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14. Psalms 12, 42, 72, 102, 132: Reading Across Psalms for a Complete Messianic Portrait

Bibliography

Outline of Series

I. Introduction

A. General Comments

I recommend the tiny devotional Bible, 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise: Daily Readings from the Books of Psalms and Proverbs (See Bibliography). Although the publishers labeled the book “devotional,” it contains not a single word of commentary. It is, rather, a Bible. What makes it unique is the arrangement of the Psalms for the thirty-one days of consecutive reading. Day 1 contains Psalms 1, 31, 61, 91, and 121; Day 2 Psalms 2, 32, 62, 92, and 122; and so forth, each day following the same numerical pattern of adding thirty to arrive at the next psalm.

While there is nothing magical about this arrangement, it gives the reader opportunity to read across the Psalms in a way which, whether by chance or design, often provides a spiritually profitable mix. For those readers who are familiar with the author of this blog’s understanding that the Psalms are basically and wholly about Christ, reading across the Psalms in a single setting provides connections among them that otherwise might be missed in a sequential only reading. That is, if a person only reads the psalms in numerical order, portions of the back-and-forth dialogue among them might be missed.

For example, sometimes themes, or topics, become apparent when reading across. In my personal 31 Days Bible, I have written short thematic titles for some of the days, such as, “Yay, God!” for Day 3. This signifies for me that these psalms celebrate God’s victories. Again, I’ve written, “God Saves His Own,” for Day 11, and “War,” for Day 19. These examples are just my personal, devotional responses to what I read, as I discover what appear to be themes in a certain day’s grouping.

As another example, I find that some days contain sequences of the major events in Christ’s life, even though the numbers for the contiguous psalms are separated by thirty. These are the days I love the best. We see this in Day  28, where Psalm 88, which is often called the “darkest” psalm, is followed immediately by Psalm 118, a psalm filled with glory and light. Psalm 88 describes Christ’s crucifixion, his death, and his descent to the grave. Psalm 118, its sequel on Day 28, is a description of Christ’s resurrection and ascension to glory in tones of pure, joyful victory.

Psalm 88:15-18 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.

Psalm 118:17-24 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

In these two quotations placed side by side, we see the complete gospel: the wrath of God on account of sin poured out upon Christ, Christ’s death, and immediately afterwards, his resurrection and ascension to be the head of the church, the gates of righteousness having been opened to life.

B. Day 12

It is not hard to find meaningful groupings of psalms when using 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise. For today’s study, I chose Day 12, which includes Psalms 12, 42, 72, 102, and 132. In this grouping, we see 1) in Psalm 12, the battle line drawn between good and evil as the lies of the wicked versus the truthful goodness of God’s word. In verses 5 and 7  we also see a promise of the Lord’s rising up to take action, which is what God did in Messiah in the New Testament. We also find 2) in Psalm 42,  a faithful man who suffers, 3) in Psalm 72, prayers for Messiah the King, 4) in Psalm 102, a poor, afflicted man pouring out his heart to the Lord and to whom the Lord replies in strong terms, attributing divinity to him, and 5) in Psalm 132, a celebration of God’s victories over hardship and enemies in the life of King David, who is a royal type of Christ. In this final psalm, both the suffering and glorious victory of the great King are clearly presented together. What this sequence of five psalms accomplishes, therefore, is to link the suffering man with the glorious, divine, and victorious Creator King Messiah, a link which apparently nearly everyone in Jesus’ time missed.

After his resurrection, Jesus said to his disciples with reference to the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer…” (Luke 24:44-46). But where in Psalms do we find that Messiah will suffer? Surely nowhere is such a direct statement made within the bounds of any single psalm. And yet, by reading across the psalms and by making reasonable literary connections among them, even as prompted by the Holy Spirit, we distinctly arrive at a portrait of Messiah that includes both suffering and glory, humanity and divinity. Such is “Day 12” in “31 Days of Wisdom and Praise.”

 

II. The Individual Psalms of Day 12

 

Psalm 12: God’s Word the Victor as the Battle Lines Are Drawn

1 Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
    for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
    with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord;
    “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the Lord are pure words,
    like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times.

You, O Lord, will keep them;
    you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
    as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

A. Theme: God’s Truth Defeats the Enemy’s Lie as the Battle Lines  Are Drawn

1.  Characteristics of Liars and Their Lies

a. Verse 1: They are the norm everywhere

b. Verse 2: Everyone hides the truth and speaks falsely to the people around them, saying one thing out loud and saying something quite different to themselves. They pretend to be pleased by others, to agree, and to like these others, their neighbors, while at the same time their hearts stand poised against them.

c. Verse 3: The liars give meaningless compliments and agreements and speak proudly of themselves.

d. Verse 4: Those who deceive think they can get away with everything.

e. Verse 5: The purpose of much of the false words is to oppress the already poor and needy.

(Note on Verse 5: New Testament writers often quote from the Septuagint, which was the translation of the Old Testament in common circulation during their day. The English translation of Septuagint verse 5 proclaims God’s mind to clearly speak, that is, to prophesy, his intentions regardingsalvation.

LXE Psalm 12:5 {011:5} Because of the misery of the poor, and because of the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord, I will set them in safety; I will speak to them thereof openly. [Brenton, BibleWorks, Septuagint numbering Psalm 11:5])

2. Characteristics of the Lord’s Words, Verse 6: The Lord’s words are pure–not mixed, not hiding double meanings, exact and to the point, reliable, and of great value.

B. Outcome: The Lord Fights and Vanquishes the Wicked

1. Verse 7: The Lord has promised–he has spoken–and he will do as he spoke. He will keep the poor and needy safe forever from the oppressors of their own generation.

2. Verse 8: The wicked, in the meantime, will continue to walk about everywhere, honoring what is vile.

C. Sidebar: Internal Dialogue Present Within the Psalm

1. Verses 1-2 are a third person statement of the situation. The speaker is not identified; it may be a narrator or more likely either David speaking for the poor and needy or the congregation of the poor and needy themselves.

2. Verses 3-4 are a petition to the Lord by the unknown speaker.

3. Verse 5 is the Lord’s spoken response to the petition stated in verses 3 and 4. The Lord’s specific mention of the poor and needy in his reply adds weight to the view that these are the unknown, collective petitioners.

4. Verses 6 is a third person statement describing the Lord’s words.

5. In verse 7, first person plural speakers address the Lord in second person. This also adds weight to the view that the unknown speaker of the petition in verses 3 and 4 is the collective of the poor and needy.

6. Verse 8 is a third person narrative-like summary of the situation, a repetition in content of verses 1 and 2.

7. Even in this short psalm, therefore, at least two and possibly three speaking voices can be identified.

Takeaway: What do we learn from this psalm? What should our actions be?

I learn that I should not listen to the myriad of voices around me, voices that try to lead me away from the sure ground of faith in the Lord and in His Word. God’s Word is eternal, and in his Word I should trust, stand, and abide.

Can you put in your own words what this psalm means to you?

Summary: Psalm 12 sets the stage for the remaining psalms of Day 12. The battle is between the Lord and the wicked, and the weapons are the durable, true words of the Lord against the deceptive untruths of his enemies.  The Lord promises to arise and take salvation action to save the poor and needy.

Psalm 42: Faith Fights Depression

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

1As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

A. Portrait of a Faithful Man Who Suffers

We’ve all been in this situation. We’ve placed all our hope in the Lord and have been careful to obey all the principles of his Word. We’ve gone regularly to church and have truly enjoyed worshiping with like minded believers. But then, God disappears. He no longer speaks to us, especially in the night watches of our souls. News from a godless culture assaults us day by day. Personal troubles come, and it seems as though we are drowning in a sea of difficulties. Worse still, it seems as though the attacks upon us are coming from God himself! (Vs 7: “all your breakers and waves have gone over me.”) And we have enemies, adversaries, those who oppose us with intent to harm. Then these, not only trying to hurt us, taunt us in our suffering, “Where’s your God now?” “Why doesn’t your God save you?” “What good is your faith?” “Why has God abandoned you?” “See, we don’t need God. God is not even relevant.”

B. Faith’s Response

1. The suffering believer in this psalm does what believers always do–he turns to the Lord, crying out to him from his pain and sorrow:

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God? …

6 My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you…

I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?” …

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

2. The psalmist has a strong apprehension that it is God himself who afflicts him, even though there is an actual enemy oppressing him.

7 Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.

I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Does this make sense to our faith? If God is the one who afflicts us, then what hope do we possibly have?

Two things:

1) If it is God who afflicts, then it is also God who will save.

2) We know positively that our enemy does not love us, whereas we also know positively that God does love us. Eventually his love will pull us through.

3) No matter how strong the storm, if God is with us in the boat, then we are safe.

3. The fact that the psalmist ultimately places responsibility for his affliction at the feet of God causes us to think of Christ, because he knew that it was the Father’s will that he suffer and be sacrificed for our sins. It was exactly the Father’s will that sent Christ to the cross. Further, in this one specific instance of Christ, it was indeed God’s wrath against sin that poured out upon him in punishment and inflicted pain.

4. Nevertheless, this psalm itself does not specify that this suffering person is Christ. That will come later in Day 12.

5. [SIDEBAR] There is however an important theological understanding to be gained here. Once the connections among psalms have been made, once the disciples’ eyes had been opened to the reality that all the prophets and psalms speak of Christ and his suffering (Luke 24:25-27 and Luke 24:44-47), then it was possible for the New Testament writers to go back and learn of Messiah’s suffering as proceeding from his Father’s own will.

 ESV Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting that he [God], for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

ESV 1Peter 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,
11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them
was indicating when he [the Holy Spirit present within the Old Testament prophets] predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.

Where then in the Old Testament do the prophets specifically speak of the sufferings of Christ? One place is in Psalms, and in this psalm in particular, if the reader can see Christ in it, as for example in verse 4, which reminds us of Christ leading the jubilant throng to the temple on what came later to be known as Palm Sunday.

C. Doubt and despair are two of the enemies afflicting the psalmist, and against these two he fights back mightily, knowing that God’s love will manifest and save him in the end.

… Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 72: Prophetic Prayer for Messiah the King

(Link to Text of Psalm 72)

This is a prayer psalm that speaks blessing upon the King, the Son of the King of Kings. As the psalm closes with the transition from verse 17 to verses 18 and 19, it becomes difficult to decipher whom is being spoken of–God the Father or the Royal Son, so close are they in nature and glory. It can be seen that verse 17 supports the view that verses 18 and 19 are also about the Royal King, since the blessings desired for the Lord are eternal. The “Lord, the God of Israel,” in verse 18 is Yahweh Elohim in Hebrew, which the Septuagint version renders as, “the Lord, the God, the God of Israel.”

17 May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!

18 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.

19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! 

A. Petitions for the King’s Endurance and Blessing

5 May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! 

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!
11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! 

15 Long may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day!

17 May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed! 

19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! 

B. Characteristics of and Petitions For His Nature

1 … Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!

6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
7 In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

12 For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.

C. Messiah as Glorious King

Notice that in Psalm 72, which has been considered Messianic, there is no mention of suffering or of hardship of any kind. The psalm deals only with the glory of the King, his righteousness, the peace that shall accompany him, and the eternity of his reign.

Recap:

  • Psalm 12–Messiah but no suffering
  • Psalm 42–Suffering but no Messiah
  • Psalm 72–Messiah but no suffering

Psalm 102: The Afflicted Man and Messiah God Joined

Psalm 102 is one of the more puzzling psalms in Scripture, predominantly as a consequence of the way it is quoted in the book of Hebrews.

(Link to Psalm 102 Bible Gateway)

Reading through Psalm 102 in most, if not all, of the English translations gives many people the sense that the voice of the poor, afflicted suppliant continues throughout the entire psalm. That is, many, if not most, commentators hear one person speaking throughout the psalm, that person being the poor, afflicted suppliant. In verse 24, most English versions add punctuation and some add grammatical changes which preclude any other interpretation. The ESV, for example, adds the grammatical interpretation, “you whose years” in place of the accurate  translation, “your years” (ESV Psalm 102:24). The King James Version is literal and conveys an accurate translation of the actual Greek words in Psalm 102:24 (KJV). Except for the punctuation marks, which of course are not present in the Greek, and the word “please,” the New English Translation, though not literal, is accurate as well (NET). (See these three versions in Parallel).

Contrary to the single speaker interpretation of Psalm 102, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews appears to hear additionally the voice of God speaking to the person pleading to him in this psalm. The writer of that letter hears two speaking voices, not one:

Hebrews 1:10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” (ESV) [This is a quotation of Psalm 102:24b-27.]

To perceive that the writer of the letter to the Hebrews hears God in Psalm 102 addressing the Son, it helps to read Hebrews 1:10-12 in the  context of the entire chapter, since verses 10-12 are part of a longer sentence that begins in verse 8 and part of a longer argument, which begins in verse 1.

ESV Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 

Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” [a quotation of Psalm 45:6,7]

Hebrews 1:10 And [this conjunction links verse 10 to the portion of verse 8 which reads, “But of the Son he says…”], “You, Lord [i.e., you Lord, the Son], laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” [Psalm 102:24b-27]

[Link to the entire chapter: Hebrews 1]

Following the rules of plain, common sense English, an ordinary reader can perceive that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews sees a reference to Christ in Psalm 102:24-27 and that in his mind it is God speaking to Christ from within that psalm:

 …God spoke (Hebrews 1:1)…But of the Son he [God] says (:8)…And (:10) [God continues to speak of the Son] You, Lord, (:10) laid the foundation of the earth…etc. [from a direct quotation of that portion of Psalm 102]

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews plainly perceives more than one speaker in Psalm 102:24-27. He hears the voice of the poor suppliant pleading with God that he might live. Secondly, he hears the voice of God replying to the poor suppliant’s request. The nature of that reply indicates that the first speaker, the poor suppliant, is Christ the Son, and the second speaker is God.

The alternative single speaker point of view claims that only one person, the poor suppliant, speaks throughout the entire psalm. That is, all the words of the entire psalm, including those in verses 24-27, belong to the voice of the poor suppliant. Those who cling to this point of view interpret that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, divinely inspired,  perceives the Holy Spirit as having taken the words of the poor suppliant addressed to God in verses 24-27 and applied them as having been addressed to Christ by the poor suppliant. In other words, the single speaker point of view claims that in the poor suppliant’s prayer to God is buried a prayer to Christ as Creator, recognizable apparently only to the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews because he was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. I have every confidence that the writer of Hebrews was indeed divinely inspired. Nevertheless, this interpretation contorts the contexts of both Psalm 102 and Hebrews 1 beyond the bounds of plain, literary credulity.  It is an interpretation to which most ordinary readers would never arrive. Thus, Hebrews 1:10-12 has remained a puzzle for ages: How did the writer of Hebrews arrive at his conclusion that Christ is present as divine Creator in Psalm 102:24-27?

Despite the difficulties just described, very few writers embrace the viewpoint of two speakers in dialogue within Psalm 102. A two speaker viewpoint inescapably implies that the poor, afflicted suppliant pleading for his life in Psalm 102 is also Christ the divine Creator. Is it because such a viewpoint would upset the hermeneutical rules of many that most commentators fall short of this mark? Is it difficulty in ascribing the mindset of the poor suppliant to Christ? Or is it something else? Why does it seem impossible that the poor suppliant in Psalm 102 prophetically speaks out the voice of Christ in his incarnation and passion? Doesn’t Christ himself just before his ascension teach his disciples that any of them who do not see the predictions of Messiah’s sufferings in the Old Testament, including the psalms, are both “foolish” and “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25 ESV and Luke 24:44-46)?

Perhaps reading Psalm 1o2 in the Septuagint, which the Hebrews’ author most likely did, will help a great deal, as the context clearly proclaims two speakers:

LXE Psalm 102:23 He [Speaker 1: the poor suppliant] answered him [Addressee: God] in the way of his strength: [Note that this narrative sentence must be spoken by a third party, neither the suppliant nor the addressee.]

[SUPPLIANT:] tell me the fewness of my days. 24 Take me not away in the midst of my days:

[ADDRESSEE, GOD, AND HERE, SPEAKER NUMBER TWO:] thy years are through all generations.
25 In the beginning thou, O Lord, didst lay the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.
26 They shall perish, but thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them, and they shall be changed.
27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
28 The children of thy servants shall dwell securely, and their seed shall <1> prosper for ever.

Written in paragraph style:

He answered him in the way of his strength, “Tell me the fewness of my days. Take me not away in the midst of my days.” 

“Thy years are through all generations…”

(Link to NETS translation of Septuagint Psalm 102 {101}) (Link to Brenton’s translation of Psalm 102)

The Septuagint’s use of the phrase, “He answered him…,” is a textual signpost indicating that two speakers are present and engaged in ongoing dialogue. If a reader becomes aware that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews quoted from the Septuagint, then he can readily follow the logic of his divinely inspired understanding in Hebrews 1:10-12 that God is indeed speaking to Christ in Psalm 102:24-27, since Christ is identical to the poor suppliant.

Concerning the text the author of Hebrews may have used, the Septuagint reading quoted above is present in all versions of the Septuagint this author could find, and no content variants seem present that might challenge the two speaker viewpoint. Clearly, if, as is widely assumed, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews 1) had the Greek version of Psalm 102 in front of him, 2) had the Holy Spirit within him, and 3) was aware of Christ’s teaching on Old Testament prophecy in regard to the sufferings of Messiah, then today’s reader can more readily understand how he came to the conclusion he did regarding Christ as Creator within the context of Psalm 102. I want to add that any reader today, who reads Psalm 102 from the Septuagint or from an accurate English translation of the Septuagint, using a clear mind and following the rules of ordinary, plain, common sense language construction, should be able to see and agree that the concept of two speakers in dialogue within this psalm holds considerable merit, especially as confirmed by the book of Hebrews.

One can also notice that the author of Hebrews perceives many of the Old Testament passages he quotes in chapter 1, including those from Psalms, as having been spoken by God to the Son. Indeed, internal dialogue by various parties within single psalms is not uncommon. See, for example, the dialogue present in Psalm 12, discussed just above.

(For further direct speech from Father to Son see Psalm 110 and for a further example of speech/content blocks see Psalm 21 and Psalm 21: A Structural Analysis on this blog).

SUMMARY: If, as the writer of Hebrews indicates, God addresses his Son within the bounds of Psalm 102, then this psalm directly connects the suffering man with Messiah Lord God in a most powerful way.

Following are quotations from authors who subscribe to the single speaker interpretation of Psalm 102 in which the words of the poor suppliant to God are wrenched from their context and applied out of context in Hebrews 1, as though 1) God through the Holy Spirit were taking the poor suppliant’s words addressed to himself and using them as the poor suppliant’s words addressed to Christ, or 2) as if the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews through inspiration of the Holy Spirit were taking the poor suppliant’s words to God throughout the entire passage and applying them in these few sentences as God’s words to Christ. Neither of these two interpretations follows the rules of plain, ordinary grammatical and literary understanding. They seem rather to be contortions employed to avoid the conclusion that in Psalm 102 the poor suppliant is Christ in the suffering of his incarnation addressing God his Father. That is, there are two speakers in dialogue, not one.

Footnote 1.1

Albert Barnes sums up well the predicament of many commentators who attempt to explain in this portion of the Letter to the Hebrews what is for them the author’s surprising use of Psalm 102 as direct speech by God to the Son.

No one, on reading the Psalm, ever would doubt that it referred to God; and, if the apostle meant to apply it to the Lord Jesus, it proves most conclusively that he [Jesus] is divine. In regard to the difficult inquiry, why he applied this to the Messiah, or on what principle such an application can be vindicated, we may perhaps throw some light by the following remarks. It must be admitted, that probably few persons, if any, on reading the Psalm, would suppose that it referred to the Messiah; but (1.) the fact that the apostle thus employs it, proves that it was understood, in his time, to have such a reference, or, at least, that those to whom he wrote would admit that it had such a reference. On no other principle would he have used it in an argument. This is at least of some consequence, in showing what the prevailing interpretation was. (Barnes, Albert, “Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical: Hebrews,” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Available at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/barnes/ntnotes.xxii.i.x.html?highlight=psalm,102#highlight, accessed July 30, 2017.)

Footnote 1.2

Charles Spurgeon sets the tone perhaps for many commentators who perceive a single speaker throughout, according to Spurgeon’s view, a patriot who mourns for the plight of his nation and yet who ultimately finds hope in God:

24. “I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days.” He betook himself to prayer…”Thy years are throughout all generations.” Thou livest, Lord; let me live also. A fullness of existence is with thee, let me partake therein. Note the contrast between himself pining and ready to expire, and his God living on in the fullness of strength for ever and ever…25 “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth.” Creation is no new work with God…[the quote continues in this same vein.] (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, Vol. 2, 257.)

Footnote 1.3

Craig C. Broyles succinctly expresses the majority viewpoint that Psalm 102 is breathed by a single speaker throughout. Notice in the following text, however, that he focuses on the clear contrast between verses 23-24a and 24b-28, which in the dual speaker view is exactly where the dialogue occurs. He also accurately identifies the other major blocks of texts and their easily recognizable transitions.

102:23-24a / Although the praise of God’s permanence continues in verses 24b-28, a lament and a petition that resume the earlier theme of my days are interjected here. Their effect is to create a striking contrast. While the lament is brief, it focuses entirely on God’s role in the distress: he–that is, the praised Yahweh of verses 12-22–cut short my days. The petition then returns the psalm to direct address: Do not take me away…in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations. Thus, although verses 24b-28 are formally praise, there is also a note of complaint: “I am not permitted to live a full generation, but you continue through all generations.” [My comment here: in a devotional sense, I personally cannot help but feel that for someone to be jealous and even mildly to chastise God regarding his eternity in view of the plaintiff’s own short days would be somewhat blasphemous. Is that a viewpoint God would want to exult in Scripture?] (Broyles, Craig C., Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999, 392-393.)

Following are quotations from sources who subscribe to a dual speaker interpretation of Psalm 102. Christ is the poor suppliant addressing the Father in this psalm, and within the psalm the Father replies. His reply to Christ, the poor suppliant/Creator, is recorded in Hebrews 1:10-12.

Footnote 2.1:

101 [102. The Orthodox Study Bible uses the Septuagint numbering system, in which Psalm 101 Septuagint is Psalm 102 in most other English translations. The superscription is also numbered separately as verse 1.] Ps 101 is about a [present in the source] a poor man, when he was depressed and poured out his supplication before the Lord (v. 1). This Man is Jesus, who became poor for our sakes and interceded with the Father for our salvation (see also 2Co 8:9; Heb 5:7). The Lord to whom He prays is the Father (v.2) [vs 1 in most English translations], and vv. 3-12 [vv 2-11 in English translations not using the Septuagint numbering system] describe Jesus’ extreme anguish for us (see also Mt 26:38). He also rose again for our salvation, for He is the Lord over death (when You rise up, v. 14) [13]. He is the Creator of the world (vv. 26-28 [25-27]; see also Heb 1:10-12), and He also created the Church (vv. 19, 23, 29) [18, 22, 28], composed of Gentiles as well as Jews (v. 16) [15].

1:10-12 [Hebrews 1:10-12] In this quotation from Ps 101:26-28 [102:25-27], God the Father (v. 9) is addressing Another as “Lord,” that is, as God.

[Both quotations above are from: The Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, The Orthodox Study Bible, Thomas Nelson: Nashville, et al., 2008, copyright by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Used by permission. All rights reserved, 748 and 1654.]

Footnote 2.2:

PSALM CII. In this Psalm we behold the sufferings of Christ, as expressed in his own person, by the Holy Ghost, from the beginning to verse 12, contrasted with the following glory, as declared by the same Spirit in the person of the Father, from verse 12 to 23. Then, from the 23d to the middle of verse 24, the dialogue is again renewed, as at the beginning of the Psalm, in the person of the Son–to whom, from the middle of verse 24, to the end of the Psalm, the Father is again represented, as replying according to the former manner, mentioned from ver. 12 to 23: for so this Psalm, ver. 25, &c. is expressly applied and interpreted by the Holy Ghost, Heb. I. ‘Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever–And thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands,’ &c.–‘And they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.’ (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, page 336. Digitally reproduced by Forgotten Books, London: FB&c Ltd., 2017, http://www.ForgottenBooks.com.)

Note that as presented in the above quotation, John Barclay views Psalm 102 as a two speaker dialogue throughout. He divides the Psalm in this manner:

Speaker 1, Christ: verses 1-11,

Speaker 2, God the Father: verses 12-22,

Speaker 1, Christ: verses 23-24a,

Speaker 2, God the Father: verses 24b-28.

Barclay credits the Holy Spirit for assigning these divisions. He appeals to Hebrews 1:10-12 to confirm these divisions, as by the same Holy Spirit .

Footnote 2.3

Psalm 102 is one of the most, perhaps the most, remarkable of all the psalms, and presents Christ in a way divinely admirable. Verse 10 gives the occasion of the cry with which the psalm begins. Christ is fully looked at as man chosen out of the people and exalted to be Messiah, and now, instead of taking the kingdom, He is rejected and cast off…He looks to Jehovah, who cast down Him whom He had called to the place of Messiah, but who now meets indignation and wrath...The whole scene, from Christ on earth to the remnant in the last days, is one...His strength had been weakened in His journey, His days shortened. He had cried to Him able to deliver, to save from death. Was Zion to be restored and no Messiah—He weakened and cut off? Then comes the wondrous and glorious answer: He was Himself the creator of the heavens and the earth. He was ever the same. His years would not fail when the created universe was rolled up like a garment. The children of His servants would continue and their seed be established before Him. The Christ, the despised and rejected Jesus, is Jehovah the Creator. The Jehovah we have heard of coming, is the Christ that came. The Ancient of days comes, and Christ is He, though Son of man. This contrast of the extreme humiliation and isolation of Christ, and His divine nature, is incomparably striking. (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.)

Footnote 2.4

The apostle refers to the 102nd Psalm–a psalm which, without apostolic teaching, I doubt if any of us would have had the boldness so to apply; for in many respects it s the most remarkable of all the psalms–the psalm of the afflicted One while His soul is overwhelmed within Him in great affliction, and sorrow, and anxious fear…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.”  (Saphir, Adolph and Cortesi, Lawrence. The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Exposition. Public Domain. Available at http://juchre.org/saphir/heb2.htm, accessed July 30, 2017.)

Psalm 132: Prayer for the People of the Victorious King Who Endured Hardships

(Link to the Text of Psalm 132)

 Psalm 132 unifies and completes both the psalm portion of Day 12 of 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise and the life and mission of Jesus Christ.

In Psalm 132 we see a prayer (vss  1 and 10) for God’s anointed one, David’s descendant, that the mission begun in David’s humiliation would find its eternal completion in God’s anointed one, whom God promised would be King in Zion. In Zion, with the anointed King and with his people, God would have his final resting place.

A. Prayer for God to Remember David’s Hardships and Desire: Verses 1-10

A Song of Ascents. Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor, all the hardships he endured, (Psa 132:1 ESV)

Commentators agree that “hardships” in the ESV refer to David’s meekness and humility in placing God before his own interests in his desire to find Him a dwelling place.

Psalm 132:4 I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, 5 until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (ESV) (1 Chronicles 22:7 and Acts 7:46)

B. God’s Anointed One Fulfills David’s Desire

Psalm 132: 10 For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. (ESV)

13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. (ESV)

C. Petition and Promise

Verses 9-10 are a prayer that embodies what God has already promised (praying Scripture). Verses 9-10 state the prayer, and verses 11-18 state the promise/reply.

D. Plot Line

For Christians who believe that Christ is all in all, Psalm 132 sums up his life and mission very well.

  • As incarnated deity, Christ is typified by David. As David in the psalm placed concern for God’s dwelling place above the needs of his own life, so Christ always kept the Father’s will foremost in his thought, prayers, motives, speech, and actions.
  • David’s purpose in Psalm 132 is to find a permanent dwelling for God. Christ, whose name Emmanuel means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23), came to open the way back to God by means of the cross and to establish a permanent, eternal dwelling place for God among his people. Indeed, Christ’s mission and life throughout all ages fulfills the message of the entire Bible.
  • The place of God’s dwelling in both Psalm 132 and the unfolding of the New Testament is a people, Zion, God’s people, in whom Christ, the Anointed One, lives and reigns as eternal King.

E. A Fit Conclusion for the Five Psalm Series

Because Psalm 132 contains all the elements of humiliation, deity, promise, and eternal kingship, it captures and weaves into one all the various threads of the prior psalms.

III. Summary

Day 12 packs a great deal of vision and meaning into these five psalms.

Psalm 12 1) states the problem: sin, deception, and oppression, and 2) states the means of its solution: God’s word of truth and his salvation.

Psalm 42 paints an intimate portrait of an unnamed Christ in the days of his humiliation. It also presents faith as the effective weapon of choice.

Psalm 72 is a prayer for God’s royal son, the eternal King whose kingdom will last forever.

Psalm 102 for those who have eyes to see it and willingness to receive, reveals that the suffering one in this psalm, and by extension in all the psalms, is none other than the Lord himself, Creator (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:2, 10), and second person of the Trinity.

Psalm 132 brings it all together in a brief overview of 1) David’s life goal of finding a final dwelling place for God among his people, and 2) God’s promise to David that He would fulfill that goal in David’s descendant, God’s anointed, eternal King (vs 18), and that 3) Zion would be the eternal dwelling of God, his anointed King, and his people (Psalm 132:11-18).

Christ is that King. Believers in Christ from every age are God’s people.

 

 

 

This is the End of the current series. My prayer is that you will be greatly blessed in your own journey of discovering Christ in the Psalms.

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Psalm 21: A Structural Analysis

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Psalm 21

How cold is the title of this post? Why would anyone want to “structurally analyze” any part of God’s Word, especially the poetry of Psalms?

There are living voices in the psalms–various points of view and various speakers within single psalms. Not everyone hears these voices. Yet Christ after his resurrection cited Psalms to his disciples as one of the areas of Old Testament prophecy that  foretold his sufferings, death, and resurrection.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (Luke 24:44-45).

Verse 45 above says that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” I take this to mean that he spent some time with them going over specific examples and giving them keys to unlock passages. Afterward, they would be able to find and see these things themselves, as the Gospels and letters bear witness.

Psalm 21 is a psalm of resurrection.

Psalm 21 enjoys the agreement of traditional church interpretation both East and West that it is messianic and regards the resurrection and beyond.

Patrick Reardon writes, “Holy Church, both East and West, rather early decided that Psalm 20 (Hebrew 21) is best prayed during the earliest hours of Sunday morning, the Resurrection day of her Lord Jesus Christ” (Reardon, 39).

Andrew Bonar writes of it, “We are at once shewn the King Messiah, already triumphant at the Father’s right hand; and yet, as King, to triumph more ere all be done” (Bonar, 71).

Its positional context in the Psalter corresponds to its messianic nature.

Positioned just before Psalm 21, Psalm 20 is a psalm of prayerful intercession for the salvation of the King in his day of trouble. Undoubtedly the Jewish congregation prayed it through the centuries from David to Christ, and some, such as Anna and Zechariah, most likely knew that when they prayed this psalm, they were indeed praying for the Lord’s Anointed Messiah, not just for King David in retrospect.

Psalm 21 gives God’s answer to the petitions of Psalm 20, and Psalm 22, quoted in the New Testament and widely acknowledged as messianic, gives the details of the struggle prayed for in Psalm 20 and recaps the victory of Psalm 21.

Charles Spurgeon, who is relatively conservative in naming certain psalms as messianic, writes in his forward to Psalm 21, “Probably written by David, sung by David, relating to David, and intended by David to refer in its fullest reach of meaning to David’s Lord. It is evidently the fit companion of Psalm Twenty, and is in its proper position next to it. Psalm Twenty anticipates what this regards as realized. [Notice that Spurgeon here acknowledges reading across the psalms for connected themes]…The next Psalm [Psalm 22] will take us to the foot of the cross, this introduces us to the steps of the throne” (Spurgeon, Vol. 1, 312).

As a note, Psalm 21 is not quoted in the New Testament (Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno). This is apparently the reason why this psalm, widely regarded as being messianic throughout church history, does not appear in “official” lists of prophetic messianic psalms, such as those found in certain popular study Bibles. The author of this blog strongly feels that, as regards the reading of Psalms, current post modern academia has thrown buckets of icy water upon the Holy Spirit of God (1 Thessalonians 5:19), who moves so deeply throughout all of Scripture, breathing the life of Christ everywhere in its pages, and nowhere moreso than in the psalms. Sadly, this atmosphere of strict academia has seeped down into many, if not most, western evangelical churches, so that the power of Psalms as the voice of Christ has been largely lost to the weekly evangelical worshiper.

The Internal Structure of Psalm 21

Psalm 21

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,
    and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire
    and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
For you meet him with rich blessings;
    you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
    length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your salvation;
    splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
For you make him most blessed forever;[a]
    you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord,
    and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

Your hand will find out all your enemies;
    your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them as a blazing oven
    when you appear.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
    and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
    and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 Though they plan evil against you,
    though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 For you will put them to flight;
    you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13 Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power.

–ESV  (Psalm 21)

As much as possible, when reading the ancient poetry of psalms,  it is necessary to observe and identify within single psalms changes of viewpoint and even changes of speakers.

For example, at times a psalm may include one or more direct quotations and identify the speaker. One example is the well-known Psalm 110:1.

Psalm 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 

While Psalm 110:1 itself identifies both the speaker, LORD, and the addressee, my Lord, the reader is further helped to recognize who is speaking by Christ’s use of this psalm in verses such as Mark 12:35-37.

Mark 12:35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?
36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”‘
37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly. 

Even beyond this, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, by means of the context and grammar of the paragraph containing the quotation, explains that Psalm 110:1 was God speaking directly to his Son Christ (Hebrews 1).

From the above example alone, readers learn that 1) God speaks directly within the poetry of psalms, 2) sometimes Scripture identifies to whom he is speaking, 3) at times the addressee is his Son, 4) that Father and Son both appear in certain Old Testament psalms, and  5) that a single psalm may contain more than one speaking voice or speaking point of view.

Who is speaking in Psalm 21?

First, the superscription identifies Psalm 21 as a psalm of David.

Next, we notice that verse one begins in both second (you) and third person (he, the king) and continues this way through the first twelve verses. Verse thirteen alone uses one first person plural (we).

The speaker of the psalm is not identified.

Possibilities

  1. Perhaps King David is speaking. In this scenario he would be referring to himself in third person (he, the king).
  2. However, when the reader arrives at verse 8, it stretches plain literary common sense to continue thinking that David is the speaker.
    1. It is clear that the speaker is addressing God throughout verses 8-12.
    2. If David is the speaker, then God as addressee is the actor in the prophecies spoken throughout these verses.
    3. While it is true that God does act and that his will directs all, Scripture teaches that God himself does not appear; he remains invisible–

John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

4. Yet verse 9 says, “when you appear.

5. Therefore, it seems unlikely that David is the speaker in the block of verses 8 through 12.

3. Likewise, it seems clear without explanation that God is not speaking in any portion of Psalm 21.

4. Who is left? None but a narrative voice, a chorus, a body of speakers, given that the final verse is plural first person.

5. It does appear possible that David the King might be speaking in the first block from 1 through 7, and a chorus speaking from verses 8 through 13.

6. As mentioned in the first point, if David is the speaker in verses 1 through 7, then he would be referring to himself in third person.

7. More likely, the narrative chorus, which steps forward to identify itself in verse 13, is singing the entire psalm.

What structural blocks are identifiable?

There are three.

1. The first block–verses 1 through 7 

A. Verse 1 is a couplet:

O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices,

and in your salvation how greatly he exults! (ESV)

1. The first line of the couplet identifies the second person addressee: the Lord.

2. The first line also identifies the third person referent: the king.

3. The first and second lines together identify the theme of the first block: the king’s joy in the victories of strength God gave.

B . Verse 2 announces answered prayer.

You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah 

The answered prayer of 21:1-6, and especially the phrasing in verse 2, responds to the prayer spoken in Psalm 20, and especially in 20:4–May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 

C. Verses  3-6 give details of the answered prayer.

D. Verse 7 calls back to verse 1.

For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

1. In verse 7 is the first appearance of the word “king” since verse 1.

2. Both verses 1 and 7 describe the emotional responses of the king to God’s favorable actions on his behalf, while verses 2 through 6 describe the actions of God.

3. Therefore, verses 1 and 7 form an inclusio. This is a frame, or bracket, around a literary block or section. It’s like the two pieces of bread enclosing the ingredients of a sandwich.

E. It is clear that the chorus of speakers is addressing God in the first block about his actions on behalf of the king.

2. Verses 8 through 12

A. There is an noticeably abrupt switch of topic and addressee immediately in verse 8 and the change continues through verse 12.

What has changed? Not the speaker, as shown above, but the addressee, the topic, and the time frame.

B. Concerning the addressee, as developed in point 2 above in the section called “Possibilities,” the chorus turns from addressing God to addressing the King. This is fairly clear according to the guidelines of plain, everyday speech.

C. The topic has changed from the king’s responses of joy and trust to what God has already done in answering a prior prayer to naming and describing what the king, and the Lord in verse 9, will do to the king’s enemies at a future time of judgment.

D. The time frame has shifted from past–actions that God has already taken–to future–actions that the king will take. Notice that verse 7 does contain a small bit of transition in the phrase, “he shall not be moved.

E. It is the changes in addressee (point B), topic (point C), and time frame (point D) which signal to the reader that indeed verses 7-12 form a poetic block within Psalm 21 that is distinct from the block occupying the first seven verses.

3. Verse 13 

A. Verse 13 stands alone as the only verse in which the voice of the psalm changes in one place from second and third persons singular (you, he) to first person plural (we).

Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power.

B. This change in grammar signals both a new block, if one verse alone can be so considered, and the end of the poem itself.

1. A new block

a. This final verse introduces the third player in the poem–the chorus itself. The other two players have been the Lord and the king, while the chorus-narrator has remained offstage, so to speak.

b. In the final verse, the chorus reveals itself, having stepped into the action of the poem, by describing their own responses of singing and praising the Lord, apparently for an undefined amount of time into the future, most likely corresponding to the eternal life specified in verse 4.

2. The end of the poem.

a. The final verse narrows the theme of the poem to a celebration of song and praise to the Lord for his strength.

b. The first line of the final couplet references the Lord.

c. The second line of the final couplet references the chorus-narrator.

d. The chorus-narrator ends the poem with a personal description of its own response.

Who is the chorus-narrator?

The introduction in the last verse of the chorus as actors in the poetic drama of God and King is a large, extremely important theological step for readers of the poem. Who are these people? Who is the speaker of the entire psalm?

1. We know it’s a group.

2. We know that these people love both the Lord and the King.

3. It seems entirely reasonable to conclude that the chorus is both the congregation of Israelites in King David’s day and the congregation of the church in Greater King David’s day, the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Final Thoughts from a Personal Point of View

1. I find the psalms to be highly interactive. There’s lots of lively drama happening in them.

One example is point 3 in the above section. God, who designed and wrote all Scripture by his Holy Spirit, intends the reader to be pulled into the action and to have personal responses. Theologically, there is tremendous hope and promise to the church for an eternal future with Christ and God, evidenced by its presence in Psalm 21. The Lord, King Jesus, and the believing reader, who is also part of the narrator-chorus in Psalm 21. God, his Son, us! If that doesn’t amaze and speak of the tremendous love of the Lord (“the steadfast love of the Most High”–vs 7), then what will?

2. Through reading and rereading this psalm, its intent becomes clearer. Although the Lord and the King are distinguishable throughout, they are clearly very closely intertwined, reflecting what we know about Christ and the Father.

9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear.

The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. 

3. Jesus throughout his ministry directed everyone’s eyes to God the Father. Just so, while this psalm glorifies both the Lord and the King, its verses make clear that it is God the Lord who is the source of the King’s strength, and ultimately it is God the Lord whom the chorus praises in verse 13.

So is it cold or not cold?

This was lots of work for me as a writer!

As a reader, however, I want to say that since the Lord many years ago gave me the key of Christ to open the door of Psalms, it hasn’t been as difficult as this step-by-step analysis may indicate. When reading the psalms, the reality of the interactions between God and Son break through rather rapidly, like a great tidal wave of wonder and awe.

It is God the Holy Spirit who anoints each believing reader to perceive the gorgeous interplay between the various speakers and content blocks of Psalms. The perception comes rapidly, fed by the Spirit, and in response to reading and rereading a particular psalm. Yes, fine points need to be cleared up through analysis and by consulting other sources. For me, as regards this psalm, the fine point was whether or not the king was the speaker in the first block referring to himself in third person. As cited above, Andrew Bonar helped me with that one. Later analysis convinced me that the speaker is what I have termed the chorus-narrator throughout.

My personal testimony is that the discovery of two God-beings in Psalms is not cold, but very hot! While the king is not presented as the Lord in Psalm 21, he has been crowned with gold by God (verse 3), he has been given eternal life (verses 4 and 6), and he has been given glory, splendor, and majesty (verse 5). All this is true of Jesus Christ God’s Son, while not all is true of King David. For God the Holy Spirit to reveal this inside a believing reader’s heart is exciting life indeed.

 

 

 

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Turning Back to Thank and Praise the Lord: Psalm 18:1

Turning Back to Thank God

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Luke 17:12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? (ESV)

 

Psalm 18 prophetically announces to the Hebrew world of its day that Messiah would be raised from the dead. (Psalm 18 Bible Gateway) Verses 4-20 dramatically portray God’s direct actions in rescuing his Son from death and the grave. The reader sees God resurrect his Messiah. (Psalm 18: Resurrection of Christ)

When God rescued the psalmist King David from his near death experiences, King David took the time to share his victory with the Lord. Yes, as the one leper out of ten in the verses above in Luke, David turned back to thank and praise the Lord in worship.

Psalm 18:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, O LORD, my strength.

Turning back to thank and praise God for the victories and rescues he supplies serves an important spiritual function.

Both King David and Christ spoke directly to God, recounting the details of God’s actions in saving them. The sharing of our hearts with God amounts to fellowship with him. We invite God directly into our experiences, where indeed he has been all along. Telling God detail by detail how he helped us in specific situations for which we prayed gives God an opportunity to respond and confirm to our hearts that indeed it was he who helped.

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs– heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom 8:16 ESV)

Who doesn’t need such reassurance that our faith in God has been properly placed?

I know that for me, when I am pressed under in great pressure, it is easy to cry to the Lord, pouring out my heart to him in earnest prayer. Then suddenly, when the situation changes and I am safe and happy again, it is also so easy for me to go running off in joy for the freedom from pain and fear. I want to leave as quickly as possible those dark places and move on with my life.

But when I do that I’m the one who misses out on all that Romans 8:16 offers. Also, I rob God of his pleasure in receiving me into his home of worship.

Psalm 22:3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. (Psa 22:3 ESV)

The devotional exercise for this morning is to ask myself, Do I quickly run to God to tell him all about the details of the victory he just gave me, to tell him of his actions in rescuing me from my pit, just as the psalmist in Psalm 18? Or, do I forget and go running off to accomplish the next item on my agenda, just as the nine lepers in Luke 17, who forgot all about the Lord once they were healed?

For my own benefit and for your pleasure, Lord, I pray that you would work into me more of the psalmist’s response in Psalm 18.

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11. Psalm 18: Resurrection

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Outline of Series

I. Introduction

Psalms 18 is God’s answer to the petition of Psalm 17. It is also the sequel to Psalm 88, the dark psalm, the wondrous psalm about the crucifixion of Christ. The psalms do this: they speak to one another and connect in ways not according to their numerical sequence. That is, they are not as a whole arranged in an order that reflects chronologically the life of Christ. The reader therefore needs to be flexible in joining psalms together that tell Christ’s whole story and in listening for echoes that call back and forth among them.

Psalm 18 is an exciting narrative. It is almost as though the psalmist were saying, “Wow! Was I ever in trouble! I called out to God for help, and let me tell you what he did for me!” This psalm is personal testimony–the psalmist as narrator relates his great adventure story to convey to his readers the enormity of God’s saving actions on the day the psalmist lay trapped in the grave and God rescued and resurrected him.

Luke 24:46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,

Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear,

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 

1 Corinthians 15:54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 

For those who may be interested in current academic consensus for Christ’s resurrection, see Technical article by Gary Habermas, Accessed on June 27, 2017

II. What Makes Psalm 18 Messianic?

A. The writer to the book of Hebrews quotes vs 2 as having come directly from the mouth of Christ.

Hebrews 2:11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

B. Paul quotes vs 49 in connection with Christ’s having welcomed the Gentiles.

Romans 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

C. As Andrew Bonar (Bonar, 60-61) points out, these verses form as it were bookends for the entire psalm. If the beginning and end of the psalm is considered messianic by New Testament writers, why wouldn’t the entire psalm?

D. The content and language of the psalm fit more aptly the life of Christ than the life of David.

1. David could not honestly speak words like these:

Psalm 18:20 The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22 For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. 23 I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. 24 So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

2. The description of God’s rescuing the narrator is one of the most dramatic in all of scripture. While God did indeed rescue David from many situations over time, God rescued Christ from the grave pointedly in one night, upsetting the entire natural order of life’s always ending in death.  And, the historical details of Christ’s death and resurrection were highly dramatic themselves:

Matthew 28:2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 

Mark 16:19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

Luke 24:4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen…

John 20:12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” 

E. Peter tells us in Acts that David was a prophet who had conscious knowledge of the coming of the future Messiah and knowingly wrote about him.

Acts 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

III. The Structure of Psalm 18

A. Psalm 18 can be classified as a prophetic, narrative poem in which the psalmist/narrator describes 1) an event that happened to him, 2) the reason for the event, and 3) the consequences of the event. He praises God throughout his narration in third person with occasional insertions of second person that speak directly to God.

B. Introduction: Verses 1-3

Psalm 18:1 I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

C. Statement of the psalm’s theme, verse 6: the psalmist’s cry for help and the Lord’s response

Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

D. Sections

1. Narrative relating what happened: resurrection, vss 4-19a

2. Reasons God resurrected the psalmist/narrator: vss 19b-24

3. Explanation of God’s character and motivations: vss 25-27

4. Consequences for the psalmist/narrator: past, present, and future

a. past: vss 28-30

b. past: the enemies, vss 37-42, include death (1 Corinthians 15:34-36) and “the devil…the rulers…the authorities…the cosmic powers over this present darkness…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11-12).

c. future: the enemies will also be revealed in the judgment at Christ’s second coming.

Psalm 18:37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed. 38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. 39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me. 40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed. 41 They cried for help, but there was none to save; they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them. 42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

d. present: Christ is currently the head of nations and worldwide conqueror of souls in the church/missionary age.

Psalm 18:43 You delivered me from strife with the people; you made me the head of the nations; people whom I had not known served me. 44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me; foreigners came cringing to me. 45 Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses.

5. Praise

Psalm 18:30 This God–his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. 31 For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?–

46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation–

49 For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name. 50 Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.  

IV. Encouragement for Today’s Readers

The set of verses in the introduction to this article (see above) encourage us today with the sure knowledge that as believers, after death comes resurrection. Who does not experience from time to time seasons and events that seem like death and dying itself? The promise of God’s word is that we will pass through these multiple deaths unscathed, just as Daniel emerged from the fiery furnace and the lion’s den. God always brings us through our personal experiences of death and dying not only unharmed but stronger in spirit, joy, love and faith for God, better equipped for giving our testimony to others, just as the psalmist in Psalm 18, and more willing and able to offer support to those who are also suffering.

This is the End of the current series. My prayer is that you will be greatly blessed in your own journey of discovering Christ in the Psalms.

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10. Psalms 22, 38, and 88: Which Are Messianic?

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Outline of Series

Argument:

I. Psalm 22 is nearly always considered messianic.

II. Psalms 38 and 88 are seldom, if ever, included in academic lists of messianic psalms. 

III. Psalms 22:1-21a, 38, and 88 have strong similarities among themselves and with New Testament citations and allusions.

IV. The texts of Psalms 22:1-21a, 38, and 88 are highly similar in tone and content.

V. Given that a few academic writers, for example, Augustine and Richard Belcher, and many devotional writers, such as Andrew Bonar, claim to hear the voice of Christ in his passion prophetically spoken through the words of Psalms 38 and 88, this writer concludes that these psalms and many such psalms may reasonably be considered as prophetically pronouncing the prayers of Christ, even though not directly cited as messianic by New Testament writers.

 

I. Psalm 22, which is directly messianic, is one of the most frequently cited psalms in the New Testament. In addition to quotations, there are multiple allusions to it. Portions of the psalm refer to events that never occurred in King David’s life, nor in the life of any other Israelite king. Psalm 22 was always and originally intended to refer to King Jesus, as the inscription on the cross above his head testified, ” …’This is the King of the Jews.'” (Luke 23:38)

 

 

New Testament Citations of Psalm 22

 

Psalm 22:1 To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

 

 

Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 

Psalm 22:18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

 

 

John 19:24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things,

Matthew 27:35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

 

Psalm 22:22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

 

 

Hebrews 2:12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

 

 

New Testament Allusions to Psalm 22

 

 Psalm 22:1 To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

 

Hebrews 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Psalm 22:5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

 Romans 9:33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Psalm 22:7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

 

Luke 23:35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine.

See also Mat 27:39-43; Mar 15:29-32

Psalm 22:8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Psalm 22:15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

 

John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”

Psalm 22:16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet–

 

Mark 15:24 And they crucified him…

Luke 24:40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

John 19:37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

John 20:25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

See also Mat 27:35;  Luk 23:33; Joh 19:23

Psalm 22:17 I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me;

 

Luke 23:35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”

Psalm 22:18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

 

Matthew 27:35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

See also Luke 23:34

Psalm 22:20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!

 

Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

See also Phi 3:2

Psalm 22:24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

 

Hebrews 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

 Psalm 22:26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!

 

John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

 

Psalm 22:27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.

 

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 Psalm 22:28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.

 

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

 Psalm 22:29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.

 

Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

 

II. Following is a list of commonly accepted messianic psalms. Neither Psalm 38 nor Psalm 88 is on this list. Generally, only those psalms which are cited in the New Testament are considered messianic. Academicians debate whether psalms not cited by New Testament authors as messianic can be considered so by other academicians and lay readers.

Messianic Psalms Quoted in the New Testament

Excerpted from  http://www.simplybible.com/f01p-psalms-about-christ.htm

 

III. Following is a chart showing similarities between Psalm 22, which is broadly accepted as directly messianic, and Psalms 38 and 88 respectively, which are generally not included in lists of messianic psalms.

 

Verse Comparisons of Psalms 22, 38, and 88

 


Psalm 22

NT Citations NT Allusions Psalm 38

Psalm 88

         

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

Mt 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

See also Mk15:34

Heb 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!

14 O LORD, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? 4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit…5 like one set loose among the dead… whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.

         

18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

Mt 27:35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.

See also Jn 19:24

     
         

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

Heb 2:12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

     
         

7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

 

Lk 23:35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”

 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine

 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!”

 

 
         

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.

 

Mt 26:56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off.

8 You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape;

         

12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet–

   

19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully.

 
         

15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

   

13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth.

 14 I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes.

4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength,

         

17 I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me;

       
         

20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!  21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!

   

20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!  21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!

9 my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O LORD; I spread out my hands to you… 13 But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

         

 

Psalms 38 and 88 add the element of God’s wrath to the crucifixion. Additionally, Psalm 22:1-2 does speak of God’s having forsaken Christ, but Psalm 22 does not speak of God’s will and purpose having placed Christ on the cross. Psalms 33 and 88 do make this clear in addition to making clear that the cross was an expression of God’s wrath.

Psalm 38:2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.

 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.

Psalm 88:6 You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep.

 7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

 8 You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape;

Psalm 88: 15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me.

 17 They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together.

18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.

None of the three psalms considered here make clear that Christ’s death on the cross was substitutionary—a sacrificial atonement for sin–the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous. The New Testament epistles do teach this, however.

NET  2 Corinthians 5:21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.

ESV  Romans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

Hebrews 9:26 … he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

In 1 Peter 2:24 just above, Peter quotes from Isaiah 53:5.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

The New Testament’s Acts and epistles use forms of the word “suffer” when referring to Christ’s sacrificial ordeal upon the cross.

Acts 1:3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

Acts 17:3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

Hebrews 9: 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,  26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,  28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 13:12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

 

IV. Further insight into similarities among Psalms 22, 38, and 88 can be had by reading the three psalms side by side or in parallel fashion.

 

 

Psalms 22, 38, and 88 Side by Side

 

Psalm 22:1 To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

Psalm 38:1 A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering. O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath!

Psalm 88:1 A Song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite. O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.

Psalm 22:2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

Psalm 38:2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.

Psalm 88:2 Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!

Psalm 22:3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

Psalm 38:3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.

Psalm 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.

Psalm 22:4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

 

Psalm 38:4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

Psalm 88:4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength,

 

Psalm 22:5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

 

Psalm 38:5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness,

Psalm 88:5 like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.

 

Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

 

Psalm 38:6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.

Psalm 88:6 You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep.

 

Psalm 22:7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

 

Psalm 38:7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.

Psalm 88:7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

 

Psalm 22:8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

 

Psalm 38:8 I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

Psalm 88:8 You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape;

 

Psalm 22:9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

 

Psalm 38:9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.

Psalm 88:9 my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon you, O LORD; I spread out my hands to you.

 

Psalm 22:10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

 

Psalm 38:10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me.

Psalm 88:10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah

 

Psalm 22:11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. 1

 

Psalm 38:11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off.

Psalm 88:11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon?

 

Psalm 22:12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

 

Psalm 38:12 Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long.

Psalm 88:12 Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

 

Psalm 22:13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

 

Psalm 38:13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth.

Psalm 88:13 But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

 

Psalm 22:14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;

 

Psalm 38:14 I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes.

Psalm 88:14 O LORD, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?

 

Psalm 22:15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

 

Psalm 38:15 But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

Psalm 88:15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

 

Psalm 22:16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet–

 

Psalm 38:16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!”

Psalm 88:16 Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me.

 

Psalm 22:17 I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me;

 

Psalm 38:17 For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me.

Psalm 88:17 They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together.

 

Psalm 22:18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

 

Psalm 38:18 I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.

Psalm 88:18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness. [Psalm 88 ends]

 

Psalm 22:19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!

 

Psalm 38:19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully.

 

Psalm 22:20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!

 

Psalm 38:20 Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good.

 

Psalm 22:21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! … [Psalm 22 continues with abrupt change to praise]

Psalm 38:21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! [Psalm 38 ends]

V. This writer sees the situation and events of Jesus’ life as recorded in the gospels significantly represented in the words of the Psalmic prophet in Psalms 38 and 88. The strong correlations between Psalm 22, openly acknowledged as messianic, and Psalms 38 and 88 support this conclusion.

Among modern academicians, Richard Belcher Jr. also sees Christ in Psalm 88 (Belcher,  75-76).

Concerning Psalm 38, The Orthodox Study Bible states, “Ps 37 [38 Hebrew] reveals the great love of Christ for mankind in His sufferings and death on the cross…” and “And although He was ‘separate from sinners’ (Heb 7:26) and ‘knew no sin’ (2Co 5:21), yet out of His great compassion for sinners, He prays this prayer in a relative sense as though He were one of them. Thus, He takes the place of sinners as one of them, and intercedes to the father for their salvation in the midst of His sufferings and death on the cross” (The Orthodox Study Bible, 707).

Concerning Psalm 38, Augustine, as cited by Andrew Bonar, writes, “It would be hard not to apply to Christ a Psalm that as graphically describes his passion as if we were reading it out of the gospels” (Bonar, 128-29).

Bonar’s consideration of Psalm 88 also focuses on Christ as the speaker in that psalm (Bonar, 263-65).

In short, those who approach the reading of these and similar psalms devotionally have little trouble seeing them as prayers of Christ during his passion.

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9. Engaging Spiritual Battle: Psalms’ Prophetic Prayers and Praises

Bibliography

Outline of Series

I. Introduction

As a young Christian I kept a handmade journal which I titled, “A Prayer Warrior’s Songbook.” In it I copied Scripture, because these were what sustained me in those years of direct and vigorous spiritual battle against the dark forces of fear, evil, and imprisonment that rose against my young life of faith in Christ. Similarly, the entire Psalter could be titled, “The Prayer Warrior’s Songbook.”

Sometimes in our reading, we bump into an author who thinks as a soul sister or brother would. In the first pages of Patrick Henry Reardon’s book, “Christ in the Psalms,” I find such a brother. He writes:

To pray the psalms correctly, then, it is very important that we properly identify the enemies…The enemies here are…those hostile forces spoken of in the very first verse of the Book of Psalms–‘the counsel of the ungodly.’ ‘For we do not wrestle,’ after all, ‘against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Eph. 6:12) To relinquish any one of the psalms on the excuse that its sentiments are too violent for a Christian is a clear sign that a person has also given up the very battle that a Christian is summoned from his bed to fight. [Psalm 3:5] The psalms are prayers for those engaged in an ongoing spiritual conflict. No one else need bother even opening the book.[emphasis added] (Reardon, Christ in the Psalms, 6)

Did we get that? “The psalms are prayers for those engaged in an ongoing spiritual conflict.”

Psalms form a horizontal cross-section that bears witness to the spiritual battle that led to and included the crucifixion of Christ. Spread across centuries of preparation for the cross, there are a series of petitions and intercessions, interspersed with worship, by the battling psalmist himself  and by a chorus of prayer team members, who celebrate his final victory.

II. The Suffering Christ of the Gospels

Luke 24: 25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Luke 24: 44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

A. The Gospels Chronicle a Suffering Christ

  • Matthew 8:20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
  • NAU Matthew 9:3 And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.”
  • Matthew 9:11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
  • Matthew 9:34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”
  • Matthew 27:29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

 

  • Mark 3:5 …”Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
  • Mark 6:2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
  • Mark 11:18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.

 

  • Luke 4:2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
  • Luke 4:28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.
  • Luke 22:21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.
  • Luke 22:52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?
  • Luke 23: 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

 

  • John 8:59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
  • John 10:31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.
  • John 11:8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”
  • John 19:18

B. The Gospels Chronicle a Christ Who Stood Alone

 

  • John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
  • John 2: 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
  • Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
  • Matthew 14:23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
  • John 6:15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
  • Matthew 26:56 “But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
  • Luke 22:61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”

III. David the Forerunner and Type of Christ

A. God Selected David and Bestowed Great Promises on Him and His Seed

1 Samuel 16:1 The LORD said to Samuel…”I have provided for myself a king…”

1 Samuel 16: 12 …And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward…

2 Samuel 7:4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan… 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:…12 “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

Psalm 78:70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds;

Ezekiel 34:23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.

Ezekiel 34:24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken.

Ezekiel 37:24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.

Isaiah 22:22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

B. David and the New Testament

Matthew 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 9:27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”

Matthew 12:23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?”

Matthew 21:15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant.

Mark 12:35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 “David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.”‘ 37 “David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,

John 7:42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

Acts:2 30 [Peter speaking] “And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32 “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘ 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ– this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Acts 13: 22 [Paul speaking] “After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’ 23 “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,

Romans 1:1 … the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 

Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

B. David and the Psalms

Most agree that these are the psalms written by David:

  • Psalms 3 through 41, except Psalms 10 and 33
  • Psalms 51 through 70, except Psalms 66 and 67
  • Psalms 86, 101, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 133, 138-145

Many would agree with the following statement:

The humanism of the Psalter is a humanism rooted in the Incarnation. The Psalter is not human merely because it speaks for an in general, but because it speaks for Christ. The underlying voice of the Psalms is not simply “man,” but the Man. To enter into the prayer of this book is not merely to share the sentiments of King David, or Asaph, or ne of the other inspired poets. Indeed, in a theological sense the voices of these men are secondary hardly more important than our own. The foundational voice of the Psalms, the underlying bass line of its harmony is, rather, the voice of Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man (Reardon, 13).

IV. How Structure and Content Coincide in Psalms

A. First person singular (“I”) petitions for deliverance from trouble and suffering are most often psalms of David. Exceptions are Psalms 42, 43, and the great Psalm 88, all superscribed with the name “Sons of Korah.”

Psalm 31:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! 3 For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; 4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

B. First person plural (“we”) petitions: Likewise, David most often stands alone making intercession for himself. Psalms does not record many national or communal prayers on behalf of the suffering king. Communal laments and petitions for God’s help mostly reflect the suffering of the people or of the nation.

Psalm 74:1 A Maskil of Asaph. O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture? 2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt. 3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!

EXCEPTION: Psalm 132 stands almost alone as an exception in which a spokesperson of the people/nation acknowledges before God, “David your servant,” in connection with David’s suffering, while at the same time pleading for David’s posterity, Zion, the people.

Psalm 132:1 A Song of Ascents. Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor, all the hardships he endured,

1. These facts (A and B above) reflect in the New Testament, for in the New Testament, time and again, we see Christ alone interceding for himself and his disciples, rather than vice versa.

Rather than praying to God for their Teacher, the disciples mostly argued among themselves about which of them would be greatest in God’s kingdom. Judas betrayed Christ. The three disciples chosen by Jesus to accompany him into the Garden of Gethsemane, when asked by Jesus to watch and pray with him, fell asleep. All of them ran away during Christ’s hour of greatest need, and Peter denied him three times. None of them expected or prayed for the resurrection, and many of them had difficulty believing in the resurrection when it did occur.

2. These facts (A and B above) underscore that the church as community was not birthed until after Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension, and his sending of the Holy Spirit.

3. The Psalms reflect the reality that Jesus stood alone.

D. The majority of David’s prayers–not all–are petitions for God’s help in his great troubles. He was the suffering shepherd/king.

Psalm 22:19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!

E. The remainder of David’s prayers are praise celebrations of God’s goodness and the victories he grants David.

Psalm 34:1 Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

F. Israel’s communal psalms (first person plural) about the king mostly reflect the king’s glories and victories. They thank and praise God for the king in his splendor and might. They mostly do not mention the king’s sufferings.

Psalm 45:1 To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah; a love song. My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. 2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever. 3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! 4 In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! 5 Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you. 6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; 7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

1. Israel’s community psalms about the glories and victories of their king reflect the fact that the church was birthed after Jesus’ resurrection (victory over sin and death) and ascension into glory. The church per se only knows Christ post-resurrection.

2. Unlike the community of Israel as represented in the prayers of the psalms (see B above), the church remembers Christ’s suffering in the memorial ordinance of communion, in its liturgies, and in other group and individual prayers that praise and thank God for Christ’s suffering and sacrifice on her behalf.

V. Praying the Psalms Today

A. Praying for Ourselves as Individuals

B. Praying for Ourselves as Christ’s Body, His Church

C. Praying the Psalms as a Means of Entering Into, Acknowledging, and Appreciating the Sufferings of Christ the Incarnated Man

 

 

 

 

 

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8. Psalm 2: A Royal Psalm, Psalmic Prophecy, and Speech

Bibliography

Outline of Series

ESV Psalm 2:1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,

3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.

5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

 

I. Content

A. Psalm 1 gives a portrait of Christ the righteous Man; Psalm 2 presents Christ as divine–God’s “begotten” Son (Reardon, 4).

7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

Translations which say “today I have become your Father” (NIV, NET, NLT) are emphasizing the Old Testament context in which kings became ceremonially adopted into sonship by God.

Translations which say “today I have begotten you”(ESV, NAU, RSV, NKJ) follow a literal approach that points to the Anointed Messiah’s actual begetting by God the Father. The Hebrew language itself favors “begotten.”

The choice of one over the other indicates the editorial bias of the translators:

1. “Today I have become your Father,” favors emphasis on the original setting and audience in which New Testament statements of the verse are quotations, or “applications.”

2. “Today I have begotten you,” is preferable when the original OT statement is considered as prophetic, pointing directly at a later fulfillment in Christ the Messiah.

Christ’s Baptism: ESV Matthew 3:16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Transfiguration: ESV Matthew 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

3. Question: Does it seem more likely that very God himself would be quoting the Old Testament, or that the Old Testament prophetically would be quoting God?

Remember that according to testimony in the New Testament, including that of Jesus himself (Mark 12:36), a) David was a prophet, and b) all Scripture is “breathed out” by God (2Timothy 2:16).

ESV Hebrews 1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” [Psalm 2:7]?Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

ESV Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; [The author of Hebrews states that God in Psalm 2 spoke directly to Christ his Son. This implies that the author perceives Psalm 2 in its original intent and context as referring to Christ. This means that the author of Hebrews views Psalm 2 as prophecy.]

B. Psalm 1 shows what obedience to God’s law looks like at an individual level and demonstrates that the one who seeks God by following the roadmap of his law will be rewarded.

Psalm 2 shows that God’s Anointed (God’s Christ) is King and has received final victory for the righteous and final defeat for the rebellious (vss 4-10).

C. Psalm 2 demonstrates the opposition of rebellious nations to God and to his Son (vss 1-3, 10-11).

1. Psalm 2: Opposition by the nations (nations, kings of the earth, peoples, rulers)

2. Psalm 3: Opposition from the king’s own people (psalm title, vss 1-2)

3. Psalms 4-7: Opposition from unspecified wicked men

D. God’s response to the rebellious nations.

1. God laughs at them in scorn as though they are so many small, ridiculous things (vs 4).

2. God then speaks in wrath (great, active anger) and terrifies in fury (vs 5).

3. God thinks nothing of the power of the nations, because he has installed his own King, his own begotten Son, on Zion, his holy hill (vs 6).

4. The Son receives and proclaims the decree of the Lord God and recounts the powers of judgment and retribution placed in his hand (7-9).

5. Warning and opportunity for repentance are extended to all rebellious rulers and all people generally (10-12).

E. Psalm 2 opens the possibility of the Lord’s salvation and blessing to all nations (vs 12).

The overarching theme of Psalm 2 is that all human history lies solidly within God’s dominance and control and that final, victorious rule has been given to his Son.

Because this Psalm was never fulfilled in Israel’s history, it came to be considered as eschatological in post-exilic times, having to do with the future and end times. Even today, final fulfillment of its statements awaits the Second Coming of Christ. 

Through the themes of divine royalty, opposition from the wicked, and the King’s victory, Psalm 2 stands as an introduction to Books 1 through 3 of Psalms (Psalms 2-89) (Bullock, 59). As a single unit, Psalms 1 and 2 stands as an introduction to the entire Psalter (more on this below).

 

II. Psalms 1 and 2 as a Unit

A. Why is it important to see Psalms 1 and 2 as a unit?

1. Psalms 1 and 2 taken together flesh out and expand the portrait of Christ as incarnated deity. We see him fulfill God’s nature and will both in the humiliated flesh of his humanity (Psalm 1) and in the power of his sovereign deity as God’s Son (Psalm 2).

2. Neither Psalm 1 nor 2 has a superscription, or title. Most agree that these psalms were written at different times in Israel’s long history and placed side by side at the head of the Psalter by an editor. Seeing them as a unit, as a whole piece of literature, supports the continuity of Scripture and demonstrates that God himself is their ultimate author.

3. Continuity and divine authorship in turn support Jesus’ and his early followers’ claims to his being the long-awaited Messiah.

4. Continuity and divine authorship support the New Testament writers’ practice of interpreting various Old Testament psalms as direct prophecies of Christ.

5. Continuity and divine authorship support justification for today’s readers to make application of the psalms as prophecies of Christ in ways not previously cited by New Testament authors. That is, by means of the same Holy Spirit present in the writers of the New Testament, we as modern readers can make scriptural connections between Old and New Testaments similar to those the NT authors made. If as John 21:25 states, Jesus performed many actions and miracles that could not be recorded in that gospel, then it seems plausible that there are many scriptural connections to be made between the Testaments, and especially between Psalms and the New Testament’s life of Christ, that could not be recorded in the letters and gospels of the New Testament, simply because of space considerations.

B. Internal Evidence that Psalms 1 and 2 Form a Unit (Waltke and Houston, The Psalms as Christian Worship, 160-161)

1. Neither Psalm 1 nor 2 has a superscription, while Psalms 3 through 41 all superscribe David as author, except for Psalm 33, which is anonymous.

2. Psalm 1 opens with, “Blessed is the man who…” and Psalm 2 closes with, “Blessed are all who…” In literature, this structure is called an inclusio.

3. Parallel Words and Phrases

a. The righteous meditates on God’s Word (1:2), while the wicked take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed…(2:1).

b. The last verses of both psalms speak of the wicked perishing in the way (1:6; 2:12).

c. In Psalm 1, the wicked scoff, or mock, the Lord and his way (1:1), while in Psalm 2, the Lord mocks (laughs at and holds in derision), the rebellious wicked (2:4).

4. Uniform Message: Both psalms proclaim the message that the righteous will prevail.

a. Psalm 1–the righteous prevail by faithfully following God’s way, his law.

    Psalm 2–the righteous prevail through the King.

b. Psalm 1–the righteous trust God to uphold his law.

     Psalm 2–the righteous trust God to uphold his King.

5. Psalms 1 and 2 taken as a whole, as a complete unit at the very front of the collection, encourage readers to view all the petitions, praises, and laments of the entire Psalter as having reference to both:

a. themselves as individuals within God’s kingdom

b. God’s King, his Son, his Anointed

In consequence of point 5 above, the psalms are highly prophetic. In other words, if the reader receives Psalms 1 and 2 together as a unit introducing the entire Psalter, then the reader can feel justified and free to see all the psalms as applying both to the individual, i.e., the reader herself (Psalm 1) and Christ (Psalm 2), since Psalm 2 plainly and boldly spells out that Christ is the referent. Again, if Psalm 2, along with Psalm 1, introduces the entire Psalter, then the entire Psalter is about Christ, viewed both as incarnate human (Psalm 1) and divine Son and King (Psalm 2).–cw

 

III. Structure

A. Hebrew Poetry

1. Psalm 2 marks itself off into four identifiable blocks of three couplets each: vss 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. The transition signals will be discussed below.

2. Hebrew poetic couplets in which the second line repeats the first with slight variation to expand, illustrate, explain, or reinforce by repetition the meaning of the first:

 

a. Verse 1

    Why do the nations rage

     and the peoples plot in vain?

b. Verse 3

    “Let us burst their bonds apart

    and cast away their cords from us.”

c. Verse 8

    “I will make the nations your heritage,

    and the ends of the earth your possession.”

 

B. Speech

1. The writer of this blog discovered 3 separate sections within this poem and 4 distinct speakers, as though the poem were intended to be a choral reading.

a. Narrator–verses 1-6 and 2 speakers whom the narrator quotes: Speaker 1 (the rebellious nations, vs 3) and Speaker 2 (God, vs 6)

b. The Son–verses 7-9. The Son, Speaker 3, immediately breaks in with the narrator’s quote of God’s statement in vs 6 functioning as transition and as his introduction. The Son speaks directly from his own experience (vs 7) and further quotes the speech of God to him (vss 7-9).

c. Narrator of Section 1 or, alternatively, a Chorus (Speaker 4)–verses 10-12. The last section differs from the first in that the narrator of the first section speaks omnisciently, not as a character within the psalm, whereas the narrator, or chorus, of the last section addresses the kings and rulers with direct speech (vss 10-12), with the last sentence delivered not as speech towards the rulers, but as a general statement to all readers and all humankind. It functions as a summary of the whole.

2. Waltke and Houston have discovered a “four-act play” in Psalm 2 (Waltke and Houston, Psalms as Worship, 161). The four acts correspond to the sequence of speakers discoverable in the psalm and follow the blocks that this writer describes in the section just above. Whereas this writer combines verses 1-6 into a single section, Waltke divides that block into two “acts.” His four acts and corresponding speakers follow:

a. Act 1: verses 1-3, the hostile kings

b. Act 2: verses 4-6, I AM

c. Act 3: verses 7-9, the King

d. Act 4: verses 10-12, the psalmist

 

C. Why Is Direct and Quoted Speech in Psalms Important?

1. In an Old Testament setting in which the Israelites believed in one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), two distinct divine voices indicate a first and second person of the Trinity.

2. Introduction of a distinct Son of God led directly to the eschatological hope of Messiah.

3. The presence of speech blocks with clearly defined transitions and multiple, identified speakers within a single psalm, such as those found in Psalm 2, establish a usage and pattern that can help interpret psalms whose change of speakers and speech blocks are not as clearly and directly marked. Psalm 102 is an example of such a psalm.

4. Speech highlights and emphasizes the prophetic nature of psalms.

5. Because Psalm 2, taken as a unit with Psalm 1, sets a precedence for the rest of the Psalter, and because the Son speaks prophetically in Psalm 2, there is good reason to suppose that many of the first person statements and prayers in the rest of the Psalter are also prophetic prayers and speech of Christ.

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7. Psalms and the Message of the Bible: A Word about Themes

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ESV 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;

2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

I. Two Themes of Psalm 1

Psalm 1 stands at the head of the entire Psalter and introduces the whole. This occurred by design of God through the human editor (Bullock, 58-59).

A. The “blessed man” of Psalm 1 introduces the theme of Jesus Christ, God’s anointed, his Messiah.

B. The “law” (vs 2) stands as one of the most important factors about God, who gave it, and his people, who receive it.

II. A Word about Law

To the postmodern ear, the concept of “law” for the most part has extremely negative connotations. If someone were to ask, “How can I best relate to God?” and the given reply is, “By seeking to follow his law,” all kinds of negative thoughts, negative cultural memories, and images of cold harshness and stern, pleasureless persons would pursue.

Yet in the Old Testament, especially in Psalms, the law is benign; it’s a blessing; it’s a means of knowing God’s will and obtaining his favor.

ESV Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

NIV Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

In the gospels of the New Testament, Jesus himself held the law of God in highest regard (remember, he is the blessed man of Psalm 1 who perfectly keeps the law.)

ESV Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

ESV Matthew 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Why the Law?

Why law? Why is law so central to all of the Bible?

ESV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created…

ESV Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

God, as creator, created man in his own image for his own pleasure.

KJG Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure [by your will] they are and were created.

 

 

According to the Bible, God’s desire is to bless humankind.

ESV Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…”

God blesses people with himself, since as God, he himself is the greatest possible blessing. To know God and to be in a good relationship with him is the greatest possible blessing a human being can ever have. God’s law, according to the scriptures quoted above and many like them, is the means to the greatest possible blessing of having a good relationship with God.

 

 

III. Tragedy Strikes

A. The Old Testament is the historical record of how humankind in general and one special, called people in particular, failed to follow God’s law and thereby failed to receive God’s blessing of an ongoing, fruitful relationship with himself.

B. In the Old Testament human will and raw obedience were the only means at people’s disposal for following God’s law. In spite of God’s gracious provision of a sacrificial system to make amends for people’s failures to follow the blueprint he gave them in order to build a blessed relationship with himself, they still failed.

The Old Testament can be summarized as: The Law and Humankind’s Failure to Follow It

IV. A New Way

The New Testament can be summarized as: The Law and Humankind’s Success in Following It

A. God didn’t quit: he gave people a new way to obey his principles and to come into a blessed relationship with himself.

B. He sent the perfect man who did follow his law, the blessed man of Psalm 1.

C. Jesus Christ fully obeyed God’s law and became the human sacrifice that opened the door to mankind’s restored relationship with God.

ESV 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.

D. God provided that simply by believing in Christ–by saying yes to Christ–that Christ’s obedience to the Law would apply to everyone who accepts Christ as the solution to their lives.

E. God also gave his Holy Spirit to live on the inside of those who receive the solution of Christ. The Holy Spirit helps people to follow God’s law the way Christ did, which means pleasing God and being blessed in relationship with him.

ESV John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

ESV John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

NLT Romans 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

Psalms is where the life of Christ–his obedience to the Law, his prayers of praise and supplication for help, his sacrificial death, his resurrection and final victory–is played out in Hebrew poetic prophecy.

 

 

 

 

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6 What Do Authors Say About Christ in Psalms?

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Are the Psalms about Jesus Christ?

 

Some say yes, to a great extent, while others limit their yes to specific “Messianic” verses quoted in the New Testament and labeled as such.

Among those who limit their “yes” are those who say that the original verses most likely referred specifically to some king in Israel’s past and down through a line of succession became applied to Christ. They might say that Christ “quoted” a psalm, such as Psalm 22:1 while hanging on the cross. By saying “quoted,” they mean that Christ appropriated the psalm and made it apply to himself. In other words, Christ did not originate the psalmic words at the moment he spoke them. By whatever means they may have entered his mind at the moment, he repeated  what had already been written about someone else on a different occasion and then applied those words to himself and his own situation. This is quite different than saying that the original psalm meant Christ all along, even from the beginning.

Among those authors who say “yes!” unreservedly are those who may feel that the original words as first written were always prophetic utterances by the psalmists, which from the beginning point forward to the life and prayers of the Son of God during his incarnation. I fall into this category.

Most of the authors who write academic books and have good academic reputations, no matter what their opinions on the matter, build good biblical cases to support their views. Therefore, this author–myself, has come to the conclusion that whether or not any given reader perceives Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Son of God, in the psalms as written is a personal, subjective matter representative of the faith of that reader and the activity of the Holy Spirit in that reader’s heart. In other words, one’s belief occurs first, and the academic rationale follows. This means that for the most part, academic arguments will convince very few to change their minds.

For example, reading many academic arguments against my own point of view on this topic has never changed my mind that Christ in his incarnation is why God willed the psalms to be written. Does this indicate that I am close minded? No, it simply means that I continue to believe that I correctly heard God speak into my heart through the Holy Spirit via certain psalms that these words are the voice of Christ prophetically spoken through the psalmist. Yet because I do have an academic awareness, I simply kept searching until I found some academic arguments that match my own presuppositions, or in my case, experiences. (I am not saying that those who think differently than I do not believe in God or do not have faith in Christ.)

Because faith comes by believing and by the Holy Spirit, academic arguments perhaps most often fall short of leading one to either salvation or devotion. And because my great interest in Psalms is devotional, this blog presentation will be for the most part devotional. I am not seeking to build an academic argument. I am seeking to share what I have discovered and to lead others who may be so disposed to seek God in prayer to ask him to reveal Christ to their hearts through the Old Testament, and in particular through Psalms. The Holy Spirit can open to eager heart what Jesus himself opened to his disciples shortly after his resurrection:

Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 14: 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,  46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  48 You are witnesses of these things.

Quotations from Authors Who Find Christ in Psalms

 According to the witness of the Bible, David is, as the anointed king of the chosen people of God, a prototype of Jesus Christ. … And he 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 [the prayers of Psalms] through his forerunner David [emphasis added]. (Bonhoeffer, Psalms, 18-19.)

The emphasized portion of the above quotation perfectly expresses my own perception of very many of the psalms, a conclusion I arrived at independently of Bonhoeffer. He goes on to explain how we as believers can pray the same prayers because and only because Christ prayed them first.

Not just those psalms that directly mention the king or aspects of his reign and kingdom are Messianic psalms. The New Testament implies that all psalms have a relationship to Jesus Christ [emphasis added]. Thus Psalm 31, which in its Old Testament context does not seem to have a Messianic emphasis, is messianic in the sense that it refers to the person or work of Jesus Christ, as is clearly shown in its use in Luke 23:46. This does not mean we are dependent on the New Testament for which psalms are Messianic because a broader principle is at work, a principle rooted in Jesus’ statements in Luke 24:44-47…this principle, which is the basis for the view that all the psalms relate to the person and/or work of Jesus Christ. (Belcher, The Messiah and the Psalms, 30.)

The psalter is the book most often quoted in the New Testament, with the same status as the prophets. David is given there the role of a prophet (Acts 2.30; 4.2). For their part, the rabbinical writings recognize the prophetic inspiration of David and the psalmists. This is clear from the Targum on the psalms: Ps. 14.1, ‘To praise, in the spirit of prophecy, through the intervention of David’; (Tournay, Seeing and Hearing God with the Psalms, 31). [Tournay cites many more examples.]

The greatest evil people can suffer is loneliness. But God has taken the initiative in overcoming this: thanks to the psalms, we can directly see and hear God (Tournay, Seeing and Hearing God with the Psalms, 32).

 

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5 Psalm 1: Introduction to the Psalter

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ESV 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;

2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

I. Observations

  • This psalm lends itself to study by phrases rather than individual words.
  • Phrases indicate two contrasting categories.
  • What are they?

II. Two Contrasting Categories

 

Psalm 1: the Righteous (Vs 6) – Positive

 

Psalm 1: the Wicked – Negative

blessed (1-2)

[synonyms:] wicked, sinners, scoffers

     action: walks not

in the counsel of the wicked

     action: stands not

in the way of sinners

     action: sits not

in the seat of scoffers

     action: delights

in the law of the Lord

     action: meditates

on the Lord’s law day and night

the righteous is like (vs 3):

wicked are not like the righteous

     a tree planted by streams of water

wicked are like: chaff

          yields its fruit in season

     the wind drives the chaff away

          leaf does not wither

[results stated negatively:]

will not stand in the judgment

[restatement:] in all that he does he prospers

will not stand in the congregation of the righteous

[conclusion:] (6) for the Lord knows the way of the righteous

[results stated positively:]

the way of the wicked will perish

Paraphrase of final outcome for righteous:

The righteous will prosper.

They will live in the company of the Lord

and in the company of the other righteous.

Life, Inclusion

Paraphrase of final outcome for the wicked:

The wicked will not prosper.

They will die.

They will be excluded from the Lord’s presence

and from the collected gathering of the righteous.

Death, Exclusion

III. Questions and Response

1. Verse 6 says, “for the Lord knows the way of the righteous.” What does it mean for the Lord to “know the way of”? What is involved here?

a. to see, be aware of, be intimately acquainted with: ESV  Psalm 31:7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,

b. to know something in its entirety from beginning to end; this includes the element of knowing the future: ESV  Psalm 37:18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever;

c. to know in the sense of receiving and treating someone as a friend, to approve: ESV  Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

d. Jesus uses the word in the sense of receiving, owning (as the shepherd a sheep), protecting, guarding, watching over carefully: ESV  John 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

e. to be able to distinguish from among many others and to acknowledge this friendship publicly: ESV  2 Timothy 2:19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” (quoted from NET Numbers 16:5)

f. “the way of”: “NET Notes: ‘way of the godly’ is not their behavior, but their course of life or destiny;”

g. “The Lord knows the way of the righteous,” could be paraphrased as, “The Lord is intimately acquainted with every detail of the heart and life of the righteous person from start to finish; he approves of this person, lays claim to him or her as his own, and promises to look after her in an all powerful, protective way, even up to and including eternity.”

2. What does “perish” mean in verse 6?

perish: to be ruined, broken, carried off, lost, destroyed, exterminated2. Do the categories seem black and white to you? How do you feel about that?

3. Does God’s word change because we don’t like it? What might be a wise course for us?

4. Do you think there might be a “fudge factor” within the categories? What might be a theological word to describe God’s “fudge factor?”

5. Reread verse 6: for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Do you think this might be a good thematic summary of the entire Psalter? Why or why not? Do you think this one verse sums up the message of the entire Bible? Defend your position one way or the other.

IV. What other questions do you have? As we read more of Psalms, we will come to a better understanding of what the words “righteous” and “wicked” mean within the context of Psalms. In brief, these terms describe a person’s attitude (what is in a person’s heart, the person’s desires and motivations) toward the Lord God and his Word, rather than a person’s actions. Action follow attitude.

V. Christ in Psalm 1

While it cannot be “proven” academically that Christ is “the man” of Psalm 1, nothing prevents the Holy Spirit from revealing Christ as such in the hearts of believers.

ESV  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  Psalm 80:17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!

ESV  Psalm 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

ESV  John 19:5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”

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