Paul wrote that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). One of the reasons he could say this is that so many of the psalms reflect the heart cry of the one who would be Messiah. Thus by reading them, we know the mind of Messiah. (The term “Messiah,” of course, means “Christ.”
Psalm 22 and Psalm 69 contain poignantly painful expressions which serve to describe in advance the sufferings of the Messiah…and to confirm afterwards that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified by the Romans, was indeed the Messiah prophesied.
For example, in just these two psalms we see expressions like:
Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Jesus uttered these words from the cross itself.
And then there is:
Psalm 69:21 They also gave me gall for my food
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
There are many such expressions throughout the psalms which effectively convey to us the thinking of Christ in his time of crisis. Since God knew what He would suffer when He became Jesus, He wanted scriptures written which would not only guide Him in those difficult moments, but also be signs to the faithful that the suffering man they were seeing before them was indeed the one who was promised. Who could write such scriptures? Who would know God well enough to put into human language the emotion He would feel when being tempted as a human being? A man after God’s own heart.
1 Samuel 13:14 …The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”
This description of David – “a man after God’s heart” – is repeated in Acts 13:22. Thus a psalm of Christ would literally be, and best be, a psalm of David. Messiah would not only be David’s physical seed, he would be like David in spiritual zeal and other ways, too. Jesus of Nazareth even had a warrior spirit, though his battles were not against flesh and blood but rather against evil forces operating in the spiritual dimension of this world.
David is certainly not the only Old Testament poet to prophesy of the sufferings of Christ, but the biblical record on this count would not be nearly as rich without his contributions. Think of God as an artist using the instrument of David to play the songs of His heart – both those of joy and of sadness. David knew both extremes and was well able to give full expression to the mind of Christ (i.e. Messiah) in the psalms.
The psalms of Christ are thus the inner monologue (or man’s side of dialogue with God) that God wanted recorded as a script so that as young man growing up He could learn them. This was so that one day He could fully live them out, being faithful to them, and thus fulfill the promises He had made to humanity through Abraham, David, and others.
The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.