The Messiah in the Psalms Lesson 6

Psalms

October 8, 2017

The Sanctuary | Hazelwood, Missouri

By Daniel L. Segraves

Our study guide consists of notes from the Apostolic Study Bible.[1]

Psalms 9-10

The phrase “Muth-lab’ben” in the superscription means “death of the son.” The idea is that Psalm 9 was to be sung to the tune of a song by this name. Other psalms also identify the tunes by which they are to be sung, but we have no information about these melodies. Psalm 8 did not address the death of the Son of Man, but the reference to the death of the son in Psalm 9 links these psalms together, continuing the contextual theme of the Son that begins in Psalm 2. The significance of Psalm 9 being about the death of the Son may be seen in the identification of Psalm 8 as a messianic psalm in Hebrews 2:6-8. In the context in Hebrews, the Son is “crowned with glory and honor” as a consequence of His death, which He experienced “for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). Although Psalm 8 declares that the Son of Man has been “crowned . . . with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:5), it does not discuss His death. The idea of the death of the Son of Man is found in Psalm 9. The linkage of Psalm 9 with Psalm 8 by means of the “Son” motif provides linkage all the way back to Psalm 2 and ahead to Psalm 10, because Psalms 9 and 10 were apparently one psalm in an earlier form. The evidence for this is as follows: (1) When Psalms 9 and 10 are placed together, they form an acrostic. Psalm 9 takes us through exactly half of the Hebrew alphabet; Psalm 10 takes us through the second half; (2) The Septuagint puts the two together as one. Thus, Psalm 11 in the English translation is Psalm 10 in the Septuagint; (3) Only Psalm 9 has a superscription. If the two are not to be read as one, Psalm 10 is the only psalm without a superscription between Psalm 3 and Psalm 32.  There is some irregularity in the acrostic which seems to be because of an emphasis on “the wicked one,” indicating an emphasis on the contrast between “the righteous” and “the wicked” that begins in Psalm 1, where a form of the same word that is translated “wicked” in Psalm 9 is translated “ungodly.”

Psalm 9 is a psalm of thanksgiving, describing the Lord coming to aid those who are in distress. Psalm 10 is a psalm of lament, but at the points where the acrostic is interrupted in Psalm 10, the lament is changed back into the defeat of the enemy. Psalm 10 is about the eschatological judgment of God upon all the nations, as found in Daniel 7 and Ezekiel 38. The pattern of praise followed by lament is followed up to and including Psalm 41. Hope is found in this group of Davidic psalms, but it is hope against the backdrop of trouble.

Psalm 10

1 The opening verse of Psalm 10 invites comparison with Psalm 22:1, words prayed by Jesus on the cross. In view of the superscription of Psalm 9 identifying the psalm with the “death of the son,” this further indicates that Psalms 9-10 should be read as one psalm.

15 The arm was a symbol of strength.

16 Although Psalm 10 is a psalm of lament, it concludes in hope in view of the fact that the “Lord is King forever and ever” and that the gōyim (nations, translated as “heathen” by the KJV) have “perished out of his land.” This is an allusion to the Davidic covenant with its divinely ordained king who is reigning on behalf of the Lord and to the promise of land made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (See Genesis 15:18-21.)

17 Although it may have seemed that the Lord was distant and hidden (verse 1), He actually “heard the desire of the humble (compare with verse 12). Since He heard their desire, He would “prepare their heart” (i.e., comfort them).

Psalm 11

Psalm 11 continues the theme begun in Psalm 10. The house of David was troubled by “the wicked” (verses 2, 5, 6). (Compare with Psalm 10:2-4, 13, 15.) The wicked are contrasted with the righteous. The psalm acknowledges a challenge to God’s messianic purpose, a challenge that is doomed.

1 The theme of trust in the Lord continues the motif begun in Psalm 2:12: trust in the Son, the Messiah. In this psalm, David was either in conversation with his advisors, or he was consulting with himself. Either he was being counseled to flee from the wicked, like a bird flies away from a snare, or he was considering flight. (Compare with Psalm 55:6; 124:7.) But how can flight be considered when one is trusting in the Lord?

2-3 If his advisors were counseling David, they justified their counsel to flee in these words. It is common in Psalms and elsewhere to describe the words of those who are wicked metaphorically as deadly weapons. (See Psalm 37:14-15; 57:4; 64:3-4; Proverbs 12:18; Isaiah 54:17; Jeremiah 9:8.)

3 The “foundations” refer in a metaphor to the social order established by God. (See Psalm 75:3; 82:5; Ezekiel 30:4.) The idea is that a challenge to David was a challenge to the Davidic covenant and ultimately to the Messiah’s rule. The “foundation” of Israel, and ultimately of the world, was the throne of David, occupied by the Messiah.

Psalm 12

Like Psalm 11, Psalm 12 continues the theme of trouble for the house of David. This psalm was to be sung to the accompaniment of an eight stringed instrument (shem’inith).

1 Like Psalm 10, this psalm begins with a bleak cry. The word translated “ceaseth” (gamar) suggests that the godly are no more, as the second half of the verse indicates. In other words, it is not “help” that ceases, but it is those who are faithful, or godly, who cease to be. This is certainly hyperbole, but it accurately expressed David’s concern for the apparent success of those who were unfaithful, as also seen in Psalms 10-11.

5 Even though Psalm 12 does not specifically mention the reign of the Lord or His throne, it is indirectly referred to here with the idea that the Lord would arise from His throne to respond to the threat of the wicked.

6-7 The promise of the Lord was that he would “keep them” (the poor and needy of verse 5) and “preserve them.” He will not allow the wicked to carry out their threats.

7 This verse has been misunderstood, especially by some advocates of KJV Onlyism (the belief that only the King James Version faithfully transmits the Scriptures in English) to mean that the Lord will keep and preserve His words “from this generation forever.” The grammar of the Hebrew text will not allow this meaning. The words translated “poor” and “needy” in verse 5 are masculine. The word translated “words” in verse 6 is feminine. The words translated “them” in verse 7 are masculine, requiring that the pronoun “them” refer back to the “poor” and “needy” of verse 5, not to the “words” of verse 6. The words of Scripture are inspired, and the Lord will preserve them, but this verse does not support the claims of those who claim that only one English translation is reliable.[2]

Psalm 13

1 The theme of trouble in the house of David continues. The general tenor of this lament is much like the sentiments expressed in Psalms 6:3; 7:1-2; 10:1; 12:1. The apparent success of the wicked ones caused David to feel forgotten by God.

5 The word translated “salvation” is a form of yeshua‘, which finds it fullest significance in the name given to the Messiah.

6 When David turned away from a focus on his enemy and refocused on the mercy and salvation of the Lord, his hope was restored and worship overcame complaints.

[1] These notes were prepared for the Apostolic Study Bible (Hazelwood, MO: WAP Academic, 2014) by Daniel L. Segraves.

[2] The comments on verse 7 do not appear in the Apostolic Study Bible.