The Messiah in the Psalms
First we need to see the scripture in its historical context, but we need to see the N T as a guide to how we can approach the psalms. It is significant that Jesus speaks in a comprehensive way about his relationship to the Old Testament.
Luk 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Luk 24:26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Luk 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
The crucifixion and the resurrection were not haphazard events but were part of God’s plan already revealed in the Old Testament. If then Jesus is the fulfillment of the O T Scriptures then we should see the O T as incomplete and anticipates the Messiah who would fulfill all things. This implies that the O T cannot be fully understood apart from understanding that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s plan through out the redemptive history. We cannot properly understand the O T without reading through Christological lens.
The disciples are connected to the O T as they would preach repentance and remission of sins in His name. The mention of Jesus name is important as the name of the Lord (Yahweh) shows God’s authority which is seen in the glorified Jesus. Who Jesus is becomes significant. If we believe the N T assertion that Jesus is God, then whenever the Psalms speak of God, they are speaking of the person of Christ. It is important to understand a particular psalm in its historical and literary context, and then think about how it relates to the person and the work of Christ. All aspects of the work of Christ can be summarized in his role as prophet, priest, or king.
Hebrews is directly quoted by Jesus Heb 2:12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
Psa 22:22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
Book two underscores the importance of the king and the kingdom of God’s people. Every psalm in this book except one mentions the kin and either Jerusalem or the temple. The king is central in book one in his personal struggles of faith, and in book two in relation to the kingdom of God.
There is a greater concentration of focus on the corporate dimensions of life for God’s people than book one. The opening psalm does continue the very personal expression of spiritual concerns, yet is immediately linked to the temple in the national capital, v2. The longing for God is a longing for the temple and its worship. The same emphasis is in 43.
The title of 43 ascribes it to the sons of Korah, presumable a group of musicians 1 Chron. 6. This is the first psalm ascribed to anyone other than David. It seems to be set for the king to sing, but even psalms not attributed to David or Solomon are still kingly psalms. David id the author of 18 psalms out of thirty one in Book 2. Psalm 45 is a good ex as it is about the wedding of the king.
Though a few psalms attributed to David appear in the later books, one and two seem to highlight the importance of the kingship to Israel.
Book 2 develops the theme of kinghip by:
- Confessing God is king. Ps. 44.4. Psa 44:4 You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob! Psa 68:24 Your procession is seen, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
- He is our refuge Psa 43:2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Psa 57:1 To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave. Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
- The reference to Israel’s earthly king
- The king of Israel is important because he gives visible expression to the presence and protection of the invisible God among His people.
- The vision that God’s king, capital and temple will be a blessing to the world can only be fulfilled in Christ. The words of Psalm 72 about a worldwide kingdom are more than David or Solomon ever experienced.
Outline of Book 2
Psalms 42-44: Commitment in trials
45-49: Commitment in praise of God and His kingdom
50-53: Commitment in the face of sin
54-64: Commitment despite enemies
65-69: Commitment in worship in the temple
70-72: commitment to God our deliverer
Book 2 begins with 8 psalms for Sons of Korah and suggests communion with God, especially as experienced in the liturgical life of the tabernacle and temple.
Maskil: Psalm 32:1. The word means “prudent” and could refer to a contemplative style of music. The NET Bible translates it as “a well-written song.” A Hebrew term of uncertain meaning in the superscriptions of 13 psalms. It possibly means “contemplative poem.”
Sons of Korah: a clan of Levites employed in the sacred music of the temple. They also kept the temple gates and were guardians of the ark of the covenant. Psa 84:10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Most likely 42 and 43 were a single composition. Many ancient manuscripts combine them.
Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?
In Psalm 42
It seems the writer has been absent from Jerusalem and the temple courts (v 6). Mizar means little hill, so he may be located in one of the lesser mounts 130 miles from Jerusalem. Some commentators suggest he could have been among the Jews being led into exile in Babylon, seeing his last look at Jerusalem. He pines over memories of sacred assemblies: Psa 42:4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.
The opening stanza makes an important point about worship. He speaks of missing the liturgy and the temple, yet he is truly yearning for God himself. this Old Testament believer can’t get enough of God. And he knows that God has appointed that especially in His worship in the midst of His people He is there in a presence which He manifests nowhere else.
Psalm 42 depicts spiritual depression, but also shows us the way to deal with a downcast heart. Ps. 42:5-6 He challenges his state of mind, and then talks to his heart, dictates what he knows to be true. He is not in denial about his feelings, but encourages himself with his knowledge of God as our mighty savior.
How does he describe God? V 9
- He preaches God’s grace to his soul. V 8 Arm yourself with the truth, who God is, what has he done, what has he promised. Joh 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Finally, he preaches to his heart the value of the means of grace God has provided his people.
Psa 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Psa 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
- What key thought, word or phrase can you take away from this psalm?
This is a psalm of confidence of the community, more than just a personal hymn.
Martin Luther frequently turned to this time during which there was much peril. Martin Luther’s hymn “a mighty fortress is our Got” is based on this psalm. He saw his hymn as a paraphrase of the psalm that explicitly speaks about Christ where it was merely implied in the Psalm. Behind all the enemies in the Psalm stood “our ancient foe”. He saw this psalm as Christ’s psalm and its promises Christs promises for his people.
Christians today continue to appeal to Psalm 46 in times of fear and peril. Psalm 46 reflects the great strength that flows to God’s people from their faith in the strength of God. The song celebrates God’s deliverance of His people and particularly his defense of Jerusalem (v 4).
Read Psalm 46
God is a shelter from His people’s enemies which have many forms. Nature can be our enemy, Ps 46:2-3. Human conflicts can cause disasters. However, they do not thwart God’s purposes. The psalm recognizes our weaknesses.
God’s holy presence in the church is like a refreshing river flowing through his city. Psalm 46 refers to a spiritual stream, the waters of which make god’s holy city glad. It is the city of God that rejoices in the life that God gives.
The imagery of a river flows all throughout the Bible. In the Bible’s beginning, Gen 2:10 says Gen 2:10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The bible ends with the a river flowing through the holy city yet to come. Rev 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
Rev 22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
The gospel is the river that flows through all of Scripture. First there are streams in the early promises of the O T, the it grows deeper as the ceremonies of the law direct us to Christ. The waters rise to a full brimming stream in the coming of Jesus.
From Matthew Henry:
For his own glory (Psa_46:10): Be still, and know that I am God. (1.) Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God, one infinitely above them, and that will certainly be too hard for them; let them rage no more, for it is all in vain: he that sits in heaven, laughs at them; and, in spite of all their impotent malice against his name and honour, he will be exalted among the heathen and not merely among his own people, he will be exalted in the earth and not merely in the church. Men will set up themselves, will have their own way and do their own will; but let them know that God will be exalted, he will have his way will do his own will, will glorify his own name, and wherein they deal proudly he will be above them, and make them know that he is so. (2.) Let his own people be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort, that the Lord is God, he is God alone, and will be exalted above the heathen; let him alone to maintain his honour, to fulfil his own counsels and to support his own interest in the world. Though we be depressed, yet let us not be dejected, for we are sure that God will be exalted, and that may satisfy us;
- When everything around us seems to be falling apart, how can we find peace and stability? How can our hearts be at rest in the midst of troubled circumstances?
- What key thought, word or phrase can you take away from this psalm?
Psalm 91 is another psalm that speaks of God as our refuge and our fortress.