Significance of the Psalms

“The Psalter is wide awake to the significance of history as leading up to the eschatological act of God. It knows that it deals with a God, who spake and speaks and shall speak, who wrought and works and shall work, who came and is coming and is about to come. To no small extent it is the dignity of Jehovah as Creator and Redeemer from which the eschatological necessity springs. As a Psalmist says, Jehovah cannot abandon the work of his own hands (cxxxviii. 8); He will perfect that which concerns his people. His work must appear unto his servants, his glory unto their children (xc. 16). The Psalms that engage in great historical retrospects were written with this thought in mind.”[1]

“There is much in death to terrify the creature regardless of religious considerations. We find that with the Psalmists the chief cause of solicitude and perplexity is the problem of their future relation to Jehovah. Will there be in these strange shadowy regions remembrance of Jehovah, experience of his goodness, praise of his glory? “What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit, shall the dust praise thee, shall it declare thy truth?” What they most feared was not death as such, nor that they might lose themselves in death, but that they might lose con-tact contact with Jehovah. Now the same state of feeling asserts itself in regard to the great future coming of Jehovah. “How long, 0 Jehovah? Wilt thou hide thyself forever? . . . 0 remember how short my time is. For what vanity hast thou created all the children of men! What man is he that shall live and not see death? That shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Lord, where are thy former loving kindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy faithfulness ?” Here the bitterness of death is measured by the danger that it may sweep out of reach the vision of Jehovah and the enjoyment of his glorious reign at the end. To lose touch with Him in Sheol would be painful, to miss Him at his final epiphany intolerable, it would be the supreme tragedy of religion. This is convincing proof that the eschatology of the Psalter seeks and loves nought above Jehovah Himself.”[2]

“How pervasively and intensely spiritual the atmosphere of the eschatology of the Psalter is, can best be appreciated by remembering to what an extent our Lord has reproduced it in his teaching. Most of the second clauses of the beatitudes are to all intent a description of the eschatological kingdom in Psalter-language. “The poor in spirit,” “the pure in heart,” “the meek,” “the merciful,” “the peace-makers,” peace-makers,” together with their respective predicates, the endowment with the kingdom, the inheritance of the earth, the obtaining of mercy, the vision of God, the adoption into sonship, these are all Psalter-types and Psalter-hopes, found fit to enter into a most highly spiritualized description of the future by the Psalter’s greatest interpreter.”[3]

“it might seem as if both the Psalter and Old Testament eschatology in general lent real support to the view that it is this lower earthly sphere, that must be transformed, and that, leaving the question of a higher sphere to itself, the Christian can be contented with directing his reclaiming effort to it alone. But this is only apparently so, and the Psalter is, of all biblical books, the best adapted to correct this impression, because it gives us a glimpse not merely of a higher future world objectively, but gives us a glimpse of the subjective psychological process by which the revelation of such a higher world was carried home to the minds of the Psalmists, and consequently of the depth to which it is rooted in the very heart of the religious consciousness itself. It was because they could not conceive of the communion between themselves and their God as other than endless, that the Psalmists projected it into a future life. It was the challenge of death flung into the face of religion that led to this supreme victory of faith. It was this that opened the gates of brass and broke the iron bars in sunder. Thus religion reached the consciousness of the inadequacy of the present life to meet its most instinctive and deepest de-sires, de-sires, and threw its anchor into the greater, eternal beyond. And from that moment onward there could be no more doubt as to where the emphasis in biblical religion would finally lie.”[4]

1Vos, Geerhardus. “Eschatology of The Psalter.” Gordon Faculty Online. Gordon College. Web. 16, January, 2016.
2. Ibid.