By Brent Joseph – Clermont, Florida
The Bible is essentially a compact library made up of 66 individual books. These books were originally scrolls or letters kept distinct from each other until the Old and New Testaments were joined together. These inspired documents were combined into a single volume known today as the Bible.
When we are reading the Bible, we are considering the meanings of ancient inspired texts from Jewish and Christian history. As a reader, we are doing our best to come to right conclusions about the meaning of what is on the page.
The Nature of God
There are various ways that we read for meaning and insight into the nature of God, the purposes and will of God, what we can expect in the future.
Some of us read the Bible for enjoyment and find inspiration in what we read concerning the goodness of God and his faithfulness in sending his Son into the world so that we may experience freedom and salvation.
At other times, we may focus on future aspects of what we can expect in the timeline of God’s plan for humanity and the world by reading about prophecy. Not all prophecy has been fulfilled, and the Bible as a book of prophecies still contains rich information on what the people of God can look for and expect to see in the future.
A Prophecy Fulfilled
Beyond the nature of God and obtaining clarity on future events in prophecy, approaching the way we read the Old Testament is also a significant aspect of reading the Bible well.
As we become familiar with the history of Israel, the reader of these ancient texts can see the way that God has acted faithfully to his people. The reading of the Old Testament is not just a review of human events in the distant past.
When we read the history of Israel, what we find is the way that we can expect God to act within our own lives, the nations of the world, and the church at large.
If we take a text like Psalms 2:7, we find a solid example of ways that we can read the Bible well in everyday life.
“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’” Psalms 2:7 NKJV
As we open to the book of Psalms, the Gospels in the New Testament, and even the book of Acts and begin to read, we find Psalms 2:7 reappearing for our consideration.
This Psalm in its original setting was written during the time of the kings of Israel. The son in this verse is a direct reference to the future descendant of the king.
This same Scripture would be interpreted in Israel’s history as a reference to a special king who would arise at the end of Israel’s history known as the Messiah.
The Christian interpretation of this Psalm was used to understand the Father speaking to the Son, Jesus Christ, at his baptism:
“When he had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon him.
And suddenly a voice from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3: 16-17 NKJV (see also Luke 3:21-22)
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The author of Hebrews used this Psalm in a similar way, representing the Father speaking to the Son:
“For to which of the angels did [Father God] ever say: ‘You are My son, Today I have begotten you?’” Hebrews 1:5 NKJV
“[referencing the appointment of the high priests] So also Christ did not glorify himself to become High Priest, but it was [Father God] who said to him: ‘You are My son, Today I have begotten you.’” Hebrews 5:5
Even in the first documented sermon of the Apostle Paul in Acts, we find that this was a key text for the apostle in presenting the person of Jesus Christ as this future son and king that was prophesied in Psalms 2:7.
“And we [Paul, Barnabas, and company] declare to you glad tidings – that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus.
As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My son, Today I have begotten you.’” Acts 13:32-33 NKJV
As we read Psalms 2:7 in its various contexts and appearances in the Old and New Testament, we perceive the nature of God, insight into prophecy, and the goodness of God in sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world.
The Comfort of Truth
This Psalm initially informed its Jewish audience that God would not abandon Israel but that a son, a future king, would be pleasing to God.
This truth comforted Israel and gave them the hope that they would not be subject to disobedient and failing leadership.
This Psalm functions as a prophecy, lighting the future for us to see. Early Christians interpreted this Psalm directly to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as seen in Matthew, Luke, Acts, and Hebrews in the New Testament.
Jesus Christ is the beloved and well-pleasing King, the Son who was promised to come. Under his unfailing leadership over the church, we experience the comfort of God that we will not be led astray under a disobedient ruler, but that we can faithfully put our trust in Jesus Christ. He is enthroned and reigns forever as Lord and the head of the church.
Brent Joseph, a Biblical counselor with a Master of Divinity, lives with his wife and five children. He is the Senior Leader of Outpouring, a nonprofit dedicated to providing basic human necessities and clean water projects in Malawi. Outpouring has funded schools, planted churches, assisted hospitals, and developed additional access points to clean water.