Adam Hensley argues that covenantal language in the Psalter points towards David and a future Davidic figure. The Psalter’s shape further cements this notion.
Such intentionality also adds evidence to the idea of an edited Psalter whose editors aimed to communicate ideas by its organization.
After noting some alternative views on the Davidic covenant in the Psalter, Hensley summarizes his argument:
“Against such views our hypothesis contended that editors royalized the premonarchic covenants and their associated promises and obligations. The editors anticipated an ideal Davidic successor who keeps torah and intercedes for God’s people, who are consistently portrayed as unfaithful to Mosaic covenantal stipulations, and inherits all the nations of the earth” (267)
Possibly Hensley’s most unique argument centres on Psalm 72:20: “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended” (ESV). Hensley thinks that the editors knew that later Davidic psalms would appear and thus allowed later Davidic psalms to appear for a reason. He explains:
“I propose, then, that editors understood 72:20 as marking the last prayer of the original, historical David ben-Jesse. Within the framework of the whole Psalter, editors may have understood this qualification to imply that subsequent Davidic psalms looked forward to a future Davidide” (53; cf. 55, 268).
The proposal intrigues me, and I think Hensley’s intuition here is on the right track. Enough evidence exists within the Psalter to at least affirm some organizational work behind it: the Five books, the introductory two psalms, and doxologies.
I commend it as a solid entry into the burgeoning field of Psalter studies that focus on the synchronic aspects of the text.
Click here to purchase. T&T Clark provided me a review copy.