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What Luther Says

Christology: Messianic Prophecies In The Psalms

Here's a helpful resource to print out and stuff in your Bible.

Let's take a quick look at some of the Messianic prophecies in the Psalms along with their fulfillment as recorded later in the New Testament.

Prophecy #1: God will announce Christ to be His Son (Psalm 2:7) Fulfillment:
Matthew 3:17; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5

Prophecy #2: All things will be put under Christ's feet (Psalm 8:6) Fulfillment: 1 Corinthians 15:27; Hebrews 2:8

Prophecy #3: Christ will be resurrected from the grave (Psalm 16:10) Fulfillment: Mark 16:6-7; Acts 13:35

Prophecy #4: God will forsake Christ in His moment of agony (Psalm 22:1) Fulfillment: Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34

Prophecy #5: Christ will be scorned and ridiculed (Psalm 22:7-8) Fulfillment: Matthew 27:39-43; Luke 23:35

Prophecy #6: Christ's hands and feet will be pierced (Psalm 22:16) Fulfillment: John 20:25,27; Acts 2:23

Prophecy #7: Others will gamble for Christ's clothes (Psalm 22:18) Fulfillment: Matthew 27:35-36

Prophecy #8: Not one of Christ's bones will be broken (Psalm 34:20) Fulfillment: John 19:32,33,36

Prophecy #9: Christ will be hated unjustly (Psalm 35:19)
John 15:25

Prophecy #10 Christ will come to do God's will (Psalm 40:7-8)
Hebrews 10:7

Prophecy #11: Christ will be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9)
John 13:18

Prophecy #12: Christ's throne will be eternal (Psalm 45:6)
Hebrews 1:8

Prophecy #13: Christ will ascend to Heaven (Psalm 68:18)
Ephesians 4:8

Prophecy #14: Zeal for God's temple will consume Christ (Psalm 69:9) Fulfillment:
John 2:17

Prophecy #15: Christ will be given vinegar and gall (Psalm 69:21) Fulfillment: Matthew 27:34; John 19:28-30

Prophecy #16: Christ's betrayer will be replaced (Psalm 109:8)
Acts 1:20

Prophecy #17: Christ's enemies will bow down to Him (Psalm 110:1) Fulfillment: Acts 2:34-35

Prophecy #18: Christ will be a priest like Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4) Fulfillment:
Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:17)

Prophecy #19: Christ will be the chief cornerstone (Psalm 118:22) Fulfillment:
Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11

Prophecy #20: Christ will come in the name of the Lord (Psalm 118:26) Fulfillment:
Matthew 21:9

I don't think that's a complete list, but how incredible is it to see so many prophecies (and their fulfillment) compiled into one place like that?

Now, here's something I found about all of this from a Lutheran perspective...

A Summary of Martin Luther’s Christology In The Psalms

On Easter evening Jesus told the group of His followers assembled in a room behind locked doors: “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45) (NASV) Luther accepted the New Testament writer’s assertion that in the Psalter there were predictions about Christ, his life and work.

The Book of Psalms was a favorite Old Testament book for the Reformer. Pelikan claimed that “throughout his career Luther paid much attention to the Psalter, as this volume (i.e. No. 14) and its predecessors show.” Luther preached on nearly all of the 150 psalms and wrote extensive expositions on a considerable number of them, many of which he treated as Messianic. Throughout his life, beginning with 1513 Luther lectured and wrote his Dictata super Psalterium (Dictations on the Psalter). In the course of these lectures Luther began to see the light of the Gospel of grace. In 1517 the Reformer published his Die sieben Bußpsalmen (The Seven Penitential Psalms). Plass asserted about these psalms that they are an exposition that “is brief, warm, and devout; in the manner that became typical of Luther, it emphasizes the righteousness of Christ.” In the American edition the following volumes contain Luther’s Psalms interpretations and expositions: Numbers 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

Among major Messianic Psalms found in the five books of the Psalter, authored by David, would be the following: 2, 8, 16, 22, 24, 40, 68, 69, 110. A number of Messianic Psalms were written by individuals living at the time of David and contain references which are based upon the promise God gave David in 2 Samuel 7:12-17.

The New Testament writers quote more often from the Psalter than from any other Old Testament book. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Psalm authors, both those whose names are mentioned in the superscriptions and those that are not, wrote concerning various aspects of the life, person, states, and offices of the Messiah. Luther said that if a Bible reader wished to see the faith of the Hebrews at its clearest and best, then he should turn to the Psalter, where he would have a book that abounds in expressions of faith in Christ and a longing for Him. In the preface to the Psalter, written for the German Bible, Doctor Luther stated:

The Psalter ought to be a dear and beloved book, if only because it promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly, and so typifies His kingdom and the conditions and nature of all Christendom that it might well be called the little Bible. It puts everything that is in all the Bible most beautifully and briefly, and is made an Enchiridion, or handbook, so that I have a notion that the Holy Ghost wanted to take the trouble to compile a short Bible and example-book of all Christendom, or of all saints.

Luther, on the strength of the New Testament, found a considerable number of Psalms as Messianic, Psalms written by David, Solomon, Asaph, Korah, and Ethan. Besides those written by David, namely Psalms 2, 8, 16, 22, 24, 40, 68, 110, and 132, Luther also recognized Psalms 72 by Solomon, 89 by Ethan, 118 and 45, entitled: “A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.” In all these Messianic Psalms there are to be found considerable Christological data that could be employed in setting forth a Christology according to systematic lines. They contain Christological materials also found in later Old Testament books and also given explicitly in the New Testament.

Psalm 2 has the following title in a modern Luther’s German Bible: “Weissagung von Christo, des ewigen Könige, seinem Reich and dessen Feinden.” Luther in interpreting the Second Psalm as Messianic did so on the authority of the New Testament, which quotes a number of its verses and treats them as prophetic of Christ. While a number of Psalms exist which speak of the kingship of the Messiah, the second Psalm is special, because it emphasizes His Sonship to the Father Yahweh. The Psalm begins with a prediction that enemies of Yahweh and His anointed are plotting against them. But Yahweh laughs them to scorn. The LORD announces: “I installed My King on Zion, My holy hill.” In verses 7-8 the Messiah speaks: “I will again and again tell the decree of Yahweh; He to me, My Son art Thou, I have begotten Thee.” (Hebrews 1:5).

Here then predicated the eternal begetting of the Son by the Father. Further, in Psalm 2 Yahweh says to His Son: “Ask of Me and I will give Thee the nations for Thy right of conquest.” The Father sent His Son, Jesus, and the latter came speaking, not His own words, but the words of the Father (cf. John 14:10). Further in Psalm 2 Yahweh’s Anointed One is portrayed as worthy of worship. The Psalmist calls upon all who read or hear the Psalm: “Kiss the Son, or He will get angry and you will perish on your way; because His anger can blaze quickly.” Verse 9 predicts this fact that Jesus some day will smash His enemies.

According to Luther the following Christological truths are taught by Psalm 2:1) The Messiah is eternal, begotten by the Father; 2) Christ is a King; 3) Messiah’s rule is universal; 4) God’s Anointed One must be worshipped and obeyed; and 5) The Messiah will act as Judge.

Psalm 8, not considered to be a Messianic Psalm by modern Lutheran scholars, was so adjudged, however, by the Reformer. Psalm 8 in a modern Luther’s German Bible has the title: “Von Christi Reich. Leiden und Herrlichkeit.” (Concerning Christ’s Kingdom. Suffering and Glorification). This heading represents Luther’s stance on Psalm 8. Of this Psalm Luther wrote: “This psalm is one of the most beautiful psalms and a glorious prophecy about Christ.”

When Luther interpreted Psalm 8 as a prediction about the Messiah, he was following the Epistle to the Hebrews, which quoted the words: “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,” as applying to Christ. The rendering in the Greek New Testament is from the Septuagint. The Hebrew text reads: “Thou has made Him to lack a little of God.” Hebrews 2:26 shows that only Jesus could be meant, because as God He assumed our human nature with all its weaknesses and lowliness, who has made in the likeness of man and was found in fashion as a man (Philippians 2:7-8). The humiliation and exultation of the Messiah are set forth in Psalm 8. Verse 5 contains a succinct assertion in which the two states are taught. “For thou has crowned Him with honor and glory” refers to the Messiah’s exaltation. David, by inspiration of the Spirit, was able to declare a truth, much later enunciated by Paul: “Thou has put all things under His feet.” Christ is Lord of Creation. In Jesus the Messiah, the Name of God has been revealed in all its glory.

Psalm 16 was interpreted by Luther as a Messianic Psalm. The title for it in a modern Luther’s German Bible was: “Weissagung von Christi Leiden and Sterben.” Luther was simply adopting the New Testament’s interpretation of this Davidic Psalm. Psalm 16 was employed by Peter in his Pentecost sermon as predicting truths about Christ’s death and resurrection. Peter told the people who had come from various parts of the Roman Empire: “The patriarch being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he should set one upon his throne; he foreseeing this spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption (Acts 2:25-31).” St. Paul in Acts 13:35 also applied this Psalm to Christ. Philippians 2:6-11 might be said to be an excellent commentary on Psalm 16.

Psalms 22, 40, and 69 were considered by Luther Passion Psalms. In 1521 Luther wrote an exposition of Psalm 22. Commenting on its contents, the Doctor said that Christ endured not merely a token of suffering but that the Messiah suffered what all men should have suffered. In the modern German Bible the heading for this Psalm is: “Concerning Christ’s Suffering and Kingdom.” This reflects Luther’s teaching on Psalm 22. Verses 1-21 describe prophetically the great suffering of Christ, while verses 22-31 portray the Messiah’s glory. In verse 10 the Messiah says: “But thou art He that took me out of my mother’s womb.” In this verse and others in Psalm 22 the Messiah’s mother is mentioned but not His earthly father, as is also the case in passages like Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14 or Micah 5:2. The crucifixion of Jesus is virtually predicted in verse 16: “They pierced My hands and My feet.” When Psalm 22:1-2 is read as a Messianic Psalm it reads like an episode from the first Good Friday, and sets forth a Christological truth relative to Christ’s priestly office.

In Luther’s Summaries of the Psalms, published at the beginning of 1533, the Reformer recognized Psalm 40 as a prayer spoken by the preincarnate Christ in prophetic anticipation of His suffering. Luther once wrote verses seven and eight in someone’s book and gave these words the interpretation which follows:

Let the Holy Spirit Himself read this Book to His own if He desires to be understood. For it does not write about men or about making a living (vom Bauch), as all other books do, but about the fact that God’s Son was obedient to His Father for us and fulfilled His will. Whoever does not need this wisdom should let this Book lie; it does not benefit him anyway, It teaches another and eternal life, of which reason knows nothing and is able to comprehend nothing. Let him, then, who would study in this Book make up his mind to look for nothing in it except that of which the psalms speak: that the Son of God willingly and obediently became a burnt offering for us in order to appease God’s wrath. Psalm 45 was interpreted Messianically by Luther. The title for this Psalm in the Modern German Bible is: “Prophecy concerning the Bridegroom, Christ, and the Bride, the Church.” That this Psalm made predictions about Christ is easily seen if Luther’s lectures on Psalm 45, begun in 1532, are read. According to the Reformer, verses 6-9 describe Christ and just no secular ruler.

Psalm 69 has the title: “The Messiah in His Suffering.” The reason why Luther considered this Psalm as Messianic, no doubt, was occasioned by the exegetical fact that it is found referred to no less than seven times in the New Testament, either by quotation or by unmistakable implication, as prophetical of Christ and the Messianic period (Cf. John 15:25; Matthew 27:34; John 19:29).

Psalm 68 in the modern Luther’s German Bible is entitled: “Prophecy of Christ’s Exaltation and His Glorious Power.” While on the surface the Psalm spoke about the celebration of God’s entry into the Sanctuary on Zion and His rule over the whole world, Luther considered the Psalm typical of the Messianic victories, certain citations being even directly prophetic, as Paul shows. Paul cited verse 18 as a prediction of Christ’s ascension.

Psalm 89, ascribed to Ethan the Esrahite, has the title in the modern Luther’s German Bible: “Concerning the Messiah and His Kingdom.” Luther believed that this Psalm substantiated the Messianic character of 2 Samuel 7:12-17. In verses 3-4 Ethan speaks of the eternal covenant God made with David with regard to the Messiah who would build the house of the Christian Church. Beginning at verse 19 Ethan depicts the rule of the Messiah.

In Psalm 109 Luther also found Messianic material. The heading given for the contents of this inspired poem is in a modern Luther’s German Bible: “Prophecy Concerning Judas and the Unfaithfulness against Christ by the Jews, and Their Curse.” Luther in a collection entitled: “The Four Psalms of Comfort,” dedicated to Queen Mary of Hungary, in the beginning of his exposition of this Psalm wrote: “David composed this psalm about Christ, who speaks the entire psalm in the first person against Judas, his betrayer, and against Judaism as a whole, describing their ultimate fate. In Acts 1:20 Peter applied this Psalm to Judas when they were selecting Matthias to replace him.” P. E. Kretzmann, a great admirer and user of Luther’s exegesis, does not follow the Reformer in his Messianic interpretation of Psalm 109.

Psalm 110, the most cited Psalm in the New Testament, was understood by Christ and the writer of Hebrews to speak about the Messiah, Christ Jesus. The title in a modern Luther’s German Bible reads: “A Psalm of Christ, Our King and High Priest.” This Psalm is totally prophetic, placing before the believers of the Old Testament the Messiah as Lord of David. No other Psalms, no other prophecy is cited so often as this poem. Cf. Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke. 20:42; Acts 2:34; 1 Cor. 15:25; Hebrews 1:13; 1 Peter 3:22. According to Psalm 110:4, the Messiah as Priest purifies and blesses people. The chief of this Davidic prophecy rests upon the King and His Kingdom. On this rather short Psalm Luther wrote a lengthy exposition, which in the American edition occupies about 115 pages.

*- Adapted from “Luther and the Christology of the Old Testament”
by Raymond F. Surburg.

Sorry, that was a bit lengthy.

Personally, I find this subject so fascinating, especially since I've become a Confessional Lutheran. I just wish more preachers and teachers would understand that all of the Bible is about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and not just the New Testament.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, even the Old Testament is about Jesus Christ too -- particulary the Psalms.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Finally, you might discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. I decided to leave those published posts up only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

1 comment

  1. Be sure to check out this 11-minute video from Rev. Jonathan Fisk and Worldview Everlasting, which goes into much greater detail about how the Old Testament is overflowing with prophecies about Jesus Christ...

    "Old Testament Jesus Is A Beauty, Eh?"

    Grace And Peace,


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