A friend of mine mentioned something interesting to me at the end of last week. It was that their disciplee did not think the Psalms or epistles should be read at the same level as the gospels. The argument was that the gospels gave eyeswitness accounts of Jesus, while the rest were just man’s words of wisdom. Since I used to feel the same way about Paul’s letters, this comment got me thinking… and writing.
First of all I would like to say that without faith it is impossible to plesae God if you do not believe that God rewards those who seek him (Heb 11:6).
The objections to the Psalms and epistles are, first of all, ones that only God can answer. I struggled with the epistles too before I became a Christian and even in my early days. “Why are Paul’s writings so emphasized at the cost of Jesus’ words?” “Doesn’t Paul contradict what Jesus says here?” “In all, it seems Paul just has some good words of advice that I do not need to follow here because MY situation is different.” Those were some of my thoughts!
The Psalms are Scripture because we see their prophecies fulfilled and they were reverenced by Jesus and the early Christians.
For example, Psalm 34:20, “he keeps all of his bones; not one of them is broken” (which the NRSV and gender neutral Bibles wrongly translate “their bones”) is fulfilled in John 19:36, “…So that Scripture would be fulfilled, not one of HIS bones will be broken.” Or Ps 22… fulfilling 1) the casting of lots for the division of Christ’s clothing (Ps 22:18 to John 19:23-24); 2) Jesus’ words on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:1 to Matt 27:46 and Mark 15:34); 3) Jesus’ words, “I thirst” to “my tongue sticks to my jaws…” Ps 22:15 (also Ps 69:21 to Luke 22:36); 4) Ps 22:16 “They have pierced my hands and feet,” crucifixion (Luke 23:33 and Luke 24:40). And all these are things David was describing years before!
Jesus’ veneration of the Psalms is seen in his use of them to answer the Pharisees. Among other places, He saw himself as fulfilling a verse, quoting in Matthew 22:44, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hands, until I put your enemies under your feet,'” which is directly from David (Ps 110:1). Go to the verse right before, Matthew 22:43, and point out that Jesus himelf (in the eyewitness testimony) said that David was “in the Spirit” when he said these things. Later, Stephen personalizes the Psalm as he is about to be martyred, “[I see] the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).
Next time, let’s discuss the grounds for the epistles being Scripture!
By His Grace,
Larry

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