About the Author(s)

Timothy Bertolet Email
Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Lancaster Bible College, Faith Bible Fellowship Church of York, United States


Bertolet, T., 2017, ‘Hebrews 5:7 as the cry of the Davidic sufferer’, In die Skriflig 51(1), a2286. https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v51i1.2286

Original Research

Hebrews 5:7 as the cry of the Davidic sufferer

Timothy Bertolet

Received: 07 June 2017; Accepted: 28 Aug. 2017; Published: 20 Oct. 2017

Copyright: © 2017. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This article proposes a better source for the Son’s cry in Hebrews 5:7. It begins by surveying sources previous scholars have identified, including Jesus’ cry in Gethsemane and Golgotha, several Psalms, and the Maccabean martyr literature. It is then argued that these background sources for the language are insufficient. Instead the author of Hebrews has an entire motif from the Psalter as his informing source: the Davidic figure that cries out in trust to be delivered from a death-like experience. Firstly, the motif of the Davidic righteous suffering in the LXX Psalms is demonstrated. Secondly, Hebrews’ use of the Messianic royal figure is demonstrated and thirdly, Hebrews 5:7 as a portrait of the Christ who cries out for deliverance is demonstrated. Thus, Hebrews 5:7 sees the Son as the Davidic king who is the true representative human exercising trust in YHWH, bringing to fulfilment the theme from various Psalms.


Scholars of Hebrews have long recognised that the author himself is a capable interpreter of Scripture. While debates continue over the nature of his methodology, his reasons for choosing various texts, and their contribution to his theology, there is virtually no question that the writer has been deeply influenced by Scripture, most likely from a familiarity with various texts of the LXX. Within these debates, it is generally recognised that the approach of Hebrews’ use of Scripture is not haphazard. In the light of this familiarity with the LXX, recent studies have pointed to the author’s use of the overall plotline of the Old Testament (Easter 2014:24–77; Schenck 2007:51–77; 2011) and the author’s submersion in a Scriptural ‘worldview’ (Johnson 2003). It can be proposed that this submersion in the Old Testament helps one to identify a specific motif from the Psalms informing the language of Hebrews 5:7.

Recognising the author’s saturation with Scripture, particularly the Psalms, one proposes that Hebrews 5:7’s portrait of the Son’s crying out for salvation references an entire motif from the Psalms. The article commences by surveying background material for Hebrews 5:7 that scholars have already suggested. These backgrounds, especially links limited to a particular psalm or two, are proposed too narrow. Instead, the author has a whole psalmic motif behind his statement ὃς ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας πρὸς τὸν δυνάμενον σῴζειν αὐτὸν ἐκ θανάτου μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ δακρύων προσενέγκας (5:7). In this verse, for Hebrews, Jesus is the fulfilment of the psalmic motif of the Davidic figure who exercises true pious dependence upon God by crying out in trust in his experience of utter despair and descent into death.

Previous scholarship on Hebrews 5:7

In this section, the different sources are highlighted for the language of Hebrews 5:7 that previous scholarship has identified. Embracing one option does not necessarily entail the exclusion of the others. The options typically include suggesting that Hebrews is aware of accounts of Jesus’ prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane; Hebrews is reflecting on this or that particular psalm; and Hebrews is influenced by the Jewish martyrdom tradition.

Firstly, one of the most thorough defenses that Hebrews 5:7 reflects a knowledge of the accounts of Jesus in Gethsemane comes from Christopher Richardson’s Pioneer and perfecter of faith (2012). Richardson (2012:76–77) displays the Gospel texts side by side with Hebrews 5:7–8 and argues that there is enough verbal similarity to suggest connection. He also proposes Hebrews 5:7–8 is combining Gethsemane with Golgotha. He (Richardson 2012: 77) states for example:

The resemblance between κράζω (Matt 27:50) and κραυγή (Heb 5:7) is clear, while the terminology of ἀναβοάω, βοάω, φωνέω, and φωνὴ μεγάλη provides supplementary evidence that the words of Heb 5:7–8 extend beyond the struggles of Gethsemane. (p. 77)

David Peterson (1982:86–89) suggests this linking of Gethsemane with the cross. Luke Johnson (2006:145) suggests Hebrews may be relying on an independent tradition, not a particular canonical account. One difficulty with seeing Hebrews 5:7 as a link to Gethsemane is that in Gethsemane, Jesus asks to be spared from the ordeal of suffering death. In this interpretation, the question arises whether or not the prayer of Hebrews 5:7 was answered, since the Son died (Attridge 1989:150).

Secondly, Hebrews scholars propose that there may be a psalm or several psalms behind the thinking of Hebrews 5:7. James Swetnam (2000:354–356; see Bruce 1990:128) cites Psalm 22 [21 LXX] as the background. August Strobel (1954:254–258) proposes Psalms 114 and 115 LXX as the background, while Richardson (2012:81–82) notes the possibility of Psalms 22:31, 39, 42, 69 and 116 [114–115 LXX], but settles on Psalm 22 [21 LXX] and Psalm 116 [114–115 LXX] as the most likely candidates. Though not referring to a psalm, James Moffatt (1979:65) points to Job 40:22 as the background for δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας. Matthew Easter (2014:121–122, 162–163) believes the background is Psalm 21 LXX. but rightly notes other prayers for deliverance in Exodus 3:7, 9; 2 Samuel 22:7; 2 Kings 20:5; Nehemiah 9:9; Psalm 18:6; Isaiah 30:19; 38:5; Jonah 2:2; 2 Maccabees 11:6; 3 Maccabees 1:16; 5:7; 5:25. The discussion here is just a general survey of the main background source suggestions from a psalm or psalms. It is not an exhaustive list of the scholars who cite psalms and which psalm(s) they cite. However, the point is that while scholarship has noted possible allusions1 to the LXX in Hebrews 5:7, specifically to one or several psalms, they have not linked Hebrews 5:7 to any larger motif found in the book of Psalms as this article seeks to do.

Thirdly, one final option that should be mentioned is a possible influence of the Jewish martyrdom tradition. David deSilva (2000:190) cites especially 2 Maccabees 11:6 and 3 Maccabees 1:16 as the background language for Hebrews 5:7. Easter (2014:135–145) likewise explores the background of the Maccabean martyrdom tradition for this motif of faithfulness in suffering and crying out to God. Easter (2014:90–92) also points to the resurrection hope in 2 Maccabees 6–7 as the expected deliverance. This may be related to the Hebrews’ πρὸς τὸν δυνάμενον σῴζειν αὐτὸν ἐκ θανάτου. Easter (2014: 161–162) further suggests that Hebrews 5:7’s εὐλάβεια might be similar to the prominent usage of εὐσέβεια, εὐσεβής, and εὐσεβέω in 4 Maccabees.2

These three most common categories for identifying background source material for Hebrews 5:7 are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Most interpreters address several of these categories together. However, interpretation needs to be taken one step further. One should ask: what could account for such background material? Thus, one suggests that because Hebrews has a more unified theology of the royal Messiah in his work, the author is not just referring to one or two LXX passages or psalms. Instead, Hebrews is linking to the whole motif of what it means to be the true kingly figure representing God’s people and true humanity. He sees Jesus the Messiah fulfilling a motif from the LXX Psalms where David cries out to YHWH (Κύριος).

The Psalter’s motif of the righteous Davidic sufferer

The purpose of this article is to propose a better background for Hebrews 5:7’s portrait of Jesus as the righteous sufferer who cries for deliverance. This significant motif in the Old Testament Psalter will be examined by focusing on specific texts where similar terms to those used in Hebrews 5:7 are found. In his study, Richardson (2012) rightly argues there is not just one source behind Hebrews 5:7. He (Richardson 2012:82) writes: ‘Rather than being dependent on a single source, the author seems immersed in multiple sources that center on the themes of suffering and pious devotion to God’. However, the dependence is more specific than just a generic theme of ‘suffering and pious devotion’. The theme or motif is a Davidic theme of the king-son who stands as the perfect truster of God.

This motif is particularly noticeable in psalms where David is attributed authorship in the superscription.3 He goes down to death (Sheol) but fully entrusts himself to God (YHWH) who delivers him up from death, the depths, and out of the pit. This Davidic figure stands as a corporate representative on behalf of God’s people. The Davidic figure is the righteous one par excellence, manifested in his pious trust out of which God hears him.

In what follows, one can briefly survey some of these psalms in the LXX with attention to some of the verbal links in Hebrews 5:7 to a figure of a righteous sufferer. These psalms, in context, develop the motif of the Davidic figure as the one who trusts in the Κύριος (YHWH).4 He is then raised up in deliverance.

Turning first to Psalm 17 LXX [= 2 Sam 22], David, as king,5 cries out to YHWH who hears his prayer for deliverance:

Ps 17:7 καὶ ἐν τῷ θλίβεσθαί με ἐπεκαλεσάμην τὸν κύριον καὶ πρὸς τὸν θεόν μου ἐκέκραξα· ἤκουσεν ἐκ ναοῦ ἁγίου αὐτοῦ φωνῆς μου, καὶ ἡ κραυγή μου ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὰ ὦτα αὐτοῦ.

NETS Ps 17:7 And when I was being afflicted, I called upon the Lord, and to my God I cried. From his holy shrine he heard my voice, and my cry before him will enter into his ears.

Two things should be noted from the context of Psalm 17 LXX [Ps 18 in MT and Eng.].6 Firstly, David undergoes a death-like ordeal (17:5) but is saved. The Psalm contains a general movement from crying out under oppression in humiliation to being delivered and triumphing over enemies (17:35–48 LXX). In 17:3 the Lord is the deliverer, refuge, and rescuer. The one who saves the king-son is YHWH. Being saved from his enemies (17:4) is the equivalent of being lifted up out of death:

Ps 17:4 αἰνῶν ἐπικαλέσομαι κύριον καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἐχθρῶν μου σωθήσομαι.

Ps 17:5 περιέσχον με ὠδῖνες θανάτου, καὶ χείμαρροι ἀνομίας ἐξετάραξάν με

Ps 17:6 ὠδῖνες ᾅδου περιεκύκλωσάν με, προέφθασάν με παγίδες θανάτου.

NETS Ps 17:4 When I praise, I will call upon the Lord, and from my enemies I shall be saved.

Ps 17:5 Pangs of death encompassed me, and wadis of lawlessness alarmed me;

Ps 17:6 pangs of Hades encircled me; snares of death outran me.

Secondly, David is heard in the Psalm because of his righteousness (17:21–22, 25). While the exact phraseology of εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας (Heb 5:7) is not found, the same concept is contained in the Psalm. The king has obeyed God in piety, being righteous and keeping the Lord’s ways (17:21–22). He was not ungodly: οὐκ ἠσέβησα ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μου (17:22b LXX, also 17:25 LXX). He is the pious one whom the Lord will faithfully reward (μετὰ ὁσίου ὁσιωθήσῃ; 17:26 LXX). The king, calling upon the Lord, has exhibited trust or hope in the Lord for deliverance and the Lord did not fail him (17:3,5,31). The Lord hears (17:7) because of the character of the king. The Lord’s deliverance of the king is because of the king’s righteousness and blamelessness before the Lord:

Ps 17:21 καὶ ἀνταποδώσει μοι κύριος κατὰ τὴν δικαιοσύνην μου καὶ κατὰ τὴν καθαριότητα τῶν χειρῶν μου ἀνταποδώσει μοι,

Ps 17:22 ὅτι ἐφύλαξα τὰς ὁδοὺς κυρίου καὶ οὐκ ἠσέβησα ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μου,

Ps 17:25 καὶ ἀνταποδώσει μοι κύριος κατὰ τὴν δικαιοσύνην μου καὶ κατὰ τὴν καθαριότητα τῶν χειρῶν μου ἐνώπιον τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτοῦ.

NETS Ps 17:21 And the Lord will reward me according to my righteousness, and according to the cleanness of my hands he will give back to me,

Ps 17:22 because I kept the ways of the Lord and did not impiously depart from my God,

Ps 17:25 And the Lord will reward me according to my righteousness and according to the cleanness of my hands before his eyes.

Psalm 21 LXX contains the same pattern. When David cried to the Lord, the Lord heard. Psalm 21:25b καὶ ἐν τῷ κεκραγέναι με πρὸς αὐτὸν εἰσήκουσέν μου (Bruce 1990:128; Easter 2014:163). The Psalm illustrates the motif of the righteous sufferer who is lifted up to worship and praise God in the congregation.

David is regularly described in the psalms as offering petitions (δέησις) to the Lord. In Psalm 5:2–3 LXX for example David is crying out in petition to the Lord:

Ps 5:2 Τὰ ῥήματά μου ἐνώτισαι, κύριε, σύνες τῆς κραυγῆς μου·

Ps 5:3 πρόσχες τῇ φωνῇ τῆς δεήσεώς μου, ὁ βασιλεύς μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου. ὅτι πρὸς σὲ προσεύξομαι, κύριε·ύρι

NETS Ps 5:2 To my words give ear, O Lord; take note of my cry.

Ps 5:3 Pay attention to the voice of my petition, my King and my God, because to you I will pray,

He appeals to the Lord for help against wicked enemies who are full of ungodliness (5:11 κατὰ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν ἀσεβειῶν αὐτῶν) because the Lord blesses the righteous (5:13). He stands as righteous and obedient in contrast to the ungodly who forget the ways of the Lord. David anticipates entering the house of the Lord (Ps 5:8a ἐγὼ δὲ ἐν τῷ πλήθει τοῦ ἐλέους σου εἰσελεύσομαι εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου).

In Psalm 6 LXX David cries for YHWH’s mercy with tears and anguish (6:7–9). Then in 6:10 one reads, εἰσήκουσεν κύριος τῆς δεήσεώς μου, κύριος τὴν προσευχήν μου προσεδέξατο. David has great weakness and needs the Lord’s mercy (6:3a ἐλέησόν με, κύριε, ὅτι ἀσθενής εἰμι). David pleads for deliverance (6:5), grounding this plea in the fact that no one in death remembers or worships the Lord (6:6 ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ ὁ μνημονεύων σου· ἐν δὲ τῷ ᾅδῃ τίς ἐξομολογήσεταί σοι;). He is saying in effect, ‘save me so I can continue to worship you, YHWH’.

Similarly, in Psalm 16 LXX David cries to the Lord with his petition. Appealing on account of his own righteous behaviour, David asks for close attention because he has no deceit (16:1 Εἰσάκουσον, κύριε, τῆς δικαιοσύνης μου, πρόσχες τῇ δεήσει μου, ἐνώτισαι τῆς προσευχῆς μου οὐκ ἐν χείλεσιν δολίοις). David has no injustice in him and thus the Lord should hear him (Ps 16:3–4 LXX). He appeals: ἐγὼ ἐκέκραξα, ὅτι ἐπήκουσάς μου, ὁ θεός· κλῖνον τὸ οὖς σου ἐμοὶ καὶ εἰσάκουσον τῶν ῥημάτων μου (16:6). In this Psalm David’s enemies are ungodly while he himself is righteous.

In Psalm 27 LXX David again cries to the Lord (Ps 27:1 LXX). And his petition is heard because he is righteous while his enemies are not:

Ps 27:2 εἰσάκουσον τῆς φωνῆς τῆς δεήσεώς μου ἐν τῷ δέεσθαί με πρὸς σέ, ἐν τῷ με αἴρειν χεῖράς μου πρὸς ναὸν ἅγιόν σου.

Ps 27:6 εὐλογητὸς κύριος, ὅτι εἰσήκουσεν τῆς φωνῆς τῆς δεήσεώς μου.

NETS Ps 27:2 Listen to the voice of my petition, as I petition you, as I lift up my hands toward your holy shrine.

Ps 27:6 Blessed be the Lord, because he listened to the voice of my petition.

The Lord revives the flesh of David (Ps 27:7) and delivers his anointed one (27:8b καὶ ὑπερασπιστὴς τῶν σωτηρίων τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐστιν). Like the themes one finds in Hebrews, in this Psalm the deliverance of David is the deliverance and empowerment of God’s people (27:8a). David appeals that the people of God will be lifted up forever just as he was (27:9).

In Psalm 30 LXX, David finds himself in dire need, with the Lord being the only one who can deliver him. Psalm 30:6 LXX reveals the ultimate act of trust with εἰς χεῖράς σου παραθήσομαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου. He was afflicted (v. 10), his eyes and soul troubled (v. 10), his life failed in pain (v. 11), his strength weak in impoverishment (11b ἠσθένησεν ἐν πτωχείᾳ ἡ ἰσχύς μου), he is like a dead person (13a ἠσθένησεν ἐν πτωχείᾳ ἡ ἰσχύς μου). In this utter despair, David cries out to the Lord against the ungodly, and his petition is heard. In Psalm 30:11, 13 LXX, David is again seen in this near death or death-like experience of wasting away, being utterly weakened and downtrodden to the point of death. In 30:15 he hopes in YHWH and confesses ‘Σὺ εἶ ὁ θεός μου’. The ultimate vindication is being hidden in the secret place in the presence of God (κατακρύψεις αὐτοὺς ἐν ἀποκρύφῳ τοῦ προσώπου σου) and God sheltering his people in a tent (σκεπάσεις αὐτοὺς ἐν σκηνῇ) in Psalm 30:21 LXX. Psalm 30:23 LXX is significant because of the direct language of his cry being heard: ‘ἐγὼ δὲ εἶπα ἐν τῇ ἐκστάσει μου Ἀπέρριμμαι ἄρα ἀπὸ προσώπου τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν σου. διὰ τοῦτο εἰσήκουσας τῆς φωνῆς τῆς δεήσεώς μουἐν τῷ κεκραγέναι με πρὸς σέ’.

This cry of the righteous sufferer as a Davidic motif is repeated in Psalm 88:26–27 LXX. This Psalm anticipates the rise of the new Davidic king in fulfilment of God’s covenant with David. As YHWH will keep the covenant, the king looks to YHWH as his Father to save him. In prayerful trust, he calls upon God for deliverance:

Ps 88:27 αὐτὸς ἐπικαλέσεταί με Πατήρ μου εἶ σύ, θεός μου καὶ ἀντιλήμπτωρ τῆς σωτηρίας μου·

Ps 88:28 κἀγὼ πρωτότοκον θήσομαι αὐτόν, ὑψηλὸν παρὰ τοῖς βασιλεῦσιν τῆς γῆς.

NETS Ps 88:27 He shall call upon me, ‘My Father you are, my God and supporter of my deliverance!’

Ps 88:28 And I will make him a firstborn, high among the kings of the earth.

A final psalm one might consider is Psalm 114 LXX. While this Psalm has no opening identification of David as the author, one sees the same crying out to the Lord in the midst of a death-like ordeal. As Strobel (1954:256) points out, Hebrews connects to both the key idea and words in the Psalm. ‘In his days’ the author cries out to YHWH who will listen and hear his petition:

Ps 114:1 Αλληλουια. Ἠγάπησα, ὅτι εἰσακούσεται κύριος τῆς φωνῆς τῆς δεήσεώς μου,

Ps 114:2 ὅτι ἔκλινεν τὸ οὖς αὐτοῦ ἐμοί, καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις μου ἐπικαλέσομαι.

Ps 114:3 περιέσχον με ὠδῖνες θανάτου, κίνδυνοι ᾅδου εὕροσάν με· θλῖψιν καὶ ὀδύνην εὗρον.

Ps 114:4 καὶ τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου ἐπεκαλεσάμην Ὦ κύριε, ῥῦσαι τὴν ψυχήν μου.

NETS Ps 114:1 Hallelouia. I loved, because the Lord will listen to the voice of my petition,

Ps 114:2 because he inclined his ear to me, and in my days I will call.

Ps 114:3 Pangs of death encompassed me; hazards of Hades found me; affliction and grief I found.

Ps 114:4 And on the name of the Lord I called: ‘Ah Lord, rescue my soul!’

The Psalmist is delivered from death in order to enter the rest of YHWH:

Ps 114:6 φυλάσσων τὰ νήπια ὁ κύριος·ύρἐταπεινώθην, καὶ ἔσωσέν με.

Ps 114:7 ἐπίστρεψον, ἡ ψυχή μου, εἰς τὴν ἀνάπαυσίν σου, ὅτι κύριος εὐηργέτησέν σε,

Ps 114:8 ὅτι ἐξείλατο τὴν ψυχήν μου ἐκ θανάτου, τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς μου ἀπὸ δακρύων καὶ τοὺς πόδας μου ἀπὸ ὀλισθήματος.

NETS Ps 114:6 The Lord is one who protects infants; I was brought low, and he saved me.

Ps 114:7 Return, O my soul, to your rest, because the Lord acted as your benefactor,

Ps 114:8 because he delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from slipping.

The Psalmist enters rest for his soul (114:7 εἰς τὴν ἀνάπαυσίν σου) in the country of the living where he is pleasing before the Lord (114:9 εὐαρεστήσω ἐναντίον κυρίου ἐν χώρᾳ ζώντων). Also in these psalms, this motif is found of the Lord hearing the cries of the sufferer who calls out to Him in a state of lowly humiliation.7 The petition is heard and there is deliverance from death.

There are other psalms in the LXX where David or another psalmist offers petitions to the Lord (33:16; 38:13; 39:2; 54:2; 60:2; 65:19; 85:6; 87:3; 101:1, 18; 105:44; 114:1; 118:169; 129:2; 139:7; 140:1; 141:3, 7; 142:1; 144:19). In these appeals, the psalms do not all ask to be delivered from the exact same thing. Deliverance can be sought from enemies, armies, injustice, death, or even unspecified trials. Despite these differences, the consistent pattern is that YHWH lifts up the life of the godly ones. He hears their petitions, and part of their godliness is that when they are ground down in lowliness of suffering they demonstrate absolute dependence upon God. They put their hope in Him, they trust Him, they rely on Him, and He does not abandon them. The Lord values their life and raises them up. YHWH rescues the king because of his righteousness (Lucass 2011:79).

Notably, the cry of the righteous sufferer is a sustained motif, not merely a verbal allusion or two. In the psalms, often a Davidic kingly figure cries out to the Lord for deliverance so that he may be raised in triumph over enemies. Exploring the motif, Lucass has further documented numerous examples of the king going through some ritual trial leading to death or being encompassed by the waters, the deep, Sheol, the pit, or enemies. In the ordeal, the king cries out to YHWH who then delivers the king from the trial because of the king’s righteousness (Lucass 2011:76–79; cf. also Eaton 1975:133–134; Johnson 1955:107–126). Lucass (2011:79) concludes: ‘The king asks not only to be delivered but to be set on high, that is, raised up, “resurrected”’. Accordingly, the outcome of the king’s trust in the trial is being heard and saved.

The king or Davidic figure is an exemplar to the people of God. To draw this out, Joshua Jipp (2015) has recently explored the theme of royal ideology and its influence on Paul’s letters. Two key features of royal ideology that he identifies in the psalms, which relate to this article, are: ‘the king is rescued out of a situation of distress, [and] is exalted over his enemies (Ps 2:8–9; 110:2; cf. Dan 7:14)’ (p. 35); and the king is the ‘righteous royal sufferer par excellence (Ps 7:4, 69:4, 109:3)’ (p. 36; emphasis original). Jipp (2015) highlights the importance of this theme:

The king’s sufferings frequently bring him to despair as he laments God’s apparent abandonment of him to his enemies and to death (Ps 22:14–18, 38:5–8). Nevertheless, the king is consistently portrayed as righteous in that he refuses to turn away from God but rather maintains his hope and trust that God will rescue him. (p. 36)

Taking other selected Psalms (esp. 1–2; 18–21; and 118–119), Jamie Grant (2004) has explored how the Davidic king is the model and prime exemplar of both dependence on YHWH and obedience to YHWH in the form of piety to the Torah.8 This portrait is an outworking of the Deuteronomic theology of kingship (Grant 2004:65–69). Similarly, pointing to the links between Psalm 1 and 2, Mettinger (1976:290) argues that the king at his coronation pledges to fulfil the Law, and the king’s sonship is ‘a motivation for the king’s commitment to the Law’. The king must rely solely on YHWH, and like the true Israelite he must obey. Grant shows that the motifs identified below in Hebrews of the Davidic sonship-kingship are woven into the very fabric of the compiled Psalter. Creach (2008:73) notes that ‘there seems little doubt that David has become [in the Psalter] not only a symbol of the monarchy but a symbol for Israel’. Just as Israel is YHWH’s firstborn son that once cried out for deliverance (Ex 3:7, 9), so the Davidic figure is the one who experiences a death-like ordeal and cries out to YHWH as a son looking to his father. Creach (2008:73) points out that this theme of YHWH’s son being the true representative of humanity in the Psalms is tied to the historical situation of David:

The Psalter identifies the righteous with Israel. It then focuses that corporate identity in a profound way by identifying David as the righteous who suffers. David appears in twelve Psalms that present events in his life as contexts in which he prayed the words of those psalms (Ps 3:7, 18, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 62, 142). In almost every case David is presented as one who suffers, who pleads to God for mercy, and who expresses confidence that God will deliver him. (p. 8)9

In part then, this model reflects the relationship between YHWH and his king. God acts as a father, and the king as ‘son’ that ‘enjoys divine protection and help’ (Mettinger 1976:291). Mays (1994) brings out this connection between David and the Psalter in totality, not just between David and individual Psalms:

[T]he Davidic connection directs the reader to think of each psalm and the entire Psalter as an expression of faith in the reign of the LORD as the sphere in which individual and corporate life is lived. It does so because it is quite impossible to separate David from his identity as king chosen to be the regent and agent on earth of God’s reign over God’s people and the nations of the world. (p. 98)

The Davidic figure as YHWH’s son is the true representative of humanity.

The Son in Hebrews as a Davidic figure crowned in Adamic-glory

In the previous section, the theme of the Davidic righteous sufferer is explored as a motif in the Psalter and the clear verbal allusions between these LXX psalms and the language of Hebrews 5:7 are highlighted. To justify that Hebrews 5:7 displays the motif of the Davidic righteous sufferer, the article will briefly survey how Hebrews portrays Jesus’ kingship-sonship as Messianic, the true Davidic king.

Firstly, in Hebrews, Jesus as Son is a Messianic figure. Hebrews 1:5 quotes Psalm 2:7 with 2 Samuel 7:1410 and interprets the royal Psalm through the Davidic covenant to show Christ as the Davidic-Messiah fulfilment by Jesus.11 Jesus is the royal heir as Hebrews 1:6 identifies Jesus as appointed πρωτότοκος. This passage is rightly recognised as alluding to Psalm 88:28 LXX (Attridge 1989:56n.70; Cockerill 2012:105; Lane 1991:26), which portrays the royal feature of Davidic kingship. The author also uses Psalm 44 LXX to apply directly to Jesus. He is the figure whom God has anointed (Heb 1:9b διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεός σου). The original context of the song is a kingly wedding song which Hebrews reads as being fulfilled in Jesus as a Messianic figure. Furthermore, Psalm 109 LXX is a kingship Psalm that Hebrews concludes is fulfilled in the royal enthronement of Jesus.12

Hebrews uses Χριστός 12 times (3:6, 14; 5:5; 6:1; 9:11, 14, 24, 28; 10:10; 11:26; 13:8, 21). Six times the word is used specifically with the article (3:14; 5:5; 6:1; 9:14, 28; 11:26), which suggests Χριστός is more than just a name for the author but rather a title as well. In a long article, David Flusser (1988: esp. 262–265) surveys background material and interpretation of texts in the Second Temple Judaism to show that behind the Christology of Hebrews in its early Christian context there is a clear Messianology, or a ‘messianological motif’, with respect to Jesus’ sonship and identification as the Christ.13

Secondly, the Messianic-son as a Davidic figure in Hebrews, is the true representation of humanity. The author of Hebrews interprets Psalm 8 messianically (De Wet 2010; Maré 2010). In connection with Psalm 2 and 110, Hebrews uses Psalm 8 to portray Jesus as the true human-Adamic figure (i.e. a ‘Second Adam’), who has been crowned with glory and honour (Mackie 2007:45–48; Moffitt 2011:120–143; Peterson 1982:51–73; Schenck 2007:51–59). ‘Until Christ had successfully stayed the course through every trial, He could not fulfill God’s plan for humanity as outlined in Psalm 8’ (Walters 1995:111). It is by means of his suffering death that He has been crowned with this glory and honour (Heb 2:9). But in his human suffering, He also stands in representation of his people to bring them to glory as well (Heb 2:10–11, 16–17). The Son has been made like the sons in their humanity (2:14, 17a). As one who is truly human, He also displays true trust in God (Heb 2:13), and thus as exalted is able to lead the people of God into heavenly worship (Heb 2:12, using Ps 21:23 LXX).

The Messianic king-son (Heb 1) is the true Adamic figure who is crowned with the glory of Adam and reigns (Heb 2:6–10).14 Hebrews makes the interpretive move of bringing Davidic fulfilment and Adamic fulfilment together into one portrait of the son-king, Jesus, who acts on behalf of his people. In his kingly reign, Jesus represents the people of God. The Messianic installment of the Son (Heb 1:5) is also his crowning with Adamic glory and honour (Heb 2:6–8).15

In Hebrews 2:6–8, Hebrews should be interpreted against the background of Old Testament royal ideology as well as Second Temple texts concerning the role of Adam and the righteous who are faithful through suffering.16 In apocalyptic literature,17 a commonly held belief is that Adam’s great sin was his failure to obey God (4 Ez 4:30; 7:11, 46–48). In contrast to Adam, the righteous that suffer and maintain godliness will experience the resurrection and the rewards of the glorification in the eschaton.18 The righteous persevere and trust God, obey Him.19 In a number of Second Temple texts, the righteous sufferer is given Adamic glory (1 QS 4:22, 23; CD 3:20 and 1 QHa 4:15; 2 Bar 14:17–19; 15:7–8; 51:2–13; 4 Ez 6:54–58; 7:10–11, 13–14, 17–18a, 89–98; Bertolet in press: 186–192; Pate 1993:66–74). The Davidic king and later Messianic expectation is that he will be one who submits to God’s law, who is obedient, and who exercises reverent trust in God.20 In Hebrews, being the true Davidic-Adamic figure who exercises obedient trust through trials, the Son qualifies to fulfil humanity’s destiny and be crowned with eschatological glory and honour.

The picture of total reliance is now for Hebrews fulfiled in the true Davidic king, the true and greater representative Adam, Jesus. Easter (2014) states:

Jesus participated fully in the human condition and realized humanity’s divine intention [cf. Heb 2:5–8] by experiencing life after death … Jesus, as the faithful one par excellence, pioneers faith by exercising faith [in] the face of death, and he perfects faith by being raised from the dead. (p. 164)

This ‘par excellence’ must be identified as a Second Adam category that Christ carries out as the eschatological man representative of God’s people so they too can share in his glory. He is a corporate and representational head as the Adamic-Davidic king.21 For Hebrews, the true eternal Son acts out human kingly sonship depending solely upon God for deliverance.

Would a New Testament author like the author of Hebrews, recognise the Messiah as a corporate representative? It can so be believed.22 Firstly, it is rather common in the ancient world. Ancient authors were familiar with the concept of corporate representation, solidaric identities, and the piety of kingship in obedience to the gods (Grogan 1998:160–166; Jipp 2015:16–60, 160–165; Johnson 1955:127–131; Mowinckel 2004:42–61). This is true throughout the ANE and Greco-Roman culture.23 Secondly, more specifically the New Testament authors, following similar hermeneutical principles found within the Second Temple Judaism, understand the Scriptures as having an eschatological end. Longenecker (1999) states:

On a principle of corporate solidarity, such passages regarding Israel’s king and David’s son would lend themselves to a fulfillment understanding by any group that believed itself to be culminating the hope of Israel. (p. 158–159)

It is unsurprising that New Testament authors would interpret the Christ as fulfilling the repeated picture found in the Old Testament Psalter of the Davidic figure suffering in righteousness and being delivered because of righteousness. One specific example of the Messiah as a corporate figure for Hebrews is the believers’ partaking in the Christ in Hebrews 3:14a: μέτοχοι γὰρ τοῦ Χριστοῦ γεγόναμεν.24

Hebrews has a royal ideology concerning the identity of the Son as Messianic and Davidic (Attridge 1989:53, 56; Eskola 2001:206–211), and this royal ideology taps into a similar important portrayal of the royal ideology of the Psalms. As Susan Docherty (2009:150) puts it: ‘the author [of Hebrews] is more indebted to the hopes and expectations of “traditional” Davidic messianism than some commentators allow’. In this light, as argued below, the possible background for Hebrews 5:7 goes beyond merely looking for a few verbal parallels. In the psalms, David is the true righteous truster in YHWH and is heard because of his righteousness. Hebrews’ conception of the Messiah shares this portrait.25

Thus, as shown in this section, there is a Messianic-Davidic conception of sonship in Hebrews. This Messianic-Davidic figure is also the fulfilment of true humanity (which is labeled as ‘Second-Adam’). The identification of Jesus as the Christ in Hebrews lays the ground work to further justify identifying the language of Hebrews 5:7 as echoing the psalmic motif of the righteous Davidic sufferer coming to fulfilment.26 The underlying theology of Hebrews leads one to believe Hebrews 5:7 views the suffering of the Messianic figure as the godly one par excellence like the Davidic figure portrayed in the Psalter.

Hebrews 5:7 as the cry of the Davidic king as the true human

In the previous two sections the groundwork is laid for understanding Hebrews 5:7 as referring to the cries of the Davidic righteous sufferer. Firstly, in ‘The Psalter’s motif of the righteous Davidic sufferer’, the Davidic righteous sufferer is examined as motif in the Psalms. Secondly, in ‘The Son in Hebrews as a Davidic figure crowned in Adamic-glory’, it is sought briefly to illustrate the importance of the Davidic Messiah and the influence of the Psalms on Hebrews’ own theology. It is already a noticeable theme in Hebrews that Jesus as the son must exercise trust in God the Father. He also does so as a corporate figure representing the new humanity. This section briefly returns to the language of Hebrews 5:7 as understood within its immediate context. Probably the interpretation of a psalmic motif behind Hebrews 5:7 is stronger than the surveyed alternatives because of the thematic coherence between the Davidic righteous sufferer in the Psalms and the Christ as the righteous sufferer in the context of Hebrews 5:7. Indications of the Christ as the righteous sufferer are briefly surveyed in this section.

Firstly, Hebrews 5:1–4 concerns the qualifications of priesthood, particularly the necessity of the priest to come from among men. Common to men and priests is weakness (5:2). Hebrews has already shown that Christ is from among men, sharing in their flesh and blood in true humanity (2:14, 17), and his exposure to temptation and suffering entails weakness (2:18; 4:15). In humanity, there is solidarity between Christ and his brothers or children (2:11–14). In 5:7 his crying out is at a state of profound weakness where He looks to God.

Secondly, in 5:4–5, the priest does not appoint himself to be a priest. The priest does not take this honour on his own (5:4a καὶ οὐχ ἑαυτῷ τις λαμβάνει τὴν τιμὴν). Just like Aaron, the Christ (i.e. the Messiah) does not take on this glory of priesthood by Himself (5:5a Οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἐδόξασεν γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα). The previous reference to glory and honour in Hebrews has been to his crowning in fulfilment of Psalm 8 (Heb 2:7, 9). Furthermore, Hebrews reintroduces Jesus as ὁ Χριστὸς, a clear Messianic reference. Here his installment as priest is when God spoke to Him, the same as his Messianic installation (Ps 2:7).27 Thus, the Davidic-Messianic figure is precisely in view with the reference to sonship in 5:5.

Thirdly, Hebrews 5:7 begins with ὃς ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ. It is a return to the presentation of the Son in his earthly humanity as in Hebrews 2:14, 17a. His loud cries (μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς) are part of his suffering experience (5:7; 2:9–10). This presentation fits the context of one who through the ordeal of suffering learns to obey (5:8b ἔμαθεν ἀφ᾿ ὧν ἔπαθεν τὴν ὑπακοήν). He offers the godly response to suffering (5:7 δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας πρὸς τὸν δυνάμενον σῴζειν αὐτὸν ἐκ θανάτου).

Fourthly, in Hebrews 5:7 the cry is not so much a supplication for being spared from experiencing death, instead ἐκ θανάτου is a plea to be saved ‘out of death’, so that when He dies He will be delivered up from the dead (Attridge 1989:150; Bruce 1990:128; Cockerill 2012:243).28 This cry for deliverance from death is just like the Davidic figure of the Psalter going down into Sheol, i.e. death, or ‘the pit’ and pleading to be delivered out of it. For Hebrews, this motif reaches its climax in Jesus.29 Here, of course, Hebrews 5:7 is different than the motif in the psalms for the Messiah actually dies rather than having a death-like experience (e.g. Ps 17:5–6, f.f.). For Hebrews, Jesus’ cry to God for deliverance is an eschatological fulfilment of the motif just like Hebrews has been reading Ps 2:8, 21 LXX, 39 LXX, 44 LXX, and 109 LXX as fulfilled in the Messiah. Instead of having a near death experience where David trusts God and is delivered before physical death, the Messiah dies and is delivered up out of death by being crowned with glory and honour.30 Nevertheless, like David in the psalms, in Hebrews 5:7 the Christ offers cries, prayers, and supplications asking God to deliver and save Him.

Fifthly, like in the Psalter, in Hebrews 5:7 the Davidic Messiah is heard because of his character. The ground upon which David is heard in the Psalter is pious righteousness. Similarly, in Hebrews, the Messiah is heard because of piety (5:7 εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας).31 Consider again the use of Psalm 44:7–8 LXX in Hebrews 1:8–9, especially 1:9 where the anointing, which is taken as the installation of the Son, is conditioned on his righteous behaviour: ἠγάπησας δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἐμίσησας ἀνομίαν· διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεός σου ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους σου (Heb 1:9). The reason the Son is worthy to be the exalted royal Davidic king-messiah is precisely because (διὰ τοῦτο) in his character and earthly obedience to God He loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. Furthermore, Hebrews 2:12–13 uses Psalm 21 LXX [Eng./MT Ps 22] with Isaiah 8:17–18 LXX to point to Jesus as the one who trusts Κύριος, YHWH, or God. Hebrews sees the Christ as a vindicated sufferer precisely because of his trusting of the Father.

Sixthly and finally, as a more minor point, it is noted that Hebrews 1:6 identifies Jesus as appointed πρωτότοκος and this generally acknowledged an allusion to Psalm 88:28 LXX (Attridge 1989:56n.70; Cockerill 2012:105; Lane 1991:26). It is highly unlikely that the author of Hebrews was unaware of the context where Psalm 88:27–28 LXX portrays a Davidic figure as one who calls on God as his Father for salvation. While there is no direct verbal parallel between Hebrews 5:7 and Psalm 88:27–28 LXX, they share the same themes of the Davidic king being the ‘son’ of YHWH and calling out to God as his Father who can save him. He is then exalted and made firstborn.

The Christ is also the one who must obey (5:8) God the Father, which entails doing God’s will in his body (Heb 10:5, 7 citing Ps 39 LXX). Psalm 39 is referenced as a psalm of David in the subscription, but Hebrews makes the direct interpretive move that Jesus Christ fulfils it in his body with his obedience. Contextually in the Psalm, the Davidic figure is the one who had his cry heard (e.g. 39:2b ‘καὶ προσέσχεν μοι καὶ εἰσήκουσεν τῆς δεήσεώς μου’). Hebrews makes the point that Jesus does God’s will.

Words used in Hebrews 5:7 like δέησις, κραυγή, εἰσακούω, and σῴζω are also used in the psalms surveyed above where David looks to YHWH for deliverance and salvation. Thus, for Hebrews, because Jesus is truly human with flesh and blood, He exercises the vocation of humanity, namely trusting God for salvation. Like the Davidic figure in the psalms, He trusts Himself to God as He cries for deliverance and God answers. The paradigm of the righteous son who trusts God by crying out to Him like a father, is fulfilled by Jesus. Like the psalms, vindication comes to Jesus, the Davidic figure, because of his character of trust (Heb 2:13), righteousness (Heb 1:9), and godliness (Heb 5:7b). As Attridge (2004:208) writes, ‘the Psalms give voice to the aims and aspirations of Jesus himself’.32

In line with how Hebrews views the Old Testament Scriptures, the author of Hebrews views Jesus as the eschatological fulfilment bringing to climax the Davidic king’s trust in the Father that leads to his vindication and enthronement. Jesus is righteous and godly, and therefore God raises Him up in resurrection and ascension. Importantly Christ’s prayer, loud cries, and reverent fear are his acts where He learns obedience (Heb 5:7–8). Hebrews shows ‘a reverential Son, human like all other humans, who is submissive to God even to the point of severe suffering, and one thus qualified to be High Priest and leader of his people’ (Lightfoot 1973:173). But in his Messianic sonship He is for Hebrews, the greater David who fulfils the human godliness by complete reverence and submission. Thus, ‘ὁ Χριστός’ (Heb 5:5) is the one who ‘δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας … μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ δακρύων προσενέγκας καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας’ (Heb 5:7).


Almost 65 years ago, C.H. Dodd concluded that large sections of the Old Testament, not simply a few proof texts, had influenced the Early Church. ‘These sections were understood as wholes, and particular verses or sentences were quoted from them rather as pointers to the whole context … the total context … is in view, and is the basis for the argument’ (Dodd 1952:126; emphasis original). Given the prominence of psalm quotations in the book of Hebrews, one should consider how the Psalter may have influenced the author’s thinking in areas beyond just direct quotations. This article sought to demonstrate that behind the language of Hebrews 5:7 is an important motif one finds in the psalms. The language found in Hebrews 5:7 echoes the language found in the LXX Psalter to describe cries and trust of a Davidic figure. The theme of the Davidic righteous sufferer is precisely what Hebrews is discussing in the context of 5:7. The link is one of both language and concept. Hebrews sees Jesus as the Davidic Messiah who, like the Davidic figure in the Psalter, trusts God his Father into and through his death ordeal. This righteous servant’s trust is rewarded by an exaltation.

This article began by examining the three most common backgrounds used to explain Hebrews 5:7, namely material from the Gospels, especially Gethsemane; an allusion to an isolated psalm or two, typically Psalm 21 LXX and Psalms 114–115 LXX; and the Maccabean martyrs. While these background elements should be included in any interpretation of Hebrews 5:7, it is believed that these background sources are too narrow and therefore ultimately unsatisfactory. Identifying the underlying motif allows one to show how Hebrews 5:7 connects to a broader and fuller portrait of Jesus in Hebrews.

Secondly, the larger motif in the psalms is examined, namely of the Davidic figure as a righteous sufferer who cries out to God, his Father. The words used in Hebrews 5:7 are found in a number of different LXX psalms and partake of this more comprehensive theme. David relies on God, entrusting himself to God who will deliver him out of a death-like experience that is described as a descent in Sheol and ‘the pit’. Only YHWH can deliver David out of this death-like experience. The Davidic figure trusts YHWH as his Father (e.g. Ps 88:27 LXX, f.f.).

Thirdly, it is briefly examined how the psalms already shaped Hebrews. Hebrews uses the psalms to develop a conception of Jesus as the royal Messiah who is the fulfilment of true humanity. Since this portrait of a royal Messiah as the true human is already found in Hebrews, one is on firm ground to see Hebrews 5:7 as a further fleshing out of this motif based on the parallel language found in the LXX Psalter.

Finally, in returning to Hebrews 5:7 specific attention is paid to the context. Hebrews is arguing that Jesus is the high priest of the order of Melchizedek. But he returns to use the language of ‘glory’ and ‘honour’ as in Psalm 8, which earlier he interpreted as Messianic. He also specifically uses the title ὁ Χριστός in 5:5 when he identifies the one God exalted. Messianic-sonship is in view. The Messianic son, king and priest, has humbled Himself, suffered on the cross, and died. In this act, he offered up obedience and exemplified human obedience and piety. His cries are heard because He was godly.

Hebrews consistently reads the Old Testament as coming to its eschatological fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Likewise, Hebrews 5:7 draws on an important Old Testament motif from the Psalter. It is no surprise to see the Messiah offer up the ultimate act of trust and go through the ultimate Psalmic fulfilment of the procession from despairing, to crying to God in humiliation, to receiving glorious exaltation from the Father whom He trusted. He is the true human who offers true trust to God as the eschatological fulfilment of the Davidic figure.


I wish to thank Prof. Gert Steyn for his feedback and supervision of my thesis.

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.


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1. By allusion is meant that the author does not directly quote the text but has the language of a specific passage in his mind without necessarily a direct quote. In Hebrews 1:6 the use of πρωτότοκος probably has in mind Psalm 88:28 LXX, but does not make a direct quotation of the text. In this way, previous texts influenced the author and served as an informing background for the theology he developed. The methodology is similar of how Richardson (2012:76–77) sought to identify similar parallel language between Gethsemane accounts and Hebrews without identifying a direct quotation.

2. One can understand that neither deSilva nor Easter are arguing for a direct quotation of these sources but instead that the overlap in language and concepts points to the Maccabean tradition influencing Hebrews’ articulation of the righteous suffering of Jesus.

3. This is not an offering of a historical-critical argument for or against Davidic authorship. Nor is it arguing that these are royal psalms per se, such as Psalm 2. The debate in historical-critical scholarship over the definition of the royal psalm and whether it is a broad or narrow category is too complex an issue for this article. One does, however, concur with Creach (1996; 2008), Grant (2004) and Mays (1994) who see Davidic royal features in the final editorial composition of the Psalter beyond just explicit royal psalms (e.g. Ps 2, 45, 72, 89, 110). The point is simply there a broad motif in the Psalter of a righteous suffering crying to God and trusting God for deliverance. In some psalms, David is the example of the righteous sufferer, but there are psalms where David is not mentioned that still contain the motif of the righteous sufferer looking for deliverance. Because Hebrews sees Jesus’ sonship in part as Messianic, one believes he sees Jesus as the eschatological climax, or fulfilment, of this feature of the Psalter.

4. The Hebrew יהוה (YHWH) is translated Κύριος in the LXX. In this discussion, YHWH, Κύριος, and Lord are used interchangeably. The reference to YHWH highlights that the Κύριος (Lord) in view in these LXX texts is Israel’s God who has made a covenant with the Davidic figure, as father and son (e.g. 2 Sam 7). In other contexts, Κύριος can refer to lords and masters. Later readers of these texts would have understood the Davidic covenant was the grounds of assurance that if the king, as a son, trusts YHWH, as his Father, he will be delivered. The reading of these psalms is within a later assembled canonical context and not a historical-critical reading of initial circumstances.

5. Notice also that the end of the Psalm focuses on David, the anointed, and his heirs: ‘καὶ ποιῶν ἔλεος τῷ χριστῷ αὐτοῦ, τῷ Δαυιδ καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ ἕως αἰῶνος’ (17:51 LXX).

6. All references will be to the LXX in the following discussion of this Psalm.

7. In the MT, both Psalm 114 LXX and Psalm 115 LXX are Psalm 116. Thus, perhaps one should consider Psalm 115:4, 6 LXX [MT 116:13,15] as related to these themes. It is, however, beyond the scope of this article’s argument to explore text critical issues and even differences between the LXX and the MT. The focus remains on the broad overarching theme of a cry to the Lord in a death-like ordeal and deliverance because the Lord hears.

8. Creach (1996:80) also argues that ‘righteousness was conceived largely as “seeking refuge in Yahweh”’. The cry of the sufferer in his righteousness is linked to Torah piety. For further argumentation concerning this link and the connection kingship, dependence on YHWH, and Torah piety, see Grant (2004:58–70, 81–89, 93–101, 107–114, 143–148, 157–164, 202–210, 216–220). Daniel Owens (2013) also points to this link between righteousness and Torah piety. He (Owens 2013:188) writes that the Psalmist ‘links this righteousness to keeping the ways of YHWH … the one who does righteousness is the same as the one who calls for help in Ps 18:20–21’.

9. On Psalm 3, Creach (2008:60) writes that the Psalmist ‘makes David a “literary vehicle” that exemplifies a piety of dependence on the Lord’. This is representative of his larger conclusions concerning the Davidic figure, piety, and dependence on YHWH. He argues that Book 1 of the Psalter should be ‘read as an extended picture of true piety, seen in total reliance on Yahweh and exemplified by David’ (Creach 2008:80).

10. In the DSS 4Q174 (4QFlor), Psalm 2:1–2 and 2 Samuel 7:10–14 are interpreted together messianically (along with Ps 89:23; see Batemen 1995).

11. For the linking between kingship and sonship in Psalm 2 and its use in Hebrews, see Steyn (2003). Steyn especially highlights Davidic motifs and the fact that the Second Temple Judaism saw Davidic-messianic features in this text. Psalm of Solomon 17 interprets Psalm 2 to refer to a messianic figure. Sam Janse (2009:67) writes ‘it is the chief witness for a Messianic interpretation of Ps.2 in Early Judaism’. Like Hebrews, Psalm of Solomon 17 invokes Psalms 2:89 and 2 Samuel 7:14 to identify the royal messianic figure (Janse 2009:55–66). For more detailed argumentation of a messianic enthronement in Hebrews 1 and 2 and the background of the Psalms, see Compton (2015:19–65). Compton also extensively documents the secondary literature on this topic of the messianic royal identity of Christ and his enthronement.

12. Collins and Collins (2008:2–3, 10–24) discuss the royal ideology behind Psalm 2 and 110 (see also Eskola 2001:58–63). Timo Eskola (especially in 2001:206–211, 234–235) also discusses that the enthronement Christology of Hebrews, especially with the use of Psalm 110 develops in a royal enthronement of the Davidic king. His (Eskola 2001:158–269) work traces every fulfilment in the New Testament in which Jesus is installed as the royal Davidic figure. Enthronement Christology in Hebrews identifies Jesus as ‘a messianic Davidide [sic] under whom all angels and heavenly power have been subordinated’ (Eskola 2001: 210–211). Regarding the union of the royal figure and priestly Christology, see Eskola (2001:258–264) and regarding the ‘Messianic Davidide on the throne of glory’, see Eskola:339–343.

13. On Messianism in Hebrews as both kingly and priestly and reading it against the background of Second Temple Judaism, especially Qumran, see Mason (2011). Mason (2011) concludes:

Jesus’ status as Son is necessary to assert his priesthood, and all this is built on his identification as the Davidic king in these royal psalms [Ps 2 and 109 LXX]. (p. 67)

Regarding the influence of Messianism in Early Judaism and Septuagintal Messianism on Hebrews, see Gheorghita (2003:135–145).

14. The argument is not that the Davidic figure in the Psalms is necessarily an Adamic figure, but instead it is submitted that Hebrews brings his messianic ideology with its Davidic royal features into coalescence with an Adamic Christology.

15. Notice also the exaltation described in 1:6 with ‘ὅταν δὲ πάλιν εἰσαγάγῃ τὸν πρωτότοκον εἰς τὴν οἰκουμένην’ after quoting Psalm 2:6 and 2 Samuel 7:14, and then the return of the similar phrase in 2:5 ‘ὑπέταξεν τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν’ to introduce Psalm 8:4–6. Hebrews brings the two together (Bertolet in press:156–240). It is also common to recognise a royal ideology behind the identity of Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures (Callender 2000:206–209; Middleton 2005).

16. N.T. Wright (1992:21–26) illustrates how the Old Testament and Second Temple texts read the story line of ‘true humanity’ from Adam to Israel to David to the Messiah. Aage Bentzen (1970:41–44) links Israelite kingship, the king’s sonship, and the ‘First Man’ of Psalm 8 and Genesis 1. Kinzer’s (1995) thorough study of the use of Psalm 8 and the history of its interpretation concludes:

This combined individual-corporate reading of Ps 8 is also common in Jewish exegesis of the period, where the psalm could be applied to individuals such as Adam, Abraham, and Moses, and simultaneously to the people of Israel as a whole. (p. 264)

On Psalm 8 and the royal ideology, see Keener (2013:62–63, 72–74) and Kinzer (1995:31–39).

17. Recent Hebrews scholarship has highlighted the importance of this background in reading Hebrews (Mackie 2007; Mason 2011:58–60; Moffitt 2013 f.f.).

18. 2 Baruch 15:7–8; 48:49–50; 51:1–2, 11–15; 52:6–7; 54:21; 4 Ezra 2:20–32, 34–41, 44–48; 7:88–98; Testament of Isaac, 4:47 CD-A III:12–20 indicate those who are steadfast and follow God’s precepts ‘will acquire eternal life, and all the glory of Adam is for them’ (v.20) [for DSS text, see Martínez & Tigchelaar 2000, 1: 555]. 1QHa IV 14–15 posits:

You [protect] the ones who serve you loyally, [so that] their posterity is before you all the days. You have raised an [eternal] name [forgiving] offence, casting away all their iniquities, giving them as a legacy all the glory of Adam [and] abundance of days. (DSS text: Martínez & Tigchelaar 2000, 1:149)

19. Psalm of Solomon 14:1–5 declares the righteous endure discipline. They obey and live by his word forever. They are ‘the Lord’s paradise, the trees of life’. They are God’s portion and inheritance, which probably has in view their eschatological glory and triumph. See also Psalm of Solomon 16:14–15 where the righteous man is tested in the flesh and if he endures he receives mercy.

20. Psalm of Solomon 17:36–42 portrays the king as one who is righteous, wise; ‘His hope will be in the Lord’ (v. 39); ‘mighty in his actions and strong in the fear of the Lord’ (v. 40); faithful and righteous shepherd; and leading in holiness.

21. It is not argued that Hebrews derives his entire Second Adam theology from the Psalms. Rather, like some psalms, he sees the Davidic figure (for him: Jesus) as corporately representing God’s people. Likewise, for Hebrews, the Messiah is also a suffering figure (Heb 2:9; 12:1–2) like the Davidic sufferer in the Psalms. This leads one to believe Davidic suffering allusions are behind the language of Hebrews 5:7 as part of his Scriptural ‘worldview’.

22. G.W. Grogan (1998), has explored this concept of corporate solidarity or representation in its Old Testament background and also how Hebrews employs this concept. He (Grogan 1998:166–167) specifically displays its relationship to Hebrews’ eschatology.

23. See for example Launderville (2003: esp. 43–51, 99–145; ch. 2 ‘Centralization of the Community in the Person of the King’: 317–331) and also Jipp (2015:46–54) on the Hellenistic kingship discourse.

24. Also see the connection between the Son and his bringing sons to glory in 2:10. Believers are identified as both brothers and children as Jesus represents them (2:11–14). For a more detailed exposition, see Grogan (1998).

25. David is only mentioned by name twice in Hebrews. Once in Hebrews 4:7, he is mentioned as the author or speaker of Psalms 94 LXX; and once in Hebrews 11:32 with a passing reference that he does not have time to speak of David’s example of faith. David is mentioned as a historical figure, but there is no connection in these references to the royal ideology of Messianic fulfilment. One possible reference that Hebrews does see Jesus as the Davidic Messiah is that he points to his being a descendent of Judah (Heb 7:14), which was understood as the Davidic Messiah. Hebrews assumes the point of this descent (and its implicit Messianism) because he argues how the Lord Jesus could be a priest notwithstanding that in the Old Testament priest are from Levi.

26. In other words, it is self-evident that Hebrews quotes the psalms as important justification for various points of his presentation of Jesus. Given the use of the psalms, Hebrews clearly understands Jesus, the Son, to be a fulfilment of the Davidic-Messianic figure. And Hebrews also addresses Jesus the Christ as the corporate figure who is the example of the righteous sufferer par excellence (Heb 2), which is identified independently as a motif in the Psalms.

27. This bestowal of the honour of priesthood reflects one difference between the motif of the Davidic sufferer in the Psalms and Hebrews. With the possible exception of Psalm 110:4 where kingship and priesthood are connected, there is no mention of David’s vindication for trusting God as leading to any priestly role in the Davidic righteous sufferer motif.

28. Hebrews 2:14 sees it as necessary that Jesus experience death, going through it, in order to destroy the one having the power of death (2:14 ἵνα διὰ τοῦ θανάτου καταργήσῃ τὸν τὸ κράτος ἔχοντα τοῦ θανάτου). Thus, Hebrews sees Jesus not asking to be exempted from death but that upon his death, God would save Him up out of death. While the Davidic figure in the Psalms may poetically ask to be saved from death and Sheol as poetic metaphor, for Hebrews, Jesus is the one who has actually gone through death and asked to be delivered out of it before He died (i.e. in the days of his flesh).

29. Again, what is metaphorical and poetic in various psalms is something that Hebrews sees fulfilled in the literal death of Christ. This is what is meant by ‘the motif reaches its climax’.

30. Of course, for Hebrews this is also the moment of his appointment to the priesthood of the order of Melchizedek. By focusing on the Davidic kingly aspects, one is in no way seeking to minimise the other roles of the Son in Hebrews such as his priesthood or being mediator.

31. In several places in the LXX, the verb εὐλαβέομαι is used to describe those who revere the Lord and are thus protected, delivered, shielded, heard, and remembered, e.g. Proverbs 2:8; 30:5; Nahum 1:7; Malachi 3:16. In other words, the Lord responds favourably to the righteous person who piously reveres him.

32. Attridge (2004:208) speaks of Hebrews interpreting the Psalms as an ‘actualizing project’, where one has preferred the concept of fulfilment of a motif. Attridge (2004:208–212) shows how the Psalms give voice to both Jesus and his followers. He does not use the word corporate solidarity or representation, but instead he presents the concept in linking the connections between Christ and his people in Hebrews. For Hebrews, Jesus is the fulfilment of the model of faithful prayer (Attridge 2004:211), and we would add dependent trust in crying out to God. In the Psalms, David often models this, so the article argues the similar verbal connections to the LXX and strongly suggests Hebrews sees Jesus fulfilling this model, in part because Hebrews elsewhere explains that Jesus is the Messiah; and secondly that Jesus is the exemplar of faithful trust in God. Attridge (2004) only points cited Psalm 6:5–8 and 116:4–9, but this articles’ proposal goes beyond Attridge, arguing that this portrait and motif that is fulfilled in Hebrews 5:7, is broader and more significant than just a few psalms.

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