Thursday, July 3, 2014

Prophecy in the Psalms: Prophetic Units

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

A fascinating aspect of the Psalms is that they contain clusters of prophecies that relate to each other. The best known of these clusters is the prophetic trilogy of Psalms 22, 23, and 24.

Psalm 22 pictures Jesus in agony on the Cross. In Psalm 23 He is our resurrected High Priest, shepherding His flock through the power of His Spirit. In Psalm 24, He is the King of Glory who has returned to Jerusalem to reign over the nations. See Figure 3 below.

Figure 3

Other significant prophetic clusters in the Psalms are listed below:

A. Psalms 45-48
1) Psalm 45 — The Rapture
2) Psalm 46 — The Second Coming
3) Psalm 47 — Hallelujah! Jesus Reigns!
4) Psalm 48 — The Glory of Millennial Jerusalem

B. Psalms 52-54
1) Psalm 52 — The Fate of the Antichrist
2) Psalm 53 — The Fate of the Ungodly
3) Psalm 54 — The Fate of the Godly

C. Psalms 65-67
1) Psalm 65 — Praise for the Millennial Bounty of Nature
2) Psalm 66 — Praise for the Jew's Deliverance
3) Psalm 67 — Praise for God's Equitable Judgment of the Nations

D. Psalms 109-111
1) Psalm 109 — Prayer for the Destruction of the Antichrist
2) Psalm 110 — Jesus Triumphs and Reigns as King and Priest
3) Psalm 111 — Praise to the Lord for His Faithfulness in Keeping His Covenant Promises

E. Clusters of the Major Prophetic Themes
1) Psalms 3-7 — Cries for Deliverance
2) Psalms 103-105 — Expressions of Faith
3) Psalms 141-144 — Praises for Deliverance
4) Psalms 95-99 — Celebrations of the Lord's Reign
5) Psalms 145-150 — Praises of the King of Kings

Psalms 45 to 48

Let's take a closer look at one of these clusters whose psalms focus on the return of Jesus:

  1. The Rapture — "The King's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is interwoven with gold. She will be led to the King in embroidered work; The virgins, her companions who follow her, will be brought to You. They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing; they will enter into the King's palace" (Psalm 45:13-15).
  2. The Second Coming — "The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 'Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.' The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold" (Psalm 46:6-11).
  3. Hallelujah! Jesus Reigns! — "O clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy. For the LORD Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. He subdues peoples under us and nations under our feet... Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth... God reigns over the nations" (Psalm 47:1-8).
  4. The Glory of Millennial Jerusalem — "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King. God, in her palaces, has made Himself known as a stronghold... Let Mount Zion be glad, let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments. Walk about Zion and go around her; count her towers; consider her ramparts; go through her palaces, that you may tell it to the next generation" (Psalm 48:1- 3, 11-13).

Chronological Aspects

A popular theory in the late 20th Century theorized that the Psalms contained a chronological code. This theory was spelled out in detail by J. R. Church in his book, Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms (1986). The thesis was that since the book of Psalms is the 19th book of the Old Testament, it represents the 1900s, and thus Psalm 1 is prophetic of 1901, Psalm 2 of 1902, and so on. Psalms 88-94 were viewed in this interpretation as a picture of the Tribulation Period, corresponding to the years 1988-1994.

The theory was very unconvincing to me. First, it suggested Kabbalism, a form of Jewish mysticism that claims the real message of Scripture is encoded below the surface words. But a greater problem is that it did not line up with historical events.

For example, there is nothing in Psalm 48 that is prophetic of the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The Psalm is all about the beauty of Jerusalem. After the dust settled in the 1948 War of Liberation, Jerusalem was not even a part of the newly established Jewish State! The Jews did not re-occupy the city of Jerusalem until the Six Day War of 1967, yet Psalm 67 does not even mention Jerusalem.

A further problem for this theory of interpretation was presented by the fact that the Rapture of the Church is clearly portrayed in Psalm 45 where the Bride is pictured as being led to the Bridegroom-King. Yet, the Rapture did not occur in 1945. Also, Psalm 93 portrays the reign of the Lord — before the Tribulation was supposed to end in 1994!

Of course, with the passage of time, this once popular chronological theory has been completely disproved.

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