Psalm 110 - The LORD said to my Lord

INTRODUCTION: This psalm contains some clear references to the coming Messiah when viewed in the light of passages in the New Testament. The author was guided by the Holy Spirit for all of the verses in this psalm, so there is a complete coherence that may not be immediately seen. We can only surmise how the early readers related to the psalm for their praise and worship, without the further revelation of the New Testament. This study will consider what some of the Hebrew Scriptures may have contributed to the understanding before and after the psalm was written by king David. Some New Testament references will give additional considerations for the value of this psalm to those who worship the risen Christ. There is additional study material about the unique order of the priesthood of Melchizedek in the MPN Bible study "Abraham and Melchizedek."

NOTE: Bible passages are taken from the American King James Version.


A - The Lord said to my Lord

“1 ¶ The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."

COMMENTS: The author of the psalm, David, does not provide any explanation of when or how he heard what he has recorded here, but he simply makes the opening statement for the psalm. The "LORD" (in all capital letters) is Yahweh in the Hebrew, and is a clear reference to the God of all creation, who is speaking to one who is David's Lord. Therefore many centuries later Jesus posed this question, “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool. David therefore himself calls him Lord; and from where is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.” (Mark 12:35-37). Also notice that in the passage from Mark, Jesus said that David was speaking by the Holy Spirit, which clearly indicates those words were inspired by God. The question the Lord Jesus put forth is the enigma of how a descendent of the deceased king David, could also be his Lord, and apparently the scribes had no answer. At the time Jesus asked his question, the Old Testament scripture was the only source available for the answer, coupled with the fact that Jesus was at that time openly fulfilling prophetic scripture about the Messiah. Since the God-man Christ Jesus is the eternal God, his pre-existence is combined with his unique virgin birth that took place long after David's death, and he is indeed Lord of all!

Peter presents an exposition of Psalm 16:8-11 along with Psalm 110:1 for our better understanding. Acts 2:25-36 “For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance. Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he has shed forth this, which you now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, Until I make your foes your footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made the same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

In the above passage, Peter called David a prophet, and in another passage he gave further explanation of how prophecy was not necessarily understood by, or even for an immediate benefit to, those who wrote the scriptures. Peter also makes this statement about the prophets, that "the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify ..." giving evidence of the pre-existence of Christ. 1 Peter 1:8-12 “Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to us they did minister the things, which are now reported to you by them that have preached the gospel to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” Those who lived prior to the first appearing of Christ, and we who live waiting for his second appearing, all share in that which peter describes as: "yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

In this next conversation from scripture, Jesus states that he will indeed sit on the right hand of the "power of God." Luke 22:67-71 “67 Are you the Christ? tell us. And he said to them, If I tell you, you will not believe: 68 And if I also ask you, you will not answer me, nor let me go. 69 Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. 70 Then said they all, Are you then the Son of God? And he said to them, You say that I am. 71 And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.”


B - The rod of strength out of Zion

"2 The LORD shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion: rule you in the middle of your enemies."

COMMENTS: Psalm 110 Verse one states that Yahweh will have the Lord seated at his right hand until the enemies are made like unto a footstool, which can be interpreted to mean they will be at his feet in subjection. Verse two says the rod of his strength will go forth out of Zion for rule in the midst of the enemies, and those enemies may be set for either conversion or destruction. Another psalm provides this perspective about the king established by the LORD and his rod of strength coming out of Zion, which is Jerusalem. Psalms 2:6-12 “6 Yet have I set my king on my holy hill of Zion. 7 ¶ I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 10 ¶ Be wise now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

It was centuries after Psalm 2 was written that another prophet wrote additional words mentioning a rod from the LORD. Isaiah 11:1-4 “1 ¶ And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

The apostle Peter then provides another exposition of scripture as he is guided by the Holy Spirit, and affirms that Christ Jesus will return at the appointed time. Acts 3:18-26 "18 But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled. 19 Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you of your brothers, like to me; him shall you hear in all things whatever he shall say to you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 24 Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25 You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, And in your seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 To you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

We still await the certain return of our Lord and Savior as described by the apostle John. Revelation 19:15-16 “15 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”


C - In the day of the Lord's power

"3 Your people shall be willing in the day of your power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: you have the dew of your youth."

COMMENTS: This seems to imply that the people of God have not been willing to follow their God. This next passage gives us the LORD's characterization of his chosen people Israel from the time he called them out of Egypt to the time of Samuel. 1 Samuel 8:4-9 “4 ¶ Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel to Ramah, 5 And said to him, Behold, you are old, and your sons walk not in your ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD said to Samuel, Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, with which they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also to you. 9 Now therefore listen to their voice: however, yet protest solemnly to them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”

The LORD directed Samuel to anoint David to be king after king Saul had rejected the LORD. But David did not become king until both Samuel and king Saul had died, and the people came to David to make him king over all Israel. David had both success and failure during his life, but the LORD made an everlasting covenant with him. David used some poetic language very similar to that in verse three of Psalm 110. 2 Samuel 23:1-7 “1 ¶ Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 2 The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and his word was in my tongue. 3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me, He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4 And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. 5 Although my house be not so with God; yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow. 6 But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: 7 But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.”

Other psalms encourage us to ponder the beauty of holiness. Psalms 29:1-2 “1 ¶ Give to the LORD, O you mighty, give to the LORD glory and strength. 2 Give to the LORD the glory due to his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Psalms 96:9-13 “9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. 10 ¶ Say among the heathen that the LORD reigns: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. 11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. 12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice 13 Before the LORD: for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.”

Some centuries after the reign of king David, in the southern kingdom of Judah under king Jehoshaphat, we have this record of the reward for that king's desire to honor the LORD. 2 Chronicles 20:20-24 “20 ¶ And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall you be established; believe his prophets, so shall you prosper. 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endures for ever. 22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. 23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. 24 And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked to the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.”

During the time of a later prophet Israel was again unwilling to follow the LORD, and the poetic expression of the morning and the dew was not at all a good picture. Hosea 6:4 “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goes away.” But by the time Jeremiah wrote his lamentation as even the southern kingdom suffered defeat and exile, it contained this comforting reminder. Lamentations 3:21-25 “21 ¶ This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. 22 It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness. 24 The LORD is my portion, said my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25 The LORD is good to them that wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.”


D - A priest after the order of Melchizedek

"4 The LORD has sworn, and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."

COMMENTS: One of the most fascinating things about Melchizedek is that he is priest of the most high God who is possessor of heaven and earth, as well as being the king of Peace. But, only that perfect priest who can present the fully acceptable sacrifice for our sin, can also lead us into perfect peace with our LORD. Melchizedek interacted with Abram before the LORD changed his name to Abraham, and this took place more than a thousand years before the time of David. He appeared on the scene seemingly out of nowhere, with a special blessing for Abram, and then receives a tithe offering from Abram. Genesis 14:18-20 “18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”

Psalm 110 has moved from the point of introducing the one who sits at the right hand of Yahweh (from verse one); to now designate him as a priest forever in the order of one who has no ancestry, which is further clarified in Hebrews. Hebrews 7:1-3 “1 ¶ For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like to the Son of God; stays a priest continually.” This office can only be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 7:14-17 “14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there rises another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifies, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”


E - In the day of wrath

"5 ¶ The Lord at your 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.”

COMMENTS: Now David seems to be speaking to Yahweh to acknowledge what the Spirit has revealed to be the events the Lord at Yahweh's right hand shall bring about in the day of his wrath. Again, there are later scriptures that seem to speak of this coming period.

Isaiah 13:9-13 “9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. 10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.” Here is a portion from another prophet who also wrote long after David's time. Zephaniah 1:14-18 “14 ¶ The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hastens greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. 15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. 17 And I will bring distress on men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.”

In another psalm from David we get more understanding that the phrase "head lifted up" denotes one being raised up to a position of prominence. Psalms 3:3 “But you, O LORD, are a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head.” Truly the Lord Jesus is the only one who deserves to have honor above all others. Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.” And in Revelation 5:12 “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”


--- Reflections in prayer ---

How marvelous it is for me to consider that king David was moved by the Spirit of God to write things that would be made more clear as Christ Jesus walked among men centuries later. David believed the promises of the LORD, and was given some very unique revelation about the Father and the Son that strengthen my own faith. I praise you LORD that through this psalm, I am also further convinced that you will use Jerusalem in the future because you have set your name there. What a blessing it is to me to ponder that Christ Jesus is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, realizing that there is unlimited representation to the LORD on high for me along with all saints of history. I thank you LORD Jesus that you are my personal and compassionate priest who has offered the sacrifice for me that has been fully accepted. I want to remind myself of the incomparable comfort that I have from knowing that you are at the right hand of the Father to be ever interceding until you return for final judgment and for the time of refreshing. I offer you my worship because of the beauty of holiness that can renew my spirit every time I go to your living Word. Amen.

Published 30 September 2011