Messianic Expectation in the Psalms of Solomon (2)

I have divided the 18th Psalm into three sections according to the natural pericope of the text. While the Psalm is dedicated the Lord’s Christ/Lord Christ, only the first portion (v1-4) deals exclusively with him. The next section (v5-9) deals with God’s interaction with the righteous and with the Messiah. The final sections (v10-12) are reminiscent of portions of Enoch’s book(s) on the Astronomical wonders and the Watchers.

I am undecided at Ralf’s emendation that should be Lord’s Christ opposed to the Lord Christ in which it becomes a proper name. There is no manuscript evidence to support his theory, but there is historical evidence and in the previous Psalm, it is clearly the Lord’s Christ. I have left it as Charles’ has it in his translation. While the 18th Psalm is beautiful, it is otherwise unremarkable compared to the 17th Psalm and Messianic Expectation, unless you forget Ralf’s change and take Lord Christ as the standard. Only in this cause gives rise to the development that Christ becomes a name for the Messiah, and not merely a title.

A psalm of Solomon; about the Lord Messiah.

Lord, your mercy is over the works of your hands forever. Your goodness is over Israel with a rich gift. Your eyes look upon them, so that none of them suffers want. Your ears listen to the hopeful prayer of the poor. Your judgments (are executed) upon the whole earth in mercy; and your love (is) toward the seed of Abraham, the children of Israel. Your chastisement is upon us as (upon) a first-born, only-begotten son, to turn back the obedient soul from folly (that is worked) in ignorance.

Besides the allusion of Messiah/Christ being a proper name, the one other remarkable note of this Psalm is the 4th verse, in which Israel is singular, and those, can be called the ‘first born, only-begotten son.’ Philo used the term πρωτογονος to describe the Logos,

And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labor earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel. (LIN 1:146 PHE)

I note as well that Philo used this imagery, and the imagery associated with the third pericope,

and let every one in his turn say the same thing, for it is very becoming to every man who loves God to study such a song as this, but above all this world should sing it. For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason, his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, “Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the road.” (AGR 1:51 PHE)

While the use of Philo’s very distinct Logos is debated as the genesis of John’s, the Jewish Philosopher stands as a cross roads between the Psalms of Solomon and John in connecting  the ‘first-born, only-begotten’ in the PssSol (here to represent Israel) to John’s Christ, the Messiah and Logos. There is, of course, the matter in incarnational typology, in which Christ is seen through the lens of the Servant Song in Isaiah, which originally stood for Israel. In this Psalm, we may too see a portion of that lens in which John saw Christ.

May God cleanse Israel against the day of mercy and blessing, against the day of choice when he brings back his Messiah. Blessed will they be that will be in those days, in that they will see the goodness of the Lord that he will perform for the generation that is to come. Under the rod of chastening of the Lord Messiah, in the fear of his God, in the spirit of wisdom and righteousness and strength; that he may direct (every) man in the works of righteousness by the fear of God, that he may establish them all before the Lord, a good generation (living) in the fear of God in the days of mercy. Selah.

Much of the phraseology found above has been discussed in the 17th Psalm.

Great is our God and glorious, dwelling in the highest. (It is he) who has established in (their) courses the lights (of heaven) for determining seasons from year to year. And they have not turned aside from the way, which he appointed them. In the fear of God (they pursue) their path every day, from the day God created them and for evermore. And they have erred not since the day he created them. Since the generations of old they have not withdrawn from their path, unless God commanded them (so to do) by the command of his servants. (Pss 18:1-12 OPE)

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