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Author Topic: How is it that the Psalms are about the Messiah?  (Read 1308 times) Average Rating: 0
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rakovsky
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« on: June 23, 2011, 09:57:06 PM »

How is it that the Psalms are about the Messiah?

Psalms like Psalm 22 are often seen as prophecies about the Messiah son of David because: they were written by David, and the scriptures use David as a metaphor for the Messiah, as in Isaiah 55
So if we see David was a central ruler of Israel, had the Holy Spirit come upon him, was faithful to God, etc., then we can see that when the scriptures refer to the Messiah as a "David", they suggest He would have these qualities too.

So does this mean everything the scriptures say about David is a poetic prophecy about the Messiah?

That would be a problem, because, for example, in 2 Samuel 12 Nathan tells David:
9. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in His eyes? You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you have taken his wife for yourself as a wife, and you have slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.    
10. And now, the sword shall never depart from your household for ever because you have despised Me and you have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.
13. And David said to Nathan: "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "Also the Lord has removed your sin; you shall not die.    
14. Nevertheless, because you have greatly blasphemed the enemies of the Lord by this thing, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."


Obviously, that description of David sounds bad for a description of the Messiah.
How then can one tell when things said about David are prophecies about Christ?


Maybe it is just places in the Psalms that are the prophecies about the Messiah?
After all, we are talking about the Messiah as a poetic, prophetic David.

One time, Father Hopko told his class in seminary: "Pick anything in the Psalms and I will tell you how it is about the Messiah."
But isn't that explanation problematic too?

Psalm 51, perhaps written about David's taking of Uriah's wife, says:
5. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  
6. Against You alone have I sinned, and I have done what is evil in Your sight, in order that You be justified in Your conduct, and right in Your judgment. 7. Behold, with iniquity I was formed, and with sin my mother conceived me.


So here again, the description of David as one who has done what is evil goes against the image of the Messiah.

Can this contradiction be resolved?
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2011, 11:03:35 PM »

It just seems like you are creating problems for your mind.

There are layers to prophecies. Also, the events of the OT were events in and of themselves.

Not every verse of the Psalms refers to Christ explicitly. Obviously, Christ is sinless. The Psalms do not contradict this dogma.
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2011, 11:35:23 PM »

There are layers to prophecies. Also, the events of the OT were events in and of themselves.

Not every verse of the Psalms refers to Christ explicitly. Obviously, Christ is sinless. The Psalms do not contradict this dogma.

Thanks Shanghaiski. I am trying to understand better how the Psalms work as prophecies.

The scriptures use David as a metaphor for Christ, so it makes sense that when the Psalms talk about David, they are referring to the Messiah metaphorically too.

But I am not sure if this is always true. For example, if I write a series of poems and talk about someone as a metaphorical "Abraham Lincoln", that doesn't mean everything I say about Lincoln applies to the person, it seems to me.
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2011, 10:35:18 AM »

There are layers to prophecies. Also, the events of the OT were events in and of themselves.

Not every verse of the Psalms refers to Christ explicitly. Obviously, Christ is sinless. The Psalms do not contradict this dogma.

Thanks Shanghaiski. I am trying to understand better how the Psalms work as prophecies.

The scriptures use David as a metaphor for Christ, so it makes sense that when the Psalms talk about David, they are referring to the Messiah metaphorically too.

But I am not sure if this is always true. For example, if I write a series of poems and talk about someone as a metaphorical "Abraham Lincoln", that doesn't mean everything I say about Lincoln applies to the person, it seems to me.

Have you looked at patristic commentaries? Blessed Theodoret of Cyrus has commentaries on all the Psalms published by Catholic University of America Press. The translator Hill is what I would call hostile, but the commentaries of Blessed Theodoret are good, down-to-earth Antiochian commentaries. St. John Chrysostom also has commentaries on the Psalms, but some have been lost. What is available is by the same and other publishers as those of Blessed Theodoret. I don't know of any Alexandrian Psalm commentaries. I know St. Cyril wrote commentaries on some of the Gospels, which we have still. And I don't know about the Venerable Bede--he does have commentaries on the Temple and its meaning.
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2011, 12:22:57 PM »

Let me recommend a book:
http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Psalms-Patrick-Henry-Reardon/dp/1888212217
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2011, 12:26:33 PM »

How is it that the Psalms are about the Messiah?

Psalms like Psalm 22 are often seen as prophecies about the Messiah son of David because: they were written by David, and the scriptures use David as a metaphor for the Messiah, as in Isaiah 55
So if we see David was a central ruler of Israel, had the Holy Spirit come upon him, was faithful to God, etc., then we can see that when the scriptures refer to the Messiah as a "David", they suggest He would have these qualities too.

So does this mean everything the scriptures say about David is a poetic prophecy about the Messiah?

That would be a problem, because, for example, in 2 Samuel 12 Nathan tells David:
9. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in His eyes? You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you have taken his wife for yourself as a wife, and you have slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.    
10. And now, the sword shall never depart from your household for ever because you have despised Me and you have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.
13. And David said to Nathan: "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "Also the Lord has removed your sin; you shall not die.    
14. Nevertheless, because you have greatly blasphemed the enemies of the Lord by this thing, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."


Obviously, that description of David sounds bad for a description of the Messiah.
How then can one tell when things said about David are prophecies about Christ?


Maybe it is just places in the Psalms that are the prophecies about the Messiah?
After all, we are talking about the Messiah as a poetic, prophetic David.

One time, Father Hopko told his class in seminary: "Pick anything in the Psalms and I will tell you how it is about the Messiah."
But isn't that explanation problematic too?

Psalm 51, perhaps written about David's taking of Uriah's wife, says:
5. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  
6. Against You alone have I sinned, and I have done what is evil in Your sight, in order that You be justified in Your conduct, and right in Your judgment. 7. Behold, with iniquity I was formed, and with sin my mother conceived me.


So here again, the description of David as one who has done what is evil goes against the image of the Messiah.

Can this contradiction be resolved?
For He made Him Who knew no sinn to be sin for us, the we might become the righteousness of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2011, 02:44:35 PM »

What Psalms translation are you using? As I understand it most of the Protestant versions are based off the Masoretic texts which take a lot of the references to Christ and changes or obscures them.
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2011, 03:15:21 PM »

The Scriptures (OT) all speak of Christ, but that doesn't mean that all the OT Scriptures are prophecies of Christ.
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2011, 04:05:12 PM »

What Psalms translation are you using? As I understand it most of the Protestant versions are based off the Masoretic texts which take a lot of the references to Christ and changes or obscures them.

The Russian Synodal Translation says:
3(50-5) ибо беззакония мои я сознаю, и грех мой всегда предо мною.
4(50-6) Тебе, Тебе единому согрешил я и лукавое пред очами Твоими сделал, так что Ты праведен в приговоре Твоем и чист в суде Твоем.
To you alone I sinned and the evil I did is before your eyes, so you are right in your sentence and clean in your judgment.

The Septuagint says:
5(3) because my lawlessness I know
       and my sin is ever before me.
6(4) Against you alone did I sin,
       and what is evil before you I did,
       so that you may be justified in your words
       and be victorious when you go to law.

So there is not much difference about this.


One Protestant Interpretation I heard about this is that Christ took on these sins in the idea of atonement.
However, here it says he DID the sins, not just that he bore the guilt of the sins.


I will add that Jewish writers also consider that the Psalms are often about the Messiah. So I am thinking how does one logically come to this conclusion?
If I write a poem and say "God is a rock", then maybe other times I write about rocks in the same poem, it may be indirectly about God. Like if in the poem I say rocks are very strong, they last a long time. Then one can see that I may mean this about God too. So since the OT uses David as an image for the Messiah, other times it talks about David, it may be talking about the Messiah too.
But in the poem, is it necessarily true that everytime I would talk about rocks, I would indirectly be talking about God? And after all, the scriptures aren't just one poem talking about David, they are a collection of poems.




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« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2011, 04:10:50 PM »

Orthodox aren't fundamentalists.

When the Genesis creation narrative says "day," it doesn't have to be a literal day. When Isaiah writes, "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." (55:12) Are the trees really clapping their hands? Are mountains singing? No. This is anthropomorphic.

In the same way, the Psalms are sometimes prophetic, and sometimes not. David is a type of Christ. But so is Moses, Abraham, etc. But not always. The Church Fathers speak of this often, and sometimes see different things in the same text. The burning bush passage in Exodus, for example. Many Fathers see the Theotokos as the bush, taken divinity within her without being consumed. Some see Christ, his human nature (the bush) and divine nature (the fire), but they co-exist as one person. These are both valid spiritual understandings of the passage. Neither are wrong.

In the same way, David does not always have to be Christ. Even some passages can be interpreted multiple ways about Christ, and that's perfectly valid. The Fathers do this all the time.
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« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2011, 04:11:06 PM »

The Scriptures (OT) all speak of Christ, but that doesn't mean that all the OT Scriptures are prophecies of Christ.
good point
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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2012, 03:34:58 PM »

Dear Shanghaiski,

You are right when you say:
"It just seems like you are creating problems for your mind."
having heard from the Church that the Psalms prophecy Christ, I then created the problems in my mind of trying to find out whether and how this is so. But despite this, in discussing the topic, I think I am also creating at least a partial answer to the problems, namely I gain a better understanding of how it may be so.

You are right that: "There are layers to prophecies." For example, when Daniel and Joseph had their visions, they saw certain things, and that was the first layer. But another layer was the predictive meaning of those things. For example, in a dream an image of a person getting out of a pit could have another layer of meaning: that the person would be freed.

Plus, of course "the events of the OT were events in and of themselves." So for example, the story of Jonah is a narrative story in and of itself, even if Nineveh didn't really convert to the Israelite religion, and even if it has a second layer of meaning as an allegory about how a prophet should act.

I think you are basically right that "Not every verse of the Psalms refers to Christ explicitly."
For example, Psalm 3 has the title "A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son." It begins:

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me!
         Many are they who rise up against me.


So the explicit sense of this verse, indeed the chapter, appears to be David fleeing from Absalom and commenting about the large number of his enemies. The explicit sense here doesn't appear to be about the Messiah. Still, it seems possible to me that it could explicitly be about the Messiah, since the preceding chapter includes verse 2:7, which says:

I will declare the decree:
         The LORD has said to Me,
         ‘You are My Son,
         Today I have begotten You.


I think Psalm 2:7 could introduce Psalms 2-3 as explicit Psalms about the Messiah.

So a clearer example showing that "Not every verse of the Psalms refers to Christ explicitly" is Psalm 90, which begins:

A Prayer of Moses the man of God.
 1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place[a] in all generations.


So this Psalm's first verse appears explicitly to refer to Moses, God, and His followers, rather than explicilty about the Messiah in particular, although still, God here would include the Messiah according to Christianity. In fact, since all the Bible is God's word, and Chirst is also God's word, it seems one can say that all the Bible is about the Messiah.

In any case, I am not sure that "The Psalms do not contradict this dogma" that "Obviously, Christ is sinless."
Father Hopko once challenged his students to find a Psalm and told them he could tell them how it was about Christ. The problem for me is that if we presume David in the Psalms is a prefigurement of Christ, then the image in Psalm 51 of David saying he has sinned contradicts the idea that Christ is sinless. Perhaps there is a way to reconcile the conflict, but in any case on the face of it, it appears contradictory to me.

You asked: "Have you looked at patristic commentaries?" I don't remember whether I looked at Patristic commentaries while researching the scriptural prophecies. I may have read from St John Chrysostom's commentaries, but don't remember.

I agree with and thank you for your mention about St Theodoret: "Blessed Theodoret of Cyrus has commentaries on all the Psalms published by Catholic University of America Press. The translator Hill is what I would call hostile, but the commentaries of Blessed Theodoret are good, down-to-earth Antiochian commentaries."
Except that I somewhat disagree about calling translator Hill "hostile". You explained on another thread about St Theodoret's commentaries why you consider him hostile (http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=30065.0):
Quote
"I have them, translated by Robert Hill of Catholic University of America press. He's what I would call a "hostile" translator, in that his intros don't really respect, IMHO, patristic commentary, often charging them with inaccuracy since they were not as enlightened by modern knowledge as he is, but the translations are good. Blessed Theodoret's commentaries on each psalm are substantial, so you should be able to learn a lot."
Charging the commentaries often with inaccurary doesn't necessarily mean the translator is hostile or attacking, as he makes an excuse for St Theodoret, ascribing the inaccuracy to a lack of modern knowledge, rather than to dishonesty.

In fact, I found a preview version of St Theodoret's commentary on the Psalms, by the translator and publisher you mentioned. They appear good and are written in a comprehensible manner:
http://books.google.com/books?id=eWK0293jVFkC&pg=PA294&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false

Although a few pages are missing in the preview version, it appears St Theodoret doesn't address the issue of whether Psalm 51 could be using David as a prophetic image of the Messiah. Rather, St Theodoret simply applies the ideas in the Psalm to David, although in passing he mentions things about the Messiah. For example, when Psalm 51:6 says "For lo, you loved truth", St Theodoret comments that God revealed to David about the Messiah.

St. Theodoret comments on Psalm 2:8 ("Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.") that this is about Christ because other Jewish kings didn't own the ends of the earth. From this one can conclude that when a Psalm says something that doesn't apply to any Jewish kings, but to Christ, then it is about Christ. That makes sense, although perhaps no righteous kings had asked God for the whole world, or it could apply to a later non-Messianic king.

I read about a third of his commentaries concerning Christ, and read a big majority of the others, but they didn't seem to explain how it is that some prophecies spoken in the person of David are prophetic images of the Messiah speaking.

I trust you as simple facts that "St. John Chrysostom also has commentaries on the Psalms, but some have been lost. What is available is by the same and other publishers as those of Blessed Theodoret. I don't know of any Alexandrian Psalm commentaries. I know St. Cyril wrote commentaries on some of the Gospels, which we have still. And I don't know about the Venerable Bede--he does have commentaries on the Temple and its meaning."

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find St Chrysostom's commentaries on the Psalms available online, and I don't know of Alexandrian Psalm commentaries either. The Venerable Bede made an abbreviated collection of the Psalms, which it seems included some commentary, and since he made a sermon on Psalm 81, I assume he made sermons on other Psalms, but I wasn't able to find any online commentaries of his on the Psalms. While I found some commentaries by St Cyril on the Old Testament, I didn't see anything on the Psalms by him.

At this point, my guess is that the asumption is: everything in the Psalms spoken by David about himself is about Christ, unless it contradicts other prophecies about Christ, at which point it isn't clear whether it applies.

For example, if a grandmother says her grandson will be like his father- her son, and that the grandson will be extremely kind and just, then there is a contradiction if in fact the father also did something very bad. So for example, if in describing her son elsewhere she writes that he did an injustice in sending someone to die in battle to get the person's wife, then it isn't clear if she expects her son to be like this too, because the act is extremely unkind and unjust, in contrast to her description of her son. If confronted with the contradiction, she might say that she was comparing the grandson to her son after the son repented of killing the person. So when 2 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51 describe David as having sinned terribly, this contradicts the Messiah being extremely just and therefore might not apply to him.

Another guess is that it doesn't have to mean literally that the Messiah would commit a sin like David. Rather, just as David in Psalm 22 might not have really been forsaken by God and meant this as an emotional expression- or else an expression of Christ's separation from God, so Psalm 51 might be an emotional expression of Christ's condition of bearing others' sins, even though Christ didn't literally commit sins Himself.

Kind Regards.



Dear ialmisry,

Thank you for recommending Fr. Patrick Reardon's book "Christ in the Psalms."
Unfortunately it isn't available online, but I read his writing on Psalm 22 from the book, published in an Antiochian newsletter: http://stgregoryoc.org/Archive/april2011newsletter.pdf
Unfortunately it didn't explain the mechanics of how it is that David in the Psalms is a Messianic image.

But if you happen to know whether the book lays out and shows those mechanics and why it is that sometimes David would be a Messianic image and othertimes not in his prophecies, I might get it.

I asked: "So here again [in Psalm 51], the description of David as one who has done what is evil goes against the image of the Messiah. Can this contradiction be resolved?"
I am not sure what you meant when you responded "For He made Him Who knew no sinn to be sin for us, the we might become the righteousness of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21"
I think you mean by pointing to II Cor 5:21 that although Christ was sinless, He was made sin for us, that is, He was practically sinful in that He served as one who carried our sins and was treated as sinful for purposes of his suffering in our place. This seems like one of the best explanations to me, as I explained in the two-sentence paragraph near the end of my response above to Shanghaiski. Psalm 51 seems problematic, because here David clearly says he did commit sin, whereas instead of committing sin like David, the Messiah bore sin. These acts are quite different. But still, just as Psalm 22 doesn't appear to necessarily mean David was actually forsaken, Psalm 51 doesn't seem to have to mean that the Messiah would actually commit sin.

Health and Happiness to you, Ialmisry!



CBGardner,

You asked:
"What Psalms translation are you using?" As I understand it most of the Protestant versions are based off the Masoretic texts which take a lot of the references to Christ and changes or obscures them.


My quotes from 2 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51 were from Judaica Press Tanakh, a rabbinical translation. The rabbinical translation here is important because it clearly says David sinned, while a major rabbinical view, if not the one accepted rabbinical view, is that David did not commit adultery or murder. See for example the "Ask Moses" site: http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/182,1972311/Was-King-David-guilty-of-murder-and-adultery.html#articlepage
So if even the rabbinical translations of 2 Samuel 12 and Psalm 51 consider David to have sinned, then it is harder to say that Psalm 51 isn't describing David as sinful, which is what I find problematic.

You are right that most of the Protestant versions, like the King James Version, are based off the Masoretic texts, as is the Judaica press Tanakh version I cited here.

I also agree that the Masoretic texts "take a lot of the references to Christ and changes or obscures them." However, it is not strongly clear that this is the case. In my opinion, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Zechariah 12, and Daniel 9 refer to Christ. Yet the places where the Masoretic text change or obscure the specific rferences in those chapters are not so clear as to the best translation. For example, based on the LXX, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a few Masoretic texts, it appears Psalm 22 says David's hands and feet were "Kaaru", apparently meaning dug into. But Kaaru is a very rare word, so it isn't strongly clear what it really means. The Christian translations I think generally translate this as "pierced", which makes the connection to Christ's limbs' piercing with nails clearer. The Masoretic translations instead mainly say "Karu", meaning "like a lion." From the standpoint that it actually says "dug into" like the nails in Christ, most copies of the Masoretic version changes or obscures this meaning.

Kind Regards.



Peter the Aleut,

You had responded:
"The Scriptures (OT) all speak of Christ, but that doesn't mean that all the OT Scriptures are prophecies of Christ."

I had responded: "good point", but now I don't remember why your sentence made sense to me, because I am not sure I understand it now. Smiley

I think you might have meant that although each book in the OT speaks of Christ, not every verse in them speaks of Him. But that doesn't sound like what you wrote, because saying "the scriptures all" speak of Christ, that is the same as saying "all the OT Scriptures" speak of Him.

Or maybe you meant that although all the scriptures "speak of Christ"- that is, relate to Him, that doesn't mean all of them are "prophecies of Christ." That would make some sense. For example, a passage whose content had nothing to do with Christ would still speak of Him, in that it is part of God's word, and Christ is the Word of God. Even such a passage would relate to, or speak about the Word of God, since it is part of that Word. Still, this seems like an indirect way to explain how all the scriptures speak of him. Because there are some "scriptures," or "writings" in the Bible that don't appear to have any direct relation to Christ, like, say, the place where it says God's spirit was over the water in Genesis 1:2. This verse appears to deal with one part of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.

Wishing you sucess in your good work.



Dear Benjamin the Red,

I agree with you when you say:
Quote
Orthodox aren't fundamentalists. When the Genesis creation narrative says "day," it doesn't have to be a literal day. When Isaiah writes, "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." (55:12) Are the trees really clapping their hands? Are mountains singing? No. This is anthropomorphic.

When you say "fundamentalist," you are referring to their idea of "literal" reading of the Bible, as you emphasize with the word "literal". In fact, fundamentalists don't really always take the literal meaning either, since they interpret Revelations symbolically and consider the Eucharist to be merely symbolic. Anyway, you are right that we Orthodox don't take everything literally either. After all, we don't say David literally "is" the Christ, but rather that places like Isaiah 55 describe David in both a Messianic and metaphoric way.

For the examples you gave, it is worth pointing out that I think some Orthodox do see the 6 day creation as literal days. And it is possible that if hills are creaking from an earthquake or other natural disaster, they could be described as singing. Like a voicebox, they would metaphorically emit sounds when vibrating. Furthermore, the trees' leaves are metaphorically their hands, and the trees would clap when the leaves hit eachother as the trees swayed in the wind. But as you said, this is anthropomorphic.

I think you are right that "the Psalms are sometimes prophetic, and sometimes not" in "the same way" as the Bible is sometimes literal and sometimes metaphoric. My assumption on reading things is that it is literal and plain, unless something contradicts that literal reading. So for example I would assume the trees were literally clapping their hands except that I know that trees lack literal hands and know that their leaves are like hands. Similarly, with the Bible, I assume that passages aren't prophetic, unless they are in the future tense or something else shows the passage is predictive.

With the Psalms on the other hand, my assumption is that they are prophetic about the Messiah because the Bible uses David as a Messianic image and says David, who sang the Psalms, had God's spirit. The Psalms have a visionary, poetic quality, so in this context, I have a sense that when David describes himself in poetic visions of himself, he is presumably describing the Messiah too.

You are right that "David is a type of Christ," since Isaiah 55 mentions David this way, calling him a commander of nations.

I am doubtful about your next ideas: "But so is Moses, Abraham, etc. But not always. The Church Fathers speak of this often..." I see Israel's leaders Moses and Abraham "pre-figuring" Israel's King Messiah like the first manager of a new store "prefigures" later ones that are hired. But I don't see Moses and Abraham depicted as metaphoric images of the Messiah in the Bible, which David was. To give an example, Jeremiah 23:5 predicts God will raise up David as a king. But I don't see a similar prediction about Moses or Abraham being raised up to rule people. That being the case, I am doubtful that the Church fathers often speak of Moses and Abraham as types of Christ.

But perhaps you mean that the Church fathers often speak of the idea that sometimes David, Moses, or Abraham are types of Christ and not other times. While I can see the fathers sometimes considering those figures types of Christ, as in similar leader-figures, I am even more doubtful that the fathers often explain that sometimes those figures are not a type of Christ. It seems extra for them to explain why a metaphorical meaning does not apply, since if it doesn't apply, the person would naturally just take the passage's simple plain meaning.

On another note, while it seems to me that David isn't always a type of Christ, like when he slew Goliath or sinned by sending Uriah to die, I am not sure about this either. For example, slaying Goliath could be like replacing the stronger Roman empire's paganism with Christianity, and sinning by sending Uriah to die could be like taking on the guilt of these kinds of sins, as if He had done them Himself.

I believe you as a simple fact- and it shows you have stong knowledge of the fathers when you say- that: "The Church Fathers... sometimes see different things in the same text. The burning bush passage in Exodus, for example. Many Fathers see the Theotokos as the bush, taken divinity within her without being consumed. Some see Christ, his human nature (the bush) and divine nature (the fire), but they co-exist as one person."
It's true that the Theotokos was like the burning bush in that she had divinity inside of her- Christ as a fetus- without being consumed by it. And being on fire means having close contact with fire, like the Theotokos had close contact with Christ while pregnant. Exodus 33:20 says no one had seen God and lived, so it is a real concern about whether someone could have a divine being inside herself and live, because of the close contact. I also see a parallel of the burning bush to Christ, because just as Christ was human and physical, like a bush, He was also divine like the fire, yet like the fire his divinity was not consuming or burning up his body.

However, I am not sure that "These are both valid spiritual understandings of the passage. Neither are wrong." While the bush was on fire, meaning the fire was touching all over and inside the bush, Christ's divinity was part of Christ's body. That is, while the bush itself was on fire, the Theotokos' own body was not. Christ's body had partly come from a cell of the Theotokos, but it was a separate cell from the rest of her body. So I am not sure the analogy is correct.

Similarly, I am not sure that it is a correct analogy to compare Christ's person to the bush, because since the bush was not being consumed, it seems that perhaps the fire was around the outside of the bush without interacting with the bush's skin. Christ's divinity, on the other hand, was inside Him.

Furthermore, I am not sure that those understandings of the text are valid and "not wrong", since the text doesn't state or clearly indicate that it is prophetic. Simply because one sees a parallel between two things does not necessarily mean that that the text equates the two things. For example, Deuteronomy 32:13 says that God is a rock, but that does not mean every time a rock is described in a way that one can see a parallel to God means that God is being equated with the rock there too. It could be in such cases that God and the rock aren't really being equated in some places and thus in those places it is wrong to equate the two. For example, Judges 1:36 appears to lack a reference to God when it says: "And the border of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock and upward." Yet one could imagine a parallel because a rock, like God, is something strong, and here it is talking about a rock, so it is indirectly making a statement about God.

So I am not sure you are right when you say: "In the same way, David does not always have to be Christ." A big difference between God being a rock and David being Christ is that God is not being compared to any exact physical rock, so the parallel doesn't necessarily work. But Christ is being compared to a specific David. To use your examples, just because the parallels between the burning bush and the Theotokos- or the burning bush and Christ- may or may not work doesn't mean that David is always or not always being compared to Christ, since these are different sets of proposed parallels.

You are right that "Even some passages can be interpreted multiple ways about Christ". For example, Psalm 22 begins by saying that it should be played on "ayyeleth hashachar". Now "ayyeleth hashachar" can be translated as the "doe of the morning", the "morning star," or "the strength of the morning." In the Song of Solomon, there is a song about a doe being freed from a cage or prison. And Revelations 22:16 refers to Jesus as the morning star. So the "ayyeleth hashachar" can be interpreted multiple ways about Christ: as referring to his resurrection as being freed or as strength, or to his being a morning star.

But I am not sure "that's perfectly valid. The Fathers do this all the time." Given our limited knowledge of the scriptures, at this point it seems valid to propose different interpretations of the same passage, as I did above, but I am not sure all the interpretations are valid. The composer of the Psalms may have merely had in mind an instrument thought of as "the doe of the morning" that had no connection to a song of freedom, to the "morning star", or to the "morning's strength." Even in that case though, I allow that there could be a divine planning that put this word with its multiple meanings into the text, intending the multiple meanings. I doubt that the Fathers "all the time" interpret some passages multiple ways about Christ, since I don't remember them doing this so many times, and I don't remember a passage that they would. That is, I doubt that there are certain passages the fathers interpret multiple ways every time they discuss them. But perhaps the fathers do this often after all.

Health and Happiness to you, Benjamin the Red.  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2012, 09:15:03 PM »

One suggestion I might make on how you could make your posts easier to read: Draft each reply to each separate post as a separate post. What you just did in consolidating individual replies to several disparate posters into the one post was make your post incredibly long and extremely difficult to decipher as to whom each section was intended for. I personally find five or six posts, each addressed to a different one of five to six posters, much easier to read, and I can determine much more easily which posts are addressed to me and therefore demand my attention and which posts are addressed to others. Thank you. Smiley

Peter the Aleut,

You had responded:
"The Scriptures (OT) all speak of Christ, but that doesn't mean that all the OT Scriptures are prophecies of Christ."

I had responded: "good point", but now I don't remember why your sentence made sense to me, because I am not sure I understand it now. Smiley

I think you might have meant that although each book in the OT speaks of Christ, not every verse in them speaks of Him. But that doesn't sound like what you wrote, because saying "the scriptures all" speak of Christ, that is the same as saying "all the OT Scriptures" speak of Him.

Or maybe you meant that although all the scriptures "speak of Christ"- that is, relate to Him, that doesn't mean all of them are "prophecies of Christ." That would make some sense. For example, a passage whose content had nothing to do with Christ would still speak of Him, in that it is part of God's word, and Christ is the Word of God. Even such a passage would relate to, or speak about the Word of God, since it is part of that Word. Still, this seems like an indirect way to explain how all the scriptures speak of him. Because there are some "scriptures," or "writings" in the Bible that don't appear to have any direct relation to Christ, like, say, the place where it says God's spirit was over the water in Genesis 1:2. This verse appears to deal with one part of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.
But the Word of God in creation, "Let there by light," is understood to be no less than the pre-incarnate Word of God who later incarnated Himself as Jesus Christ.

Wishing you sucess in your good work.
Thank you. And also to you. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2012, 01:54:41 AM »


And let me second that.
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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2012, 07:38:40 PM »

Dear ialmisry,

Thank you for recommending Fr. Patrick Reardon's book "Christ in the Psalms."
Unfortunately it isn't available online, but I read his writing on Psalm 22 from the book, published in an Antiochian newsletter: http://stgregoryoc.org/Archive/april2011newsletter.pdf
Unfortunately it didn't explain the mechanics of how it is that David in the Psalms is a Messianic image.
You might try contacting Fr. Patrick directly; he may have access to copies of the book. He exchanged several emails with me a few years ago on a complex topic and is extremely personable, kind, and informative.
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2012, 12:58:41 PM »

I think that what might be happening in the OP is that it's conflating allegory and foreshadowing and typology. The three are not necessarily the same (although foreshadowing and typology are pretty darn similar). All allegory in the OT is a type of foreshadowing, but not all foreshadowing is in the form of allegory. The life of David is not an allegory of the life of Christ (in other words, you cannot look at the entire life of David and find a one-to-one correspondence with those events and the events in the life of Christ), but many events in David's life foreshadow Christ (in other words, you can look at David's life as a whole and find bits and pieces here and there that point to the reality of the Christ would would later come).
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2012, 05:43:23 AM »

Peter,

Thanks for the heads-up about individual posting. I actually was doing the opposite to crunch space.
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2012, 05:43:58 AM »

Knee V,

Popeye is cool, but your avatar is creepy.
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« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2012, 07:03:52 PM »

What Psalms translation are you using? As I understand it most of the Protestant versions are based off the Masoretic texts which take a lot of the references to Christ and changes or obscures them.

The Russian Synodal Translation says:
3(50-5) ибо беззакония мои я сознаю, и грех мой всегда предо мною.
4(50-6) Тебе, Тебе единому согрешил я и лукавое пред очами Твоими сделал, так что Ты праведен в приговоре Твоем и чист в суде Твоем.
To you alone I sinned and the evil I did is before your eyes, so you are right in your sentence and clean in your judgment.

The Septuagint says:
5(3) because my lawlessness I know
       and my sin is ever before me.
6(4) Against you alone did I sin,
       and what is evil before you I did,
       so that you may be justified in your words
       and be victorious when you go to law.

So there is not much difference about this.


One Protestant Interpretation I heard about this is that Christ took on these sins in the idea of atonement.
However, here it says he DID the sins, not just that he bore the guilt of the sins.


I will add that Jewish writers also consider that the Psalms are often about the Messiah. So I am thinking how does one logically come to this conclusion?
If I write a poem and say "God is a rock", then maybe other times I write about rocks in the same poem, it may be indirectly about God. Like if in the poem I say rocks are very strong, they last a long time. Then one can see that I may mean this about God too. So since the OT uses David as an image for the Messiah, other times it talks about David, it may be talking about the Messiah too.
But in the poem, is it necessarily true that everytime I would talk about rocks, I would indirectly be talking about God? And after all, the scriptures aren't just one poem talking about David, they are a collection of poems.






In contrast with David`s goodness and his character the Messiah will be a 'David'... A rightfull sheppard and a meek King... There are a lot of psalms with prophetic character... Many of them are in reference with the Messianic Age and the suffering of Christ... I think it is the only place where we can see exactly what Christ experienced and how he felt...  In some of them David is refering to Messiah at the second and third person... There are Psalms in which he references Messiah to the first person as to reveal a more intimate experience.Those are mostly the Psalms about Christ's suffering... I personally think David seen it, and probably even experienced it as Messiah... There are also Psalms that see the glory of Messiah, as the Beautifull Powerfull King.It even sees him as ascending to the Might of the Father.

I`m not sure all Psalms are Messianic or prophetic...I think some of them might be just poems written by David to express his feelings and his state and some of them are Psalms of repentence... It is possible that Jesus experienced all the things David and the Psalms write about even the experience of sin... We know that he took all our sins upon him and that he even experienced the feeling of being separated by G-d... So why not experience the consequences of sin?

Anyway as people before me said the Scriptures speak about Christ but that doesn`t have to mean that all Scripture is about Christ.. Christ is a David in the sense that he is both a sheppard and a king... Just like David was... The Sheppard analogy is always mentioned in reference to Messiah, matter a fact an OT prophecies draws this paralel and show David as a type of Christ in that that he would be a good Sheppard.. Jesus is a type of David in the sense of David the good sheppard who used to fight with the beasts when one of his sheeps were captured by them and in the sense of David's prosperous and righteouss reign time.. It is a David because David was like Messiah... David was the Messiah that got Incarnated... The Messiah loved by God... The Messiah who ruled just like God would rule with kindness and love...

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« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2012, 12:28:46 PM »

Dear xariskai,

Dear ialmisry,

Thank you for recommending Fr. Patrick Reardon's book "Christ in the Psalms."
Unfortunately it isn't available online, but I read his writing on Psalm 22 from the book, published in an Antiochian newsletter: http://stgregoryoc.org/Archive/april2011newsletter.pdf
Unfortunately it didn't explain the mechanics of how it is that David in the Psalms is a Messianic image.
You might try contacting Fr. Patrick directly; he may have access to copies of the book. He exchanged several emails with me a few years ago on a complex topic and is extremely personable, kind, and informative.
Unfortunately, I didn't hear back from him. Even sometimes I myself don't get back to people like I wish I would.

But I am glad you had a good exchange.
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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2012, 06:40:35 PM »

Well, actually Fr. Reardon called me back about a half hour ago. And our conversation went something like this:

  • I explained that I'm giving a talk at my parish about how the Old Testament is about Christ's resurrection, and want to see how to explain this about the Psalms.

    He said that there is no logic explaining how the Psalms about David are about Christ. Christ Himself said that the Psalms were about him, and basically that should be good enough.

    This brings to my mind Luke 24:44: "And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me."

    I replied that the assumption is basically that the Old Testament sometimes uses David as an image of Christ, so that applies to David's Psalms too.
Now since Jesus directly related Psalm 22 to Himself, and Sts Peter and Paul related Psalm 16 to Jesus, and those are the parts clearly about the resurrection, it felt hard to justify asking about Psalm 51, since it doesn't concern the Resurrection and Christ didn't relate it in particular to Himself. The answer would again basically be Christ's words should be enough. So either Psalm 51 would be about Christ and I haven't done a good enough job explaining how, or Psalm 51 isn't, as after all He didn't mention it.

Happy Lent.
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« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2012, 10:44:55 PM »

What do the prophecies mean about the Messiah sinning?

I would like to further develop my question about the confusing idea of the Messiah sinning. One of the main prophecies of the Messiah is 2 Samuel 7, which says:
  • 12. when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
    13. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
    14. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity[when he does amiss], I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
    15. But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.

One reading of this is that it refers to Solomon, who built the Lord's Temple. The problem with this reading is that Solomon went astray with pagan worship and yet was not punished with rods.
A second reading is that this refers to David's seed in general. However, the passage seems to especially emphasize that the seed's throne would remain forever, and in fact at one point there was a disruption in the line of Davidic rule. Granted, this could mean the prophecy about David's seed in general would take effect at a later date and the dynastic line would have eternal rule at that later time.

A third reading is that this refers to the Messiah, considering the special emphasis on the person's eternal rule, the father-son relationship, etc. Plus, what Davidic king was beaten by rods of men? This sounds like a very specific prophecy, because it seems like some general prophecy about metaphorical rods would be better categorized as the rod(s) of God.

Perhaps this should be explained by saying that the Messiah did amiss in the sense that He was spiritually separated from God during the Crucifixion, as it says in Psalm 21 "My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Then again we are confronted with Psalm 51, which says in the Septuagint:
5(3) because my lawlessness I know
       and my sin is ever before me.
6(4) Against you alone did I sin,
       and what is evil before you I did,
       so that you may be justified in your words
       and be victorious when you go to law.


Two explanations I have for this are that Psalm 51 is an exception to the rule that the Psalms are about the Messiah, and that Psalm 51 is the Messiah expressing his substitutionary atonement, where he suffers in our place as if he committed the sin. The problem I have with the latter interpretation is that it clearly says the singer committed the sin, rather than saying it's as if he committed the sin. I someone goes to their parent and says they did something wrong, in order to protect their younger brother, it is still a mis-statement.

And I am especially stuck with the problem in Psalm 40, because the Psalm sounds like a prediction of Christ's Resurrection.

The King James version says:
He brought me up also out of an horrible [horrible: literally "tumultuous", "noisy", "uproarious"] pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.[literally: set the way of walking]

The Synodal Russian translation (based on the same text as the KJV) says:
извлек меня из страшного рва, из тинистого болота, и поставил на камне ноги мои и утвердил стопы мои

The Septuagint says:
καὶ ἀνήγαγέν με ἐκ λάκκου ταλαιπωρίας καὶ ἀπὸ πηλοῦ ἰλύος καὶ ἔστησεν ἐπὶ πέτραν τοὺς πόδας μου καὶ κατηύθυνεν τὰ διαβήματά μου

The Church fathers I read on the verse didn't relate it to the Resurrection, relating it instead to the risk of death. But it seems to me that if he was in the pit associated with death, then it does seem to suggest he was dead and resurrection.

The hard part I have with this verse is that, as a few of the Church fathers suggest, the image of being stuck in a swamp and then having one's feet/walking corrected suggests that the person was stuck in sin and had to have his actions or ways set right. That is, they propose a dichotomy:
The person is in a pit of risk of death and stuck in sin
The person is put on a rock of safety and has his actions and ways set right.

Although I can see Christ being stuck in the penalty for sin, it is hard for me to see in what way his actions or ways were wrong and needed to be corrected.

I read several of the Church father's writings on this Psalm, but they didn't seem to relate it to Christ's Resurrection itself. Instead, I read one of the Church fathers saying that it was a prefigurement of the Church, where it was made to act righteously instead of its people remaining in paganism.

What do you think?
Would you say these Psalms have some message about the Messiah's relation to his sins, or that they can each be explained away as having to do with other things? For example, 2 Samuel could be just a general rule about David's descendants, Psalm 51 and Psalm 40 could just be about David, and/or the Church.
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« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2012, 12:13:10 AM »

Perhaps this is related to Corinthians 5:21:
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Psalm 40 also says:
12. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
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« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2012, 12:16:28 AM »

I used to believe, albeit briefly, that Jesus sinned.  It was Psalm 50 (51) that fixed my flawed thinking.
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« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2012, 12:21:31 AM »

Well, yes the Psalms are about the messiah in allegory. They were written by David and other various authors about themselves or other such things. They are like the rest of the scriptures and written by fallible men.
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« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2012, 01:32:33 AM »

I used to believe, albeit briefly, that Jesus sinned.  It was Psalm 50 (51) that fixed my flawed thinking.
Sol,

Can you please explain how Psalm 51 changed your thinking? Perhaps you are just using humor and I didn't get it? You mean that obviously Psalm 51 wouldn't be about Jesus because it would suggest He sinned?

I came across the writing of Theodore of Mopsuestia, who claimed, to my disappointment, that Psalm 40 couldn't be about Christ:
Quote
"Какая большая опасность истолковывать это как сказанное от лица Господа и не увидеть затруднения. Ибо кто скажет, что от лица Господа говорится: Ты вывел меня из страшного рва и из тинистого болота, и вложил в уста мои новую песнь, гимн Богу нашему, которая возвещает и говорит, и увеличилась сверх меры (Пс. 39, 3 – 4)?"

В данном случае Феодор указывает, что Псалом 39 не может относиться ко Христу, поскольку смысл 3 и 4 стихов не соответствует лицу Господа... многие христианские толкователи ошибочно присваивают огромному количеству пророчеств несвойственный им мессианский смысл, не обращая внимания на то, что их изъяснения разрушают логическую последовательность речи и гармонию текста.

http://www.religare.ru/2_92751_1_21.html

He says, basically: "What a big danger to interpret this as said from the person of the Lord and not see the difficulty. For who will say that from the person of the Lord it is said: [He then cites Psalm 40:2-3, counted differently in Russian]"

Admittedly, Theodore of Mopsuestia didn't really give an explanation, and I am not sure he is right either. There was later a church ruling against him, I think, on the claim that other ideas he had led to Nestorianism.

Basically at this point, I think psalm 40 is a tough passage, but lean to the idea it relates to Christ, and would very much like to be able to do so.
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« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2012, 06:44:59 PM »

I used to believe, albeit briefly, that Jesus sinned.  It was Psalm 50 (51) that fixed my flawed thinking.
Sol,

Can you please explain how Psalm 51 changed your thinking? Perhaps you are just using humor and I didn't get it? You mean that obviously Psalm 51 wouldn't be about Jesus because it would suggest He sinned?

No use of humor.  We ask the sinless Jesus to have mercy on us of our sins when we say: Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.  When we recite Psalm 51, we seek forgiveness by repenting.  Jesus had no need to repent because he was sinless.
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