Six Weeks with the Psalms

Week Four


Psalms Week 4


This is quite a loose category when it comes to the psalms because when you look at the Royal psalms they don’t seem to have an awful lot in common with each other, and I think all of them can easily fit into other categories as well.  Where the other categories are grouped by the style and the content – like praise or lament – the Royal psalms, it seems to me at least, are grouped together either because of the purpose or the occasion they were written for, or that they contain at least some reference to kingship.  Like, for instance, Psalm 2 is regarded as Royal, because it was apparently written by David on the occasion of his coronation.  Do you want to turn to Psalm 2 for a minute?  There’s nothing particularly royal about it, is there, apart from its reference to kings and kingship..  By the way, you’re maybe wondering how I know who wrote it?  Well, if you want to look at the book of Acts (4: 25) you’ll understand.


Anyway, Psalm 2 is supposedly a Royal psalm, but it’s also a Messianic psalm.  They often go hand in hand – most of the Royal psalms are Messianic too, although Messianic psalms aren’t always Royal – confused yet?  Would anyone like to explain what makes a psalm Messianic?  Prophetic of Jesus.  One of the definitions of a Messianic psalm is that it’s quoted in the New Testament as prophetic of Jesus.  Now, there are those who say this is a bit of reverse engineering, that the words of the psalms can be made to fit, and there’s a few hints about that here. Notice in verse 2, ‘Anointed’ has a capital ‘A’, in verse 6 ‘King’ has a capital ‘K’, verse 6 ‘Son’ with a capital ‘S’.  The original Hebrew didn’t have capital letters, these have only been added in translation so we’ve given these words added importance that those reading or hearing the psalm a couple of thousand years ago might not have taken as much notice of.


Talking of capital letters, do we know why LORD is in in capitals in the Old Testament?  LORD, in capitals, is the name of God, from the Hebrew Yahweh.  In actual fact, God’s name wasn’t ever pronounced by the Jewish people.  Lord with just a capital ‘L’ is his title, or it can mean master.


I have an open mind about this, I’ve got to be honest and say I do have trouble with the whole idea of prophecy – I suppose I shouldn’t, but I can’t help it.  David is speaking about himself in the psalm, isn’t he?  But then how we read the psalms isn’t how Jesus would have read them, for instance. Jesus says in Luke 24: 27 that ‘everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,’ so I guess I’m willing to take him at his word!



Psalm 22


I’m sure when you picked this up the first line jumped out at you.  It’s been called the ‘Fifth Gospel’ of the crucifixion.  It’s also been called the ‘Psalm of the Cross.’


So, what do you think – prophecy or reverse engineering?  If David wrote it, did he know what he was saying at the time?  What is slightly strange to me is that although David had some tough times, he was never actually deserted by God.  There’s some really intense suffering going on in this psalm and we don’t have any evidence of David actually going through suffering to this extent.


Or did the Gospel writers – and, remember, two of them (Matthew and Mark) used exactly the same words, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ – fit Jesus’ words to the psalm?  Is it the case that ‘While I have no doubt that the actual events of Jesus' crucifixion took place as recorded in the Gospels, it is probable that the terminology by which they were communicated was influenced by the words of the psalm.’ (


It’s been said that the psalm describes death by crucifixion, but it was written at a time when crucifixion was unheard of.  Warren Wiersbe says, ‘It is remarkable that David should describe crucifixion because it was not a means of Jewish punishment, and it’s unlikely he ever saw it occur.’  I think that unless we know the details about crucifixion, we couldn’t say that’s what the psalm is talking about.


To me, Psalm 22 serves as proof that Jesus knew the Old Testament, he knew the Psalms.  John tells us that Jesus, “knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled…said, ‘I am thirsty,’ as a result of which the soldiers offered him wine vinegar on a sponge” (John 19:28). The only Old Testament Scripture this could possibly refer to is Psalm 69:21, a psalm very similar to Psalm 22, which shows that Jesus was thinking through these Old Testament texts.


If he did, then I’m sure the gospel writers did too.  Isaiah 53 is more prophetic, I think.


But for the sake of balance, if you want a pretty detailed argument for Psalm 22 being a messianic prophecy, here’s a link:


Psalm 22 starts as a lament and ends in praise.  Signifying crucifixion and resurrection, maybe?





Psalm 110


To set this psalm in context, we need to look at Matthew 22: 41-46. 


Now, having read that and having read Psalm 110, Why is it that Jesus asked the Pharisees about verse 1: "If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?"


The Pharisees were trying to find out more about this so-called Messiah, about Jesus, but they were thinking about him in human terms, as a son of David, so Jesus pointed them towards this Psalm.  The Pharisees expected a Messiah to be of the lineage of David who would come conquering the enemies of the Jews. They saw Jesus as human, as a descendant of David, and as such to be inferior to David. Jesus' question to them was to get them to see Him for who He is, the Messiah Son of God and thus greater than man.


LORD in caps is God, Lord isn’t God, but it’s higher than a King.  The Messiah?  Now, again, there would have been no capital L in the Hebrew text, but I can’t think of any other explanation for this – as, after all, David was the ruler, he was the King, and there was no-one higher than him who he could call his Lord.


The apostle Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 as applying to Jesus as the subordinate "Lord" at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34-36). The verse is also quoted in Hebrews 1:13, which shows that this position was given to Jesus and not to the angels.


There is another possibility: It could be that "of David" in the psalm's title meant not by David but regarding David and that the psalm was written by one of David's subjects. Yet this was obviously not the traditional understanding in Jesus' day, as His exchange with the Pharisees makes clear. They considered David the author, as Jesus affirmed.


I said earlier that the Royal Psalms didn’t necessarily have a lot in common, but something they do have in common is that they talk about battles and wars a lot.  Question for you ‘how do you view the  violence suggested in verses 5-6, and can you reconcile that with the idea of Jesus as the "Prince of Peace"?’ 


Some of the internet comments on a similar question:


‘No one comes to the Father except but by the Son. Those who choose to live outside of God's will, through Christ, will face dire consequences.’


‘Death and destruction is all that's left if there is no repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Saviour.’


‘We have peace with many countries because we can destroy each other any time with the bomb or something like that.  And Jesus will have to destroy the devil before we can have eternal peace.’


I think I prefer this one:


‘Before the Prince of Peace comes, we must take away the evil deeds and thoughts we have. We have to complete have faith in God and have him destroy all the evil things that we have in mind.’