Christ in the Psalms (Part III)

Apr 23, 2010

In posts one and two, we saw just a few of the more important ways in which the Psalms point to Christ. I noted Bruce Waltke’s observation that if a text points to Jesus, that makes it more relevant for us, not less. Here are some ways the NT shows us that the Psalms apply not just to Jesus, but to his people.

While Jesus alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, Paul says that we ourselves are like “sheep to be slaughtered” (Psalm 44:22 in Romans 8:38), and that we must “suffer with him” (Romans 8:17).

Just as Jesus suffered at the hands of his enemies and had to wage war against the Enemy, so we must see ourselves as warriors engaged in resistance against a great Enemy:  “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20; “your” is plural, the Christians in Rome; Revelation 2-3; Ephesians 6:10-20).  Those who resist Satan and conquer sin are reigning with Jesus (Psalm 2 in Revelation 3:21, Ephesians 2:6).  The nations will praise the King (Psalm 68:2) as we lead them to bow the knee to King Jesus (Matthew 28:16-20). Because of Jesus’s great victory, he pours out spiritual gifts on his people in order to make more Christians and bring his people to maturity (Psalm 68:18; Ephesians 4:7-16).

Jesus commands us to love him and others; as we obey we walk in light, not darkness (1 John 2:4-10; Psalm 119:105). Walking that path of love and life produces delight, so that we can say, “Oh how I love your Law, oh Lord; I meditate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97; John 15; 1 John 3:16-24).  Paul teaches us that we fulfill God’s law as we walk in the Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus himself sent to guide us (Romans 8:4). He even says that “our righteousness lasts forever” as we extend ourselves to those in need (Psalm 112:9, 2 Corinthians 8:9).

Finally, we have the promise that we who learn meekness from the perfectly Meek One will inherit the earth, an inheritance Jesus himself earned (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5, 11:29). We can find Jesus all over the Psalms, because the Psalms are his prayer book that points to him. And when we find Jesus in the Psalms, we also find ourselves.

Suggested bibliography

  • John C. Collins, “Introduction to Psalms,” in the ESV Study Bible, 937, 939.
  • Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72, especially pages 18-32.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 44-50, and all of Psalms: Prayerbook of the Bible.
  • Jay E. Adams, War Psalms of the Prince of Peace: Lessons from the Imprecatory Psalms.
  • Richard Pratt, He Gave Us Stories, 346-359.

I have not read the following, but they are by trustworthy authors and may be of interest:

  • Richard Belcher, The Messiah and the Psalms (2006).
  • James W. Sire, Praying the Psalms of Jesus (2007).