We all enjoy the Psalms. They are especially encouraging when we are troubled or when we are passing through difficult circumstances. They also give us words that exalt God and cause our hearts to be lifted up in worship. There is another aspect of the Psalms which is sometimes passed over by the Christian world: they are prophetic of our Lord Jesus Christ! The risen Savior, Himself, pointed out this special character of the Psalms when He said: “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (see Lk. 24:44–45).
The inspiration and prophetic importance of the Psalms were confirmed by King David the “sweet psalmist of Israel,” when he declared: “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). He was well authorized to nominate himself in this way as one of the main writers1 of the Psalms. David reveals the Psalms were inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus prophetic in character.
When we use the term “messianic psalms,” we mean those psalms which in one way or another, prophetically point to the Messiah. For a psalm to be messianic in the strict theological sense they must be quoted in the New Testament as specifically referring to the Lord Jesus Christ—thus we have New Testament authorization to consider them as such. Psalms of this class are without a doubt messianic in character. There are fourteen psalms that fall into this category. It is these fourteen psalms which we will be considering in this study: Psalm 2, 8, 16, 22, 34, 40, 41, 45, 68, 69, 91, 102, 110, 118. The majority of these messianic psalms are found in the first two Books of the Psalms.2
It is important to note, however, that there are other psalms which could be considered just as messianic as these fourteen. For example, as T. Ernest Wilson points out:
(1) Psalm 24 speaks of Christ as the King of glory
(2) Psalm 72 outlines the millennial reign of Christ
(3) Psalm 89 expounds the Davidic covenant fulfilled by David’s greater Son, the Messiah.3
And beyond these, there are many more psalms which reveal the feelings and sufferings of Christ even if they cannot be considered messianic in the classic sense because they are not quoted in the New Testament. Another example is a series of psalms that prophetically describe the second coming of Christ and the character of His Millennial reign (see Psalms 93–99).
May the Lord encourage us, and instruct us, as we study these fourteen Messianic Psalms!
The Messianic Psalms – Psalm 2
There are four voices or speakers in Psalm 2: (1) Mankind (kings of the nations) vv. 1–3; (2) God the Father vv. 4–6; (3) God the Son vv. 7–9; (4) God the Holy Spirit vv. 10–12.
These four speakers could be described in the following way:
(1) The Voice of Anarchy vv. 1–3
(2) The Voice of Anger vv.4–6
(3) The Voice of Authority vv. 7–9
(4) The Voice of Admonition vv. 10–12
These divisions are a good way of dividing the psalm and enabling our understanding of its prophetic meaning.
[The detailed discussion of Psalm 2 will continue with the next post. (Ed.)]
1. David wrote at least 73 of the Psalms and perhaps several more as well.
2. The Psalter consists of five distinct books: Book 1 – Psalm 1–41; Book 2 – Psalm 42–72; Book 3 – Psalm 73–89; Book 4 – Psalm 90–106; Book 5 – Psalm 107–150.
3 The Messianic Psalms, T. Ernest Wilson, Gospel Folio Press, 1997.