Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 110

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Verse 1


The Afflicted and Needy of Psalm 109 is the reigning King-Priest in Psalm 110. Between His suffering on earth and His public glorification on earth, which is the time in which we live, He sits on the Father’s throne (Psalms 110:1) awaiting His own throne (Revelation 3:21). His suffering and the glory thereafter are the great theme of the prophets (1 Peter 1:11).

We often find Christ in Psalms in connection with the remnant. In this psalm it is only about Him. He has emptied Himself and God has given Him a Name above every name (Philippians 2:9-1 Kings :).

Psalms 110:1 of this psalm is quoted more than any other verse – as many as fourteen times – from the Old Testament into the New Testament:
1. The Lord Jesus quotes this verse to the Pharisees to prove that He, the Messiah, is not only the Son of David, but also the Lord of David because He is also the Son of God (Psalms 2:7; Matthew 22:41-Acts :; Mark 12:35-Haggai :; Luke 20:42).
The verse is also quoted to state that Christ
2. as Son is exalted far above the angels (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:13);
3. as Lord has authority over all things and as Christ is the Man of God’s pleasure (Acts 2:33-Nahum :);
4. has received an unchanging priesthood (Hebrews 7:17; Hebrews 7:20-Ecclesiastes :Hebrews 5:5-Joshua :);
5. awaits the moment of His public rule, when His enemies will be a footstool for His feet (Hebrews 10:13).

Psalms 110:1 is quoted in Matthew 22 to refute, to show that the Son of David is more than David. In Acts 2 it is quoted to convince the Jews of the fact of ascension. In Hebrews 1 it is quoted to confirm that Christ is more than the angels.

Christ in Heaven

For “a Psalm of David” (Psalms 110:1) see at Psalm 3:1.

This psalm, as confirmed by the Lord Jesus Himself, is “of David”. However, it is not about David, but in the Spirit he prophesied about the great Son of David, the Christ of God in the glory of heaven. In Psalms, David is mostly a type of Christ. As a prophet, he then speaks in the Spirit. In this psalm, which is about the glorification of Christ, he cannot be a type. Psalm 110 is the only psalm where David is very clearly distinguished from Christ. Therefore, this verse is used by the Lord Jesus to show His glory as the Lord and the Son (Matthew 22:43).

“The LORD” (Psalms 110:1) informed David by the Spirit that He “says to my Lord” and what He says. This is the answer to David’s prayer in Psalm 109 (Psalms 109:1). Psalm 109 is the past, the suffering of the Lord Jesus on earth. Psalm 110:1 is the present; almost 2000 years the Lord has been seated at God’s right hand. Beginning with Psalm 110:2, it is the future, when the Savior will appear as the King-Priest, as the Conqueror, Who will sit on His own throne. In summary:
Psalm 109 Christ’s suffering.
Psalm 110:1 Christ’s sitting.
Psalm 110:2-6 Christ’s reign.

“Says” is literally ‘oracle, Divine pronouncement’, an expression often found in the prophetic books. This psalm is indeed prophetic, as Matthew 22 makes clear (Matthew 22:43).

David speaks of “my Lord”, Adonai, the sovereign Ruler. The Lord Jesus is the Son of David as Man, but He is also the Lord of David because He is also the Son of God. To Him the LORD, Yahweh, has said to sit at His right hand.

The right hand is the place of honor (cf. 1 Kings 2:19) and of power. That place was given to the Lord Jesus by God. It refers to the glorification of the Lord Jesus after He accomplished the work on the cross, His death and His resurrection. He occupies that place since and from His ascension until He appears in glory.

Peter refers to this verse in his speech on the day of Pentecost and says that God has made the Lord Jesus “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:34-Zephaniah :). He attributes everything to God to show how much God values and has accepted the work of His Son. On earth people may have despised and rejected Him, as Psalm 109 shows, but Psalm 110 shows that to God He is the perfectly Delightful One, Whom He joyfully gives the highest and most glorious place in heaven.

The contrast between the place God gives Him and man gives Him is enormous. Man has betrayed, rejected, mistreated and murdered Him as an idler. But God has made Him the Lord, the Sovereign Who has all power in heaven and on earth. God has also made Him Christ, the Bearer and Dispenser of all His promises.

Peter’s reference to this verse proves that it is not about David, but about the Lord Jesus. David is speaking here of the glorification of the Lord Jesus as an act of Yahweh, that is God. The Lord Jesus has been exalted by the right hand of God and God has given Him the place of honor at His right hand. That place belongs to Him, He has earned that place. The suffering of Christ by the hands of the people and the glorification of Christ as God’s response to it is the recurring theme of the apostles’ preaching to the Jewish people in the book of Acts.

There is a “until” attached to that place of honor at God’s right hand. For there will come a time when the Lord Jesus leaves that place to return to earth. He will then judge the enemies of His people, that is the faithful remnant – and the enemies of His people are also His enemies. Those enemies are both within the people – they are the antichrist and his followers, the unbelieving part of Israel – and outside the people – they are the Assyrians led by the king of the north.

Christ will lay all those who have refused to repent and have continually turned against Him and His people full of hatred as vanquished enemies under His feet, so that He will rest on them. A footstool symbolizes total submission (cf. Joshua 10:24). Until that time, He remains in glory.

It is important to see that the truth of the connection between Christ and the church is not mentioned. This psalm shows Christ in glory with immediately following the subduing of His enemies under His feet by God. The psalm is God’s dual response to Christ’s humiliation: first His glorification in heaven and then His glorification on earth (Matthew 6:10).

Verses 2-3

The King

In Psalms 110:2 we see Christ in His glorification on earth. This happens when He appears in the world for the second time. Then “the LORD”, Yahweh, gives Him the dominion He has earned through His work on the cross (Revelation 5:1-2 Chronicles :). Christ stretches forth His “strong scepter from Zion”. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken by Balaam (Numbers 21:17; cf. Psalms 2:8-1 Samuel :; Psalms 72:8). The scepter is a symbol of authority, which is further emphasized by speaking of a “strong scepter”. Zion is the center of His government that extends over the whole earth. He rules in the midst of His enemies. All enmity has come to an end.

He also rules over His people, who “will volunteer freely in the day of Your power” (Psalms 110:3; cf. Song of Solomon 6:12). When the Lord Jesus has appeared in glory, the remnant will bow down to Him and make themselves available to Him. The remnant then exhibits the features of the Lord Jesus. It is with them as with the followers of David who, as weary and burdened, sought refuge with him in the cave of Adullam, and were changed by Him into heroes (1 Samuel 22:1-Exodus :). The Lord Jesus “volunteered freely” to do the will of His Father (John 4:34). So it is with the remnant: they “volunteer freely”.

Now that the believing remnant’s own strength and self-will are broken, it is willing to do God’s will (Psalms 119:60). Jacob, who learned in the school of God, is a wonderful example of this. When his hip is dislocated and his strength is broken in the encounter with the Angel of the LORD, the God of Jacob declares that his name will henceforth be “Israel”, which means “prince of God” (Genesis 32:24-Hosea :).

Jacob then went through a rebirth, as it were. In this he is a type of the faithful remnant who have been made a very willing people by the God of Jacob.

There is no reluctance at all, but great willingness to serve Him and to confirm Him in His kingship (cf. 1 Chronicles 11:10). They fit Him, for they are clothed “in holy array”, meaning they are holy as He is holy. They are clothed in white garments, as priests, the garment washed in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). The appearance of so many people clothed in a white robe, resembles the dew, pure and fresh, priestly and powerful. It is truthfully a kingdom of priests.

They come forth “from the womb of the dawn”. This is a beautiful, poetic description of the new period that will begin when the Messiah begins to reign (cf. Song of Solomon 6:10). The new period is like a new birth. The Lord Jesus therefore speaks of that time as the “regeneration”, which is the time when He will reign and when His disciples may reign with Him (Matthew 19:28). The regeneration is that of the earth, when it is freed from the curse of sin that lies upon it (Romans 8:19-Ecclesiastes :). Then the earthly kingdom is regenerated, renewed, born again (Psalms 104:30).

To this, “the youth … [as] the dew” ties in closely. The willing people and the regeneration of creation belong to the Messiah as dew belongs to the dawning of a new day. Dew speaks of refreshment, invigoration. It is the freshness of a new day. Dew is described several times in the Old Testament as a blessing from heaven for the land of God (Deuteronomy 33:13; Deuteronomy 33:28; Numbers 11:9). The new generation that will enter the realm of peace in imitation of the Messiah will be a refresher for the Messiah and will bear fruit for Him in their life. They will serve the Lord with joy.

Verse 4

The Priest

Now that His kingship has been established, we hear that “the LORD has sworn”. He has sworn an oath of which He says, as an additional endorsement, that He “will not change His mind”. In Psalm 109, at the suffering of Christ, the LORD has remained silent (Psalms 109:1; cf. Zephaniah 3:17). In Psalm 110, the LORD spoke an oracle, a speaking of God, (Psalms 110:1) and swore (Psalms 110:4).

The oath implies that Christ will not only be King, but that at the same time He will be “a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 6:20Hebrews 7:17; Hebrews 7:21). In today’s world, power must be divided (the so-called trias politica). With the Lord Jesus, it is different. He can say that ALL power in heaven and on earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). In today’s world, church and state must be separated. Even with the people of Israel, the priest must be of the tribe of Levi, descendant of Aaron, and the king must be of the tribe of Judah. A combination was not possible. King Uzziah experienced to his detriment that as king he could not take the position of priest on his own (2 Chronicles 26:16-Proverbs :).

So not with the Lord Jesus, for He is a King and a Priest in one Person. Except here in Psalm 110:4, we find this truth one more time in the Old Testament and that is in Zechariah 6 (Zechariah 6:13). The only one who could be a type of this was Melchizedek, the mysterious king of Jerusalem (Hebrews 7:2-Leviticus :). Melchizedek was king of Salem and a priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1-Exodus :). He is a picture of Christ as King-Priest on His throne (Zechariah 6:12-1 Chronicles :). The time of blessing cannot come until the Lord Jesus has also appeared as Priest to bring that blessing. All blessing depends on Him as Priest.

“The order of Melchizedek” – according to the order of Aaron, the Lord Jesus could not be a priest (Hebrews 7:14) – is an order of blessing. According to that order, the Lord Jesus is King-Priest Who brings blessing from God for God’s people on earth. This will find its full fulfillment in the millennial realm of peace. We see this in pictures in the meeting between Melchizedek and Abraham (Genesis 14:18-Proverbs :).

Melchizedek blesses Abraham from God and praises God for what He has done for Abraham. After Abraham’s struggle, Melchizedek meets him with bread and wine and blesses him. Bread and wine speak of Christ as food and joy for the heart.

This is the blessing of the realm of peace, where Christ is the source of all power and joy (Isaiah 12:3). Just as Melchizedek, the king-priest, appears to bless with bread and wine after the victory has been won (Genesis 14:18-Proverbs :), so Christ will appear as King-Priest to give the blessing after the victory has been won and all enemies have been set as a footstool for His feet.

What is further striking is that He is called Priest according to the order of Melchizedek and not High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. There is a beautiful explanation for this. A high priest presupposes other priests, but as Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, the Lord Jesus is alone.

The priesthood of Melchizedek is mentioned in the Old Testament only in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110. This priesthood exists before that of Aaron and will continue even when that of Aaron is no longer needed. The priesthood of Aaron is now exercised by the Lord Jesus in heaven for the church, and it is exercised in view of the weaknesses of the members of the church (Hebrews 4:15-Nehemiah :). When the church is caught up, that priesthood will no longer be necessary, for there will be no weakness. He will exercise the priestly service of Melchizedek at His return in view of His earthly people who will enjoy His blessing in the realm of peace.

The letter to the Hebrews goes into detail about the differences between the priesthood according to the order of Aaron and the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:1-Psalms :). The main difference, however, is that the priesthood of Aaron is exercised by mortal men, while the priesthood of Melchizedek is exercised by One Who is a Priest “according to the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). Christ has no successor, like Aaron, but is “a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:17). This last verse is the quotation of Psalms 110:4 from Psalm 110.

Verses 5-6

The Warrior

Then the day of His wrath is announced (Psalms 110:5). “The Lord”, that is Christ, “is at Your right hand”, that is the right hand of Yahweh, the place of honor Yahweh has given Him according to Psalms 110:1 (Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12). When the day of His wrath comes (cf. Revelation 6:17), Christ will shatter kings (Revelation 16:16; Revelation 19:13-Ezra :; Joel 3:2; Joel 3:11-2 Chronicles :).

It is the LORD, Yahweh, Who makes the enemies a footstool of Christ (Psalms 110:1) and at the same time Christ Himself will shatter the enemy kings (Psalms 110:5). He is the Stone that will appear without the intervention of human hands to shatter the image of man, the world’s ruling power. When He establishes His kingdom, it will mean the end of all worldly kingdoms (Daniel 2:44). The day of His wrath is the day of the LORD. It is another indication that the Lord Jesus, Adonai, is none other than Yahweh Himself.

When the Lord Jesus comes to the earth for the second time, He will judge “among the nations” (Psalms 110:6). God has given Him that power because He is the Son of Man (John 5:22; John 5:27). He will sit on the throne of His glory and execute judgment on the nations (Matthew 25:31-Jonah :). With the sword that comes from His mouth, He will kill His enemies and “fill” the battlefield “with corpses” (Isaiah 66:16; Zephaniah 1:17-Job :; Ezekiel 35:8; Revelation 19:17).

By “the chief men over a broad country” we can think of the crushing of Gog, the prince of great, God-hating Russia (Ezekiel 39:11-2 Kings :). This wicked power is the last rebellious power to be judged. After this, the realm of peace is established in all its glory and then there will be perfect harmony on earth, without any threat of organized rebellion. Christ reigns.

Verse 7

The Humble Man

Christ drank refreshing water “from the brook by the wayside” (cf. 1 Chronicles 11:17; Judges 7:6). He gratefully enjoyed all the refreshment the Father gave Him during His path of humiliation – of which the brook speaks – on earth. It shows His complete dependence on His Father.

He drinks from the brook when He speaks to a poor Samaritan woman. It is a great refreshment to Him that He can make Himself known to her as the Savior of the world. Mary also refreshed His soul by her understanding of His suffering and death, which she expressed by anointing Him (John 12:3). A similar refreshment the Savior experienced from Mary Magdalene.

The consequence (“therefore”) of His utter dependence on His Father is that He went His way with His head lifted up. There is a complete interaction between Him and His Father. He lives by what the Father gives Him and therefore He always lifts up His head to His Father. In His way as Man on earth from the beginning to the end there is complete fellowship between Him and His Father.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 110". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-110.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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