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I. A Messianic prophecy.
1. From internal evidence.
2. From the unanimous consent of Jewish expositors.
3. From the testimony of Christ (Matthew 22:41, &c.; Mark 12:35).
4. From the silence of the Pharisees (Luke 20:41).
5. From the witness of the Apostles (Acts 2:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13).
6. And the Early Church (Justin Martyr, Tertull., Cyp., Chrys., &c.). II. Its Messianic character denied.
1. Ewald refers it to David.
2. Hitzig, &c., to a Maccabean priest. Without foundation, for
(1) Psalms 110:1 can scarcely be applied to a mere man;
(2) Psalms 110:4 could certainly not apply to David or any human priesthood. III. Of Davidic authorship.
1. From internal evidence.
2. Almost universal tradition.
3. Our Lord’s testimony.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF CHRIST
(Psalms 110:1 and last clause of Psalms 110:2)
Our subject occupies a foremost place in the Old Testament. The first prediction (Genesis 3:15) asserts it; the promise to Abraham (Genesis 22:17) implies it; the destiny of Judah (Genesis 49:10) involves it. It all but commences the Psalms
(2), which indeed teem with it (45; 72; 110, &c.). Prophecy proper opens with it (Isaiah 2:1-4), and closes with it (Luke 1:33).
Our Lord’s ministry was a proclamation of His Kingdom, but He did not reveal His own sovereignty till at the close. Then His sentiments are those of our text (John 17:2; Matthew 25:31-32; Matthew 28:8). Afterwards the glorious company of the Apostles (Acts 2:33-34; Philippians 2:9; Ephesians 1:22-23), the goodly fellowship of the Prophets (Revelation 19:16), the noble army of Martyrs (Polycarp: “How can I blaspheme my KING”), and the holy Church throughout all the world (Revelation 7:9-12), acknowledge Him to be the King of glory.
I. Christ reigns by divine appointment. “The Lord said.” The Psalmist is admitted into the council chamber of the Trinity. There God the Father and God the Son occupy one throne (Eastern thrones are extended benches. “Sit on my throne at my right hand”—Schnurrer), and are in communion.
1. God assigns to Christ coequal authority. “At My right hand” (Psalms 45:9; Mark 16:19; Ephesians 1:20-21).
2. God assigns to Christ coequal honour. “Sit” (Psalms 29:10; 1 Kings 1:46; 1 Kings 2:19).
II. Christ reigns by divine right. “My Lord,” אַדֹנִי a divine name.
1. By an inherent divine fitness. His attributes of wisdom, justice, power, and goodness, qualify Him for universal monarchy.
2. By an essential divine prerogative. He has created all, He preserves and sustains all, He has redeemed all, therefore He has a claim on the obedience and fealty of all.
III. Christ reigns by a devout acknowledgment. “My Lord.” Christ’s monarchy is not elective, and therefore does not depend on fluctuating human opinions and passions; but, having been divinely established, His authority and fitness to rule have received ample recognition.
1. Kings in the political world have been proud to acknowledge their servitude to Him:—David, Constantine, Alfred, &c.
2. Kings in the world of scholarship and philosophy have submitted their giant intellects to His sway, and laid their conquests at His feet:—Origen, Bacon, &c.
3. Kings in the world of science have employed their genius and implements in widening His domain. Explorers, astronomers, &c.—Livingstone, Newton, Faraday, &c.
4. Kings in the world of morals, who have achieved conquests over human souls, have presented to Him their trophies, Philanthropists, missionaries.
5. Kings in the world of spirits acknowledge His royalty, and crown Him Lord of all. “Angels, principalities, and powers are made subject to Him.” Redeemed and glorified humanity casts its crowns before Him, and sings, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, and wisdom and strength, and honour and glory and blessing.”
IV. Christ reigns over a disputed empire. “Rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies.” There are countless multitudes who revel in the enjoyment of their Lord’s bounty, who, alas! deny His crown rights.
1. Christ reigns in the midst of infidel enemies. The Atheist, the Materialist, the Socialist, and the Unitarian all say, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
2. Christ rules in the midst of a heathenism that is ignorant of or hostile to His claims. All idolatry, whether aesthetic like that of ancient Greece, or absurd and barbarous like the fetish worship of the modern Hottentot, or like the debasing idolatry of self, is an usurpation of His rights.
3. Christ rules in the midst of a devil-ridden and death-stricken world. Nevertheless, the words stand true (Psalms 2:1-6). The usurpation of traitors is a standing witness to the rights of kings.
V. Christ reigns by the enforced service of His foes. “Until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.” All in His dominions, whether willingly or unwillingly, are constrained to subserve His interests.
(1.) Infidelity serves Him by its inability to satisfy the cravings of the human heart. Man cries out for God. Infidelity says, “No God,” and drives man to Him who said, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” Man cries out for immortality. Infidelity says, “No hereafter,” and compels man to go to Him who has “the words of eternal life.” Infidelity has no moral guide, and thus sends man to Him who has given “an example that we should do as He has done.” Infidelity has no solace for man’s remorse and sorrow, and thus drives man to Him who alone can give peace through purity. Atheism serves him by trying to repress man’s instincts for God, which effort can only intensify those instincts, and send men to Him who alone can satisfy them. Pantheism serves him by its doctrine of the divine presence in the universe, and sends men to Christ, who alone can reveal that presence, and bring man into its conscious fellowship. Unitarianism serves him by maintaining the Divine Fatherhood and the perfect humanity, and sends men to Christ’s Godhood, which can alone explain the perfection of His humanity, and bring the prodigal back to his Father’s arms.
(2.) Idolatry serves Him, inasmuch as it is the parent of ignorance, vice, and superstition, and creates in the human heart a craving after the wisdom, holiness, and moral light and power, which are derived from Him alone.
(3.) Selfishness and sin serve Him, because, in spite of their fascinating seductions, men see that underneath them lie debasement, ruin, death.
(4.) Yes, even the devil, wary though he is, serves Him. His hard service and his fearful wages drive men to Him whose yoke is easy, and whose burden is light, and who gives a hundredfold in this present world, and in the world to come life everlasting.
(5.) And death serves Him, for it carries into His presence His servants, and removes all impediments to their perfect service.
2. Explicitly. Testimonies to Christ’s supremacy, from those least disposed to acknowledge it, show that Christ reigns, and that His enemies have become the support of His feet.
(1.) Paganism sends its testimony through Julian, “O Galilean, thou hast conquered.”
(2.) Devils. (Mark 1:23-26.)
(3.) Atheism. “The most valuable part of the effect on the character which Christianity has produced by holding up, in a divine person, a standard for excellence, and a model for imitation, is available even to the absolute unbeliever, and can never be lost to humanity. It is the God incarnate more than the God of the Jew or of nature, who, being idealised, has taken so great and salutary a hold on the human mind. And whatever else may be taken away from us by rational criticism, Christ is still left, a unique figure.”—J. S. Mill.
(4.) Rationalism, Kant says He is “the union between the human and the divine.” Strauss speaks of Him as the “highest object we can possibly imagine with respect to religion, the Being without whose presence in the mind perfect piety is impossible.” Renan exclaims, “Rest now in thy glory, noble initiator; thy work is completed, thy divinity is established; fear no more to see the edifice of thy efforts crumble through a flaw.… For thousands of years the world will extol thee … a thousand times more living, a thousand times more loved, since thy death.… Thou wilt become to such a degree the corner-stone of humanity, that to tear thy name from this world would be to shake it to its foundations. Between thee and God men will no longer distinguish.” Lecky says that Christianity has presented “an ideal character which, through all the changes of eighteen centuries, has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love, and has shown itself capable of acting on all nations, ages, temperaments, and conditions … has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers, and all the exhortations of moralists.”
(5.) Pantheism. Spinosa thought Him “the best and truest symbol of heavenly wisdom, or ideal perfection.”
(6.) Selfishness. Napoleon: “Alexander, Cæsar, and myself, founded great empires; but upon what? Force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love and to this day millions would die for Him. I know man; Jesus Christ was more than man.”
VI. Christ will reign over an un-disputed universe. This is the sense of our text. The prophets, without a dissentient voice, predicted this. Christ Himself foreshadowed it. The souls under the altar groan for it. The Universal Church waits for it.
“What successes did the Jews anticipate from their Messiah? The wildest dreams of their rabbis have been far exceeded. Has not Jesus conquered Europe, and changed its name into Christendom? All countries that refuse the Cross wither.… And the time will come when the vast communities and countless myriads of America and Australia, looking upon Europe as Europe now looks upon Greece, and wondering how small a space could have achieved such mighty deeds, will still find music in the songs of Zion, and still seek solace in the parables of Galilee.”—B. Disraeli.
THE ROYAL ARMY
(Psalms 110:2, clause 1, and Psalms 110:3)
This is a vivid sketch of the Church and its prerogatives, inserted in the midst of the king’s coronation hymn. What is this but a foreshadowing of the union between Christ and His people. In Psalms 110:1, Christ is glorified with “the glory which He had with the Father before the world was.” In Psalms 110:2-3, that glory “He gives them.” In Psalms 110:4, He is a priest; in Psalms 110:3, His people are arrayed in sacerdotal robes. The influence of Christ’s character on the world is to quicken and refresh it; so here His people are as the dew. Christ’s years do not fail; so here His people are endowed with perennial youth, and out of their midst the “rod of His strength” goes forth.”
I. Church weapons. “The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion.” The King first equips His chosen ones, and then sends them forth to war. The rod of Christ’s strength may be any one or all of those points of Zion’s panoply catalogued in Ephesians 6:0. The girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandal of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. In vain does the Church go forth when unprovided with them. Notice these weapons are—1, Of divine manufacture; 2, Of tried temper; 3, Of invincible strength; 4, Of irresistible power.
II. Church character. Threefold—
1. The Church belongs to Christ. “Thy people.”
(1.) By the terms of the everlasting covenant.
(2.) By the redemption of the Cross.
(3.) By His own declaration, “My Church.” (John 17:6-10.)
(4.) By its own free consent. (Romans 14:8.)
2. The Church is of priestly dignity. “In the beauties,” lit. robes, “of holiness.” (2 Chronicles 20:21; Psalms 29:2; Exodus 28:2.) The splendid vestments were symbolical of the majesty, purity, and power of sacerdotal service. The fitness of this character is seen from the fact that the Church follows the royal priest. (Cf. Psalms 110:1; Psalms 110:4.)
(1.) The quality of this priesthood is like that of the great high priest, royal. (1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:6.)
(2.) The functions of this priesthood are—(a.) Sacrificial, not however expiatory, but eucharistic. (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5); and (b.) Intercessory. (Philippians 4:6, &c.)
(3.) The appearance of this priesthood is beautiful. Everything in God’s world is beautiful. It is fitting, therefore, that His people should be so. The Church is a bride adorned with her jewels. She is called to cultivate not only purity but grace. And thus here the gorgeous vesture of the Jewish priest is a fit emblem of his beauty and attractiveness who has “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
3. The Church is ever youthful. “Youth” here means young men. Christ’s followers possess the secret of perpetual youth.
(1.) Individually Time, work, and strife, may age the outer man, but they cannot touch the spirit, that is renewed continually day by day. (Isaiah 40:30-31; 2 Corinthians 4:6.) That continues fresh and vigorous through wrinkles and material decay.
(2.) Collectively. The Church was never more mighty in her numbers and in her influence than she is in this the 19th century of her history. Human institutions fail from internal weakness, or for the want of external support, and lose their influence in the lapse of years. Not so with Christ’s people. “They flourish in perpetual youth,” and “go from strength to strength.”
III. Church spirit. “My people shall be willing.” It is not without significance that נְדָבָה willingness, or free-will offerings, is derived from נָדָב prince, or noble one. Hence the Christian esprit de corps is
1. Unmercenary. Christ’s people are actuated by no sordid motives. The reward before them is splendid if they win, but their all-absorbing aim is to “please Him who called them to be soldiers.”
2. Unconstrained. Christ’s soldiers are volunteers. They are called, but they may disobey. They may enlist, but are at liberty to retire.
3. Free by a glad surrender of the will. “If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me.”
4. Princely; and princely because free. The spirit of willing consecration raises these priests into “kings unto God.” As the servants of kings are noble, and as the suzerainties of emperors are governed by monarchs, so is the follower of the King of kings and Lord of lords a “prince with God.”
IV. Church opportunity. “In the day of thy power.” There are two interpretations of this expression. “The day of thine own might;” and “the day when thou dost muster thy forces and set them in battle array.” The text in its present application implies both, for they are both characteristic features of the Gospel dispensation. The spectators of Christ’s miracles were amazed at the mighty power of God. (Luke 9:43.) Christ’s promise was that His Church should receive power then, and when He who is the power of God should “ascend far above all principalities and power and might” (Ephesians 1:21). Then He strengthened His disciples “according to His glorious power,” and made their faith stand “by the power of God.” Thus the Church is made strong “in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” “The kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” What is this but to prove that Church opportunities are ever present. Let her not wait then in indolence for special outpourings of the Spirit, but be faithful to the power she already has. Christ is the same in power “to-day, yesterday, and for ever,” and is with the Church alway; and every day is the Church under marching orders for expeditions against her foes.
V. Church influence. “From the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth.”
1. Abundant. It covers the whole earth. Every nation, rank, and order of intelligence have felt its power.
2. Marvellous. The influence of Christianity has never been, and can never be, accounted for by natural hypotheses. Its only explanation is that, like its Divine Author, it “proceeded forth and came from God.”
3. Refreshing. It pours new life into dead humanity, and culture and civilisation follow in its train. The desert under its influence rejoices and blossoms like the rose, and becomes as the garden of the Lord. Contrast the world eighteen hundred years ago with what it is to-day. Fiji fifty years ago.
4. Gentle. Not with the force of arms or pride of learning. Yet before it tyranny, serfdom, and superstition flee.
Concerning its influence as a whole, hear the words of an impartial witness: “By the confession of all parties, the Christian religion was designed to be a religion of philanthropy; and love was represented as the distinctive test or characteristic of its members. As a matter of fact, it has probably done more to quicken the affection of mankind, to promote piety, to create a pure and merciful ideal, than any other influence that has ever acted on the world.” (Lecky’s “Rationalism,” vol. i. p. 358.)
THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK
No character has been more fruitful of speculation than that of Melchizedek. Some have conjectured that he was a theophany of Christ or the Holy Ghost. The Gnostics considered him an œon or a man formed before the creation out of spiritual matter. Origen said he was an angel. Others, Ham, Shem, Arphaxad, or Job. With theories we are not concerned. The fact before us is that Messiah is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and that His appointment is held from God.
I. Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
1. That order was unique.
(1.) In its loneliness, Melchizedek stood alone. Other priests sacrificed to idols or the powers of nature; he to the “Most High God.” He was the one true priest before the Mosaic dispensation. Christ is the one true priest after it, and He stands alone. “One mediator.” No other order but His is found in the New Testament, or is now possible, or necessary.
(2.) In that it was underived and untransmitted. Melchizedek did not follow, nor was he succeeded by, a priestly line. So Christ’s priesthood is “not after the order of a carnal commandment;” nor does it “pass over to another.”
(3.) In its efficacy. The priesthoods contemporaneous with Melchizedek were founded on superstition; his only on divine revelation. So all other priesthoods but that of Christ are now effete or vain. His alone is efficacious.
2. That order was righteous. His very name “King of righteousness” is significant of that. But in a far more real and valuable sense is this so with Christ.
(1.) He is absolutely righteous in Himself. He of all the sons of men alone could say, “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” As such He was predicted (Isaiah 53:11; Jeremiah 23:5). As such He was by the confession of both friends and foes (Luke 23:4; 1 Peter 2:23).
(2.) As the King of righteousness, He makes His subjects righteous (Isaiah 53:11). By cleansing away their unrighteousness and imparting his Holy Spirit, and encouraging and directing their holy lives.
3. That order was peaceful. He was “King of Salem which is King of peace.” In this the order was a strong contrast to the order of Baal, and indeed to the warlike sons of Aaron. Not more so does the priesthood of Christ contrast with the arrogant assumptions, worldly ambitions, devilish craft, and cruel persecutions of the orders of paganism and Rome. Christ is
(1) absolutely peaceful in Himself. As such He was predicted and acknowledged. “The Prince of peace.” “He shall not cry,” &c.
(2) As King of peace Christ gives peace, promotes it, and reigns over peaceful subjects. “My peace I leave with you,” &c. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” &c. “The fruit of the Spirit is … peace.”
4. That order was royal. He was king as well as priest. So is Christ a “priest upon His throne.” These two orders are seldom found united. Once when a king arrogated priestly functions he was smitten with leprosy. Terrible calamities have invariably resulted when political power has been wielded by sacerdotal hands. But in Christ their union is an unmixed blessing. Why? Because Christ’s royalty is based upon the great offering of Himself, whereas other priestly rules have invariably been founded on arrogant assumptions without corresponding service. Christ rules from His Cross: “I, if I be lifted up,” &c. And adoring Christendom says, “Thou art the King of glory, O Christ,” because “when Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.”
5. That order was superior.
(1.) In its antiquity. It was before the authorised priesthood of Aaron. So Christ is “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.”
(2.) In its perpetuity. “For ever.” Christ “continueth ever,” and “ever liveth to make intercession.”
(3.) In its universality. Heathen priests sacrificed for their particular tribes; Aaron’s priesthood was for the Jews; but Melchizedek offered for Abraham, and also for the Gentiles among whom he lived. So Christ is “a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
II. Christ’s appointment to this priesthood is held under Divine authority. “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent.” Persons occupying important offices must show their credentials; kings, their insignia; ambassadors, their letters patent; Christians, their holy life. So we demand from priestly pretenders their authority. In vain do we seek these warrants from any priest but the Son of God. He holds office, not by a transitory and human commission, but by the perpetual oath of God. And His credentials are “His hands, His feet, His side.”
IN CONCLUSION. “To-day we need these truths.… And thank God we can believe that for every modern perplexity the blessed old words carry the same strength and consolation. If kings seem to have perished from among men, if authorities are dying out, and there are no names of power that can rally the world—yet there is a Sovereign. If old institutions are crumbling, and must still further decay ere the site for a noble structure be cleared,” Christ’s altar and Christ’s throne remain. “If priest be on some lips a name of superstitious folly, and on others a synonym for all that is despised and effete in religion, yet this Priest abideth for ever, the guide and the hope for the history of humanity and for the individual spirit.”—Maclaren.
CHRIST’S TRIUMPH OVER TYRANNY
The union between the Father and the Son is still sustained. In Psalms 110:1, the Father gives the Son authority. In 2 and 3, followers. In the verses before us, He helps Him to conquer, and sustains Him in His rule. Notice—
I. That all tyranny is the foe of Christ. “Kings.”
1. All political tyranny. Despots of whatever denomination are enemies of Christ, whether their tyranny take the form of oligarchy, monarchy, aristocracy, or mobocracy; wherever freedom is repressed, and wrong perpetuated under the name of law or no law, there is the seat of Christ’s war.
2. All social tyranny. The tyranny exercised by the ascendant caste, whether noble, or middle, or working class. Sometimes the rich oppress the poor; sometimes the poor, the rich. Now it is the squire who tramples on the peasant, now the peasant who sets the squire’s ricks on fire. Fashion tyrannises, and so does institutionalism. But one and all are foes of Christ.
3. All domestic tyranny, whether exercised by parents over children, guardians over wards, yes, and children over parents, which crushes or restrains the free play of domestic virtue or affection or action, is in irreconcileable antagonism to Christ. When the parent forces the child to wrong its conscience or deny its God, or when the child brings its parent’s head with sorrow to the grave, both are calling down upon themselves sure vengeance. When masters oppress their servants, yes, and when servants, getting as they sometimes do the upper-hand, oppress their employers, they proclaim themselves the enemies of Christ.
4. All spiritual tyranny. All priestcraft, ancient or modern, heathen, Romish, or Anglican. All forces, whether they proceed from politics, literature, science, or religion; all inquisitions employed for the purpose of shackling the human mind, or terrorising over the human fears, or violating the sanctities of the human heart, all are the antagonists of Christ.
5. All moral tyranny (2 Timothy 2:26).
II. All tyranny is subject to the wrath of Christ.
1. Because of His own inherent righteousness. He, the King of men, does not break the bruised reed, &c., and He will not permit them who wield His delegated authority to do so.
2. Because His government is based upon the freedom of the subject. All His great blessings are free. The great end of His coming was to make men free. The great legacy He bequeathed to man is the “freedom of sons.” His express command is that man should “stand fast in liberty.” Any attempt, therefore, to unsettle or overthrow this foundation principle does and must excite His righteous indignation.
3. Because the well-being of man, the creature whom He loves and has taken into his own brotherhood, can only be maintained by political, social, domestic, and religious liberty. Of what value are national institutions unless man as man is free to enjoy them? Of what use are spiritual blessings if enforced on unwilling minds? Where is the benefit of domestic blessings if doled out or enforced by the iron rule of a despot? The only bond which keeps society together is the liberty of its individual members; and moral tyranny destroys the soul. Despotism is the upas blight which has ruined more institutions and more men than any other evil that has ever issued from hell. And therefore does it excite the anger of Christ.
III. All tyranny will be destroyed by Christ. “Shall strike through kings … fill the places with dead bodies. He shall wound the head over many countries.”
1. Christ’s policy in the past, is a promise, of what it will be in all time to come. Every species of despotism has been destroyed by Him. Autocracy in those terrible oriental and western tyrannies which have left behind them but the phantom of a name. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Rome, have all been destroyed by the “stone cut out of the mountain without hands;” Democratic tyranny in the overthrow of the republics of Greece and Rome, and the bloody rule and bloody end of French socialism; intellectual despotism in the extirpation of an overweening philosophy and a no less overweening priesthood. Domestic tyranny in those nations where women were but chattels and slaves of less account than beasts. Moral slavery in his subjection of “him who has the power of death which is the devil.” All these despotisms seek to revive and propagate themselves today, but let them be assured that, as sure as Christ lives and reigns, their doom is sealed.
2. Christ’s policy is pursued for the benefit of humanity at large. All souls are on an equality before Christ. They have all shared a common creation and a common redemption. Heaven is not imposed upon by coronets and thrones. All mankind have crown rights, and woe to those who injure them. Those who do so must and will be removed. The tyrant must be hurled from his throne before the subject can breathe the free air of liberty. Pharaoh must be engulfed, that Israel may pursue her path of progress.
3. Christ’s policy presents an alternative. Despots may cease to be despots, tyrants may cease to oppress. Those guiltless of the crime will not then inherit the curse.
IV. All tyranny will be supplanted by Christ. Tyranny is better than anarchy. But, having destroyed the tyrant, Christ assumes His sceptre and His throne, and reigns over a divinely-liberated people. “He shall judge among the heathen.” “On His head are many crowns.” Christ’s right and fitness to rule may be judged by what that rule when acknowledged has achieved.
1. The Christian Sabbath, the great barrier to the tyranny of toil.
2. The Bible, the grand charter of moral freedom.
3. Liberty for the soul from Satan’s power.
4. Liberty of thought.
5. Liberty, equality, and fraternity for all; for woman, for the child, and for the slave, for “One is your Master; even Christ, and all ye are brethren.
Men and brethren—(i.) Prize your freedom, and let no man entangle you again in the yoke of bondage. (ii.) Thank Christ for your freedom. It is He who has made you free. (iii.) Employ that freedom in Christ’s service, that is, in making others free.
CHRIST REFRESHING HIMSELF
The picture is that of the conqueror pursuing his foes, and partaking of momentary refreshment at some wayside brook; then in the strength of that refreshment pursuing his joyful and victorious way. The scene is typical of those encouragements which are His support who is contending for rightful and universal empire.
I. The Divine refreshment. “He shall drink of the brook in the way.”
1. Christ is encouraged by the sense of His Father’s approval. The kingdom for which He fights is His Father’s gift (Psalms 2:8). In fighting for it He always does the things which please Him. In the hottest conflict He is cheered by the voice from heaven: “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (John 10:17).
2. Christ is encouraged by the justice of His cause and the beneficence of His work. Those engaged in selfish projects have to look away from the work for encouragement. Those who know they are working for the bettering of the world can afford to despise obloquy and persecution. Christ knows that His work through crosses and conflicts will end in the regeneration of the world. He “sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied.”
3. Christ is encouraged by the enthusiasm of His followers. Around no other name do such affections cluster, and behind no other banner do such earnestness and determination range. “Alexander,” remarked the great Napoleon, “Cæsar, and myself have founded empires. But upon what do we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this moment millions of men would die for Him. I die before my time, and my body will be given back to the earth to become food for worms. Such is the fate of him who has been called the great Napoleon. What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, and adored, and which is extended over the whole earth?”
4. Christ is encouraged by the conquests He has already achieved, and by the certain triumphs which yet await Him. Behind is the cross, around is His redeemed and adoring Church, and onward is the millennium. (Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 42:4.) “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.” All His past victories are prophetic of His success in time to come. Witness the trophies of the Cross in the first three centuries. Witness what it is doing in the realms of infidelity and heathenism to-day. On Himself He builds this Church which “triumphs o’er the gates of hell.”
II. The consequence of that refreshment. Invigorated and encouraged the conqueror pursues his path to victory. “Therefore shall He lift up His head.”
1. Christ’s conquests are progressive. He does not complete His work at once. His work in the world is gradual and growing. Having achieved one success, He passes on to another, and will do so till “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that He is LORD.”
2. Christ’s conquests are permanent. That is to say, no hostile power shall ever win them back again. “They shall never perish.” True, His subjects may revolt. They may say, “We will not have this King to reign over us.” But they resign the fealty to Christ by their own free-will, and not by any power of the adversary. Then they become Christ’s enemies, and, if they will not let Him win them back again, in their destruction He displays His glorious power.
3. Christ’s conquests are glorious.
(1.) Christ lifts up His head over redeemed and consecrated souls. To conquer inert matter and to sway blind forces were easy work for Omnipotence. But to convince the intellect, subdue the will, invite the affections and draw out the forces of the life, this is glorious indeed.
(2.) Christ lifts up His head over the defeated and destroyed powers whose energies have been inimical to the interests of heaven and earth. The joy which was set before Him, and for which He endured the cross and despised the shame, was victory over the devil, sin, the world, and death. These He has vanquished. Sin has no more dominion over His people. They have the faith He gives, and have overcome the world, and through Him they can now say, “O grave, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?”
4. Christ’s conquests will have an end. The time will come when Christ shall lift up His head over a regenerated universe. When all His enemies shall be subdued under His feet then (1 Corinthians 15:24-28.)
Learn (i.) That all the sources of the Saviour’s encouragement are ours. (ii.) That if we are faithful we shall participate in His final triumph and share His throne.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 110". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20