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The Use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28

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The use of the Old Testament in the New is an intriguing area of study including detailed research on scores of explicit citations as well as allusions in an attempt to understand how the NT writers understood and used the Old Testament. The purpose of this study is simply to look at one of those passages, namely, the use of Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28 and attempt to articulate how Peter is handling the psalm.1

First, the paper will discuss the meaning of the psalm in its OT context. Second, the changes made by the LXX to the Hebrew text will be evaluated since Peter quotes the LXX verbatim in Acts 2:25-28. Third, we will look very briefly at the use of the psalm in first century Judaism. Fourth, we will discuss the particular use Peter is making of the psalm in Acts 2. The issues involved in such a discussion are complex, to say the least, and any initial conclusions must be somewhat tentative until more passages are examined.

Psalm 16:8-11 in Its OT Context

The Authorship and Date of Psalm 16

Although the Book of the Psalms is perhaps one of the most cherished portions of Scripture and most widely read, critical issues and particulars surrounding its "coming to expression"2 pose significant problems for commentators and answers are in some cases impossible to pin down with certainty.3 The authorship and date of Psalm 16 are two of these primary kinds of difficulties.

While Peter in his Pentecost sermon clearly ascribes Davidic authorship to the Psalm (Acts 2:25, 29-31; cf. also 13:36),4 such is not clear in a study of the Psalm itself in its OT context. The expression dw]d`l= in the title by no means renders the Davidic authorship certain. It is an ambiguous phrase. The preposition l= can mean "by" (i.e., authored by David) or "to" (i.e., belonging to a Davidic collection) and the name "David" can refer to King David or any future king of the Davidic line (cf. Hosea 3:5).5 The Psalm is one of the Miktam Psalms, but in contrast to four of the other six that make up this group (i.e., 56, 57, 59, 60), there is no reference in the title of the Psalm to any event in the life of David. Therefore, the authorship and date of the Psalm cannot be fixed with certainty from the inscription alone.6 General time periods will be suggested under 'The Setting of the Psalm" below.

The Setting of Psalm 16

According to Sabourin, there have been three different views on the general setting of the Psalm: 1) soon after the return from Babylonian captivity, due to similarities with Is. 57:5; 62:4; 65:3-7; 2) the intertestamental period: the psalmist's opposition to idolatry might indicate that he was one of the hasidim of the intertestamental period during the rise of Hellenism; 3) a pre-Exilic date based upon allusions to the Covenant Festival, including the presence of God, the renunciation of foreign gods, and the bestowal of land.7 On the other hand, if we agree with Davidic authorship, then it must be dated during David's lifetime, though no specific circumstance can be determined with certainty.8 I am inclined to such a position, because: 1) there is nothing in the Psalm that necessarily rules out Davidic authorship; 2) in a comparison with other well known Davidic psalms, this psalm has much in common;9 3) the title corroborates Davidic authorship10 and 4) both Peter and Paul, probably following a current consensus, subscribe to this tradition (Acts 2:25; 13:35, 36).11

The Structure of Psalm 16

Psalm 16 is a Psalm of Confidence (cf. also Psalm 4, 11, 23, 27:1-6; 62; 131), but may have developed out of the category of the Lament Psalms (cf. 17:8; 140:4).12 In any case, while most commentators recognize it as a Psalm of Confidence, there is no shortage of ways commentators have suggested the psalm be broken down. Perhaps the best overall, general breakdown, is that offered by Ross: 1) The Lord is His Portion in Life (1-8) and 2) the Lord Will Preserve Him (9-11).13 Within this two part, overall structure we may say that vv. 1-2 constitute the introduction with a prayer and statement of faith; vv. 3-4 communicate a contrast between those that maintain YHWH as their God and those that seek other gods; vv. 5-8 state the psalmist's trust and confidence in YHWH and vv. 9-11 speak of the greatness of YHWH's deliverance and preservation of the psalmist so that he might feel secure and continue to enjoy Him.

The Overall Message of Psalm 16 and the Meaning of Verses 8-11

The Overall Message of Psalm 16

The overall message can be summarized as follows: David is confident that YHWH will preserve him from an untimely death and instead grant him a rich full life because he has chosen YHWH as his portion and he knows that YHWH will not permit his "loyal one" to be overcome with calamity and death.14 Next, we turn to a detailed explanation of this message, especially as it concerns vv. 8-11 (i.e., the material Peter quotes) and their meaning in their OT context.

The Meaning of Psalm 16:8-11:
Preservation from Death or Deliverance out of Death?

The purpose of this section is to ascertain the meaning of 16:8-11 in its OT context.15 This is a critical point in the discussion at hand, for the meaning one understands in the psalm to have in the OT, will obviously affect how one understands Peter to be using the verses in his quotation in Acts 2:25-28. Accordingly, the key question seems to be: "Does the psalmist speak of deliverance from death, or deliverance out of death?"16 Several factors in the psalm seem to point in the direction that David is speaking about deliverance from death, not deliverance out of death (e.g., resurrection from the dead). We will first examine 16:1-7 and then 16:8-11.

    The Contribution of 16:1-7

16:1: "Keep [preserve] me, O God, for I have sought refuge in you." This expression in verse one brings to mind the Psalms of Lamentation, but it is difficult in at this point in the psalm to tell if the danger is current or the psalmist is simply asking for continued protection and safe-keeping in the future.17 The point, however, to be made here, is that the type of protection being asked for is deliverance from physical harm and trouble. If, as Ross says, this governs the whole Psalm, then it is reasonable to conclude that no personal eschatology concerning the afterlife is necessarily in view in vv. 8-11.18 Several details in the psalm, to be discussed momentarily, substantiate such an interpretation.

16:4 "they will multiply their pains; they have acquired another [god]." There are several problems with the precise translation of Wrhm,19 but the overall sense is clear enough. These people, whoever they were, had sought after other gods and were thus destined to bring pain upon themselves. In this context, this pain amounts to suffering in this life (cf. Gen 3:16 for a similar phrase).20 The implication is that David, as one who had taken YHWH only as his God, would not have this pain in life (in his present context pain and suffering includes death), but would instead have pleasant things. This is brought out in 16:6.

16:6 "the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; Indeed, I have an excellent heritage"). David seems to be saying metaphorically that his inheritance in the land of Israel has been marked out by God and is indeed excellent. This includes the counsel God has given him in this situation (v. 7)21 as well as all the blessings that He has provided which those who run after other gods cannot enjoy (e.g., fellowship with YHWH himself).22 There is no future eschatology in these verses, but only a focus on David and the "lot" given him up to that point in his life. The problems and blessings are all in the "here and now," as the metaphorical reference to the apportioning of the promised land, and the portion and cup indicate.23

The preceding observations from verses 1-7 are simply included to demonstrate that David seems concerned about physical safety, and the security YHWH offers in life as opposed to the pain and suffering others, who run after foreign gods, will experience.

    The Contribution of 16:8-11

16:8 "because [you are] at my right hand, I will not be shaken." In this context, the niphil imperfect fwMa, probably refers to the thought of fear in response to adversity24 or indeed may refer to death itself (cf. Psalm 13:5).25 This latter option is quite probable given the next verse wherein the psalmist says that his body shall dwell in safety; i.e., will come to no harm. The point is, that David was facing the probability of physical harm, perhaps, given verses 9-10, physical harm that would eventually lead to his untimely death.26

16:9a @"Therefore." The inferential conjunction /kl connects his previous confidence in verse 8, namely, that he would not be moved or shaken (possibly die), to his rejoicing in 16:9a, b and to his confidence that his body would dwell in safety in 16:9c. The entire focus is on physical protection, for what else could my flesh shall dwell in safety mean when connected to I will not be shaken? The point is that his body would dwell securely and not come to harm in any way.27 It appears to me to go well beyond the historical situation and language of the psalm to argue that my flesh shall dwell in safety means hope for a resurrection.28

16:10a "'for' you will not abandon my soul to Sheol." We have seen, that up to this point, the psalmist is confidently anticipating that he will not suffer harm or death. Instead, he has been rejoicing because YHWH is at his right hand—a sure sign of protection (cf. Ps 110:5; 121:5). Verse 10 is a clear explanation of the grounds of this confidence. The Qal imperfect bz[}t' with the negative particle al indicates that his rejoicing in God is something that will continue into the future for (yK) YHWH will not abandon David to Sheol. The verb bzu plus the preposition l indicate motion toward a place or state, not movement out of a place or state.29 This must be true, for in the argument of the psalm up to this point, the pslamist is not even anticipating death, but is exulting in the assurance of God's protection from death. This is clearly brought out in the next half of the verse.

The term lwac apparently initially referred to the place where all people go at death (Gen 37:35; Num 16:30,33; Psalm 55:16; Is 38:10), but later the righteous and the wicked were also distinguished in Sheol (Ps 9:18; 31:18 MT).30 The sum of what David is saying in 16:10a is that he is thankful that God will not give him over to death so that he is in effect abandoned to Sheol (i.e., the place where dead people go) and can no longer enjoy God's presence (see esp. Psalm 6:6).31

16:10b "You will not give your holy one to see corruption." This line is parallel to 10a and gives a further clarification of what was just said by David. In other words, we have here in verse 10a and b two lines in synonymous parallel.32 The Qal imperfect /tt with the negative particle al once again empasizes the futurity of the comment and that David is certain that he, as the 'holy one'33 of YHWH, will not see death; that is, his body will not see the tj^v* due to this threatening circumstance he is facing. The term tj^v* has been argued to refer to the "pit" or place of burial, or to the process of decomposition that a deceased person undergoes once placed in the grave.34 Dahood is convinced that the former option is correct and that the psalmst is expressing the belief that the godly "will be granted the same privledge accorded Enoch and Elijah."35 If David is the author, as I believe, such an interpretation is ruled out for David clearly believed that he would die someday (cf. Psalm 39:13, 14 MT). Even if one remains agnostic as to the question of authorship, the idea of a spiritual translation is unwaranted in the context of the psalm as a whole. The author is facing a life-threatening struggle from which he expects YHWH to deliver him and that he (i.e., yrvb) will remain alive and well. It must be said, however, that if one adopts the former option because of the parallel with lwav this does not necessarily mean that one must buy Dahood's argument. The reason is because David is not stating that he will never die, but only that he would not die prematurely as a result of this circumstance.

The latter option, meaning "corruption" understands the root of tjv to be tjv and not jWv. Delitzsch rejects this understanding of the term, arguing that jWv is the root and the term has the idea of "sinking down."36 This would better correspond with lwav in the parallel, though the parallel does not demand it. This point will be taken up further in the section dealing with the LXX's apparent changes of the MT.

16:11a "you will cause me to know the path of life." Again, since David is confident that he will not die, these words are best applied to the counsel God gives him (cf. v. 7)37 that enables him to continue to live unharmed in a dangerous situation. In this case the hiphil-imperfect ynuydwt has a present, with future looking force. In other words, the <yyj jra is the path that leads to physical safety that YHWH shows David in order that he may escape unharmed in this situation.38 Dahood, however, sees in the expression "path of life" the idea of eternal life, based primarily upon comparison between a Ugaritic text (2 Aqht:VI 27-29) and Prov 12:28. But his thesis depends in large measure on the interpretation of twmla in Prov 12:28 which is variously debated.39 Kaiser, however, agrees with Dahood on this point.40 In the end, though, Dahood's thesis seems untenable, for David is confident that he will not die and it is therefore unlikely that he is considering any type of life after death.

16:11b, c "the fullness of joy with your presence; pleasures at your right hand forever." In Sheol, a person will not enjoy the presence of God. Therefore, since he is confident that he indeed will not die and be abandoned to Sheol, David rejoices in knowing that he will continue to live and experience great joy in his relationship with YHWH (11a). The following parallel phrase in 11b goes back to verse 8 and means that, David as the dysh of YHWH, is at YHWH's right hand of blessing. As such David will experience this tremendous security and confidence for as long as he lives (cf. jxn,41).42

    The Contribution of the Historical/Theological Context

There is little indication in the Psalm that David is consciously thinking about eternal life or some kind of life after death. He is simply rejoicing in the fact that God will spare him from an untimely death and as a result he has the opportunity to enjoy fellowship with God for as long as he lives. That there is no explicit idea of the afterlife and certainly not of resurrection in the psalm accords well with broader historical/theological considerations current at the time of the writing. At this point in the development of the canon, and to a point much later, there appears to be no clear references to resurrection, and so to view Psalm 16 as speaking to that issue may be somewhat anachronistic. Two Old Testament texts which do seem to have in them the idea of resurrection include Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2, but these texts are much later in date.43 Concerning the plight of the dead in the Old Testament, Gerhard Von Rad comments:

This meant, however, that the dead were excluded from fellowship with Jahweh and were in the highest degree unclean. We find in Ps. LXXXVIII a definition of the state of being dead which, theologically speaking, leaves practically nothing more to be said: the dead were cut off from praising Jahweh and from hearing him proclaimed, and above all, they were cut off from him himself . . . The realm of the dead remained an indefinable third party between Jahweh and his creation . . . The prediction that God will provide a resurrection from the dead of his own people is found in it only peripherally.44

What von Rad is saying about the whole of the Old Testament, is certainly true of the early psalms, including psalm 16. The fact that resurrection is not an idea expressed clearly, elsewhere in the Old Testament writings of the time, is a corroboratory argument for understanding psalm 16 as simply a reference to preservation from death.45

Further, this appears to have been David's own perspective on death as well. He did not seem to really articulate a concept of life after death (cf. 2 Sam 7:12; 12:23; Ps. 39:5-7). In Psalm 39:13, 14 (MT) he says: "Hear my prayer O Lord, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent toward my tears because I am a stranger with you; a sojourner like all my fathers. Look away from me so that I may know (some) happiness before I go (i.e., die) and am no more ([ynnyaw]; author's trans.).46


In summary, we may say that while psalm 16:8-11 does not deny an afterlife by any means, it simply does not explicitly affirm one either. Both the language and historical/theological context of the psalm (i.e., in the context of a developing revelation) seem to argue for the idea of preservation from death; not deliverance out of death. The main focus in the psalm is on life with God and life apart from God, not with life and death.47

Psalm 16:8-11 in the LXX:
Certain Changes from the MT

The following section is a brief look at the changes which the LXX has made to the MT.48 It should be noted that Peter's use of Psalm 16:8-11 follows the LXX exactly. The central question that emerges for our consideration is: "Do the changes introduced by the LXX enable Peter to interpret psalm 16:8-11 as referring to resurrection so that without such changes, i.e., if left with only the MT or a literal Aramaic translation, such an interpretation would be at best forced and unnatural?"

Two Insignificant Changes

The LXX changes the MT at two places which in themselves are not extremely important for the meaning of the psalm. In 16:8 the LXX reads prowrwvmhn for the Hebrew hwv. The LXX need not mean anything substantially different from the MT, but simply be a concrete visual expression of "setting" the Lord before oneself.49

The LXX change of ydbk to hJ glw`ssa is not that significant and may just be an attempt to bring the subject in line conceptually with the action typical of the verb lgyw (i.e., one often uses the tongue, vis--vis singing, to rejoice; cf. Ps 32:11).50

Three Significant Changes

    The Change from jfbl to ejp ejlpidi

This change, at first glance, appears to put an eschatological twist on an otherwise non-eschatological passage. Polhill says, "The Septuagintal form of the psalm has a decidedly eschatological slant. Such variants . . . allow an interpretation in terms of resurrection and immortality" (italics mine).51 Not only will his body dwell in security or safety, but it will dwell in hope (i.e., of resurrection). But, as Bock, following Rese points out, Peter, in the context of Christ's resurrection, could have demonstrated from the MT that "security" entailed the idea of "resurrection." Therefore, Polhill is correct to say that the LXX is decidedly eschatological at this point, but he is not correct to imply that without such a rendering the psalm could not be read to imply resurrection.

    The Change from tjv to diafqoravn

Concerning this change Haenchen says:

Diafqoravn, meaning deterioration or putrefaction, is a mistranslation taken from LXX [sic], which made an erroneous derivation of tj^v* (a pit) from tj@v! (to spoil). The Hebrew spoke only of preservation from death, the Greek of preservation from decomposition: only the latter permitted the Christological interpretation.52

But, again, as Bock points out, there may be sufficient evidence from Jewish materials to conclude that a first century Jew would have understood the term as a reference to physical corruption in association with Gehenna. In the end, it appears that the LXX rendering of the MT is another example of its desire to concretize the concepts of Psalm 16:8-11.53

The point of the preceding discussion is simply to underline the fact that while the LXX does change the MT in several places, these changes are not decisive in and of themselves for a resurrection interpretation. Granted, based on the two significant changes above, the LXX does make it somewhat easier to argue for a resurrection from Psalm 16, but this is not to say that such an idea cannot be, at least, implied by the MT.

    The Change from bzut to ejgkataleivyei"

There is one other change worth noting—a change which was touched upon above when we discussed the meaning of verse 16: 10. In the LXX (15:10) this verse reads ejgkataleivyei". . . eij" a{/dhn for the MT lwavl . . . bzut. The important point to note here concerns the prepositions. The LXX verb ejgkataleivyei" is a compound verb formed from the preposition ejn plus the verb kataleivpw. Since eij" can mean "in," the phrase can be translated as: "you will not leave my soul in Hades."54 In fact, this is the KJV and the NJKV rendering of the text.55 This is important because these translations are not saying that God will not abandon David to Sheol, but that when he goes there, he will not be left there—he will be brought out of Sheol. This more easily accommodates itself to a resurrection interpretation and is the very verse that Peter appeals to from 16:8-11 to underscore Jesus' resurrection in Acts 2:31. The problem with these English translations and the LXX, is that the verb bzut plus the preposition l does not mean "to leave in" (as pointed out above), but means "to abandon to" somewhere or someone.

The Jewish Use of
Psalm 16:8-11 in the First Century

There is no evidence, according to David Williams, that Psalm 16:10 ever received a messianic interpretation in the first century or earlier.56 The midrash on 16:9, however, indicates that David rejoiced in the Lord Messiah who would rise up out of him. The precise significance of this statement is difficult to determine in the midrash since the quote from Isaiah 4:5 which follows in the next sentence appears to make very little sense in the context. In the end, the midrash is probably referring to the Davidic descent of the Messiah.57

With regard to verse 10, the midrash teaches that David's body would not decay. According to the rabbis, "this verse proves that neither corruption nor worms had the power over David's flesh . . . In the grave his flesh will not dissolve like the dust."58 The evidence suggests that the rabbis did not understand the psalm to be speaking about resurrection.59

The Structure
and Argument of Acts 2:1-41

The Sign of Acts 2:1-13

Acts 2:1-13 records the fulfillment of the promise of the Father (1:4) to send the Holy Spirit. His coming was in a most dramatic way including the miraculous demonstration of speaking forth in 'other tongues' (1:4). Such unusual phenomena produced two responses in the onlookers: 1) there were those who were amazed and perplexed (1:12) and, 2) there were those (as there are in every crowd) who downplayed the whole affair claiming that the tongues-speakers had drunk too much wine (1:13). In Acts 2:14-41, in light of the crowd's response—especially those who mocked—Peter stood up to explain (tou`to uJmi`n gnwstovn e[stw)60 the coming of the Spirit as the fulfillment of prophecy and in accordance with the exaltation of Jesus Christ.

The Sermon of Acts 2:14-41

The overall thrust of Peter's argument in Acts 2:14-36 is to prove from the OT Scriptures, and experience (i.e., the apostle's), that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead, appointed Lord and Christ, and as a result has poured out the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the Father's promise (cf. Acts 1:4-5). Thus the sermon attempts to interpret the Pentecost phenomena christocentrically, ultimately, in order to bring the people to repentance (2:37-41). The sermon can be broken down in three distinct sections, each moving the argument closer to the christological conclusion in v. 36.61 First, in 2:14-21 Peter defends the Pentecost phenomena as a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (cf. Joel 2:28-32; 3:1-5 in the MT).62 Then, in 2:22-32 he argues for the resurrection of Jesus the Nazarene as anticipated in Psalm 16:8-11. Finally, hard on the heals of his argument for the resurrection comes his argument for the exaltation of Christ as foreseen in Psalm 110:1. The conclusion of the death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus the Nazarene, is that God has appointed63 him both Lord and Christ (v. 36). Peter ends the sermon with a call to repentance in order that the crowd might receive the Spirit (vv. 37-41).

The Particular Use of
Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28

Peter's Overall Argument in Acts 2:22-32

This particular division (i.e., Acts 2:14-41) within the larger unit of Peter's sermon breaks down into three basic parts. In vv. 14-24 Peter gives a brief historical/theological review regarding how Jesus was accredited by God, but delivered over to the religious leaders and Gentiles (cf. v. 23: ceiroV" ajnovmwn) to be crucified. In vv. 25-28 Peter quotes psalm 16:8-11 to explain Jesus' resurrection. In vv. 29-32 he gives a brief explanation of how the psalm applies to the resurrection of Christ. We now turn to a discussion of some of the details of the psalm as Peter used it in this context.

Psalm 16:8-11 in Acts 2:25-28

The point of this section is to articulate the meaning Peter derives from the Psalm in the context of his sermon and how that relates to the meaning in the OT. This will involve discussion as to both the way in which he uses the psalm as well as the meaning he derives from it. In the end it will be seen that he is using the psalm in a typicological-prophetic manner.

It should be remembered at the outset that the meaning of Psalm 16:8-11 in its OT context includes preservation from death, not deliverance out of death. A summary of Psalm 16:8-11 in common vernacular might run like this: "Thank you Lord that I, as your holy one, am going to be o.k. in this life-threatening situation and will indeed live through it to go on enjoying fellowship with you." Let us now look at the Psalm as Peter uses it.

Peter has just argued in 2:24 that death could not hold Jesus in its grip. In 2:25 he quotes Psalm 16:8-11 to give an explanation (cf. the gavr) as to why this is true. The introduction of the quotation is interesting and reflects a pesher approach to the use of the psalm. This is evident in the phrase eij" aujtovn. Peter makes it very specific that the psalm is talking about Jesus of Nazareth; the antecedent to aujtovn.64 Jesus is therefore, the ultimate hasid who always (dymt) put the Lord before him without fail and in a perfect way.65 He never sought other gods (Ps. 16:4) and always and only worshipped YHWH. Therefore, the idea of references plenior, as advanced by Elliott Johnson, is apropos here.66

But, there is also an change of meaning (not only referent) and so the sole idea of references plenior does not appear adequate to express such a change. In the psalm, David is confident he will not go to Sheol. In Acts, Peter uses the psalm to apply to Jesus who had died and experienced the grave (cf. ejgkataleivyei" . . . eij" "you will not leave in"). David is preserved from physical death (Psalm 16 in the OT), Jesus is delivered out of death (Acts). It is not the same thing to be preserved from death as it is to be delivered out of death, but, there is, however, a conceptually parallel relationship between the two. Both meanings involve death and YHWH's desire that his hasid not be consumed by death and thus have no opportunity for fellowship with Him. Therefore, if YHWH delivered David from death, the implication is that he did not want him die. If this is true, certainly then, afortiori, he would save his ultimate hasid out of death. This change in meaning does not involve contradiction such that Peter made the OT text say something it did not imply, but is instead a development of the concept of deliverance in regards to the enemy of death. It is a fuller sense provided for by the progress of revelation (i.e., Christ's death and resurrection) and worked out along a grammatical-historical plane, involving the use of Jewish hermeneutical methods.

Admittedly, this view creates some tensions in the text regarding the meaning of 2:30, 31—we now turn to examine these issues.67 The text seems to indicate that David spoke as a prophet concerning Christ's resurrection (2:30, 31), but in my exegesis, the sense of the passage has to be expanded in order to get fulfillment. This seems to minimize any prophetic aspect of the psalm in the OT and place the recognition of its prophetic nature in the experience of Peter. A simple answer is to take Waltke's canonical approach,68 but while this is true in part, it fails to deal with the real difference in meaning the passage has in the OT versus the NT. Again, my exegesis and construction of the meaning of the Psalm in its OT context does not include any idea of a far reaching prophecy in the psalm, nor of any explicit reference to resurrection. And, if my exegesis is correct, then how can Peter speak of David as a prophet concerning the resurrection of Jesus?

There are several reasons why I do not understand Peter to be thinking of pure prediction concerning the resurrection of Jesus, as argued by Kaiser69 and the full human intent school:70 1) Kaiser does not demonstrate why the psalm is not referring to preservation from death instead of deliverance out of death. This seems to be an assumption about the correct reading of 16:10-11.71 As I tried to show above, the message of the psalm concerns preservation from death, not deliverance out of it; 2) for Kaiser, the term dysj is a technical term for God's messiah and as such establishes the real point of connection between the psalm and Christ. But, this is not the point from the psalm that Peter chooses to draw on to establish the fact of the resurrection. Instead, he focuses on the idea of the hasid's flesh not seeing corruption—a fact which was true in the case of Jesus of Nazareth (cf. Acts 2:30, 31); 3) while I share Kaiser's problems with Driver's argument, who claims that the point can only be made from the LXX's so-called mistranslation of the Hebrew, Kaiser's claim that David knowingly predicted the resurrection creates problems for the historical/ theological context of the psalm. As I argued above, both the language of the psalm and its historical/theological context, mitigate against such a view; 4) it does not appear that the psalm was understood to refer to resurrection in the first century, until Peter used it in this way (see under Jewish use of the psalm); 5) Kaiser's approach fails to realize that there is no explicit predictive prophecy concerning the resurrection in the psalm. Peter's comment that David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ in that (cf. the o{ti in verse 31 as revealing the content of what was spoken; ejlavlhsan)72 Jesus was not "abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption," can hardly be deemed a conscious predictive-prophetic utterance about resurrection. Even if one granted the idea of life after death in the psalm (and I do not) there are still a number of ways this (i.e., his flesh not seeing corruption) could have been fulfilled (cf. for example, Dahood's suggestion above). In the light of historical/theological factors already discussed, however, resurrection is not likely to have been one of them in David's mind. The fact that Peter provides a targumic gloss (i.e., hJ savrx aujtou` in v. 31) in order to clarify what he means by David's term o{sion in Acts 2:27 further demonstrates that it is not at all clear in the psalm that resurrection is meant.73 In fact, it is really only this, and Peter's changing of the tenses of the two verbs in 2:31 from the future to the aorist tense, that makes it clear, in the light of Christ's resurrection, that resurrection is meant by oujk ejgkataleivyei" . . . ijdei`n diafqoravn; 6) Peter uses psalm 69 and 109 in the same way in Acts 1:16. He says David's words must be fulfilled (e[dei plhrwqh`nai) concerning Judas and then he quotes Ps. 69:25 and Ps. 109:10. These two psalms can hardly be said to predict something about Judas, yet Peter said they had to be fulfilled—a term conceptually tied to prophecy. There was no explicit prophecy in the verses in the OT, but on the basis of Qal wahomer (light to heavy) and a correspondence in history Peter applies these psalms, which speak of wicked and false men generally, to the one wicked man par excellence;74 This same kind of phenomena can also be seen in John 12:40-41 and especially in John 11:51 and the "prophecy" of Caiaphas;75 7) the term profhvth" does not demand a meaning: "one who predicts the future." Prophets speak forth revelation concerning the present as well as the future.76 In 11 Qpsalmsa 27:11 the text reads: "All these [psalms] David spoke through prophecy which was given him from before the Most High." But this use of the term "prophet" in 11 Qpsalmsa 27:11 is only in the sense of one who forthtells the word of God. This text, as well as one in Josephus (Ant. 6. 8. 2), may account for the view that David was regarded as a prophet in the first century (cf. also 1 Sam 16:13; 2 Sam 23:1-7);77 8) the identical phrase is used in the midrash on Psalm 2.78 There it says concerning the demise of Gog and Magog that "foreseeing their fall David cried out, why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain . . . (my emphasis)." But on what basis are the rabbis in the midrash claiming that David is prophesying? It is clearly on the basis of a correspondence in history. The midrash says that all those who rose up against Israel (e.g., Nimrod and his allies against Abraham, Abimelech against Isaac, Pharaoh against Israel, etc.) fell before Israel. Therefore, according to the rabbis, David's words about the nations in psalm 2 are to be taken as prophetic and can ultimately be referred to the certain demise of Gog and Magog in that Gog and Magog are classic examples of Gentile opposition against Israel. It is not as though David were conscious of prophesying the downfall of Gog and Magog. It is simply that there is a correspondence in history between the events that gave rise to the psalm and later events which are similar and thus meet with the same divine consternation. So, in the same way, Peter, who has just experienced the resurrection, sees in David's experience and language in Psalm 16:8-11, a prophecy of Christ's resurrection. It is in this sense that Peter refers to David as a prophet and that he foresaw the resurrection; 9) the conjunction oujn in 2:30 draws out the inference of David being a prophet on the basis of the fact that he died (v. 29) without fulfilling the psalm. The inference that he was therefore a prophet and spoke as such in Psalm 16 comes in the light of One who did not suffer decay, i.e., it comes in the light of Jesus' resurrection. The mention of the messianic promise to seat a descendant on his throne (2:31) is Peter's way of stating David's qualifications to speak prophetically about Messiah; 10) if David's words are direct prophecy (i.e., pure prediction), then there must be a change of referent in Psalm 16:8-11 from verses 1-7, or the subject of entire psalm must be Christ. We saw in the exegesis of the psalm that this is quite unlikely. Further, why does Peter mention David's death in Acts 2:29 right after quoting Psalm 16:8-11? If it were pure prediction this would make no sense.

In light of the preceding evidence, the best way to understand Peter's use of the psalm is TYPICOLOGICAL-prophetic. Underlying the work of God in David's life is a similar work (i.e., pattern) of God in the life of Christ—only to a greater degree. Frankly, it was only in light of the resurrection that the psalm was said to speak of a resurrection. This is not an argument for every use of the OT in the NT, but in the case of Psalm 16:8-11, this seems to be the best explanation—an explanation which allows the OT to speak on its terms and according to its context and the NT to do the same. Both the human author and the divine author are given full expression in both cases.


The use of psalm 16 in Acts 2 yields answers to four main questions that surface in the discussion of the use of the OT in the NT (see f n 65). First, on the question of dual authorship, the divine author intended more than David did, but nothing contradictory to David. Second, concerning the question of language-referent, the referent changes to Christ and this undoubtedly impacts the sense, giving it a more full and complete idea. Both are essential to the meaning here. Third, the progress of revelation, in this case, is definitive for Peter's reading of the psalm. This places the realization of the prophetic nature of the psalm in Peter's experience, a conclusion which best reflects the phenomena of the text. This causes no problems for Peter's intended meaning in 2:30, 31. Fourth, though the texts (MT and LXX) differ, and the LXX lends itself more readily to Peter's meaning, in a resurrection context, the point could be made from the MT. Concerning the expression of this truth, Peter did not hesitate to employ Jewish hermeneutical methods (midrash/pesher) such as were consistent with his audience's understanding. In light of the preceding conclusions it is best to see the psalm as operating in a TYPOLOGICAL-prophetic fashion with the fulfillment not expected until it came.79

Selected Bibliography


Anderson, A. A. Psalms 1-72. The New Century Bible Commentary. Edited by Ronald E. Clements. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1972.

Baker, D. L. Two Testaments—One Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1976.

Barrett, C. K. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. The International Critical Commentary. Edited by C. E. B. Cranfield, J. A. Emerton and G. N. Stanton. Vol. I. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994.

Bierberg, Rudolph P. Conserva Me Domine: Psalm 16 (15). Washington: The Catholic University of America, 1945.

Blomberg, Craig L., Robert L. Hubbard and William W. Klein. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, ed. Kermit A. Ecklebarger. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1993.

Bock, Darrell L. Prophecy from Proclamation and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology. JSNT Supplement Series 12. Sheffield, London: JSOT Press, 1987.

Bock, Darrell L. and Craig A. Blaising. Progressive Dispensationalism. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983.

Braude, William G., trans. The Midrash on the Psalms. Vol. 13. Edited by Leon Nemoy, Saul Lieberman and Harry A. Wolfson. New Haven, CT: Yale, 1987.

Bruce, F. F. The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1973.

Cohen, A. The Psalms. Socino Books of the Bible. Edited by A. Cohen. Revised by E. Oratz and Rav Shalom Shahar. New York: Socino Press, 1992.

Caird, G. B. The Language and Imagery of the Bible. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1980.

Cotterell, Peter and Max Turner. Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989.

Craigie, Peter C. Psalms 1-50. Word Biblical Commentary. Edited by John D. W. Watts. Vol. 19. Waco: Word Books, Publishers, 1983.

Dahood, Mitchell. Psalms I: 1-50. The Anchor Bible. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1965.

Dodd, C. H. The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1944.

Driver, G. R. Canaanite Myths and Legends. Old Testament Studies. Volume 3. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1956.

Dupont-Sommer, A. The Essene Writings from Qumran. Translated by Geza Vermes. Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1973.

Eichrodt, Walther. Theology of the Old Testament. Vol. I. Translated by J. A. Baker. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961.

Ellis, E. Earle. The Old Testament in Early Christianity: Canon and Interpretation in the Light of Modern Research. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991.

________. Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993.

Gunkel, Hermann. The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction. Biblical Series—19. Translated by Thomas M. Horner. Edited by John Reumann. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967.

Haenchen, Ernst. The Acts of the Apostles. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971.

Hill, Andrew E. and John H. Walton. A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991.

Johnson, Elliott E. Expository Hermeneutics: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990.

Keil, C. F. and F. Delitzsch. Psalms. Translated by Francis Bolton. Volume 5. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1859, 60.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms. The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Edited by D. J. Wiseman. London: InterVarsity Press, 1973.

Knight, G. A. F. Psalms. Edited by C. L. Gibson. Volume I. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1982.

Kraus, Hans-Joachim, Psalms 1-59: A Commentary. Translated by Hilton C. Oswald. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1988.

Longenecker, Richard N. Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1975.

Marshall, I. Howard. Acts. The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Edited by R. V. G. Tasker. Vol. 5. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1980.

McNamara, Martin. Palestinian Judaism and the New Testament. Good News Studies 4. Edited by Robert J. Karris. Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1983.

Mowinckel, Sigmund. The Psalms in Israel's Worship. Translated by D. R. Ap-Thomas. Volume I. New York: Abingdon Press, 1967.

Munck, Johannes. The Acts of the Apostles. The Anchor Bible. Revised by William F. Albright and C. S. Mann. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1967.

Neale, J. M. and R. F. Littledale. A Commentary on the Psalms. 3rd Edition. Volume I. London: Joseph Masters & Co., 1874.

Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991.

Polhill, John B. Acts. The New American Commentary. Edited by David S. Dockery. Vol. 26. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992.

Rowley, H. H. The Faith of Israel: Aspects of Old Testament Thought. London: SCM Press, 1956.

Sabourin, Leopold. The Psalms: Their Origin and Meaning. Revised Edition. New York: Alba House, 1970.

Strack, Herman L. and Paul Billerbeck, Kommentar zum neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrash. 4 Vols. München: C. H. Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1926.

von Rad, Gerhard. Old Testament Theology: The Theology of Israel's Prophetic Traditions. Vols. I-II. Translated by D. M. G. Stalker. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1962, 65.

Weiser, Artur. The Psalms. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962.

West, James King. Introduction to the Old Testament. 2nd Edition. New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1981.

Williams David J. Acts. The New International Biblical Commentary. Edited by W. Ward Gasque. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990.


Bock, Darrell L. "The Reign of the Lord Jesus Christ." In Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: The Search for Definition. Edited by Darrell L. Bock and Craig A. Blaising. 37-67. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.

________. "The Use of the Old Testament in the New." In Foundations for Biblical Interpretations. Edited by David S. Dockery, Kenneth A. Matthews and Robert B. Sloan. 97-114. Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994.

Elliott E. Johnson, "Hermeneutics and Dispensationalism." In Walvoord: A Tribute. Edited by D. K. Campbell. 243-44. Chicago: Moody Press, 1982.

Ellis, E. Earle. "How the New Testament Uses the Old." In New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Principles and Methods. Edited by I. Howard Marshall. 199-219. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977.

Glenn, Donald R. "Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2: A Case Study in Biblical Hermeneutics and Biblical Theology." In Walvoord: A Tribute. Edited by D. K. Campbell. 39-51. Chicago: Moody Press, 1982.

Kaiser, Walter. "Legitimate Hermeneutics." In Inerrancy. Edited by Norman L. Geisler. 116-147. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980.

Longenecker, Richard N. "Acts." In The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. Vol. 9. 207-573. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1981.

Moo, Douglas J. "The Problem of Sensus Plenior." In Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon. Edited by D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge. 175-211. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995.

Ross, Allen P. "Psalms." In The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. 1:779-899. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

Silva, Moises. "Old Testament in Paul." In Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin and Daniel G. Reid. 630-642. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Snodgrass, Klyne. "The Use of the Old Testament in the New." In New Testament Criticism and Interpretation. Edited by David Alan Black and David S. Dockery. 409-34. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991.

Toussaint, Stanley D. "Acts." In The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. 1: 349-432. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983.

VanGemeren, Willem A. "Psalms." In The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. Volume 5. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991.


Bassler, Jouette M. "A Man for All Seasons: David in Rabbinic and New Testament Literature." Interpretation 40 (1986): 156-69.

Bateman, Herbert W. "Psalm 110:1 and the New Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra 149 (1992): 438-53.

Bock, Darrell L. "Current Messianic Activity and OT Davidic Promise: Dispensationalism, Hermeneutics, and NT Fulfillment." Trinity Journal 15 (1994): 55-87.

________. "Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New-Part I." Bibliotheca Sacra 142 (1985): 209-20.

________. "Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New-Part II." Bibliotheca Sacra 142 (1985): 306-16.

________. " The Son of David and the Saints' Task: The Hermeneutics of Initial Fulfillment," Bibliotheca Sacra 150 (1993): 440-57.

Boers, H. W. "Psalm 16 and the Origins of the Christian Faith." Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 60 (1969): 105-110.

Bowers, Russell H., Jr. "Dispensational Motifs in the Writings of Erich Sauer," Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (1991): 259-73.

Decker, Rodney J. "The Church's Relationship to the New Covenant." Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (1995): 431-56.

Fitzmyer, J. A. "David, 'Being Therefore a Prophet' . . . (Acts 2:30)" Catholic Biblical Quarterly 34 (1972): 332-39.

Glenny, W. Edward. "The Divine Meaning of Scripture: Explanations and Limitations." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 38 (1995): 481-500.

Johnson, Elliott E. "Hermeneutical Principles and the Interpretation of Psalm 110," Bibliotheca Sacra 149 (1992): 428-37.

Kaiser, Walter C. "The Promise to David in Psalm 16 and Its Application in Acts 2:25-33 and 13:32-37." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 23 (1980): 219-29.

Konkel, August. "The Apostolic Preaching of the Resurrection." Didaskalia 21 (1990): 12-22.

Krodel, Gerhard. "The Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church: Interpretation of Acts 2:1-42." Dialog 23 (1984): 97-103.

Levenson, J. D. "A Technical Meaning for N jM in the Hebrew Bible." Vetus Testamentum XXXV (1985): 61-67.

O'Toole, Robert F. "Acts 2:30 and the Davidic Covenant of Pentecost." Journal of Biblical Literature 102 (1983): 245-58.

Richard, Ramesh P. "Methodological Proposals for Scripture Relevance Part II: Levels of Biblical Meaning." Bibliotheca Sacra 143 (1986): 123-31.

Rogers, Cleon L. Jr. "The Davidic Covenant in Acts-Revelation," Bibliotheca Sacra 151 (1994): 71-84.

________. " The Promises to David in Early Judaism," Bibliotheca Sacra 150 (1993): 285-302.

Unpublished Materials

Birmingham, Paul A. "An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 16." ThM Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1980.

Gilmore, James E. "Apostolic Interpretation of Typicoprophetically Messianic Psalms: Seven Rules Demonstrated from Psalm 16 and Elsewhere." ThM Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1975.

Kim, Dwight Dongwan. "Is Christ Sitting on the Davidic Throne: Peter's Use of Psalm 110:1 in Acts 2." ThD Diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1993.

Whitney, Gordon E. "Apostolic Preaching That Christ Rose Again on the Third Day." A Paper Presented at the 35th National Conference of the Evangelical Theological Society. Dallas, TX, 1983.

________. "Psalm 16:9c-10ab: The Jewish Tradition." A Paper Presented at the 36th National Conference of the Evangelical Theological Society. Chicago, 1984.

1 Do to limited space the whole issue of the historical reliability of the speeches in Acts will not be discussed, but it must be noted, however, that such a consideration would be a part of this discussion in the process of developing a detailed argument. The present author understands the speeches to be accurate summaries of the speaker's words. See C. J. Hemer, "Luke the Historian," BJRL 60 (1977-78): 28-51 and Joel B. Green, and Michael C. McKeever, Luke-Acts & New Testament Historiography, IBR Bibliographies, ed. Craig A. Evans, no. 8 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994).

2 That is, the circumstances surrounding the writing of individual Psalms and their incorporation into the OT canon as a whole.

3 Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 274.

4 It is quite possible of course that David is the author, and that Peter is following current Jewish understanding as such. The Rabbis, if the tradition can be read back into the time of Peter, accredited David with the authorship of all the Psalms (Aboth 6:9) and the New Testament attributes Psalms to David (Mark 12:36; Rom 4:6). See also John B. Polhill, Acts, The New American Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery, vol. 26 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 113, f n 115. For further comment on the rabbinic understanding of Davidic authorship of the Psalms, see Jouette M. Bassler, "A Man for All Seasons: David in Rabbinic and New Testament Literature," Interpretation 40 (1986): 158, 63.

5 A. A. Anderson, Psalms 1-72, The New Century Bible Commentary, ed. Ronald E. Clements (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 43-45. But, see GKC, par. 129 c who say: "Moreover, the introduction of the author, poet, &c., by this lamed auctoris is the customary idiom also in the other Semitic dialects, especially in Arabic."

6 Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, Word Biblical Commentary, ed. John D. W. Watts, vol. 19 (Waco: Word Books, Publishers, 1983), 156. The question of authorship is important in this case because it is an unspoken major premise in Peter's use of the Psalm in Acts 2.

7 Leopold Sabourin, The Psalms: Their Origin and Meaning, rev. ed. (New York: Alba House, 1970), 268-69. All these proposals are based on the fact that David did not write the Psalm.

8 See Walter C. Kaiser, "The Promise to David in Psalm 16 and Its Application in Acts 2:25-33 and 13:32-37" JETS 23 (1980): 223, who, while agreeing that the events in David's life which gave rise to this psalm will probably never be known for sure, nonetheless, lists three possibilities for the original Sitz em Leben: 1) a severe sickness of David after he had finished the palace; 2) during David's stay at Ziklag among the Philistines when he might have been tempted to idol worship; 3) David's word under the influence of Nathan's prophecy (2 Samuel 7) about his future dynasty, kingdom and throne. Kaiser says the third is the most likely because of the "scope of Nathan's prophecy and the linkage made in Psalm 16." In the end, one is likely to agree with A. Cohen, The Psalms, Socino Books of the Bible, ed. A. Cohen, rev. E. Oratz and Rav Shalom Shahar (New York: Socino Press, 1992), 16, who says: "It is pure speculation to assign the composition to any particular period in David's life."

9 See Kaiser, "The Promise to David in Psalm 16," 223, who relies upon the work of Franz Delitzsch, The Psalms (Grad Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), 1: 217, and E. W. Hengstenberg, The Psalms (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1851), 1: 231.

10 See C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Psalms, trans. Francis Bolton, vol 5 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1859, 60), 217, 18.

11 For a fuller discussion of the NT's attribution of Davidic authorship to several psalms, and indeed the whole question of Davidic authorship of Psalm 16, see Paul A. Birmingham, "An Exegetical and theological Study of Psalm 16" (Unpublished ThM Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1980), 5-10.

12 See James King West, Introduction to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1981), 444-45. See also Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 1-59: A Commentary, trans. Hilton C. Oswald (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1988), 234, 35.

13 Allen P. Ross, "Psalms," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983), 803-04.

14 Cf. Birmingham, "Psalm 16," 26.

15 We are concerned here primarily with its original Sitz im Leben before it was taken up and formed part of the Psalter.

16 See Kraus, Psalms 1-59, 239, who says, "Is the speaker speaking of a rescue from death, or do we hear words that refer to a hope of resurrection?"

17 Craigie, Psalms 1-50, 156, 57. See also Artur Weiser, The Psalms (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962), 173 who argues that the references to rejoicing further along in the psalm suggest that the deliverance has been effected and the psalmist is simply beseeching God for future deliverance as well.

18 Ross, "Psalms," 803. This, of course, does not prove such a position, but it is a corroboratory argument.

19 See Willem A. VanGemeren, "Psalms," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 156 f n 4.

20 Cf. Weiser, The Psalms, 174.

21 The counsel in this situation is probably the command to set YHWH first (v. 8) and the knowledge of the path that leads to life in this threatening situation (v. 11).

22 See VanGemeren, "Psalms," 156, 57.

23 See Keil and Delitzsch, Psalms, 226, who say: "The lines have fallen to him in a charming district, viz. in the pleasurable fellowship of God, this most blessed domain of love has become his paradisaic possession."

24 Anderson, Psalms 1-72, 145.

25 Craigie, Psalms 1-50, 157.

26 The use of fwMoa is really hypocatastic; the comparison of adversity with physical instability.

27 The expression jf'b,l; @Kov]yI appears in several other texts to describe a daily existence free from threat or anxiety (e.g. Deut 33:12, 28; Prov 1:33; Jer 23:6; 33:16). See Birmingham, "Psalm 16," 54.

28 Cf. Elliott E. Johnson, "Author's Intention and Biblical Interpretation," in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible, ed. Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Preus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 420, 21. Dr. Johnson mentions other particulars as well to which I believe the same weakness applies.

29 For a discussion of the possibility of the l meaning "in" see Birmingham, "Psalm 16," 55, 56. He says: "In the first colon of verse 10, the verb bzut from bzu means "to leave, abandon, forsake." The root bzu taking an indirect object occurs very infrequently in the Old Testament, but when bzu or one of its synonyms (jwn, /tn, rac) takes an indirect object marked by l, the preposition always identifies a person, an animal, or a thing personified. In one instance of the use of l + bzu (Job 39:14), the l may mean "in" according to the usage of the cognate preposition in Ugaritic. . . Nevertheless, since l almost never carries the locative nuance "in" in the Hebrew Bible, it is best to understand lwavl in verse 10a in the sense "to Sheol" where Sheol is personified."

30 For further discussion consult BDB, 982, 83.

31 See Keil and Delitzsch, Psalms,228, who, based upon the use of bzu and the reference to the sense of sight (tj'v; twaor]li), as the sensus communis (cf. Eccl 9:9), say: "It is therefore the hope of not dying , that is expressed by David in ver. 10." Keil and Delitzsch are simply saying that since the human sense of sight forms the basis of all experience, and David says he will not see the pit, then neither will he experience it. Therefore, the passage speaks about deliverance from death by being preserved alive. This preservation does not refer to eternity, but only in this situation and during his lifetime (cf. v. 11).

32 Anderson, Psalms 1-72, 146.

33 Discussions as to the passive or active nature of the term do not concern us here and will be passed over in the interest of space. Suffice it to say that David is simply one of the saints (cf. v.3) who has set YHWH above all other gods. The reference to the hasid with the 2 m s suffix (') does not indicate a switch to another referent apart from David, but it is simply David the worshipper informing God that he is His "holy one." The return to the first person in the next line makes it clear that the subject (i.e., David) has not changed. The term does not appear to be used as a technical term at this point in the development of the canon (see 1 Sam 2:9; Psalm 4:4; 12:2; 32:6; 86:2 where the term often times refers to group of people who love YHWH including a woman. See BDB, 339, 2b)

34 See Anderson, Psalms, 146, and Bock, Proclamation, 175.

35 Mitchell Dahood, Psalms I: 1-50, The Anchor Bible, ed. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965), 91.

36 Keil and Delitzsch, Psalms, 228.

37 Cf. the fact that the hiphil of udy means to "make known, reveal, or teach." See BDB, 394, 95. Hence there is a conceptual link with y/Wrsy in verse 7. Cf. also ejpaivdeusan in the LXX.

38 The genitive "path of life" is interpreted here as an objective genitive (i.e., the path leading to life). See GKC, 128h for a definition of the category. The phrase can also be rendered "a life pleasing to God," in which case the genitive is functioning in an attributive manner. See GKC, 128r. Cf. also Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D. J. Wiseman (London: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 86, who takes the genitive to be attributive, but appears to go well beyond the meaning of the Psalm when he relates the "path of life" spoken of, to life with YHWH after death. This kind of language may be used in a broader canonical/systematic context, but it seems to go well beyond the meaning of Psalm 16.

39 Birmingham, "Psalm 16," 86, f n 127.

40 Kaiser, "The Promise to David in Psalm 16," 227.

41 The term jx'n occurs some 41 times in the MT and can refer to the idea of the imminence of Israel (1 Sam 15:29) or an attribute of God (1 Chron 29:11). It also refers to the perpetual nature of things in nature (Ps 74:3); to "forever" in the sense of a long time (2 Sam 2:26), or simply as long as a person's life lasts (Ex 21:6; cf. Ps 74:1). This last sense is the sense I am understaning here in Psalm 16:11 because David knows he will live and not die—he is not thinking eternal life, i.e., life after death.

42 For a discussion of the meaning of mun in v.11 and in v. 6 as it relates to augury, see J. D. Levenson, "A Technical Meaning for N JM in the Hebrew Bible," Vetus Tetstamentum 35 (1985): 61-67; see esp. 64-66.

43 The book of Job is left out of the discussion because of the difficulty involved in dating it. See Birmingham, "Psalm 16," 131, f n 22 and Hill and Walton, Survey, 264, for a discussion of the issue of date in the case of Job.

44 Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology: The Theology of Israel's Prophetic Traditions, trans. D. M. G. Stalker, vol. 1 (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 349, 50.

45 The fact that ancient Israel did not possess an explicit doctrine of the resurrection may be due to the influence of cultic, agriculturally oriented religions around her who espoused doctrines of dying and rising gods. For a development of this thesis see Robert Martin-Achard, From Death to Life: A Study of the Development of the Doctrine of the Resurrection in the Old Testament, trans. John Penney Smith (London: Oliver & Boyd, 1960), 81-86. Also, Ps 73:24, 25 is mostl likely post-exilic and 49:15 does not necessarily involve the afterlife. See Craigie, Psalms, 357, 60; Anderson, Psalms 1-72, 379, 80.

46 For a discussion of Psalm 39:13, 14 along similar lines see Craigie, Psalms, 311. On the question of the authorship of the psalm see Anderson, Psalms 1-72, 43, 46. The traditional view is that David wrote the psalm so we are looking at a psalm written around the same time as psalm 16.

47 Anderson, Psalms 1-72, 146.

48 There are other very minor changes that I have chosen not to mention. The changes discussed under "Insignificant Changes," are mentioned only because they are often discussed as significant when in reality they are not.

49 See Bock, Proclamation, 172. But see also C. K. Barrett, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, ed. C. E. B. Cranfield, J. A. Emerton and G. N. Stanton, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994), I: 144.

who says: "Presumably the LXX understood the word to mean I set within my sight, though, I fix my gaze upon would be more natural. The LXX probably took the pro- in a spatial sense: I saw the Lord before me, in my presence; Luke may well have taken it to be temporal, since he reads the psalm as a prediction."

50 See Bock, Proclamation, 172, 73.

51 Polhill, Acts, 113, f n 116. He argues that both changes, i.e., "securely," to "in hope," and "to see corruption" to "decay," promote a resurrection interpretation. See also Hans Conzelmann, Acts of the Apostles, ed. Eldon Jay Epp and Christopher R. Matthews, trans. James Limburg, A. Thomas Kraabel and Donald H. Juel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 20, who says: "Only the Greek text fits the argument."

52 Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971), 182, f n 1.

53 See Bock, Proclamation, 175. Bock cites six examples from the Qumran materials as argued by R. E. Murphy, "Sahat in the Qumran Literature," Biblica 39 (1958): 61-66. They are: 1QM 3.9; 3.26-27; 1QS 9.16-17; 10.19-20; 11.13 and especially 1QS 4.11-14. In 1QS 9.16-17 and 10:19, 20 the term is used as a metaphorical reference to the wicked as "men of the pit." In 1QS 4:4:11-14 and 11.13 the term appears to refer to a place, namely, hell. Overall, I remain unconvinced from Murphy's evidence. It would seem that the term as used at Qumran denoted a place, but connoted (see Murphy's use of the term overtones, 3) physical corruption. It is the LXX that appears to concretize the connotative meaning by the use of diafqoravn. The references were read in A. Dupont-Sommer, The Essene Writings from Qumran, trans. by G. Vermes (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1973). See also Gordon. E. Whitney, "Psalm 16:9c-10ab: The Jewish Tradition," ETS Paper (Chicago, 1984), 3.

54 See F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), 93.

55 See also BAGD, 215, *3. This is the way that they understand the term in Acts 2:27.

56 David J. Williams, Acts, New International Biblical Commentary, ed W. Ward Gasque, vol. 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990), 52.

57 The midrash on Psalm 16:11 says nothing about eternal life, but only that life in the present is available for those who keep the Torah, fear God, and accept God's discipline.

58 Midr. Ps. 16:9, 10. (Actual versification is 11, 12 in the midrash itself.) See Leon Nemoy, Saul Lieberman and Henry A. Wolfson, eds., The Midrash on the Psalms, trans. William G. Braude (Yale: New Haven, 1987), 201-202.

59 There is no reason to doubt that this reflects the understanding of the passage at the time Peter used it.

60 The Greek text is much more forceful than the NIV translation would suggest.

61 There are a variety of ways commentators have outlined the passage, including the use of chiasm. For more information see Polhill, Acts, 107 (esp. f n 99).

62 This first section of the sermon functions as a mild rebuttal to the assumptions (cf. uJpolambavnete in 2:15) of the bystanders. Peter introduces the quote from Joel with the strong comment "this is that" (tou`to ejstin toV eirhmevnon); a formula which is reminiscent of the pesher exegetical method practiced at Qumran. Cf. 1QpHab. See E. Earle Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 189, 90, f n 11. Whether or not one accepts the association with pesher exegesis, the introductory formula certainly carries with it the idea of fulfillment. (This is not to say that Peter is unconcerned with the historical background to the comment (as some at Qumran appear to have been with Habbakuk), but only that he understands it as fulfilled, at least in some way, in the experience of Pentecost.) That this is true is further supported by the several additions and changes Peter makes to the MT/LXX texts. Perhaps the three most important include: 1) the MT reads /k yrja and the LXX has mevta tau`ta. Peter changes this to ejn taiv" ejscavtai" hJmevrai". This is a decidedly "here and now" interpretation of an eschatological passage and appears to resemble certain midrashic methods employed among the rabbis; 2) the addition of oJ qevo" levgei adds a note of divine authority which is intended to gain the audience's attention and lead them to repentance (cf. 2:37-41). In particular, it may be functioning as a "badge of prophetic announcement" wherein Peter is functioning on par with the OT prophets. For comment on this see Ellis, Prophecy, 184; 3) the addition of kaiV profhteuvsousin may be in keeping with the Jewish expectation that the Spirit would return at the end of time. So Polhill, Acts, 109; Longenecker, "Acts," 275. Peter appears to quote the whole passage, not because he necessarily thought it was all fulfilled, but because it ends with a call to repentance. All of the details of the prophecy were not fulfilled, but the coming of the Spirit inaugurated the last days—that they would stretch over two millennia was probably unknown to Peter at that time.

63 On the use of ejpoivhsen to mean "appointing" see Mark 3:14.

64 See 1QpHab 1:3a for an example of this. For further discussion on opposing views of the definition of midrash see, Addison G. Wright, "The Literary Genre Midrash," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 28 (1966): 105-38, and Roger LeDaut, "Apropos a Definition of Midrash," Interpretation 25 (1971): 259-82, who takes exception to some of Wright's conclusions; cf. also Rene Bloch, "Midrash" in Approaches to Ancient Judaism: Theory and Practice, ed. William Scott green (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1978), 29-50. On the origin and development of midrash from Hellenistic rhetoric see, David Daube, "Rabbinic Methods of Interpretation and Hellenistic Rhetoric," HUCA 22 (1949): 239-64.

65 Peter probably includes verse 8 in his quotation for this reason; to show that Jesus was the ultimate hasid (the miracles he did accredited him as such, see Acts 2:22). Only he could say those words without even the slightest trace of hypocrisy. David could not. Other than this, Peter does not refer to it explicitly as part of his argument in vv. 29-32.

66 See Elliott E. Johnson, Expository Hermeneutics: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 185. As we shall see, David was not conscious of another referent though.

67 A change in sense alone is not the problem in my judgment, because it is a deeper, fuller sense that is consistent with, but not identical to, the sense in the OT.

68 See Bruce K. Waltke, "A Canonical Approach to the Psalms," in Tradition and Testament, ed. John S. Feinburg and Paul D. Feinburg (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981), 3-18. He says: "According to the canonical approach, the original poets presented their subjects in ideal forms, that is, in prayer and in praise fully acceptable to God. Progressive revelation, however, fleshed out this vision and made more clear the exact shape of the ideals always pregnant in the vision." This writer's question is, "How does Waltke know that they are ideal forms, apart from an a priori hermeneutical decision, i.e., a certain reading of the New Testament placed back over the Psalms?"

69 Kaiser, "The Promise to David in Psalm 16," 219-29. See also, idem., "Legitimate Hermeneutics," in Inerrancy, ed. Norman L. Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 115-47; see esp. 133-38.

70 For a discussion of the use of the OT in the NT and the emergence of four different "schools" within evangelicalism, see Darrell L. Bock, "Evangelicals and the Use of the Old Testament in the New-Parts 1 and 2" Bibliotheca Sacra 142 (1985): 209-20; 306-16. These four schools are concerned with four essential questions: 1) What is the relationship of the Divine author to the human author and his words? 2) Where does meaning reside in a Biblical statement (in the sense or the referent of a passage) and can that meaning change in some way in different contexts? 3) What is the effect of the coming of Christ and his passion and resurrection on apostolic hermeneutics? 4) How do we deal with apostolic quotations of the LXX that differ from a solid MT reading? (My assumption in this paper is that the LXX translated a Hebrew text akin to that represented in the MT.)

71 See Kaiser, "The Promise to David in Psalm 16," 224. He simply notes it as a frequently asked question of the text.

72 If the o{ti is taken as causal, then the conclusion is virtually certain that Peter is viewing David's words as prophetic only because Christ rose from the dead. This causal nuance is quite possible here. But, given the verb ejlavlhsan, it is probably substantival as I have indicated above.

73 For an example of this type of rabbinic exegesis see, Gen. Apoc. 22:14, 17; 27-28. See also Max Wilcox, "Text Form," in It is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture: Essays in Honor of Barnabas Lindars, ed. D. A. Carson and H. G. M. Williamson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 197, for a brief discussion of the nature of the gloss.

74 Longenecker, "Acts," 262.

75 For an excellent discussion of this passage, see Birmingham, "Psalm 16," 118-20. John says that Caiaphas prophesied about the death of Christ on behalf of the nation. But, Caiaphas was not even trying to prophesy, thus he did so unknowingly. In the light of Jesus' death, John recognized Caiaphas' words as prophetic, for he certainly would have never conceded that Messiah would die for the nation before Jesus' crucifixion. The statement that Caiaphas was high priest that year seems to place emphasis on Caiaphas' credentials as one through whom the Jews could expect God to speak forth a message concerning His Messiah and the Jewish people. The principle of unconscious prophecy was accepted in Judaism. See StB II, 546. Prophecy was also connected to the office of high priest. See Ant. 11. 8. 4; 13. 10. 7. For further examples, see C. K. Barrett, The Gospel according to St. John, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978), 407.

76 See BAGD, 723, 1, 2.

77 J. A. Fitzmyer, "David, 'Being Therefore a Prophet. . . " CBQ 34 (1972): 332-39, who argues that the antecedent for Peter's comment is not to be found in the OT, but perhaps in Josephus (Ant. 6.8.2. 166) or 11Qpsalmsa (perhaps Daniel as well).

78 It is reasonable to see this tradition as antedating the first century because Israel has always viewed her enemies in like fashion.

79 See Darrell L. Bock "Use of the Old Testament in the New," in Foundations for Biblical Interpretation, ed. David S. Dockery, Kenneth A. Matthews and Robert B. Sloan (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1994), 110-111.

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation)

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