Thursday, April 05, 2012

The autobiography of Jesus Christ

The gospels give us biographies of the Lord Jesus Christ but with the exception of the Servant Songs of Isaiah it is only really the Book of Psalms that gives us his autobiography. E.S. McKitrick states "the person of Christ is fully presented in the Psalter, as well as His work. Indeed, it has been asserted, and not without reason, that out of the Psalms one could compile a biography of Jesus". The proper term here would be autobiography, but he goes on helpfully:

His eternal Sonship is declared in Ps 2: "Jehovah said unto Me, Thou art My Son; This day have I begotten Thee." [Ps 2:7] His incarnation is foretold in Ps 40 as applied in Heb 10: "Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body didst Thou prepare for Me," [Heb 10:5] and in Ps 22: "Thou art My God since My mother bore Me." [Ps 22:10] It is at least suggestive of the supernatural birth of Jesus that, while He speaks repeatedly and tenderly in Ps 22 of a human mother, there is not a word concerning a human father. His favorite name, "Son of Man," is taken from Ps 8, as well as from the Book of Daniel. As we have seen, He is presented in Ps 2 as the "Son of God," and in the same Psalm He is called the "Anointed," that is, "the Christ," while Ps 23 is evidently the origin of "the Good Shepherd." All the usual names applied to Him in the New Testament are given in the Psalms, except the name Jesus, and it is given frequently in substance, if not in form. His trust in God and obedience to Him are beautifully set forth in the whole of Ps 18; His moral beauty in Ps 45—"Thou art fairer than the children of men" [Ps 45:2]; likewise His anointing of the Holy Spirit—"Grace is poured into Thy lips." [Ps 45:2] His life of self-sacrifice is shown from Ps 69 by the Apostle Paul, "For Christ also pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me." [Rom 15:3] In this Psalm we have His passionate devotion to God's service—"The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up." [Ps 69:9] His taking sinners into union with Himself—a truth which underlies the whole Psalter—is stated in Ps 22, as interpreted in the Epistle to the Hebrews—"I will declare Thy name unto My brethren." [Ps 22:22] His rejection is mentioned in Ps 69—"I am become a stranger unto My brethren, and an alien unto My mother's children"; "They that hate Me without cause are more than the hairs of My head." [Ps 69:8,4] His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was foreshadowed in Ps 8—"Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou established strength," [Ps 8:2] and in Ps 118—"Blessed be He that cometh in the name of Jehovah." [Ps 118:26] The conspiracy of His foes against Him is in Ps 31—"They took counsel together against Me, they devised to take away My life." [Ps 31:13] His betrayal by one of the Twelve is foretold in Ps 41, as He Himself pointed out—"He that eateth My bread lifted up his heel against Me." [Ps 41:9] The manner of His death is foretold in Ps 22—"They pierced My hands and My feet." Even the disposition of His clothes is mentioned—"They part My garments among them, and upon My vesture do they cast lots." [Ps 22:16,18] His cry of desertion was in the opening words of this Psalm, in which they are followed by a most accurate and pathetic description of the whole crucifixion scene. Ps 69 adds another line to the dark picture—"They gave Me also gall for My food; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." [Ps 69:21] That His bones should not be broken, as were those hanging on either side of Him, is predicted in Ps 34, as applied in John's Gospel—"A bone of Him shall not be broken." [John 19:36] His dying words were from Ps 31—"Into Thy hands I commend My spirit." [Ps 31:5] His resurrection is foretold in Ps 16, as cited in Peter's sermon at Pentecost—"Thou wilt not leave My soul unto Hades, neither wilt Thou give Thy Holy One to see corruption." [Ps 16:10] His ascension, also, is mentioned—"Thou hast ascended on high" [Ps 68:18]; "God is gone up with a shout, Jehovah with the sound of a trumpet." [Ps 47:5] His kingdom and its ultimate triumph are described in the familiar Ps 72, and His coming in judgment in Ps 50 and Ps 98—"Our God cometh, and doth not keep silence"; "He calleth to the heavens above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people"; "For He cometh to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity." [Ps 50:3-4; Ps 98:9]

In these revelations of Jesus in the Psalter there is this advantage over all others—He speaks mainly in the first person, and tells us His own feelings while working and suffering and dying for our redemption. And these revelations are chiefly in the past tense, as if to indicate that they were intended more for the gospel age than for that in which they were written.

'Christ in the Psalms' E. S. McKitrick From The Psalms in Worship, edited by John McNaugher, Pittsburgh 1907.