The Sufferings of Christ and the Glories to Follow (see 1 Peter 1:10-12)
There are a number of passages in the Book of Psalms which the writers of the New Testament apply to Jesus. Many of these psalms directly describe matters associated with the First or Second Advent of Christ. Some generally refer to the experience of the psalmist but have Messianic parallels. These New Testament citations are in keeping with the references of Jesus to the Psalms concerning Himself. To the two disciples on the way to Emmaus he had said, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27). Later in his appearance to the eleven disciples and those gathered with them He said, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44-45). Let’s go on a walk through the Psalms and consider many of the ones from which the writers of the New Testament cited in reference to Jesus.
Psalm 2:7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” Hebrews 1:5 uses this verse in speaking of the person of Jesus Christ (see also 5:5 and Acts 13:33). Acts 4:25-26 refers to Psalm 2:1-2. Psalm 2 presents the nations of the earth in rebellion against the Messiah and predicts the Messiah’s reign presenting him as God’s Son to be worshiped.
Psalm 8:2 “From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength.” Jesus uses this text in Matthew 21:15-16 when the chief priests and the scribes objected to the children praising Him as the Son of David, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself?’”
Psalm 8:4-6 “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” Hebrews 2:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 15:27 cite these verses. They speak of Christ’s humanity and divinity. He represents the human race and receives authority over all creation. Psalm 8 presents the Messiah as the Son of Man and restorer of the earth.
Psalm 16:10 “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” Peter and Paul apply this verse to the Resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:25-31, 13:35).
Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Jesus utters these words on the cross (Matthew 27:46). Psalm 22 provides a detailed view of the crucifixion. It seems like we are standing at the foot of the cross.
Psalm 22:7-8 “All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” These words describe the gestures and words of the enemies of Jesus as they watched Him on the cross (see Matthew 27:39; Luke 23:35).
Psalm 22:15 “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws.” This perhaps describes Jesus’ thirst on the cross (John 19:28).
Psalm 22:18 “They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.” This verse prophetically speaks of the soldiers casting lots for the clothing of Jesus (Matthew 27:35; John 19:23-24).
22:22 I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. Hebrews 2:12 uses this verse to support the truth that great reward awaits those who are willing to endure the sufferings involved in doing God’s will. This was true of Christ; it is also true for His followers.
Psalm 34:20 “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.” In John 19:31-37 John tells us that the soldiers went out the break the legs of those who hung on the crosses, but when they came to Jesus they found that He was already dead. “For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, ‘not a bone of him shall be broken’” (John 19:36). According to Exodus 12:46, the bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken!
Psalm 40:6-8 “Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, “Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.” Hebrews 10:5-7 uses these words to describe the obedience of Christ to the Father in coming into the world.
Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me. Jesus quoted this verse and applied it to His betrayal by Judas (Luke 22:48).
Psalm 45:6-7 “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of joy above Your fellows.” Hebrews 1:8-9 applies these verses to the divinity and eternal kingdom of Christ.
Psalm 68:18 “You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among men.” Paul uses this statement in Ephesians 4:8 in reference to the Lord’s ascension into Heaven to rule as the head of the church.
Psalm 69:4 “Those who hate me without a cause,” is quoted in John 15:25. This Psalm, along with Psalm 22, is one of the most frequently quoted psalms in the New Testament.
Psalm 69:9 “For zeal for Your house has consumed me.” In John 2:17 we read, His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” This was after Jesus had cleansed the temple. Paul quotes the second part of this verse in Romans 15:3, “And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.” as he spoke of Christ’s example.
Psalm 69:21 “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Matthew 27:48 informs us that Jesus was given gall and vinegar to drink as He hung on the cross.
Psalm 69:25 “May their camp be desolate; May none dwell in their tents.” Peter, when suggesting the appointment of another apostle to replace Judas, used this verse along with Psalm 109:8 “Let another take his office” (Acts 1:20).
Psalm 89:4 “I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations.” The New Testament sees this verse concerning the Davidic Covenant fulfilled in Jesus. In Acts 13:23 Peter states: “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.” And the angel Gabriel revealed to Mary: He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
Psalm 102:25-27 “Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end.” Hebrews 1:10-12 quotes these verses referring to Christ’s part in the creation of the universe and His eternal nature.
Psalm 110:1 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” Jesus applies this verse to Himself when speaking of His deity (Matthew 22:44). This entire psalm speaks of the Messiah, His priesthood, His judgment on unbelievers, and His reign upon the earth. The New Testament quotes it or alludes to it multiple times in relation Jesus.
Psalm 110:4 The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:6 and 6:19—7:28 make use of this verse to establish that God made Jesus a priest forever.
Psalm 118:22-23 “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Jesus applied these verses to Himself when He was rejected by the house of Israel. He became the chief cornerstone of God’s house. This verse is mentioned in Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7.
Psalm 118:26 “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” This was sung during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).
Peter, Paul and other New Testament writers used the psalms to speak of the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow as they sought to build up believers and bear witness of Christ. We likewise should use them to build up our faith and to share the good news about Christ.
The following chart displays some of these Psalm references and some of their New Testament citations: