Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” (Luke 24:44)
When the Holy Spirit authored the sixty-six books of the Bible they were not sixty-six books. Moses wrote down the words of God contained in Genesis through Deuteronomy as the Law for the children of Israel. Over a period of 1400 years the Bible took shape into what we know today as “The Bible.” There have been some changes to the structure of the Bible over time. It will come as a surprise to most people the first effort to divide the Bible into chapters was in the year 1228 by Stephen Langton. The Old Testament was divided into verses by R. Nathan in 1448 and the New Testament by Roberts Stephanus in 1551. The entire Bible divided into chapters and verses first appeared in the Geneva Bible of 1560.
Jesus read out of the same Old Testament that you and I have today. However it did not have 39 books but three divisions of the same material. After His resurrection the Lord spent a lot of time teaching and preparing the disciples to “go into all the world” from the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. The third division of the ‘Old Testament’ was called the ‘Hagiographa’ or ‘Holy Writings’ and “consisted of the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and the two books of Chronicles” (Albert Barnes).
What is important about our study today on the Psalms is to see that the reference of Jesus to this portion of scripture is about Him. It is easy to get lost in the poetry of the Psalms but we should never lose sight of the will of the Holy Spirit to express the clear identity of the Son of God in Psalms. We can look at the Old Testament with a view of a law faded by the coming of Christ but it is rather the opposite. There is a misnomer in the language of ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Testament that can leave the impression the Christian only need to focus on the new revelation. Jesus affirms the Psalms (Hagiographa) are about Him.
When we look at a portion of the Hagiographa as the book of Psalms we must see Jesus on every page. Psalm 1-150 is a declaration of the character of Jesus Christ. Paul used this same material to explain the kingdom of God to the early Christians (Acts 28:23). The book of Psalms must be viewed with an investigative eye of uncovering who Jesus is and why He came to save man. It is not uncommon for brethren to have little knowledge of the Old Testament and by so doing have little knowledge of the full measure of Jesus Christ.
My friend Marty Pickup made a revealing application in a lesson when he reminded us that we must always look at the scriptures as if it is the first time in our lives. That has helped me tremendously. The Old Testament should not be viewed as a book of dark mystery hard to understand. The book of Psalms cannot be laid aside as simply a book of poetry. Our thirty-nine books of the Old Testament are saturated with the image of Jesus Christ. We have to look for Him to find Him – but He is there!
It could well be called a “little Bible’ since it contains, set out in the briefest and most beautiful form, all that is to be found in the whole Bible. (Martin Luther, Preface to the Psalms, 1528)