Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Prophecy in the Psalms: Prophetic Themes

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

The basic prophetic focus of the Psalms is the suffering of the Jews during the Tribulation. From Psalm 3 through Psalm 144, there are 59 prayers for deliverance from tribulation. Twelve entire Psalms (80, 82, 88, 90, 120, 126, 129, 137, & 141- 144) are devoted to earnest cries for deliverance from intense suffering.

Some might object to classifying these passages as prophetic in nature, arguing that they are simply the prayers of David and others who cried out to God in the midst of desperate situations. But some of the prayers are definitely national in nature (for example, Psalms 80 and 83). Some refer to specific wars in the end times, like Psalm 83. Others describe situations so horrible that they seem to point to the Great Tribulation for their fulfillment (see Psalms 14, 60, and 94).

As for the prayers that are definitely personal in nature, keep in mind that such utterances can have profound prophetic significance. The classic example is Psalm 22 where David in a moment of desperation cried out,"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"This was a personal prayer of David's, yet it was prophetic of the incredible agony that Jesus would suffer on the Cross when the sins of Mankind were placed upon Him and His perfect communion with His Father was broken for the first time. David's words became the Lord's words as He suffered on the Cross.

Likewise, I have no doubt that the Jews will turn to the Psalms in the midst of the Great Tribulation and pray these very prayers to God for their deliverance from God's wrath and the wrath of the Antichrist. Imagine yourself as a Jew in the Tribulation, hated by the nations and hunted like an animal by the Antichrist and his forces, and then read Psalm 88.


Statements of Faith, Rejoicing and Thanksgiving

Many of these heart-wrenching prayers are interspersed with triumphant statements of faith in God, as if the one crying out so desperately is trying to reassure himself that God is listening and will answer. Psalm 68:19-20 is typical:

Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation.
God is to us a God of deliverances;
And to GOD the Lord belong
escapes from death.

There are 46 such affirmations of faith contained in the prayers for deliverance. I can imagine the hard pressed Jews reading, memorizing, and reciting these statements during the darkest days of the Tribulation. Keep in mind, the prophet Zechariah says that two-thirds of the Jews will be destroyed during those terrible years (Zechariah 13:8).

Another repetitive theme of the Psalms is rejoicing and thanksgiving for the Lord's deliverance. Take Psalm 66 for example. It is an emotional and uninhibited song of praise for the national deliverance of Israel. You can imagine the leaping and clapping and dancing of the Jewish Remnant as you read the opening lines: "Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious!"

Sometimes a single Psalm will contain all three of these prophetic themes: 1) A cry for deliverance; 2) A statement of faith; and 3) A song of praise for God's delivering response. Psalm 54 is a good example of the combination of these themes:

  1. The Cry for Deliverance — "Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your power. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen against me, and violent men have sought my life; they have not set God before them" (vs. 1-3).

  2. The Expression of Faith — "Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my soul. He will recompense the evil to my foes; destroy them in Your faithfulness" (vs. 4-5).

  3. Praise for Deliverance — "Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O LORD, for it is good. For He has delivered me from all trouble; and my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies" (vs. 6-7).


In the third and last part of this series on prophecy in the Psalms, we'll look at prophetic clusters found in that book.

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