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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. STRUCTURE OF THE PSALM.—The psalm consists of ten stanzas, each being composed of four verses, containing seven syllables each. It may be divided into three parts: a. vv. 1–4 are a prayer for the new king; b. vv. 5–11 describe, or rather predict, the universality and the eternity of the new king’s power; c. vv. 12–17 tell us with what justice and kindness he will rule. d. The verses which follow are a mere closing word to the second book of psalms.

2. AUTHOR OF THE PSALM.—a. Kimchi and other Hebrews have been of opinion that the psalm was written by David, when, a short time before his death, he designated his son Solomon as his successor in his kingdom. Hensler in “Bemerkungen über Stellen in den Psalmen und in der Genesis” has successfully refuted this opinion. b. The psalm must have been written by Solomon. α. First of all, the title of the psalm shows this. For though the Vulgate renders the title, “A Psalm on Solomon,” it must be noted that in the Hebrew text we have the same preposition which in most instances is rendered in the Vulgate as indicating the authorship. Thus we repeatedly read, “A Psalm of David,” which should have been rendered according to the Vulgate’s present reading, “A Psalm on David.” β. What is clear from the inscription of the psalm is confirmed by its style, which resembles the style of the Book of Proverbs, and necessitates that the authorship of the psalm be ascribed to the writer of Proverbs. γ. Finally, the allusions to distant lands, to an extended and peaceful dominion, and a certain air of calm and cheerful reflection, are characteristic of the son of David.

3. SUBJECT OF THE PSALM.—a. The psalm consists of prayers or wishes, formed or expressed on the accession of some particular Hebrew king, probably of Solomon (Rosenmüller formerly). b. Part of the psalm refers literally to Solomon and typically to Christ; part refers literally to the Messias (Muis, Bossuet, Patrizi, etc.). Both these views are based principally on a false rendering of the psalm’s title. c. Here as in psalm 45 the reigning king (Solomon, Ozias, Josias) is idealized (Cheyne). Or the psalm presents Israel’s aspirations for the ideal Messianic king, typified by, but distinct from, the reigning monarch (Briggs, “Messianic Prophecy,” pp. 137, 138). d. The psalm is wholly Messianic in its literal sense. This view rests on the following arguments: 1. Justin, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Tertullian, Theodoret, and Augustine have explained the psalm in this manner. Their testimonies may be found collected in Reinke’s work on the Psalms, and the references are indicated in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ii. 60. 2. No earthly king could have fulfilled the predictions, and justified the king’s description as given in the psalm; to think that any king could have thus spoken of his own term of office is to ascribe to him a boundless vanity and an unbearable pride. It must then be inferred that the psalmist’s spirit was under the influence of a power which prompted these utterances in which the Church in all ages has found announcements of the Messias.

3. This sentiment of the Church regarding Ps. 71 fully agrees with the view of the Synagogue. We may be allowed to quote the most remarkable of the pertinent Jewish testimonies:

Verse 1. The Targum renders: “O God, give the decrees of thy judgments to the king Messias, and thy righteousness to the son of David the king.” The Midrash refers this to the Messias with reference to Is. 11:1, 5 (fol. 27, col. 4).

Verse 10. The Midrash on Genesis, or Bereshith Rabba, sect. 78, has the following passage: “One of the common people said to the Rabbi Hoshaya: In case I tell you a nice thing, would you repeat it in the college in my name? What is it? All the presents which our father Jacob gave to Esau the nations of the world will once return to the king Messias, as it is said: ‘The kings of Tharsis.…’ It is not written ‘they shall bring,’ but ‘they shall return.’ Truly, said Rabbi Hoshaya, thou hast said a nice thing, and I will publicly repeat it in thy name.”

Verse 16. “And there shall be a firmament on the earth, on the tops of mountains” (a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains). Tanchuma (fol. 79, col. 4) asks: “When will this be?” “In the days of the Messias” is the answer. The Midrash on Eccles. 1:9 has the following comment: “As the first Redeemer fed the people with manna (cf. Ex. 16:4), so too will the last Redeemer send manna down, as it is said: and there shall be.…” The Talmudic tract Shabbath (fol. 30, col. 2) has the following reference to Ps. 71:16: “Rabban Gamaliel was sitting one day explaining to his disciples that in the future (i.e., in Messianic times) a woman will give birth every day, for it is said: ‘She travails and brings forth at once’ (Jer. 31:8). A certain disciple sneeringly said: ‘There is no new thing under the sun’ (Eccles. 1:9). ‘Come,’ said the Rabbi, ‘and I will show thee something similar even in this world; and he showed him a hen which laid eggs every day. Again, Gamaliel sat and expounded that in the future world the trees will bear fruit every day, for it is said: ‘And it shall bring forth boughs and bear fruit’ (Ezech. 17:23). As the boughs grow every day, so will the fruit grow every day. The same disciple sneeringly said: ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ ‘Come,’ said the Rabbi, ‘and I will show thee something like it even now, in this age.’ And he directed him to a caper-berry, which bears fruit and leaves at all seasons of the year. Again, as Gamaliel was sitting and expounding to his disciples that the land of Israel in the Messianic age would produce cakes and clothes of the finest wool, for it is said: ‘There shall be a handful of corn in the earth, …’ that disciple again sneeringly remarked: ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ ”

Verse 17. “Let his name be blessed for evermore, his name continueth before the sun.” The Talmud very often applies this verse to the Messias. In Pesachim (fol. 54, col. 1; cf. Nedarim, fol. 39, col. 2) we read: “Seven things were created before the world. These are: the Law, for it is said: ‘The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old’ (Prov. 8:22); Repentance, for it is said: ‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world …, thou saidst: Return, ye children of men’ (Ps. 90:2, 3); the Garden of Eden, for it is said: ‘And the Lord planted the Garden before’ (Gen. 2:8); Hell, for it is said: ‘For Tophet is ordained of old’ (Is. 30:33); the glorious Throne and the Site of the Sanctuary, for it is said: ‘The glorious throne called from the beginning, and the place of our sanctuary’ (Jer. 17:12); the Name of the Messias, for it is said: ‘His name shall endure for ever, before the sun (existed) his name was Yinnon.’ ”

To show that the Synagogue always regarded Yinnon as the Messias, we may appeal to the prayers for the Day of Atonement: “Before he created anything, he established his dwelling, and Yinnon the lofty armory he established from the beginning, before any people or language. He counselled to suffer his divine presence to rest there, that those who err might be guided into the path of rectitude. Though their wickedness be flagrant, yet hath he caused repentance to precede it, when he said: ‘Wash ye, cleanse yourselves.’ Though he should be exceedingly angry with his people, yet will the Holy One not awaken all his wrath. We have hitherto been cut off through our evil deeds, yet hast thou, O our Rock, not brought consummation on us. The Messias, our righteousness, is departed from us; horror has seized us, and we have none to justify us. He hath borne the yoke of our iniquities, and our transgression, and is wounded because of our transgression; he beareth our sins on his shoulder, that he may find pardon for our iniquities. We shall be healed by his wound, at the time that the Eternal will create him as a new creature. O bring him up from the circle of the earth, raise him up from Seir, to assemble us a second time on Mount Lebanon, by the hand of Yinnon.” A number of other Rabbinic testimonies regarding the Messianic nature of Psalm 71 may be seen in Reinke’s “Messianische Psalmen,” ii. pp. 45 f., Giessen, 1858.

PS. 71:1–17

Give to the king thy judgment, O God,

And to the king’s son thy justice,

To judge thy people with justice,

And thy poor with judgment.

Let the mountains receive peace for the people,

And the hills justice.

He shall judge the poor of the people,

And he shall save the children of the poor.

And he shall humble the oppressor,

And he shall continue with the sun,

And before the moon, throughout all generations.

He shall come down like rain upon the fleece,

And as showers, falling gently upon the earth;

In his days shall justice spring up,

And abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away.

And he shall rule from sea to sea,

And from the river unto the ends of the earth;

Before him the Ethiopians shall fall down,

And his enemies shall lick the ground.

The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents,

The kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts,

And all kings of the earth shall adore him,

All nations shall serve him.

For he shall deliver the poor from the mighty,

And the needy that have no helper;

He shall spare the poor and needy,

And he shall save the souls of the poor.

He shall redeem their souls from usuries and iniquity,

And their name shall be honorable in his sight,

And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Arabia,

For him they shall always adore; they shall bless him all the day.

And there shall be a firmament on the earth,

On the tops of mountains,

Above Libanus shall the fruit thereof be exalted,

And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.

1 Let his name be blessed for evermore,

His name continueth before the sun.

And in him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed,

All nations shall magnify him.

It is true that the tenth verse is applied in the Liturgy of the Church to the adoration of the Magi; but it would be wrong to limit its meaning to that event alone. The homage of the Magi formed only the beginning of the fulfilment of the psalm. The prophecy in its adequate meaning has reference to all the Gentiles that are to be converted to Christ.








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