Within the Old Testament are a group of books that are written almost entirely in Hebrew Poetry. With the exception of a few passages in the Psalms, they do not deal with history. They deal with the concerns of mankind, such as suffering, sickness, and death.
For the most part they are speaking about man to the Lord, and they do all these things in a way that can be related to. They also give glimpses of Jesus before the New Testament.
The poetic books are found within the division of the Hebrew Bible that is known as the “writings.” There are five poetic books which are: Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, and the Song of Songs. Within these five books we see much commentary on things such as love, daily living, suffering, and the feebleness of pursuits without God being in the forefront.
With all the great stories, commentary, and knowledge that Hebrew poetry provides something very important may go unseen. This something is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and Hebrew Poetry points to Him in many ways. In this paper, I will explore the poetical books and show that they contain material that points to the Messiah.
Jesus In Job
The book of Job is astonishing, a bit mysterious, and tells a story of a man who endures great suffering. Job was a righteous man that was upright and blameless before God. Satan tells God that Job is only that way because God protects him. God says that Satan can do what he pleases to Job as long he does not lose his life.
Job then loses his livestock, children, and has sores all over his body. As if this were not enough, Job’s friends insist that he had done something to displease God. Job vehemently denies this accusation, and this served as the backdrop of the Messiah account in the book.
In Job 16:19 Job states, “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high.” Job says that there is someone in Heaven who will testify for him, and specifically calls for a mediator in 9:33. To testify on behalf of someone is to mediate for them. This is seen more fully in Job 16:21 which states, “that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor.” The term “Son of Man” is crucial in understanding who Christ is.
Son Of Man And Redeemer
Though it is used in Job 16:21, it is a messianic term used in Daniel 7:13-14. In that passage all dominion and authority over everything on the earth was given to the Son of Man, and it would never be destroyed. In the Gospels Jesus prefers this term for Himself, and uses it no less than eighty times. So far in Job we see Christ as “Son of Man”, and as a mediator.
Now we see Christ as a redeemer. The full passage is in 19:23-27, but can be seen fully in verse 25. That passage states, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” The Hebrew word used for redeemer is the word Go’el. This is the only time that this word appears in the book. This word is used elsewhere in the Old Testament and has a few different meanings. However, in the context hear it means “defender or helper.” Obviously, the key to the verse is the identity of Go’el.
There are some scholars who say that someone other than God. This makes little sense considering ancient Jewish context. To think of someone other than God as redeemer is on the level of blasphemy. When the verse is looked at in conjunction with what is said about Job 16:19 then it is clear evidence of the Messiah in Job. Some may argue that the evidence does not declare that God became incarnate.
Given the brief evidence provided, it would seem that this as the conclusion. The Son of Man was understood to be divine in nature, and thus only the Messiah, in the person of Jesus Christ would fit this description.
Jesus In Psalms
The Psalms have been read and sung since the days of antiquity. When we read the Psalms, we can feel the anguish, joy, peace, and comfort from the writer. When it comes to the Messiah there is no shortage of material that can be extracted from the Psalms.
The concept of redemption is a very prominent theme, and one must have a redeemer in order to have redemption. In the Psalms we not only see the redeemer, but we see the death of the Messiah, and as king. It is known for its anticipation of the coming Messiah.
The Messiah is brought up as early as chapter two. In this chapter the Messiah is in the figure of a king. Psalm 2:6 states, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Verse 7 depicts a reassurance of divine sonship, and it is this sonship of the king that is referenced in Hebrews 1:5. This was done to remind the reads that Christ was superior to the angels.
Psalm 22 is a Psalm that has very clear parallels to Christ’s death in Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:34. Psalm 22:1 states, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Christ cried out these same words in Mark 15:34. Psalm 22:18 describes evildoers casting lots for the clothing. This was fulfilled by Christ in John 19:23-24. In verse 16 the psalmist also writes about the Messiah’s hands and feet being pierced.
This Psalm is anticipatory, as it awaits the suffering of Christ, and his victory. Psalm 45 is also considered a Messianic Psalm because whole sections are used in the epistle to the Hebrews. The author of the Epistle uses Psalm 45:6-7 to establish the superiority of Christ.
In this passage He is described as the king forever, and thus his superiority is established. Perhaps one of the greatest examples one could give of the Messiah in Hebrew poetry is Psalm 110. This is seen in verse one which states, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” This very passage is quoted in Mark 12:36-37, and Christ says that it is David who was speaking about Him.
This Psalm also makes an appearance in the book of Acts and is quoted by Peter in his sermon on Pentecost. This Psalm also refers to Christ as being a priest in the order of Melchizadek (Psalm 110:4). This parallels with Hebrew 5:6, as the author utilizes this Psalm describe Christ as high priest.
These are only some of the passages in Psalms that speak of the Messiah. There are several more such as chapters 18, 61, 72, 89, 132, and 144. In addition, there are several more Psalms that were quotes directly by Christ to describe various things in man’s life. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow
Interview On The Topic
Unless otherwise stated, all scripture passages are from the ESV-CE translation.