Repost: Why does Hebrews quote from the Psalms so much? (January 2013)

A strange thing about Hebrews is that the author loves quoting from the Pslams. More than that, he often uses a Pslam to help interpret other parts of the Bible - for example Psalm 95 used to understand Sabbath and creation rest, or Pslam 40 used to interpret the sacrificial system or Psalm 110 to interpret Melchizedek.

Why the Psalms? I often think of it as a more poetic, subjective book, with some great (isolated) prophetic moments, rather than a major hermeneutical key to the Bible.

As I pondered this here are four thoughts:

  1. Hebrews has very much a ‘Son’ theology. And if you want to unpack who the Son is and what he does, Pslams is a very important place to go. It is not just the songbook of Israel. It is the songbook of the Son.
  2. Connected with this, perhaps we could say that whereas Paul might interpret the OT through the grid of the promise to Abraham, Hebrews complements this by interpreting the OT through the grid of the uniqueness of the Son.
  3. Of course Pslams should be a key hermeneutical point: it comes at the high point of the Old Testament - the manifestation of the OT ‘kingdom of God’. As a result it is natural that in the Pslams we will both find much (typological) information about God’s work.
  4. And since the Pslams comes at the high point of the OT we also ought to expect to find the OT types begin to get critiqued - a work that the prophets go on to do more explicitly.

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