Does Psalm 18 describe the resurrection of Christ?

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Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
I've become more and more persuaded in the *messianic consciousness view of the Psalms. One psalm in particular that resonated with me early on with this view is Psalm 18, in which it appears we have the most intimate and descriptive account of Christ's resurrection. This of course is also cited in 2 Samuel 22 and heavily parallels Jonah's prayer from the belly of the whale, which I also suspect falls into this view and is descriptive of the same event.

I'm curious if anyone has any strong thoughts on this, as this Psalm seems to be get glossed over... and yet I find it unbelievably gripping. Not only do we get a glimpse of Christ's devastation as he suffers the penalty of our sins, but the earth-shattering emotional response from God the father. To assume this is simply David speaking hyperbolic of himself just doesn't carry water for me.

If this does truly describe Christ's resurrection, when does this take place? Is it while he was suffering on the cross in the final 3 hours of darkness? Or is this afterwards when he is buried for three days? (I am not convinced Christ actually descended into Hell).

Psalm 18: 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.

From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry...

8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.

17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

Edit: *By "Messianic consciousness", I am referring to the view that the Psalms should be viewed as words Christ spoke. Not just regarding or pointing to Christ - or in the sense all words of the Bible are God's.
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Rather than pick out just a few psalms as being messianic, I'm convinced we are to view the psalter as a whole that way. But yes, Psalm 18 is a great example of how the psalms testify to Christ. And Jesus made the link to his death and resurrection explicit in his statements about Jonah, who does seem to quote this psalm when composing his own.

Given Jesus' habit of pointing to Jonah when explaining his death and resurrection from Scripture, it would not surprise me if Psalm 18 came up on the evening of Jesus' resurrection, when he explained to his disciples "that everything written about me in in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44) and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Of course, Psalm 16 is in the running too; one can imagine that Peter used it at Pentecost because he first heard Jesus explain it.
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
Rather than pick out just a few psalms as being messianic, I'm convinced we are to view the psalter as a whole that way. But yes, Psalm 18 is a great example of how the psalms testify to Christ. And Jesus made the link to his death and resurrection explicit in his statements about Jonah, who does seem to quote this psalm when composing his own.

Given Jesus' habit of pointing to Jonah when explaining his death and resurrection from Scripture, it would not surprise me if Psalm 18 came up on the evening of Jesus' resurrection, when he explained to his disciples "that everything written about me in in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44) and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Of course, Psalm 16 is in the running too; one can imagine that Peter used it at Pentecost because he first heard Jesus explain it.
Just for clarification, when I say "messianic consciousness", I'm referring to the view that the Psalms are essentially spoken as words of Christ - not just about or pointing to the Messiah. Is this your view?
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Just for clarification, when I say "messianic consciousness", I'm referring to the view that the Psalms are essentially spoken as words of Christ - not just about or pointing to the Messiah. Is this your view?

Ah. I've not studied that position enough to say with certainty what I think. My initial response is that it may not be the best or first way we should think about every line in every psalm. But ultimately, how does one completely separate the words of the Spirit from the voice of Christ? Or how does one separate the prayers and songs of Christ's people from the voice of him who sings with us in the midst of the assembly (Hebrews 2:12)? Surely, there is some deep mystery along these lines within the psalms. It's a good topic to discuss and one where I could learn more.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
I hold to the view that Christ and his church are the speakers in the Psalms. Have you read this helpful thread? https://puritanboard.com/threads/objections-to-messianic-consciousness-position-on-the-psalms.70409/
I have and was actually about to reference that thread. I side with @Contra_Mundum on that discussion.

How else would the incarnate Christ sing the Psalms, if he didn't become the speaker of them in a very real sense. As we sing these things, the expressions become ours. With Christ, they perfectly became his, who inspired them in the prophet to begin with. So, coming and going, the sentiments begin and end in the mind of Christ. He is either teaching the hearer with his own words, or else he's expressing his interior life--even when he's taking our sins and griefs upon himself, and expressing our misery. He really bore those things, and felt those things, on our behalf.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
ALso keep in mind in the literature that "messianic consciousness" usually means whether Jesus was aware he was divine. The psalms, not being sentient agents, wouldn't have a consciousness.

But I get your larger argument.
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
ALso keep in mind in the literature that "messianic consciousness" usually means whether Jesus was aware he was divine. The psalms, not being sentient agents, wouldn't have a consciousness.

But I get your larger argument.
I may have misapplied this term. This is something I've been wondering about for years and finally came across that thread earlier and assumed that was the proper term.

It is a wondrous discovery!
It really is! I no longer feel awkward about speaking of "my righteousness", declaring judgment on the wicked, or bemoaning the perils of death that have encompassed me... I now speak these assuredly knowing Christ spoke and fulfilled all this first so I could rejoice in the righteousness imputed to me and the avoidance of eternal punished I have been saved from.

Robert Godfrey has a good survey-type series on the Psalms and in his second lecture, he talks about this (starting around the 9:45 mark).
 

Grant

Puritan Board Senior
I may have misapplied this term. This is something I've been wondering about for years and finally came across that thread earlier and assumed that was the proper term.


It really is! I no longer feel awkward about speaking of "my righteousness", declaring judgment on the wicked, or bemoaning the perils of death that have encompassed me... I now speak these assuredly knowing Christ spoke and fulfilled all this first so I could rejoice in the righteousness imputed to me and the avoidance of eternal punished I have been saved from.

Robert Godfrey has a good survey-type series on the Psalms and in his second lecture, he talks about this (starting around the 9:45 mark).
This is very helpful! I have never heard of this angle. However, I can see how this can help the saint feel more comfortable singing certain Psalms. My wife and I plan to listen to the lecture in the morning.
 
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Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
I may have misapplied this term. This is something I've been wondering about for years and finally came across that thread earlier and assumed that was the proper term...


Robert Godfrey has a good survey-type series on the Psalms and in his second lecture, he talks about this (starting around the 9:45 mark).

In the old PB thread, Rev. Winzer says that he coined the term messianic consciousness, but I think he meant either that he applied the older term to this topic, or perhaps he hadn't heard the term before.

Along with the Godfrey lectures, do find time to listen to Christopher Ashe’s very engaging lectures on the topic. I’ve never heard anything quite like these.
In lecture one, he makes the argument that
  1. Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of the Psalms.
  2. Jesus Christ is the singer and the subject of the Psalms.
  3. The true meaning of the Psalms is found in Jesus Christ.
  4. Only those in Christ can sing, speak, pray the Psalms in a way that respects their true and original meaning.

In lecture two, Ashe "asks how we got to where we are today, briefly surveying how the Psalms have been read in twenty centuries Christian history, noting some salient trends, and how these trends impact how we see the relationship of Christ to the Psalms today" (this is very interesting and enlightening especially if you love church history).
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
In the old PB thread, Rev. Winzer says that he coined the term messianic consciousness, but I think he meant either that he applied the older term to this topic, or perhaps he hadn't heard the term before.

Along with the Godfrey lectures, do find time to listen to Christopher Ashe’s very engaging lectures on the topic. I’ve never heard anything quite like these.
In lecture one, he makes the argument that
  1. Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of the Psalms.
  2. Jesus Christ is the singer and the subject of the Psalms.
  3. The true meaning of the Psalms is found in Jesus Christ.
  4. Only those in Christ can sing, speak, pray the Psalms in a way that respects their true and original meaning.

In lecture two, Ashe "asks how we got to where we are today, briefly surveying how the Psalms have been read in twenty centuries Christian history, noting some salient trends, and how these trends impact how we see the relationship of Christ to the Psalms today" (this is very interesting and enlightening especially if you love church history).
I just listened to the first lecture. It’s refreshing to hear someone address this so saliently. This is the view I’ve sort of been muddling together in my mind for years and good to see someone articulate and defend it.

I have come to be worn out with all the commentaries that gloss over many of the hard Psalms with vague explanations along the lines of “the Psalmist is relatively speaking when he says he’s blameless”... or “that he’s been falsely accused of a specific sin...”
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
In the old PB thread, Rev. Winzer says that he coined the term messianic consciousness, but I think he meant either that he applied the older term to this topic, or perhaps he hadn't heard the term before.

I think it would be more precise to say that he spoke of "messianic consciousness" as an approach to the Psalms, and in that connection it was a newly-coined term. It's in a different universe of discourse that "messianic consciousness" relates to the Lord Jesus' self-understanding. I am quite confident that Rev. Winzer was well aware of that universe of discourse before he adapted a term for use in another universe.
 
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