Messiah in the Psalms

Messiah in the Psalms

Written by: Larry Elliott

The Psalms are filled with references to the “anointed” one and to many of the things that Jesus went through and said in his earthly ministry. How is it that literature dating back, in many cases, more than a thousand years before Christ could so accurately and specifically relate to the ministry and life of Jesus?
Just before his ascension Jesus states clearly how this could be: 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.” (Luke 24:44)

The Old Testament was not a random collection of writings about the Jewish people but a supernatural treatise on how God was planning to rescue man from sin through the work of Messiah Jesus. Jesus was saying that all that was preserved in the ancient writings foretold his life.

Consider Psalm 2, written in four strophes likely about David but clearly representing the ultimate King to come. In the first strophe, the nations are seen as raging or “noisily assembling” against the king. They meditate on evil as the godly man in Psalm 1 meditated on the law of the Lord. “Why?” the Psalmist inquires, would the nations devise such futility?
In the second strophe we see God’s response of derision because he has established his king and it is utter folly to think they can so easily dismiss his authority. They have deceived themselves about who they are and the power of this king! David was God’s anointed and essentially the representative of the Messiah.
The third strophe makes the statement, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Brown, Driver and Briggs, O.T. Hebrew scholars, describe begotten as “formally installing the king into theocratic rights.” God had anointed David as King and he would do so with Christ as well. This king holds office by divine appointment!

The final strophe is a warning to all who “plot in vain,” taking their stand in opposition to the king. Their only hope is to “serve the king with fear” or perish in the king’s wrath. The parallels to King Jesus are unmistakable and there are dozens more woven throughout the Psalms. Consider a few of the most readily recognized (not in any order).

  • “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 22:1
  • “The stone that the builders rejected has become the  cornerstone” 118:2 
  • “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 22:7,8
  • “…a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” 22:16-18
  • “Into your hand I commit my spirit” 31:5
  • “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage.’” 2:7,8
  • “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek” 110:4 
  • “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” 41:9

These are but a selected sampling of what Jesus must have instructed the disciples in as he “…opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45) By some counts there are over 90 prophecies in the Psalms that are fulfilled in Christ! Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (that covers the whole of the O.T.) spoke of Jesus and he wanted the disciples to know that he was ultimately the subject of all of the sacred Hebrew Scriptures!

1 Comment

Mark Balmer - August 4th, 2021 at 3:10pm

Yet further proof of the need to embrace OT writings to gain a greater appreciation for our Savior! Great words!