Thursday, June 23, 2011

Psalm 69 and "fuller senses"

If any one doubts my repeated claims that the NT authors read the OT "spiritually" with more tangential interest in the original meaning, I was looking at the NT use of Psalm 69 today.

The early Christians read a number of verses from this psalm in relation to Jesus' last days in Jerusalem:

vs. 9 in relation to Jesus' action in the temple and in relation to Jesus' rejection in general
vs. 21 of the cross
vss. 22 and 25 of Judas

But consider vs. 5 where the psalmist speaks of his guilt and folly, something that clearly would not apply to Jesus.  In other words, the psalm had a distinct original meaning in which a psalmist cried out to God for help. And selective verses had a "spiritual" meaning to many early Christian readers of the psalm.

So as we see over and over again, the NT authors were not wired or apparently worried to read OT texts for what they meant historically.  They naturally and predominantly found "fuller senses" and figural meanings in the words.  Once again we see that a historical orientation to Scripture is a relatively recent orientation.


Robert said...

Of course it's modern; history in the modern sense is a modern invention.

I don't know about 'fuller' senses though. Different, certainly, but 'fuller' is a claim to superiority.

Anonymous said...

"fuller senses" = "proof texting" ?

Bob MacDonald said...

spiritually? What does that mean?

I have not published my meanderings on this psalm yet - some time in October d.v.

This is a psalm of reproach. Jesus takes up the prayer of God's people in full identification with them. The reproach is framed with salvation. Waters, a symbol of trouble, are not to have the last word.

Now here's a spiritual interpretation from medieval times:
Why is this psalm at the place of the lilies? And this one (of psalms 45, 60 singular, 69, 80, q.v.) is the only one with extended spelling, שׁושׁנים rather than שׁשׁנים. The lilies are Rashi's symbol for students of Torah. It is also a symbol of love, recalling the Song of Songs. Where psalm 60 inscribes the particularity of one elect lily, the other three psalms are inclusive of all. Where psalm 45 is the joy of love, this psalm is its cost. The links to first century thought from four different writers from the passion of Jesus to this psalm show how much this psalm was associated at that time with Jesus life and death.
Verse 5, John 15:25, they hated me without a cause.
Verse 10, Romans 15:3 the reproaches of them that reproached you have fallen on me and John 2:17, zeal for your house has devoured me.
Verse 21, Matthew 27:34, 48: they gave for my food venom and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Verses 23-24, Romans 11:9-10: Let their table become in their faces a trap and in their peace a snare, let their eyes be darkened from seeing and their loins continually shake
Verse 25, Acts 1:20: Let their home become desolate, in their tents let no one be living
This is the human condition of strong crying and tears, is it not?

Any verse cited in the psalm would bring to mind the whole psalm with its two parts 1-16/17 and 18-end framed by the servant. I am not sure where to divide the psalm at the moment. The frames are all on my psalm translation site here.

FrGregACCA said...

We should learn from the NT authors. Cf. I Corinthians 10, especially vs. 11, and Galatians 4:23-31, for example.