Jesus in the Psalms

By Jaime Sherman

One of my favorite pastimes with my half dozen littles is listening to Adventures in Odyssey, the Focus on the Family radio series that transports listeners into the present-day adventures of Whit’s End ice cream shop and the past-present-future stories within its Imagination Station. Just about any story comes alive and engages the five senses for children and adults alike when we place ourselves in a story as a silent observer — or imagine ourselves in a starring role. When we allow a story to awaken our minds, we can imagine our feet on the ground in a specific place, at a certain time, and with a host of characters.

I try to do this as I read God’s Word, even in the poetry of the Psalms, which I have been studying for our summer series. I’ve seen how present Jesus is in this Old Testament collection of songs and prayers and have reviewed Gospel accounts in which Jesus directly quoted from the Psalms. During His earthly ministry, Jesus displayed a deep knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures and quoted more often from the Psalms than any other book. As He spoke the Psalms aloud, Jesus silenced His foes, cried out in agony to His Father, and fulfilled many prophecies. His retention of the Psalms showed His divinity but also a lifetime immersed in His Father’s Word. 

As I find Jesus in the Psalms, I am transported between two worlds — the one of a shepherd boy named David who became the king of Israel and the other of a boy turned man named Jesus who was the King of kings. I find myself either that silent observer or a starring role in each narrative that I now share.

Bread from Heaven (John 6:22-59): I am a young woman listening from the crowd that has crossed the Sea of Galilee to find the man Jesus. He calls Himself the Bread of Life, the One who came down from heaven to sustain us forever, contrasting Himself with the manna from heaven that never truly satisfied our people in the wilderness. Could it be that this Man has come to answer the hungry cry of my heart? See Psalm 78, specifically verses 23 and 24.

Silencing the Religious Leaders (Matthew 21:12-17): It’s Easter week in the year A.D. 33, and Jesus has just cleansed the Temple and with the power of His touch made the lame to walk and the blind to see. I am in the crowd of pilgrims arriving for the Passover. Children are crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Religious leaders have moved from irritation to indignation and are now yelling to Jesus, “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus responds simply with His own question: “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” I see immediately how Jesus answered a question with a verse from the psalmist and has silenced the religious leaders. See Psalm 8:2.

Outwitting the Pharisees (Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-18): I was one of the religious leaders conversing with the boy Jesus in the Temple many years ago, and here I am again with this boy turned man as He asks us a question. But something has changed, or maybe we’ve changed. His questions are no longer simply inquisitive but seem threatening in a gentle sort of way. “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” Jesus asks us. In unison we respond, “The Son of David.” But with one verse from the psalmist, we are outwitted. See Psalm 118:22-23.

A Rejected Stone (Matthew 22:41-46, 26:64, Mark 12:35-37, 14:62, Luke 20:41-44): It’s me again, one of the religious leaders. Jesus is with us. He just told a story about the caretakers of a certain property who killed the owner’s servants and then his only son. We have grown uncomfortable. Honestly, we fear the people, for they seem to sense that Jesus’ words are against us, especially the psalmist’s words, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” See Psalm 110:1.

His Last Words (Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:33-40, Luke 23:44-49): I was there when He studied the words of the psalmists as a young boy, and I’m here in the agony of this moment as my Son recites David’s words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” No mother should see her Son die like this. I hear the gasp of His final words, once again from David, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Oh, God, save us. See Psalm 22:1 and 31:5.

It’s your turn to join the adventure as you read through the Psalms this summer and find Jesus there. I have provided citations for each of these New Testament narratives and verses from the Psalms because the best Bible study is the one you do yourself as the Holy Spirit leads you. I have purposefully left off many details above because I want you to enter into the stories for yourself.

What do you see, hear, touch, smell and taste as you read these sections?

What is God showing you about Himself and about who you are in Him?

How will these Gospel accounts and psalms change you today?

We welcome your comments below or on our social media feeds because the second best way to do Bible study is with fellow believers. The words you share about your time in God’s Word will encourage others!