One Small Voice

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2 Psalms Bible Study: Outline

1.    Bibliography Bibliography for Psalms Bible Study

2.   Outline (this page)

3.   Introduction to the Series

4.   Are People Writing and Singing Psalms Today?

5.   Psalm 1: Introduction to the Psalter

6.   What Do Other Authors Write about Christ in the Psalms?  

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

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

9. Engaging Spiritual Battle

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

11. Psalm 18: Resurrection

12. Psalm 18:1 Devotional 

13. Structural Blocks Within an Individual Psalm

14. Psalms 12, 42, 72, 102, 132: A Single Day’s Reading Across [Soon to Be Published]

 

Next in Series

Psalm 21: A Structural Analysis

Photo by Christina Wilson

 

Bibliography

Outline of Series

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.

 

 

 

Previous in Psalms

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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Rules Or Relationship?

Photo by Christina Wilson

 

What Is “Salvation” Anyway?

 

Quick Peek: Salvation is not automatic by our meeting a certain set of requirements. God does not say, “Do this, this, that, and the other, and I’ll stamp you saved,” but he does say, “Come to my Son, and my Son will save you.”

Galatians 3:11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” (NIV)

 

Body: The law, the Ten Commandments, is a thing. It’s a set of rules. It’s non-living, not a person, not a sentient being; it’s non-interactive. It has no soul nor mind, no receptors. The Ten Commandments have no awareness of anyone’s reading and obeying or not reading and obeying. There is no consciousness. The Ten Commandments have no power to save or not save. They make no choices.

But God is Person. God is sentient. He is personal being. God as creator judges his creation. A righteous man or woman is declared so, and is saved and lives, because God says so, since he is the only one with whom anyone must deal. God makes alive, God declares. The law can do nothing.

I am saved by God’s relationship with me, my relationship with him. Salvation is relational by means of faith. Through faith is how I relate to the person of God. This is by God’s choice. He chose faith as the vehicle for people to relate to him.

Do I have faith in God? Have I put my hope and trust in God? Have I turned to God and begun speaking with Him? Has God spoken into my heart? Do I have an ongoing, active relationship of trust and love with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, his Mediator between himself and humanity? If so, then I am saved.

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

Further Verses: Romans 8:1-17

This post is a rewrite of an earlier post by the same author at Berean Digs

Bible Study at Home: A Simple How-To

Do you have a Bible study you attend regularly? Either at a church, a group, or online? If not, you are not alone.

There are many reasons why a person hungry to learn more about God’s word cannot attend a Bible study, one of the most likely being that they cannot find one or the ones available to them meet at the wrong time or the wrong place. This doesn’t mean that you cannot learn the Bible–you can! I’m going to give you a simple way to begin studying at home. It is called a Word Study or Topical Study.

1. Pray.

Always pray and ask God to help you know him more and to help you obey and apply what he shows you. All teaching from God begins and ends and is through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, God himself, breathing his life into his word as he shows it to you inside your heart, the best knowledge of God’s word will only be dead knowledge.

Pray that God will lead you to the right Bible for you at this time in your life.

Pray that God will direct you to the right verses that he wants you to study.

Pray that God will help you to understand and apply what you read.

2. Second, buy yourself a reference Bible. 

You may have one already. What is a reference Bible? A reference Bible is not necessarily a study Bible. A reference Bible is a Bible that simply has a list of other verses in a center column, or a side column, or at the foot of the page.

Center Reference Bible

You can see from the example above that the text on the left has verse numbers that correspond to a list of verse numbers running down the middle of the page between the two columns of scripture.

Verse 33 at the top of the page, for example, has a small, italicized letter a before the word “teach.” “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes.” That’s what the Lord is doing right now. He is teaching you how to study Scripture.

The center column has the number “33” corresponding to the verse you just read. There is a small letter “a” followed by “Ps 119.5, 12.” This means that if you turn to Psalm 119 verses 5 and then 12, you will find more verses that use the word “teach.”

Psalm 119:12 Blessed art Thou, O LORD; Teach me Thy statutes.

Verse 36, which is underlined, has the small letter “a” before the word “incline.”

Psalm 119:36 Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain.

Turning to the center column, the number “36” is followed by a small “a” and the reference “1Ki 8:58.” Looking up that verse we see:

1 Kings 8:58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

When we read the above verse, we see that it begins half way through a sentence. To get the full meaning, we need to go up a verse to the beginning of the sentence, and we read:

1 Kings 8:57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, 58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

Perhaps a small desk dictionary might be useful here to understand the meaning of “incline” in this sentence. This is from Merriam-Webster.

1 :to cause to stoop or bow :bend

2 :to have influence on :persuade

  • his love of books inclined him toward a literary career
3 :to give a bend or slant to

Putting this together, we see that the psalmist in Psalm 119:36 is asking the Lord in prayer to “incline” or bend, that is, to persuade his heart to prefer obedience to the Lord’s way rather than preferring to spend his time trying to get rich. 1 Kings tells us that when God is with us, he does just that. The psalmist is praying to God, asking God to influence his heart to prefer the Lord’s way above the way of the materialistic world. This tells us that we are not alone, that God is the one who influences us to desire him and his word.

How might a reader apply this verse to her own life? Does she sense that her heart is growing cold towards the Lord? She should turn to the Lord and ask him to help her. Do someone else find that worldly interests of career and money are drawing their attention away from God? They should turn to him, just as the psalmist does, and ask God to help them, to influence their heart and the things their heart desires.

3. Summary

What I have showed today is very simple. The more you practice looking up all the little verses in the reference column, the better you will become at it. 

Also, you will soon see that the Bible is a unified whole. It all connects and teaches the same message. Each part repeats in a different setting what the other parts are also saying.

You also will be studying topics, such as love, light, truth, life, faith and any of the other Christian words you can think of.

Your beginning point will be a single verse. For example, 

John 3:16 “For God so (a) loved the world, that He (b) gave His (1)(c) only begotten Son, that whoever (d)believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 

Looking up the verses in the reference column for each one of these letters gives us the following list:

(a) loved the world Rom 5:8; Eph 2:4; 2Th 2:16; 1Jo 4:10; Rev 1:5

(b) gave Rom 8:32; 1Jo 4:9

(c) only begotten Son Joh 1:18; Joh 3:18; 1Jo 4:9

(d) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life Joh 3:36; Joh 6:40; Joh 11:25f. (The letter “f” here means “forward.” That is, read John 11:25 and keep reading, since there are more verses that continue on the same topic.)

(1) While letters refer to verses, numbers refer to notes by the editors or translators of the particular Bible you may have. Here the (1) says the following, “unique, only one of His kind.” That is what the translators or editors are saying about the word “only begotten.”

I guarantee that by the time you have looked up all the above verses, you will have a good idea of the topic of God’s love to all people in the world!

 

 

 

 

 

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

Turning Back to Thank God

Bibliography

Outline of Series

Devotional

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.

Previous in Psalms

Beauty Day 175

Find one beautiful thing every day and take a photo of it.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.


 

Beauty Day 175

 

Stopping by Flowers on a Preschool Morning

Little girl stops by amazing flowers

“I love these flowers” she says

gramma loves these flowers too

“and you are the prettiest of all”

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?

Bibliography

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 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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Beauty Day 174

Find one beautiful thing every day and take a photo of it.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.


 

Beauty Day 174

 

 

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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