(Jn. 19:28-30) Why does John cite Psalm 69:21 as a prediction of Jesus?

CLAIM: David writes, “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Ps. 69:21). While the original passage refers to David, John cites this to refer to Jesus’ death by crucifixion (Jn. 19:28-30). Is John twisting the Scriptures to make up a prediction about Jesus?

RESPONSE: Not every passage cited in the OT is a prediction in the sense of being a one-to-one fulfillment. Some are this way, but others are not. When the NT authors cite the OT, we can think of this as reading through an article online and finding a hyperlink. When we come across a hyperlink, we are encouraged to click it and read the entire article that is being cited. In the same way, when the NT authors cited the OT, they were encouraging us to look up the passage and read the entire context—not just the verse or two quoted.

When we read this chapter, we see that David is suffering for God at the hands of enemies that are falsely persecuting him. The NT authors cite this passage, because David is a type (or foreshadowing) of Christ. Since David was God’s anointed one, the events that happened to David are seen as prefiguring what would happen to Christ. Just as David (God’s anointed one) was persecuted in the OT, Jesus (God’s ultimate anointed one) was also persecuted in the NT. Jesus epitomizes the ultimate Righteous Sufferer. While David was the true king, he was being persecuted falsely by his enemies “without a cause” (v.4). John is pointing out that Jesus—the True and Ultimate King—is also being treated unfairly by his own people.