Sycamore Presbyterian Church Friday Men’s Bible Study Psalm 28 (see notes)
Question 3. We have seen what David was petitioning for. What do we learn in the psalm about how we should petition God? (a) What attitudes or beliefs underlie his requests? (Think especially of what “uplifted hands” (v. 2) symbolize. Why is each attitude/belief important for petitioning? (b) The word for “anointed one”’ in Hebrew is “Messiah” and in Greek is “Christos.” How does David unwittingly point us to Christ here?
(a) When I think of uplifted hands, I think of children raising their hands to their parents. I don’t think that this means that children can’t have a conception of God outside their parents. I do think this means that parents represent God to their children as they grow – and what could be more appropriate, since God the Father reveals Himself to us as – a father. It’s also appropriate given the fact that human beings are a natural revelation of God. Since human beings are the only part of the created order to bear God’s image, one has only to look at a human to see something of God. For these reasons, when we think of David raising his hands to God, we should think about children, not teenagers, (parents of teenagers, you’re with me on this one right?) looking up with uplifted hands at Mommy or Daddy asking for something. Usually with iron-clad confidence. Maybe this is the reason Jesus said this. This represents a belief by the child in the parents’ ability (or power) to satisfy the request.
Similarly, I don’t think a small child would normally approach a stranger this way. A child’s wariness of a stranger is a contrast to the trusting familiarity he shows to his parents, which represents his belief in his parents’ goodness (or righteousness.)
As with any analogy, this one can be taken too far and falls apart at the point where parents aren’t as powerful or good as their young children think they are. It is here that the child has to grow, and start raising his hands toward God.
So David prayed to God in this psalm with a strong belief in God’s power and righteousness. These are important to the petitioner because it defies logic for him to pray for something that he doesn’t expect to happen – that would be a waste of time. Eventually the petitioner would stop praying. “What’s the use?” But there is more. We have been taught through further special revelation that God is not a gumball machine and our prayers are not quarters. God instructs us in prayer to be careful to pray for His will and not our own, and to be careful to sort out our motivations when we pray. But since God always hears the petitions of His people, and also instructs us to pray without ceasing, we can conclude that sometimes He simply says, “no.” There are times when parents say “no.” This is not unanswered prayer.
(b) I got nothing. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to dazzle you with brilliance baffle you with something other than brilliance. To do this, I have to deconstruct the question. Rev. Keller asks how David “unwittingly point[s] us to Christ” in verse 8b (“he [the Lord] is the saving refuge of his anointed”.) In this sentence, the Lord (not LORD, or YVWH, but Lord, Adonai, I believe) is the subject who is the “saving refuge” of someone else. That someone else is “his anointed.” If Rev. Keller is asking how “his anointed” points to Christ, it can’t, because Christ did not receive salvation but gave it. I think that since “his anointed” is the recipient of salvation in verse 8, David may have been referring to himself. The context seems to support this, as David recounts many of the benefits of being found in the Lord in verses 7-9.
Of course, since David is a Christ type, pointing at himself is pointing at a Christ type. Perhaps that’s how.
Another line of reasoning would look at the objects of God’s favor in verses 8-9: His people. Plural. There are two references to “people,” one to “heritage,” and the use of “their and “them” as pronouns for His people. In the midst of all this, we have “his anointed.” There was only one individual in Israel who could claim to be the “anointed.” That was David. However, David may have been, even unwittingly, identifying God’s people with Himself. This idea would seem to find its apotheosis in Paul, who calls the church Christ’s body.
I guess the only way to conclude that David was giving a messianic shout-out is to just say, “Look, he wrote ‘anointed one!’ That’s what makes it messianic! Because Psalms.”
I told you I got nothing.
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