Jehovah said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I put thine enemies as footstool of thy feet … Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (Psalm 110:1, 4 DBY).
Psalm 110 is quoted in the New Testament more than any other portion of the Old Testament. The Epistle to the Hebrews quotes Psalm 110 with much of the apostle’s argument in that epistle concerning Christ’s present session at God’s right hand being drawn from it. Hebrews also uses Psalm 110 to prove the supremacy of Christ’s priesthood. The Lord Jesus quotes from it applying it to Himself in contending with the religious leaders of Jerusalem. It is one of the great messianic prophecies of the Bible.
The following brief outline is helpful in getting a bird’s eye view of its main themes:
(1) Messiah’s Person v. 1a;
(2) Messiah’s Present Position v. 1b;
(3) Messiah’s Power vv. 2–3;
(4) Messiah’s Priesthood v. 4;
(5) Messiah Prevailing vv. 5–6;
(6) Messiah’s Preeminence v. 7.
We will follow this simple outline in our comments. (This outline was adapted and slightly altered from: What the Bible Teaches, J. Flanigan; John Ritchie Ltd, 476).
Psalm 110 gives Christ’s present session at God’s right hand (v. 1), a description of His rule in the millennial kingdom (v. 2–3), His Melchisedek priesthood (v. 4), His judgment of the rulers of the nations (v. 5–6) and His moral beauty as the lowly dependent Man whom God will exalt (v. 7).
The Lord said to my Lord (v. 1a).
The Lord Jesus questioned the religious leaders: “What do you think of Christ? Whose Son is He?” (Mt. 22:41–46) The Pharisees answered correctly that Messiah would be David’s son. Then Christ followed up with another question: “How then does David call Him Lord?” and quoted to them from the first verse of Psalm 110: “The Lord said to my Lord, saying, Sit on My right hand.” And then a third question is presented to them by the Savior: “If David calls Him Lord how is He his Son?” David’s offspring was also David’s Lord—a powerful testimony to Christ’s deity which silenced His critics. Indeed according to the flesh, Christ was David’s Son, but He was also a divine Person—God and Man in one blessed Person. This stumped the Pharisees because the Scriptures which clearly declared that Messiah was David’s Son also declared He would be David’s God. Following this encounter they were afraid to ask Him any more questions.
Another amazing thing is brought out in Psalm 110:1—a plurality of Persons in the Godhead is revealed: Jehovah (the Eternal) “said” to Adonai (the Supreme Master). Thus, long before the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was revealed, we get the truth that the Godhead is a plurality, with distinct Persons. Messiah would be a divine Person!
From the passage in Matthew 22:43, the Lord Jesus also reveals that David wrote Psalm 110 through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Samuel 23:1–2).
Messiah’s Present Position
The Lord said to my Lord “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool” (v. 1b)
As we noted in verse 1b, Jehovah is speaking to Adonai. With the light of the New Testament before us we could say that it is the Father Who is speaking to the Son. Now in verse 1b, we see the content of what God says to His Son and it is one of the most important verses in the Bible for correctly understanding God’s prophetic timetable and counsels. Messiah will sit at the right hand of God for an indefinite period of time “until” the time comes that God will put all Christ’s enemies as the “footstool of Thy feet” (DBY). Hebrews directly quotes or alludes to Psalm 110:1b at least four times.
This verse is sometimes misquoted by those who teach that Christ is presently making His enemies His “footstool.” They will often misquote it this way: “Until I have made Your enemies Your footstool,” as if it were an ongoing process during the present time.1 However all reliable translations of the Bible have: “until I make Your enemies your footstool” (see NASB; ESV; DBY; NET; HCSB; KJV; NKJV etc.). The putting down of His enemies will occur at a future time unknown to us—it will follow the Rapture of the Church. The process of the subjugation of Christ’s enemies is not yet happening. The apostle makes it very clear that during the present time Christ is “waiting” for that period to arrive and is not acting in regard to it (see Heb. 10:13).
The whole “church age” is passed over in silence2 in Psalm 110:1, however we know that over 2,000 years have elapsed with Christ sitting at the right hand of God and during that time He has been gathering His Church—the members of His body.
1. I’m referring here to the doctrine of Postmillennialism. I don’t say if they do this intentionally or if unconsciously. God knows the heart but it is incorrect and changes the meaning of the verse to suit their theology.
2. The Church as the body of Christ is a “mystery” which was not revealed until after the coming of the Holy Spirit.