The imagery used in this lament is graphic and yet deeply satisfying as a description of a common experience for us all at some time. The picture is of someone swirling around and sinking fast in deep muddy waters. It portrays the disorientation of life whether from the inward deceits of our own hearts or from the seemingly absurd circumstances of life. The psalm was written by David and it speaks specifically of betrayal and insult. One can only think of the suffering David endured during the rebellion against his rule that was led by none less than his own son, Absalom (2 Sam. 15ff). David knew that, even though he was forgiven, this was a consequence of his own sin as Nathan had predicted (2 Sam. 12:10). But what is at stake here is more than David’s personal issues. The reputation of the people of God, who were meant to shine as a light to the ungodly nations around them, was in danger of being marred here. David had worked himself into deep waters and now he expresses his anguish. His anguish would be lessened if were not so concerned about honour of God’s house, the temple in Jerusalem. The words of verse 9 are applied to Christ when he drove the merchants out of the temple in fury over the dishonouring of God’s temple (John 2:12-17). The second part of this verse is particularly reflective of Christ’s experience as those who insulted him did so because he did indeed show the character of God.
The cry of this psalm is of a person seeking God in the midst of confusion. There is the imagery of someone neck deep in mud and sinking with his eyes looking upward waiting for God’s hand to reach out and save him. ‘My eyes fail looking for God’ is an expression so characteristic of the lament psalms where the pain of waiting for God to do something without any immediate response is a common experience. But in this psalm, as in all the lament psalms, the movement of faith is portrayed in all its glory. When God steps back from us it gives us an opportunity to show how much we desire God by stepping forward and the further God steps backward the greater the act of worship in seeking him tirelessly. Psalms like this express a depth of spiritual engagement that is more apparent than any other circumstance might allow.