Friday, April 19, 2019

A Good Friday Lesson Involving a New Testament Use of the Old Testament

by Michael J. Vlach

It just so happens that my study of "New Testament Use of the Old Testament" intersects with Good Friday today. This involves the quotation of Psalm 31:5 in Luke 23:46.

Psalm 31 describes David’s trust in God while in distress. While in turmoil, it is the Lord in whom David takes refuge; and it is the Lord who is David’s rock and fortress (Ps. 31:1-3). With verse 5 David declared: “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.” David trusted the Lord with his life.

Centuries later just moments away from death, the ultimate David, Jesus the Messiah, quoted David’s words of trust in Psalm 31:5 as described in Luke 23:46:

And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. 

This was no coincidence. The first David trusted God during troubling times, and now the ultimate David, Jesus, trusted His life to God in the ultimate moment of darkness on the cross as He bore the sins of the world. Pao and Schnabel point out that Jesus’ quotation of Psalm 31:5 reveals two truths.

First, it demonstrates that Jesus’s death fulfills God’s purposes in the midst of darkness.

And second, it reveals “that he [God] will rescue him [Jesus] from his enemies and raise him from the dead.” Thus, Jesus’ final words are more than nice famous last words; they were “a gesture of confidence.” They were a statement of trust in God to decisively vindicate Him and raise Him from the dead.

Psalm 31 expresses David’s heartfelt trust that God would deliver him. While Psalm 31:5 probably is not a direct prophecy of what Jesus would say on the cross, it was appropriate that Jesus used the words of the first David concerning trust in the Lord as His earthly life as the ideal David expired. This is a contextual use of the OT. As Pao and Schnabel note: “The appropriation of Ps. 31:5 in v. 46 does not violate the original context and meaning in the psalm.” It takes David’s trust of God in life and extends it to death, in this case the death of the Messiah.

These are sober and encouraging words to think about on Good Friday. 

Quotations are taken from, David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, eds. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 399.

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