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TitlePsalms, Messianic Prophecies in
Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsJones, Gerald E.
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsJoseph Smith Translation; Messiah; Prophecy; Psalms (Book)
Citation Key9462

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Psalms, Messianic Prophecies in

Author: Jones, Gerald E.

The Psalms are a rich source of messianic prophecy; indeed Psalms 2, 22, 69, and 110 are cited or partially quoted as messianic prophecies in the New Testament. The Prophet Joseph Smith appreciated the messianic and prophetic nature of the Psalms, revising under inspiration several verses to make them even more emphatically prophetic of the messianic message (see Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST)). Included in the revisions are Psalms 10, 11, 12, and 2 4.

Citations from Psalms contribute 116 of the 283 Old Testament quotations in the New Testament. Of these, a number are clearly messianic. For instance, Psalm 2:7 is referred to in Acts 13:33; and Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5 specifically apply the affirmation "Thou art my Son" to Jesus. Nearing death on the cross, Jesus himself quoted Psalm 22:1(Matt. 27:46) and much of the rest of that Psalm characterizes his suffering. His disciples recalled the zeal mentioned in Psalm 69:9 during Jesus' cleansing of the temple (John 2:17); and the same verse is applied to Christ by Paul in Romans 15:3. Jesus credits the Holy Ghost with inspiring David in Psalm 110:1, and applies the passage to himself (Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44). Hebrews 5:6 quotes Psalm 110:4concerning Christ and the Melchizedek Priesthood.

The JST revision of Psalm 10:15-16 alludes to the kingly role of the messiah: "O Lord, thou wilt break the arm of the wicked. And the Lord shall be king for the wicked shall perish out of his land."

Psalm 11:1-5 similarly becomes more messianic by specifying the last days rather than a contemporary Davidic event: "In that day thou shalt come, O Lord; and I will put my trust in thee. Thou shalt say unto thy people..." (JST Psalm 11:1). Referring to the Messiah's overcoming of evil, verse 3 is changed to read, "But the foundations of the wicked shall be destroyed, and what can they do?" The JST also casts verse 4 into the future, emphasizing a future deliverance from evil and speaking of the Lord "when he shall come into his holy temple." Verse 5 is doubled in length and adds a key messianic clause, "and he shall redeem the righteous."

JST Psalm 12:1-8 begins with a sentence not found in the King James Version-that underscores divine assistance: "In that day thou shalt help, O Lord, the poor and the meek of the earth." Other verses-2, 4, 5, 6, and 8-have been recast into the future tense. Verse 5 (JST) is messianic, beginning, "Therefore, thus saith the Lord, I will arise in that day, I will stand upon the earth and I will judge the earth for the oppression of the poor."

JST Psalm 24:7-10 proclaims a future redeemer. Verse 8 reads, "And he will roll away the heavens; and will come down to redeem his people; to make you an everlasting name; to establish you upon his everlasting rock." The future redeemer is also noted in verse 10: "Even the king of glory shall come unto you; and shall redeem his people, and shall establish them in righteousness."

Latter-day Saints may thus see more messianic prophecies in the Psalms because Joseph Smith revealed a more messianically oriented Psalter than was found in his King James text. They also accept a tradition of prophecy during the Israelite period and its fulfillment either with the coming of Christ or with the latter-day restoration of the gospel in preparation for the Messiah's millennial reign. [See also Jesus Christ: Prophecies About Jesus Christ.]


McConkie, Joseph F. "Joseph Smith and the Poetic Writings." In The Joseph Smith Translation, ed. M. Nyman and R. Millet. Provo, Utah, 1985.