This Week's Focus Passage

Focus Passage: Hebrews 2:12

Focus Passage: Hebrews 2:12

‘In the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise.’

It appears, as best we can tell to be the case, upon a cursory examination, that the epistle/sermon to the Hebrews contains at least twenty citations or allusions to the Psalms of David by the writer/preacher of this uncontestably grand work. At a distant numerical second is Paul’s epistle to the church in Rome. In that profound and lovely epistle there are somewhere around twelve psalm references. The passage that we wish to consider as this week’s focus passage, namely Hebrews 2:12, is a citation from Psalm 22:22. Psalm 22 is designated, in inspired language, as For the Chief Musician; set to Aijeleth hash-Shahar. A Psalm of David. Charles Haddon Spurgeon aptly says of the Subject of this Psalm which begins, of course, with the inexpressibly poignant cry, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?;

For plaintive expressions uprising from unutterable depths of woe we may say of this Psalm, “there is none like it.” It is the photograph of our Lord’s saddest hours, the record of his dying words, the lachrymatory of his last tears, the memorial of his expiring joys. David and his afflictions may be here in a very modified sense, but, as the star is concealed by the light of the sun, he who sees Jesus will probably neither see nor care to see David. Before us we have a description both of the darkness and of the glory of the cross, the sufferings of Christ and the glory which shall follow.

Messianic psalms are those psalms which conspicuously speak of the Christ, our Messiah. They are those which are quoted in the New Testament by way of reference to the Christ. Psalm 110 is considered to be the psalm most frequently cited in the New Testament, and that with reference to our Savior as our Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Another example will suffice. In the book of the Acts in the second chapter, in the midst of his Pentecostal sermon, Peter makes allusion to Psalm 16 in speaking of Christ. He begins that allusion making the point that these words were spoken by the Holy Spirit through David, and Peter is unequivocal as to whom it was that David spoke of in that psalm. Peter declared, For David saith concerning him, that is this Jesus whom ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay. It is equally without question that in our focus passage, it is the Christ who is being spoken of when the writer/preacher says in verses 11-12;

For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,

I will declare thy name unto my brethren, In the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise.

The author of Hebrews is clearly attributing these words from Psalm 22:22 to Jesus. Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm. There are numerous other verses in the psalm which can hardly be ascribed to the experience of any other than Christ; they pierced my hands and my feet…….they part my garments among them, And upon my vesture do they cast lots.

Considering all these things and understanding Psalm 22:22 to be attributable to the pre-incarnate Jesus, what has He said when He spoke through David, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren: In the midst of the assembly will I praise thee? And this is altered only slightly as it is cited in our focus passage, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, In the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise; ‘in the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise.’ being substituted for, ‘in the midst of the assembly will I praise thee.’ There is little substantive difference in the understanding of that which has been uttered. But what is it for one, or One, to declare God’s Name to their brethren? What is it for this declaration to be in the midst of the assembly or in the midst of the congregation? Do we not have before our mind’s eye, and the eyes of our faith, a portraiture of our Lord and Savior taking His place among His people as a leader of worship? May we not think of Him as the cantor in the synagogue singing out the Word of God? Some there certainly are who would be mindful of the precentor in some antiquated Presbyterian worship, leading the people of God in a psalm of praise, or even ‘lining out’ the words if they are not adequately known by the assembly.

Is this not the very thing for which the Son of God came to the earth to do? Has He not Himself said elsewhere, I came to do my Father’s will and not my own….I am come in my Father’s name…..the works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me? This same Jesus who has been made unto us our Prophet, our Priest, and our King, is also our Precentor; our Worship Leader, according to these intimations from Psalm 22 and Hebrews 2:22. Is He not in this manner both praising the Father and declaring His Name to Jesus’ brethren? When the people of God gather together on the Lord’s Day, is it not to praise God and declare His Name through our worshipping Him in song?

Paul has taught the church in Corinth in his first epistle to them that this is to be one of the functions of our gathering together. In seeking to correct abuses in the church over the use of both prophesying and tongues, the apostle concludes with the expressed concern for those who might come in among us, so he will fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is among you indeed. The promise of Christ in Psalm 22:22 is word for word the same as that found in Hebrews 2:12, of which Spurgeon beautifully remarks: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren. In the verse before us, Jesus anticipates happiness in having communication with his people; he purposes to be their teacher and minister, and fixes his mind upon the subject of his discourse. The name, i.e., the character and conduct of God are by Jesus Christ’s gospel proclaimed to all the holy brotherhood; they behold the fullness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in him, and rejoice greatly to see all the infinite perfections manifested in one who is bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh.”

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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