PSALM 110 OVERVIEW.
Title. -- A Psalm of David. Of the correctness of this title there can be no doubt, since our Lord in Matthew 22:1 says, "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord." Yet some critics are so fond of finding new authors for the psalms that they dare to fly in the face of the Lord Jesus himself. To escape from finding Jesus here, they read the title, "Psalm of (or concerning) David," as though it teas not so much written by him as of him, but he that reads with understanding will see little enough of David here except as the writer. He is not the subject of it even in the smallest degree, but Christ is all. How much was revealed to the patriarch David! How blind are some modern wise men, even amid the present blaze of light, as compared with this poet prophet of the darker dispensation. May the Spirit who spoke by the man after God's own heart give us eyes to see the hidden mysteries of this marvellous Psalm, in which every word has an infinity of meaning.
Subject and Division. -- The subject is THE PRIEST KING. None of the kings of Israel united these two offices, though some endeavoured to do so. Although David performed some acts which appeared to verge upon the priestly, yet he was no priest, but of the tribe of Judah, "of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood"; and he was far too devout a man to thrust himself into that office uncalled. The Priest King here spoken of is David's Lord, a mysterious personage typified by Melchizedek, and looked for by the Jews as the Messiah. He is none other than the apostle and high priest of our profession, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. The Psalm describes the appointment of the kingly priest, his followers, his battles, and his victory. Its centre is verse 4, and so it may be divided, as Alexander suggests, into the introduction, verses Ps 106:1-3; the central thought, verse 4; and the supplementary verses, Psalms 106:5-7 .
Verse 1. The LORD said unto thy Lord. -- Jehovah said unto my Adonai: David in spirit heard the solemn voice of Jehovah speaking to the Messiah from of old. What wonderful intercourse there has been between the Father and the Son! From this secret and intimate communion springs the covenant of grace and all its marvellous arrangements. All the great acts of grace are brought into actual being by the word of God; had he not spoken, there had been no manifestation of Deity to us; but in the beginning was the Word, and from of old there was mysterious fellowship between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ concerning his people and the great contest on their behalf between himself and the powers of evil. How condescending on Jehovah's part to permit a mortal ear to hear, and a human pen to record his secret converse with his coequal Son! How greatly should we prize the revelation of his private and solemn discourse with the Son, herein made public for the refreshing of his people! Lord, what is man that thou shouldest thus impart thy secrets unto him!
Though David was a firm believer in the Unity of the Godhead, he yet spiritually discerns the two persons, distinguishes between them, and perceives that in the second he has a peculiar interest, for he calls him "my Lord." This was an anticipation of the exclamation of Thomas, "My Lord and my God," and it expresses the Psalmist's reverence, his obedience, his believing appropriation, and his joy in Christ. It is well to have clear views of the mutual relations of the persons of the blessed Trinity; indeed, the knowledge of these truths is essential for our comfort and growth in grace. There is a manifest distinction in the divine persons, since one speaks to another; yet the Godhead is one.
Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Away from the shame and suffering of his earthly life, Jehovah calls the Adonai, our Lord, to the repose and honours of his celestial seat. His work is done, and he may sit; it is well done, and he may sit at his right hand; it will have grand results, and he may therefore quietly wait to see the complete victory which is certain to follow. The glorious Jehovah thus addresses the Christ as our Saviour; for, says David, he said "unto my Lord." Jesus is placed in the seat of power, dominion, and dignity, and is to sit there by divine appointment while Jehovah fights for him, and lays every rebel beneath his feet. He sits there by the Father's ordinance and call, and will sit there despite all the raging of his adversaries, till they are all brought to utter shame by his putting his foot upon their necks. In this sitting he is our representative. The mediatorial kingdom will last until the last enemy shall be destroyed, and then, according to the inspired word, "cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even the Father." The work of subduing the nations is now in the hand of the great God, who by his Providence will accomplish it to the glory of his Son; his word is pledged to it, and the session of his Son at his right hand is the guarantee thereof; therefore let us never fear as to the future. While we see our Lord and representative sitting in quiet expectancy, we, too, may sit in the attitude of peaceful assurance, and with confidence await the grand outcome of all events. As surely as Jehovah liveth Jesus must reign, yea, even now he is reigning, though all his enemies are not yet subdued. During the present interval, through which we wait for his glorious appearing and visible millennial kingdom, he is in the place of power, and his dominion is in jeopardy, or otherwise he would not remain quiescent. He sits because all is safe, and he sits at Jehovah's right hand because omnipotence waits to accomplish his will. Therefore there is no cause for alarm whatever may happen in this lower world; the sight of Jesus enthroned in divine glory is the sure guarantee that all things are moving onward towards ultimate victory. Those rebels who now stand high in power shall soon be in the place of contempt, they shall be his footstool. He shall with ease rule them, he shall sit and put his foot on them; not rising to tread them down as when a man puts forth force to subdue powerful foes, but retaining the attitude of rest, and still ruling them as abject vassals who have no longer spirit to rebel, but have become thoroughly tamed and subdued.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. -- The preceding Psalm is a Passion Psalm, and it is now followed by a Psalm of Christ's Resurrection, Ascension, and Session in glory. We have seen the same connection in Ps. 22-24, and in Ps. 45-47. The present psalm grows up from the former Psalm, as the Hill of Olivet, the Hill of Ascension, rises up from the Vale of Gethsemane below it. --Christopher Wordsworth.
Whole Psalm. -- This psalm has been well designated the crown of all the Psalms, of which Luther saith that it is worthy to be overlaid with precious jewels. More especially does the Reformer call verse 5 a well spring, -- nay, a treasury of all Christian doctrines, understanding, wisdom, and comfort, richer and fuller than any other passage of Holy Writ. In his own peculiar manner, he styles Christ the Sheblimini (`Sit on my right hand'). `Full sure, the devil must let alone my Sheblimini, and cannot bring him down either by his scorn or by his wrath.' Christ still liveth and reigneth, and his title is Sheblimini. On his stirrup is engraven, "I will make thine enemies' thy footstool," and upon his diadem, "Thou art a priest for ever." --Alfred Edersheim, 1873.
Whole Psalm. -- The ancients (by Cassiodorus' collection) term this psalm the sun of our faith, the treasure of holy writ: "verbis brevis, sensu infinitus", (saith Augustine,) short in words, but in sense infinite. Theodoret notes how it is connected with the psalm going before: "there (saith he) we have his cross and sufferings, here his conquest and trophies." For he cometh forth as the heir apparent of the Almighty, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, graced with,
- Title, "My Lord".
- Place, "Sit thou on my right hand".
- Power, "Until I make thine enemies thy footstool".
--John Prideaux, in a Sermon entitled, "The Draught of the Brooke", 1636.
Whole Psalm. -- This psalm is one of the fullest and most compendious prophecies of the person and offices of Christ in the whole Old Testament, and so full of fundamental truth, that I shall not shun to call it Symbolum Davidicum, the prophet David's creed. And indeed there are very few, if any, of the articles of that creed which we all generally profess, which are not either plainly expressed, or by most evident implication couched in this little model. First, the Doctrine of the Trinity is in the first words; "The Lord said unto my Lord." There is Jehovah the Father, and my Lord, the Son, and the consecrating of him to be David's Lord which was by the Holy Ghost, by whose fulness he was anointed unto the offices of king and priest; for so our Saviour himself expounds this word "said," by the scaling and sanctification of him to his office, John 10:34 John 10:35 John 10:36 . Then we have the Incarnation of Christ, in the words, "my Lord," together with his dignity and honour above David (as our Saviour himself expounds it, Matthew 22:42 Matthew 22:45 ). Mine, that is, my Son by descent and genealogy after the flesh, and yet my Lord too, in regard of his higher son ship. We have also the Sufferings of Christ, in that he was consecrated a priest ( Psalms 110:4 ) to offer up himself once for all, and so to drink of the brook in the way. We have his Completed Work and conquest over all his enemies and sufferings; his Resurrection, "he shalt lift up his head"; his Ascension and Intercession, "Sit thou on my right hand." We have here also a Holy Catholic Church gathered together by the sceptre of his kingdom, and holding in the parts thereof a blessed and beautiful Communion of Saints; "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.". We have the Last Judgment, for all his enemies must be put under his feet, (which is the Apostle's argument to prove the end of all things, 1 Corinthians 15:25 ); and there is the day of his wrath, wherein he shall accomplish that judgment over the heathen, and that victory over the kings of the earth (who take counsel and band themselves together against him), which he doth here in his word begin. We have the Remission of sins, comprised in his priesthood, for he was to offer sacrifices for the remission of sins, and "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," Ephesians 1:7 Hebrews 9:26 . We have the Resurrection of the body, because he must "subdue all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death," as the Apostle argues out of this psalm, 1 Corinthians 15:25 1 Corinthians 15:26 . And lastly, we have life everlasting, in the everlasting merit and virtue of his priesthood, "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek," and in his sitting at the right hand of God, whither he is gone as our forerunner, and to prepare a place for us, Hebrews 6:20 John 14:2 ; and therefore the apostle from his sitting there, and living ever, infers the perfection and certainty of our salvation, Romans 6:8 Romans 6:11 8:17 Ephesians 2:16 Colossians 3:1-4 1 Corinthians 15:49 ; Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:21 1 Thessalonians 4:14 Hebrews 7:25 1 John 3:2 . -- Edward Reynolds, 1599-1676.
Whole Psalm. -- Although the Jews of later times have gone about to wrest it to another meaning, yet this Psalm is so approved and undoubted a prophecy of Christ, that the Pharisees durst not deny it, when being questioned by our Saviour ( Matthew 22:42 Matthew 22:43 ) how it should be, seeing Christ is the son of David, that David not with standing should call him Lord, saying, "The Lord said unto my Lord," they could not answer him a word, whereas the answer had been very easy and ready if they could have denied this psalm to be meant of Christ. But they knew it could not be otherwise understood, and it was commonly taken amongst them to be a prophecy of their Messias, according to the very evidence of the text itself, which cannot be fitted to any other, but only to Christ our Saviour, the Son of God. For whereas some of them since then have construed all these things as spoken in the name of the people of Judah concerning David their king, the text itself refuseth that construction, when in those words, "Sit thou at my right hand," it mentions an honour done to him of whom it speaketh, greater than can be fitted to the angels, and therefore much less to be applied unto David. Again, that which is spoken in the fourth verse of the priesthood, cannot be understood of David, who was indeed a king, but never had anything spoken as touching the priesthood to appertain unto him, and of whom it cannot be conceived how it should be said, "Thou art a priest for ever," etc. Yea, there is nothing here spoken whereof we may see in David any more but some little shadow in comparison of that which hath come to pass in Jesus Christ. --Robert Abbot (1560-1617) in "The Exaltation of the Kingdom and Priesthood of Christ."
Whole Psalm. -- The sixty-eighth psalm hails the ascent of the Messiah, prefigured by the translation of the ark, and gives a rapid and obscure view of the glories and the blessings consequent upon that event. The twenty-fourth exhibits to us the Messiah ascending to his redemption throne borne up by the wings of angels and archangels, and hosannahed by the whole intelligent creation; it marks in the most glowing colours the triumphant entry of Messiah into the heavenly regions, and the tone of authority and power with which he commands that entrance -- it sends him attended by the angelic host to his Father's throne, there to claim that preeminence which was his by inheritance and by conquest. At this point the Psalm before us "takes up the wondrous tale"; it exhibits to us the awful solemnities of his reception, it represents the Father bestowing on his well beloved Son the kingdom which he had earned, exalting him to the throne, and putting all things under his feet; receiving him in his office of prophet, and promising universality and permanence to "the rod of his strength"; receiving him in the office of priesthood, his own peculiar priesthood, and confirming its efficacy and duration by an oath; thus perfecting the redemption scheme, and completing the conquest over sin and death, and him who had the power of death. Man united with God was raised to the throne of being: man united with God perfected the sacrifice which was demanded, and the angelic host is represented by the Psalmist as taking up the strain, and hymning the future triumphs of the King of Glory -- triumphs over his foes, whom he will visit in the day of his wrath, and triumphs with his willing people, whom he will assist with his Spirit, refine by his grace, and exalt into his glory. Such do I conceive to be the occasion, the object, and the tendency of this sacred song: to me it appears to be eminently an epinicion, or song of victory: it celebrates the triumph of the conqueror, it presents him with the rewards of victory, and it predicts future conquests as crowning his glory; while elsewhere we see the Captain of our salvation militant, here we sec him triumphant; while elsewhere we see his offices inchoate, here they are perfected by the approval of the Godhead, and the promise of eternity: here we have instruction consolidating empire, and the atonement completed by the everlasting priesthood. --J.H. Singer, in "The Irish Pulpit", 1839.
Verse 1. -- In this one verse we have a description of Christ's person, his wars and his victory; so that we may say of it, (and so indeed of the whole psalm, which is an epitome of the Gospel), as Tully did of Brutus in his laconical epistle, "Quam multa, guam paucis!" How much in a little. --John Trapp.
Verse 1. -- The LORD said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand. An oft quoted passage -- because it contains a memorable truth. We find it quoted by Messiah himself to lead Israel to own him as greater than David, Matthew 22:44 . It is quoted in Hebrews 1:13 , to prove him higher far than angels. It is brought forward by Peter, Acts 2:34 , to show him Lord as well as Christ. It is referred to in Hebrews 10:12 Hebrews 10:13 , as declaring that Jesus has satisfactorily finished what he undertook to accomplish on earth "the one sacrifice for ever", and is henceforth on that seat of divine honour "expecting till his enemies be made his footstool" in the day of Iris Second Coming. --Andrew A. Behar.
Verse 1. -- The Lord said. Albeit the understanding of Christ's person and office be necessary unto the church, yet none know the Son save the Father, and they to whom he will reveal him: for David knew Christ only by the Father's teaching: "The Lord said", said he. --David Dickson.
Verse 1. -- My Lord. From hence we learn that though Christ was man, yet he was more than a bare man, since he is Lord to his father David. For jure naturae, no son is lord to his father; domination doth never ascend. There must be something above nature in him to make him his father's sovereign, as our Savour himself argues from these words, Matthew 22:42 Matthew 22:45 . --Edward Reynolds.
Verse 1. -- My Lord. It was a higher honour to have Christ for his son, than to be a king; yet David does not say that Christ is his son, but rejoices that Christ is his Lord, and he Christ's servant. But this joy has also been procured for it: see Luke 1:43 ; John 20:28 Php 3:3,8. They who regard the Messiah only as the son of David, regard the lesser part of the conception of him. A dominion to which David himself is subject, shows the heavenly majesty of the King, and the heavenly character of his kingdom. --John Albert Bengel.
Verse 1. -- Until I make thine emimies thy footstool. Every word is full of weight. For though ordinarily subdivisions of holy Scripture and crumbling of the bread of life be rather a loosing than an expounding of it; yet in such parts of it as were of purpose intended for models and summaries of fundamental doctrines, (of which sort this psalm is one of the fullest and briefest in the whole Scriptures), as in little maps of large countries, there is no word whereupon some point of weighty consequence may not depend. Here then is to be considered the term of duration or measure off Christ's kingdom: "until." The author of subduing Christ's enemies under him: "I, the Lord." The mariner thereof; ponam and ponam scabellum put thy foes as a stool under thy feet. Victory is a relative word, and presupposes enemies, and they are expressed in the text... Enmity shows itself against Christ in all the offices of his mediation. There is enmity against him as a prophet. Enmity against his truth, -- in opinion by adulterating it with human mixtures and superinducement, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men; in affection, by wishing many divine truths were razed out of the Scriptures, as being manifestly contrary to those pleasures which they love rather than God; in conversation, by keeping down the truth in unrighteousness, and in those things which they know, as brute beasts, corrupting themselves. Enmity against his teaching, by quenching the motions, and resisting the evidence of his Spirit in the Word, refusing to hear his voice, and rejecting the counsel of God against themselves. There is enmity against him as a priest, by undervaluing his person, sufferings, righteousness, or merits. And as a king; enmity to his worship, by profaneness neglecting it, by idolatry misappropriating it, by superstition corrupting it. Enmity to his ways and service, by ungrounded prejudices, misjudging them as grievous, unprofitable, or unequal ways; and by wilful disobedience forsaking them to walk in the ways of our own heart. --Edward Reynolds.
Verse 1. -- Make thine enemies thy footstool! This expression, that the conquest of Christ's enemies shall be but as the removing of a stool into its place, notes unto us two things: first, the easiness of God's victory over the enemies of Christ. They are before him as nothing, less than nothing, the drop of a bucket, the dust of the balance, a very little thing...Secondly, as this putting of Christ's enemies like a stool under the feet notes easiness, so also it notes order or beauty too. When Christ's enemies shall be under his foot, then there shall be a right order in things; then it shall indeed appear that God is a God of order, and therefore the day wherein that shall be done, is called "the times of the restitution of all things," Acts 3:21 . The putting of Christ's enemies under his feet is an act of justice; and of all others, justice is the most orderly virtue, that which keepeth beauty upon the face of a people, as consisting itself in symmetry and proportion. This putting of Christ's enemies as a stool under his feet, also denotes unto us two things in reference to Christ: first, his rest, and secondly, his triumph. To stand, in the Scripture phrase, denotes ministry, and to sit, rest; and there is no posture so easy as to sit with a stool under one's feet. Till Christ's enemies then be all under his feet, he is not fully in his rest. Furthermore, this "footstool" under Christ's feet, in reference to his enemies, denotes unto us four things. First, the extreme shame and confusion which they shall everlastingly suffer, the utter abasing and bringing down of all that exalteth itself against Christ. Secondly, hereby is noted the burden which wicked men must bear: the footstool beareth the weight of the body, so must the enemies of Christ bear the weight of his heavy and everlasting wrath upon their souls. Thirdly, herein is noted the relation which the just recompense of God bears unto the sins of ungodly men. Thus will Christ deal with his enemies at the last day. Here they trample upon Christ in his word, in his ways, in his members; they make the saints bow down for them to go over, and make them as the pavements on the ground; they tread under foot the blood of the covenant, and the sanctuary of the Lord, and put Christ to shame; but there their own measure shall be returned into their bosoms, they shall be constrained to confess as Adonibezek, "As I have done, so God hath requited me." Lastly, herein we may note the great power and wisdom of Christ in turning the malice and mischief of his enemies unto his own use and advantage; and so ordering wicked men that though they intend nothing but extirpation and ruin to his kingdom, yet they shall be useful unto him, and, against their own wills, serviceable to those glorious ends, in the accomplishing whereof he shall be admired by all those that believe. As in a great house there is necessary use of vessels of dishonour, destined unto sordid and mean, but yet daily, services: so in the great house of God, wicked men are his utensils and household instruments, as footstools and staves, and vessels wherein there is no pleasure, though of them there may be good use. -- Condensed from Reynolds.
Verse 1. -- Thy foot stool. As this our king has a glorious throne, so has he also a wonderful footstool; and as his royal throne imparts to us comfort in the highest degree, so his footstool also imparts to us joy. How joyful shall his poor subjects be when they hear that their prince and king has slain their enemies and delivered them out of their hands! How did their poor subjects go forward to meet Saul and Jonathan when those kings had slain the Philistines! ... Moreover, because our King has his enemies under his feet, thus shall he also bring all our enemies under our feet, for his victory is ours, God be thanked, who has given us the victory through Christ our Lord. --Joshua Arnd, 1626- 1685.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. -- Here the Holy Ghost begins with the kingdom of Christ, which he describeth and magnifieth, --
- By his unction, and ordination, thereunto, by the word or decree of his Father: "The Lord said".
- By the greatness of his person in himself, while yet he is nearly allied in blood and nature unto us; "My Lord".
- By the glory, power, and heavenliness of his kingdom, for in the administration thereof he sitteth at the right hand of his Father: "Sit thou at my right hand".
- By the continuance and victories thereof: "Until I make thy foes thy footstool." --Edward Reynolds.
Verse 1. -- My Lord.
- Christ's condescending nearness to us does not destroy our reverence: he was David's son, and yet he calls him Lord; he is our brother, bridegroom, and so on, and yet our Lord.
- Christ's glory does not diminish his nearness to us, or familiarity with us. Sitting on the throne as Lord, he is yet "my Lord."
- It is under the double aspect as Lord, and yet ours, that Jehovah regards him and speaks with him, and ordains him to the priesthood. Ever in these two lights let us regard him.
Verse 1. -- Sit, etc.
- Our Lord's quiet amid passing events.
- The abundance of his present power.
- The working of all history towards the ultimate end, which will be --
- His easy victory: putting his foot on his foes as readily as we tread on a footstool.