Psalms: King, enthroned

If you consider that the current arrangement of the book of Psalms is more or less deliberate (rather than casual or random), some illuminating trajectories emerge. One is the general movement from lament to praise: Psalms 3-7 are anguished laments while Psalms 145-150 are unfettered praise. Another trajectory is the identity of the king.

The psalms are arranged in five books. Books I&II (Psalms 1-41 and 42-72 respectively), the king most often referred to is David (or his descendants). This section of the psalms speaks of the Davidic dynasty in positive terms with idealism and great hopes. Psalm 89, at the end of Book III, begins by recounting God’s promises to David in lofty terms. But after the selah of verse 37, things go south. The psalmist bewails the Lord’s rejection and wrath; David’s kingdom is nothing like what God had promised.

Book IV begins with a psalm of Moses, taking us all the way back to Israel’s beginnings—before David and before the monarchy. Book IV also rings with the cry, “The LORD reigns!” (Psalms 93:1, 96:10, 97:1, 99:1). David and his kingdom may be gone, but there was a throne behind his throne, and that throne will last forever. Finally, in Book V, the last king we hear about is Yahweh (Psalm 149:2).

So what?

Close to six hundred years after the destruction of the royal house of David, an angel appeared to a Galilean woman and announced to her that to her son would be given the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32). A little over three decades later, she watched as he died with this notice above his head: The king of the Jews (Mark 15:26 and parallels). In Jesus of Nazareth the kingship of David and the kingship of Yahweh converge. But wait, there’s more!

Those who believe in Christ await His return to rule uncontested (Revelation 19:15-16). Everyone will acknowledge His kingship (Philippians 2:9-11), some willingly and others not. Which group shall you be in?

This post is based on sermons by John Woodhouse and Christopher Wright.

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