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Does Psalm 40 prophecy Christ's resurrection?

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#1 H. Smith

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 04:51 PM

I would like to write an article for an Orthodox journal about the prophecies of the Psalms that Christ would resurrect. David in the scriptures in principle prefigures the Messiah, although I could see exceptions. And it seems Psalms 30 and 40 predict Christ's resurrection by portraying David's resurrection out of a pit or ditch, which in the Psalms always means a kind of place of death.

Psalm 30 (NKJV) says:
A Psalm. a song. at the dedication. of the house. of David. *

1. I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2. O Lord my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me.
3. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. **
4. Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
5. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
6. Now in my prosperity I said, “I shall never be moved.”

* Since the original lacked punctuation, the Russian Synodal interpreted this line to mean it was a "Psalm of David".

**Admittedly, the Septuagint has a different rendering for verse 3:
O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave{gr.Hades}, thou hast delivered me from [among] them that go down to the pit.

But I note the strong similarity between Psalm 30:3 ("You brought my soul up from the grave... I should not go down to the ditch") and Psalm 16:10 ("You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see the pit of corruption.") Plus, Psalm 16 and 30 resemble eachother because both mention God's holy ones/saint, mention David's experiences at night, and have him say "I will not be moved". This suggests to me that the Hebrew version (NKJV) is closer to the Septuagint's rendering of verse 30:3.

Psalm 40 (NKJV) says:

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

1. I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.
2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.

My questions are:
A) Is Psalm 30 a Psalm of David, or just a song someone wrote for his palace dedication, not necessarily prefiguring David? I do think the singer is supposed to be David though, because it reminds me so much of David's Psalm 16 and it's sung in the first person.

B) Does Psalm 16 describe Christ avoiding the same "pit" that David avoids in Psalm 30 and is brought out of in Psalm 40?
Note that Psalm 16 uses the word "shahath" (pit- associated with decay). But Psalms 30 and 40 use a different word "bor" (ditch- associated with a place of death too).

C) Is David describing his resurrection once in Psalm 30 (out of Hades and without descending to the ditch), and a second time in Psalm 40 (out of the ditch?)

D) Does this mean Christ was in Hades and avoided descending into the ditch as Psalm 30 suggests, or was in the ditch as Psalm 40 suggests?

E) Can we say that Psalm 30, where he didn't descend into the ditch, and Psalm 40, where he was in the ditch, both prefigure Christ's resurrection?

One way I can think of resolving this is that in Psalm 69 David says:

1. Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.
2. I sink in deep mire, Where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me.
That is, the waters could be up to his neck in the mire, yet he did not descend into the waters.
That is, as one church father i read said of Psalm 40: he was in danger. But that does not mean he descended into the ditch. So in that case, Psalm 40 where he is in the ditch would not actually be a prefigurement of Christ's death, only of the risk of Christ's death.

But then again, if the ditch is equated with a place of decay, like the pit of Psalm 16, then why would there be a risk of decay if his corpse wasn't dead? But then again, maybe the pit is different in meaning than the ditch?

What do you think?


#2 Matthew


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Posted 03 October 2013 - 01:57 PM

Great questions.


I have very little to add except to point out the obvious.  Paslm 87 read during Matins also specifically mentions the pit, near Hades, as slain, among the dead, and so on.



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