Objections to "Messianic Consciousness" position on the Psalms

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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
I've come up with as many objections as I could to the "Messianic Consciousness" position on the Psalms, which claims that the speaker in the Psalms is Christ. This isn't an issue whether the words are Christ's--all the the words in the Bible are Christ's, being inspired by the Spirit of Christ--but rather whether the Psalmist in each psalm is Christ Himself speaking. I've tried my best to represent the position and the arguments for this position (and I've tried to think of some on my own too), but if I made an error in that or have shown ignorance in my objections by all means please point it out. One of the objections I listed was answered to my satisfaction in an earlier thread, but I include it here along with its answer anyway. By all means, anyone who holds this position and wishes to respond feel free to take your time in responding, even if that means only responding to one or two at a time.



(1) It is claimed that in Hebrews 2, it is assumed that Christ is the speaker in the psalm. The use of this could only work if it was assumed Christ was the speaker in all the psalms, so Christ must be the speaker in all the psalms.

Obj. 1: The psalm that Hebrews quotes is Psalm 22. It was already recognized by the Church that this Psalm was about Christ because Christ spoke some of those words on the cross, so there were some psalms that the Church could recognize as Messianic, and that's why the author of Hebrews could use this psalm to prove his point about Christ calling us brethren. So just because Christ speaks in that psalm and that psalm was recognized as Messianic does not mean that He speaks in all the psalms.

Obj. 2: The author of Hebrews makes a similar claim from Isaiah, yet we don't claim that Christ is the sole speaker in the entire book of Isaiah on that basis. This is evidence that the Church saw some parts of the Old Testament as Messianic i.e., with Christ as the speaker, and it also shows that this does not necessarily mean Christ was the sole speaker in the entire books from which the Messianic passages are drawn.

Obj. 3: In proving that Christ was the speaker in a couple of psalms (was he even doing that though? He seems to merely be proving the psalms were **about** Christ, not necessarily that Christ was the speaker), Peter had to argue that the psalms could not be applied to David. If it was presupposed that the Messiah was the speaker in all the Psalms, Peter would not have to do this. Furthermore, such an example shows us positively how we can find Messianic Psalms, namely, if the Psalms could not be applied to the historical speaker, which in turn discourages using the Messianic Consciousness approach by supporting a different approach.



(2) It is claimed that this interpretation fits with the Psalms.

Obj. 4: There are some Psalms where this doesn't seem possible.

Ans.: It is indeed possible, as seen by earlier threads. For example, http://www.puritanboard.com/f17/question-about-reading-into-christs-words-69712/#post893805 and http://www.puritanboard.com/f41/psalm-71-christs-old-age-55206/

[I think this objection was sufficiently answered, but I include it here for easy self-reference later]

Obj. 5: How exactly does the "Messianic Psalms" approach fail anyway? It seems solid (if I understood it rightly above in Obj. 3).



(3) It is claimed that the reference to David as the annointed points to the Psalms having Christ as the speaker by 2 Samuel 23:1.

Obj. 6: How does it follow from David being a type of Christ and sole author of the Psalms that Christ was the sole speaker of the Psalms? Does it really necessarily follow that what a type does, the antitype does? Not to mention that in this case we are moving from the type being author of all the Psalms and the speaker in some to the antitype being the **speaker** of **all** the Psalms (and of course, author too, but the Spirit of Christ was the author of all Scripture).

Obj. 7: It is dubious that David was the sole author of the Psalms anyway. Outside the Psalms, they are explicitly called the words of David **and** Asaph.

Obj. 8: Not to mention that the Psalm titles point to other authors too and even unknown authors. If it is said that the New Testament treats psalms not attributed to David as belonging to David, how does it necessarily follow that all the psalms not attributed to David are David's?


Other passages where it is claimed the NT writers assume Davidic authorship of all the Psalms or that Christ is the speaker in all of them can be objected to in a similar manner.



(4) It is claimed that the Psalms are about Christ. Luke 24:44, Colossians 3:16

Obj. 9: But Luke doesn't say **all** the Psalms are about Christ. And even if they were all about Christ, it does not follow Christ was the speaker in all of them anymore than Christ being the speaker in the law and/or prophets.

Obj. 10: Colossians 3:16 is closer, but can't "word of Christ" mean "words about Christ" (although it could also mean "words from Christ")? Even if it did mean "words from Christ," how does it follow that Christ is the special speaker in the Psalms in a way that He isn't in His words throughout the rest of Scripture?



(5) This approach makes more sense of the Psalms.

Obj. 11: But is it really an appropriate move to choose one interpretation over another on the basis that it makes things more clear and/or less ambiguous? If so, why? (although if not, I realize this one objection doesn't completely overturn the position)
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
(1) It is claimed that in Hebrews 2, it is assumed that Christ is the speaker in the psalm. The use of this could only work if it was assumed Christ was the speaker in all the psalms, so Christ must be the speaker in all the psalms.

Qualification: an examination of the New Testament use of the Psalms as a whole demonstrates this, and Hebrews 2 is a clear example.

It was already recognized by the Church that this Psalm was about Christ because Christ spoke some of those words on the cross

It is the manner He spoke the words from the cross which indicates the unique function of the Psalms. The Psalm was not quoted as if it pointed to Him in the third person; it was appropriated as His own as the speaker.

The author of Hebrews makes a similar claim in Isaiah, yet we don't claim that Christ is the sole speaker in the entire book of Isaiah on that basis.

Isaiah and David were both prophets; David was also the anointed (Christ) of God. In Acts 2:30, the prophetic and the royal are placed in combination as pre-requisites to fulfilment in Jesus. The Psalms therefore must be understood as carrying this additional characteristic.

Peter had to argue that the psalms could not be applied to David.

This is an argument for the comprehensive approach. Peter acknowledges David is speaking not only as prophet but also as the anointed (Christ); this anointing and all it entailed would ultimately be fulfilled by Jesus.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Raymond, I have been thinking about this issue myself, and covered some of the same points! It's always good to see you post. I am eager to see responses to these objections, because I see great value in the Messianic consciousness approach, but am still hesitant on a few points and considering some competitors.

Obj. 1: The psalm that Hebrews quotes is Psalm 22. It was already recognized by the Church that this Psalm was about Christ because Christ spoke some of those words on the cross, so there were some psalms that the Church could recognize as Messianic, and that's why the author of Hebrews could use this psalm to prove his point about Christ calling us brethren. So just because Christ speaks in that psalm and that psalm was recognized as Messianic does not mean that He speaks in all the psalms.

That's true, but as you read the Gospels you find that Christ again and again takes up the words of the Psalms as an adequate expression of His life and experience. From the obvious fact that He, so to speak, thought in the Psalms, it is not a big leap to asserting that the Psalms are His words in the sense that they give a peculiar expression to His experience. And then the fact that they are verified so precisely in Him, and more loosely in His members, adds additional weight to that point. And additional confirmation is found in that Psalm 40 is taken in Hebrews 10 to be the words of Christ: off the top of my head I don't recall Christ quoting from Psalm 40 in life.

The principal objection I have come up with and am unsure of how to address is simply that the Psalms also speak of Christ - Psalms 102 and 45, for instance, are both taken by Hebrews as being about Christ; and I am not quite sure how something can be about Christ and yet be from Him in the direct sense required by the Messianic consciousness view. Where the Psalmist speaks in the first person there is little difficulty; where the Psalmist speaks about Christ in the third person, I am still a little perplexed.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Where the Psalmist speaks in the first person there is little difficulty; where the Psalmist speaks about Christ in the third person, I am still a little perplexed.

Acts 2:30 addresses this. The Psalmist's anointing is not ultimately fulfilled in himself, and so he functions as prophet in pointing the worshipper to the ultimate fulfilment. Nevertheless, he is more than a prophet, and the ultimate fulfilment is the fruit of his loins, creating an organic unity between the anointing and the prophesying.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Wow. Thanks everyone! I'm speechless for the moment, though I'll think some more and may ask a question or two further concerning the answers that have been given to some of the objections. Acts 2:30 is a lot deeper than I had originally noticed and requires more thought on my end--what a passage!

py3ak said:
Raymond, I have been thinking about this issue myself, and covered some of the same points! It's always good to see you post. I am eager to see responses to these objections, because I see great value in the Messianic consciousness approach, but am still hesitant on a few points and considering some competitors.
Well, that certainly is interesting; I'm glad I'm not alone in noticing these things because then I don't feel like I've missed something. Thanks! I appreciate your posts too. And I feel the exact same way about this topic! I also look forward to the responses to the rest of the objections.
 
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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
armourbearer said:
It is the manner He spoke the words from the cross which indicates the unique function of the Psalms. The Psalm was not quoted as if it pointed to Him in the third person; it was appropriated as His own as the speaker.
Jut to play the skeptic a bit here (call me on it if I'm objecting further than a person should), but Jesus merely quotes the psalm in some language, which is then translated for us by the Gospel authors. Couldn't it be just as likely that Jesus was drawing comfort from the psalm like an OT or NT believer might? That the Psalm wasn't His own as the speaker but that He took its words to express His thoughts at that moment?

armourbearer said:
This is an argument for the comprehensive approach. Peter acknowledges David is speaking not only as prophet but also as the anointed (Christ); this anointing and all it entailed would ultimately be fulfilled by Jesus.
Fascinating. Looking carefully at Acts 2:30 again, I notice that the psalm is in the first person yet Peter says David is speaking of Christ there, implying that Christ is the one speaking there Himself. I also noticed another interesting place where the OT is in the first person yet the NT author speaks of the passage in the third person at Zechariah 12:10/John 19:37. (I'm not really asking a question; I'm just making a comment.)

armourbearer said:
Isaiah and David were both prophets; David was also the anointed (Christ) of God. In Acts 2:30, the prophetic and the royal are placed in combination as pre-requisites to fulfilment in Jesus. The Psalms therefore must be understood as carrying this additional characteristic.
Just making sure I understand you: I objected that there are other places where the NT writers quote from a book as Christ being the speaker and so it would imply that the entire book had Christ as speaker if we applied the Messianic Consciousness argument here. Your point here is that we cannot apply the same to such places because there is a difference between the Psalms and those other books, namely, that the Psalms had that royal element to them too, which the others lacked. Do I understand rightly? If I understand rightly, then the Messianic Consciousness position cannot rely alone on the claim that the NT writers presuppose Christ is the speaker whenever they quote the Psalms, but it also requires understanding this royal element of the Psalms that other books lacked, correct?

armourbearer said:
Acts 2:30 addresses this. The Psalmist's anointing is not ultimately fulfilled in himself, and so he functions as prophet in pointing the worshipper to the ultimate fulfilment. Nevertheless, he is more than a prophet, and the ultimate fulfilment is the fruit of his loins, creating an organic unity between the anointing and the prophesying.
Do you mind explaining this a little further for me? What do you mean by "organic unity" (is it merely that the two are biologically related?)? Could we also think of this in terms of Christ bearing witness to Himself (like John 8:18)?



py3ak said:
That's true, but as you read the Gospels you find that Christ again and again takes up the words of the Psalms as an adequate expression of His life and experience. From the obvious fact that He, so to speak, thought in the Psalms, it is not a big leap to asserting that the Psalms are His words in the sense that they give a peculiar expression to His experience. And then the fact that they are verified so precisely in Him, and more loosely in His members, adds additional weight to that point. And additional confirmation is found in that Psalm 40 is taken in Hebrews 10 to be the words of Christ: off the top of my head I don't recall Christ quoting from Psalm 40 in life.
Thanks! I looked around a bit and couldn't find Christ quoting from Psalm 40 either, so that is probably another answer to my objection of the use of Psalm 22 to prove this position (along with the rest of what you mentioned, of course).
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Couldn't it be just as likely that Jesus was drawing comfort from the psalm like an OT or NT believer might? That the Psalm wasn't His own as the speaker but that He took its words to express His thoughts at that moment?

That is precisely what Jesus was doing; but it is not all that He was doing. There was redemptive-historical significance in the words in virtue of the fact that He is the anointed (Christ). In the recapituation theme of Matthew's gospel, Jesus is presented as undergoing the desolation and desertion of the exile, but doing so as "faithful Israel." The fact that it is faithless Israel which assumes the place of the persecuting bulls and dogs adds to the intensity and irony of the redemptive scene. Faithless Israel plays the part of Egypt and Babylon -- an identification which will be made explicit in the Book of Revelation.

May I encourage you, as a fellow-reader of the Gospels, to try to bear in mind the public and redemptive-historical capacity in which Jesus is presented, and endeavour as much as possible to free yourself from the popular image of the Gospels as mere biographies.

If I understand rightly, then the Messianic Consciousness position cannot rely alone on the claim that the NT writers presuppose Christ is the speaker whenever they quote the Psalms, but it also requires understanding this royal element of the Psalms that other books lacked, correct?

Yes; I assume we understand that the word "Christ" means "Messiah" or "Anointed."

Do you mind explaining this a little further for me? What do you mean by "organic unity" (is it merely that the two are biologically related?)? Could we also think of this in terms of Christ bearing witness to Himself (like John 8:18)?

I don't think John 8:18 has anything to do with it.

An organic unity is not a mechanic unity. In the latter the parts are put together; in the former the parts and their relationship are an historical development. The seed contains within itself all the potential of life, but it requires an historical process to bring it to development. Then, when there is development, that development assumes a distinct existence, but its existence shouldn't be understood in separation from its origins.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks, Rev. Winzer! I'll be looking forward to seeing responses to the other objections (whenever you or anyone else who holds this position has the time).

armourbearer said:
May I encourage you, as a fellow-reader of the Gospels, to try to bear in mind the public and redemptive-historical capacity in which Jesus is presented, and endeavour as much as possible to free yourself from the popular image of the Gospels as mere biographies.
I'll definitely try to keep that in mind!
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Which books or online resources take the position that all the Psalms express the Messianic Consciousness, rather than just some Psalms being Messianic?
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Bumping. Also, another interesting use of the Psalms in the NT:

Matthew 4:5-7 "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Obj. 7: It is dubious that David was the sole author of the Psalms anyway. Outside the Psalms, they are explicitly called the words of David **and** Asaph.
While I am not sure how this will be answered fully, I did notice something interesting that may be part of it.

Hebrews 4: "Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

Just like we have Moses being read in the synagogues or "in the book of Moses" (Mark 12:26), we have "in David;" we have some sort of collection called "David" from which this Scripture was taken, and we know that collection is the Psalms. So it seems "in David" would be similar to how we say "in Luke" or "in John" and so seems to point to sole Davidic authorship for the book of Psalms.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
While I am not sure how this will be answered fully, I did notice something interesting that may be part of it.

I think the New Testament references are important because they guide the way we understand the nature of the Psalter as "Davidic." It might also be worth adding that the New Testament witness is grounded on the OT history of Chronicles. Two points worthy of observation: (1.) Singers like Asaph are established under the commandment of David, who is understood to act as a second Moses in the plans for the temple service. (2.) David delivers his song into the hands of Asaph. Temple reformation under Hezekiah and Nehemiah emphasises the divine pattern of temple service set forth by David.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Bumping. Also, another interesting use of the Psalms in the NT:

Matthew 4:5-7 "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

And notice how selective the Evil One is. The next verse is - putting it mildly - not to his purpose:

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. (Ps 91:11-12, ESV)

You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. (Ps 91:13)
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
You were on a roll today with your posting, Rev. Winzer! :)

armourbearer said:
I think the New Testament references are important because they guide the way we understand the nature of the Psalter as "Davidic." It might also be worth adding that the New Testament witness is grounded on the OT history of Chronicles. Two points worthy of observation: (1.) Singers like Asaph are established under the commandment of David, who is understood to act as a second Moses in the plans for the temple service. (2.) David delivers his song into the hands of Asaph. Temple reformation under Hezekiah and Nehemiah emphasises the divine pattern of temple service set forth by David.
So then, the "words of David and Asaph" do not necessarily refer to the author of the words but rather the words used under those people who set up and ran the service? It also seems to be worth observing in Chronicles that we do indeed see David delivering his song to Asaph and don't see Asaph writing songs. And so, because of the NT, we can see that Davidic authorship is assumed, and from there, we can conclude sole Davidic authorship (although there may be a few more premises needed to make that conclusion that I'm not aware of).


Peairtach said:
And notice how selective the Evil One is. The next verse is - putting it mildly - not to his purpose
Now that is something! Fascinating!
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
So then, the "words of David and Asaph" do not necessarily refer to the author of the words but rather the words used under those people who set up and ran the service? It also seems to be worth observing in Chronicles that we do indeed see David delivering his song to Asaph and don't see Asaph writing songs. And so, because of the NT, we can see that Davidic authorship is assumed, and from there, we can conclude sole Davidic authorship (although there may be a few more premises needed to make that conclusion that I'm not aware of).

I think we are obliged to affirm that Asaph is the penman of the Psalms which bear his name, especially in light of the particular mention of his name connected with the words which were sung in Hezekiah's reform. The alternation of names in the titles generally serves to create mini compilations and mark specific theological perspectives in the overall message of the Psalter. The reference to David as the second Moses was intended to demonstrate that the work of Asaph was under the command of the Anointed (Messiah). On this understanding it is legitimate to speak of the whole Psalter as "Davidic."
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
armourbearer said:
I think we are obliged to affirm that Asaph is the penman of the Psalms which bear his name, especially in light of the particular mention of his name connected with the words which were sung in Hezekiah's reform. The alternation of names in the titles generally serves to create mini compilations and mark specific theological perspectives in the overall message of the Psalter. The reference to David as the second Moses was intended to demonstrate that the work of Asaph was under the command of the Anointed (Messiah). On this understanding it is legitimate to speak of the whole Psalter as "Davidic."
Thanks! After thinking for some time, I think this objection has been answered satisfactorily (though of course, if I think of anything else, I'll post).
 

PointingToChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
What about psalms that attribute a sin to the speaker, such as Psalm 51. How can this be said these are the words of Christ in the sense that he is taking ownership for the content (rather than inspiring David to write these)?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
2Cor.5:21 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Gal.3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree--'"

These texts reveal to us the depth of the identification Christ makes with his sinful people.


Respecting his baptism (for the remission of sins, Mk.1:4), Mt.3:15 "But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented."

Jesus must thoroughly identify with us:
Heb.2:17 "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." Heb.4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."

Jesus identifies with us in our condemnation. He is subjected to the whole sense of our guilt and shame. Imagine what it must have been like to be sinless, which entails having none of the sense of guilt or shame--and even remaining sinless--while being subjected to the sense of the just-wrath and holy-condemnation of God! We identify people today, who are manifest sinners but feel no guilt or shame, as sociopaths or narcissists. In other words, because of the universal human condition, we understand people without these feelings to be seriously defective.

But Jesus had NO SIN of his own, out of which would be generated the appropriate feelings of guilt and shame. And yet, in his hour of trial, especially in that time that follows the last declaration from heaven, Jn.12:28, we have Jesus experiencing the lifting of the cup of God's wrath to drain it. "Now is my soul troubled," Jn.12:27. Lk.22:44 "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

Jesus was to that point never out of harmonious fellowship with his Father, see Jn.10:30; 17:26. But in this hour he doesn't simply "stand in a physical place for us." He FEELS our guilt and shame. He feels it like no one has ever felt it since the perfect Adam and Eve felt it. And more agonizingly, because he has a perfect and unbroken "probation" behind him (not that Jesus actually needed to be qualified for his position) and he is still, in positive fact, the spotless Lamb of God, Jn.1:29.

Jesus takes ownership of the content of David's feelings of guilt and shame because he takes David's sin entirely upon himself. And not just David, but all of us who have recited those words with David. Jesus takes ALL of sin's consequences upon himself for us, not just a portion of them, and guilt and shame are integral to our condemnation. Therefore, Jesus bears them also, for all of his people.
 

PointingToChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
2Cor.5:21 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Gal.3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree--'"

These texts reveal to us the depth of the identification Christ makes with his sinful people.


Respecting his baptism (for the remission of sins, Mk.1:4), Mt.3:15 "But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented."

Jesus must thoroughly identify with us:
Heb.2:17 "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." Heb.4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."

Jesus identifies with us in our condemnation. He is subjected to the whole sense of our guilt and shame. Imagine what it must have been like to be sinless, which entails having none of the sense of guilt or shame--and even remaining sinless--while being subjected to the sense of the just-wrath and holy-condemnation of God! We identify people today, who are manifest sinners but feel no guilt or shame, as sociopaths or narcissists. In other words, because of the universal human condition, we understand people without these feelings to be seriously defective.

But Jesus had NO SIN of his own, out of which would be generated the appropriate feelings of guilt and shame. And yet, in his hour of trial, especially in that time that follows the last declaration from heaven, Jn.12:28, we have Jesus experiencing the lifting of the cup of God's wrath to drain it. "Now is my soul troubled," Jn.12:27. Lk.22:44 "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

Jesus was to that point never out of harmonious fellowship with his Father, see Jn.10:30; 17:26. But in this hour he doesn't simply "stand in a physical place for us." He FEELS our guilt and shame. He feels it like no one has ever felt it since the perfect Adam and Eve felt it. And more agonizingly, because he has a perfect and unbroken "probation" behind him (not that Jesus actually needed to be qualified for his position) and he is still, in positive fact, the spotless Lamb of God, Jn.1:29.

Jesus takes ownership of the content of David's feelings of guilt and shame because he takes David's sin entirely upon himself. And not just David, but all of us who have recited those words with David. Jesus takes ALL of sin's consequences upon himself for us, not just a portion of them, and guilt and shame are integral to our condemnation. Therefore, Jesus bears them also, for all of his people.

Bruce, I don't disagree with any of this. But in view of all of Psalms being what Christ says in the first person (not speaking about the Word being God-breathed, because it is), how can we reconcile something like this: "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight"?

I realize all of what you posted, the Lord has taken our sins upon himself, and all the consequences thereof. But, he himself did not sin, as you and the scriptures say. He took David's sin upon himself, but Christ did not sin and did not do evil in the sight of the Father.
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Does Christ feel the crushing weight of David's guilt and shame? If he does, how do those first-person words not pass his lips--for David's sake? For mine?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
2Cor.5:21 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Gal.3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree--'"

These texts reveal to us the depth of the identification Christ makes with his sinful people.


Respecting his baptism (for the remission of sins, Mk.1:4), Mt.3:15 "But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented."

Jesus must thoroughly identify with us:
Heb.2:17 "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." Heb.4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."

Jesus identifies with us in our condemnation. He is subjected to the whole sense of our guilt and shame. Imagine what it must have been like to be sinless, which entails having none of the sense of guilt or shame--and even remaining sinless--while being subjected to the sense of the just-wrath and holy-condemnation of God! We identify people today, who are manifest sinners but feel no guilt or shame, as sociopaths or narcissists. In other words, because of the universal human condition, we understand people without these feelings to be seriously defective.

But Jesus had NO SIN of his own, out of which would be generated the appropriate feelings of guilt and shame. And yet, in his hour of trial, especially in that time that follows the last declaration from heaven, Jn.12:28, we have Jesus experiencing the lifting of the cup of God's wrath to drain it. "Now is my soul troubled," Jn.12:27. Lk.22:44 "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

Jesus was to that point never out of harmonious fellowship with his Father, see Jn.10:30; 17:26. But in this hour he doesn't simply "stand in a physical place for us." He FEELS our guilt and shame. He feels it like no one has ever felt it since the perfect Adam and Eve felt it. And more agonizingly, because he has a perfect and unbroken "probation" behind him (not that Jesus actually needed to be qualified for his position) and he is still, in positive fact, the spotless Lamb of God, Jn.1:29.

Jesus takes ownership of the content of David's feelings of guilt and shame because he takes David's sin entirely upon himself. And not just David, but all of us who have recited those words with David. Jesus takes ALL of sin's consequences upon himself for us, not just a portion of them, and guilt and shame are integral to our condemnation. Therefore, Jesus bears them also, for all of his people.

Are you a holder to the Messianic Cosciousness view of the Psalms, Bruce? What would be a succint statement of what such a view entails?

When he/she sings the Psalms, does a Messianic Consciousness person, have some sense that - whatever the Psalm - he/she is singing not just with Israel/the Church itself, but with the King of Israel/Head of the Church?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What about psalms that attribute a sin to the speaker, such as Psalm 51. How can this be said these are the words of Christ in the sense that he is taking ownership for the content (rather than inspiring David to write these)?

Ps. 69 is accounted one of the "Messianic Psalms" on the basis of vv. 9, 21, 22, 24, 25. Confession of sin is made in v. 5. I would suggest, therefore, that confession of sin is not a problem which is unique to the Messianic consciousness approach. Even on the "Messianic Psalms" approach the problem must be dealt with.

I believe the Messianic consciousness approach is able to deal with the problem far more effectively than the Messianic Psalms approach. The type has specific points at which it falls short of the Antitype. There would be nothing theologically objectionable in this answer because the same applies in relation to the priestly type. The priest must make sacrifice for his own sins as well as those of the people. The king, likewise, makes confession of his own sins as well as the sins of the people. The Antitype has no sins of His own and therefore shows Himself the ideal priest or king. At the same time, He has made Himself covenantally one with the people He has come to save, and therefore accepts the legal transfer of what belongs to them upon Himself. At that point I think Rev. Buchanan's use of the doctrine of counter-imputation comes to the fore.
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Does Christ feel the crushing weight of David's guilt and shame? If he does, how do those first-person words not pass his lips--for David's sake? For mine?

I refer back to your reference to Hebrews 4:15: "...yet without sin."

Yes, I quoted that text, and highlighted that portion. So obviously I don't see any contradiction in Christ saying those words as if David or I said them, since he's dying as if David or I were dying. Christ's substitution is total. But the substitution doesn't change his character as a spotless (sinless) Lamb. But he calls himself a "sinner" as he takes my place. And he feels the full weight of the guilt and shame of my sin as he bears it. He doesn't just stand-in for me, meanwhile feeling all the while his perfect righteousness.

If you think that's just too much to expect of Christ, or you think that his saying such things creates an irreconcilable tension... somewhere... I'm not seeing it. But you aren't under any obligation to adopt this view, if it isn't true. And you ought to be persuaded before adopting it. Merely referring to Heb.4:15 as some form of a rejoinder does not articulate your objection.

Your question was, "how are such words reconciled to the mouth of the sinless Savior." In reply, I gave you a perfectly rational, non-contradictory reason for Christ to say those things. I really don't know what else to offer you until you spell out whatever you think is unsatisfactory about the response I gave.
 

PointingToChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
Does Christ feel the crushing weight of David's guilt and shame? If he does, how do those first-person words not pass his lips--for David's sake? For mine?

I refer back to your reference to Hebrews 4:15: "...yet without sin."

Yes, I quoted that text, and highlighted that portion. So obviously I don't see any contradiction in Christ saying those words as if David or I said them, since he's dying as if David or I were dying. Christ's substitution is total. But the substitution doesn't change his character as a spotless (sinless) Lamb. But he calls himself a "sinner" as he takes my place. And he feels the full weight of the guilt and shame of my sin as he bears it. He doesn't just stand-in for me, meanwhile feeling all the while his perfect righteousness.

If you think that's just too much to expect of Christ, or you think that his saying such things creates an irreconcilable tension... somewhere... I'm not seeing it. But you aren't under any obligation to adopt this view, if it isn't true. And you ought to be persuaded before adopting it. Merely referring to Heb.4:15 as some form of a rejoinder does not articulate your objection.

Your question was, "how are such words reconciled to the mouth of the sinless Savior." In reply, I gave you a perfectly rational, non-contradictory reason for Christ to say those things. I really don't know what else to offer you until you spell out whatever you think is unsatisfactory about the response I gave.

I reread your original post, and again, I agree with all of what you said there. I agree that Jesus takes ownership of our sins upon the cross. However, I cannot say that he takes something like Psalm 51 and makes them his own words. Christ is sinless, as you have said. By saying, "against you have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight" contradicts Christ's nature. He is without sin. Yes, he has taken David's sin, guilt, and shame upon himself; that is undisputed. But Christ is still sinless. He cannot say he has sinned because he has done no such thing, and that is against his nature.

Jesus takes ownership of the content of David's feelings of guilt and shame because he takes David's sin entirely upon himself. And not just David, but all of us who have recited those words with David. Jesus takes ALL of sin's consequences upon himself for us, not just a portion of them, and guilt and shame are integral to our condemnation. Therefore, Jesus bears them also, for all of his people.

Again, I agree with your above statement. He takes all of sin's consequences upon himself, however, he does not sin.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I don't say he speaks those words AS as sinner, himself. He speaks them in my place. Christ is a "publick" person, he's a Representative.

Do you think that for him to say those words would make him a liar; he can't lie; ergo, he cannot say them? In that case, how can he even go to the cross? What is the division between words and actions?
 
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