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Seeing Jesus in the Psalms

Psalm 2, 16, 22, 110

David was often a "godly sufferer"—one who was about God's business but was suffering at the hands of God's enemies. Reading the words of Psalm 22 makes one immediately take notice—David's words were taken, often verbatim, by another "godly sufferer." When Jesus Christ was dying on the cross, He saw in David's suffering a situation like His own and put David's words in His own mouth: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46).

But it was not just the words of David which appear prophetically messianic. Jesus' experience of persecution during his arrest and crucifixion mirrored many aspects of David's: the insults and mocking both endured (Psalm 22:7; Matthew 27:39), the wording of some of the mocking (Psalm 22:8; Matthew 27:43), His bones being out of joint from hanging on the cross (Psalm 22:14), His agonizing thirst (Psalm 22:15; John 19:28), the gambling for His robe (Psalm 22:18; Matthew 27:35), and the prediction that future generations will be told about the Lord (Psalm 22:31; Matthew 28:19-20).

The parallels in David's and Christ's experiences cannot be coincidence. References to words and events in Christ's life throughout the psalms have caused a number of them to be referred to as Messianic psalms—prophetically foreshadowing the Jewish Messiah who was to come. Significant Messianic psalms are Psalm 2 (the kingship of Christ), Psalm 16 (the resurrection of Christ), and Psalm 110 (the sovereignty of God's Messiah).

Seventeen psalms are regarded as Messianic—various verses speaking of Christ in either the third person (Psalm 8, 72, 89, 109, 118, 132), the second person (Psalm 45, 68, 102, 110), or Messiah speaking for Himself (Psalm 2, 16, 22, 40, 41, 69, 78). Like much Old Testament prophetic scripture, these Messianic references had both a present and future application. Christ's life conforming to these Messianic texts supported the growing notion in the first century that He was indeed the Messiah.

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