Tuning our Hearts to the Gospel Through the Psalms

Christians throughout history have always read the Psalms as containing hints and clues about Jesus Christ. This however usually boils down to a series of “proof texts” i.e. Psalm 2, Psalm 22, Psalm 72, etc.

N.T. Wright agrees about the fact that the Psalms do in fact point to Jesus.

Everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and Psalms had to be fulfilled. – Jesus (Lk. 24:44)

However Wright, rightly so, argues that the Psalms are Christological not simply because they contain some texts that point to Jesus, no the Psalms are Christological because they lead us into a worldview that only makes sense if Christ is who he claims to be…

Here is N.T. Wright in his own words:

This is more, then, than simply saying that some psalms are to be seen as Christological, meaning that some seem already to have been looking ahead to the coming of the ideal King or that some were read in that way by the early church. My point is deeper. I am suggesting that the entire worldview that the Psalms are inculcating was to do with that intersection of our time, space, and matter with God’s, which Christians believe happened uniquely and dramatically in Jesus. (TCFS 31)

However the Psalms do more than just lead us into a worldview in which time, space, matter and God collide (i.e a worldview that finds its fulfillment in Jesus); the Psalms tune our hearts to a different story. In other words, we might think of the Psalms as the soundtrack which fills in and makes sense of the story we are actually living in.  Ultimately this is the story that Jesus came to complete.

Again Wright in his own Words:

The story the Psalms tell is the story Jesus came to complete. It is the story of the creator God taking his power and reigning, ruling on earth as in heaven, delighting the whole creation by sorting out its messes and muddles,its injuries and injustices, once and for all. It is also the story of malevolent enemies prowling around, of people whispering lies and setting traps, and of sleepless nights, and bottles full of tears… and of course the Psalms tell the story of strange vindication, of dramatic reversal, of wondrous rescue, comfort and restoration. (TCFS 31)

The Psalms lead us to see the world as a place where time, space, and matter collide with God. The Psalms are the soundtrack to the story which tells us about a reigning God, a beautiful creation, what life is supposed to be like, malevolent enemies attacking God’s people, the suffering people endure, and how God rescues and redeems his people. In other words the Psalms prepare us to “understand” who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do. We could say that the Psalms tune our hearts to the Gospel.

The Psalms tune our hearts to the gospel.


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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