Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried…
The apostles distinctly witnessed to the facts of the Resurrection, as having come within their own personal knowledge. But they also argued from Scripture, that the Lord's resurrection was the natural and necessary completion of Messiah's earthly mission. In the above passage is given the first specimen of such argumentation; and it should be carefully noted that it is fitted to Eastern rather than to Western modes of thought. The late Dr. Robert Vaughan says, "The Oriental intellect is not logical. Its faculty is to a high degree intuitive; it reasons, but it rarely does so formally. It passes to its conclusions with a subtle celerity, resembling what we see in women, much more than by those scientific processes which are familiar to our Western habits of thought." The audience which Peter at this time addressed was composed of devout, God-fearing Jews, who were attending the feast, and it was therefore especially appropriate that his argument should be based upon the Scriptures, and take Scripture form. "The passage which he first quotes is taken from Psalm 16:8-11, and he argues that it could not be of himself that the psalmist there spake, for they had evidence that the words could not be truly said of him; but that, having regard to God's promise, he spake of him who was to be born from his line, as identified with himself." The second quotation is from Psalm 110., and is taken to suggest that David went down to the grave, and "slept with his fathers;" and the allusion to ascension and place at Jehovah's right hand could not possibly apply to him, but must refer to his "greater Son," of whose resurrection and ascension the apostles gave their witness. The argument may be followed through its several stages.
I. DAVID PLAINLY SPEAKS OF THE RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF SOME ONE. He does not deal, in these psalms, in vague generalities and pious sentiment. He was a prophet, and under Divine inspiration, and speaks with distinctness and definiteness. We must seek for the person to whom he refers.
II. HE COULD NOT MEAN HIMSELF, This, indeed, would be the first thought of the reader of his words, but it will not bear examination. The expressions are too large to be satisfied in the experience of any mere man. And, if taken literally, as they should be, they cannot be applied to David himself. They must refer to some great one who has no earthly sepulcher, because, though he died, he rose, and no tomb holds his body. But David's sepulcher was then recognized, and all regarded him as awaiting the general resurrection of the just.
III. HE MUST HAVE REFERRED TO MESSIAH. It must have been a prophetic utterance. And the Messianic character of both these psalms has been generally admitted by the Jews; so that Peter's proof-texts would not be disputed by his audience as unsuitable. The only difficulty would be the identification of Messiah. To this point he leads the argument.
IV. DAVID'S WORDS FIT THE FACTS WHICH THE APOSTLES WITNESSED CONCERNING JESUS OF NAZARETH. He only had been thus raised after death to the spiritual and incorruptible life. He only had passed, after resurrection, into the eternal world without another experience of death. He alone met the conditions of the psalmist, and therefore he must be the promised Messiah. The other cases of resurrection narrated in Old and New Testament Scriptures should be examined, and the points of contrast between them and our Lord's case should be carefully noted; especially the most marked peculiarity in our Lord's case, that ascension followed resurrection, whereas all other raised persons died a second time. If, then, Jesus be the Christ, the Messiah, to him our "knees should bow, and our tongue confess." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.