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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 110

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verses 1-7


Psalms 110:1-7. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 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. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen: he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

IN some of the Psalms, David speaks of himself only; in others, of himself and of the Messiah too; but in this, of the Messiah exclusively: not a word is applicable to any one else. The Jews have taken great pains to explain it away: but their attempts are, and ever must be, in vain.
In the first verse, David relates the Father’s address to his Son, when “the council of peace was held between them:” and the whole of the remainder is addressed by the Psalmist to the Messiah himself. It altogether elucidates in a very striking manner the character of Christ.
In it are set forth,


His person—

It is of great importance that we have just views of the Divinity of Christ—
[On that depends the sufficiency of the atonement which he has offered for the sins of men. If he be only a creature, how can we be assured that the shedding of his blood has any more virtue and efficacy than the blood of bulls and goats? What proportion is there between the transitory sufferings of one creature, and the accumulated sins of all the children of men? How can we conceive that there should be such a value in the blood of any created being, as to purchase for a ruined world a deliverance from everlasting misery, and a possession of everlasting happiness and glory? But if our Redeemer be God as well as man, then we see at once, that, inasmuch as he is an infinitely glorious Being, there is an infinite merit in his obedience unto death, sufficient to justify the demands of law and justice for the sins of all mankind. On any other supposition than that Christ is God, there would be no force at all in that question of the Apostle, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things [Note: Romans 8:32.]?” What argument would it be to say, “He that gave us a creature, how shall he not also give us himself, and all the glory of heaven?” But if Christ be God, equal with the Father, then is the argument clear, obvious, and unanswerable.]

In the psalm before us the divinity of Christ is plainly asserted—
[Our blessed Lord himself appeals to it, in order to confound and silence his malignant adversaries. Both Pharisees and Sadducees had endeavoured to ensnare him by difficult and perplexing questions: and, when he had answered, he put this question to them; “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” and when they said, “The Son of David,” he asked them, “How then doth David in Spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, &c.? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” And then we are told, “No man was able to answer him a word [Note: Matthew 22:41-46.].” Had they been willing to acknowledge Christ as their Messiah, they needed not to have been at any loss for an answer; for they knew him to be a son of David; and he had repeatedly declared himself to be God, insomuch that they had again and again taken up stones to stone him for blasphemy. But this passage proved beyond all doubt that the Messiah was to be “the root, as well as the offspring of David;” the Lord of David, as well as David’s son.

And here it is worthy of notice, that we see in this appeal what was the interpretation which the Jews of that day put upon the psalm before us. They all understood it as relating to the Messiah: and all the attempts of modern Jews to put any other construction upon it are futile in the extreme.

But by comparing the parallel passage in St. Mark, we see what the Jews of that day thought of the doctrine of the Trinity [Note: Mark 12:35-37.]. Our Lord speaks of the Holy Ghost as inspiring David, (which none but Jehovah could do,) to declare what Jehovah the Father had said to Jehovah the Son. If the doctrine of the Trinity had not been received among them, would they have been silent, and not known what to answer him? And would they from this time have been deterred by it from asking him any more questions?

Be it known then, that Christ is very God, and very man: he is that “Word, who was in the beginning with God, and was God [Note: John 1:1; John 1:14.];” “God manifest in the flesh [Note: 1 Timothy 3:16.].” He is, as the prophet calls him, “the Mighty God [Note: Isaiah 9:6.],” or, as St. Paul calls him, “the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ [Note: Titus 2:13.],” “God over all blessed for ever [Note: Romans 9:5.].”]

The Psalmist now addressing himself to the Messiah, proclaims to him the success that should attend him in the execution of,


His offices—

The second and third verses may undoubtedly be applied to his regal office, because they speak of his “ruling in the midst of his enemies:” but, if we consider how his victories are gained, namely, by his word and Spirit, and that it is by the illumination of men’s minds that he subdues their hearts, we shall see that this part of the psalm may properly be understood as relating to his prophetic character. Accordingly we behold him here represented as,


A Prophet—

[The word is “the rod of his strength,” by which he works all the wonders of his grace. In itself it is as weak and inefficient as the rod of Moses, whereby he wrought all his miracles in Egypt; but, as applied by the Spirit of God to the souls of men, it is “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,” and “is mighty to the pulling down of all the strongholds” of sin and Satan: “it is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe [Note: Romans 1:16.].” It “came forth from Zion, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem [Note: Isaiah 2:3.],” when it was published by the holy Apostles; who delivered it, as they were commanded, to Jerusalem first, and then to other parts of the world. And there is this remarkable difference between the victories gained by it, and those gained by any carnal weapon: by the latter, men are brought to a reluctant submission; by the former, they are “made willing,” truly and cordially willing, to take Christ’s yoke upon them. Whenever the Lord’s time, the “day of his power,” is come, they, like the rams of Nebaioth, present themselves as voluntary sacrifices at God’s altar, and give up themselves unreservedly to the Lord [Note: Compare that beautiful passage Isaiah 60:4-8. with Rom 12:1 and 2 Corinthians 8:5.].

Nor is deliverance from death and hell the only object of their pursuit: they feel, that they can be happy only in the way of holiness; and therefore “in the beauties of holiness” they come unto him: their dispositions and habits are all changed: they abstain from sin, because they hate it; and obey the law, because they love it: and, could they obtain the desire of their hearts, they would be “holy as God is holy,” and “perfect, even as their Father in heaven is perfect.”
The numbers that shall thus be converted to the Lord exceed all calculation or conception. As the drops of “dew” issuing from “the womb of the morning,” so will be the progeny that shall be born to him, innumerable: there may be but “an handful of corn cast on the top of the mountains; but yet shall the fruit be as the woods of Lebanon, and as the piles of grass upon the earth [Note: Psalms 72:16.].” Thus powerfully did his word and Spirit operate in the early “youth” of the Church; and thus shall they operate to the very end of time: and it is worthy of particular observation, that the very first verse of this psalm, with the explanation given of it by the Apostle, was that which pierced the hearts of our Lord’s murderers, and subdued three thousand of them at once to the obedience of faith [Note: Acts 2:34-37.].

David now proceeds to speak of Christ as,]


A Priest—

[As Christ was to offer a sacrifice for the sins of his people, he must of necessity be a priest. But from the Levitical priesthood, which was confined to the tribe of Levi, he was of necessity excluded, because he was of the tribe of Judah. There was however a priesthood of another order, the order of Melchizedec; and to that he was solemnly consecrated with an oath. What that priesthood was, we should never have known, if it had not been explained to us in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In the Mosaic history, Melchizedec is briefly mentioned, without any account of his predecessors or successors in his office [Note: Genesis 14:18-20.]: and this was particularly overruled by God, in order that he might be a type of Christ, whose priesthood was from everlasting (in the divine counsels,) and everlastingly to continue in himself alone. Now at the time that the Levitical priesthood was in all its glory, David foretold, that it should be superseded, (and the whole Mosaic economy with it,) by a priesthood of a higher order; a priesthood, which Abraham himself, and all his posterity in him, acknowledged, and which, on account of the solemnity of its appointment, and the perpetuity of its duration, was of a far higher order [Note: Read Hebrews 7:1-28.].

Is it inquired, What sacrifice he had to offer? we answer, His own body, which “through the eternal Spirit he offered without spot to God.” And, having offered that sacrifice once for all, he now intercedes for us within the veil; and will come again at the end of the world to bless his redeemed people, and to make them partakers of everlasting blessedness.
But it is foretold yet further, that he was also to be,]


A King [Note: Some, to reconcile ver. 5. with ver. 1. suppose that in ver. 5. David ceases to address the Messiah, and directs his speech to the Father. But this introduces needless perplexity into the subject. If we understand “The Lord at thy right hand,” as meaning, The Lord who is thy strength and thy support, (which is certainly its most obvious meaning,) the whole speech is uninterrupted and clear.]—

[Melchizedec, though a priest, was a king also, and one that was most eminently fitted to typify the Saviour, being “king of righteousness and peace [Note: Hebrews 7:2.].” Thus was Christ not a priest only, but “a priest upon his throne [Note: Zechariah 6:13.].” Being now exalted to the right hand of God, he “sitteth there, till all his enemies become his footstool.” “To him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear” allegiance: or, if any continue to withstand his overtures of mercy, he will smite them to the ground; yea, though they be the greatest monarchs upon earth: “He will strike through kings in the day of his wrath.” There is “a day of wrath,” as well as a day of mercy; and terrible indeed will be “the wrath of the Lamb.” As a mighty conqueror desolates the countries which he overruns, and fills them with the bodies of the slain, so will Jesus in that awful day. If he rule not men by their free consent, as their Lord, he will judge them as rebels, and “wound the heads of all” to the remotest corners of the earth: he will say, “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me.”

Previous to his own victories, he was himself, according to human estimate, to be overcome. But his humiliation was to pave the way for his exaltation: “by death he was to overcome him that had the power of death, and to deliver from death” his ransomed people. This was the way pointed out in the very first proclamation of mercy to fallen man: “The Seed of the woman was to bruise the serpent’s head; but the serpent was first to bruise his heel [Note: Genesis 3:15.].” Accordingly he did “drink of the brook in the way:” he suffered infinitely more than words can express, or the mind of man can conceive; and then “he lifted up the head,” and was “exalted far above all principalities and powers,” whether of heaven or hell; and he “shall surely reign till all his enemies be put under his feet.”]

We cannot improve this subject better than by asking,


What think ye of Christ?

[This is the very question which our Lord himself asked in reference to this psalm. Yet it is not a mere theoretical opinion that we ask for, but the practical persuasion of your hearts. Do you view him with reverence and love as your incarnate God? — — — Do you look to him as your Prophet, to teach and guide you into all truth? — — — Do you look to him as your great High Priest, trusting in his all-atoning sacrifice, and imploring an interest in his prevailing intercession? — — — Do you farther look to him as your King, desiring him to bring, not your actions only, but “your every thought, into captivity” to his sacred will? — — — This is the test whereby you are to try the state of your souls before God; for according to your experience of these things will be your sentence in the day of judgment — — —]


What measure have ye of resemblance to him?

[God has ordained that all his people should “be conformed to the image of his Son [Note: Romans 8:29.],” in sufferings, in holiness, and in glory. Like him, they must “drink of the brook in the way, and afterwards lift up the head.” “The Captain of our Salvation was made perfect through sufferings;” and “all the sons who shall be brought to glory” must be made perfect in the same way [Note: Hebrews 2:10.]: “through much tribulation they must enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The “mortifying of our members upon earth,” with “the cutting off a right hand, and plucking out a right eye,” are strong and significant expressions, shewing clearly, that a life of godliness requires much painful labour and self-denial. Besides, there is much persecution also to be endured from an ungodly world; for “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Nor are the conflicts that are to be sustained with all the powers of darkness of small consideration in the Christian’s warfare. Let me ask then, Are ye following Christ in this way? Are ye “crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts?” Are ye “following him boldly without the camp, bearing his reproach?” Are ye “fighting manfully the good fight of faith,” and “wrestling, not only with flesh and blood, but with all the principalities and powers of hell?” Be assured that “the kingdom of heaven cannot be taken without violence: the violent must take it by force.” The work and offices of Christ will be of no avail in our behalf, if we do not “take up our cross daily and follow him.” Awake then, all of you, to the duties that are assigned you; and be content to suffer with him, that ye may be also glorified together.”]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 110". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/psalms-110.html. 1832.
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