After the death of Moses and the occupation of the Promised Land by the Jews, the prophecies about the Messiah disappear for many centuries. A new series of prophecies about the Messiah arise during the reign of David, a descendant of Abraham, Jacob and Judah, who ruled the Hebrew nation more than 1000 years BC. In these new prophecies the Kingly and Godly qualities of Christ are revealed. The Lord promises David through the lips of Nathan to establish an eternal Kingdom in the Personage of His Descendant: “I will establish his throne for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son” (1 Chron. 17:12-13).
This prophecy about the eternal Kingdom of the Messiah is paralleled by a series of prophecies, which should be discussed more thoroughly. In order to understand and to properly assess the meaning of these prophecies, it is necessary to at least briefly familiarize oneself with the life of King David. King David, having been anointed by God as a king and prophet, was the prototype of the Higher King and Prophet — Christ.
David was the youngest son of the large family of the poor shepherd Jesse. When the God-sent prophet Samuel came to the house of Jesse, in order to anoint the king for Israel, the prophet thought to anoint one of the older sons. But the Lord revealed to the prophet that the younger son, still a young boy, David, is chosen by Him for this high service. Then, in obedience to God, Samuel pours the holy oil on the head of the youngest son, thus performing the anointment to the throne. From that moment, David became the Anointed of God, the messiah. But David did not immediately set about to actually govern. A long road of ordeals and unfair persecution lay before him, put forth by the then King Saul, who had a deep hatred of David. The reason for this hatred was jealousy, because as a boy David defeated the previously unbeaten Philistine giant Goliath with a small rock and thus gained victory for the Hebrew army. After this the people said: “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). Only his strong faith in God the Intercessor helped David endure all the many persecutions and dangers to which he was subjected by Saul and his servants in the course of almost 15 years. Often, when wandering for months in the wild and impassable desert, King David would pour out his grief to God in inspired psalms. With time, the psalms of David became an essential element and an embellishment of both the Old Testament, and later in the New Testament religious services.
Upon being enthroned in Jerusalem after the death of Saul, king David became the most outstanding king ever to rule Israel. He had combined within himself many valuable qualities: love for the people, fairness, wisdom, courage, and, most importantly — a strong faith in God. Before deciding any state question, King David always zealously prayed to God, asking for understanding. The Lord always helped David and blessed his 40-year reign with major successes, in both internal and external politics.
But David did not evade severe ordeals. His deepest grief was the military uprising, headed by his own son Absalom, who wanted to become king before his time. In this instance, David experienced all the bitterness of villainous ingratitude and treachery among his subjects. But, as before with Saul, faith and hope in God helped David. Absalom died ingloriously, although David tried to save him by all means. He also forgave the other mutineers. Afterward David clearly portrayed his enemies’ senseless and insidious revolt in his Messianic psalms.
While attending to the material well-being of his people, David imparted great meaning to its spiritual life. Often he headed religious holidays, bringing sacrifices to God for the Hebrew people and putting together his inspired religious hymns — psalms. Being a king and a prophet, and also to a certain extent a priest, King David became the prototype (a model), as a precursor of the greatest of Kings, Prophet and High Priest — Christ the Savior, the descendant of David. The personal experience of King David, and also the poetic gift with which he was endowed, gave him the opportunity to describe the character and feat of the coming Messiah in a whole row of psalms with unprecedented clarity and vividness. For example, in his 2nd psalm king David foretells the enmity and uprising against the Messiah on the part of his enemies. This psalm is written in the form of a discussion among three entities: David, God the Father, and the Son of God, anointed by the Father to the Kingdom. Here are the main excerpts from this psalm:
King David: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed.”
God the Father: “Yet have I set My king upon my holy hill of Zion.”
The Son of God: “I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten thee.”
King David: “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way” (verses 1-2, 6-7 and 12).
What is most remarkable in this psalm is the truth, revealed here for the first time, that the Messiah is the Son of God, the Hill of Zion, on which stood the temple and the city of Jerusalem, symbolizing the Kingdom of the Messiah — the Church.
David writes more about the Godliness of the Messiah in several subsequent psalms. For example, in the 45th psalm David, addressing himself on the coming Messiah, cries out:
“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter. Thou lovest righteousness and hatest wickedness. Therefore God, thy God has anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (verses 6-7).
Revealing the difference between Faces in God, between the God anointing and the God anointed, the given prophecy laid the foundation for faith in the Triad (having three-hypostatic Persons).
Psalm 40 points out the insufficiency of Old Testament sacrifices for redemption (forgiveness) of human sins and bears witness to the impending sufferings of the Messiah. In this psalm the Messiah Himself speaks through the lips of David:
“Sacrifice and offering thou (God the Father) didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the scroll of the Book (in the pre-eternal determination of God) it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God” (verses 6-8).
A separate chapter will be dedicated to the redeeming sacrifice of the Messiah. Here we will only mention that, in accordance with the 110th psalm, the Messiah is not only the sacrifice, He is the Priest offering the sacrifice to God — Himself. In the 110th psalm are repeated the main thoughts of the 2nd psalm about the Godliness of the Messiah and the hostility against Him. But several new pieces of information are added, for example, the birth of the Messiah, the Son of God, which is portrayed as a pre-eternal occurrence. Christ — is eternal, as is His Father.
“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool... from the womb of the morning: thou has the dew of thy youth. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (As explained by the Apostle Paul, Melchizedek, about whom it is written in the book Genesis 14:18, was the prototype of the Son of God, the eternal priest, see Hebrews chapter 7).
Psalm 72 presents itself as a hymn of praise of the Messiah. In it we see the Messiah in His full glory. This glory will be realized at the end of the times, when the Messianic Kingdom will triumph and evil will be destroyed. Here are several verses from this joyful psalm.
“Yea, all the kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper... His name shall endure forever, his name shall be continued as long as the sun, and men shall be blessed in him, all nations shall call him blessed” (Ps. 72:11-12, 17).
The Kingdom of the Messiah will be discussed more in depth in the appendix. For now, so that the reader may have an idea how vast and detailed are the prophecies about the Messiah in the psalms, we will cite a list of these prophecies in the order of their content: About the coming of the Messiah — psalms 17, 49, 67, 95-97. About the Kingdom of the Messiah — 2, 17, 19, 20, 45, 65, 72, 110, 132. About the priesthood of the Messiah — 110. About the sufferings, death and resurrection of the Messiah — 16, 22, 31, 41, 41, 65, 68, 98. In psalms 41, 55 and 109 — about Judas the traitor. About the ascension of Christ to Heaven — 68. Christ — the foundation of the Church — 118. About the glory of the Messiah — 8. About the last judgment — 97. About the inheritance of the righteous eternal peace — 94.
In order to understand the prophetic psalms one must remember that David, like other great righteous men in the Old Testament, represented the prototype of Christ. For this reason often, when he writes in the first person, as if about himself, for example, about sufferings (Psalm 22), or about glory (about the resurrection from the dead in Psalm 16), they refer not to David, but to Christ. The 16th and 22nd psalms will be studied in more detail in Chapter 5.
In this way, the messianic prophecies of David, recorded in his God-inspired psalms, laid the foundation for faith in the Messiah as a true and coexistent Son of God, King, High Priest and Expiator of Mankind. The influence of the psalms on the faith of the Old Testament Jews was particularly great, thanks to the wide use of psalms in private life and religious services of the Hebrew people.