“For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his homestead be made desolate, and let no man dwell in it’; and, ‘His office let another man take.’ ” Acts 1:20 (NAS)
These Old Testament quotes by the apostle Peter in reference to Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ, are found in the book of Psalms.
The first passage cited is in Psalm 69:25 “May their camp be desolate; may none dwell in their tents.” ; the second is in chapter 109, verse 8: “Let his days be few; let another take his office.” You’ll notice again slight changes in the first passage quoted by the apostle Peter. This is a pattern we see many times throughout the New Testament when Old Testament verses are recalled. It is important for us to remember that the Holy Spirit is moving the inspired speaker to communicate clearly the ultimate intention from the mind of God. Both these Psalms from which the quotes are lifted are attributed to David and deal with the faithful servant of God bearing the reproach of false charges, deceitful mouths of the wicked (lying tongues), and hate without a cause by those who are wrongfully his enemies. Psalm sixty-nine we have discussed several times previously (as a Messianic psalm) noting it is quoted seven times in the New Testament. Verse twenty-five we’ve even commented on very briefly in a previous look at verses twenty-two and twenty-three as quoted by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 11:9, 10). In Peter’s quote of these passages, the Holy Spirit applies its fulfillment particularly to the person of Judas, he is being illustrated as representative of those (unbelieving Jews) who would reject and persecute the Christ. The fulfillment of the prophetic utterance in the plural sense (their camp, their tents) of verse twenty-five in reference to the nation of Israel as a whole took place with the destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of Rome in 70AD. History records that after the city and its surroundings were razed, there was little, if any, appreciable number of inhabitants in the land following its destruction. Jesus Himself had told them “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:38) The nation of Israel had made the fatal mistake once again of not heeding her prophets and those sent to her. Once more “Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins” (Mic. 3:12) as Micah had foretold concerning the Babylonian conquest. The fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning Christ and the judgment of the Jewish nation serves as an example to all mankind now not to act as Judas or they did, and reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. The end for those is an eternal camp or place of desolation, alone. Commentators have placed the timing of Psalm 109 penned by David as around the time Absalom had led a rebellion against his leadership. There were those who joined Absalom in the rebellion such as Ahithophel, David’s counselor. Judas held the office of apostle of Christ and betrayed Him, leading the conspiracy (like Absalom and Ahithophel, 2 Sam. 15:12) in rebellion against the King of Kings. After delivering Christ into the hands of His enemies, Judas recognized what he had done and went out and hung himself. As the psalmist had predicted, his days were few. Peter, moved by the Holy Spirit, realized the King needed the office filled to function fully and effectually for His kingdom and thus Mathias was selected by lot through the hand of the Lord. Although not implied in Psalm 109 relating to the physical nation of Israel, there is the noticeable replacement of the physical nation of Israel in the “office” of God’s people with the spiritual nation of the Lord’s people, the church, according to New Testament writings. Remember what the Spirit impelled Paul to write to the Romans, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” (Rom. 2:28, 29) This statement by Paul should not come as a surprise since Jesus prophesied this was to occur when He finished telling the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 21 concerning those who would reject the true King, the Son of God. “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” (Matt 21:43) Let’s resolve to remember our purpose in this new year ahead. Producing the fruit, amen?