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A Psalm of David
The Lord said unto my Lord,
Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 The Lord shall send
The rod of thy strength out of Zion.
Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,
In the beauties of holiness
From the womb of the morning:
Thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent,
Thou art a priest for ever
After the order of Melchizedek.
5 The Lord at thy right hand
Shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6 He shall judge among the heathen,
He shall fill the places with the dead bodies;
He shall wound the heads over many countries.
7 He shall drink of the brook in the way:
Therefore shall he lift up the head.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Contents And Composition.—Two utterances of a revelation, Psalms 110:1; Psalms 110:4, the first of which is expressly stated to be a declaration of Jehovah, and the second declared to be unchangeable, because accompanied by His oath, form the two central points of the train of thought pursued in this Psalm. The first utterance of God assigns to the Lord of the Psalmist a place at the right hand of Jehovah, with the promise of the complete overthrow of His enemies. Psalms 110:2 takes this as the ground of an address to this Lord, in which there is promised to Him, by the help of Jehovah, a triumphant extension of His kingdom out of Zion. Psalms 110:3 pledges the willing loyalty of His people, which constantly rejuvenates itself, as a nation of numberless warriors, and consecrates itself to God. This is done in connection with the declaration of Jehovah contained in the second divine utterance. This Ruler is a Priest forever, after an order not Levitical, but reaching back to the unhistorical past. And Psalms 110:5-7, in passing from the allocutive to the narrative style, describe the victorious career of this Hero, who crushes His foes with the might of God, and who, also, while on His march, is refreshed and revived when needing support.
Accordingly, the lyrico-prophetical character of the Psalm is as unmistakable as its theocratic stand-point. If their full weight and the biblical sense are attached to these terms, the supposition that the Psalm celebrates poetically the glories of the kingdom in Israel, as the kingdom of God (Hupfeld), falls to the ground. It falls to pieces from internal weakness. For the idea of the union of the sacerdotal dignity and royal authority, though a common one in heathendom, was unheard of in Israelitish history before the Maccabæan period, in connection with actual sovereigns. David, at a time when the temple-worship was suspended, and from the absence of priests, exceptionally fulfilled priestly functions (2 Samuel 6:0), but immediately restored the legal order of things, and transferred the official authority of the priesthood to the Levites (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:25). The single attempt of Uzziah to take the control of the religious ceremonies, in order to perform them personally, brought upon him a judgment from God (2 Chronicles 26:16). In the Maccabæan period, it is true, the union of this two-fold dignity did exist. Accordingly, by a purely historical, and not prophetical view, a reference is readily suggested to Jonathan and his assumption of the pontificate (Hitzig formerly) or, better, to Alexander Jannæus (Hitzig now), or to Simon (1Ma 14:41). But apart from the general considerations against so late a composition, the usual objection may be urged, that the Maccabæans had already been priests before they became princes, whereas the opposite order seems indicated here. Yet this objection is not so weighty as the fact, that in the Psalm the union of the kingly and priestly dignities is designated by a declaration, attested and assured by God, (1) as one altogether peculiar or unique, (2) as one never again to be dissolved, or eternal, and (3) as an attribute not of a dynasty, but of a distinct Person. On these grounds the Messianic interpretation is demanded by the historical relations as much as by the language employed. The only other question is, whether the Psalm is to be understood in a typical, or typico-prophetical, or prophetico-messianic sense. In the first case, the reference of the Psalm to the Messiah would only be gained mediately, from the extraordinary character of the expressions, which, moreover, are not literally applicable to the historical relations of a theocratic ruler. It could be rendered clear only through a mode of teaching based upon the ideas and expectations which characterized more especially the time of Christ and His apostles (Knapp.) If the Psalm be viewed historically, we would have only a theocratic congratulatory poem, addressed to a king (De Wette), in which also a longing might perhaps be expressed for the restoration of the primitive union of the sovereignty and the priesthood (Ewald). The genuineness of the superscription would then have to be given up, unless we decide with Hitzig for the translation: upon David (Isaaki, Aben Ezra, Kimchi). In the second case, the king in question would be viewed by the poet himself as the type of Messiah. It would then, historically, be most natural to think of David, after he had brought the ark of the covenant to Zion, and, enthroned at the side of Jehovah under His protection, could count on a secure reign (Herder). And we would connect with this the prophecy which was made to him and his family (1 Samuel 7:0.). But, in the first place, Psalms 110:4 would remain insufficiently explained. This verse does not allude to distinct priestly functions, as, for example, praying and blessing, but to the priestly office personally received. And David could not be called a priest on account of dwelling near God in the sense alluded to, nor be regarded as symbolizing Melchizedek, king of righteousness in Salem. In the second place, no answer would be given to the question as to which king the prophecy could have applied, as it is certainly something more than a piece of flattery paid by the body of priests to their favorite David (Ilgen, De notione tituli filii Dei, in Paulus’ Memorabilia. VII. 193 ff.). Even the reference to the Maccabæan times, with the sacerdotal princes and the Messianic expectations, held even then by the Jews (by Lengerke), would not suffice; for at that time prophecy was extinct, and in the Psalm an actual prophetical utterance of God, not a feigned one, is given. Nor could the Psalm be the ode of a poet composed for the court-chapel on Solomon’s accession to the throne (Borhek in Eichhorn’s Allg. Bibliothek der bibl. Literatur, II. 222 ff.; VI. 315 ff.). Let it then be maintained that it is a declaration of Jehovah, and that the utterance bears a prophetical character. We must now exclude the supposition that David here gives expression to the thoughts awakened in the breast of true Israelites concerning his relation to Jehovah, as elsewhere he records their feelings concerning him and his undertakings, and consequently that he puts into the mouths of the people, as he elsewhere records their prayers in his behalf, a prophetic view of himself (Hofmann formerly), or of his dynasty (Hofmann now). Both the form and the contents of this psalm are incompatible (Kurtz) with the assumption, that David was at the same time its author and its subject. Nor could he have regarded either himself or that victorious king who should reign at the time contemplated (Hofmann), or, specially, Solomon on the occasion of the attempt of Adonijah to render the succession to the throne doubtful, as the subject, viewed typically, of that prophetic view. For the prophecy includes not merely the sitting at the right hand of Jehovah, but the union also of the kingly and priestly offices. The conception of such a union did not, among the Israelites, arise from possible (Hävernick) conflicts of history (De Wette, who refers to Uzziah), but from divine revelation, and has not merely a prophetical, but an essentially Messianic character (Zechariah 6:13). Now, if we consider that David represented himself sometimes as a prophet and king of Jehovah, but never as His priest, although he performed some priestly acts, and that he needed and desired a priestly mediation, independent of his person and not representable by him, as greatly as did his people, who were distinguished as a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), then it may be conceived how just it is that not David and his family, not Aaron and the Levites, but a person like Melchizedek, standing outside the circle of historical Israel, appears as a type of the Messiah. David, therefore, was not in a position to view himself or his family typico-messianically with relation to the royal priest of Jehovah. And it is just this view of the Messiah which must be separated from the person and history of David, and which must have arisen purely from actual revelation. Thus does the text itself represent it. Thus did Jesus treat it in His discussion with the Pharisees (Matthew 22:41 ff., comp. Mark 12:35 ff.; Luke 20:41 ff.). Thus Peter expounded it (Acts 2:34 f.). Thus also did Paul (1 Corinthians 15:25). Thus the Scriptures generally (Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 7:17; Hebrews 7:21; Hebrews 10:13). Thus did the Synagogue understand it in earlier times. Thus has the Christian Church at all times understood it. And the merely and strictly scientific expositors would return, to a greater extent than they have done, to the prophetico-messianic interpretation, if they could succeed in abandoning altogether the anti-historical method of transferring Old Testament conceptions and expressions to the Person and Life of Jesus Christ, as well as the unhistorical allegorizing and spiritualizing method of interpretation, and would also treat the several declarations of the Psalm as matter of future historical realization.—The Psalm being considered as bearing this character, it was perhaps not without design that the name Jehovah was employed three times, and that there are three strophes, each of seven stichs. The different interpretations are fully treated by Bergmann, Comm. in Ps. CX., Leyden, 1819.
[Perowne: “This Psalm claims emphatically to be the fruit and record of a Divine revelation. The words of the poet, though shaped in the poet’s heart, come to him from the very sanctuary of the Most High. It is an oracle and utterance of Jehovah, which he has heard and which he has to declare to others. It is an oracle which concerns a king who reigns in Zion; it is addressed to one to whom the poet does homage, calling Him ‘Lord;’ it assures him of the high favor of Jehovah, who lifts Him to a share of His own royal dignity, giving him the victory over all his enemies. The poet then pictures the king going forth to battle surrounded by his youthful warriors, bright and numberless as the dew-drops on a summer morn, willing to shed their hearts’ blood in his service, each one robed as a priest, each one a soldier of God. As he gazes on the vision which has been called up by the first word from heaven, another divine word sounds in his ear: the word confirmed by the oath of Jehovah, that the king shall also be A PRIEST FOREVER AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK. Then he follows the king in imagination to the war, sees him winning victory after victory with great slaughter, aided by God Himself in the fight, and securing the fruits of his victories by a pursuit of his enemies, which knows no check even in the burning heat of an eastern sun.
“If we were at liberty to adopt in this Psalm the same principles of interpretation, which we have adopted with regard to all the other Messianic Psalms, it would present no special difficulty. We might suppose it to have been written by some poet of David’s time, who would naturally speak of David himself as his lord. In the first and lowest sense, his words would apply to David as his theocratic king; in their ultimate and highest sense, they would be fulfilled in David’s Great Descendant, in Him who was both David’s Son and David’s Lord. But we seem to be precluded from this method of interpretation by the argument which, according to all the Evangelists, our Lord, in disputing with the Pharisees, builds upon the first verse of the Psalm. …. Now, in this argument, all turns upon two points: first, that David himself wrote the Psalm, and next, that in writing he was moved by the Holy Ghost. David himself, in a confessedly Messianic Psalm, is speaking not of himself, but of his Great Descendant, and so speaking, calls Him his Lord, … and if so, it is plain that there can be no lower reference of the Psalm to David or to any other Jewish monarch.”
Mr. Perowne then cites and deals with two objections brought against this view. First, it is the only instance in the prophetic Psalms of direct reference to Christ. This we have to accept. Secondly, “the language of the latter part of the Psalm is fairly applicable only to an earthly king.” But the solution which he offers seems to be unnecessary. He thinks that the poet “is still suffered to conceive of Him, partially at least, as an earthly monarch, fighting bloody battles with his enemies.” It is better to consider the language alluded to as simply a highly figurative description of the victorious progress of Christ, remembering also that, although the conception is purely that of a New Testament realization, it is clothed in Old Testament ideas and imagery. It was necessarily so. The actions portrayed by an Old Testament poet would look strange if presented in a New Testament garb.—J. F. M.]
Psalms 110:1. A declaration of Jehovah [E. V.: The Lord said]. The expression shows that an utterance is announced, invested with the character of inspiration (see on Psalms 36:2), and therefore conveyed prophetically. Its position at the beginning of the sentence does not indicate a mutilation of the text (Olshausen), but shows that God was speaking at that moment. The whole mode of expression testifies against the supposition that the reference might here be only to a prophecy given formerly, or that a declaration of God which was already well-known might have been put in the mouths of the people. The person to whom the utterance is addressed is not directly indicated as Divine, equal to Jehovah, and of the same nature, in the sense of adonai (which J. D. Michaelis proposed to read), but such a person as the Psalmist acknowledges as his lord. This expresses the relation of one in high rank to one in a subordinate position. Its significance and importance are not weakened by the objection, that, according to Oriental usage, adoni can be used as a periphrastic expression of respect, instead of the personal pronoun of the second person. Nor do the contents of the declaration assign a mere place of honor, although the highest, to the person addressed (1 Kings 2:19); they call upon him to take the position in which the king’s vicegerent and representative, or, in other circumstances, the coregent was placed. Taken by itself, this expression could be restricted, in its application, to a theocratic king (Kurtz), 1Ch 28:5; 1 Chronicles 29:23, but, when referring to the Son (Psalms 2:0), it contains the germ of the idea of an assumption into fellowship with God’s exaltation and dominion, Daniel 7:13-14; 1 Corinthians 15:25 (Delitzsch). The complete subjugation of God’s enemies, who are to be utterly defeated and humbled (Joshua 10:24 :1 Kings 5:17), forms a turning point in the history of His kingdom (Acts 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:28 : Hebrews 10:13), from which time forth all relations are to become different from those in the present epoch of the world.
Psalms 110:2. The staff [E. V.: rod] is not spoken of as an instrument of chastisement, Isaiah 11:4 (Jahn, Reinke, Hengst.), which Jehovah will send forth, and with which He will smite His enemies successively. It is the emblem of majesty, and is stretched forth in the exercise of dominion (1 Samuel 2:10; Micah 5:3; Ezekiel 19:11 ff.; Jeremiah 48:17) out of Zion (Psalms 2:6, comp., Psalms 68:17; Psalms 132:13-14; Isaiah 8:18), until the end of the world (Zechariah 9:10, comp. Psalms 72:8; Numbers 24:17; Numbers 24:19). Psalms 110:2 c disproves the interpretation which understands the sitting at the right hand of Jehovah as expressing only the security of the king, protected by Jehovah, against the attacks of his foes, and as excluding his own action. For these words, if they are not to be placed in the mouth of Jehovah Himself (Schnurrer, Jahn, Reinke, Hupfeld, Delitzsch), are certainly to be taken in the sense of a sure promise (De Wette).
Psalms 110:3. Thy people show themselves willing, [E. V. Thy people shall be willing]. The interpretation of the fathers, after the Sept and Vulgate, is altogether at fault. They explain: “With thee is the dominion on the day of thy power, in the brightness of thy sanctuary; from the womb I have brought thee forth before the morning star.” The first words they suppose to refer to the complete victory of the Messiah on the great day of judgment, and the last to his eternal generation as the Son of God. The Arab. Version takes the same view, but translates: “in the light of the holy ones,” connecting these words with those which follow. The Syr. Version is also incorrect: “thy people are to be praised in the day of thy power; in the brightness of holiness have I begotten thee, O boy, from the womb, from ancient times.” The Chald. paraphrase even gives the following: “thy people of the house of Israel proves itself willingly obedient, to the law; on the day when the king goes forth, thou wilt unite with him in the array of holiness; the mercy of God will descend upon thee as descends the dew, thy generations shall dwell in hope.” Most of these errors arise not from differences in the Text, but from its false interpretation, which is due to false pronunciations and derivations, and, in some cases, to the omission of words. According to the Masoretic Text, it is the readiness of the people that is spoken of, not a readiness in offering gifts and sacrifices, (Herder, Hengst.), but for the military service of the king. To enter upon it, the youth shall gather as numerous, as fresh (Numbers 23:10; 2 Samuel 17:12), and as wonderfully sudden in their appearance, as the dew from the womb of the morning. Now, since this King is no temporal ruler, and is at the same time a Priest, it cannot be the usual military service and duty that is referred to, nor a religious ceremony in festal garments preceding it (Gesenius). Moreover, the words employed are unsuitable to convey this explanation. It is for this reason, indeed, that it has been proposed to read, with 30 codd. of Kennicott and more than 50 of De Rossi, and with Symm., and Jerome: הַרְרֵי ק׳=upon the mountains, instead of הַדְרֵֹיֽ ק׳ (Houbigant, Herder, De Wette, Olshausen, Hupfeld). The true view is, that images taken from military life are united with others, which indicate the peculiar characteristics of the present war, and show that the people, as well as the royal Hero, are priests. With the expressions compare Psalms 29:2; Revelation 19:14.—Instead of the usual שׁחר we have here משׁחר, which may be differently pointed, and therefore differently explained, but which is regarded by the best exegetes as merely a secondary form.—The dew of youth does not refer to the dewy freshness of the youthful period of life (Aquila) after Ecclesiastes 11:9, or youthfulness, youthful vigor (Hofmann). Nor in Psalms 110:3 a does the day of power allude to the day of the Messianic judgment (the ancients) or the day of Pentecost (Friedrich, Symbolæ ad interpret. Ps. 110. 1814), when many from the East became followers of Christ. [Perowne: “The dew which, especially in the East, falls so copiously, is most probably employed here as a figure denoting infinite multitude, comp. the use of the figure in 2 Samuel 17:11-12. Others find the point of comparison in the brightness and freshness of the dew, and this may be suggested by the figure as well as multitude. In Micah 5:7, the point of comparison seems to be different.”—J. F. M.].
Psalms 110:4. After the order of Melchizedek. The allusion to Melchizedek carries our view beyond the Aaronic and Levitical priesthood, and even beyond the history of Israel itself. The reference is not to that authority immediately resident, by virtue of their office, in Israelitish kings, by which they, as intercessors, could commend the people to God and bless them, and take the charge of the public worship (De Wette, Ewald, Hofmann). For here a special union of Priesthood and Royalty, unheard of in Israel and transferred to the king in his own person and for ever, is affirmed to exist by an oath of the only true God (Numbers 13:19), as something altogether extraordinary and difficult of belief, but yet made known by prophecy (Amos 6:8). Elsewhere עַל־דִּבְרַת occurs=with reference to, according to. So in Ecclesiastes 3:13; Ecclesiastes 7:14; Ecclesiastes 8:2; Daniel 2:30; Daniel 4:14, instead of the usual עַל־רְּבַר. But here the ancient union vowel, i in addition, is joined to the construct, state, which is also retained in מַלְכִּי. Therefore this is i, not to be taken as a suffix=according to my word, a Melchizedec (Herder after the older expositors). There is no ground for pressing the meaning “according to” (Hupfeld), since we can translate quite correctly: in the proportion, or: after the manner. How earnestly the Rabbins have endeavored to weaken the force of this passage may be inferred from the following, among many other most unnatural explanations. They take the word kohen here as princeps, rex, dux, though, as is well known, it is the technical word for priest, as the one who stands before God. The Chald, has gone so far as to paraphrase: The Lord hath sworn and will not repent; thou art appointed judge in the world to come, as a reward unto thee, because thou hast been a spotless king.
Psalms 110:5-7. The Lord at thy right hand is not the king exalted to the right hand of Jehovah (Böhl after many of the older expositors), for which the designation adonai is quite unknown in the Old Testament, but Jehovah the Lord of all, here as the Helper (Psalms 16:8; Psalms 109:31), in the day of the Judgment of wrath (Psalms 2:12), which is represented here as a battle. [Alexander: “On the right hand has precisely the same meaning which it has in Psalms 109:31, when it denotes the place of protection or assistance, the figure being probably derived from the usages of war, in which one who succors or protects another may be said to strengthen his right hand, as the member which he uses in his own defence. In one sense, therefore, the Lord is at the right hand of Jehovah; in another sense, Jehovah is at His. This assistance, far from excluding, presupposes His own action; or rather, what Jehovah is described as doing for him, He does through him.—J. F. M.].
Nothing is to be inferred from the change of subject in Psalms 110:7, for the change of persons in prophetical discourse is well known; the thought of the passage is always to be looked to. Accordingly, the subject in Psalms 110:7 is not the enemy, who previously, being refreshed by drinking, bore his head on high (Hofmann), but the king; and that not with an allusion to Gideon (Judges 7:5 ff.), as a hero who will allow nothing to interrupt his course, and is satisfied with a draught from the brook on his way (Calvin), or to Samson, Judges 15:18 f. (Herder, Hengst.). The reference is rather to the toilsome nature of his way and course and conflict, in the midst of which, however, he never fails of refreshing and strengthening, and therefore can always keep his head aloft in joyful exultation. The passage may be applied, practically, to the sufferings of Christ and believers, as well as to their subsequent exaltation (Philippians 2:8 f., Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 5:9 f.), but not referred directly to them as the Fathers maintain, (and Stier). Least of all is it to be supposed that there is any allusion to the “water of affliction,” and the like figures. For drinking is here the direct means of reviving, a cordial for the hero in his pursuit of the enemy, and presupposes only thirst and need. The Chald is altogether wrong: He will receive instruction from the mouth of the prophet on the way. [The lifting up of the head is by some referred to those assisted by the Hero. This view is based upon Psalms 3:4. But the immediate connection with the statement of the first member of the verse, and the natural relation between drinking and being revived, are decisive of the true application. Any other relation between the members of the verse would be forced and obscure.—Hengstenberg: “That the words indicate an enduring and final triumph, not a momentary strengthening, appears from the opposition to the smiting of the head of the enemies. It is only when thus understood, that they are suitable as a conclusion, as is evident from the fact, that this feeble interpretation has led many to the notion, that the Psalm is only a fragment.”—J. F. M.].
It is uncertain whether the choice of words in Psalms 110:6 c was determined by an allusion to David’s Ammonitish war (Del.). In any case we are not to translate: “the prince of the land of Rabbah,” that is, of the Ammonites whose capital was Rabbah (Moses Mendelssohn, Hofm.), nor: “a head (prince) over great lands” (Luth., Geier and others). Nor does the expression mean specially, the arch-enemy, the antichrist (Stier after the older expositors), as the Head, whose head is to be smitten (Genesis 3:15). It is not probable that some particular enemy appearing in history as a chief or leader (most) is meant, or that רֹאשׁ in the present connection is to be taken collectively, (Sept., Chald and others, Hupfeld, Camphausen). We think that, in the plastic mode of presenting the subject, a particular point in the course of the conflict is seized upon and described (Hitzig), [i.e. when the Hero is crushing the head of one of his foes.—J. F. M.]. The form of expression, however, admits of being employed in the latter description of the Messianic conflict with the personal antichrist (Revelation 19:11 ff.). [I subjoin Dr. Moll’s version. For a beautiful paraphrase, which agrees mainly with this version, see Mr. Perowne’s Commentary.
1 Of David; a Psalm.
An address of Jehovah to my Lord:
“Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thy enemies
A stool for thy feet.”
2 The sceptre of thy might
Will Jehovah stretch forth out of Zion;
Rule in the midst of thy enemies.
3 The people are ready on thy muster-day:
In holy array.
From the womb of the dawn,
(Comes) to thee the dew of thy youth (young warriors).
4 Jehovah has sworn and does not repent it:
“Thou art Priest to eternity,
After the order of Melchizedec.”
5 The Lord at thy right hand
Dashes kings to pieces in the day of his wrath,
6 Holds judgment over nations,
It (the battle-field) is full of corpses,
Crushes a head in a wide field—
7 He drinks of the brook in the way,
Therefore he raises his head on high.—J.F.M.].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. All progress in the history of the Church of God on earth is effected by the deeds of the Highest, in which He manifests Himself; all progress in the knowledge of those deeds is gathered through His revealed words. The latter often precede the former, and then bear the character of Divine promises, and come to the knowledge of the Church through the medium of prophetic vision and announcement. In this way she has received this “truly lofty and crowning Psalm of our dear Lord Jesus Christ” (Luther). “I heard in spirit, saith the prophet David, God the heavenly Father speak with His beloved Son, and because it was a glorious kingly address, which I would were known to all the world, I will give it in this Psalm” (John Arndt).
2. The exaltation of the King in the kingdom of God above all other kings, powers, and dominions, is not merely a spiritual one, of moral and religious significance. As an exaltation to the right hand of God, it transcends all earthly relations, being the only one of its kind, and proving itself to be such by glorious deeds of Divine might, which result in an incomparable and universal victory over each and every foe. For the sitting at God’s right hand is only a figurative expression, employed to set forth the infinite exaltation, the supereminence above all worlds, and the personal security of this King, in His actual participation in the Divine sovereignty. This position assures not only personal safety, but certain victory, in that conflict which He wages in behalf of Himself and His kingdom, not merely with Divine assistance, defence, and protection, but also with Divine strength. And this He will do until the end of the world. “He gives no sign where Christ shall reign and where His Church shall be formed, except that they shall be among enemies” (Luther). But “as this King has a majestic throne, so He has also a wonderful foot-stool; and as His royal throne gives us great comfort, we are glad when we think of His footstool. How joyful also do His poor subjects become, when they hear that their Prince and King has smitten down their enemies, and thus delivered them from their power!” (John Arndt).
3. But, as conflict precedes victory, so does a life of suffering, in the abasement of earthly existence, precede exaltation. Each side of the picture merits special regard. For, although the King of the Divine kingdom wages the conflict with Divine strength and in confidence of victory, according to Divine promise, yet He must encounter the toil and dangers and sacrifices of an actual warfare; and as He, with this end in view, assumes even this position according to God’s will, so He, like a mighty leader, summons His subjects to share them too. They are to contend together with Him and for Him, as He contends with them and for them.
4. All this gains a higher significance and a deeper sense when it is considered that it is God’s kingdom that is concerned, a people destined to be a kingdom of priests and the holy inheritance of the Eternal. They must be unceasingly reminded of this their destiny. But, with the exhortation to act accordingly and so carry on the conflict ordained for them, there is, by Divine mercy, united a promise that its issue can and will be successful, through that King who is also a Priest, and in whom royalty and priesthood are united personally and indissolubly, and in a manner contrary to the legal order in Israel.
5. In order to realize this promise, so sacredly secured, our faith must, on the one side, be directed beyond the national restrictions of the Mosaic and Levitical institutions and the Davidic and Theocratic history, and, on the other, the knowledge must be gained, that the royal Hero who crushes with the judgments of His wrath those who oppose Him, and the Intercessor and priestly Deliverer who blesses His people and reconciles them with God, are one and the same Person, whose coming the Church has to expect and for which she has to prepare. “Our consolation, which sustains us, and makes the heart joyful and courageous against all the persecution and raging of the world, is, that in the midst of them we have a Lord, who not only redeems us from sin and eternal death, but also protects and delivers us in sufferings and persecution, so that we shall not perish. And although they rage with all their fierceness against Christians, yet neither the Gospel nor Christianity shall perish, but, on this very account, their own heads shall be crushed” (Luther).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The King of God’s kingdom is Lord over all lords, but is not yet for a time acknowledged by all.—The Lord who reconciles us with God, will also govern us as a priestly King; therefore let us serve Him as God’s people in the garments of holiness.—In the wars of the Lord our victory is sure, but we must wage them as the host of our divine and priestly King.—The heavenly King calls His forces to conflict and service; but He leads them also to victory, and appears Himself on their behalf with protection and blessing.—The conflict of suffering, waged by the Church militant in obedience to her heavenly Lord, as the path that leads to a participation in His victories and in His glory.
Starke: O unspeakable joy! O strong consolation for believers, that they have a Brother, who sits on His throne at the right hand of God! In all times of persecution we can commit ourselves to Him.—Christ’s kingdom is a powerful, invincible kingdom, for the sceptre of its King is a sceptre of strength, and this should urge us to deepest reverence, faith, and obedience towards Him.—Here in the kingdom of grace, Christ rules among His enemies; for while He still concedes and grants much to them, He yet fulfils His counsel in the midst of all their rage; but there, in the kingdom of glory, He will reign over them and destroy all their wickedness forever.—Christ’s people consist of willing members, who serve Him without compulsion, prompted by the child-like spirit dwelling in them. Hereby thou mayest prove whether thou dost belong to the people of God or not.—The dew fertilizes and revives the earth; so believers are not only themselves fruitful in good works, but seek also to bring others to the saving fruit of righteousness, and aim to revive themselves and others.—Since Christ is both Priest and King, He has power, not only to reconcile us completely, but also to overthrow all the enemies of our salvation, and to share with believers all the blessings of His kingdom.—Christ fulfils His priestly office in all power, to eternity, without the help of any other; no saint therefore can help us as an intercessor.—Since God the Father has ordained Christ to be an eternal Priest, He never dies to believers, and thus the consolation which flows forth to them never ceases.—First the cup of sorrow, after that glory; that is God’s order. So had Christ also to suffer, and after that to enter into His glory (Luke 24:26; Romans 8:17).—The Lord knows always how to show a brook on the way to pious pilgrims in their weariness, from which they may be refreshed and strengthened.—As weak and feeble as the Church of God is in this world, in and for itself; so strong, yea, invincible is she, in her Help, Protector, and Defender, who is Christ.
Selnecker: While Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father, the Church will be wondrously preserved under tribulation and sufferings, and against the Devil and the world; but enemies will remain until the last day.—Frisch: Both humiliation and exaltation were required of Him, who was to redeem us completely; the former to gain our salvation, the latter to make it sure to us.—He who would stand under this Lord and Head, must be accustomed to drink with Him upon the way.—Arndt: I know one who sits at God’s right hand, who is strong enough for all my enemies and all my misfortune. He sits on my behalf at God’s right hand to defend me.—Rieger: David praises to the Son, what the Father will do in Him for the extension of His kingdom; while he declares with praise to the Father how the Son, in the sovereignty and priesthood, will do everything according to the Father’s will and pleasure—Vaihinger: As often as the Redeemer manifests His glory and power against the oppressors and enemies of His kingdom, so often does there arise in His people renewed willingness to serve Him, and so often are His worshippers increased.—Richter: The kingdom of God is extended from the earthly Zion. Warriors and ambassadors of Christ are ever going forth from the spiritual Zion, the true Church; and He, from the heavenly Zion, directs everything with His rod and sceptre.—Guenther: In spite of all foes, Christ is and remains the eternal King, and he who will not serve Him to his own salvation, must submit to Him to his condemnation.—Schaubach: That our Redeemer took the form of a servant need give us no difficulty; He shall, from this state of humiliation, again enter into His exaltation.—Taube: A people in priestly robes is a people equipped for battle.
[Matth. Henry: Sitting is a resting posture; after Christ’s services and sufferings He entered into rest from all His labors. It is a ruling posture; He sits to give law, to give judgment. It is a remaining posture; he sits like a King forever.—The conversion of a soul consists in its being willing to be Christ’s, coming under His yoke and into His interests, with entire compliancy and satisfaction.—There is a particular power, the power of the Spirit, going along with the power of the word, to the people of Christ, which is effectual to make them willing. The former leaves sinners without matter of excuse; this leaves saints without matter of boasting. Whoever are willing to be Christ’s people, it is the free and mighty grace of God which makes them so.—J. F. M.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 110". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34