Home » Search results for 'bibliography john'

Search Results for: bibliography john

Bibliography for Gems from John

Gingrich, F. W., BibleWorks 9 Software for Biblical Exegesis & Research. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2011

Hayford, Jack W., exec. ed. John: Living Beyond the Ordinary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2009.

Hendriksen, William. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to John, Two Volumes Complete in One. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953.

Pink, Arthur W. Exposition of the Gospel of John: Three Volumes Complete and Unabridged in One. Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1975.

Christ in the Psalms: Bibliography

  • 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise: Daily Readings from the Books of Psalms and Proverbs, New International Version. Arranged by R. Dean Jones. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990, by International Bible Society.
  • Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.
  • Aland, Barbara, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, and Bruce Metzger, Editors. The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition with Greek Text of Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014.
  • Allen, Leslie C. Word Biblical Themes: Psalms. Waco: Word Books, 1987.
  • The Ancient Faith Psalter. Translated by © 2016 Ancient Faith Publishing. Chesterton: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2016.
  • Anderson, Bernhard W. with Steven Bishop. Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today, 3rd Edition, Revised and Expanded. Louisville: Westminster John Know Press, 2000.
  • Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983.
  • Arndt, William F. and F. Wilbur Gingrich, Editors. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd Edition. Revised and Augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker from Walter Bauer’s Fifth Edition, 1958. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979.
  • Augustine, St. Aurelius. Expositions on the Psalms. Digital Psalms version 2007 (public domain), compiled by Ted Hildebrandt. Available at https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/19-psalms/text/books/augustine-psalms/augustine-psalms.pdf. Accessed April 11, 2019.
  • Barclay, John. The Psalms of David, and the Paraphrases and Hymns: With a Dissertation on the Book of Psalms, and Explanatory Introductions to Each. Edinburgh: James Gall, 1826. Reprinted Digitally by Forgotten Books, registered trademark of FB &c Ltd., London, 2017. Available at http://www.ForgottenBooks.com, 2017. A better quality copy is available at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433068259260;view=1up;seq=205;size=75. Accessed April 11, 2019.
  • Bates, Matthew W. The Birth of the Trinity: Jesus, God, and Spirit in New Testament & Early Christian Interpretations of the Old Testament. Oxford University Press: Oxford, United Kingdom, 2015 and Paperback Edition 2016.
  • Bates, Matthew W. The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation: The Center of Paul’s Method of Scriptural Interpretation.  Baylor University Press: Wayco, Texas, 2012.
  • Bates, Matthew W. Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2017.
  • Belcher, Richard P. Jr. The Messiah and the Psalms: Preaching Christ from All the Psalms. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2006.
  • BibleWorks. BibleWorks 9 Software for Biblical Exegesis & Research. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2011.
  • Bonar, Andrew A. Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms: 150 Inspirational Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978.
  • Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1974 in paperback.
  • Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970.
  • Broyles, Craig C. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999.
  • Brueggemann, Walter. The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984.
  • Bullock, C. Hassell. Encountering the Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.
  • Cameron, Michael. Christ Meets Me Everywhere: Augustine’s Early Figurative Exegesis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Childs, Brevard S. Biblical Theology in Crisis. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1970.
  • Clowney, Edmund P. Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003.
  • Costley, Clare L. 2004. “David, Bathsheba, and the Penitential Psalms*.” Renaissance Quarterly 57, no. 4: 1235-1277
  • Crossway. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001,2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. This publication contains The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. It includes the January 2008 Update. See also English Standard Version Bible Online: http://www.biblestudytools.com/esv/psalms/ .
  • Darby, John, John Darby’s Synopsis, Whole Bible, Psalm 102, Available at Christianity.com, “Psalm 102 Bible Commentary: John Darby’s Synopsis,” https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=drby&b=19&c=102#%5B1%5D, Accessed on November 17, 2017.
  • Dines, Jennifer M. The Septuagint. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2004.
  • ESV. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001, 2007, 2011 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. (ESV)
  • Feinberg, John S. and Paul D. Feinberg, Editors. Tradition and Testament: Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981.
  • Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Baker’s Greek New Testament Library. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000. BibleWorks, v.9.
  • Futato, Mark D. Edited by Howard, David M. Jr. Interpreting the Psalms: An Exegetical Handbook. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2007.
  • Gingrich, F. Wilbur and Frederick William Danker, Editors. Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition. Copyright © 1965 by The University of Chicago Press.
  • Hawker, Robert S. The Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: The Book of Psalms, public domain. Available at http://grace-ebooks.com/library/Robert%20Hawker/RH_Poor%20Man%27s%20Old%20Testament%20Commentary%20Vol%204.pdf, published by Grace Baptist Church of Danville, Kentucky. Accessed May 3, 2018.
  • Hays, Richard B. Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1989.
  • The Holy Bible: New International Version®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide. See also (New International Version Bible Online): http://www.biblestudytools.com/colossians/. See also http://www.biblestudytools.com/esv/psalms/.
  • Horne, George, Lord Bishop of Norwich. A Commentary on the Book of Psalms: In Which Their Literal and Historical Sense, as They Relate to King David and the People of Israel, Is Illustrated; and Their Application to Messiah, to the Church, and to Individuals as Members Thereof, Is Pointed Out; With a view to render the Use of the Psalter pleasing and profitable to all orders and degrees of Christians. Philadelphia: Alexander Towar, 1822.
  • Horsley, Samuel Lord Bishop. The Book of Psalms; Translated from the Hebrew: With Notes, Explanatory and Critical. London: 1815.
  • Jones, R. Dean, Arranger. 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise. International Bible Society. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.
  • King’OO, Clare Costley. Miserere Mei: The Penitential Psalms in Late Medieval and Early Modern England. Notre Dame, IA: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012.
  • Law, Timothy Michael. When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Lewis, C. S. Reflections on the Psalms: The Celebrated Musings on One of the Most Intriguing Books of the Bible. Boston and New York: Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1958, 1986 and 2012.
  • Lynch, David K. “The San Andreus Fault.” Geology.com: Geoscience News and Information. https://geology.com/articles/san-andreas-fault.shtml. Accessed 4/7/2018.
  • Nestle-Aland, Editors. Novum Testamentum Graece, 26th Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979, 1987.
  • NIV. The Holy Bible: New International Version®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide. (New International Version Bible Online): http://www.biblestudytools.com/colossians/
  • Pietersma, Albert, ed. A New English Translation of the Septuagint: The Psalms. Translated by Albert Pietersma. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Available online at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/24-ps-nets.pdf. Accessed April 27, 2018.
  • Pink, Arthur. An Exposition of Hebrews. Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, 1954.
  • Rahlfs, Alfred, Editor. LXT – LXX Septuaginta (LXT) (Old Greek Jewish Scriptures), Copyright © 1935 by the Württembergische Bibelanstalt / Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society), Stuttgart.
  • Rahlfs-Hanhart. Septuaginta: Editio altera. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006.
  • Reardon, Patrick Henry. Christ in the Psalms, 2nd edition. Chesterton: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2011.
  • Saphir, Adolph. The Divine Unity of Scripture. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1896. Public Domain.
  • Saphir, Adolph and Cortesi, Lawrence. “Chapter 4. Christ Above the Angels (Hebrews 1:5-2:4)” in The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Exposition. Public Domain. Available at http://juchre.org/saphir/heb2.htm Accessed 7/30/2017.
  • Spurgeon, Charles. The Treasury of David: Containing an Original Exposition of the Book of Psalms; A Collection of Illustrative Extracts from the Whole Range of Literature; A Series of Homiletical Hints upon Almost Every Verse; And Lists of Writers upon Each Psalm in Three Volumes. Peabody: Henrickson Publishers, No Date.
  • Thayer, Joseph. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Abridged and Revised Thayer Lexicon). Ontario, Canada: Online Bible Foundation, 1997. BibleWorks, v.9. 
  • Tigay, Jeffrey H. “Psalm 7:5 and Ancient Near Eastern Treaties.” Journal of Biblical Literature 89, no. 2 (1970): 178-86. doi: 10.2307/3263047.
  • Tournay, Raymond Jacques. Seeing and Hearing God with the Psalms: The Prophetic Liturgy of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Translated by J. Edward Crowley. Sheffield, England: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (JSOT) Supplement Series 118, 1991.
  • Waltke, Bruce K. and James M. Houston with Erika Moore. The Psalms as Christian Lament: A Historical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.
  • Waltke, Bruce K. and James M. Houston with Erika Moore. The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

 

Link to Contents Page

Link to Annotated Bibliography   

Christ in the Psalms: An Annotated Bibliography

While my approach to Psalms is independently my own, in the sense that I first recognized Christ’s voice in Psalms before I consulted other sources, over roughly the past eight years, I have looked for confirmation from other writers. My viewpoint is that the Psalms are about Christ, and even further, predominantly his own words, spoken prophetically through human authors by means of the Holy Spirit. Confirmation is difficult to find, both within Christian devotional and academic literature. Fortunately, as the Lord has guided my search, I have had some small success.

Because I will quote various authors in future posts, I want to introduce and briefly describe in advance the few books and authors I value.

Topic

My authorial intent in writing the series of articles in this blog is to encourage readers to seek the Lord’s own voice within the Psalter. For devotional purposes, hearing the Son’s voice through psalmic prophets carries great reward. With this intention in mind, the following few books have confirmed my own discoveries.

There are not many devotional books nor scholarly books available to the average reader who seeks either guidance or confirmation in hearing and identifying the Lord Christ’s voice in Psalms. I believe that the New Testament authors of the gospels, Acts, and letters did hear the Christ’s voice in Psalms and other books of the Old Testament. Christ himself, as recorded in several gospel locations (Matthew 22:44 and parallels; Luke 24:25-27; 44-47) perceived the Old Testament to have been written about himself. After his resurrection, he gave his disciples his own key to this understanding and helped them unlock the Scriptures for themselves (Acts 2:25-36). The author of Hebrews also wrote extensively about the Old Testament with the Christological viewpoint in mind.

The following annotated list includes authors favorable to the view that the Psalter and other biblical books contain a record of prayers and speech occurrences performed by Christ during all ages of his eternal existence and especially during his incarnation. These have been handed down prophetically through Old Testament authors by means of the Holy Spirit. In some of these speech occurrences, dialogue between Father and Son is displayed.

Discerning and dividing God’s Word in a manner that includes recognition of divine speech and dialogue in Psalms (and elsewhere in Scripture) is a rich and sorely overlooked field of study today. I hope this small list proves useful to those few who may be interested.

Bibles

New International Version Bible (NIV)

The Holy Bible: New International Version®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide. See also (New International Version Bible Online): http://www.biblestudytools.com/colossians/. See also http://www.biblestudytools.com/esv/psalms/.

I recommend the versions published before the 2011 revision. I do not recommend that version because the gender neutral language erased some of the direct references to Christ “the man.”

Although the NIV uses a dynamic equivalence method, the older editions adhere to the literal intention of the text and are not influenced by a heavily biased set of presuppositions regarding hermeneutic principles.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. (NIV, 1983 Print Edition)

31 Days of Wisdom and Praise: Daily Readings from the Books of Psalms and Proverbs, New International Version. Arranged by R. Dean Jones. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990, by International Bible Society.

A small, pocket-sized NIV paperback arranged with five psalms per day, not in sequence. On a typical day, such as Day 25, for example, the reader would discover Psalms 25, 55, 85, 115, and 145. This edition provides a palatable way to read across the psalms and to finish the entire book in one month. Because of the unique arrangement, the reader is exposed to thematic connections within the psalms that otherwise might not be noticed in a strictly chronological reading. This is a very comfortable book in which to read and make small notations as in a daily devotional. There are few notes and no commentary.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001, 2007, 2011 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. (ESV)

The ESV is a solid, clear, reliable, trustworthy, and consistent biblical translation based on literal hermeneutic principles. References include citations at the beginning of notes for a given passage, multiple citations are given, and the reader is not overly burdened by excessive notes.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (ESV)

For those who may have access to digital or printed Bibles in the original languages, I recommend the following (which is also available in print):

Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970.

Although the number of translations of the Septuagint (LXX) into English (LXE) have increased recently, for biblical research I recommend Brenton’s as one which adheres fairly closely to the Greek text and has not been redacted, or edited, to match the Masoretic (Hebrew) tradition. Because New Testament authors used the Septuagint as their personal Bibles and most often quoted a Septuagint version in their writing, it is a useful and important version to have for textual comparisons. Further, the Septuagint, although written a few centuries before Christ appeared, seems to make his prophetically proclaimed presence in the Old Testament clearer than many English translations based upon the Masoretic text and influenced by a biblical hermeneutic that discourages what translators sometimes term reading backward into a text. The Septuagint translators cannot be accused of interpreting the Old Testament in view of light from the New, since events of the New Testament were still future when the Septuagint translations were written.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of evil men. (LXE)

Note: For the purpose of hearing the voice of Christ in Psalms, most study Bibles will not help readers, and many may hinder. A good reference Bible that includes both forward and backward citations, word use references, and allusions between the Old and New Testaments is very useful. I do recommend the Bibles described above.

Other Resources

Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983.

As the title suggests, this book is a “must have” for locating Old Testament quotations that appear in the New Testament.

Barclay, John. The Psalms of David, and the Paraphrases and Hymns: With a Dissertation on the Book of Psalms, and Explanatory Introductions to Each. Edinburgh: James Gall, 1826. Reprinted Digitally by Forgotten Books, registered trademark of FB &c Ltd., London, 2017. Available at http://www.ForgottenBooks.com, 2017.

John Barclay, a Berean preacher of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, determined quite against the established church to preach what he uncovered in Scripture alone, no matter where that Scripture might lead. Accordingly, he ranks among those who recognize the figure of Christ the Messiah present throughout the Psalter, including Psalm 1. Just as he hears the Son’s prayers, he also hears the Father’s reply. He is one of very few who delineates a two-part dialogue in Psalm 102, as cited in Hebrews 1. He labels Psalm 102 with the superscription, “A pray’r of God’s afflicted Son…”

Even though Barclay’s Psalter is paraphrased verse, its rendering is remarkably literal. He reserves his comments and the detailed defense of his view for the initial preface to Psalm 1, raising and answering many objections to the understanding that Christ prays all the Psalms, and to the shorter prefaces before each of the other psalms.

Bates, Matthew W. The Birth of the Trinity: Jesus, God, and Spirit in New Testament & Early Christian Interpretations of the Old Testament. Oxford University Press: Oxford, United Kingdom, 2015 and Paperback Edition 2016.

Matthew W. Bates, Ph.D., The University of Notre Dame is Assistant Professor of Theology at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois.

To paraphrase E. B. White’s Wilbur the Pig, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true Christian and a good scholar. Matthew Bates is both.” In The Birth of the Trinity, Bates has gifted his readers a treasure chest. This is a magnificent book replete with highly detailed bibliographic and substantive footnotes, end references, and beautiful biblical, topical, and primary, secondary, ancient, and modern bibliographic indices.

Everything Bates writes is thoroughly focused and impressively complete on the topic of divine dialogue between Father and Son, as evidenced in the ancient Jewish Scripture, i.e., the Old Testament. As he demonstrates the early concept of Trinity, Bates closely examines and dissects biblical passages from the Old Testament that evidence speaker shifts, or dialogue, between the Divine Persons.  Then, just as thoroughly, he reviews the literary reception history of these passages that is found in the pages of the New Testament (by Jesus, Peter, Paul, Luke, the author of Hebrews, and others) and in extra-biblical, coeval literature by authors such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Origen. By these methods, he demonstrates that the Trinitarian God has “an unremitting personal concern for one another” (204) and that “the Christology of our earliest Christian sources is as high as that of our later sources.” (ibid.)

As concerns the topic of divine dialogue within Scripture, Bates performs the inestimably valuable service of structuring a framework of analysis, introducing a vocabulary (prosopological exegesis), and proposing a methodology for any reader to recognize and critically test such biblical speech. This book is a scholar’s prayer come true on the topic of divine dialogue in Scripture.

Bates, Matthew W. The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation: The Center of Paul’s Method of Scriptural Interpretation.  Baylor University Press: Wayco, Texas, 2012.

Matthew W. Bates, Ph.D., The University of Notre Dame is Assistant Professor of Theology at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois.

While this book is about Paul’s use of kerygmatic proclamation, Matthew Bates’ central argument in exegeting Paul’s hermeneutic is Paul’s use of the reading technique Bates calls “prosopological exegesis.” He gives this topic three entire chapters, pages 183-355.

The book is excellent both for understanding this overlooked literary technique employed by the Holy Spirit through the prophets of the Old Testament and as a resource for further study of other authors writing on the same topic.

Belcher, Richard P. Jr. The Messiah and the Psalms: Preaching Christ from All the Psalms. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2006.

From the back cover of the book: Dr. Richard Belcher is Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina. He received an MDiv from Covenant Theological Seminary and a PhD from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is also an active pastor.

Richard Belcher’s book tends more towards scholarship than devotion; however, his Christian beliefs shine forth in this work. The book discusses the psalms topically, according to received categories, such as Royal Psalms, direct and indirect Messianic Psalms, Psalms of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation, among others. Only thirty of the one hundred and fifty psalms are covered in particular analysis.

Belcher does not overtly recognize “speech” as such in this book. For example, he labels as oracles what Bates (above) terms “reported speech” in Psalm 110. Belcher appears to take a “middle of the road” approach regarding Christ in the Psalms. While he freely proposes the Psalms to be about Christ and demonstrates how many might be applicable to him, he does not seem to go beyond what current, traditional scholarship might accept. Belcher includes an excellent set of notes and bibliography. While there is a biblical index, there is no topical index.

BibleWorks. BibleWorks 9 Software for Biblical Exegesis & Research. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2011.

BibleWorks is currently in its 10th edition. While not inexpensive, it is far less expensive than Logos, and its quality and user friendliness is supreme. Nearly all language translations are available, including photos of the original Dead Sea Scrolls. Users can design their own parallel columns with as many versions as they choose. BibleWorks contains all the digital and original language features any scholar or lay person might want. It does not contain commentaries. I highly recommend BibleWorks as being well worth its cost.

Bonar, Andrew A. Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms: 150 Inspirational Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978.

Andrew Bonar, a nineteenth century (1810-1892) minister in the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Finieston Free Church, was a contemporary of Charles H. Spurgeon.

Bonar’s book on Psalms is a blessing to read, filled with the love, joy, and peace emanating from his devotion to Christ, as he is portrayed in Psalms and other Scripture, both Old and New Testaments. Bonar is an outstanding scholar who gives copious references to other works, which he cites in both text and footnotes, and who frequently cites both Hebrew and Greek.

Bonar is not ashamed to own Christ in the Psalms, yet he does so gently by biblical demonstration, never appearing strident or as though he has a point to prove. He recognizes divine dialogue. For example, he hears the plaintive voice of the suffering, incarnated Christ in Psalm 102, and he distinguishes the Father’s direct address to Christ as being one of reply: “From the Garden of Gethsemane…Sorrowful unto death, his soul cries, …” and, “It is here (compare Heb. i. 10-12) that the voice from the Father addresses him.” (303) Very few scholars, or even devotional writers, are able and/or willing to name Christ as the poor person in Psalm 102 and to hear the words of divine dialogue within that psalm. Bonar does.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1974 in paperback.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, best known perhaps for his being a willing martyr’s sacrifice at the hand of the Nazis, wrote his slim devotional book on Psalms in 1943.

Bonhoeffer writes, “And he [David] is not unaware of this, but ‘being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ’ (Acts 2:30 f.). David was a witness to Christ in his office, in his life, and in his words. The New Testament says even more. In the Psalms of David the promised Christ himself already speaks (Hebrews 2:12; 10:5) or, as may also be indicated, the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 3:7). These same words which David spoke, therefore, the future Messiah spoke through him. The prayers of David were prayed also by Christ. Or better, Christ himself prayed them through his forerunner David” (18-19).

Cameron, Michael. Christ Meets Me Everywhere: Augustine’s Early Figurative Exegesis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Michael Cameron wrote Christ Meets Me Everywhere while an Associate Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Portland in Oregon.

As Cameron explains in his introduction, he was careful to enter into the mind of Augustine himself in order to lead readers into an understanding of this prodigious writer in the context of his own times and mindframe. Chapter 6 is titled, “Hearing Voices: Christ at Prayer ‘In the Psalm and on the Cross.” It explores Augustine’s Exposition of the Psalms and the interpretive method of uncovering the use of prosopoligical exegesis within the psalms, a rhetorical device common in the classics and during the time period when the Psalter was written.

Cameron writes concerning Augustine and the psalms, “He read them according to the Church’s already ancient tradition, which heard them not only speaking about Christ but even as transcribing the thoughts of Christ’s inner life” (Christ Meets Me Everywhere, 9).

Hays, Richard B. Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1989.

Richard B. Hays is a highly respected, world-renowned scholar of New Testament theology and its writers. He was Dean of Duke Divinity School as recently as 2015.

Hays’ approach to Paul’s letters is fresh, vibrant, and alive. While the goal of the book is not to challenge one of the most dearly held tenets of modern exegesis, namely, that a biblical text can only mean what it meant to its original readers, he does just that. Scrupulously using all the tools of exegetical academics, he casts the Apostle Paul as a charismatic writer and seeks to prove by means of Paul’s own words that the biblical text is alive and interactive, even today. He also grants today’s readers permission to read Scripture as Paul did. I happened to finish reading the book on a New Year’s Eve, and truly, Hays sets off a giant bundle of fireworks in the field of biblical exegesis.

Hays writes, “Illuminated by the Spirit…Paul’s reading of Scripture are transformative: by correlating God’s word to Israel with the new circumstances of his churches and the content of his kerygma, he generates novel interpretations that nonetheless claim to be the true, eschatologically disclosed sense of the ancient texts. Even passages that might have seemed perspicuous, such as Deut. 30:11-14, turn out to have concealed a meaning manifest only in Paul’s inspired reading, a meaning that neither Moses nor Ezra could have guessed…” (Echoes, 154-155).

In answer to the question, May we as today’s readers do what Paul did, Hays replies, “Yes.” “…Paul’s readings of Scripture enact a certain imaginative vision of the relation between Scripture and God’s eschatological activity in the present time. To learn from Paul how to read Scripture is to learn to share that vision, so that we can continue to read and speak under the guidance of the Spirit, interpreting Scripture in light of the gospel and the gospel in light of Scripture… Paul exhorted his readers to become imitators of him (1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17). Surely to imitate him faithfully we must learn from him the art of reading and proclaiming Scripture (Echoes, 183).

Law, Timothy Michael. When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible. New York: Oxford, University Press, 2013.

“Timothy Michael Law is Founding Editor of the Marginalia Review of Books, Contributing Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Lecturer in Divinity at the University of St Andrews. He has been an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in the Georg-August-Universität Gottingen (2012-2014), a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Oriental Institute at the University of Oxfored (2009-2012), and a Junior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (2009-2014)” (http://marginalia.lareviewofbooks.org/masthead/timothy-michael-law/. Accessed May 16, 2018).

Law writes, “What would modern Christian theology look like if its theologians returned the Septuagint to the place it occupied at the foundation of the church, or at least began to read it alongside the Hebrew Bible, as a witness to the story of the Bible and in acknowledgment of its role in shaping Christianity? … I have tried to do the work of the historian, and perhaps now the door is open wide enough for the theologians to walk through it” (When God Spoke Greek, 171) .

Law’s book is a “thriller” of the academic world, not too difficult for the lay reader to follow, and definitely difficult to lay aside without reading to its very last page. Of great value to the student are the 35 plus pages of bibliographic notes. Its main point, which is the tremendous role the Septuagint played in shaping both the New Testament and the theology of the early church through Origen, Augustine, and up until Jerome, is easy to follow and to grasp.

Pink, Arthur. An Exposition of Hebrews. Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, 1954.

Arthur Pink (1886-1952) of the Reformed tradition, was born in Great Britain, studied at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, pastored in four states of the United States, became an itinerant preacher, returned to Scotland in 1940, and continued writing until his death. Pink is widely respected today as a biblical scholar, and his book of 1,307 pages, An Exposition of Hebrews, is now a classic.

Why include a commentary on Hebrews in a bibliography about Psalms? Psalms is quoted in Hebrews at least 16 times. Citations from the Psalter form the backbone of the writer’s basic arguments in the first and second chapters of Hebrews, as well as elsewhere in the book. Most relevant to this discussion, the Letter to the Hebrews is a large and important piece of evidence in the reception history of Psalms in the early church.

Hebrews provides tremendous evidence that the writer of the letter and the readers in that day clearly understood that Psalms includes dialogue between Father and Son. While Pink authored his book on Hebrews long before Matthew Bates (see above) most likely was born, he himself uses Bates’ prosopological exegesis (this refers to a reading technique in which the reader understands that the psalmist writer has slipped into in-character-dialogue, often between Father and Son, within the text of the psalm) in his understanding and explaining the text of Hebrews in relevant portions (of course he did not use Bates’ unique term for this reading technique). Chapter 1 of Hebrews is replete with the biblical author’s use of prosopological exegesis to make his points to his readers. Pink recognizes these instances as matters of fact and expounds these psalmic passages for his readers in a completely unselfconscious manner with the portions of dialogue clearly explained.

Reardon, Patrick Henry. Christ in the Psalms, 2d ed. Chesterton: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2000, 2011.

Taken from the back cover of his book, “Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago.” He has written several books, including The Jesus We Missed (2012) and Reclaiming the Atonement Volume 1: The Incarnation (2015).

Psalms is the book most often quoted in the New Testament. According to the authors of the New Testament, writes Reardon, Christ “walks” within the Psalms. (viii) “…to pray the psalms is to pray them in Jesus’ name, because the voice in the Psalter is Christ’s own voice. Christ is the referential center of the Book of Psalms.” … “Ultimately, the words of the psalms are the mighty name of Jesus broken down into its component parts. Thus has it always been.” (viii)

Reardon’s work contradicts the recent academic premise, introduced during the Enlightenment, that the Old Testament can only mean what its human authors and the listeners of that day may have thought it meant, as reconstructed by today’s scholars. The “radical premise” (viii) of Reardon’s approach to Psalms is the theological unity of the Old and New Testaments. Further, the foundation of the biblical unity is the continuity of the church with ancient Israel. (viii)

Reardon demonstrates that the Psalter, like many other parts of Scripture, includes dialogue in multiple voices. Reardon compares the dialogue to mini-dramas. When we pray the prayers of Psalms, we enter into the voice and character of Christ the Son of God, as he and the Father engage in dialogue with one another. We also enter into the conversation between the Church and God, Father and Son, that is audible in both Testaments. Reardon claims that it is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to teach us these things, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13 ESV) Reardon labels his viewpoint concerning the unity of Old and New Testaments “radical.” (viii) I can heartily agree, as sadly, in today’s era, we do not find this viewpoint often encouraged.

Concerning divine dialogue within the Psalms, Reardon appeals to Justin Martyr. “‘The Divine Word,’ said Justin, ‘sometimes speaks as from the person [apo prosopou] of God, the Ruler and Father of all, sometimes as from the person [apo prosopou] of Christ, sometimes from the person [apo prosopou] of the peoples answering the Lord or His s

The remainder of Reardon’s book explores each psalm individually with Christ in view throughout. His presentation is both devotional and scholarly, including multiple citations from related portions of Scripture and occasional references to other authors.

For a casual audience, Reardon is vastly more readable than Bates (above), because Reardon does not include the prolific technical detail of the latter. Sadly, Reardon does not include an index.

Saphir, Adolph. The Divine Unity of Scripture. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1896. Public Domain. Available at https://archive.org/stream/divineunityofscr00saph/divineunityofscr00saph_djvu.txt. Accessed 3/08/2018.

Adolph Saphir (1831-1891) was born in Hungary of Jewish parents. The entire family converted to Christianity in response to the Jewish mission of the Church of Scotland. He became a Christian pastor and lived most of his adult life in Great Britain. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Saphir,_Adolph_(DNB00).

This book is fresh air. While it is not about Psalms in particular, it is about Scripture from the perspective of one converted to Christianity from Judaism. Adolph Saphir captures the essence of the Reformation and marries Scripture and the Holy Spirit. His view is that Scripture, by means of the Holy Spirit, is available to all, regardless of education or “expertise.” While the pastor/teacher’s role in scriptural interpretation is genuine, that role is to present the “key” that allows readers to unlock Scripture for themselves, much as Phillip presented the key to the Ethiopian eunuch, who then went on his way without Phillip, the book of Isaiah happily in his hands. The key which both Phillip and Saphir present is Christ, whom they acknowledge as the center of Scripture.

Saphir writes, “The synagogue has given me the Old Testament, and am I therefore to deny that Jesus is the Messiah? Because the synagogue has given me the Old Testament, am I bound to interpret the Old Testament with their blindness? I am thankful that it has given me the Old Testament, but it has no authority to interpret to me the Old Testament. [See note below*.] And as for the Church that has given me the New Testament, I am thankful to the Church that has given me the New Testament. But the authority of the Church in interpreting the New Testament, specially [spelling in original]  when it says exactly the opposite to what is written in the New Testament, certainly no Christian can acknowledge, for the Scripture is very simple and plain.” (143-144)

*This author’s Note: Contra the mantra, The Old Testament can only mean what the original authors and readers of that day would have understood it to mean.

Saphir, Adolph and Cortesi, Lawrence. “Chapter 4. Christ Above the Angels (Hebrews 1:5-2:4)” in The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Exposition. Public Domain. Available at http://juchre.org/saphir/heb2.htm Accessed 7/30/2017.

Adolph Saphir (1831-1891) was born in Hungary of Jewish parents. The entire family converted to Christianity in response to the Jewish mission of the Church of Scotland. He became a Christian pastor and lived most of his adult life in Great Britain. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Saphir,_Adolph_(DNB00).

In his exposition of the book of Hebrews, Adolph Saphir acknowledges the voice of Christ in all the psalms. He writes, “Christ is in all the psalms; they speak of Him.” To Saphir, not only do the psalms speak of Christ, but both Christ and the Father speak to one another from within psalms. One example is Psalm 102. Saphir writes, “Then it is that God the Father replies to Him, ‘Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands’ (Heb 1:10)… this suffering One is the Lord; He is the same, and His years fail not.” (Both of the above quotations can be found at https://juchre.org/saphir/heb2.htm.)

…………………….

The foregoing Annotated Bibliography is hardly a beginning. Hopefully, as time progresses, the list of authors who hear divine dialogue within the pages of Psalms will increase.

 

Link to the full bibliography

Link to first article for this series

Link to Contents for this series

 

 

1 Psalms Bible Study: Bibliography

Outline of Series

 

  • 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise: Daily Readings from the Books of Psalms and Proverbs, New International Version. Arranged by R. Dean Jones. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990, by International Bible Society.
  • Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.
  • Aland, Barbara, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, and Bruce Metzger, Editors. The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition with Greek Text of Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014.
  • Allen, Leslie C. Word Biblical Themes: Psalms. Waco: Word Books, 1987.
  • Anderson, Bernhard W. with Steven Bishop. Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today, 3rd Edition, Revised and Expanded. Louisville: Westminster John Know Press, 2000.
  • Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983.
  • Arndt, William F. and F. Wilbur Gingrich, Editors. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literrature, 2nd Edition. Revised and Augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker from Walterr Bauer’s Fifth Edition, 1958. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979.
  • Barclay, John. The Psalms of David, and the Paraphrases and Hymns: With a Dissertation on the Book of Psalms, and Explanatory Introductions to Each. Edinburgh: James Gall, 1826. Reprinted Digitally by Forgotten Books, registered trademark of FB &c Ltd., London, 2017. Available at http://www.ForgottenBooks.com, 2017.
  • Belcher, Richard P. Jr. The Messiah and the Psalms: Preaching Christ from All the Psalms. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2006
  • BibleWorks. BibleWorks 9 Software for Biblical Exegesis & Research. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2011.
  • Bonar, Andrew A. Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms: 150 Inspirational Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978.
  • Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1974 in paperback.
  • Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970.
  • Broyles, Craig C. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999.
  • Brueggemann, Walter. The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984.
  • Bullock, C. Hassell. Encountering the Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.
  • Clowney, Edmund P. Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003.
  • Crossway. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001,2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. This publication contains The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. It includes the January 2008 Update. See also English Standard Version Bible Online: http://www.biblestudytools.com/esv/psalms/ .
  • Darby, John, John Darby’s Synopsis, Whole Bible, Psalm 102, Available at Christianity.com, “Psalm 102 Bible Commentary: John Darby’s Synopsis,” https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=drby&b=19&c=102#%5B1%5D, Accessed on November 17, 2017.
  • Feinberg, John S. and Paul D. Feinberg, Editors. Tradition and Testament: Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981.
  • Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Baker’s Greek New Testament Library. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000. BibleWorks, v.9.
  • Futato, Mark D. Edited by Howard, David M. Jr. Interpreting the Psalms: An Exegetical Handbook. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2007.
  • Gingrich, F. Wilbur and Frederick William Danker, Editors. Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition. Copyright © 1965 by The University of Chicago Press.
  • Horne, George, Lord Bishop of Norwich. A Commentary on the Book of Psalms: In Which Their Literal and Historical Sense, as They Relate to King David and the People of Israel, Is Illustrated; and Their Application to Messiah, to the Church, and to Individuals as Members Thereof, Is Pointed Out; With a view to render the Use of the Psalter pleasing and profitable to all orders and degrees of Christians. Philadelphia: Alexander Towar, 1822.
  • Jones, R. Dean, Arranger. 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise. International Bible Society. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.
  • Lewis, C. S. Reflections on the Psalms: The Celebrated Musings on One of the Most Intriguing Books of the Bible. Boston and New York: Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1958, 1986 and 2012.
  • Nestle-Aland, Editors. Novum Testamentum Graece, 26th Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979, 1987.
  • Rahlfs, Alfred, Editor. LXT – LXX Septuaginta (LXT) (Old Greek Jewish Scriptures), Copyright © 1935 by the Württembergische Bibelanstalt / Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society), Stuttgart.
  • Rahlfs-Hanhart. Septuaginta: Editio altera. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006.
  • Reardon, Patrick Henry. Christ in the Psalms, 2nd edition. Chesterton: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2011.
  • Saphir, Adolph. The Divine Unity of Scripture. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1896. Public Domain.
  • Saphir, Adolph and Cortesi, Lawrence. The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Exposition. Public Domain.
  • Spurgeon, Charles. The Treasury of David: Containing an Original Exposition of the Book of Psalms; A Collection of Illustrative Extracts from the Whole Range of Literature; A Series of Homiletical Hints upon Almost Every Verse; And Lists of Writers upon Each Psalm in Three Volumes. Peabody: Henrickson Publishers, No Date.
  • Thayer, Joseph. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Abridged and Revised Thayer Lexicon). Ontario, Canada: Online Bible Foundation, 1997. BibleWorks, v.9.
  • The Holy Bible: New International Version®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide. See also (New International Version Bible Online): http://www.biblestudytools.com/colossians/. See also http://www.biblestudytools.com/esv/psalms/.
  • Tournay, Raymond Jacques. Seeing and Hearing God with the Psalms: The Prophetic Liturgy of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Translated by J. Edward Crowley. Sheffield, England: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (JSOT) Supplement Series 118, 1991.
  • Waltke, Bruce K. and James M. Houston with Erika Moore. The Psalms as Christian Lament: A Historical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.
  • Waltke, Bruce K. and James M. Houston with Erika Moore. The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

Next in Series

Jesus’ Categorical Statements in John 6: The Impossibility of Faith Without God

Week 7 Part 3 John 6:22-71: Focus–God’s Sovereignty in Election and Human Choice and Responsibility

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Four Verses that Function as “Necessary/Sufficient” Couplets

I. Couplet One–John 6:37 (Necessary Condition) and John 6:65 (Necessary Condition)

A. John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

X = “all that the Father gives me”

Y = “will come to me”

In this construction, X is a subset of Y.sufficient-copy

• There may be others in Y whom the Father has not given.

• Everyone who is in X must be in Y.

• Y is necessary for X.

• X at this point is not necessary for Y.

Paraphrases of John 6:37

• If the Father gave you to me, it is necessary that you come to me.

• This necessity is called Irresistible Grace

B. John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless is granted him by the Father.”

X = those who come to me

Y = those whom the Father granted sufficient-part-2

Jesus’ statement “no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” can be translated as–

No X (those who come to me)   If Not   Y (granted by the Father)

or,

No X unless Y = Y is necessary for X.

In this construction, X is still a subset of Y. Notice, however, that the terms have changed.

• The X of verse 37 has become the Y of verse 65.

• The Y of verse 37 has become the X of verse 65.

In both verses, however, X is still a subset of Y.

Conclusion: If “those whom the Father gives” is a subset of “those who come,” AND “those who come” is a subset of “all that the Father gives,” then both terms are subsets of each other. This can happen only if the terms are identical. Therefore, both terms are Necessary and Sufficient for each other.

necessary-sufficient-copy

All whom the Father gives will come, and all who come were given by the Father. God’s grace is both Irresistible and Necessary.

 Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

II. Couplet Two–John 6:47 (Necessary Condition) and John 6:53 (Necessary Condition)belief_eternal-lifesufficient

A. John 6:47 Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

X = whoever believes

Y = those who have eternal life

X is a subset of Y.

Y is a necessary condition for X. However, as stated, it is not a sufficient condition.

B. John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

First, to “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood” is understood as a metaphorical, symbolic, or spiritual, way of saying, “believe in Jesus.”

Paraphrase: Unless you partake fully in the being and life of Jesus the Son of Man, you have no life in you. sufficient-couplet-2

Shortened Paraphrase: Unless you believe in Jesus, you have no life in you.

X = those with life

Y = those who believe in Jesus

If not Y, then not X

Y is necessary for X

As stated, Y is not sufficient for X.

Again notice, Jesus in these two statements has interchanged the X and Y terms. In verse 47, “whoever believes” (X) is a subset of “those who have eternal life” (Y), while in verse 53, “those with [eternal] life” is a subset of “those who believe in Jesus” (Y).

Conclusion: If “whoever believes” is a subset of “those who have eternal life,” and “those with [eternal] life” is a subset of “those who believe in Jesus,” then each subset is identical with the other. Again, belief in Jesus is both necessary and sufficient for eternal life, and in order to have eternal life, it is both necessary and sufficient to believe in Christ.

christ-eternal-life

There is only one set of believers–those who have eternal life, and only one set of those with eternal life–those who believe. Jesus has just demolished the “many pathways to God [eternal life]” argument. One may believe that there are many pathways to God and eternal life, but such a belief is not Scriptural; nor does it adhere to the teaching of Jesus.

III. These are not the only places in Scripture where Jesus has made these claims.

John 6:36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.

John 6:54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

The People Respond

When taken as whole, Jesus’ statements in John 6:22-71 presented a stumbling block to his listeners. These were–

1. The Jewish leaders

John 6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man [this fellow] give us his flesh to eat?”

2. Christ’s disciples, those who had been following him regularly for some time

John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

3. The Twelve, those closest to Christ, his intimate friends and companions

John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

Believing the words of Christ presents problems for millions of those who hear him today. This is why God’s “sovereign choice in election” is a blessing, an aid, a help, a gracious act of forgiveness, not a hindrance nor any unfairness on his part. Without that gracious drawing of God, no one would come to Christ, as Jesus explains in John 6. We do not know why God draws some to Christ and not others.

We do know that nowhere in John’s gospel, nor any other place in Scripture of which I am aware, does God or Christ ever say that he will turn anyone away who seeks him. Rather, Christ says that all who seek him will find.

Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Luke 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Are you one who struggles against placing your faith and confidence in Jesus Christ? Perhaps you find the bluntness of his words difficult to receive? If this is so, there is no need to turn away from Christ. God provides a remedy for your condition.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

The remedy for an unbelieving heart is prayer. If you want eternal life, humble yourself and ask God to reveal himself to you. When God reveals himself to anyone, he also reveals Christ.

John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me–

Father, I pray that anyone reading this right now, who does not know you, will be found of you, and because of your drawing them, will come to know you, and that knowing you, they will come to know and receive Jesus Christ and through believing his Word, receive eternal life in his name. I pray, precious Father, that the gift you gave me when you drew my heart to know and believe in you, will be multiplied as the loaves and fishes, and reach out to many unto eternal life. Thank-you, Father, for hearing my prayer. In Jesus I pray, amen.

So Where in John 6 Is Human Responsibility and Choice?

Having said all that, God still provides for human responsibility and human choice. !!!!! How can this be? Well, God is God and he is infinite–we are finite, and unfortunately, still under the curse of the Fall. Some things that seem paradoxical are; perhaps God in humanity’s eternal future will explain all which is unexplainable now. What is known now is that God somehow takes our choice into account as he makes his own sovereign election.

In John 6 we find human responsibility and choice in the following verses:

John 6:25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

John 6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Definition of want: “Gingrich, (θέλετε from θέλω,2. wish, will of purpose or resolve, wish to do Mt 20:14; Mk 3:13; J 6:21, 67; Ac 18:21; Ro 7:15f, 19f; 2 Cor 8:10; Col 1:27; Rv 11:5. οὐ θέλω I will not Mt 21:30 v.l.)” (See Bibliography for Gems from John)

Our faith is the mechanism, the means, which God uses to accomplish his own sovereign will.

All of us need God’s will–his help–in returning to him, in being drawn to Christ, and in choosing Christ, because our own will was destroyed at the Fall (Genesis 3). Regeneration is necessary in order to believe, simply because dead men don’t choose—they cannot. Faith is for the living; dead people have no faith, because they are dead. God regenerates us in Christ—we choose to believe.

 

 

 

Jacob’s Ladder = Jesus Christ: Gospel of John Explains

jacobs-ladder

John the Baptist, Jesus, and the First Disciples: John 1:19-51

Outline of This Presentation

I. Points of confusion concerning what the text is saying (Including Jacob’s Ladder)

II. Highlights of content

III. Personal applications

………………………………….

I. Points of confusion concerning what the text is saying:

I’ve read through John’s gospel many times over the course of my lengthy relationship with Christ. Below are a few questions I’ve asked as I’ve read this text.

A. John the Baptist–is he or isn’t he Elijah?

19And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straighth the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

24(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Question:

Verse 21: If John the Baptist is not Elijah (Malachi 4:4-6), as he states, then why does Jesus in Matthew 11:14 and Matthew 17:10-12 say that John is Elijah?

Possible Answer:

In the context of the then current expectations of the priests and Levites sent by the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem, John replied to their question, “No,” he was not Elijah. He was not literally and physically Elijah resurrected.

Yet Jesus states unequivocally in the Matthew 11:14 that John is Elijah, if his listeners are willing to accept that, and in Matthew 17:10-12 Jesus states to his disciples that Elijah already came in John the Baptist.

The angel that spoke prophetically to John’s father Zechariah in Luke 1:17 said that his about-to-be-born son would go ahead of Messiah in the “spirit and power of Elijah.”

So, the answer would be no to a concrete, literal, physical Elijah, and yes to a symbolic, spiritual Elijah.

As to the charge of “spiritualizing” the Old Testament, yes, the Gospel records Jesus doing that abundantly.

B. How could John the Baptist say that he “did not know” Christ?

29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Question:

How can John say in verses 31 and 33, “I myself did not know him,” when Jesus was his relative and he recognized Messiah as early as his mother’s womb? (Luke 1:36, 39-41)

Possible Answer:

The best answer I have found comes from William Hendriksen (Hendriksen, 99, 100), who states that John did not recognize Jesus in his “quality as Messiah,” according to either the mental process of intuition and reason or the physical process of observation and experience.

John knew that this person Jesus, who came to him physically in order to be baptized, was the Messiah, the Lamb of God, and the Son of God only because the God who had commissioned him had told him that as he is baptizing, the one on whom the Spirit comes down and remains as a dove is the One.

So John received his knowledge by revelation from God.

C. Why did Nathanael respond so strongly? And what exactly is Jacob’s Ladder?

35The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.  40One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Question:

Why was Nathaniel’s response so “over the top?” How did Nathanael get such tremendous faith and spiritual insight from Jesus’ one statement, “I saw you under the fig tree.” What am I missing?

Possible Answer:

A. The Miracle Itself

1. Jesus saw Nathanael under a particular fig tree before Philip had found him.

2. This fig tree was not present at the Jordan River where Jesus had been (:43), since he had already left there and was on his way to Galilee the next day.

3. Therefore, Jesus had supernaturally seen Nathanael in another place and another time, and this is what Nathanael realized.

4. Not only had Jesus seen Nathanael’s outward form sitting under the fig tree, he had apparently been reading his thoughts long distance as he sat there meditating.

5. Philip had called Jesus the One the Scriptures had prophesied would come, and with that context prodding him, Nathanael knew that only the Son of God could know what he had been thinking when he was miles away both in distance and time.

B. Unravelling the Significance of Jesus’ Statement about an Israelite without Guile

1. Within the context of the entire passage, Jesus has been thinking of the patriarch Jacob, who tricked (used guile) his brother out of his blessing as firstborn son.

2. The use of trickery, deceit, or guile characterized both Jacob (Genesis 30:37-43) and his posterity (Genesis 34, whole chapter about Dinah and her brothers’ trickery to vindicate their honor).

3. Nathanael understands Jesus to be assessing his character as being without guile, and agreeing with this assessment, he asks, “How do you know me?”

Jacob’s Ladder Explained

4. After Jesus’ explanation of having supernaturally seen into Nathanael’s thoughts, and after Nathanael’s exclamation of astonished, profoundly convinced faith, Jesus continues with a prophecy concerning himself, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

5. This statement refers to Jacob’s vision while asleep of a ladder stretching from heaven to earth and angels moving up and down, back and forth, upon (ἐπ᾽ in Greek, abbreviated form of ἐπὶ) the ladder.  (Genesis 28:11-13)

6. Jesus connects this ladder with himself, saying in verse 51 that the angels would be moving up and down on (upon) (ἐπὶ in Greek) himself. He IS the ladder in Jacob’s dream.

7. Jesus is announcing that he is the connection between earth and heaven, between man and God. Jesus is the mediator, the go-between, the way, the access to God. He stands in relation not only to Israel as Israel’s king, but also in relation to humankind in its entirety, for he is the “Son of Man,” and as such, the Savior of all mankind.

………………………………….

 II. Highlights of John 1:19-51

 

Hayford, Jack W., exec. ed. John: Living Beyond the Ordinary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2009, 15-16.

Hayford, Jack W., exec. ed. John: Living Beyond the Ordinary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2009, 15-16.

Pink, Arthur W. Exposition of the Gospel of John: Three Volumes Complete and Unabridged in One. Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1975, 73.

Pink, Arthur W. Exposition of the Gospel of John: Three Volumes Complete and Unabridged in One. Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1975, 73.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was the Difference between John’s and Jesus’ Baptisms?

John’s purpose was to manifest (show out, point out, make known) Christ to Israel. It was to prepare a people for him. John prepared this people by bringing them to see and acknowledge their sin before God in the symbolic act of water baptism. By being baptized by John, they acknowledged that death was their due. They were then prepared to receive Christ as Savior dying in their place as condemned sinners.

Christian baptism is different. A Christian believer does not confess that death is his due, but he demonstrates, again symbolically, that he has already died in Christ to sin. Christian baptism signifies the Christian’s having died with Christ. And, of course, the Christian’s coming up from the water signifies resurrection with Christ.

(Based upon Pink, 59-60)

 

John the Baptist’s Sevenfold Witness to Christ

Pink, Arthur W. Exposition of the Gospel of John: Three Volumes Complete and Unabridged in One. Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1975, 61.

Pink, Arthur W. Exposition of the Gospel of John: Three Volumes Complete and Unabridged in One. Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1975, 61.

 

Why does John 1:35-42 differ from Mark 1:16-20?

One simple answer given by Arthur Pink (Pink, 62-63) is that the account in John describes these disciples’ conversion, while the account in Mark describes their call to service.

 

“Behold the Lamb of God”

Behold, the Lamb of God

Original artwork by Christina Wilson

 

Arthur Pink teaches that if we’re going to see Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:36), we must stop to “behold” him. We must quit striving in our own flesh; we must “come to the end of ourselves.” (Pink, 66)

ESV  Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.

As Jesus said,  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

God calls to saving conversion in various ways

1. by testimony of preachers: John and Andrew (John 1:35-39)

2. by testimony of friends: Andrew got Peter (John 1:40-42); Philip got Nathanael (John 1:44-46)

3. without human vehicle–directly by God: Christ got Philip (John 1:43)

 

III. Personal Applications

Do I know Jesus personally? Or, do I rely mostly upon my church and my pastor(s)?

1. John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the disciples, and God himself chose not to use the vehicle of the then-current religious structure of the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day.

2. John the Baptist taught in the wilderness, not in Jerusalem.

3. Neither John, nor Christ, nor the disciples had been educated by the Jewish leaders.

4. Why do you suppose God chose not to introduce Christ to the world through the vehicle of the Jewish religious institution of that day?

5. Have there ever been times in your life when you have had to leave the teachings of a church in order to follow Christ and his teachings?

Have I experienced the call of God upon my life? How does this affect me in specific situations I may face every day?

Jack Hayford (Hayford, 17, 20-21)points out the positive effects on one’s life of the sure knowledge of God’s calling:

1. Jesus knew his calling.

2. John the Baptist knew his calling.

3. Each of the disciples experienced their own specific call by God.

4. What about me?

 

Gems from John: Outline of the Prologue

Gems from the Gospel of John

Week 1: Prologue John 1:1-18

THEME OF JOHN:

ESV  John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  • Christ is Son of God
  • Our appropriate response is belief
  • Belief yields LIFE in his name

OUTLINE OF JOHN

I. Prologue (1:1-18)

  • Christ the Eternal Word 1:1-12
  • Christ the Incarnate Word 1:13-18
  • Prologue Summarized 1:18

II. Presentation of Christ as the Son of God (1:9-12:50)

III. Instruction to the Twelve by the Son of God (13:1-17:26)

IV. Suffering of Christ as the Son of God and Son of Man (18:1-20:31)IV

V. Epilogue: the Continuing Work of the Son of God (21:1-25)

THREE SYNOPTIC (Seeing Together) GOSPELS AND JOHN

  1. Matthew: Lord Jesus is Son of David, heir to Israel’s throne, the King of the Jews
  2. Mark: Christ is Servant of Jehovah, the perfect Workman of God
  3. Luke: Christ the Savior is the Son of Man, the perfect Man
  4. John: Christ is the Son of God made flesh

The three synoptic gospels share 1) much similar material, 2) a similar chronology, and 3) a point of view that shows Jesus’ interactions as man with men. John’s material is 90% unique, and his chronology suits his own purpose, which is to demonstrate through the witness of 1) God, 2) John the Baptist, 3) his miracles, 4) his disciples, and 5) his resurrection that he is God’s unique Son, very God of very God.

OUTLINE OF JOHN 1:1-13—CHRIST THE ETERNAL WORD (Pink, 17-18)

  1. The Relation of Christ to Time – “In the beginning,” therefore, Eternal: 1:1.
  2. The Relation of Christ to the Godhead – “With God,” therefore, One of the Holy Trinity: 1:1.
  3. The Relation of Christ to the Holy Trinity – “God was the Word” – the Revealer: 1:1
  4. The Relation of Christ to the Universe – “All things were made by him” – the Creator: 1:3.
  5. The Relation of Christ to Men – Their “Light”: 1:4, 5
  6. The Relation of John the Baptist to Christ – “Witness” of His Deity: 1:6-9.
  7. The Reception which Christ met here: 1:10-13.
    1. “The world knew him not”: 1:10.
    2. “His own (Israel) received him not”: 1:11.
    3. A company born of God “received him”: 1:12, 13.

  OUTLINE OF JOHN 1:14-18—CHRIST, THE WORD INCARNATE (Pink, 32)

  1. Christ’s Incarnation – “The word became flesh” 1:14.
  2. Christ’s Earthly sojourn – “And tabernacled among us” 1:14.
  3. Christ’s Unique Glory – “As of the only Begotten”
  4. Christ’s Supreme excellency – “Preferred before” 1:15.
  5. Christ’s Divine sufficiency – “His fulness” 1:16.
  6. Christ’s Moral perfections – “Grace and truth” 1:17.
  7. Christ’s Wondrous revelation – Made known “the Father” 1:18

SUMMARY OF PROLOGUE USING ONLY VERSES 1 AND 14 (Pink, 42)

1) “In the beginning was the word” 1:1

a) “And the word became flesh” tells of the beginning of his human life. 1:14

2) “And the word was with God” 1:1

b) “And tabernacled among us” shows Him with men. 1:14

3) “And the word was God” 1:1

c) “Full of grace and truth,” and this tells what God is. 1:14

 

** In Christ God and mankind meet. Christ is the meeting place of God and people.

 

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LAW AND GRACE (Pink, 46)

ESV  John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

  1. Law addresses men as members of the old creation; Grace makes men members of a new creation.
  2. Law manifested what was in Man – sin; Grace manifests what is in God – Love.
  3. Law demanded righteousness from men; Grace brings righteousness to men.
  4. Law sentences a living man to death; Grace brings a dead man to life.
  5. Law speaks of what men must do for God; Grace tells of what Christ has done for men.
  6. Law gives a knowledge of sin; Grace puts away sin.
  7. Law brought God out to men; Grace brings men in to God.

John 1:9 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE “TRUE LIGHT” WHICH CHRIST IS (From Bishop Ryle)

1 – Undeceiving Light

2 – Real Light

3 – Underived Light

4 – Supereminent Light – Above ALL Others

Psalm 30: The King Rejoices Over His Resurrection

Photo by Christina Wilson

 

While Psalm 28 states the fact of Christ’s resurrection, Psalm 30 prophetically records Christ’s retelling after-the-fact and his rejoicing over this happy outcome.

2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.  (Psalm 30 ESV)

11 Thou hast turned my mourning into joy for me: thou hast rent off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12 that my glory may sing praise to thee, and I may not be pierced with sorrow. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever. (Psalm 30 LXE) Note: “pierced with sorrow” reflects a single word in Greek for “pierced” or “pricked.” In both Testaments, it is nearly always used in this metaphorical sense with the concept of sorrow, which is not part of the word itself.

Structure of Psalm 30

It’s good for the reader to remember that the  Psalter is a book of ancient Near Eastern poetry. The poetic and literary conventions were a bit different back then. However, if the Christian reader keeps the basic fact of the prophet David’s being a voice of Christ foremost in thought, then the more often she reads Psalms, the easier it becomes to understand the abbreviated, minimalized structure inherent in its poetry. Certain word choices within the poem also underlie its resurrection theme.

Since Psalm 30 is relatively short, I will use some space here to print it out fully and fill in words in places where a narrator’s explanatory voice would prove helpful. As always, it is good to consult more than one translation.

29(30) For the end, a Psalm and Song [literally, a psalm of a song] at the dedication of the house of David.
I will exalt thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and not caused mine enemies to rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to thee, and thou didst heal me.
O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from Hades, thou hast delivered me from among them that go down to the pit.
Sing to the Lord, ye his saints, and give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
For anger is in his wrath, but life in his favour: weeping shall tarry for the evening, but joy shall be in the morning.
And I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved.
O Lord, in thy good pleasure thou didst add strength to my beauty: but thou didst turn away thy face, and I was troubled.
To thee, O Lord, will I cry; and to my God will I make supplication.
What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to destruction? Shall the dust give praise to thee? or shall it declare thy truth?
10 The Lord heard, and had compassion upon me; the Lord is become my helper.
11 Thou hast turned my mourning into joy for me: thou hast rent off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
12 that my glory may sing praise to thee, and I may not be pierced with sorrow. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.
–Available at https://ebible.org/eng-Brenton/PSA029.htm. Accessed August 16, 2019.
Psalm 29(30) begins and ends with bookends, as it were, which state the speaker’s purpose:
1a I will exalt thee, O Lord… and 12c O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.
The body of the poem states the speaker’s reasons for exalting and thanking his God, the Lord.
1b thou hast lifted me up, and 
1c not caused my enemies to rejoice over me.
These first two reasons, given above, tell the story of the psalm in overview; they refer to the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ.
Reason one (vs 1b), “Thou hast lifted me up,” contains a double meaning–1) Christ was “lifted up” on the cross (cf. Jesus’s words in John 12:32-33, And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. {ESV}), and 2) he was resurrected from the grave.
Reason two (vs 1c), Christ was exulted over his enemies–first by the fact of his resurrection, and secondly by his ascension into heaven to sit at the right hand of God.
Okay, so how do we as readers know that those few words mean all that? We know by faith. Both our faith and Scripture itself tell us that the Bible is consistent in all its parts and that the Bible points to Christ. I say “Bible,” because we as Christians today have two testaments as part of our Bible, the Old Testament and the New. Jesus, his disciples, the New Testament authors, and the early church had but one testament, which was for them their Scripture–the Old Testament. Both Jesus himself and the New Testament writers unashamedly claimed the Old Testament as their own and claimed that it pointed to Christ. There are many verses I could show to demonstrate this, but to do so would lead me far afield from the point of this article, which is to focus on Psalm 30. The interested reader who is new to these things may do a bit of digging on their own. The best way to find specific verses verifying my claims is to read the New Testament. It’s short.
Then, after the reasons for praising God given in verse 1, verses 2 and 3 fill in some of the details of the thematic story of death and resurrection in this psalm:
O Lord my God, I cried to thee, and thou didst heal me.
3a O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from Hades,
3b thou hast delivered me from among them that go down to the pit.
The psalm continues in verses 4 through 10, where the speaker turns from addressing the Lord in his prayer to addressing those whom he calls the Lord’s “saints.” To help us see how the portion addressed to the saints fits into the psalm as a whole, we can view the structure of Psalm like this:
  • The speaker addresses the Lord his God: verses 1 through 3.
  • The speaker addresses the Lord’s saints: verses 4 through 10.
  • Within the address to the saints, the speaker records how his condition changed from prosperity (vs 6) to tragedy (vs 7), how he proposed in his heart to call upon the Lord (vs 8), the words of his prayer (vs 9), and the final outcome (vs 10).
  • The speaker addresses the Lord: verses 11-12.
First, verse four introduces these new characters as “saints,” those whom the New Testament calls the church. What happened to Christ happened by faith to his followers. Because Christ died as a sacrificial lamb, sinners who receive and partake in the meat and blood of the sacrifice (John 6:53-57), symbolized by communion (Matthew 26:26-28), are called by God, “holy,” or perhaps his “faithful followers.” The speaker of Psalm 30 intends that God’s saints appropriate as their own his joy, praise, and thanksgiving to the Lord for his victory over sin and death.
Sing to the Lord, ye his saints, and give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
Next, verse 5 explains and develops the aforementioned sin and death theme, contrasting it with the joy now attainable from God through Christ. Before the sacrifice of the cross, God displayed his anger and wrath, but now God gives life, according to his will (the word “favour,” as explained in Thayer’s lexicon.) The suffering of the cross (“weeping shall tarry for the evening”) is followed by the joy of resurrection (“but joy shall be in the morning.”)
For anger is in his wrath, but life in his favour: weeping shall tarry for the evening, but joy shall be in the morning.
Next, the psalmist recounts to the “saints” the narrative of his tribulation. First, he was confident in his possession of the Lord’s blessing, expressed as his “well-being, prosperity, and good condition,” (Thayer’s Lexicon entry for εὐθηνίᾳ, Psalm 29:7 BGT).
6 And I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved. (Cf. Matthew 3:17, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” and Mark 9:7, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.“)
Following this, the saints learn that God his Father performed many mighty miracles through him in a display of strength and beauty. He recalls this period through direct address to the Lord. Nevertheless, this direct address is a recollection of what happened in the past, a recollection which he is repeating for the benefit of the saints whom he is currently addressing:
7a O Lord, in thy good pleasure thou didst add strength to my beauty:”
But all that changed when Christ was crucified. In verses 7b through 9, the speaker recounts to the saints his prayers to the Lord during that period of his life. First, he states what happened.
7b but thou didst turn away thy face, and I was troubled. 
Next, he relates his response to the troubling turn of events. He re-enacts how he addressed the Lord:
8a To thee, O Lord, will I cry;
And he repeats for his audience, the saints, what he proposed to himself within his own heart:
and to my God will I make supplication.
Through the speaker’s pleading with God, verse 9, he foretells his knowledge that he was about to die:
What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to destruction? Shall the dust give praise to thee? or shall it declare thy truth?
Finally, verse 10 retells to the saints the outcome of this period of the speaker’s life:
10 The Lord heard, and had compassion upon me; the Lord is become my helper.
At this point in the psalm, the speaker turns back to the Lord in real time, continuing to speak to the Lord from where he left off in verse 3:
11 Thou hast turned my mourning into joy for me: thou hast rent off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
12 that my glory may sing praise to thee, and I may not be pierced with sorrow. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.
The psalm is structured as though it is to be presented upon the stage of a great prophetic drama. The psalmist himself, as the person who penned the psalm, is invisible. He prophetically penned the words of the on-stage speaker, who wears the dramatic mask of the Christ, the future anointed King. The purpose of the psalm is to prophetically portray a certain period of time within the Christ’s incarnation. Although the psalm is a monologue, the dramatic speaker-persona is aware of an audience: 1) The Lord God is listening. The speaker addresses him at the beginning (vv 1-3) and end (vv 11-12) of the psalm as though they are alone together. 2) The speaker also addresses an audience (vv 4-10), whom he calls the Lord’s saints in verse 4.
The following is a repetition of the material presented earlier, in a slightly different format.
[First, the speaker addresses God in joyful praise for some very dramatic events that transpired in his life.] I will exalt thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and not caused mine enemies to rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to thee, and thou didst heal me. O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from Hades, thou hast delivered me from among them that go down to the pit.
[Then, the speaker turns to address the saints.]Sing to the Lord, ye his saints, and give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
[He states a general principle about God.] For anger is in his wrath, but life in his favour: weeping shall tarry for the evening, but joy shall be in the morning. 
[Then he continues, as though giving an illustration of the general principle, Listen to my story; this is what happened to me.] And I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved. [That’s how I used to speak to myself in the days when everything went well.]
[In those blessed days, I used to pray like this to the Lord.]  O Lord, in thy good pleasure thou didst add strength to my beauty:
[But then, everything changed] but thou didst turn away thy face, and I was troubled. 
[In response to these events, I made a decision to pray to the Lord. I said to him,–] To thee, O Lord, will I cry; and to my God will I make supplication. 
[Following through with my intention of praying to God, this is how I pleaded with him.] What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to destruction? Shall the dust give praise to thee? or shall it declare thy truth? 
[And here is the outcome of my prayers.] 10 The Lord heard, and had compassion upon me; the Lord is become my helper.
[At this point, the speaker has finished his reenactment of a previous time in his life. He had been recalling those days to the audience of “saints” as an illustration of the general principle concerning the Lord’s goodness, which he had stated in verse 5. His purpose in addressing his audience at all is to draw them in as co-participants in his joyful praise and thanksgiving to the Lord (vs 4). Therefore, having made his case to them, he turns back to the Lord and continues his own praise and thanksgiving in verses 11-12.] 11 Thou hast turned my mourning into joy for me: thou hast rent off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12 that my glory may sing praise to thee, and I may not be pierced with sorrow. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.
How can the reader know that this is a psalm of resurrection?
1. First, the Christian presupposition toward all of Scripture is that it is God’s Word concerning the salvation he offers humanity through his Son. The following are just a few examples of New Testament statements of this fact.
  • John 1:1-18 is a Christian condensation of the book of Genesis.
  • Jesus often called himself the “Son of Man,” or “Son of Anthropos,” rather than any number of other names he might have chosen. (See, for example, Matthew 12:40, Mark 10:45, Luke 6:5, and John 1:51.) By choosing this name, he indicates that he came to bring salvation to the entire human race.
  • Jesus claimed the Old Testament spoke prophetically of himself (Luke 24:26-27).
  • With reference to something Jesus spoke or did, the Gospel writers repeatedly made statements such as, “as it is written,” and that what a certain prophet or Scripture foretold, “might be fulfilled.”
  • Jesus in his public ministry made many references to the Law.
  • The New Testament quotes from Psalms close to 100 times, most of these with regard to Jesus’s ministry.
  • The authors of the letters base the bulk of their evangelism upon the words, actions, and events of the life of Christ, and they weave these pieces of factual recent history into theological arguments bound together by the Scripture of the Old Testament. They constantly sought to prove how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Messianic promises.
2. Second, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit, through the eye, heart, and mind of faith, reveals to the reader references to Christ.
3. Third, the Christian presupposition is that God chose his words carefully. Certain words in Psalm 30 prick the reader’s ears toward discerning a crucifixion/resurrection theme. This is where comparison of translations becomes important. Some translations muffle the voice and subject of Christ in Psalms, whereas other translations present him more clearly. The English translation above is that of Sir Lancelot Brenton, and the text he used is the Greek Septuagint. As a general statement, the Greek Septuagint, written centuries before the incarnation of God’s Son in the bodily form of Jesus of Nazareth, is clear in its presentation of Messiah. As a translation itself, it does not shy away from words referencing the events of his life.
Specifically, the following words and phrases in Psalm 30 alert the reader to its death/resurrection theme.
  1.  “for the end”: This phrase is found in the superscript, which is not part of the biblical text. The words before the first verse of any psalm have been added by ancient text editors. “For the end” in Greek is “εἰς τὸ τέλος”, roughly pronounced eess-toe-tell-os, (Psalm 29:1 BGT). I have come to observe that this phrase in itself refers to Christ, since he is the “end” or goal, of our faith. He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Further, Christ himself stated on the cross, “It is finished.” In Greek, this is “τετέλεσται”, pronounced teh-tell-ess-tay (John 19:30 BGT). This Greek word is a verb that means, “to bring to a close, to finish, to end.” (Thayer’s Lexicon)
  2.  “at the dedication of the house of David”: Jesus referred to his body as the “temple,” or dwelling place, i.e., house, of God. (See John 2:19-22 and Mark 14:58)
  3.  “thou hast lifted me up” (vs 1): As explained above, the Greek verb could be used either of the crucifixion (John 12:32, which is a different Greek verb but is translated “lifted up” in English) or the resurrection, in the sense of to be lifted, or drawn up from under, as though someone were beneath and pushing up; or in the sense of pulling someone up from under something. We say that someone or something “lifted my spirits.”
  4.  “not caused my enemies to rejoice over me” (vs 1): My favorite media depiction of Christ’s resurrection is from an old BBC animated production of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In this particular film version, as they considered the dead Lion Aslan, the scary, animated beasts who opposed him were very nearly throwing a party to celebrate his death. Aslan was Lewis’s symbol for Christ. We can imagine the celebration in Satan’s realm had Christ remained in his grave.
  5.  “I cried to thee, and thou didst heal me” (vs 2): Christ did indeed cry out to God, so much so, that he sweat as it were great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. He also cried from the cross itself, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the second clause, the Greek word “heal” is the same word used in Septuagint Isaiah 53:5. It refers to both physical healing and spiritual healing from sin. These together form a complete salvation. Christ was healed physically from death. He was spiritually healed from sin, as the sacrificial lamb of God upon whom was laid the sins of the world. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV)
  6.  “thou hast brought up my soul from Hades, thou hast delivered me from among them that go down to the pit” (vs 3): This verse most definitely speaks of death and dying. Most English translations acknowledge this. The NET writes, “O LORD, you pulled me up from Sheol; you rescued me from among those descending into the grave.”
  7.  “ye his saints” (vs 4): “Saints” is a favorite word for God’s people in the Psalter, in Daniel, and in the New Testament. When reading a psalm in which the events of the speaker’s life strongly evoke the events of Christ’s life, and when this speaker turns in his speech to directly address the people of God as his “saints,” a careful reader should sit up with ears alert. The translation version here can make a difference. Brenton, The Orthodox Study Bible, the ESV, KJV, and NKJV translate the Scripture with the word “saints,” while the NIV, NET, and CJB, say either “faithful ones,” or “faithful followers.” NETS translates the Greek word as his “devout.”
  8.  “thou didst turn away thy face, and I was troubled” (vs 7): As mentioned above, Jesus in his passion perceived that God had turned away and even abandoned him.
  9.  Verses 8-10, again as mentioned above, are entirely suitable to the passion and resurrection of Christ.
  10.  “my glory” (vs 12): The ESV uses the word “glory” 161 times in the New Testament. Many of these occurrences refer to Christ. Jesus uses the phrase, “my glory,” in John 17:24, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” Although King David may have had a certain kind of glory, I am sure that his glory is nothing compared to that of the Son of God.
  11.  “that my glory may sing praise to thee, and I may not be pierced with sorrow” (vs 12). The ESV states, “that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.” The Septuagint expresses greater lexical depth. Its Greek word “pierced” is another example of what could be a double meaning. First, while the Greek word used in this verb does not in itself contain the concept of sorrow, most often the Greek verb is used in a context where sorrow is connoted. The idea is that if one’s emotions are pierced with sorrow, this will lead to the person’s silence. The Septuagint word choice can carry this meaning. Additionally, Christ was, of course, literally pierced, first, by the crown of thorns upon his head, next by the nails that fixed him to the cross, and lastly, by the soldier’s spear thrust into his side. If this piercing had resulted in permanent death, that would indeed have been a most sorrowful outcome for all concerned. And, a permanent, final death would have ended in silence. As a tie-in with the first clause about “my glory,” Scripture associates Christ’s glory with his eternal existence, both as crucified-then-resurrected man and as divine God. The Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:8 and James 2:1) chooses to use that glory to praise the Lord, his God. The sorrowful silence of death was defeated by the joyfully glorious resurrection unto praise.

4. A final means by which a careful reader is alerted to the crucifixion/resurrection theme of Psalm 30 is the “plot” of the psalm. The plot traces the movement in the life of the psalm’s speaker from the happiness and well-being that proceeded from God’s favor, into death, and then back from death to life, and finally to joy, praise, and thanksgiving. That the speaker turns to an audience he calls the Lord’s “saints” and commands them also to praise the Lord for his action of turning the sorrow of condemnation into the joy of life restored–the darkness of night into the light of morning– strongly favors Christ as being the protagonist. He intends that the church share the salvation God gave him by means of his resurrection victory.

With the above in mind, and given that 1) the death and resurrection of Christ, considered as a unit, is the centerpiece of Christianity, and 2) that the New Testament quotes the Psalter far more often than any other book of the Old Testament (Isaiah is the second most often quoted book), it is plain good reading sense for the Christian reader to keep an ear out for words, phrases, and themes in Psalms that point to the death and resurrection of Christ. Once discovered, it is faith through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit that keeps a reader firm in her discovery of references to Christ in the Psalms, even though she may not at first, or ever, discover scholarly confirmation in the books available to her (See footnote).
__________
Psalm 30 is written clearly enough that the theme of resurrection is apparent. While this article is primarily based upon my own reading of Psalm 30, I discovered much confirmation. For example, Patrick Henry Reardon develops the type of David’s house as representative of Christ’s body, including his Resurrection. Andrew A. Bonar develops a similar theme, though in a different direction. Craig C. Broyles, whom I read after I understood the basic structure of the psalm, as presented above, gives a similar organizational structure to that which I presented. Lord Bishop Samuel Horsley is responsible for equating the sickness of verse 2 with the fall of humans into sin, and the healing with the redemption Messiah brought, as in Isaiah 53:4-5. Finally, The Orthodox Study Bible (page 700) writes in its notes, “Ps 29 speaks of the Resurrection of Christ, who is the End (v. 1), and together with Him, the resurrection of the Church.” The notes continue with many details linked to specific words and verses. Biographical notes for these sources are available at “Christ in the Psalms: Bibliography,” accessed on August 17, 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 24: Formal and Boring or Dramatic and Exciting?

clipart-library.com

A Bit of a Meandering Approach…

I remember the third stanza of Psalm 24 (verses 7-10) from my Sunday School childhood. Our teacher had selected this psalm for her class to memorize and present in a little program to the church. What did it mean? Who knows? We were never taught. My young mind created an image of large and heavy, wood and iron gates, fairytale style, cranking themselves up all by themselves, so that a King on a horse could enter over a stone road paved in large, boulder-like slabs to whatever it was that lay beyond. Did I know that the King was the Lord Almighty Jesus Christ at his ascension? No, not at all. The words held no concrete meaning for me at that point in my life. Actually, that the words came from “the Bible” meant nothing to me either. Nevertheless, I always remembered those few lines of this little poem. Our teacher had us perform the psalm chorus style. Although I enjoyed following her stage directions to deliver these final verses in a loud, strong voice, no internal emotion accompanied my recitation. No wonder, since the words held no meaning for my tiny life.

I reread this poem in January, and in the margin I wrote, “Awesome.” Then I forgot about it. This morning, when I read it again, my first reaction was one of confusion. What does Stanza 1 have to do with Stanza 2? And how do we get from there to Stanza 3? Nevertheless, I knew that something amazing was happening in the third stanza, and I wrote the one word response, “Wow.”

Finding the psalm to be beyond me, I went straight to my most spiritual commentator, John Barclay. In light of what I’ve written here, you my reader may understand why I burst out laughing, as in “LOL!”, when I read what Barclay had written. He wrote bunches, far more than normal.

Although it seems perfectly true, as all the commentators say, that this Psalm (and perhaps all the rest) was used to be sung in parts, by the different bands of sacred music which David (no doubt by the direction of the Holy Ghost) had appointed for the service of the Sanctuary; yet, if we attend any further than that, to the dull, dry, bare, and beggarly disquisitions of the carnally-minded … [academics] …, concerning the procession of the ark, its being received into the temple, and set upon its own place, with such like childish ideas, and nugatory [worthless, trivial] observations, retailed and enumerated every day, and almost in every place of worship, in the most stale and tedious manner imaginable; now do we find our whole spirit, fervor, and devotion, in the most amazing manner, all at once, as if it were by enchantment, damped, destroyed, and shrunk to nothing, after the manner, if we may so say, of the plump kine [cows], and full ears of corn, which were devoured and swallowed up by the lean, thin, blasted and shriveled!–But if, ceasing from the… [academicians], we take the spirit of the Psalm from the Spirit who inspired it, and read it in its own light, the light of its parallels, and especially the light of the New Testament, we will find, instead of the darkness of the Mosaic veil, the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus, filling our whole hearts… (Barclay, 147).

I hope you were able to wade through that–he did, after all, write those words in the early 1800’s, before texting, Twitter, and bit-speech were ever invented. I laughed when I read his impassioned description of dry, dead academia because of the confidence and unabashed moxy he displays in his vigorous attack of the “letter” that kills (2 Corinthians 3:6). I laughed because he sums up my thought exactly and bludgeons where I barely dare to hint.

So, what did Barclay (and others in my bibliography) find in Psalm 24? In short–a summation of the entire Bible and gospel.

Stanza 1, which is verses 1 and 2, represents Christ before time in his sovereignty and great creative act, as God and with God.

1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. (ESV)

His parallel verses are John 1:1 and Colossians 1:17. I would add a phrase from Hebrews 1:3, “he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(John 1:1-3 ESV)

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things were created through him and for him.
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col 1:16-17 ESV)

Stanza 2 extends from verse 3 through 6 and displays Christ in his sinless human nature making atonement as mediator between those sinners who nonetheless desire God, and God in his holiness. It is by the obedience of belief in this one man Christ that God declares every willing human righteous, who is “found in him… not having a righteousness of [their] own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”  (Philippians 3:9 ESV) This verse from Philippians is almost a restatement of Psalm 24:3-6 and presents the gospel message in a nutshell. In Psalm 24, verses 3-5 refer to Christ, and verse 6 to his followers.

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah (ESV)

Stanza 3, verses 7 through 10, closes this short psalm with a dramatized declaration of Christ’s victory in battle over sin and death and his ascension to kingly reign alongside his Father in heaven–Christ is both Savior and Lord, both human and God, the point of connection between earth and heaven. Verse 8 makes reference to the battles Christ fought in his incarnation as human, and verse 10 displays him as the LORD of hosts, the King of glory, coequal with God.

7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah (ESV)

A Bit of Editorial Meditation

There is no doubt that it is difficult for us as readers today to comprehend the life and vitality of these 10 verses. We are inundated by media that proclaim a worldview in staunch contrast and opposition to the faith-view presented in Psalm 24. Further, we are limited by a contemporary language that has descended to near illiteracy. Finally, we experience noise all around us constantly, noise which distracts us and robs us of contemplative moments when we can simply ask God by his Spirit to open the understanding of our spirit made in his image.

Yet these are not insurmountable obstacles. I believe a deeper issue lies at the heart of our inability to appreciate God’s biblical treasure map to us, our love letter-in-a-bottle, that is, Holy Scripture. The issue is pinpointed when we answer the question, Who do I worship? Negotiating daily life in today’s age has taught me to place myself at the center of everything. How am I doing? How do I rate? Are my needs being met? Am I performing adequately? Even our church worship services tend toward the me, me, me. Have I met God today? Have I been fulfilled by this service? Rather than, Have I presented God with a sacrifice of worship that pleases him?

Yes, the church is included in Psalm 24:6, but it’s not a psalm about the church, it’s a psalm about Jesus Christ. In order to fully appreciate Psalm 24 I need to accept that it’s a psalm not about me–it’s not about my successes and failures, my needs, my wants, my poverty, my riches–it’s a psalm about the person and fantastic success of Jesus Christ in his eternality and temporal mission. In all honesty, I find that most of my waking thoughts are about myself. Most of the living I do is an attempt to make my self happy, to fulfill my needs as I perceive them, and yes, even when I go to church. To let all that go and to find contentment in extolling an outsider–not myself–that is today’s challenge. To let someone else’s success be my own–that is rest. I do it for my favorite football team–why can’t I do it for Jesus Christ?

Am I making sense?

 

Penitential Psalms: Psalm 51–A Personal God of Love

 

It happens to be Maundy Thursday and tomorrow is Good Friday. Psalm 51 is an Easter Song if there ever was one. Psalm 51 is difficult for me and for everyone who strongly feels that Christ is the primary speaker in David’s psalms. The speaker in this psalm unquestionably confesses his personal guilt and sin. And Christ is sinless and holy. How can the speaker be Christ? And yet, that is my position.

Craig C. Broyles writes that of the seven penitential psalms (Pss. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143), Psalm 51 is unique in its exclusive focus on sin (Broyles, p226). He also writes that among the psalms as a whole, it is “unrivaled … for its interest in inner transformation” (Ibid.). While Broyles in no way claims Christ as speaker, he states that within the psalm itself there is no reason to see David as speaker (Ibid., p 226-227). The superscripts were written by an ancient editor after the fact. None of the superscriptions above the psalms is to be considered Scripture.

Why is it so difficult to receive Christ as speaker in Psalm 51? Consider these words:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:1 ESV)

Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. (Psalm 51:9 LXE)

I must speak personally here, but I think I speak for many. To attribute the above words to Christ stirs up uncomfortable feelings of shame that are difficult to deal with. If Christ the sacrificial lamb speaks these words upon the painful cross, then that means that he the sinless one is speaking these words for me. It’s extremely humbling to go before the throne of grace knowing that He knows. It’s humbling to agree with him that yes, I did do these things. But what is most humbling is to see the big problem for God that my sin caused and to watch, childlike, as he himself pays the cost to fix the damage my sinful actions brought about. Yes, it’s very childlike. Come on, folks, admit it. God went to a lot of trouble to fix the problem humanity’s sin caused and it cost him a great deal. Because he is who he is, we in our puniness will never be able to possibly imagine what it was like for God’s Son, God himself, our creator, the all-powerful one, to become one of us and to take upon himself our sin.

Psalm 51 can be a great blessing for everyone whose sin is great. So often we hear about those who feel that God could never forgive their sin because of its excessive nature. “God can forgive others,” they may think, “but he could never forgive me.” Yes, he could! And he did! The actual words of the psalm itself don’t say what the sin was.  When Israel’s high priest used to lay his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he wasn’t just symbolically giving up the low-level sins of the people, but all their sins (Leviticus 16:7-10). God knows. Jesus on the cross knew what the sins were. He confessed them as his own.  

What might the following words mean when translated into the actual experience of the One hanging on the cross?

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

Might such a person, who has himself become sin, be able to confess the words of Psalm 51? For the sake of all who might ever believe in him, I say yes (1).

__________

1 Because Scripture calls for a witness of at least two, “Where two or more are gathered in my name…” “…take one or two others along…,” I’d like to bring along with me John Barclay. He writes:

… there is no blasphemy (as many have most blasphemously alleged there is) in this manner of interpretation [Christ as the sole speaker in all of Psalm 51]; which must either be admitted, or the New Testament made void! (Barclay, page 218)

While Barclay in his preface has multitudes of arguments to support his attributing all of Psalm 51 to Christ as speaker, one of his main arguments is the existence of parallel passages: Psalm 51:16-17 is parallel to Psalm 40:6. Psalm 40:6-8 is quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7. There the words are attributed directly to the mouth of Christ, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said…” (Ibid.). Barclays’s logic is mathematical: If A = B and C = B, then A = C. Since the New Testament in Hebrews attributes Psalm 40:6 to Christ as speaker, then a parallel passage in another psalm (Psalm 51:16) must also be attributed to Christ (Barclay, page 47). It also follows that since there is one speaker throughout all of Psalm 51, if one portion is spoken by Christ, then the whole psalm, by the rules of plain English, must also be spoken by Christ (Ibid., page 42-43).

While I agree with this “head” explanation, I also fully agree with Barclay elsewhere, when he states that seeing Christ as our intercessor and mediator in Psalm 51 is mostly a matter of heart. Christ fully and consciously washed our sins away in his own blood. Why would anyone want to maintain that Christ our mediator did not stand in for us and acknowledge our sin as his own? If this were not so, Barclay asks, then how can we have confidence that the righteousness of Christ is ours? In other words, “How could sinners call his righteousness theirs, if he had not called their sin his?” (Ibid., page 71). And if our theology permits Christ to call our sin his, then in honesty, we cannot forbid him from confessing it. Yes, to see Christ as the speaker of Psalm 51 is to see what substitutionary atonement meant for the Lamb of God.

Many blessings upon you all; may this Easter be among the happiest you have ever known.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: