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

Section I. The Man of My Peace Hath Supplanted Me

PS. 40 (41)

1. STRUCTURE OF THE PSALM.—Prof. Bickell divides the psalm into four stanzas, each of which comprises six trochaic, octosyllabic lines. The first stanza comprises verses 2–4; the second, vv. 5–7; the third, verses 8–10; the last, vv. 11–13.

2. AUTHOR OF THE PSALM.—The title of the psalm supposes its Davidic authorship, and no solid argument has been advanced against this. The fact that it is found in the collection of psalms generally believed to be of Davidic origin confirms this conclusion. A different view will be indirectly considered in the next paragraph.

3. SUBJECT OF THE PSALM.—Opinions: 1. Theodoras of Heraclea and Venerable Bede understand the psalm as referring in its literal meaning to the sickness of Ezechias. What has been said in the preceding section concerning its author renders this opinion improbable. 2. Most Rabbinic writers, Muis, Genebrard, Ferrandus, Choisy, Bossuet, Vatable, Flaminio, and many others, refer the psalm in its literal meaning to David’s sickness after his sin with Bethsabee. The three preceding psalms are easily explained as referring to the same period. Curci rightly criticises Patrizi’s arguments against Rosenmüller’s opinion that the particular incidents mentioned in the psalm occurred about the time of Absolom’s rebellion. For it must be granted that the above-mentioned sickness preceded this insurrection only a short time, so that even then enemies must have spoken evil against David, expected his death, and deliberated how to seize his goods; particularly must the treacherous friend Miphiboseth (2 Kings 9:11; 19:24 ff.; and especially 16:3) have begun to show his ill-feeling towards the rightful king. Schegg aptly points to the Old Testament view according to which sickness and temporal suffering were regarded as punishments for personal guilt. Consequently, David’s state afforded his enemies a most specious ground for speaking ill of him. Still, the same interpreter considers it more probable that the psalmist speaks of the period of Saul’s persecution than of Absolom’s rebellion. 3. In John 13:18 Jesus applies the tenth verse of this psalm to his betrayal by Judas. Agelli infers from this that no Christian can, without sinning against faith, deny the Messianic character of the whole psalm. Calmet, following Theodoret, qualifies the opinion which denies the Messianic character of the psalm as most temerarious. Hengstenberg’s exception that the sufferer in the psalm had sinned against God (v. 5), and cannot therefore be identified with the Messias, leaves the vicarious character of Christ’s suffering out of view. It is, however, not necessary to apply the literal meaning of the psalm to the Messias; its historical character need not be destroyed. But we must keep in mind that the historical facts related are such as to foreshadow future historical events connected with the person of the Messias. This typically prophetic character extends even to minor traits in the psalm. Thus David warns his friends not to be scandalized at his sufferings and his temporary abandonment; and Jesus says: “Blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me” (Matt. 11:6). The psalmist promises deliverance from suffering to those who rightly value his trials, and the same promise is held out to all those that view the passion and death of Jesus aright, with this difference, that the latter promise regards life eternal.

A number of patristic references regarding the proper meaning of the psalm may be seen in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, ii. 39 f.

4. TITLE OF THE PSALM.—The title reads: “Unto the end, a psalm for David himself.” It has been explained in the Introduction to Ps. 8 that we must read “to the chief musician” instead of “unto the end.” In like manner we must render “a psalm of David” instead of “a psalm for David himself.” The title in the Syriac version reads: “A psalm of David when he appointed overseers to take care of the poor;” the Arabic version has, “it is a prophecy concerning the incarnation, and also of the salutation of Judas.”

PS. 40 (41)

Blessed is he that understandeth concerning the needy and the poor:

The Lord will deliver him in the evil day;

The Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed

Upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies;

The Lord help him on his bed of sorrow,

Thou hast turned all his couch in his sickness.

I said: O Lord, be thou merciful to me;

Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.

My enemies have spoken evil against me,

When shall he die and his name perish?

And if he came in to see me, he spoke vain things,

His heart gathered together iniquity to itself. He went out and spoke.

To the same purpose—all my enemies whispered together against me,

They devised evils to me.

They determined against me an unjust word;

Shall he that sleepeth, rise again no more?

For even the man of my peace, in whom I trusted,

Who ate my bread, hath greatly supplanted me.

But thou, O Lord, have mercy on me, and raise me up again,

And I will requite them.

By this I know that thou hast had a good will for me,

Because my enemy shall not rejoice over me.

But thou hast upheld me by reason of my innocence,

And hast established me in thy sight for ever.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,

From eternity to eternity, so be it, so be it.

It follows from what has been said that the tenth verse of the psalm refers to the Messias at least in a typical sense, since Jesus himself applied it to his betrayal by Judas, and since, on the other hand, David suffered a similar outrage at the hands of Achitophel. As to the rest of the psalm, nothing forces us to explain it as referring to the Messias; still, the unity of the hymn and its appropriateness to the life of Jesus render the Messianic meaning of the whole very probable.

Section II. Thirty Pieces of Silver

Zach. 11

1. THE PROPHECY AND ITS CONTEXT.—A storm of war bursts over the North and East of the land, filling the people’s unworthy leaders with consternation (vv. 1–3). An allegory follows, in which the prophet, representing Jehovah, takes charge of the people whom their own selfish and grasping rulers had neglected and betrayed; the pastor faithfully fulfils his duty, but the people turn against their shepherd (vv. 4–7). The shepherd therefore delivers his flock over to the power of the enemy, by which punishment a few only are converted (vv. 8–11). In order to subject his flock to another trial of their fidelity, the shepherd demands the wages for his services, and they offer him a paltry sum, the price of an ordinary slave (vv. 12–14). The prophet is then commanded to exhibit himself as a bad shepherd of his flock, as one who afflicts and destroys his sheep (vv. 15–17).

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECY.—a. St. Jerome tells us that the Jews of his time endeavored to destroy the Christian argument based on this prophetic passage: The thirty pieces of silver they interpreted of the thirty commandments which they were obliged to observe, and of the thirty-six prohibitions which they were bound to respect, and thus to render to the “statuary,” i.e., to God the creator of heaven and earth, the price of thirty pieces of silver. The Chaldee version agrees in this attempt with the Rabbinic writers: “and I said to them,” it renders, “do my will; if not, cease! And the men did my will partially. Jehovah said unto me: Write an account of their deeds on a parchment, and throw it into the house of the sanctuary; throw it under the hand of the treasurer, because I have rendered my fear precious in their sight. And I wrote an account of their deeds, and I threw it into the house of the sanctuary of Jehovah, under the hand of the great treasurer.” The falseness of this interpretation is so clear that we need not delay over it.

b. St. Matthew (27:9) applies the prophecy of Zacharias to the price at which Jesus was sold by his treacherous apostle. “Then was fulfilled,” the Evangelist says, “that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the prize of him that was prized, whom they prized of the children of Israel, and they gave them unto the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed to me.” The circumstance that the Evangelist here refers us to Jeremias instead of Zacharias has found various explanations. Omitting several other conjectures without impugning their probability, and rejecting the opinion of Schanz, that St. Matthew here committed an error of fact, as wholly unfounded and improbable, we adhere to the suggestion of Reinke, Grimm, and Knabenbauer, who are of opinion that the Evangelist insists on the fact that the fuller’s field was bought, without emphasizing the circumstance of its exact price. The purchase of the field is prefigured in Jer. 32, while Zacharias insists on the exact price. Hence the Evangelist is right in referring us to the prophecy of Jeremias in his history of a fact which forms the fulfilment of both types, purchase and price. Cf. comment, an Matt. 27:9.

The references to the patristic testimonies regarding the prophecy of Zacharias may be found in Kilber’s Analysis Biblica, I. p. 520. As to the Rabbinic view of this prophecy, we have already seen that it was generally applied to thirty precepts; but Ber. R. 98 applies the thirty pieces of silver to thirty commands which the Messias will give to Israel, so that even the Rabbinic writers acknowledge here a Messianic reference in the words of Zacharias.

ZACH. 11

Open thy gates, O Libanus, and let fire devour thy cedars. Howl, thou fir-tree, for the cedar is fallen, for the mighty are laid waste; howl, ye oaks of Basan, because the fenced forest is cut down. The voice of the howling of the shepherds, because their glory is laid waste; the voice of the roaring of the lions, because the pride of the Jordan is spoiled.

Thus saith the Lord, my God: Feed the flock of the slaughter, which they that possessed slew, and repented not, and they sold them, saying: Blessed be the Lord, we are become rich, and their shepherds spared them not. And I will no more spare the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord. Behold, I will deliver the men, every one into his neighbor’s hand, and into the hand of his king, and they shall destroy the land, and I will not deliver it out of their hand; and I will feed the flock of slaughter for this, O ye poor of the flock. And I took unto me two rods, one I called Beauty, and the other I called a Cord; and I fed the flock.

And I cut off three shepherds in one month, and my soul was straitened in their regard, for their soul also varied in my regard. And I said: I will not feed you; that which dieth, let it die; and that which is cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest devour every one the flesh of his neighbor. And I took my rod that was called Beauty, and I cut it asunder to make void my covenant, which I had made with all peoples. And it was made void in that day; and so the poor of the flock that keep for me understood that it is the word of the Lord.

And I said to them: If it be good in your eyes, bring hither my wages; and if not be quiet. And they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me: Cast it to the statuary, a goodly price that I was priced at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and I cast them into the house of the Lord to the statuary. And I cut off my second rod that was called a Cord, that I might break the brotherhood between Juda and Israel.

And the Lord said to me: Take to thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For behold, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who shall not visit what is forsaken, nor seek what is scattered, nor heal what is broken, nor nourish that which standeth, and he shall eat the flesh of the fat ones, and break their hoofs. O shepherd and idol, that forsaketh the flock; the sword upon his arm, and upon his right eye; his arm shall quite wither away, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

The prophet here foretells the national ruin of the Jews as a consequence of the rejection of the good shepherd. Cf. Dan. 9:26.

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