D.A. Carson on Apostle Peter, Judas, Psalm 69 and the quoting of the OT in the NT (via) Gospel Coalition

Posted by John Starke via the Gospel Coalition Blog .

The Gospel Coalition Blog has a new, regular feature titled “You Asked,” where readers send in theological, biblical, and practical ministry questions that get passed along to The Gospel Coalition’s Council members and other friends for an answer. Anyone can ask a question,  by sending  it to  ask@thegospelcoalition.org along with their full name, city, and state.

Today’s question  was posed to D. A. Carson, president of The Gospel Coalition and research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous books on New Testament studies, theological issues, pastoral concerns, and more. The volume he edited with G. K. Beale, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, deals directly with today’s question.
The question, posed by Fletcher L. from Louisville, Kentucky, is:I’m reading through Acts this month. In Acts 1:20, Peter’s talking about Judas and quotes Psalm 69, “May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it.” But Psalm 69 doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Judas. In fact, that psalm seems somewhat anti-gospel. It’s all about David wanting God to smite his enemies, but Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.” Did Peter have a bad hermeneutic? If someone tried to quote a psalm like this without apostolic authority, would you call them crazy?
and D.A.Carson asnwers in 3 parts:
  1.  Doesn’t Psalm 69 sound anti-gospel, with its rhetoric of retaliation? Answer: I suspect this casts the matter too antithetically: gospel versus anti-gospel. After all, the same Jesus who cries “Father, forgive them” also pronounces blistering denunciations on assorted spiritual hypocrites (e.g., Matt. 23), and the ultimate retaliation at the end is not glossed over in the New Testament (e.g., Rev. 19). The Old Testament, which includes many passages like Psalm 69 that ask God for retaliatory justice, also includes many affirmations of God’s enduring and pursuing love (e.g., Hosea).
  2. Doesn’t Acts 1:20 rip Psalm 69:25 out of its context, since the psalm makes no mention of Judas Iscariot, and the writer does not appear to have him in view? Answer: Psalm 69 is often called an “individual lament.” In such laments, the psalmist depicts his anguish and suffering, usually caused by horrible circumstances and cruel oppressors. He asks God for grace, strength, faithfulness, and triumph, beseeching God to bring down judgment on the wicked who are trying to destroy him. This, as we have seen under the first question, is not antithetical to one of the major strands of the Bible. But there is more: Psalm 69, the superscription tells us, is a psalm of David. One of the things that Bible readers must come to grips with is “Davidic typology.” This means that in the Old Testament’s progressive description of and comments about David, a trajectory is created, a Davidic trajectory.
  3. So does Peter have a bad hermeneutic? Is his reading of the Old Testament simply crazy? Answer: Some skeptical scholars argue precisely along those lines. They say the New Testament preachers and authors regularly ripped Old Testament texts out of their respective contexts in order to justify the Christian position. This skeptical stance, in my view, is justified only if we concede that the only way the Old Testament is allowed to point forward is in explicit verbal predictions. But that is clearly not so. I have spent much of my adult life working through the way the New Testament quotes the Old, and the longer I ponder these texts, the more I begin to see how they “work,” how rich and beautiful are the ways in which God ordained that his great plan of redemption would be prefigured in an extraordinarily rich, complex, and intertwined array of promises, types, trajectories, histories, institutions and persons, working together to point forward to Jesus and his gospel (see Luke 24:26-27, 45-48; John 5:46).

Click here to read the entire answer.

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