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Christ in the Psalms

Psalms Patterns

First of all, a look at the patterns in the major divisions of the Psalms.

Book
Psalms
Closes with...
1
1-41
Benediction; double "Amen" (41:13).
2
42-72
Benediction; double "Amen" (72:18-20).
3
73-89
Benediction; double "Amen" (89:52).
4
90-106
Benediction; "Amen; "Hallelujah" (106:48).
5
107-150
Last 5 psalms, each beginning and ending with "Hallelujah".


  1. The first 2 "Books" are predominantly by and about David (at least 55 of 72).
  2. But the last 3 "Books" have very few psalms which are definitely by and about David (18 of 78).
  3. Notice, however: The word "of" in the titles (as in "of the sons of Korah" or "of Asaph", etc) may mean "for". Thus, a Psalm [composed by David... or by someone else] would be designated as being written for the use of the sons of Korah, or Asaph, etc [the temple musicians, or servants].
The 5 "Books" were probably compiled at different times, and then later joined together in one large volume. With this we might compare the development of a hymnbook by a community (not being written necessarily in order, but composed at different times by different authors, and then at a later date -- or dates -- being compiled into its final form).

This would explain:

Pro 25:1 suggests that Hezekiah (perhaps along with Isaiah?) supervised much of the compilation of the Proverbs. And Isa 38:9,20 suggests that at least some (and possibly many) of the Psalms are songs of Hezekiah. (Other Talmudic writers refer to traditions to the effect that Hezekiah was also responsible for compiling and editing the books of Isaiah, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes.) This all suggests that, along with David, Hezekiah is a primary subject of the Psalms.

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Who are the Psalms about?

Many of the Psalms are cited in the New Testament as being prophetic of the life and work and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. But many others are not directly quoted in the New Testament. The question is: how do we read those psalms? Do they have any New Testament application?

First of all, a little work with marginal references or the like -- with cross-references and parallels between psalms -- will suggest that even those psalms not linked by direct quote to Jesus Christ could still be considered, generally, to be about him!

But of course the Psalms were, in the first instance, about the experiences of the individual writers and composers. The writer of many psalms was David, "the sweet psalmist of Israel"; other psalms were probably written by Hezekiah (and others). So we ought to remind ourselves of the basic outlines of the lives of David (and Hezekiah) -- especially with regard to their suitability as types of the Messiah.

David as a type of the Messiah

  1. The shepherd boy who laid down his life for his sheep.
  2. The young man anointed king by a great prophet.
  3. The brave warrior who went down into the "valley of death" and slew the great giant who enslaved his people –- when all Israel cowered in their tents.
  4. The man who, because of his great deeds and sterling character, was envied and hated by the reigning king.
  5. The "criminal" who was chased and persecuted, and his life threatened, because he was God's Anointed.
  6. The man who at last emerged in triumph from a cave to be crowned head over all Israel.
  7. The man who gathered many faithful Gentiles, and later gave them positions of great authority in Israel.
  8. The king who expanded his kingdom in all directions, until it won the allegiance of all surrounding nations and became a great empire.
  9. And the king who received the promise of a "Son" [not Solomon!] who would sit on his throne forever.
Hezekiah as a type of the Messiah

(Much of this outline may be derived from a study of the Book of Isaiah. Read in its historical context, the book is first of all a commentary on the life and times of Hezekiah, and his role in the salvation of Judah from the Assyrian invasion. It is in the particulars of his life -- the primary fulfillment of Isaiah, if you will -- that the pattern is established for understanding the ultimate fulfillment of the Book in Jesus Christ.) {The student who wishes to read more about this theme is directed to Hezekiah the Great or Isaiah, by Harry Whittaker, or The Songs of Degrees, by George Booker.]

  1. A child of promise ("Immanuel"), his great work was prophesied beforehand.
  2. He came to a nation estranged from God.
  3. He cleansed the temple of God, and sanctified the priests for renewed worship.
  4. He called worshipers from the north and from Jerusalem to keep a new Passover.
  5. Even the defiled were accepted through his faith and merits and prayers.
  6. He offered sacrifices for himself and for the people.
  7. He provided living water ("Siloam", Hezekiah's Conduit) to a people ready to perish.
  8. He was afflicted with an incurable sickness (possibly leprosy –- the "sin-disease"), and was in danger of dying without a "seed".
  9. But by a mighty manifestation of the Glory of the Lord, he was miraculously healed on the third day.
  10. The great Invading Adversary was destroyed, and Israel was saved, through his faith.
  11. Afterward, the Land was freed from its enemies, the captives and exiles were restored...
  12. ...And the king was acknowledged as the Anointed of Yahweh by all nations.
Introduction

The outlines now help us to appreciate a basic point: if a man, in the fundamental outlines of his life, is seen to be a type or pattern of Jesus Christ, then it follows, reasonably, that his writings -- about his experiences and feelings, and even his prayers -- are part of that overall pattern. So, if David slaying the giant Goliath is interpreted in the New Testament as Christ's victory over sin (and it is!), then the psalms composed by David commemorating that event must also be prophetic of Christ. Or... if Hezekiah's being smitten with leprosy and healed the third day is typical of Jesus Christ being raised from the dead on the third day (as it surely is!), then the psalms composed by or about Hezekiah at that time must also be typical of Jesus Christ.

So -- when we read history in this way -– the last step in Psalms study is surely obvious: The Psalms are not just about David (or Hezekiah)... and certainly not just about you and me. They are ESPECIALLY about Christ.

Indeed, the Psalms are a sort of "fifth gospel"; whereas Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the external, observable facts of the life of Jesus, the Psalms are his "internal" biography. The first four "gospels" tell us what he did and said, but the fifth "gospel" very often tells what he thought. And this is an indispensable perspective for those who are commanded to develop the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5). The Psalms, being also prophetic, can tell us what Christ will do.

The following outline uses the typical guidelines of the lives of David and Hezekiah in the Psalms, and thereby seek to explain and amplify, on a Biblical basis, the story of our Saviour's life, death, resurrection, priesthood, and second coming and kingdom.

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I SAW THE SON

I heard what they said,
So politically correct, so properly right:
But I saw not him of whom they spake,
And I wondered.

I heard the others who spoke and sang,
Deliberately warm and moving,
But shallowly repetitious.
Of him I saw but little,
And I wondered.

I went to the Palace of the Psalms,
And there he was!
Clearly to be seen, and audible.
By the far-seeing eyes of the prophets
I saw him as a babe with his mother;
And as a young, old Man,
I heard the voice of his Father.

I saw the son in obedient beauty.
Living and radiant in the glory of his Father.
I heard him in prayer, moving, wholly submissive,
Even in reproach and consuming sorrow,
Yet triumphant. The Amen.

I went to the Tomb
Where they buried sin and death
And learned that though he slept,
He was supremely guarded against corruption.
And I wept tears of boundless joy.

I saw him rise,
Wonderfully Father-like,
And heard him speak to his brethren.

I saw him ascend
And arrive at the right hand of Power,
In everlasting joy,
Regal and priestly.

I saw him return,
To reign amongst his enemies
Until the earth was filled with his Father's glory.
There was another with him:
His Bride, redeemed
And with a beauty that was both his and hers.
And I wondered.

In the Palace of the Psalms
I prayed and worshiped
Until there was no longer "I" but only he.

"Titus" (The Christadelphian, Dec, 1998)

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BEGINNINGS

Luke 1:26-38: The story of the conception and birth of Christ might be appreciated in the light of Psa 139: "For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well, my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" (Psa 139:13-17, RSV).

The phrases" knit together" and "intricately wrought" are the same words used of the woven pattern on the veil of the Tabernacle, and the embroidery of the door hangings, the coat of the High Priest, and the veil of the Most Holy (Exo 26:31,36; 27:16; 28:39; 36:37; 38:18; 39:29; cp Heb 10:20).

Christ is the true tabernacle, or temple of God (Mat 12:6; John 1:14; 2:19; Col 2:9; Heb 8:2; 9:7,8,11). Even as the fabrics were specially selected, and specially worked, until the desired effect was achieved in the curtains and furnishings and priestly garments of tabernacle and temple -- so that God Himself might be exalted, and eternal principles taught in figurative language -- so out of the "fabric" of human nature, the Master Craftsman skillfully selected and wove together... the perfect "tabernacle", the perfect "temple" -- His Son!

Modern science has begun to penetrate into the mysteries of DNA, the genetic code imprinted on the human chromosome, and to see -- as through a glass darkly -- the building blocks of human life. Surely we may stand in awe at the amazing complexity, and the supreme design, in such a system. And especially may we be brought to our knees in admiration -- for the intricate "design" that became God's Only-begotten Son. "Fearfully and wonderfully made" indeed!

Other references in Psalms to the Virgin Birth:

  1. Psa 22:9,10: The AV mg has: "kept me safe". This was fulfilled in Mat 2:13-16.
  2. Psa 69:8: "My brethren" = "my mother's children", but not "my father's children" -- implying that Jesus had no human father!
  3. Psa 71:6: "You brought me forth, or upheld me from the womb!"
  4. Psa 86:16 / Psa 116:16: Cp with Luke 1:38,48: Mary is the "handmaiden" of the LORD, and in these words she gives her consent which is necessary for the conception of the unique child in her womb.
  5. Psa 89:26,27: "I will appoint him my firstborn". Cp Col 1:15,18. The "first Adam" and "last Adam": referring to the one who is "firstborn" not just by his birth, but by his special selection by his Father, and especially by his overcoming of sin and death.
  6. Psa 110:3: Why does David call him "Lord"? Because, though born after David, Jesus is greater than he -- being the son of the Most High. See v 3: "From the womb before the morning I begat thee" (LXX).
  7. Psa 132:11: "From your belly" (AV mg) -- ie, not "loins" (as of paternal origin), but "womb" (maternal origin). This is the same word in 2Sa 7:12. Cp with Luke 1:42.
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Mat 1:20,21: "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." With this compare Psa 130:1-8; 131:1-3 (RSV: "as a child quieted at its mother's breast"). Psa 130:8 is especially apt: "He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins."

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Mat 2:1,2,9-11: A (not necessarily "the"!) fulfillment of Psa 72:9-11,15? Surely the preeminent fulfillment of Psa 72 is in the Kingdom Age. But in the meantime notice how beautifully the coming of the "wise men" fits the psalm: there are kings from the east (from Arab countries), bringing gifts to God's special King, including gold.

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Luke 2:40-49: The boy (or young man) realizes that his place is "in my Father's house". Alongside this, consider the passages in the Psalms expressing the cherished desire to dwell in the house of God: Psa 27:4; 48:1-3,12,13; 63:1-3; 84:1-4; 122:1-4,6,7.

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Matt 3:13-17; 4:1: Jesus is baptized, and immediately taken by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. Compare this with Moses' Psa 90:5-12: his commentary about the generation that was first "baptized" in the Red Sea, and then afterward perished in the wilderness. Secondly, compare this with Joshua's (this is a guess) Psa 91:1-7: a commentary about the generation that survived the wilderness to enter the Promised Land. Other points of comparison:

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Jesus under the law of condemnation because of his sinful flesh: First of all, generally: Jesus had not committed sin -- so why the need to be baptized (as described in the section above)? The answer: because he possessed "sinful nature". Thus Mat 4 (his wilderness temptation) explains Mat 3:13-17 (his baptism).

Christ's nature is seen in the accounts of his conception, his birth, his baptism, and his wilderness temptation (1Pe 2:24; 2Co 5:21; Gal 4:4; Rom 8:3; Heb 2:14).

Many of the psalms mention, in passing, the sin and/or weakness of the psalmist. Whereas, on first glance, this would appear to have nothing to do with Jesus (who of course committed no sin), it is quite possible to see such passages -- at least some of them -- as "roundabout" allusions to the weak, sin-prone human nature which beset Jesus, for which he sought the help of his Heavenly Father to overcome: Psa 6:2,6-8; 18:23; 25:7,11,18 (cp vv 5,15); 38:2-10; 40:12 (cp vv 6-8); 41:4 (cp v 9); 69:5 (cp vv 4,8,9,21,22,25); 51:5 ; 89:50.

(The sin-nature of Christ is dealt with extensively in Psalms Studies, by George Booker, Vol 1, pp 47, 48, 108, 154, 155, 184, 220, 229, 230, 297, 298, 397, and 398; and Vol 2, pp 532 and 598.)

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Psa 40:6-8 is quoted in Heb 10:7-9: "Mine ear you have digged" (Exo 21:5,6; Deu 15:16,17) becomes "a body prepared" (Heb 10:5). Why? See Rom 6:6; 7:24; 8:23; Rev 18:13; Jude 9. In Greek, "body" may be a way of describing a "slave".

Psa 40:8: "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." This leads to a consideration of Jesus as the word of God (Deu 17:18-20)...

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JESUS AS "THE WORD OF GOD"

First of all, it should be mentioned that -- in the New Testament -- the Greek "ktisis" ("creation") quite often refers to the NEW "creation" in Christ. How is this NEW "creation" brought about? By the spoken, written, or proclaimed "word of God" -- even as the original "creation" of Genesis was set in motion by "And God said!"

But especially is the NEW "creation" called into being by the "Word of God" made flesh (John 1:14) -- Jesus Christ. Jesus is the greatest "Word of God" (John 1:1,14; 1Jo 1:1,2; Heb 4:12,13; Rev 19:11,13). By him were all things (ie, all things in God's New Creation) created (John 1:3,4 -- see how this is improved by a repunctuation:

"Through him (ie Christ himself) all things were made. Without him (Christ) nothing was made. What has been made was 'life in him', and that life was the light of men."

Read this way, it may be seen that John's focus is unequivocally on the spiritual creation ('life in him') and not the earlier, physical, creation of Genesis.

Other passages where Jesus Christ is the "creator" of God's new "creation": Col 1:15-18 (cp 2:12; 3:1,10); 1Co 8:6; Heb 1:1-3.

Certain passages in the Psalms can be read in this light:

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Jesus in Psalm 119:

Psalm 119 is the preeminent psalm extolling "the word of God" -- surely, then, it speaks to the mind and character of the man who was preeminently the "word of God" made flesh (John 1:14)!

Probably written (or compiled) by Hezekiah, Psalm 119 runs the gamut of all the Hebrew letters. Each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet is represented by a stanza of 8 verses, in an "acrostic" form in which each of the 8 verses begins with that particular Hebrew letter. Thus, at 176 verses (22 times 8), Psalm 119 is the longest "chapter" in the whole Bible.

Key features of Psalm 119, pointing to Jesus Christ:

  1. The man of Psalm 119 is sorely tried, but in his trials he recognized his Father's loving discipline for his good (vv 50,67,71,75,107,153).
  2. He has to suffer contempt (vv 22,39,42) and even ill-treatment (vv 121,134) because of his adherence to the law.
  3. He is despised and persecuted by the authorities (vv 23,161).
  4. He is mocked, lied against, and opposed by men of position and power, whom he designates as "the proud" or "the wicked" (vv 51,61,68,78,84,85,86,95,122,150,157).
  5. He is in danger of his life (vv 87,109).
  6. He is confronted by laxity and apostasy (vv 113,126,158), and also by evil example calculated to draw him from his faith into the way of evil (vv 29,37,115), but he resists all such temptations.
  7. The indifference of others to God's Law arouses in him burning indignation (v 53) and profound sorrow (v 136).
  8. Surrounded by difficulties of many kinds, he seeks refuge in prayer, looking for a fuller understanding of God's will, for strength to keep the law, and for relief from the distressing circumstances that threaten to destroy him.
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MINISTRY

John 2:13-17: Jesus' early cleansing of the Temple. "Zeal for your house will consume me" is a citation of Psa 69:9. The "for" at the beginning of Psa 69:9 -- linking it with v 8 ("I am a stranger to my brothers") -- suggests that this consuming passion for the things of God was the reason for Jesus' early alienation from his family (Mark 3:21,31-35; Mat 10:36; cp also Psa 27:10).

Compare also Psa 146:9: "He frustrates the ways of the wicked": "frustrates" signifies "to turn upside down", and suggests Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers.

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John 4:14 / 7:37,38 / 19:34: References to "springs" of living waters invokes such passages as Psa 36:9; 46:4; 87:7. Also, Isa 12:1; Zech 13:1; Eze 47:1-5; Rev 22:1. (The latter two Psalms passages probably referred, in the first instance, to Hezekiah's Conduit, and the Gihon spring.)

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Continual plots against the life of Jesus: Saul's attempts on David's life -- the background of many of the Psalms -- provide the pattern for the continual plots against the life of Jesus. These psalms include, among others: Psalms 34, 52-54, 56, 57, 59, and 140.

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Sermon on the Mount: Just as the Sermon of the Mount contains the "Beatitudes" (or blessings), so the Psalms contain an extensive list of "Beatitudes" or blessings: Psalms 1:1; 2:12; 32:1,2; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4,5,12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 118:26; 119:1,2; 128:1,4.

In addition, the whole of Mat 5-7 proves to be an extended commentary on Psalm 15:

Psalm 15
Matthew 5-7
1. Who shall dwell?
5:3-12. Principles of blessedness
2. Walketh uprightly
5:13-16. Walks in the light
2. Worketh righteousness
5:17-20. Righteousness exceeding that of the Pharisees.
2. Speaketh truth in heart
5:21-6:34. An extended contrast between outward forms and religion practiced in the heart
2. Backbiteth not
7:1-5. Teaching of mote and beam
3. Nor doeth evil
5:43-48. Love your enemies
2. Who condemns the vile person
7:15-23. By their fruits ye shall know them
4. Sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not
5:33-37. Let your communication be 'Yea, yea; Nay, nay'
1. Putteth not money to usury
5:38-42. Gives without expecting a reward
5. He that doeth these things shall never be removed
7:24-27. Doeth... build on a rock... fall not

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Luke 7:36-50: Cp another combination of "tears" and a "bottle" in Psa 56:8. Here is a story to be worked out in some beautiful detail -- a story of sin and repentance, tears and remembrance, forgiveness and renewal.

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Mark 4:37-41; 5:1-16: First, the storm at sea (Psa 107:23-31); then, the "storm" in the mind of Legion. He who can calm the one can calm the other! The "troubled sea" of Isa 57:20 and Rev 13:1 becomes the "sea of glass" in Rev 4:6; 15:2; 21:18. The Psalms portray a God who can calm the storms, of the nations and of the lives of individual believers -- and this is what His Son does in the Gospels: cp Psalms 65:7,8; 89:9; 93:3,4.

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The feedings of the multitudes (Mat 14:13-21; 15:32-39; cp John 6:1-15,22-59): Here is Israel, fed once again by "manna" in the "wilderness". Christ, not Moses, provides the true "bread of life":

Psalm 78

John 6
7,32
Believe his wondrous works
28,29
9,41,57
Turned back
66
11
Forgot his works / Not because of the miracle
26
17-19
Provoked; "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"
30,31
20
Water, bread, flesh
35,52
22
Believed not
36
23
Opened the doors of heaven / Comes down from heaven
33,41,58
24,25
Rained down manna from heaven / Bread of god... comes down from heaven
33,58
31
The wrath of God / Your fathers died
49
36,37
Heart not right / Evermore give us this bread
34
39
Flesh, a wind / Spirit, flesh
63
41
The Holy One of Israel
69 (RV)
56-72
Greatly abhorred Israel, chose David / "Him hath God the Father sealed"
27

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John 8:46; 10:32: David's protests of innocence were only relatively true of him, but they were absolutely true of Jesus. Examples: Psa 7:1-11; 59:3.

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Jesus as the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21): Jesus' description of himself as the Good Shepherd plainly invokes Psa 23: where Jesus is typically foreshadowed, first as the Lamb; and then, as the Shepherd! Also cp Psa 95:7; 100:3 -- and Psa 8: where the Shepherd lays down his life to save his "flock" from that beast of prey, Goliath!

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"I and my Father are one" (John 10:30-38): Jesus quotes Psa 82 to prove that mortal men (including the Messiah) may be referred to as Elohim, "God" or "gods" (Psa 82:1,6,7; cp Psa 58:1; 97:7; 138:1).

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Luke 10:17-24: The return of the 70:

Luke 10
Psalm 8
17. Subject unto us through thy name
2. How excellent is thy name
6. All things under his feet
18. I saw Satan fall
19. Tread on serpents and scorpions (v. 3: wolves; 9:58: foxes)
6-8. All... beasts of the field... under his feet
2. To still the enemy
20. Your names written in heaven
1. Thy glory upon the heavens
21. Lord of heaven and earth
21. Babes
  1. Heavens... all the earth
2. Babes and sucklings
22. All things are delivered to me
22. The Son
6. All things under his feet
4. Son of man
24. Prophets and kings
David: both prophet and king


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THE LAST WEEK

John 11:35: The death of Lazarus provokes the tears of Jesus. Jesus' tears also flow for the prospect of Jerusalem's sufferings (Luke 19:41), and in the stress of the temptation in Gethsemane (Heb 5:7). The tears of Jesus in the Psalms: Psa 6:6; 39:12; 42:3; 56:8; 69:10; 116:8.

Luke 18:18-24: Jesus talks with the rich young ruler: "One thing you lack!" –- that is, Jesus as your Shepherd (Psa 23:1). Thus, "Come, follow me"... as the sheep follows the Shepherd.

Mat 19:28: The apostles sitting upon twelve thrones is the subject of Psa 122:5. (The twelve tribes of Israel are alluded to in Psa 122:4.)

Mat 26:12: "She has anointed me for my burial" – the high priest's anointing of Psa 133. This psalm also suggests the anointing of the high priest preparatory to his entering the most holy place on the Day of Atonement.

This anointing was also done in anticipation of his resurrection (cp Psa 45:6-8,11).

Mat 21:12-16 / Mark 11:15-19 / Luk 19:45: Here is the second temple cleansing (cp Psa 69:9 again). The other sacrifices are driven away; Christ is soon to become the one true sacrifice... and so "the zeal for your house has consumed me" (as though he were an offering on the altar).

Mark 12:28-37: Jesus uses Psalm 110: "The Lord said to my Lord... " "And afterward they asked him no more questions."

Mat 23:38: "Your house is left unto you desolate" (Psa 69:25). The singular fulfillment is that of Judas; the plural fulfillment is that of the whole house of Israel.

Mat 24:2: "Not one stone upon another." Cp the extended warning of Psa 49 (vv 6,7,11-15). This warning was directed against Egypt in the first place. But now, in the eyes of the Lord, Israel has become the new "Egypt"!

Luke 21:28: "Lift up your heads... your redemption draweth nigh". Even as David brought the Ark of God's Glory into Jerusalem, Jesus recreated this scene on "Palm Sunday" -- when he entered the city of Jerusalem in the triumphal procession of a conquering king:

Luke 21
Psalm 24
25. The sea and the waves roaring
2. The sea and the floods
36. Stand before the Son of Man
3. Stand in his holy place
13:34. Commanded the porter to watch
7,9. Lift up your heads, O ye gates (ie, gate-keepers).
28. Your redemption draws nigh
5. Righteousness from the God of his salvation
Mat 24;32. He shall send his angels to gather his elect
10. The Lord of hosts.

Other psalms portray this same scene: Psalms 15, 30, 68, 87, and 132.

The Passover in the upper room: The thoughts of Jesus at the Last Supper may be extracted from the Psalms:

  1. Psa 102 in detail: this is a "Passover" psalm (vv 13,15,18-20).
  2. From the "Passover Hallel" (Psa 113-118): consider especially Psa 116:3,12-19; 118:10,14,17,19,22-27.
John 15:18-25: "They hated me without a cause": Psa 35:11,12,19; Psa 69:4.

Jesus in Gethsemane: David -- in his great trial -- left Jerusalem and passed over Kedron (and Jordan: 2Sa 17:22), fleeing from Absalom (Psa 42; 43). Fulfilling this pattern, we see Jesus passing over Kedron to Gethsemane (cp Psa 42:5,11; 43:5 with Mat 26:38.

A number of other psalms seem to be based on the "Absalom" experiences of David, and thus point to the same New Testament scenario: Psalms 3; 4; 11; 23; 28; 31; 35; 38; 39; 41; 55; 61; 64; 69; 71; 84; 88; 94; 109; 140; 141.

Consider especially Psa 55:2-7,13,14,21; Psa 88 (all!); Psa 94:16-23.

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ARREST AND TRIAL

John 18:2-6: "They [those who came to arrest Jesus] drew back and fell to the ground": compare Psa 9:3; 27:2.

John 18:12: "Sorrows of death" (Psa 18:4,5) = "cords of death" (AV mg, RV); cp Psa 116:3 (sw) and Psa 118:27 -- a figure for sacrifice: "Bind [the sacrifice] with cords... [and carry it] to the horns of the altar..."

The imprecations of Psalm 109: Would David (or Christ!) utter such imprecations (curses; invocations of evil or judgment) even upon his enemies?

Consider one example (Psa 109): Vv 1-5 = "they"; vv 6-19 = "he... him"; and vv 20-29 = "they" again! If the word "saying" is added in v 5, then vv 6-19 may be read as the curses thrown at David by his enemies ("they" = Shimei, Ahithophel, and/or Absalom). But such curses rebounded upon the enemies themselves (cp v 29: "Let them cover themselves with their own confusion"; also cp Psa 7:15,16; 915; 35:8).

Was it the same with David's "son" Jesus? First, vv 6-19 can be read as the curses upon Christ spoken by his enemies (Caiaphas, the Pharisees, and/or Judas). Then, secondly, as the same curses returning, by God's providence, upon their own heads. As to Jesus, see esp v 6 ("stand at right hand" suggests a trial!), vv 7,8,13. As to Judas, see esp v 8 (Acts 1:20), vv 16,17,18 (Acts 1:18).

Far from wishing the destruction of Judas, Jesus must have felt intense grief for him (cp Psa 35:14 with vv 8,11,12,19) -- a detail not readily apparent in the Gospels themselves.

Mark 14:55-57: The false witnesses brought against Jesus are suggested by Psa 27:12; 35:11,12,19; 64:8. (Note: why were the witnesses confused and contradictory of one another? Because, when the key witness -- Judas -- refused to testify, the whole prosecution strategy fell apart! In the hasty scramble to find and "coach" new witnesses, confusion resulted, and was easily brought out -- probably by cross-examination by someone like Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea.)

Mark 14:61,62: 'You will see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power' – this is Psa 110:1! In the great Day to come, Jesus tells them, our roles will be reversed: I will be the Judge, and YOU will be the JUDGED!

Jews and Gentiles participate together in the trial and death of Jesus: (1) Jews: Annas, Caiaphas, Herod, Judas; (2) Gentiles: Pilate, Roman soldiers. This is the counterpart of Jew (Saul) and Gentile (Doeg) joining forces against David (Psa 52, title; 53:1-3 quoted in Rom 3:10-12; and Psa 10:7 quoted in Rom 3:14). See also Psa 2:1 (quoted in Acts 4:24-28).

Mat 27:26: The scourging of Jesus (cp Isa 50:6; 53:5). See Psa 129:3: notice how Jesus identifies with the very land of Israel -- ravaged and plowed under by its enemies.

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CRUCIFIXION

Psalm 8: First, David's victory over Goliath -- which in turn prefigured Jesus' victory over "Sin" –- thus explaining the use of Psa 8 in Heb 2:5-15.

What happened to the robe of Jesus (John 19:23-25)? Was it purchased back from the Roman soldiers, washed, and then left for him in the tomb? 'He will need this later.' See Psa 30:11 ("you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy"); and cp Zech 3:3,5: Joshua the high priest exchanges his filthy clothes for clean.

Also, Psa 133 offers the robes of the High Priest as a symbol of unity, and of the whole body of believers. Why? Because, as the high priest entered the most holy place on the Day of Atonement, he went there as the representative of the whole house of Israel, bearing along with his official garments the stones, or insignias, which symbolized the twelve tribes of Israel. In like fashion, the special robe of Jesus -- without seam -- signified the whole house of Israel which HE represented. [Compare the words of the soldiers, almost "prophetic" in their significance: "Let's not tear (Greek "schizo", ie, make a schism!) it": v 24.]

"Natural" phenomena at the Crucifixion: Clouds, darkness, earthquake, storm: Psa 18:7-15 (cp vv 4-6,49,50); Psa 29:3-9.

The thoughts (and words) of Christ on the cross (Matt 27:46 / Mark 15:34; John 19:30): From "Eli... Eli" to "It is finished!". This is Psa 22:1-21 (Christ in darkness: cp Matt 27:45), and Psa 22:22-31 (Christ in light).

Luke 23:46: "Into thine hands I commit my spirit": Christ's last words seemingly refer to Psa 31:5.

Putting this together with the previous paragraph, the question is suggested: did Jesus recite all of Psa 22:1 through 31:5 while on the cross?

The reasonableness of this suggestion must be tested by a review of the actual psalms. Consider, for examples, the fitness of these verses to the circumstances of the crucifixion: Psa 23:4; 24:3-5; 26:2,6; 27:2,3,5,6; 29:3-9 (darkness and storm); Psa 30:5,9,11; 31:5.

The AV puts this verse (Psa 31:5) in the past tense: "Thou HAST redeemed me..." In the light of v 5a {"Into your hands I commit my spirit"), these words (along with Psa 30:1-3) may be read as the first words spoken by our Lord when he came to life again in the tomb. (So the first half and the last half of Psa 31:5 were quoted by Christ in order, yet almost three days apart, and on either side of the great gulf of death!)

John 19:31-36: "Not a bone broken" is Passover language, referring to the lamb: Psa 6:2; 22:14; 34:20; 35:10.

But how does this square with Psa 51:8? Possibly, "broken bones" in Psa 51 should be seen not as literal, but as figurative -- considered as simply parallel to "broken spirit" and "broken heart" of v 16.

Mat 27:57-61: The burial of Jesus, in the rock-hewn tomb: Psa 57:1 (notice the Passover imagery: vv 1,2,3,6,8) echoes this burial.

Jesus was first of all in a virgin womb; and now, finally, he is in a "virgin" tomb -- where no body had ever been laid (John 19:41). With this may be compared Psa 139:13 ("you knit me together in my mother's womb"), and Psa 139:15 ("I was woven together in the depths of the earth": the tomb?) -- as though Jesus had two "births": the first from his mother's virgin womb, and the last from the "virgin" tomb.

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RESURRECTION

While many Psalms passages might be cited here -- eg, those that speak of victory and blessing and divine care and protection, etc -- only a few will be mentioned:

  1. Psa 2:7: "This day have I begotten thee." To which day does this refer? How is this verse used in Heb 1:5 and 5:5? In Heb 5:5 it is connected with Christ being made a High Priest. Thus it is more reasonable to see "this day" as being the day of his resurrection rather than the day of his birth.
  2. Psa 16:8-11: God's Son is made so as "not to see corruption" (John 19:41). In Psa 16, the "path of life" = "the way to the tree of life" (Gen 3:24; cp John 14:6). And "God's right hand" = the place of blessing and authority (cp Psa 110:1,4; Heb 12:2,3).
  3. Psa 126:5,6: Those who weep now will rejoice in time of harvest, when the "seed" that has been planted (Jesus, buried) will bring forth new life: cp with John 16:21,22; 12:24.
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THE "NEW CREATION" IN CHRIST

Again, as above, many Psalms passages might be cited -- specifically those that have to do with:

  1. the blessing of a faithful remnant, through the work of a faithful individual;
  2. God's saving His people out of bondage in Egypt, into a new life as His nation;
  3. the blessing of children;
  4. a song (or a "new" song) of praise to Yahweh.
Only a few will be highlighted here:

Other "New Creation" passages in the Psalms: 102:18; 103:22; 104:30 (see John 20:21,22); Psa 145:9,10.

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ASCENSION

Mark 16:19: Cp Psa 16:11; 110:1. Psa 110:1 became the standard Ascension passage of the early church; it is used in Acts 2:34-36; 7:55,56; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:19-22; 2:6. Compare 1Ti 3:16 and 1Pe 3:22 with Mark 16:19.

Also, see Psa 68:18: "You ascended on high."

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PRIESTHOOD

Psa 110 again (and v 4 especially): Verse 1 is cited in Rom 8:34 –- where Paul adds: "who also makes intercession for us", thus alluding to Christ's role as a Melchizedek high priest (see Psa 110:4): see also Heb 5:6; 7:1-24; 10:12,13.

The "sit down" of Psa 110 emphasizes that the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ was a one-time, once-and-for-all, perfect sacrifice -- not the ongoing continual offering of many sacrifices which characterized the Law of Moses. "But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool" (Heb 10:12,13). The footstool alluded to here is also mentioned in Psa 99:5; 132:7 -- where the glorified and exalted Christ rules over his former enemies.

Psa 65 –- a psalm for the Day of Atonement -– pictures the congregation waiting outside the Temple for the appearance of the high priest (v 1; cp Heb 9:24-28); cp also v 4: the man who approaches unto God. A similar view is also found in Psa 67:1 and Psa 85:2,8.

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SECOND COMING

Psa 2:1-4,9: "Shepherd them" (LXX): cp Rev 2:27. The One who is a Shepherd will also be a King: a "Shepherd-King". (The "shepherd-king" motif is developed, rather exotically, in the Song of Songs; there, it would seem the young woman falls in love with a shepherd, only to learn -- somewhat later -- that her beloved is also the king!)

Psa 9 (all): Especially read vv 7-10,17-20.

Psa 29: "Voice" occurs seven times in this psalm (cp seven-fold trumpet blast of Rev 8; 9).

Psa 47 (all): The trumpet points to resurrection!

Where will the Judgment Seat be?

  1. 50:4,5: The saints will be gathered to judgment.
  2. 87:5: Saints "reborn" in Jerusalem: the rebirth of resurrection and glorification.
  3. 133:3: "There (mount Zion) the Lord commands the blessing of life for evermore." Cp with Gal 4:24-27 -- where Sinai is contrasted with Zion!
  4. 1:4; 35:5: The "chaff" is separated from the wheat at the "threshing floor" (Psa 72:16). Where was the threshing floor? At the property of Ornan the Jebusite, on Mount Zion or Mount Moriah: 2Sa 24:18. To carry this figure further, the good grain is gathered into God's granary of the Kingdom, while the chaff is burned up in "Gehenna" (literally located right next to the Temple Mount).
One of Christ's first tasks when he returns will be to save the remnant of Israel from the hands of their Arab enemies: Psa 60:8,9/108:9,10; Psa 83 (all).

Revelation 11 echoes Psalm 79:

Psalm 79

Revelation 11
1
The heathen are come into thine inheritance... they have defiled
2
2
The dead bodies of thy servants
8,9
2
The flesh of thy saints... the beasts of the earth
7
3
None to bury them
9
4
A reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision
10
5.
How long, O LORD?
11
6
Pour out your wrath upon the heathen
18 (and 16:1)
11
Let the sighings of your prisoners come before you
11
12
Render sevenfold... into their bosom
The 7 vials of Rev 16
13
We will give thee thanks for ever
17


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THE KINGDOM

All passages in the Psalms that speak of material blessings, of peace and prosperity, and of the nations acknowledging the rule of Yahweh may, of course, be considered Kingdom passages. From those we select:

Psalm 22
Revelation 19
22. In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee
4. The four and twenty elders
23. Ye that fear the Lord, praise him
5. Praise our God, all ye servants
25. In the great congregation
6. The voice of a great multitude
22. I will declare Thy name unto my brethren
6. Alleluia, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth
26. The meek shall eat and be satisfied
7,9. The marriage supper of the Lamb


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