The Afterlife in the Book of Psalms -- By: Allen R. Mickle, Jr.

Journal: Conservative Theological Journal
Volume: CTJ 07:21 (Aug 2003)
Article: The Afterlife in the Book of Psalms
Author: Allen R. Mickle, Jr.

The Afterlife in the Book of Psalms

Allen R. Mickle, Jr.

Th.M. Student
Detroit Baptist Theological

One of the most intriguing and yet one of the most little understood theological concepts in the Psalms is that of the psalmists’ understanding of the afterlife. Very few have wished to tackle this issue directly and simply treat it in footnotes in their works.1 Often, when authors approach the issue, the majority cannot come to a consensus on the extent of the psalmists’ understanding of the afterlife. For instance, Dahood writes that, “perhaps the most significant contribution to biblical theology that flows from the translations, based on the new philological principles concerns the subject of resurrection and immortality.”2 On the other hand, many have articulated that the psalmists had no firm understanding of the afterlife.3 The question then that remains is what did the psalmists understand regarding the afterlife?

This article will set out to prove that the psalmists did, in fact, have a firm understanding of life after death. The psalmists believed that there was life after death for those who were in God’s favor. This paper will examine key Psalms in the hope that a conclusion can be reached regarding this issue. The Psalms that will be studied are Psalm 16, 17, 23, 49, 73, and 88.4 While there

are other Psalms that touch on this issue of the afterlife, these are the predominant Psalms in which the debate resides.5

Psalm 16

The key Psalm in this debate is Psalm 16.6 Many expositors are unsure of what the psalmists understood regarding the afterlife, but many consider Psalm 167 to actually present a positive outlook on

the afterlife.8 The verses that are involved in this are <...

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