Biblical typology has been a subject of particular interest of mine for sometime. For those unfamiliar, the study of Biblical types is in reference to various symbols, motifs, or types that serve as shadowy representations of an anti-type. As a prefix in Greek “anti-” has the primary meaning of “instead of, or, in exchange for.” The anti-type is the exemplary model that the types or symbols of the past (OT history) reflect. An example of this is first seen in the creation of man. Man was made in God’s image, after His likeness (Gen 1.26-28). Man the creature serves as a type of the anti-type God the Creator. Other more familiar examples are seen in Moses the Deliverer, David the Shepherd/Warrior King, paschal lamb, the Red Sea crossing, head-crushing, etc. These various people or events or activities represent deeper revelatory truths. They point to something greater than themselves.
On a personal level it has been a delight of mine to study David, 2nd king of Israel and the way he reflects the anti-type Jesus Christ. One example that has moved me emotionally to the point of tears is the way David pursues a member from the household of Saul, Mephibosheth the lame son of Jonathan. David restores to him his father’s household, he provides for him a seat at his table, as one of his own sons. Adoptive grace which serves as a shadowy representation of Jesus Christ our Lord who takes the lame sons of His enemy and shows them great love in inviting them to sup at His table and to have dominion as adoptive children of the King (2 Sam 9).
Before I continue, I want to make one final point for those unfamiliar, and perhaps, uncomfortable with this type of exegetical outlook. Jesus used a similar methodology when teaching on earth. Jesus used the prophetic ministry of Jonah—specifically his burial in the belly of a great fish, and his return to life 3 days later (Matt 12.39-40)–as a type that served as a shadowy representation of His own death, burial and resurrection. Another instance, in a purely creaturely level, Jesus used the example of Lot’s wife as a type describing the individual who turns back to their old way of life rather than embracing the new life offered by God (Luke 17.32-33). Such a person is fit for the wrath of God since they find the gift of God unworthy of their attention .
The Use of Typology in Biblical Study…
I find it necessary at this point to add a caveat when attempting to use typological study in Biblical study. This is not a first step, but a last step in the exegetical process. We must resist the urge to allegorize the text. Our first responsibility, is to exegete the passage of Scripture under consideration with a mind for its historical/grammatical context. A priority must be placed on the author and his intended audience, and message being conveyed at that time for that people; the overall flow of thought. Once the text has been properly observed, then it may be correctly interpreted, with the desire to apply such knowledge to the believer’s life.
This brings me closer to the key concern in this post. Recently, I read a very interesting article by a fellow blogger entitled, “Psalm 2 is Messianic”. We have never met, so I don’t know him personally, but we have interacted a number of times through our blogs and on the social media site Gab. SLIMJIM as he is known on his website Veritas Domain is someone I would consider a brother-in-the-Lord. A very encouraging individual whose love for God and His Word is clearly put on display through his writings and recommendations.
One of his latest blogs (see above) is an instance where the two of us interacted. He wrote on the Messianic nature of Psalm 2 where he highlighted three points that seem to verify this claim (#1: Details of the Psa 2; #2: The Torah-Messiah structure (parallelism); #3: NT interpretation). Post is very well-written and succinct. I commented on the typological understanding of the various Messianic psalms pastor Jim touched on in his parallel section (pt. 2). That they refer first to David (the type) and then to Christ Jesus (the anti-type) as ultimate point of reference.
In reply to my comments pastor Jim probed a bit further on my thoughts. He wrote,
“… there are Psalms that have referent to David and then typologically to the Messiah; but also at other times there’s direct prophecies of Christ that can’t be talking about David such as in Psalms 16 and acts 2 Peter said it can’t be David. What do you think??” –SLIMJIM, author.
I responded my thoughts on the issue. In return, he suggested that I turn my answer to his question into a post. What follows is a summary of my comments. I have rewritten my original commentary for the sake of clarity. The answer presented below represents that initial thread of thought.
Psalm 16 and Acts 2
Psalm 16 is a song or prayer of David, 2nd king of Israel. Acts 2 contains the powerful message of the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost. Peter applies many Old Testament passages to Jesus Christ our Lord. Specifically, Peter makes an application of Psalm 16:8-10 to the recently resurrected Jesus. For the reader’s consideration, I will present both passages side-by-side.
“I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psa 16.8-11; NASB).1
“For David says of Him, ‘I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; Because you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow your Holy One to undergo decay. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with your presence” (Acts 2.25-28).
First, I wholeheartedly agree that when Peter speaks of David’s comment in Psalm 16:8-11 (cf. Acts 2:25, 29-31) that David as the Lord’s prophet, being inspired of the Holy Spirit spoke ultimately of Christ (his descendant) to come. The apostle inspired by the same Spirit reveals to his listeners (and us, his readers) this truth as understood by David. It should also be noted that this does not mean that David’s understanding of what he wrote was complete. He looked ahead in hope (surety and conviction) of what God would do through his future offspring, but like all the prophets that came before a perfect picture of what that truth entailed was not granted (cf. 1 Pet 1.10-12).
A similar looking ahead may be seen in Job’s confession, when he says,
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another” (Job 19.25-27a).
With confidence Job testified that he would see his God, his Redeemer, with his own eyes though he would eventually die. This confidence was that God would not allow him to remain in that state of death, for one day God would restore him in the flesh. Something only possible because of the substitionary sacrifice that Christ Jesus took upon Himself–though the grave was not able to hold Him!
Second, I agree that when Peter spoke of David’s words they were ultimately fulfilled in Christ. For only the incarnated Lord would have power over both life and death; He being the Resurrection of the dead (cf. John 11.25-26).
Third, I would emphasize that when David first penned these inspired words–here speaking of Psalm 16–that they were initially about him. That is, they were an expression of his own heart, his own commitment, his own trust and security in the Lord of Hosts. Thus, Psalm 16 is a personal expression of a believer in the one and only God of heaven and earth.
“Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You” (Psa 16.1).
This was David’s heartfelt conviction that his security in life and death rested in Yahweh alone. Thus, Psalm 16:8-11 should be read contextually with the entire flow of thought in the rest of this prayer or song of praise. Thus we see David’s heart put on display, when says,
“Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely. For You [Yahweh] will not abandon my soul to Sheol [the grave]; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay [or corruption]” (Psa 16.9-10; brackets added for clarity).
For his faith was not a dead faith but a living one. One that trust God’s Word, His promises, His instruction to be true. David would not be abandoned because of God’s love for him.
Fourth, we know that Christ is the Holy one of God. That is, the chief or “Holy of holies” of God Almighty. But that same expression “holy one” is not limited in use to Christ, but is applied in a general sense to all of God’s children (cf. Lev 20.7-8; Dan 7.18, 27). In this sense, David is a holy one that won’t see corruption or be left to the grave. He understands or confidently asserts that the believer’s destiny is not stationed there.
Fifth, then what do we make of Peter’s assertion? Is it not a contradiction to claim that David asserted this truth for himself, but also in the Spirit applied it to the ONE who would come after him and accomplish this?
A contradiction is something stated in the same way or in the same place with the same emphasis or sense. This then isn’t a contradiction, but an understanding that takes at face value that when David first penned these words they were an expression of his own heart (convictions). That they were built on the confidence of God’s Word (e.g. Job 19.25-27). That they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Thusly, they were true for David to declare about himself, but in hope to look forward to Jesus Christ as the only foundation that makes these things possible. A hope similarly expressed by all the household of faith that came before him (David).
In this, I do not deny what Peter stated on Pentecost. David did look ahead to Christ where his hope rested. This he did as inspired by the Holy Spirit resting his confidence in none other but God’s chief Anointed or “Holy One.” And yet, these words were confidently asserted by the believer David in relation to his eternal state. His strength was because God strengthened him to set his hope on such.
“I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand [power or strength], I will not be shaken” (Psa 16.8)
So, what I see presented in Psalm 16 is the desires of the heart poured out by a man of God as he is carried along by the Holy Spirit. David rested his hope on God alone. He trusted that God’s Word was true and could not be broken. He looked to God to secure his presence with Him in eternity. Meaning, David’s home was not the grave but in the Holy Presence of God Almighty.
What the apostle Peter does is he applies David’s words to the ultimate referent in the Psalm that makes David’s hope possible, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the one and only Son of God, the Son fo David, the Redeemer who has within His power control of life and death. This, Peter said was proved by His resurrection. David’s body remained in the grave awaiting the author of Life to break the curse so that he too might enjoy God forevermore.
In this, I think what we have is an instance of “both” not an either/or. The Psalm refers to the desires and prayers of David the type, but has its ultimate conclusion or meaning in Christ Jesus the anti-type.
1All Scripture shall be of the New American Standard Bible (NASB), unless otherwise noted.
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