Like most verses of the Psalms, Psalm 28:8 is structured in parallelism: “Yahweh to them strength // and a fortress saving His anointed He.” Here the parallel is chiastic:

A. Yahweh

B. to them

C. Strength

C’. A fortress saving

B’. His anointed ( meshiach )

A’. He ( hu’ )

Several things emerge from this verse.

First, the Psalm as a whole is a prayer and a celebration of answered prayer: “To you, Yahweh, I call . . . hear the voice of my supplications” (vv. 1-2), and then “Blessed be Yahweh, because He has heard the voice of my supplication” (v. 6). Yahweh is strength and shield (v. 7), strength and saving fortress (v. 8), faithful shepherd (v. 9) because He responds to His people when they call on him in trouble.

Second, “them” in the first half of the verse refers to the people of Israel (v. 9) but in the verse they are parallel to the singular meshiach . This is either an indication that the entire people is considered an anointed people, or - what amounts to the same thing - that the anointed king stands as representative of the entire nation. Here is one of many biblical hints of what later developed into the Augustinian notion of the totus Christus , the unified reality of king and people, head and body.

Finally, Yahweh is strength, and then He is identified as a fortress that saves or rescues His people from danger (cf. vv. 3-5). “Saving” is the participle of yasha , here in the form yeshu’ot . The whole phrase reads, ma’oz yeshu’ot meshicho , which a Christian reader can hardly avoid glossing as “a fortress, Jeshua Messiah.”

 

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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