CONCEPTS OF KINGSHIP IN THE PSALMS
Studies of Israelite kingship differ in character according to whether they are considering the Psalms or the historical books as their primary sources of evidence.1 While the historical books (and the prophets) are essential to any view of the origin, dating and character of the historical forms of monarchy in Israel, it is in the Psalms that Israelite conceptions of kingship attain their highest expression.2
Since we are concerned ultimately with the New Testament use of concepts of kingship in the Psalms, we must attempt to look at the Psalms and the rest of the Old Testament through New Testament
1 Cf. J.H. Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms (1976; 2nd. ed., 1986), dealing entirely with
the Psalmic evidence, and T.N.D. Mettinger King and Messiah (1976), which mainly
treats the historical books. D.J.A. Clines, 'Psalm Research since 1955: I. The Psalms
and the Cult', TynB 18 (1967), pp. 103-126, at p. 126, suggests that “concentration on
the sacral or religious functions of the king can easily lead to an exaggeration of their
importance, and one may be justified in thinking that the growth point for future
study of Israelite kingship may be the more secular aspects of the monarchy rather
than the religious aspects.” However, H. Ringgren, Israelite Religion (ET, 1966), p. 221,
whilst recognizing the differences between the Northern and Southern kingdoms and
acknowledging that any talk of an Israelite royal ideology must be considered
extremely questionable, points out that we have very few records from the Northern
Kingdom, and “since hostility to the kingship can hardly be called a royal ideology, it
seems justifiable to base our presentation on the witness of the (Jerusalemite) royal
psalms, supplementing them only occasionally with information drawn from the his-
torical books.” See now the essays in J. Day, ed., King and Messiah in Israel and the Ancient
Mar East (1998).
2 Surveys of scholarship on the Psalms may be found in A.R. Johnson, 'The
Psalms', in The Old Testament and Modern Study, ed. H.H. Rowley (1951), pp. 162-209;
D.J.A. Clines, art. cit. and 'Psalm Research since 1955: II. The Literary Genres', TynB
20 (1969), pp. 109-125; J.H. Eaton, 'The Psalms and Israelite Worship', in Tradition
and Interpretation, ed. G.W. Anderson (1979), pp. 238-272; B. Feininger, 'A Decade of
German Psalm Criticism', JSOT20 (1981), pp. 91-103;J.H. Eaton's 'Appendix to the
1986 Edition' of Kingship and the Psalms, pp. 221-240; J.K. Kuntz, 'Engaging the
Psalms: Gains and Trends in Recent Research', CR.BS 2 (1994), pp. 77-106; J.L.
Mays, 'Past, Present, and Prospect in Psalm Study', in Old Testament Interpretation: Past,
Present and Future, edd.J.L. Mays, D.L. Petersen & K.H. Richards (1995), pp. 147-156;
D.C. Mitchell, The Message of the Psalter: An Eschatological Programme in the Book of Psalms
(1997), pp. 15-65; D.M. Howard, Jr., 'Recent Trends in Psalms Study', in The Face of
Old Testament Studies: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches, edd. D.VV. Baker & B.T.
Arnold (1999), pp. 329-368.