Psalm 110

The Inscription of Psalm 110

         Of David. Psalm 110 is one of 73 Psalms with the Davidic inscription: “of David” (Hebrew: ledawid )

         (le) - to, for, towards, belonging to, in regard to, according to, in (Strong's Abridged BDB – BibleWorks 6.0)

        Because the Hebrew preposition le can have a variety of meanings, some scholars think that perhaps not all Psalms with the Davidic inscription were necessarily written by the “sweet psalmist of Israel” (2Sam 23:1)

        However both Jesus and the Apostle Peter tell us that Psalm 110 was written by David (Mat 22:43, Acts 2:34)

         A Psalm. (Hebrew: mizmor pronounced: miz-more) – meaning “melody” which may imply that is was sung to an instrumental accompaniment. (Kidner, Introduction to Psalms, p.37)

Other Background information on Psalm 110

        Psalm 110 is classified by some scholars as an “Oracular” Psalm – that is to say that the content of this Psalm was given to David as a special revelation directly from God. (Cf. D.A. Carson – 2002 Hebrew series –

        Psalm 110 is also considered to be a “Messianic” Psalm – that is a Psalm that foreshadows or foretells of the coming Messiah (= Christ)

      (cf. Psalms 2; 16; 18; 22; 35; 40; 41; 45; 68:18; 69; 97:7; 102:25-27; 109; 118 – see discussion in Kidner pp. 18-25)

        Psalm 110 is quoted in the NT more than any other Psalm – no doubt indicating something of the nature of its significance.

      Allusions to Psalm 110 can be found in Mat 22:41-45; 26:64; Mark 12:35-37; 14:62; Luke 20:41-44; 22:69; Acts 2:32-36; 1 Cor 15:24-25; Eph 1:20-23; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3,13; 5:6-10, 6:19 - 7:28, 8:1-2; 10:12-13; 12:2; Rev 3:21

Psalm 110 - Analysis of the Text

In Psalm 110:1-7, King David, speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit, describes the coming Messiah (Christ) in three roles:

Christ as King (vs. 1-3)

Christ’s relationship with YHWH [the Father]

The LORD says to my Lord

        In the original Hebrew there are two different words translated as “Lord” in our English Bibles:

      YHWH (sometimes transliterated Yahweh, sometimes Jehovah) – the sacred name of the self-existent God (cf. Ex 3:14)

      Adonai – a title of respect applied to any sovereign or ruler (cf. 2 Sam 4:8), even God himself as it is used here in Psalm 110.

         2 Samuel 4:8b  This day the LORD [YHWH] has avenged my lord [adonai] the king against Saul and his offspring.

         Exodus 34:8-9a  Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. "O Lord [adonai] , if I have found favor in your eyes," he said, "then let the Lord [adonai] go with us.

        The first line reads literally: “The oracle [Hebrew: neum (neh-oom) - that which is whispered in the ear] of Yahweh to my Lord”.

        It is an opening which stamps the next words as God’s direct message to His king, on which verses 2 and 3 provide the inspired comment.

        (Kidner p.393)

"Sit at my right hand

        In Scripture sitting:

      Expresses quiet, repose (cf. Mic 4:4).

      Denotes permanency of possession (Judg 5:17)

      Denotes majesty and authority. The king sits on his throne, and does not stand even in the presence of his nobles.

      Is also the posture of a judge. (cf. Prov 20:8; Isa 16:5)

        (W.S. Plumer, p. 973)

        There is also the idea that Christ’s work is complete:

      But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. (Heb 10:12)

        He is sitting at God’s right hand.

      The right hand is an emblem of strength, (cf. Ex 15:6; Ps 80:17).

      The right hand of royal power is represented as the chief place of enjoyment in a kingdom (cf. Ps 16:11).

      It is also the post of honor (cf. 1 Kings 2:19; Eph 1:20; Heb 2:9).

        When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king's mother, and she sat down at his right hand. (1 Kings 2:19)

        (W.S. Plumer, p. 973)

until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."

        Ancient kings often had themselves portrayed as placing their feet on vanquished enemies:

      Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.(Josh 10:24)

        The idea here is that God will subjugate all of Christ’s enemies to Him

        Note there is a period of time between when Christ is enthroned and when all of His enemies are subjected to Him – much like what happened to King David himself (cf. 1Kings 5:3)

The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;

        The idea here is that YHWH will expand Christ’s reign in ever widening circles until no foe remains to oppose His rule (NIV Study Bible note p.906)

        Zion (also known as “the city of David”) referred to the city of Jerusalem which David took from the Jebusites and there he built a citadel and a palace (cf. 2 Samuel 5:6-11).

        From Zion (Jerusalem) David reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years (2 Samuel 5:5)

        Thus in David’s day Zion was the capital from which God’s Davidic King ruled and went forth in conquest as we see being described in this Psalm.

        In the New Testament, Mount Zion becomes a type of the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb 12:22) from which Jesus, the ultimate Davidic king, goes forth conquering the nations with His Gospel (cf. Gal 4:25-26, Rev 21:2,10)

Christ’s relationship with His enemies

You will rule in the midst of your enemies.

        From Zion as a starting point Christ’s influence will extend ever and ever farther outward.

        He will exercise rule and authority though He is continually surrounded by His enemies.

        But it is not they that shall have dominion but He.

        (Leupold pp. 771-772)

Christ’s relationship with His people

Your troops will be willing

        This Lord is not without people.

        These people are not, however, pressed into service against their will.

        The phrase “offer themselves freely” is a noun in the original: literally, “freewill offerings”.

        The term was applied to any sacrifices or offerings that were entirely voluntary. Here the term is used figuratively

        (Leupold p. 776)

on your day of battle.

        The day of the “power” of the Lord means, of course, the day when He displays His power. The word could be translated “the day of your campaign”.

        (Leupold p. 776)

Arrayed in holy majesty

        The phrase “in holy array” implies that for such a higher warfare as that which is here involved certain moral qualifications must mark those who participate.

        (Leupold p. 776)

from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth.

        The highly poetic phrase, “from the womb of the morning” says rather uniquely that the dew is born afresh with each dawning of the day.

        Like this dew (which is especially copious in parts of the Holy Land) those who volunteer for the Lord’s service are numerous and fresh.

        (Leupold p. 776)

Christ as Priest (vs. 4)

The establishment of Christ’s priesthood: confirmed by a divine oath

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind

        If anything is stronger than a divine oracle (see verse 1) it is a divine oath (Kidner p. 395)

        The idea of God’s swearing is like that of His making a covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:18). It is a human way of saying that God’s pronouncements on such vital matters are irrevocable (Leupold p. 776-777):

      Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. (Hebrews 6:17)

        The oath is further strengthened by the pledge that God “will not change his mind. (Kidner p. 395)

The duration of Christ’s priesthood: forever

 “You are a priest forever

        David’s Lord holds a second major office (besides that of king) – He is also a priest.

         He is not restricted in this respect as the kings of Israel were in that they were kings only and could at best merely second the priesthood in the performance of some of its duties.

        16 But after [King] Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.  17 Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in.  18 They confronted him and said, "It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God." (2 Chronicles 26:16-18)

        (Leupold p. 772)

        The addition of forever is perhaps the most significant clause of all. It is this that clinches our assurance.

        It is a major theme in the Epistle to the Hebrews after its first appearance in Heb 5:6, where the eternal priest is shown to provide eternal salvation (Heb 5:9), in contrast to the temporal priests of ancient Israel whose labors could only last for a short time (Kidner p. 395)

The order of Christ’s priesthood: after the order of Melchizedek

in the order of Melchizedek.”

        Melchizedek is only mentioned two times in the entire Old Testament! The first reference is:

        Genesis 14:17-20: 17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

·       Some Important Background Information

        2000 B.C. - Melchizedek proves his superiority to Abram by blessing him and receiving tithes from him (Gen 14:18-20)

        Abraham then becomes the father of Isaac who is the father of Jacob who is the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, including the tribe of Levi.

        1400 B.C. – The giving of the Law:

        Numbers 3:6,10   6 "Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him . . . 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death."

        1000 B.C. – King David (of the tribe of Judah) is told that his descendant would be a king whose throne would endure forever (2 Sam 7:13:ff) and a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4).

·       Hebrews 7:1 - 25

1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,  2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. . . .  4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!  5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people-- that is, their brothers-- even though their brothers are descended from Abraham.  6 [Melchizedek], however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.  7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come-- one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?  12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.  13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.  14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests

18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless  19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.  20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath,  21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'" 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;  24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 

Christ as Conqueror (vs. 5-7)

The basis of Christ’s conquest (his place of prominence at the right hand of YHWH)

The Lord is at your right hand

        It is not always easy to determine whether the One spoken about is Yahweh, the Lord Himself, or whether it is the sublime personage who fills the dual office just described. (Leupold pp. 772-773)

        It is evident that, in this verse, ‘The Lord at your right hand,’ must be understood of Christ instated in his kingly power at the right hand of his Father, and not of the Father as the one who backs and helps him (cf. Ps 16:8). For we read in John 5:22: ‘the Father has committed all judgment to the Son.’ And that is what we see here: the ‘Lord at Jehovah’s right hand’ will crush kings in the day of his wrath. (Calvin p. 307 - footnote)

The extent and fearsomeness of Christ’s conquest

He will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.

        The successful warfare that this unique personage wages is now declared in brief but powerful figures each of which is strikingly brief but extremely suggestive.

        By a way of colorful example of what He can do the most powerful adversaries are singled out – kings. They are shattered by Him in the encounter.

        But the range of His judgment goes farther than only the kings; it includes the nations, whose dead bodies shall lie scattered all around after the Lord’s judgments . . . and chief rulers over the wide earth will also be shattered by Him.

        (Leupold pp. 772-773)

The ease of Christ’s conquest

He will drink from a brook beside the way;

        David figuratively attributes military prowess to Christ, declaring that he would not take time to refresh himself, but would hastily drink of the river which might come in his way.

        This is designated to strike his enemies with terror, intimating to them the rapid approach of impending destruction.

        (Calvin p. 309)

therefore he will lift up his head.

        To “lift up his head” is a Hebrew idiom that carries the idea of being cheered up, refreshed, or restored:

      Psalm 3:3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

      Job 10:15 If I am guilty-- woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction.

      Genesis 40:13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.


So when does all this happen?

        When does Christ sit down at the right hand of God until his enemies are completely vanquished?

        Hebrews 10:12-13   12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.

        Acts 2:32-36  32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.  33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.  34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand  35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” 36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

        When does Christ go forth conquering as king and having dominion even over His enemies?

        Matthew 26:63-64  And the high priest said to [Jesus], "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God."  64 Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven." (ESV)

        Ephesians 1:20-21 [God] worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

        1 Corinthians 15:25  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

        When are Christ’s holy people arrayed to join him in his conquest?

        Revelation 2:26-27   26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,  27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.

        Revelation 3:21   The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

        Ephesians 6:11-13   11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

        When does Christ offer His priestly sacrifice and begin his priestly intercession?

        Hebrews 5:8-10   8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,  10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

        Hebrews 8:1-2  1 The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,  2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.

        When does Christ crush kings in the day of his wrath and judge the nations heaping up the dead?

        1 Corinthians 15:24-25  24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet

        Revelation 20:11-14   11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.