Bible Studies on the Messianic Psalms
Psalm 110 Part 1: Jesus the Messiah - Our Lord and King.
by I Gordon
We've been looking at the Messianic Psalms and last time we were in
Psalm 102. There we saw, or rather, heard, a remarkable thing - Like a
fly on the wall we were allowed to eavesdrop into a conversation
between e God the Father and His Son. We heard the Father encouraging
the Son that even when everything falls apart; when even heaven and
Earth pass away, He would remain the same. We are invited to listen to
another conversation within the trinity today. The next Psalm is very
easy to navigate to. You simply start at the previous Psalm we studied
(and just mentioned) and add on one chapter for each member of the
trinity. You then add on a chapter for each of the witnesses mentioned
in Revelation chapter 11. Following that, add on what is stated as the
number of man in the Bible. And then, clearly, you've gone too far so
you'll need to take off the chapter number where the following verse is
found: 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
Son...' Ok... where are you? Lost? Down a dark alley? If you are no
longer in the book of Psalms you've gone too far and if you are no
longer in the Old Testament, well, there is little help that can be
given you I'm afraid!
Psalm 110 (for those lost!)
Psalm 110 is a short Psalm written by King David. It consists of only 7
verses yet it is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament where verse
1 alone is quoted 7 times and the whole Psalm is quoted or alluded to
27 times. It is a prophetic Psalm that takes in the ascension of Christ
and, most importantly, His return at the end of the age. We will focus
on the prophetic significance but there are certainly some personal
applications that I'll touch on as well as we go. It is a Psalm that
moves from the rejected Messiah of previous Psalms, onto the risen
Messiah, and concludes with the ruling Messiah. In fact it pictures
Jesus first as Lord, then as King, then as Priest and finally as Judge.
And He is all of that and more! This study will focus on the first
three verses but let's read the whole Psalm!
Psalms 110:1-7... The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I
make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (2) The LORD will extend
your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your
enemies. (3) Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed
in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of
your youth. (4) The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You
are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (5) The Lord is at
your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. (6) He
will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of
the whole earth. (7) He will drink from a brook beside the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
So it begins with the words 'The LORD says to my Lord'. There are a
couple interesting things in this phrase alone but you'll miss them if
you just read this phrase with a 21st century Gentile brain. Straight
away we see that there are two 'Lords' mentioned but to truly
understand what is remarkable about this you first have to play 'spot
the difference' with the text. What is the difference here? Firstly we
have a capital 'LORD' and a mixed case 'Lord'. This is what most Bibles
do to represent two different names of God. The first, LORD, is used
for the name 'YHWH' (normally pronounced Yahweh) which speaks of the
self-existent, self sufficient One - The great I AM! This was the name
given by God when Moses asked who it is that he should say had sent
him. The second Lord, just with the capital 'L', is the Hebrew word
'Adonai'. This word means 'Lord, ruler, master' and speaks of the
supreme authority and power of God. Both names where often used of God
in the same verse.
So for the Jewish mind, living before the time of Jesus, the question
would be who is this second Lord that King David speaks about? Our text
gives us several clues. We could almost play a 'Who am I?' game...
'Who am I? I am seated at the right hand of Yahweh. I am called by
God's name, 'Adonai'. I am a King who will rule, but also a Priest
forever. I will judge the nations and set up my throne from Zion. I am
the Lord, the Priest, the Judge and soon coming King of Kings. Who am
Now it probably, hopefully, isn't very difficult for us to solve this
little 'Who am I?' game; but put yourself into the shoes of an average
Israelite living at the time when David wrote around 1000 BC. All your
life you have repeated the 'Shema' (the basic foundational statement of
Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is
You would have known that there is one God, one Lord, who was the Lord
of Abraham, the Lord of Moses and the Lord of David. His name is Yahweh
and is often addressed as Adonai. But as you got to Psalm 110:1 you
read of Yahweh speaking to Adonai! Who is this 'other' Lord, this King
and Priest, that is at the right hand of God? And even more confusing,
why does King David say that it is this 'other' Lord, not Yahweh that
is his Lord? Who is this second Lord?
Let's see how Jesus used this verse
Matthew 22:41-46 while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus
asked them, (42) 'What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is
he? "The son of David," they replied. (43) He said to them, "How is
it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For
he says, (44) 'The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until
I put your enemies under your feet." '(45) If then David calls him
'Lord,' how can he be his son?" (46) No one could say a word in
reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more
The context of Mathew 22 sees everything coming to a head. It is the
last week leading up to Passover and the cross. Jesus has entered into
Jerusalem, riding on a donkey (fulfilling Zechariah 9:9) where the
crowds have been crying out 'Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the
name of the Lord'. The Sadducees and the Pharisees hated this of
course. So in chapter 22 both of these groups try to trap Jesus. Having
dealt easily with their feeble attempts to trap Him, Jesus then asks
them a question... a question designed to show them that their
understanding of the Messiah was woefully inadequate.
Jesus asked but two questions in this passage, and that was enough to
completely silence these critics. The first question was the setup and
the second was the mouth closer... the knockout blow... the checkmate.
Here is the first question which is the setup: 'what do you think about
the Christ (Messiah), whose son is he?' Now even a young Jewish boy or
girl could have answered this question. The Messiah had to be, and was
known, as the son of David. Thus, the gospel of Mathew, which was
written to the Jews, starts with this line:
Matthew 1:1 'A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of
So the Pharisees answer this correctly - 'the Son of David' they
replied. They are taking the bait! Step into my parlor said the spider
to the fly! Their answer then setup the check mate move:
"How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him
'Lord'? For he says, (44) 'The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my
right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." '(45) If then
David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?
What was the response from these experts in God's law? '
No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared
to ask him any more questions.'
There are two important points here that Jesus was making:
The first involves time:
If the promised Messiah was just a far distant descendant of David,
how could David have called Him 'My Lord' back when David was
alive? The answer of course is that the Messiah had to have existed
even before being born as a descendant of David's. One of the last
things that Jesus says about Himself in Revelation 22:16 is this 'I am the root and the offspring of David'. He is both. As
God, He is David's root, his source. As man, He was David's
descendant or offspring, His son. This thought was also shown
through the prophetic writings:
Micah 5:2 NKJV "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are
little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come
forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth
are from of old, From everlasting."
The second point involves the nature of the Messiah
. If the promised Messiah was just a human, a normal son born into
David's line, why would David call Him 'Lord' using a title for
God? Clearly, the Messiah was going to be something far greater!
These two points of the pre-existence of the Messiah and His divine
nature were brought home in an earlier statement that Jesus had made to
those that would listen -
Jesus said 'Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was born, I
AM!' (John 8:58)
If the Pharisees had soft hearts and ears to hear, they could have seen
the wisdom and truth in what Jesus said. The same goes for anyone
today. Instead they shut their mouths and simply went away to plot how
they could murder Him. Lovely... Not! Alright... let's return and look
at what the Father had to say to His Son.
It is time to sit... and wait
Psalms 110:1 The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I
make your enemies a footstool for your feet."
So what did the Father say to His Son? 'Sit at my right hand until I
make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'
Nearly all of the writers of the New Testament picked up on this so
let's look at their emphasis on it:
Mark records the actual event:
Mark 16:19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He
was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of
Peter on the day of Pentecost used it to prove the resurrection and
Acts 2:32-35 NASB "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we
are all witnesses... (34) "For it was not David who ascended into
heaven, but he himself says: 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT
MY RIGHT HAND, (35) UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR
The author of Hebrews uses it to prove His finished work on the
Hebrews 10:11-14 NASB 'Every priest stands daily ministering
and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can
never take away sins; (12) but He, having offered one sacrifice
for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, (13)
waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A
FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. (14) For by one offering He has
perfected for all time those who are sanctified''
So what does it mean that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God? It
means His work on the cross is complete, and He can now sit. For a time
at least! But we shouldn't think that this means lounging around in a
la-z-boy recliner or rocking chair, snoozing in the warm afternoons. It
does have the thought of resting from His works of salvation, but there
is also the important thought of where He now sits - on the throne next
to the Father in full authority! Look at how Paul expands on this
Ephesians 1:18-23 NIV I pray also that the eyes of your heart may
be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has
called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
(19) and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That
power is like the working of his mighty strength, (20) which he
exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him
at his right hand in the heavenly realms, (21) far above all rule
and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be
given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
(22) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to
be head over everything for the church, (23) which is his body, the
fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
The personal aspect... What does this mean for us?
'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a foot stool for
There are three quick points here:
We are to know that Jesus is in this position of authority-- as
Paul brings out in Ephesians. But as I read this I kept thinking
how this is something that God also asks of us. We are asked to
sit. Watchman Nee wrote a book called 'Sit, walk, stand' that I
read as a young Christian. Its premise is that first and foremost,
the Christian is asked to come and sit. We are to rest in the
finished work of Christ and also in His position now at the right
hand of the Father.
Notice also from our text that even Jesus, who has all authority in
Heaven and on Earth, has to wait until His Father finally puts all
His enemies under His feet. In other words, the enemies and
problems, even for Jesus, don't just disappear straight away. Jesus
is instructed to sit until an appointed time when that will happen.
In other words, our sense of peace is not meant to be dependent on
all problems, enemies and worries being removed. I know we'd like
that but peace isn't just the absence of storms! We are asked to
rest even in the midst of the waves. Our peace comes from knowing
that we know the One that is above all and controls all and on that
basis He bids us to sit and rest with Him. It is a life-long lesson
we have to learn.
Finally, note that there is an 'Until' in our text. If you are
going through a time of testing, feel free to underline that word!
The timing of this 'until' is in the Father's hands but he always
has an 'until'. Thank God for it because it means that our enemies,
our concerns, our health issues, our rebellious children, our
pressures etc do not go on forever. He bids us to 'be still and
know that He is God', UNTIL He takes care of it.
Coming soon to a world near you - Jesus' rule!
Psalms 110:2 NASB 'The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from
Zion' saying, "Rule in the midst of Your enemies."
The next verse says that the LORD (Yahweh) will stretch forth your (the
Messiah's) sceptre from Zion
, saying 'Rule in the midst of your enemies.' So the first thing the
Father said to the Son was to sit at His right hand. This began at the
time Jesus went back to the right hand of the Father and lasts until
the time of the end comes where Jesus will return as indicated in verse
2. Where does the church age fit into this Psalm? It is in the space
after verse 1 and before the start of verse 2. And I believe we are
very close to the time of verse 2! Jesus ascended to the right hand of
the Father nearly 2000 years ago. It has been a long wait for many
saints of God who have longed for His return, but I believe we are
rapidly approaching that day. I believe we are close to the time when
the Father will speak again to the Son saying "Rule!'
So you have the 'sitting' and you have the 'ruling' when He returns.
These are the commands of the Father to the Son. As a side note, can
you remember what Jesus said to the High Priest at His trial when asked
whether He was the Messiah? Listen for it encapsulates both of these
Matthew 26:62-65 the high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You
not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?"
(63) But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I
adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the
Christ, the Son of God." (64) Jesus said to him, "You have said it
yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see
THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING
ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN
." (65) Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has
blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you
have now heard the blasphemy!'
So Jesus had His enemies who hated Him then and boy does He have them
today! He is a swear word to many. It is a hatred of God and a love of
self that deludes the Western world today. But nevertheless, He is soon
coming to rule. Like the game of hide-and-seek that you played when you
were little, He is counting to 30 (or a God-given number) and then
coming, ready or not!
His glorious people and the free will offering
Psalms 110:3 NASB Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your
power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You
as the dew.
Verse 3 speaks of that coming but instead of focusing on the Lord
Himself (which it will in verse 4-7), it focuses on God's people on
that day. There are a few points here:
'Your people will volunteer freely in the day of your power':
How true is that! When Christ returns in glory, all God's people
will be ready and willing. When He begins His reign as the King of
kings over planet Earth, all God's people will be putting their
hands up saying 'pick me, pick me... use me, use me'. His people
will volunteer freely in the day of His power. We'll come back to
'In holy array':
When you look at the 2nd coming of Christ as shown in
Revelation chapter 19, you find something interesting: Christians
will be following Him out of Heaven! Revelation 19 first speaks of
the Wedding of the Lamb where the bride is dressed in white, bright
and clean. Then, when it describes the return of Jesus, it says '
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses
and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.' (Revelation 19:14
This ties in with the prophecy given even before the flood in
Noah's day: '
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See,
the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy
ones (15) to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of
all the ungodly acts they have done in their ungodly way, and
of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against
him." (Jude 1:14-15 NIV)
'From the womb of the dawn, Your youth is to You as the dew.'
The last part is difficult to understand but describes what God's
people will be like on that day. The Believers Bible Commentary
The last part of verse 3 has been the torture of translators
and commentators. Scroggie paraphrases as follows: ". . . as
dew is born of its mother the morning, so Thy army shall come
to Thee, numerous, fresh, bright and powerful."
The Bible Knowledge Commentary adds -
'The youthful warriors are compared to the dew of the morning. This
suggests several ideas, including their freshness, their sudden
appearance, their glittering numbers, and even the time of
their appearance: in the early morning ( the womb of the dawn). Therefore Messiah's
servants will have made freewill offerings to Him, will be
adorned in holiness, and will appear suddenly with youthful
Now, you may not currently describe yourself as someone with 'youthful
vigour'. Such a thought may be a far distant memory! You may not feel
or see yourself as 'holy' either. In fact the thought of following
Christ out of heaven on the day as He fights and judges the nations may
seem incredibly overwhelming! All I can say is on that day; you will be
free from fear. You will have a new body like His glorious body, and in
perfect holiness and righteousness you will, as the text says here,
volunteer freely in the day of His power.
Conclusion: The current personal challenge
This is where the personal challenge for today comes in and it is what
I want to close with. When the text speaks of His people 'volunteering
freely in the day of Your power' it is literally 'Thy people (are) free
will offerings' - As I said, everyone will be willing to offer
themselves up for His service and work in the day of His power. All
God's people will be putting their hand up and saying 'pick me, pick
me' on that day. But that's not the challenge is it? We will be perfect
then and Christ will openly be seen as the King of kings. It won't be a
challenge to follow and put your hand up on that day.
No, the challenge is to follow closely and put your hand up in this
age. That is the challenge!
'Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present
your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which
is your spiritual service of worship.' (Romans 12:1)
Putting it another way, was it a challenge for the people in King
David's day to want to follow and serve David when he reigned in
majesty from Jerusalem and there was peace in the kingdom? Or was the
challenge to follow David when was he was on the run, hiding in caves,
being a king in exile? Obviously the latter! The challenge was in
following the king when the masses had turned against him and he was
1 Sam 22:2
'And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt,
and everyone who was discontented, gathered to him (David); and he
became captain over them.'
This motley crew of people in distress, in debt or discontented
followed David in the day of his exile... They followed him in the day
when he was hunted and despised. Yet when David came back into his
kingdom and reigned, these same men and women were given the highest
positions in the land. It is all a picture for us who follow the true
King today... though He be despised and is currently away from His
Yes, 'thy people will volunteer freely in the day of your power.'
But will we offer ourselves up for His service today?
That's the challenge.