The Promise To David In Psalm 16 And Its Application In Acts 2:25-33 And 13:32-37 -- By: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 23:3 (Sep 1980)
Article: The Promise To David In Psalm 16 And Its Application In Acts 2:25-33 And 13:32-37
Author: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

The Promise To David In Psalm 16 And Its Application
In Acts 2:25-33 And 13:32-37

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.*

Few psalms simultaneously raise as many important methodological and theological questions as does Psalm 16. Yet it was this psalm that received one of the honored places in the early Christian Church when it served as one of the Scriptural bases for Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost and Paul’s address at Antioch of Pisidia.

However, in spite of the high estimate given to the psalm, exegetes must squarely face the hermeneutical and theological questions arising from the distinctively messianic use made of it. Were the various fulfillments that the apostles attributed to this text explicitly present in the psalmist’s purposes and consciousness when he wrote the psalm? Or was there some valid system or legitimate principle of interpretation that, while it exceeded the author’s known truth-intentions, nevertheless was acceptable to God as well as to sympathetic and potentially hostile listeners?

I. The Nature Of The Messianic Hope

1. The single meaning of the text. The absolute necessity of establishing a single sense to any writing, much less to Scripture, has been acknowledged by all interpreters-at least as a starting principle. As Milton Terry contended:

The moment we admit the principle that portions of Scripture contain an occult or double sense we introduce an element of uncertainty in the sacred volume, and unsettle all scientific interpretation.1

Likewise Louis Berkhof argued:

Scripture has but a single sense, and is therefore susceptible to a scientific and logical investigation … To accept a manifold sense…makes any science of her-meneutics impossible and opens wide the door for all kinds of arbitrary interpretations.2

Unfortunately, many like Berkhof will turn right around and say almost in the same breath:

Scripture contains a great deal that does not find its explanation in history, nor in the secondary authors, but only in God as the Actor primarius.3

This raises the whole question of how far the psalmist (or any writer of Scripture) understood his own words and to what degree he was conscious of the way in

*Walter Kaiser is dean of the faculty and professor of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

which his words would be fulfill...

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