Do you have motivations in your life that you use to keep you going “when the going gets tough” – as they say? Do you set rewards or look forward to eagerly anticipated plans for the future – when the present is sometimes difficult? This is the type of behavior we see characterizing David, the “man after God’s own heart, who will do My will.” (Acts 13:22) I find the 25th through 31st verses of our chapter in Acts today, to be quite moving in this regard.
In his famous speech here in Acts 2, Peter is carefully selecting his words for this amazing first preaching effort after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He is speaking to a variety of Jewish believers from various nations. He is expounding on what he sees as the very heart of the Gospel message. He is implicating them in the death of “Jesus the Nazarene” – while at the same time giving them hope and deliverance. It is an astonishing sermon!
Right in the middle of this thought-provoking speech, Peter brings up the words of the Sweet Psalmist of Israel – David, son of Jesse. David – the shepherd boy-turned-king who wrote so many eloquent words describing the Jewish Messiah. It is the way that Peter describes David that really moved me. He tells us David “always beheld Jesus in his presence” and always felt him “at his right hand that he would not be shaken.” v.25 He tells us David found gladness, joy and hope in this reality. v.26 Now this is clearly not some implication about the pre-existence of Christ (which is not a scriptural teaching anyway). We know this conclusively, because Peter couches his quotation of David’s words in the thought that David was thinking of the promise of a future descendant to sit on his throne by noting that he was “looking ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ.” vv.30-31
So what I find so encouraging is that David clearly pictured the reality of the future Messiah in his everyday life. When Saul was chasing him for years, in the face of fierce enemies like Doeg the Edomite, in the power struggle and squabbles of his army leaders, in the Civil War brought about by his own son. During all of these times, David would look forward to the salvation of God through a mighty Savior. The thought of Messiah was tangible to him – “at his right hand” – day-in and day-out. It inspired him to compose music, and sing and play instruments of praise to his God throughout his life – even in his darkest times. v.26 It allowed him to “abide in hope” so that “he would not be shaken.” v.26, 25
In this understanding of the great love and blessing of God – David had a clear view of detailed characteristics of the Savior – his own descendant. He had a prophetic insight that he put into words for us in the Psalms/songs. He intimately understood the suffering faithfulness of this person. He rejoiced to learn that this special man would ultimately be the first human being to ever be resurrected to immortality. He had a grasp of the reality that this person would be greater than any before or after – including himself – and would sit at the right hand of God Himself. v.34 He had an understanding that God would bring all of Messiah’s enemies into submission in a great and future day. The depth of revelation that God gave to David can take your breath away as you contemplate the Messianic Psalms. Truly God loved this man deeply and gave him insights that very few have ever attained! Perhaps when the Lord Jesus “opened their (the disciples’) minds to understand the Scriptures” after the resurrection is when David’s incredible insights fell into place in Peter’s mind. Jesus specifically included the Psalms as an important part of “all the things which are written about me” in his final discussions with the disciples. Luke 24:44-45
So it is fitting that David’s belief and testimony is the anchor that Peter uses in this first great preaching effort. It is the foundation upon which Peter comes to his grand conclusion to convince these Jews that their Savior had, indeed, walked among them:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified!
Jesus was Messiah! May God be praised!
And these words spoken that day long ago -“pierced people to their heart” when they heard them. v.37 They wanted to know what actions they should take to align themselves with this man, “Jesus the Nazarene – a man attested to you by God.” v.22
May these words of power do likewise for us when we truly, deeply consider our resurrected Lord. May our faith be as strong as David’s when, during the trials of his daily life, he looked ahead to the day of Jesus’ coming. May our faith be bolstered when we consider, like he did, his own resurrection from the dead to meet his greater son. May we, like the Jews of Peter’s day, be spurred to repentant actions including deeper belief and baptism. v.38 For we, like David, have been given the privilege through God’s inspired words – to “know the ways of life.” And we, too, have the hope to spur us on of being “made full of gladness at his presence.” v.28
Even so, come Lord Jesus!