In a previous post, we looked at the idea of “the scriptures” themselves, based on their self-stated purpose. We saw that the scriptures are not the ultimate blueprints for the Christian life, but are a mechanism to point the believer to the source of their Christian life, Jesus Christ. As John recorded in chapter 5, Jesus says to search the scripture for they are they which testify OF HIM.
We also looked at the terminology of “the word of God” as it is often ascribed, by modern readers, to the collection of the scriptures themselves (the Bible). However, we were careful to note that the scriptures, collectively never refer to themselves as such but actually reserve that title “Word of God” as a name for Jesus Christ.
Feel free to read more about this here: https://libertythrugrace.com/2018/05/06/the-scriptures/
This post is to focus on a verse from the Psalms that often is used to support the idea of John 5, that the scriptures are testifying of Christ. Let’s turn our attention to Psalm 40:7.
Psalm 40:7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
Some have concluded from this verse that the entire subject of the scriptures is Jesus Christ; that every story, account, verse and word are an operation of His revelation. After all, isn’t this what John records Christ saying in John 5:39-40? Let’s examine this a bit more carefully.
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
Christ is confronting the Pharisees that if they were paying attention to the very scriptures they so diligently engage with, then they would realize that they are pointing to eternal life Himself – Christ. Does this mean that every word is about Christ? No, that’s not the idea. The idea is that the Pharisees, who would have been well-versed in the law and the prophets, should have easily connected the dots and therefore have submitted to Christ by faith. As stated in my prior post, we cannot take the lies of Satan that are recorded in the scriptures and ascribe that to Christ. But, we can take the record of the scripture and easily find where it points to Christ. That’s the idea.
Therefore, we might find that Psalm 40:7 does indeed align with John 5:39, but from the standpoint of specificity, not universality.
Psalm 40 records David’s affirmation of God’s faithfulness to him. It is evident, based on the writer of Hebrews’ quote of Psalm 40:7 that it is understood to likewise be a prefigure of Christ. Hebrews 10 quotes various verses of Psalm 40 to describe the sacrifice of Christ. This is actually a key to understanding Psalm 40:7. David (and by extension, Christ) is not saying that the entirety of the Bible is written about himself, but it is in relation to a purpose.
Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 10:6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
The idea is that concerning WHAT CHRIST WOULD BE (the sacrifice) is what is written in the volume of the book. Meaning, it should have been no secret as to what Christ would be about. (Exactly what Christ was trying to convince the Pharisees of in John 5). David’s point is that “low I come TO DO what is in the volume of the book that is written of me.” It is nothing more than a declaration of faithful purpose. This is very instructive when we think of the extension to Christ. When carrying out His sacrificial purpose, Christ was faithful to the purpose that was prescribed of Him in the volume of the book. From His humanity, He prayed that the cup of sacrifice would pass from Him, yet, ultimately yielded Himself to the will of God.
Paul writes in Philippians 2 that Christ became obedient unto death – not just to the Father’s will in the moment, but to the record of the scriptures.
Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Think about that – it further proved the faithfulness of the scriptures’ record. Psalm 40:7 isn’t attempting to assert that every word in the scriptures is about Christ, but that what is recorded about Christ in the scriptures is clear and evident – to His person and His mission.
The sacrifice of Christ didn’t just come out of the blue. Christ being the sacrifice mankind needed wasn’t a spontaneous solution – for in the volume of the book it was already written of Him that He would be thus. Therefore, search the scriptures, for they are they which testify of Christ. Come to Christ and live.