place and sit in judgment on their fellows. Human beings condemn others with the intention of hurting them; God condemns sinners for the purpose of transforming them into his likeness.
May God help his people as they absorb the hatred and hostility and destructiveness of others, and seek to serve God by returning good for evil.