Friday, May 23, 2008

Looking out to sea, looking at the Psalms

I sat on Exmouth beach yesterday evening before Em's school choir helped kick off the Exmouth Festival, listening to
Mike Reeves - Psalm 1 - All Souls
Mike Reeves - Psalm 15 - All Souls

When you have two spare half hours these two make a great introduction to the Psalms. I'm struck deeply by the way that Mike shows the Psalms to be a book about Jesus. Possibly not everyone is going to agree with his handling of the text, but I think it'd take some strong persuading to convince me that The Man is not Jesus.

BTW: regarding yesterdays explosion in Exeter. I was on the train back from Reading when it happened and just had my walk home a little diverted. Em was actually in town when it happened but only knew of it from the increased police presence.


  1. Bish - you seem to listen loads, read loads, write loads, talk loads - and think loads...

    Are you a machine? What does a "day in the life of ... Bish" look like? How well do you think we use our time... particularly younger Christians?

  2. Some people have the humility to filter what they share with the world, it's possible that I don't.

    That said, when you consider the output of some Christians in previous generations we're not great at using time.

    I guess I like to redeem time - like the spare hour I had while Em was sorting the kids out to perform, or a train journey etc (and I make plenty of those). Most of what I blog is what I've done with work.

    It might be that I don't have much of a life... but then I don't watch vast amounts of TV (with a few exceptions)...

    I guess my job lends itself to some of this stuff. There is no 'day in the life' - every day is very different, which is part of the joy of my job from my perspective.

  3. thanks for the links to the messages on psalms by mike reeves!

    these past two weeks at capitol hill baptist(mark dever)
    there have been very good sermons on psalms 13 and 14 if anyone was interested in more.

  4. I haven't listened yet, but I think I've always seen those psalms as fulfilled in Jesus - certainly I pondered doing Ps.15 when we did a series of 'Messianic psalms' for SLOBS last year. Not that they 'predict' Him, but they foreshadow Him. In that regard, I was tempted to do some of the less obvious psalms in our 'Messianic' series, but alas, I reluctantly honed the list down conservatively to 2, 8, 16, 22, 89 and 110 since we only had 6 studies. Still, 'twas the same principle of foreshadowing - Jesus being the true King, the Man, the one dying and rising for the people's sin and justification, the one who answers the tensions of the OT expressed in the questions of Ps89 - glorious. I love the Psalms: they help me love Jesus so much. Get hold of Grogan - you'd enjoy it.

  5. Hi Etrangere,

    We've never met but I've enjoyed your comments around the traps.
    Can I ask what your distinction is between 'predict' and 'foreshadow'?

    If Peter says 'David spoke concerning Jesus... Seeing what was ahead he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ' (Acts 2) etc - this pushes us towards 'predicts' rather than foreshadows do you think?

    Not trying to be pedantic I do think that the teaching/preaching of the Psalms can differ significantly depending on whether you see (for eg) that the Man *is* Jesus or whether the Man is first us/people/kings then later fulfilled in Jesus.


  6. Ah, ha! We are off again!

    I met a messianic Jew in Berlin last week (good name for a book?). And I asked him how he dealt with the issue of interpretation of the OT.

    He said that a two level approach was his preference. He said that there is always a historical context - and all Scripture is given for our edification. If we go down the road of denying the original context then we can loose accuracy.

    He also mentioned the scholar Walter Kaiser on this and recommended his book on the OT. I'm thinking of getting it.

    And the final thing that he said was that he found the concept of "Ideal Israel" a very important bridge in OT interpretation.

    But you guys seem to be rejecting this sort of an approach in favour of a single tier 'gospel only' or 'Jesus only' hermeneutic? Or have I misunderstood?

  7. hm. Walter Kaiser...

    Someone recently mentioned his book, "The Majesty of God in the Old Testament, a guide for preaching and teaching".

    We bought it and we've been greatly blessed reading that!

    It's cool to hear, Tom, that your messianic friend recommends Kaiser as well.

  8. ;-) Hi Tom,
    I may just be the "you guys" you refer to. I'm not claiming to represent the views of anyone else here but what I'm saying is that the original context is

    a) important and
    b) messianic.

    ie there is not a non-messianic first-tier that is then added to with a messianic re-reading. From what I've read of Kaiser he'd agree. Check out this quote re messianic content:

    “if it is not in the OT text, who cares how ingenious later writers are in their ability to reload the OT text with truths that it never claimed or revealed in the first place?"

    Anyway there's plenty of stuff on my blog at the moment on these issues if you're interested.

  9. I always think that Hebrews is a good place to turn to in order to see how OT exegesis is modelled. Sure enough, Hebrews 2 analysis of Psalm 8 helps out here, doesn't it? The psalm is so clearly about "mankind" but then applied to Jesus in its ultimate fulfillment.

  10. If Hebrews was claiming that first the Psalm referred to men and then Jesus it would be the only example of this in the whole catena of Psalm quotations that began in chapter 1. In all of these the argument is that each Psalm concerns the Son. It never models a two-tier interpretation. The argument is that the Psalms show the Son to be superior to angels (the homilist is not concerned to show that *humanity* is greater than angels). Hebrews 2 is continuing this argument. Certainly David Peterson as he taught our Hebrews class at Oak Hill was insisting that the argument of *Hebrews* was that Psalm 8 concerns the Son first and its application to humanity is derivative. He cited loads of other commentaries which seemed to be travelling in the same direction also, sorry I don't have sources.

  11. BTW this is not to say that my view is the same as that of David Peterson on these broader issues. I'm just referring to the narrow question of how Hebrews 2 is using Psalm 8. There are two main options:

    1) The writer first uses Psalm 8 to refer to humanity, then adds a christocentric interpretation.


    2) The writer uses Psalm 8 christocentrically throughout, just as he has done since chapter 1.

    We both plump for 2. But while the Sydney position would say this "use" is an apostolic re-reading, I'd say it was a simple explication of the original messianic intent.

    Hope that's clearer

  12. Not convinced, Glen - though it is a very interesting debate. Let's continue it sometime, somewhere else (perhaps I'll post at the Bible and Coffee Club?). I'm with Carson on this one (see The Inclusive Language Debate), though I know that Piper dissents. Perhaps I shouldn't have introduced such a contentious example....!!

  13. Glad you and yours are all safe. Thanks for the links. I always find something edifying here at the bluefish project.

  14. Hi Adrian,
    the example is good - I consider it your best shot at establishing a two-tier interpretation of Psalms. But I think Heb 1 (and Acts 2) stands in your way.

    Maybe post a comment on my 'Christ in OT' series if you blog on this. Love to come over and discuss further.


  15. I wonder if the two-tier language is actually unhelpful. But that what it's trying to get at is helpful.

    Talk of two tiers unhelpfully separates out the levels of meaning rather than as seeing them as fully integrated. However, I do think that, for e.g., Psalm 1 is about the ideal israelite, and that it invites the reader of the Psalms to strive to be like 'the man.' The rest of the bible, including many parts of the psalms, show us that the Messiah is the ideal israelite, and so, canonicall understood, Psalm 1 is Messianic too (but then I think all the psalms testify to Christ, without feeling the need to make them direct predictions with no other historical referents).

    We ought to embrace a variety of ways in which the scriptures testify to Christ. I fear that demanding the OT authors saw and fully meant everything we can now see and learn from their texts might flatten the way the OT testifies to Christ.

    I also disagree on psalm 8, I think the way the author uses that Psalm is very very clever, combining the way the psalm speaks of Adam/ humanity-at-creation/ David with the way that creation-intention is achieved only in the Son.

  16. Won't say any more except that: "striving to be like 'the man'" preaches very differently to Mike's sermon to which Dave has linked. (Do check it out) Mike's line is not 'be like the man' instead it's "Blessed is The Man... and blessed are those who take refuge in Him." Compare and contrast the outcome of the different biblical theologies.

  17. At risk of killing this thread, can I suggest..

    a) Those involved, listen to Mike's two sermons,
    b) Let's discuss the specifics of what he said, argued etc.

    i.e. instead of talking around it - let's engage the subject.

    And if what Mike has taught from Ps1/15 isn't what you think they say - then how would you teach those Psalms?

    Any takers?

  18. Sorry, would love to, but exams won't permit at this stage. Apologies for wading in when I can't really commit.

    Glen, I think my approach would enable me to preach both 'seek refuge in the man' and 'strive to be like the man.' And I think that accords with scripture.

  19. Sorry for setting this off when I hadn't listened to the sermons. I have now. But I haven't got my head round this whole discussion and its links to Christology yet so Glen, all I'll do to respond to your helpful question is post on my blog my current thoughts. I enjoyed Mike's talks.

  20. Thanks for putting these out for our attention, Dave.

    I don't know if this is as big an issue in the UK as it is over here, but Mr. Reeves shows that in preaching, it doesn't have to be either practical teaching or Jesus Christ but that once Christ is preached, it is essential (and I think easier) to show how his truth applies to the believer's life. "Both-and," not "either-or."