The Messiah in the Psalms Lesson 8


October 22, 2017

The Sanctuary | Hazelwood, Missouri

By Daniel L. Segraves[1]

Psalm 15

1 This question follows the promise of the return from captivity found in Psalm 14:7. Who would qualify for this return? The words “tabernacle” and “holy hill” focus on the divine presence connected with the ark of the covenant that was returned to Mount Zion by David. (See II Samuel 6:2, 12-18.)

Psalm 16

Both Peter and Paul saw Psalm 16 as a messianic psalm. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter quoted extensively from the Septuagint translation of Psalm 16:8-11. Paul, who was not taught messianic truths by any human being (see Galatians 1:15-24; 2:1-2, 6-10), preached from Psalm 16 at Antioch.

1-7 Peter’s use of Psalm 16 suggests that the entire psalm should be read as a prayer of the Messiah. There is no change in speakers between verses 7 and 8.

3 References to the “earth” (ʻeretz) in the Psalter should be understood in terms of the “land” promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the overall context of the Psalter, the “saints” who were in the earth were those in the Promised Land who were faithful to God’s covenant, including the Davidic Covenant.

8-11 Peter quoted these verses in his Pentecostal message, pointing out that they refer to the Messiah, not to David. (See Acts 2:25-31.) David had seen corruption, so the psalm was not about him. In this context, Hades (translated “hell” by the KJV) was a reference to the abode of the righteous dead—represented by the grave—as they await the resurrection. Since David was “both dead and buried,” he was still in this place awaiting resurrection; therefore, he was not writing about himself. As further evidence that Psalm 16 was not about David, Peter said, “For David is not ascended into the heavens” (Acts 2:34). Whoever Psalm 16 was about was someone who would not stay in the grave long enough for His body to corrupt; He would be resurrected shortly after burial. This was Jesus Christ. This was not Peter’s opinion only. Paul quoted from Psalm 16:10 in Antioch as prophetic evidence of the resurrection of Christ. (See Acts 13:29-30, 34-35.) To point out that Psalm 16 was not about David, Paul said, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption” (Acts 13:36-37).

Psalm 17

Although there may be no specific quote from this psalm in the New Testament, it seems to be placed at this point in the Psalter to advance the concept of the Resurrection.

15 Read in the context of Psalm 16:9-10, as interpreted by Peter in Acts 2:26-27 and Paul in Acts 13:35, this verse seems intended as a reference to the resurrection of the Messiah. 

Psalm 18

An unusual feature about this psalm is that it is also found in II Samuel 22. The superscription is little changed from the wording of II Samuel 22:1. Why are the words of this psalm recorded twice in Scripture? The biblical view of the origin of Scripture means that this psalm is included in both places by inspiration. But to discover how we are to understand the words, we must look beyond the words of the psalm itself to the context in which the words are found. The context in II Samuel 22 is not the same as the context in the Psalter. The context immediately preceding II Samuel 22 points to reading the psalm as a poetic description of David’s deliverance from Saul, as indicated in II Samuel 22:1. II Samuel 23:1-7 hints that David’s words have meaning that extends beyond himself to the Messiah. The context of Psalm 18 indicates, however, that the psalm should be read differently here. In the Psalter, we are to understand the words as referring in some way to the Messiah. In one sense, David was the Lord’s anointed, but the Messiah was the ultimate anointed One of whom David was only a type. In the Psalter, when the anointed One is in view, we are to understand Him as the Son of God, as seen in the introduction to the Psalter. (See Psalm 2:2, 7, 12.) The words of Psalm 18 are appropriate for David in II Samuel 22, but they are even more appropriate and more richly fulfilled in the Messiah and His victory over all who opposed Him.

20-26 These verses are especially appropriate for the Messiah. It would be one thing for David to talk about “my righteousness” and “the cleanness of my hands” and about being “upright,” but it was another thing for these words to reflect the sinlessness of the Messiah.

23 It may seem strange to think of the Messiah saying, “I kept myself from mine iniquity,” but the word translated “iniquity” (ʻavon) can refer to guilt. If this is read as a reference to the Messiah, the point is that He had no guilt. All of the statements in verses 20-26 could refer to David only in a limited way; they find their full significance in Christ.

18:49 Paul saw a messianic theme in Psalm 18, quoting Psalm 18:49 in Romans 15:9. In a context composed of quotes from Psalms (Psalm 18:49; 117:1), from the Law (Deuteronomy 32:43), and from the Prophets (Isaiah 11:10), Paul invested Psalm 18 with messianic content. The One who would give thanks to the Lord and sing praises among the Gentiles was none other than the Messiah. 

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