Messianic Pre-Existence in the Psalms of Solomon

Only sharing snippets of what I am working on ‘behind the scenes’…. I brought this topic up last week on Facebook and received some interesting answers, so maybe we can do it here as well. What does pre-existence entail? If God is God enough to say, ‘let there be light’ and with no pattern before Him (remember, the Tabernacle and the Temple are patterned after heavenly things; cf Hebrews) there was Light, then we are dealing with concepts beyond the human understanding. We measure pre-existence only by physical manifestation, but what if pre-existence was only the Logos in the mind of God? The Logos was God’s thought and plan, and thus without physical manifestation, it pre-existed?

The pre-existence of Christ is seen by many Christians as an essential belief in orthodox Christianity, noting that Christ was ontologically with the Father since eternity. Taking several passages in the New Testament, Christians have based their notion of pre-existence on their own ontology, deciding that a physical manifestation must have occurred in regards to pre-existence. In the 17th Psalm of Solomon, pre-existence is applied to the Messiah, but without an ontological expression. Instead, pre-existence is implied, but only as a thought or plan in which God has prepared for Israel.

In the 72nd canonical psalm, a Psalm of Sololmon, we find a hymn dedicated to the future Son of David. We find much of the same imagery as we do in our present consideration. A king comes and delivers Israel from her enemies as the sole representative on earth of God. While the future king is pictures as acting out the destruction to Israel’s enemies, in the end, it is God who said to have accomplished the works (v18). Verse 5, 7 and 17 are the focus on scrutiny, however, when discussing the pre-existence of the King. The Targum Psalms translates the 17th verse (which mirrors and combines the 5th and the 7th) ‘as before the sun came to be his name was determined’. Horbury cites 1st Enoch 48.3 as another example of the Messiah’s name being given beforehand. We find pre-existence in the Psalms of Solomon put forth in 17.21, 42 and 18.5.

In the seventeenth psalm, the author implores God to

ἰδέ κύριε καὶ ἀνάστησον αὐτοῖς τὸν βασιλέα αὐτῶν υἱὸν Δαυιδ εἰς τὸν καιρόν ὃν εἵλου σύ ὁ θεός τοῦ βασιλεῦσαι ἐπὶ Ισραηλ παῖδά σου

Compare with v42, in which the same author states that God ἔγνω. The issue here is that this verse is cast in the future:

αὕτη ἡ εὐπρέπεια τοῦ βασιλέως Ισραηλ ἣν ἔγνω ὁ θεός ἀναστῆσαι αὐτὸν ἐπ᾽ οἶκον Ισραηλ παιδεῦσαι αὐτόν

It is here that we come to 18.5, where a physical pre-existence is almost implied,

καθαρίσαι ὁ θεὸς Ισραηλ εἰς ἡμέραν ἐλέους ἐν εὐλογίᾳ εἰς ἡμέραν ἐκλογῆς ἐν ἀνάξει χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ

Pre-existence in the Psalms of Solomon should not be seen as an ontological expression, but as one where the λόγος is in the mind of God. The community sees the current troubles as one cleansing Israel for the full expression of God’s plan, especially in relation to the Deuteronomistic covenant (chapter 18), which as we have seen was in the mind of the author.


John 1.1 and Phil 2.5-11

It is clearly written in expectation of peace, when Israel would be restored. Cf v3 and v9.

For the author of Psalm 72, his enemies are more traditional than Rome and the fellow Jews which the author of Pss Sol encountered.

Horbury, 95

May God cleanse Israel for the day of pity with blessing, for the day of election when he brings up his anointed one

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