Who Speaks in the Psalms? – R. Godfrey

Learning-love-psalms-Godfrey-2017I am enjoying reading through the brief but packed chapters of W. Robert Godfrey’s new book Learning to Love the Psalms (Reformation Trust, 2017).

In chapter 5 he asks and answers the question, Who are the speakers in the Psalms? In other words, who are the subjects of these powerful, passionate songs and poems?

This is how he answers, in short form:

  1. David the king – the preeminent psalmist, as the “sweet psalmist of Israel”
  2. Israel as the people of God – David not only speaks to them but for them.
  3. Christians – the NT Israel of God, the church.
  4. Jesus the King – in whom Israel’s kingship and this songbook is fulfilled

It is that last point that Godfrey takes pains to demonstrate, from Jesus’ own words and the gospel records, as well as from the NT epistles, especially Hebrews.

Here is how he states it at the beginning of that section:

We should conclude that the Psalms are not only for the king, for Israel, and for the church, but that all the Psalms are also the songs of our great King, Jesus the Christ. David’s kingship and kingdom pointed forward to the coming of Christ and are fulfilled in Him. Jesus Himself declared that the Psalms are about Him: ‘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’ (Luke 24:44). Throughout our study, we will see over and over again how Christ fills and fulfills the Psalter [p.23].

A bit further in this chapter, after showing how the NT book of Hebrews teaches the truth of this, the author says,

The example of the book of Hebrews encourages us to see all the Psalms as the words of Jesus, both as He is the divine King and Savior of His people and as He is their human king and representative. Here is the way we must read the Psalms. Jesus’ connection to and love of the Psalter should surely inspire ours.

This approach does not separate the Psalms from their origin in the history of Israel or from the experience of God’s people. Rather, it reminds us that all of Israel’s history pointed to and is fulfilled in Christ and that all of the experiences of God’s people are taken up and sanctified in Christ. Israel’s history is our history as the people of God. As the people of God, we can sing the Psalms and enter into every element of them because we are in Christ [pp.27-28].