Messianic Psalms

Messianic Psalms

     The messianic psalms are a portion of Scripture like no other. “These are psalms in which the life of Christ is either depicted or predicted” (Geisler 202). Usually written for the nation of Israel, these psalms were to give the nation hope, peace, and prophetic instructions about the coming Messiah. The Messiah was to be God in human form, and fulfill the covenants God made with Israel. Furthermore, messianic psalms declared the signs of the coming Messiah. Signs that the nation of Israel will one day realized they missed in unbelief. These psalms, which are scattered throughout the Book of Psalms, cover a time era of over 800 years. From the time of Moses to after the exile of the nation and rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, the messianic psalms were to be a light to the nation. However, the light faded along with the nations belief in the coming Messiah. Many questions can arise as to whether or not the messianic psalms were clear enough to the nation of Israel, or if the nation had believed and seen the signs of the Messiah would they have turned to Him in faith. Sadly, these questions can only be speculations as the Messiah has already come and gone to be in glory at His Father’s right side. The history of life cannot be changed, but the heart and faith of the nation Israel can. The message in these messianic psalms is equivalent to that of the New Testaments gospels. This paper will identify choice messianic psalms, which show the clear and precise works and signs of the Messiah Jesus Christ. It is the following messianic psalms, which declare and show the great wonders of the King of kings and Lord of lords Jesus Christ who will be coming again.

To begin, the work of the Messiah was clearly foretold. He was stated by David in Psalm eight as, “ O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1). The Messiah is seen and praised as the maker of the heavens, and in verses two and three Ryrie comments, “From nursing babies to heavenly bodies, God is Lord of all” (Ryrie 837).  These verses declare the magnitude of the Messiah and His union with the Father and Holy Spirit in making all things that were created (1 Cor. 8:6). The psalm continues, bringing the aspect of mankind into view and how God cares for us, saying, “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty” (Psalm 8:4-5). Walvoord explains these verses even more in explaining, “David was amazed that God should exalt finite man to such a place of honor” (BKC 797). This is true, in that humans were entrusted with a grate responsibility of ruling over all of nature as verses six through eight say, “You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas” (Psalm 8:6-8). David was in awe of how God created mankind and then made mankind His ambassadors over all the creatures of the world. All creatures were to be subject to mankind, as that was God’s sovereign will from the beginning (Gen. 1:28). However, Walvoord points out “because of sin that dominion has never been fully realized” (BKC 798). Which brings to a close the psalm, where David closes in like manner as he opened in giving praise to God for His creation. This messianic psalm is further explained however, in Hebrews 2:6-10 and speaks of the work of the Messiah in relation to the sinfulness of mankind. This passage of Scripture is a clear reference to the Messiah’s preeminence in all things. Speaking of the coming Millennial Period when the Messiah will rule over all the earth, and man will have complete dominion over creation, as was God’s intended plan from the beginning. According to Hebrews 2:5, we see that “the world to come” is in reference to the coming Millennial Period which will be ruled by Christ and the redeemed. However, of most importance is the explanation of the messianic psalm in Hebrews 2:8-10. In keeping with the literal context, and understanding that this passage is speaking of “the world to come,” verses eight through ten are relating to Christ the Messiah. Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9). This verse in Hebrews parallels that of Psalm 8:5 and speaks of the Messiah Jesus Christ making “possible man’s future dominion over earth by Himself becoming incarnate, dying, and being exalted” (Ryrie 1947). This shows the Messiah’s life as planned by God the Father. The Messiah was to come, from the viewpoint of the Old Testament, has come, from the view of the New Testament, and will come again to rule over His Millennial Kingdom. Christ is the only one in who anyone can be saved. Hebrews 2:10 furthers this thought in saying, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10). All these references of both the messianic psalm and Hebrews conclude that the Messiah had a purposeful life. His life was to come in human form, become a little lower then the angels, die for the sinfulness of mankind, and then set up His Millennial Kingdom where all things will be brought into subjection to Him, giving Him the preeminence in all, and man the rightful position which was given him in the garden before the fall. Although only part of this psalm has been fulfilled, it can be said that all who have put their faith and trust in the Messiah Christ Jesus can rest assured that the rest will someday soon come to fruition.

Following a natural progression of the gospels after seeing the life of the incarnate God, His death would be evident. In another messianic psalm about the Messiah, Psalm twenty-two conveys His death. Starting off the psalm is that which Christ Himself spoke while hanging on the cross saying, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). The importance of this fourth saying of Christ is in its clear reference to God the Father forsaking His own Son. This verse is paralleled in Mark 15:34 as, “At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” which is translated, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Mark 15:34). These word’s of Psalm 22:1 were indeed upon the “lips of the Messiah as He hung upon the cross” (Sandy 207). Though the Messiah was born of the Spirit and a virgin as Scripture foretold and had known no sin, “He suffered for the sins of the world” (Sandy 207). Pentecost says, “Christ’s cry, ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ testified to the fact that He had entered into spiritual death – separation from God as the sinner’s Substitute. His physical death would soon follow as He fully tasted death for every man” (Pentecost 486). Even before the Messiah’s death, many verses in Psalm twenty-two were fulfilled. One of those portrays the Messiah’s clothing being divided by the soldiers as they cast lots for His garments, “They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18). This division of the Messiah’s garments was not out of an act of hostility, but as Pentecost remarks,

“Four soldiers under the leadership of the centurion were assigned to each criminal being executed. It would be the privilege of the soldiers conducting the execution by crucifixion to divide the personal property of the crucified among themselves. In keeping with custom therefore, the four soldiers took Jesus’ garments and divided them into four parts among themselves” (Pentecost 482).

Knowing this, that the garments of the Messiah were torn and separated, just further brings to a realization that the Messiah was the One who was crucified upon the cross. Another verse of Psalm twenty-two depicts the intense thirst of the Messiah while on the cross. Psalm 22:15 speaks of this agonizing thirst as, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15). Pentecost illustrates the severity of the Messiah’s thirst in saying, “The Psalmist had graphically described the thirst that came from the raging fever that coursed through Christ’s body” (Pentecost 486). The thirst was just another pain staking part of the Messiah’s rejection and coming death upon the cross. It was fulfilled in the New Testament that Christ said in His fifth statement upon the cross, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28). This was not just the request of a dying man; instead it was the fulfillment of the Scriptures. Someone came shortly after his request and lifted up the stalk of a thistle plant to which had a spongeful of wine vinegar on the high end, and dampened the lips of the Messiah. This last utterance of Christ completes yet another Old Testament fulfillment of the Messiah’s life, and death upon the cross. A man in every way, and also God, the Messiah conducted all the miracles and signs that the Jews looked for. Still in disbelief the Jews crucified their Savior. It is clear that this man who everyone called Jesus was truly the Messiah by all the miracles, words, signs, and wonders that He did in His lifetime and which were predicted in the messianic psalms. His death was not only predicted in the Old Testament, but was also used to set those who believe in Him free from their sins.

The last chronological fulfillment left to see from the messianic psalms is that of the Messiah’s resurrection. Said to be the greatest of all teachings concerning the Messiah Jesus Christ, the fact that the Messiah was raised from the dead and lives again is the hope of salvation for those who believe. David in writing Psalm sixteen wrote as a prophet the things that pertained to Christ the Messiah. Psalm 16:1-2, declares that the Messiah has put His trust and portion in the Lord God who gave to Him joy eternal, “Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You. I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good besides You” (Psalm 16:1-2). In verse three, the Messiah is rejoicing over all those who are united in one faith in Him, “As for the saints who are in the earth, They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16:3). The nation of Israel is not the only ones in who the Messiah delights, but all who call upon the name of the Lord in faith. Verse three and four are in stark contrast to one another, for the Messiah does not rejoice or even speak the names of those who do not trust in Him. The Messiah is seen in verses five through eight as giving thanks to God in caring and providing for Him even in the midst of troubles. Verses five through eight speak also of Christ’s life upon the earth, and how the Father led Him and guided Him to the cross of Cavalry. Which logically brings us to the resurrection and verses nine through eleven. The Messiah speaks of His trust in God even in death and because of that He can say, “Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely” (Psalm 16:9). In explaining His reasoning for such glad and glorious rejoices the Messiah is said to not decay in death because He is the Father’s Holy One. This comes from verse ten which says, “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay,” the Messiah is certain that His body will be raised up and not sit and decay in death. Ryrie says, “The language here (illustrative and predicative of the Messiah) refers initially to the psalmist’s own experience, but the ultimate fulfillment is only in Christ Jesus,” this resurrection by the Messiah from death is the hope of salvation to all those who believe (Ryrie 842). To prove that this is speaking of the Messiah and not of David, verse ten clearly points out that the “Your Holy One” is not speaking of David, but of the Messiah. David did decompose in the grave, which would make this verse erroneous if speaking of David. However, the Messiah did not decompose and on the third day was resurrected from death unto life eternal with His Father. Also, in Acts 2:29 the Apostle Peter attests to the fact that David died, was buried, and is still here to this day. In verses thirty-one and two Peter says of David, “he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:31-32). This being great evidence of the fact that not only did Christ the Messiah die, but was resurrected to which the apostles were able to see Him in His resurrected body. Peter continues to explain to the Jews at the time of Pentecost even more so of the resurrection of the Messiah saying in verses thirty-four through six, “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET. Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:34-36). This being Peter’s sharp words of truth about the resurrection of the Messiah who lives now at the Father’s right hand. Moreover, the apostle Paul who was a Hebrew among Hebrews and Pharisee of Pharisees makes mention of this very psalm. Paul knowing the Old Testament better then anyone, resorts to Psalm 16:10 as referring to the Messiah saying, “that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus” (Acts 13:33a). Walvoord states that, “Paul confirmed the fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead by quoting from Isaiah 55:3 and Psalm 16:10” (Walvoord 390). The issue is not in regards to whether or not the Messiah had risen from the dead, but if they believed. This being the biggest issue and one in which is still being faced today. However, there is proof of the risen Messiah all throughout Scripture to which the apostles quote. It is this messianic psalm which brings justice to the fact that the Jews were foretold and shown the truth even before the truth had become evident.

Jesus Christ the messiah is alive. The messianic psalms that were covered attest to the facts of His life, which were fulfilled or will be in the coming Millennial Kingdom. The truth of the matter is that it was very clear and evident from the Old Testament psalms that Christ is the Messiah, and that His life was written out even before His birth. Those who had seen and searched out the Scriptures in their Old Testament times could have seen the gospel message of Christ as Messiah. As seen in this paper, the message of Christ’s life as Messiah, His walking with the Father, His death upon the cross, exact prophetic wording, and resurrection are all very visible from these messianic psalms. To us in this day in age, it should be a reminder of our sovereign God, and help in witnessing to those who are still waiting for the Messiah to come.

Works Cited

Bullock, Hassell C., Encountering the Book of Psalms. Michigan: BakerAcademics 2001.

Geisler, Norman L., A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. Michigan: BakerBooks 1977.

Pentecost, Dwight J., The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. Michigan: Zondervan 1981.

Ryrie, Charles, Ryrie Study Bible NASB. Chicago: Moody Publishers 1995.

Sandy, Brent, Giese, Ronald, Cracking Old Testament Codes. Tennessee: B&H 1995.

Walvoord, John F, Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament. USA:

Scripture Press Publications 1989.

Walvoord, John F, Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament. USA:

Scripture Press Publications 1989.

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