"The Gospel According to Psalms"

Jesus the Creator
Jesus in the Flesh
The Immersion of Christ
A Man of Praise
A Man of Trust
A Man of Parables
The Betrayal of Jesus
Jesus is LORD
Savior of the World
The Throne of David
The Ascension of Jesus
Jesus' Resurrection
Events at the Crucifixion
The Crucifixion of Christ
Mediator of the New Covenant

More Studies to Come

 

 

Jesus the Creator

"This will be written for the generation to come," penned an unknown psalmist, "that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord" (Psalm 102:18). The hand of the Lord was surely upon him; no one really envisioned God’s taking out from the Gentiles a people for His name. "For He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free those who were doomed to death…" As Jehovah God said during the days of His flesh, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18,19). As we shall see, Jesus is the Lord referred to in Psalm 102, the God of the psalmist. "For the Lord," he says, "has built up Zion; He has appeared in His glory" (Psalm 102:16).

The apostle John summarizes the Psalms in referring to Jesus the Creator: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:1-3). The apostle Thomas, speaking of Jesus, said it well, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).

 

 

Jesus in the Flesh

"What is man," asked David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, "that you take thought of him …" (Psalm 8:4). Good question. Man as a physical being is pretty puny, infinitely dwarfed by the Creation. "When I consider Your heavens," David had written, "the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man?" (Psalm 8:3). With a ready pen, he continued, "And [what is] 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). This interesting passage is quoted by the writer of Hebrews from the Old Testament Greek text (called the LXX from the seventy or so translators who worked on it), and the application contains some depth that is worth examining.

Of Jesus’ taking on a body, it is written, "He had to be made like His brethren in all things" (Hebrews 2:17). Thus, in the quoted psalm, there are vestiges of His days of sojourn in earthen clay: "I will tell of Your name to My brethren" (Psalm 22:22). Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us as the Son of Man, pre-written in the gospel according to Psalms.

 

 

The Immersion of Christ

"How great are Your works, O Lord!" exclaimed an anonymous psalmist. "Your thoughts are very deep" (Psalm 92:5). The Lord has written His word to reveal His thoughts, but a Christian has to reason very cautiously and honestly. The All Wise uses prophecies, recorded visions, parables, and foreshadows or types to communicate His message — often using plain statements of fact in the New Testament writings to open the doorways of understanding. "Blessed be the God of Israel," praised and prophesied Zacharias, "for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant — as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old" (Luke 1:68-70). "For the Lord has chosen Zion," He said. "There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for My Anointed" (Psalm 132:13,17). The Psalms predict the coming of the Anointed One, descendant of David according to the flesh.

"The kings of the earth," prophesied David himself, "take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed" (Psalm 2:2). "For truly in this city," noted the early saints in their prayer to God, "there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate …" (Acts 4:27). Jesus, manifested to Israel at His immersion, was thus anointed with the Holy Spirit. "You know of Jesus of Nazareth," bespoke Peter to the first Gentiles to don Christ, "how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). Psalms looks to the visible anointing of Christ, as well as His eventual accession to the throne in heaven.

The anointing of Jesus and the declaration that He was God’s Son took place at His immersion, and the prophecies in the gospel according to Psalms were fulfilled.

 

 

A Man of Praise

Jesus, in the midst of His sorrow for the lot of man, was always in praise when He looked to God. "For the Father loves the Son," He had stated, "and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel" (John 5:20). The Son was able to press on in praise to the Father, knowing that His own resurrection from the dead was the greatest work of all, to be experienced and to be exhibited. In constant communication with the Father and with His knowledge of the Psalms, Jesus undoubtedly prayed the words of Psalm 145 at one time or another during the years of His earthly sojourn.

Jesus walked in praise of His Father, lauding God’s desire to save all men. Psalm 145 comports well with the record of Jesus in the gospel accounts, and could easily have been prophetic of words He actually said during the years of His sojourn, during the time when the Word became flesh.

 

 

A Man of Trust

The Lord Jesus walked this lonesome valley as an example for us. We would not have known to call the Great God "Father" except that Jesus set the stage for us to do so. We would not have known to pray before we break bread but for His example. The saints now know how to die in dignity, and be confident of their own resurrections because the Christ plowed through those barriers first. Hear the words of one of the old hymns: "He the great example is, and pattern for me."

"For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things," were the words written to the Hebrew Christians, "in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the Author of their salvation through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus was victorious in His battles with suffering and rejection because He prayed His way through the difficulties. It is easy to see this suffering, trusting Jesus in the 23rd Psalm.

Jesus, having been raised from the dead through the blood of the eternal covenant, trusting in the God of peace, thus now becomes "the great Shepherd of the sheep" (Hebrews 13:20).

 

 

A Man of Parables

The Old Testament must be viewed through the eyes of the New Testament authors. "All these things Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables," were the inspired words of Matthew, as he prepared to open a doorway of understanding into a comment in Psalms, "and He did not speak to them without a parable, so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.’ " (Matthew 13:34,35). The words were taken from Asaph the seer: "I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old" (Psalm 78:2).

The "gospel according to Psalms" only gives a couple of lines to the speaking of parables by Jesus. But what powerful lines they are, establishing the credibility of the Great Teacher, giving Him due honor in the privilege of bringing the hidden message of God to light.

 

 

The Betrayal of Jesus

How awesome indeed is our God! To produce faith and allegiance in us, He became one of us. To generate respect and admiration, He was willing to die like we. But to show His empathy and compassion, He entered the realm of human passion and relations, allowing Himself to be betrayed and destroyed by someone close to Him. He was, verily, "tempted in all things as we" (Hebrews 4:15). Fitting it was, then, that His betrayal should be marked out in prophetic utterance in "the gospel according to Psalms."

The words of the psalmist certainly point to Jesus’ anguish in dealing with the kiss of Judas: "Help Me, O Lord My God; save Me according to Your lovingkindness. And let them know that this is Your hand; You, Lord, have done it. Let them curse, but You bless; when they arise, they shall be ashamed, but Your Servant shall be glad. Let My accusers be clothed with dishonor, and let them cover themselves with their own shame as with a robe" (Psalm 109:26-29). Woe indeed to Judas, but praise to the highest for the Lamb that was betrayed to be slain!

 

 

The Crucifixion of Christ

"For zeal for Your house," it was written of the coming Christ, "has consumed Me" (Psalm 69:9). The Lord Jesus was not interested in playing games. Aware that the only purpose of mankind’s existence was to show the righteousness of God, the Master was fired up about the things of God. In connection with His first Passover following His immersion, He ran the oxen, sheep, doves, and men out of the temple, in holy zeal driving them with a whip of cords. In connection with His last Passover, He cleansed the temple again, saying, "Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den" (Mark 11:17). His zeal was pleasing to the Father, but therefore offensive to man. "And the chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for all the multitude was astonished at His teaching" (Mark 11:18).

Thus the progression toward Calvary intensified, the love of God painted in graphic colors on the canvass of the folly of man. Forces larger than what Pontius Pilate could handle were in motion, and the Lamb of God was like a sheep for slaughter, mute and still in the condemning kangaroo court. All the rebellion of God’s children, the sons of men, was poured out on the Son of God: "The reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on Me" (Psalm 69:9).

Nearing the time of His final breath, the Savior of the world cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1). In being separated from the Father, the humble Servant of God was paying the penalty of eternal separation which the rest of us deserve. In poverty and weakness He paid the price; God help us to respond to such love and compassion with power, love, and discipline.

 

 

Events at the Crucifixion

When the weakness of God was displayed before the sons of man, representatives of the race responded by demonstrating utter contempt for the crucified Son of Man. The overflow of their hearts was evidenced in the words of their mouths as they passed by our Immanuel, cursing Him in the broad daylight of nine till noon. "Because of Your sake," were His words to the Father, "I have borne reproach; dishonor has covered My face. I have become estranged from My brothers and an alien to My mother’s sons" (Psalm 69:7,8). Christ the great example uttered in return no threats; instead He took time to forgive the soldiers for their act of crucifying Him, and to grant Paradise to the one thief who knew the Jesus Himself would come into His kingdom. He gave and forgave to the end.

The Savior was able to move through the tense moments of the cross with all its endemic temptations and to set the stage for victory because of His faith in the Father. "You will pull Me out of the net which they have secretly laid for Me, for You are My strength." And, "You have ransomed Me, O Lord, God of truth" (Psalm 31:5,6).

 

 

Jesus’ Resurrection

Healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, or even raising the dead did not contain the greatest of miracles to be performed. Those sick still became ill again; those blind eventually lost their sight; and those resurrected died once more. But these miracles done by the Father through Jesus were great, and tangible; and they set the stage for what was to come. "For the Father loves the Son," said our Lord, "and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel" (John 5:20). Jesus’ victory over the grip of the grave was what was to be demonstrated and proclaimed to the world. "I was dead," stated He in the Apocalypse, "and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18). Believable? Yes, because of the gospel according to Psalms.

There are three things God uses to prove Jesus being raised from the dead: 1) Eyewitness accounts; 2) Attesting miracles; and 3) Old Testament prophecies. The clearest prophecy of the Lord’s resurrection is Psalm 16, quoted by both Peter and Paul to establish that point to Jewish audiences! The Holy One of God is risen indeed.

 

 

The Ascension of Jesus

For some reason, many of the brethren have it locked in their heads that the gospel is the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus, and that the ascension of the Lord is a true and nice afterthought. But it is the ascension of the Christ which makes Him who He is, the Christ in glory rather than Christ in the flesh. As the apostle Paul noted, "even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer" (II Corinthians 5:16).

The clearest prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus is Psalm 16:8-11, quoted by both Peter and Paul. But what is especially interesting about both their quotes is that when they speak of the resurrection of Jesus, they use the term resurrection or raised up to refer, not only to Jesus’ bodily resurrection, but His being seated on the heavenly throne!

"Sing praises to God," are the words of praise to Jesus, the ascended God, "sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is King of all the earth; sing praises with a skillful psalm. God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne. The princes of the people have assembled themselves as the people of the God of Abraham" (Psalm 47:6-9). Jesus is indeed the God of our salvation, and rightly called God our Savior.

 

 

The Throne of David

The word of the Lord has sounded throughout the millennia. From Adam and Seth on down to Abraham, the history of the Almighty God and His dealings with man were passed from generation to generation. The rumblings were there in the prophecies of Enoch and the promises to Isaac. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah," was the foretelling of Jacob, "nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples" (Genesis 49:10). Even Balaam was not able to curse the nation brought out of Egypt, saying of Israel, "The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them" (Numbers 23:21). "Behold, we have heard it in Ephrathah," sang the twelve tribes as they wound their way up the temple mount, "we have found it in the field of Jaar" (Psalm 132:6). And what did they hear? "The Lord has sworn to David, a truth from which He will not turn back: ‘Of the fruit of your body I will sit upon your throne.’ " (Psalm 132:1).

No, "it was not David who ascended," explained the Holy Spirit by the mouth of the apostle Peter. It was Jesus who ascended to sit at the right hand of power. "Therefore," concluded the apostle, "let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ — this Jesus who you crucified" (Acts 2:36). "He who overcomes," said the Christ Himself, "I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Revelation 3:21).

 

 

Savior of the World

"The Lord lives," sang David, "and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation" (Psalm 18:46). In working with Israel, the Father allowed the people to think of salvation in terms of deliverance from a physical enemy. "He delivers me from my enemies," affirmed the first king to sit on the throne in Jerusalem (Psalm 18:48). But Dave, a man after God’s own heart, knew that sin was a bigger barrier than a city wall, and that Satan was a far worse enemy than the Philistines. "Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, God of my salvation," was his appeal, "then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness" (Psalm 51:14).

Jesus is indeed the Savior of the world. "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity" (Psalm 32:1,2). This blessing is for the uncircumcised as well as the circumcised, and Jesus is the sacrifice and Savior of all!

 

 

Jesus is LORD

In the Old Testament writings, the name of God was listed as the tetragrammeton YHWH, commonly rendered in English as "Yahweh" or "Jehovah." Many of the versions, such as the New American Standard Bible or the New King James Version, will write the name of Yahweh as "Lord" in small capitals in contrast to "Lord," from the Hebrew "Adonai," meaning "master." The Greek New Testament makes no distinction in the names for God, rendering both "Yahweh" and "Adonai" as the Greek "Kurios," translated into English as "Lord." So, while many professing Christians are comfortable with the idea that "Jesus is Lord," not so many are comfortable with the idea that "Jesus is Yahweh." Yet that is the thrust of the New Testament writings, and the thrust of the gospel according to Psalms.

Jesus is Lord! That is the confessed truth upon which the church is built and which must be believed upon in order for the individual to be saved. "O Lord God of hosts, restore us; cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved?" (Psalm 80:19).

 

 

Mediator of the New Covenant

A will or testament, commented the writer of Hebrews, is of no force until the death of the testator. But a will is equally forceless unless there is someone to execute the terms of the will. Thus of Jesus it is written, "He is also the mediator of a better covenant" (Hebrews 8:6). In His death on the cross, He functioned as the Testator; in His ascension to glory, from the position of power, He serves as the Executor of the covenant. "My covenant I will not violate," says He who lives forever and ever, "nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants shall endure forever, and His throne as the sun before Me" (Psalm 89:34-36).

The covenant of redemption promised to Abraham has been accomplished for all people through Christ in glory. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so," exhorts the psalmist, "whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, and gathered from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south" (Psalm 107:2,3). Yes, let the redeemed say so!