Aug 3, 2013

W. J. Paul on Psalm 110


These days it is not theologically fashionable to affirm Davidic authorship of Psalm 110 or to see the psalm as primarily Messianic rather than merely royal. So in this instance I am wholly unfashionable. That being said, as I was sorting through some articles in my file cabinet I was pleased to rediscover an article by W. J. Paul. Paul argues that,  

“The conclusion is therefore inevitable: Psalm 110 speaks about a person who is king and priest. But in the history of Israel there never was such a king. The only probable solution is that the psalm speaks about a future king-priest. It deals not with a historical king, but with the Messiah. The unchallenged authority of the king whose rule will be universal and eternal points in the same direction. At the beginning of the psalm we can read lĕdāwîd. This phrase cannot mean that the psalm was directed to David, because David was not a priest. So we have to read it as “from David.” Thus, if the heading is reliable, David is the author of the psalm. With E. J. Kissane I am of the opinion that ‘there is nothing in the psalm itself which is inconsistent with this’ [Psalms, 190]. The NT confirms the Davidic authorship. Therefore, it is not necessary to assume that Jesus himself did not ascribe the psalm to David and merely appears to have asked his question in relation to the presuppositions of the Pharisees. The only consistent explanation of Psalm 110 in the context of the OT as well as the NT is based on Davidic authorship and a date of composition in the tenth century BC.”

W. J. Paul, “The Order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4 and Heb 7:3),” Westminster Theological Journal 49 (1987): 202.

  

1 comment:

jamesdowden said...

Interesting post. I suppose the counter-argument to Paul would be to claim that Psalm 110 is Maccabean, although such late dates are about as fashionable as Messianism in the Psalms. I suspect Paul is more likely to be correct.

As for לְדָוִד, I'd suggest that this should be interpreted in terms of Psalms 108-110 and 138-145 sharing this feature. 108 and 144 are לְדָוִד in a way that to modern eyes would be called plagiarism. But there's almost certainly more to it than that.