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 is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries (vv. 5–6).
The “day of His wrath” is predicted here as it is in Revelation 6:17, “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” The Lamb of Revelation is the Messiah of Psalm 110:5–6. The judgment upon the kings of this world is revealed throughout the Book of Revelation culminating in Christ being revealed as the “KING OF KINGS” (Rev. 19:11–21).
It is interesting to note the expression: “The Lord at Your right hand.” We saw in Psalm 16:8 that God was at Messiah’s right hand as moved through this world, a dependent Man upon the earth; the Father was with Him (Jn. 8:29). In Psalm 110:1 we saw Messiah exalted and sitting at the right hand of God but in Psalm 110:5 we find God is at Christ’s right hand as He smites the kings of the earth during the day of His wrath. In contrast with Christ, we see Judas in the preceding Psalm. There it is predicted that Satan (the “accuser”) would be at the “right hand” of Judas1 (Ps. 109:6–8; cf. Jn. 13:26–27)!
There is a difficulty understanding this verse 6 due to the translation. It can be translated in the singular: “He shall smite through the head over a great country.” For example, J. N. Darby understood this as not referring to the Beast or Antichrist and their allies, but to the Assyrian (the King of the North). Most translations render it in the plural: “the heads of many countries.”
Even though there are various interpretations of the prediction, the main intent is clear. Messiah will put down all authority and power at His coming—this action should be understood literally. During the “judgment of the living” He will deal with the mighty and with all who oppose God (Isa. 2:11–17). Whoever we perceive this enemy to be, Messiah will prevail in the day of His wrath.
He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; therefore He shall lift up the head (v. 7). There was only one Man who ever fully delighted or pleased the heart of God, and that was His Son in whom He found His delight (Mt. 3:17). The final verse of Psalm 110 speaks of the One who walked during the course of His life in humble obedience. He took refreshment (drinking from “the brook by the wayside”) while He passed through this world fulfilling the will of the Father. And because He did so, God will “lift up” His head—He will be exalted in the earth. By faith we now “see Jesus” exalted to the right hand of God and “crowned with glory and honor.” In a soon coming day He will be exalted in the earth and every knee will bow before Him.
Some understand this verse in connection with the pursuit of Messiah’s enemies in the context of the prophecy of verses 5–6 during the Day of the Lord. Messiah will only stop for brief refreshment in this final task of subduing His enemies, but in the end will He be exalted in preeminence as a Man over the earth. But either way in which we understand it, the conclusion is certain – He will be preeminent in all things. If you’ve attached yourself to Christ, you are already on the winning side.
1. There are three passages in the Old Testament Scriptures which predict the betrayal of Christ by Judas: Psalm 41:9; Psalm 109:6–8; Zechariah 11:12.