COULD YOU EXPLAIN ACTS 2:34?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Explain Acts 2:34: “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,….” Why does the Apostle Peter say David has not ascended?
Since David was the writer of the particular psalm Peter was quoting (see Psalm 110:1), someone would assume David was referring to himself as not seeing corruption and David ascending to the right hand of God (see Acts 2:25-28 and Psalm 16:8-11).
To correct that erroneous thinking, Peter clarified that David’s physical tomb was not far away from them as they stood in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. See verse 29 of Acts chapter 2: “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.” David saw corruption; his body was decaying. He certainly had not ascended into the heavens. For the last 900 years, David’s remains had been entombed and were still decomposing. However, David wrote of a man who did not see corruption—that is, this Man’s physical body never experienced the process of rotting. Here is the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than being in a grave (as David), He was alive and well. Christ had ascended to the Father’s right hand in heaven. The tomb in which Jesus had been buried no longer held His body.
When writing in Psalms, David was speaking of someone other than himself. If David were speaking merely of himself, then the passage could not be Messianic (about Christ). Once David was eliminated as the subject of the passage, that would make it easier for Peter’s audience to see it applied to Jesus (which then show them Jesus was their Messiah).
Keeping in mind these comments, we now read an excerpt from Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Acts chapter 2):
“ Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
“ For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:  Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:  Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.  Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
“ 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.  Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;  He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.  This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.  Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
“ For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,  Until I make thy foes thy footstool.  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Did you see how Peter concluded, not by referring to David, but by affirming the Psalms were speaking of Jesus Christ?)