Roland De Vaux, the former director of École Biblique, speaks about the double-intent of messianic psalms. De Vaux, a thorough-going historical researcher, argues that the messianic psalms speak of every king in the Davidic line and ultimately to the ideal king who was to come:
“It has been maintained that Ps 2, 72, and 110 were at first royal psalms, and were modified after the Exile in a Messianic sense; but it is very hard to say what the revisions were. It is more reasonable to suppose that these psalms, like Nathan’s prophecy and other texts referring to royal Messianism, had a twofold meaning from the moment of their composition: every king of the Davidic line is a figure and a shadow of the ideal king of the future. In fact, none of these kings attained this ideal, but at the moment of enthronement, at each renewal of the Davidic covenant, the same hope was expressed in the belief that one day it would be fulfilled. All these texts, then, are Messianic, for they contain a prophecy and a hope of salvation, which an individual chosen by God will bring to fulfilment” (De Vaux, 1961: 110)
I think his impulse right. The key is using the right terminology to understand how the psalms speak of the messiah, the Christ. Roman Catholics like De Vaux embrace the principle of sensus plenior, a notion that claims that human authors wrote more than they knew. Human authors didn’t always comprehend what they were speaking of, but God always did and he is the inspiring agent. This particular view downplays the importance of authorial intent and the theological acuity of Old Testament prophets.
At the same time, it is clear that the psalms speak of the Messiah. The NT constantly refer to them as speaking about the messiah. De Vaux provides at least one helpful hint to understanding this dynamic: He writes that these psalms “had a twofold meaning from the moment of their composition.” I understand him to mean that the human author intended his psalm to be read in a typical way, in a way that would apply to all future Davidic kings and especially the ideal king, the messiah.
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