The Messiah and the Psalms: Preaching Christ from All the Psalms

By Borger, J. Todd | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 2009 | Go to article overview

The Messiah and the Psalms: Preaching Christ from All the Psalms


Borger, J. Todd, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


The Messiah and the Psalms: Preaching Christ from All the Psalms. By Richard P. Belcher, Jr. Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2006, 288 pp., $19.99 paper.

Richard Belcher has offered a helpful book for pastors and students of the Bible to understand better the book of Psalms in a Christian context. The book also helps the reader to understand the larger issue of the relationship of the Old and New Testaments, specifically in terms of the promise and fulfillment of the Messiah. The title is very clear about the main theme of the book. It is an effort to explain the relationship of the Messiah to the book of Psalms. The subtitle also describes well Belcher's particular thesis, namely that Christ can be read in and preached from each of the 150 canonical psalms.

Belcher follows a very clear plan in this book. Chapters 1-3 provide the introductory material. In the first chapter, Belcher describes Luther's christological interpretation and Calvin's historical interpretation of the identity of the "blessed man" in Psalm 1. He does this to indicate the issues involved in properly understanding the role of the Messiah in the book of Psalms. Chapter 2 provides a succinct but limited overview of three approaches to interpreting the Psalms: historical-critical, literary-critical, and historical-grammatical. Although Belcher clearly favors the historical-grammatical approach from among the three, he concludes that all three of these methods fail at some point to understand rightly the role of the Messiah in the book of Psalms. Thus, he follows in chapter 3 with his proposed methodology, which he calls simply, though somewhat redundantly, "The Christological Approach to the Messiah in the Psalms." His method derives from Jesus' statements in Luke 24 that all the OT refers to him. With that, Belcher concludes it is right to read each psalm as a reference, whether directly or indirectly, to some aspect of the person and work of Jesus Christ. In reference to the person of Christ, a psalm might approach him as God or as human. In reference to Christ's humanity, a psalm might speak to his role as prophet, priest, or king.

In the main part of the book (chaps. 4-8), Belcher discusses a broad sample of psalms to ascertain how they speak of Christ in terms of the above mentioned categories of person and work. He uses Brueggemann's division of the Psalter into psalms of orientation (chap. 4); disorientation (chap. 5); and new orientation (chap. 6). Within each category he discusses the psalms according to their genres. He saves the royal psalms for a separate chapter (chap. 7), and finishes this main part of the book with a chapter on the undisputed direct messianic psalms (chap. 8). The final chapter comprises a clear summary and conclusion of the book.

There is much to commend in Belcher's work. …

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