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What the Bible says about David as Greatest of Old Testament Prophets
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 22:1-31

Perhaps the easiest way to see David as a prophet is to survey one of his most clearly prophetic psalms, Psalm 22. Anyone familiar with the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus Christ can see the obvious parallels, and the writers of the gospel accounts—especially Matthew—bring them out through direct quotations of this psalm. Henry Halley, author of Halley's Bible Handbook, writes of this psalm, "[T]hough written a thousand years before Jesus, it is so vivid a description of the crucifixion of Jesus that one would think of the writer as being personally present at the Cross" (p. 254).

No one knows what event of David's life, if any, provides the background to his plaintive song, but it must have been the nadir of his sufferings, the most likely guess being sometime during Saul's pursuit of him. However, even if it is based on David's experience of persecution, Psalm 22 is so specific and detailed in its descriptions of Christ's crucifixion that it can in reality only be a divinely inspired prophecy of the execution of the Son of God—a full millennium before the events took place in Roman Jerusalem.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
David the Prophet

Psalm 22:27-29

In just three succinct verses, David encompasses the apostles spreading the good news around the world and its people eventually turning to worship the Messiah; the establishment of God's Kingdom at His return as King of kings; and the dead being resurrected to life to learn God's way and submit to Him.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
David the Prophet

Psalm 22:30-31

The psalm's final verses seem to speak of the work of the church of God down through the ages in preaching the redeeming, atoning, and sanctifying work of Christ. Under the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, David the prophet could see God's plan of salvation move forward from Christ's seemingly ignominious death to the efforts of His followers to preach His Word to as many as would hear it and beyond, all the way to its wonderful conclusion in eternity.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
David the Prophet

Hebrews 11:32

After briefly sketching the faith of Rahab at Jericho, the author of Hebrews, most likely the apostle Paul, realizes that he cannot tell the tale of every faithful individual from the Old Testament, so he begins merely to name them in roughly chronological order. He quickly lists four judges, then lumps David, Samuel, and the prophets in another group before recounting their and others' exploits for God.

We know David primarily as a warrior and king. We realize that he was also "the sweet psalmist of Israel" (II Samuel 23:1). Less often do we, as Paul does here, rank him among the prophets, as does Peter in his Pentecost sermon in Acts 2:29-31. However, Paul's grouping of David with Samuel—who was a prophet and a judge—and the rest of a larger group of Old Testament prophets should be no surprise; for beyond his historical exploits and the lessons we can learn from his full and complex life, his most lasting contribution may well be the numerous prophecies that he wrote down for our learning (Romans 15:4).

It is intriguing to note that Paul chose to place David at the head of this second group of names, out of chronological order and ahead of Samuel. Was this purposeful or just his stream of consciousness? If purposeful, it may indicate that Paul considered David the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, or at least eminent enough to head the list.

Whatever Paul's reason, the fact that David appears with Samuel and the prophets, as well as his inclusion in this Faith Chapter, argues that he conforms to the themes that Paul is expounding. He, too, lived a life of righteousness and faith in firm hope of receiving God's glorious promises in His future Kingdom. Though his conquests and reign established the Golden Age of Israelite history, he yearned for God's direct rule over, not just Israel, but the whole earth.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
David the Prophet


 




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