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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Psalms 110

Verse 1



According to the superscription this is "A Psalm of David," and there is absolutely no doubt whatever of the truth of this. This writer is a worshipper of Jesus Christ, the head of our holy religion, in whom are "hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and therefore we accept His words regarding this psalm as true.

Regarding the first two lines of this psalm, Our Lord said that, "David in the Spirit here addresses the Messiah (Son of David) as Lord; and if David called him `Lord,' how is he his son?" (Matthew 22:42-45). Thus Jesus Christ not only affirms the Davidic authorship here, but adds the fact that the psalm is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

We have pointed this out as the prelude to saying that, "In the self-styled `advanced' criticism of the mid-century type of Bible enemies, there is nothing that exposes their evil atheism any better than their treatment of this psalm." Not only do such persons reject what Christ said here, but they even delete the whole reference in Genesis 14 to Melchizedek from the Bible, there being no solid evidence whatever for such high-handed mutilation of the Holy Scriptures. We shall not burden the reader with any further attention to such worthless criticisms by unbelievers. For those who are willing to accept the word of the followers of Satan instead of the word of Christ, they should be reminded that when our mother Eve did the same thing, all of the tragic sorrows of humanity became the swift and certain consequence.

Psalms 110:1

"Jehovah said unto my Lord,

Sit thou at my right hand,

Until I make thine enemies thy footstool."

In my commentary on Matthew (Vol. 1 of the New Testament series), pp. 357,358, we commented on the first verse of this psalm. The implication of the Messiah being both the son and the Lord of David is clear enough. Christ is both God and man; as man, Christ descended through the earthly posterity of David, as indicated in the Genealogy give in Luke 3. Thus, in that sense, Christ was the "Son of David"; but, as God incarnate, he was also David's Lord, and the Lord of all people.

The Savior's mention of this passage followed the Pharisee's answer to Jesus' question, "What think ye of Christ; whose son is he?" They replied, "The Son of David." Jesus' question was, therefore, "How can your answer be true? David referred to the Christ as `Lord' in this passage; how then can he be David's son?" See my comment in Matthew.

"Sit thou on my right hand" (Psalms 110:1). These are the words of God Himself addressed to David's `Lord.' Now just who is it, in the history of mankind that these words could possibly indicate, other than Jesus Christ who indeed has, "Sat down on the Right Hand of the Majesty on High?"

"Until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Psalms 110:1). Paul in his letter to the Corinthians picked this up, writing, "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25). Thus, Paul refers this passage unequivocally to Christ.

Verse 2

"Jehovah will send forth the rod of thy strength out of Zion:

Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies."

"The rod of thy strength." The marginal reading here has "sceptre of thy strength," indicating that it is the King who is spoken of, Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

"Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." This is a very important verse because of the light it casts upon the nature of the reign of Jesus Christ. Dramatically contrary to the false millennial conception of Christ's reign as being some kind of a utopian paradise on earth where there is universal acceptance of Christ's holy rule, the truth that appears here is that the reign of Christ will be "in the midst of his enemies," in spite of them, and in their presence, regardless of their hatred and opposition. The rule of Christ will be only in the hearts of those who love him. But eventually, "all enemies" of Christ shall be put down; and then, Christ will not begin his rule; he will end it (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Verse 3

"Thy people offer themselves willingly

In the day of thy power, in holy array:

Out of the womb of the morning

Thou hast the dew of thy youth."

"Thy people offer themselves willingly." Christ's rule will be over those people alone who willingly and wholeheartedly submit themselves to his authority.

"Out of the womb of the morning, ..." As Rawlinson said, "The intention of this last clause is very doubtful."[1] Delitzsch rendered the passage thus:

"Out of the womb of the morning's dawn

Cometh the dew of thy young."[2]

"Some understand it of Messiah himself, applying it to his perpetual youth; but the larger number interpret it of Messiah's army."[3] The quotation which we take to be Rawlinson's understanding of the passage is as follows:

"As dew out of the early morning dawn, descending by a silent, mysterious birth from the star-lit heavens, so comes to Messiah his mighty host of followers."[4]

Verse 4

"Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent:

Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."

This is a reference to the Melchizedek whom Abraham met following the slaughter of the kings (Genesis 14), and unto whom Abraham paid tithes. In our commentary on Hebrews (Vol. 10 of the New Testament Series), we have devoted eleven pages to the detailed discussion of this verse, along with the episode in Genesis involving Abraham and Melchizedek, and also the New Testament deductions founded upon those Scriptures. (See my comments in that volume, pp. 129-139.)

A brief summary of the important declarations of Hebrews 7:1-10 is here included.


Melchizedek's name (King of Righteousness).

His being king of Salem (King of Peace)

His receiving tithes of Abraham,

His blessing Abraham

His bringing forth Bread and Wine

His being served by both Jews and Gentiles

His being both king and priest

His having no beginning of life or end of it

His priesthood was like the endless priesthood of Jesus Christ

Only one of these resemblances between Melchizedek and Christ shall be noted here, namely, his having neither beginning of life nor end of days.

The meaning of this is simply, that as far as the scriptural record is concerned, this was true of Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews through inspiration saw that it was by God's purposeful design that the story of Melchizedek had been so deployed upon the sacred pages of Genesis that he appears in isolated splendor, and that the purpose of that was to make Melchizedek's priesthood suggest that of Jesus Our Lord. To be sure, in the case of Melchizedek, the record only suggests that; but it was and is literally true in Jesus Christ.

Verse 5

"The Lord at thy right hand

Will strike through kings in the day of his wrath.

He will judge among the nations,

He will fill the places with dead bodies;

He will strike through the head in many countries."

The scene here is that of the Final Judgment of mankind on the occasion of the Second Advent of Christ.

"He will judge among the nations" (Psalms 110:6). Not merely the Jews, but all nations shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to whom God has committed judgment.

"He will fill the places with dead bodies" (Psalms 110:6). Rawlinson translated this, "He will fill the earth with dead bodies."[5] For the New Testament description of this same event, see Revelation 19:17-18, where it is called "The Great Supper of God."

Verse 7

"He will drink of the brook in the way:

Therefore will he lift up the head."

This verse is for the purpose of indicating the humanity of the Messiah. Just as in Isaiah, where Immanuel (The Messiah) is revealed as a member of the Godhead by his name (Immanuel), and then his humanity is stressed by the fact of his eating butter and honey (Isaiah 7:14-15), here we have a glimpse of the same thing. This great Judge of all men and all nations, "in the way," that is, the way of his earthly ministry, which is literally "on the way" to the Judgment Day, he shall (as an ordinary man) quench his thirst with water.

"Therefore will he lift up the head." This is a reference to the kind and healing character of the Messiah during his earthly ministry. It stands here in contrast with our Lord's "striking through the head" with death, mentioned in the preceding verse.

This is one of the most wonderful psalms in the whole Psalter. It provides a description of the Coming Messiah that deserves to stand alongside the most eloquent prophecies of the Son of God in the entire Bible.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 110". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.