Quotations from the Old Testament

It is deeply interesting to observe with what care the Holy Spirit, by the various writers or speakers in the New Testament, quotes from the Books of the Old Testament. Of course this work, like all God's works, must be perfect; but such accuracy is observed that it is not uncommon for a quotation to end in the middle of a sentence, and for obvious reasons. We all remember the account of our Lord's reading from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue, and that when He had uttered the words, "to preach the acceptable year of the Lord," He closed the book and sat down. Now why was this? Why did He not read on? Because the next words, "the day of vengeance is at hand" did not then apply, as His mission was one of grace, not judgment. But in its literal application to the Jews, the time of their blessing and of divine vengeance will come together; for when the Lord appears as "Sun of righteousness" with healing to the faithful remnant of Israel, He will so execute judgment on the wicked, that they shall be ashes under the feet of those who are blessed. The application, therefore, of that scripture by our Lord, and up to this time, can go no further than the acceptable year of the Lord, however rapidly the day of vengeance may be approaching.

On turning to Romans 8, we find a quotation from Psalm 44, “as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter;” and there the apostle stops,             because, on referring to the psalm, the next words are such as could not be now expressed by a child of God, who is loved by the Father as He loved His Son. They could, however, be the utterance of a Jewish remnant who know not the Father, nor the blessedness of the accomplished redemption of the Son. Such might add, "Awake, why sleepest thou, O Jehovah? arise, cast us not off for ever. Wherefore hidest thou thy face," etc.; but it is not the Christian's utterance who knows the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free.

Look also at Romans 10:15, which is a quotation from Isaiah 52, "As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!" Now, why does the Apostle stop there in the middle of the sentence, and omit what follows? Because it is clear that what follows, "that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth," cannot have its fulfilment till the Lord Jesus takes His rightful place as Son of David, and reigns before His ancients gloriously as King of Israel.

In 1 Peter 3 there is a quotation from Psalm 34, "The eyes of Jehovah are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of Jehovah is against them that do evil," and stops in the middle of a sentence; and why? Because the words which follow, "to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth," while literally applying to God's earthly people, the Jews, could never be applied to those who are saved from coming wrath, and instead of inheriting the earth, are looking for "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven." Do not such things show us the perfect accuracy with which the holy scriptures come from God to us?

But take one or two more examples. Psalm 68 is quoted in Ephesians 4. We read, "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men," and stops in the middle of the sentence, because the next words, "yea, for the rebellious also," though they will be literally fulfilled as to rebellious Israel, could never be used toward us, who now through grace, have believed the gospel. In millennial times, when Christ will be known as Israel's Redeemer and King, they will deeply and touchingly feel the marvellous character of the grace, above all else, which will give them "gifts" from the hand of their long-rejected Messiah.

Again, in Hebrews 2, the writer quotes freely from Psalm 8, in reference to Jesus having been made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, whom we see now crowned with glory and honour, and that He will have all things put in subjection under His feet, though that has not yet taken place. Now Psalm 8 is millennial, and applies strictly to Jesus, as the last Adam, who will take His rightful place of dominion over all God's works, "all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas," when it will be said, "O Jehovah, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth." It is obvious that the Apostle, by the Spirit, only quotes from this Psalm enough to show that Jesus, who has tasted death for every man, is now "crowned with glory and honour," and will, by-and-by, have all things put under his feet.

These examples are enough to show, not only the divine authority of the Old Testament writings, and regarded by the Apostles as final and conclusive, but they also reveal to us the fine and delicate workmanship of the Holy Spirit in putting together for our profit the scriptures of the New Testament.

It is a point not to be overlooked, that the Old Testament scriptures are either quoted or alluded to in the New many hundreds of times.