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Psalms 69:21

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

They gave me also gall for my meat - Even the food, necessary to preserve us in their slavery, was frequently mingled with what rendered it unpleasant and disgusting, though not absolutely unwholesome. And vinegar, sour small wines, was given us for our beverage. This is applied to our Lord, Matthew 27:34, where the reader is requested to consult the notes.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

They gave me also - My enemies; all persons around me. No one would show me even so much kindness as to give me food when I was hungry, or drink when I was thirsty. They utterly forsook me; they left me to die unpitied. Nay, they did more than this. When I was perishing with hunger, they not only refused to give me wholesome food, but they mocked my sufferings by giving me a bitter and poisonous herb for food, and vinegar for my drink.

Gall for my meat - For my food. Or, they gave me this “instead” of wholesome food. The word here rendered “gall” - ראשׁ rô'sh - is the same “in form” which is commonly rendered “head,” and occurs in this sense very often in the Scriptures. It is also used to denote a “poisonous plant,” perhaps from the idea that the plant referred to was distinguished for, or remarkable for its “head” - as the poppy; and “then” the name may have been given also to some other similar plants. The word then comes to denote poison; venom; anything poisonous; and then, anything very bad-tasted; “bitter.” It is rendered “gall,” as here, in Deuteronomy 29:18; Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15; Lamentations 3:5, Lamentations 3:19; Amos 6:12; “venom” in Deuteronomy 32:33; “poison,” in Job 20:16; and “hemlock,” in Hosea 10:4. In Deuteronomy 29:18, it is rendered, in the margin, “rosh,” or “a poisonful herb.” It does not occur elsewhere with any such signification. It may not be possible to determine precisely what is denoted here by the word, but it undoubtedly refers to some poisonous, bitter, deadly, stupefying substance given to a sufferer, “instead” of that which would be wholesome food, or suited to sustain life.

And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink - Instead of giving me pure water, they gave me sour wine - vinegar - that which would not slake my thirst, or which would not answer the purpose of drink. The form of trial here referred to is that where one is dying of thirst, and where, instead of giving water to assuage the thirst, one should give, in mockery, that which could not be drunk, or which would answer none of the purposes required. The word translated “vinegar” - חמץ chômets - is rendered in the ancient versions “sour grapes,” but the proper signification here seems to be vinegar - the usual meaning of the word. What is here stated to have been done to David was also done to the dying Saviour, though without any intimation that the passage here had an original reference to him - or that what was done to him was intended to be a fulfillment of what is here said. See Matthew 27:34, Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:23; John 19:29. In the case of the Saviour, they first gave him vinegar mingled with myrrh - a usual custom in reference to those who were crucified - for the purpose of deadening the pain, or stupefying the sufferer. Matthew 27:34. At a subsequent part of the crucifixion they gave him vinegar, extended to him in a sponge affixed to a reed. Matthew 27:48; John 19:29. This was for a different purpose. It was to allay his thirst, and it seems (as the former may have been) to have been an act of kindness or compassion on the part of those who were appointed to crucify him. The former he refused to take, because he came to suffer; the latter he just tasted as he died. John 19:30. The “coincidence” in the cases of David and the Saviour was remarkable; but in the case of the Saviour no further use is made of what occurred to David than to employ the “language” which he employed to describe his own sufferings. The one was not, in any proper sense, a “type” of the other; nor does the language in the psalm refer to the Saviour.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Whatever deep waters of affliction or temptation we sink into, whatever floods of trouble or ungodly men seem ready to overwhelm us, let us persevere in prayer to our Lord to save us. The tokens of God's favour to us are enough to keep our spirits from sinking in the deepest outward troubles. If we think well of God, and continue to do so under the greatest hardships, we need not fear but he will do well for us. And if at any time we are called on to suffer reproach and shame, for Christ's sake, this may be our comfort, that he knows it. It bears hard on one that knows the worth of a good name, to be oppressed with a bad one; but when we consider what a favour it is to be accounted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus, we shall see that there is no reason why it should be heart-breaking to us. The sufferings of Christ were here particularly foretold, which proves the Scripture to be the word of God; and how exactly these predictions were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, which proves him to be the true Messiah. The vinegar and the gall given to him, were a faint emblem of that bitter cup which he drank up, that we might drink the cup of salvation. We cannot expect too little from men, miserable comforters are they all; nor can we expect too much from the God of all comfort and consolation.
Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 746

In the sufferings of Christ upon the cross prophecy was fulfilled. Centuries before the crucifixion, the Saviour had foretold the treatment He was to receive. He said, “Dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” Psalm 22:16-18. The prophecy concerning His garments was carried out without counsel or interference from the friends or the enemies of the Crucified One. To the soldiers who had placed Him upon the cross, His clothing was given. Christ heard the men's contention as they parted the garments among them. His tunic was woven throughout without seam, and they said, “Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.” DA 746.1

In another prophecy the Saviour declared, “Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.” Psalm 69:20, 21. To those who suffered death by the cross, it was permitted to give a stupefying potion, to deaden the sense of pain. This was offered to Jesus; but when He had tasted it, He refused it. He would receive nothing that could becloud His mind. His faith must keep fast hold upon God. This was His only strength. To becloud His senses would give Satan an advantage. DA 746.2

The enemies of Jesus vented their rage upon Him as He hung upon the cross. Priests, rulers, and scribes joined with the mob in mocking the dying Saviour. At the baptism and at the transfiguration the voice of God had been heard proclaiming Christ as His Son. Again, just before Christ's betrayal, the Father had spoken, witnessing to His divinity. But now the voice from heaven was silent. No testimony in Christ's favor was heard. Alone He suffered abuse and mockery from wicked men. DA 746.3

“If Thou be the Son of God,” they said, “come down from the cross.” “Let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God.” In the wilderness of temptation Satan had declared, “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” “If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down” from the pinnacle of the temple. Matthew 4:3, 6. And Satan with his angels, in human form, was present at the cross. The archfiend and his hosts were co-operating with the priests and rulers. The teachers of the people had stimulated the ignorant mob to pronounce judgment against One upon whom many of them had never looked, until urged to bear testimony against Him. Priests, rulers, Pharisees, and the hardened rabble were confederated together in a satanic frenzy. Religious rulers united with Satan and his angels. They were doing his bidding. DA 746.4

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 691

Of the suffering Saviour Jehovah Himself declared through Zechariah, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My Fellow.” Zechariah 13:7. As the substitute and surety for sinful man, Christ was to suffer under divine justice. He was to understand what justice meant. He was to know what it means for sinners to stand before God without an intercessor. PK 691.3

Through the psalmist the Redeemer had prophesied of Himself: PK 691.4

Of the treatment He was to receive, He prophesied, “Dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.” Psalm 22:16-18. PK 691.6

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