The Psalms – A Declaration of Christ the King

Many Christians would be able to point to psalms that very obviously speak of God’s promised Messiah-King. Think of Psalm 2, “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you,’” or Psalm 41, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (quoted by Jesus in John 13:18). But the Psalms bear a much larger and grander testimony to Jesus than a verse here and there.

As the shadow of the cross began to cast its looming darkness over the human soul of Jesus, He asked the religious leaders who were plotting His death this question:

“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?

If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matt. 22:41–44, quoting Ps. 110:1)

The Psalms’ testimony about Jesus was uppermost in His mind as He hung on the cross, bearing the righteous judgment our sin deserved, as He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, quoting Ps. 22:1).

Think of Jesus’ words to His disciples after His resurrection: “‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything 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).

The Psalms in their entirety speak of God’s promised Messiah-King. He is the “blessed man” who exemplifies the righteous life that Psalm 1 portrays. He is the King whose enemies will become His footstool (Pss. 2; 110:1). He is the righteous sufferer who epitomizes trust in the Lord (Ps. 22).

The Psalms portray the life of faith with searing honesty. They poignantly remind us that the pattern of death and resurrection that was etched into the holy humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ is the pattern that the Holy Spirit seeks to replicate in the lives of all God’s children. The book of Psalms is a divinely inspired songbook that reflects the highs and lows, the triumphs and tragedies, of God’s covenant people over a millennium. John Calvin described the Psalms as “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” Let us sing the Savior’s songbook, lest we risk impoverishing our worship and robbing ourselves of the rich spirituality contained within its songs.

Dr. Ian Hamilton

Psalm 1