Christ familiarity with the Psalms
Psalm 31:5 —
Psalm 69:21 , 22:15 — Echo “I am thirsty”
Psalm 22:31 — echoes “It if finished”
Also throughout his life we see familiarity with the Psalms
Psalm 6:8 — cited Mt. 7:23 — “Then I will tell you plainly, ‘I never knew you’ Away from me you evildoers”
Psalm 35:19, 69:4 — cited John 15:25 — “They hated me without reason.”
Psalm 118:26 — cited Mt. 21:13
Psalm 41:9 — cited John 13:18
Psalm 62:12 — cited Matthew 16:27
Christ was saturated with the Psalms. Today we want to look at the Psalms familiarity with Christ.
I.) Christ in the Psalms of Righteous Declaration
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands
He has recompensed me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all His judgments were before me,
And I did not put away His statutes from me.
23 I was also blameless before Him,
And I kept myself from my iniquity.
24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.
Here we note that while David might have been able to pray these Psalms in a comparative sense, given our understanding of our sin nature, and of our sin by habit which is taught in Scripture there is no way that David could have prayed these in a absolute sense. No man can. And so we hear these Psalms and we are immediately reminded of the Lord Christ. The Lord Christ alone is the one who can stand in God’s Holy place as the one who has clean hands and a pure heart and who had not not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He alone can declare that “I was blameless before God.”
The good news in all this is that we are united to Christ and what is predicated of Christ is predicated of His people because we are in Christ. We have had all this described perfection put to our account. And so, because of the Lord Christ we also are blameless. No … not in and of ourselves but as we are reckoned in Christ.
II.) Christ in the Penitential Psalms
7 Psalms known as “Penitential Psalms”
Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143
But there are other Psalms that have snatches of penitence within them,
Psalm 69:5 O God, You know my foolishness;
And my sins are not hidden from You.
O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.
2 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled;
But You, O Lord—how long?
4 Return, O Lord, deliver me!
Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
5 For in death there is no remembrance of You;
In the grave who will give You thanks?
How shall we handle these penitential Psalms in light of the reality that we see and hear Christ in them? Is it really the case that the Lord Christ would need to pray these prayers? Aren’t we doing the Lord Christ a disservice by suggesting He, through David, prayed in such a penitential manner?
The only answer that can suffice is that in these Penitential Psalms the Lord Christ, in His humanity, is identifying with His people. In point of fact He is so identifying with them that He confesses sin, through David, as if it is His own.
So, closely does Christ identify with us as sinners that He confesses sin in these penitential Psalms. Now, we know that Christ is the spotless lamb of God and we know that He was at all points tempted as us yet without sin but here in the Psalms we find the sinless God-man confessing sin. Thus does he identify so closely with His people. Such is His tenderness towards us. In such a way Christ demonstrates He was and is our substitute.
It was not without reason that the Holy Spirit could write in the NT,
“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Cor. 5:21). As Peter says, Christ suffered as the “just for the unjust.”
Here then in the penitential Psalms we see the love of God and His Christ for sinners. So closely does the Lord Christ identify with us that He confesses sins.
Jonathan Edwards offers here,
“His elect were, from all eternity, dear to Him, as the apple of His eye. He looked upon them so much as Himself, that He regarded their concerns as His own; and he has even made their guilt as his, by a gracious assumption of it to Himself, that it might be looked upon as His own, through that divine imputation in virtue of which they are treated as innocent, while He suffers for them.”
Horne in his commentary on the Psalms offers,
“… Christ in the day of his passion, standing charged with the sin and guilt of his people, speaks of such their sin and guilt, as if they were His own, appropriating to himself those debts, for which, in the capacity of a surety, had made himself responsible.”
Elsewhere, in yet another commentary E. C. Olsen affirms again this line of thought,
“I am particularly impressed with the 5th verse of the 69th Psalm where the Lord said, ‘O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from thee.’ For 2000 years no man who has had any respect for his intellect dared charge our Lord Jesus with sin. But some might as, What do you mean when you say our Lord is the speaker in this verse? Just this: the fact of Calvary is not a sham or mirage. It is an actual fact. Christ making atonement for sin was a reality. The NT declares that He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. As Christ restored that which He took not away, that is, restored to us a righteousness which we never had, so Christ had to take your sins and mine, your foolishness and mine. These sins became such an integral part of Him that He called them “my sins and my foolishness.” Our Lord was the substitute for the sinner. He had to take the sinners place, and in so doing, He took upon Himself all of the sinner’s sin. In the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, ‘Surely He has borne our griefs, And carried our sorrows; … yet the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ The iniquity of us all was laid upon Christ. He bore our sins ‘in His own body on the tree.’ Can you fathom that? When you do, you will understand the mystery of the Gospel.”
In light of this great Love for His people, how can we, who are convinced of this love, ever violate such a compassion as was demonstrated by the Lord Christ towards us?
III.) Christ in the Imprecatory Psalms
We spoke some concerning the ability of God’s people to pray the Imprecatory prayers but we also must realize that it is first and foremost the Lord Christ Himself who prays the Imprecatory prayers.
The modern Church has this vision of effeminate Jesus. There he is in the Poster or a art sketch set against a backdrop of azure sky blue with fluffy white clouds around him in a long flowing white tunic with his shoulder length hair poofed perfectly and he is beckoning His people with outstretched hands. Or there he is at the door knocking … ever the gentle guest. A halo surrounds his head and you get the sense that the door knocking Jesus is so calm the door adores being rapped upon by Him.
The Jesus of the modern contemporary church poses no threat to sin or sinners. He constantly forgives in the face of epistemologically self conscious defiance and rebellion against Him and his cause. He forgives even in the face of being told that we have no reason to be forgiven. He is Jesus the effeminate wonder male.
We agree that the Lord Christ is gentle, meek, and forgiving, but He holds not those qualities without also being God who pursues God’s righteousness. He inveighs against the wicked. He holds the rebellious to account. In the Psalms, through the voice of David, the Lord Christ cries out for the blood of those who would oppose His Kingdom and His people. He is not God with whom we are to trifle.
23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see;
And make their loins shake continually.
24 Pour out Your indignation upon them,
And let Your wrathful anger take hold of them.
25 Let their dwelling place be desolate;
Let no one live in their tents.
26 For they persecute the ones You have struck,
And talk of the grief of those You have wounded.
27 Add iniquity to their iniquity,
And let them not come into Your righteousness.
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living,
And not be written with the righteous.
J. H. Webster in his book, “The Psalms in Worship” has this to say
David, for example, was a type and spokesman of Christ, and the imprecatory Psalms are expressions of the infinite justice of the God-man, of His indignation against wrong-doing, of His compassion for the wronged. They reveal the feelings of His heart and the sentiments of His mind regarding sin.”
In Psalm 109
Let his days be few,
And let another take his office.
9 Let his children be fatherless,
And his wife a widow.
10 Let his children continually be vagabonds, and beg;
Let them seek their bread[b] also from their desolate places.
11 Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder his labor.
12 Let there be none to extend mercy to him,
Nor let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
13 Let his posterity be cut off,
And in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
This Psalm, throughout Church History became known as the Judas Psalm because it is quoted concerning Judas in the NT.
Professor Fred Leahy of Belfast Ireland wrote concerning Psalm 109
“… the view which limits Psalm 109 to David and one of his adversaries is altogether to short-sighted because it ignores the typical nature of David and His Kingdom and overlooks the interpretation of the imprecatory psalms in the NT, where their ultimate fulfilment is seen either in the judgment of Judas or in the apostasy of Israel (cf., Rom. 11:9-10),. In the Christian church Psalm 109 soon became known as the Psalmus Ischarioticus — the Iscariot Psalm.”
The modern contemporary Church in the West today needs to hear again Christ praying with these imprecations against those who have set themselves against the Lord and His anointed. The modern contemporary Church in the West today needs to be reminded that those with designs to cast off their chains and arise to the place of the most high will be thoroughly cast down.
And why would we insist that the Christ praying the imprecatory prayers must come forward again? First because we love the Lord Christ and desire to protect His reputation but also because we love people. We do those in rebellion to Christ no favors … we show them no love, if we do not warn them concerning the wrath of the Lamb of God. In point of fact if we refuse to speak of these realities we show our scorn and hatred of those outside of Christ. The love of Christ and love for those outside of Christ compels God’s servants to take up this hallowed theme, fully aware that we ourselves are only saved from the wrath of God because of the work of the Lord Christ to pay for our sins.
What we find here in the Psalms is what we find in the Revelation. The Christ speaking through David these imprecations is the Christ spoken of in the NT
Rev. 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had[a] a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,[b] followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp[c] sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
George Horne, who wrote a commentary on the Psalms in the 19th century wrote,
“The Primitive Fathers … are unexceptional witnesses to us of this matter of fact, that such a method of expounding the Psalms (the Method of reading them Christocentrically) built upon the practice of the Apostles in their writings and preachings, did universally prevail in the church from the beginning. They, who have ever looked to St. Augustine, know, that he pursues this plan invariably, treating of the Psalms as proceeding from the mouth of Christ, or of the Church, or of both, considered as one mystical person. The same is true of Jerome, Ambrose, Cassidore, Hilary, and Prosper … But what is very observable, Tertullian, who flourished at the beginning of the 3rd century, mentions it, as if it were then an allowed point in the church, that almost all the Psalms are spoken in the person of Christ, being addressed by the Son to the Father, that is, by Christ to God.”