This psalm is the most frequently quoted passage of the Old Testament in the New Testament. The verses quoted have various applications which we will consider as we work through the psalm.
“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lordshall 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. The Lordhath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: Therefore shall he lift up the head” (Ps. 110:1–7).
Summary of the Text
Jehovah said to Adonai, sit at my right hand (v. 1). He is told to remain seated there until His enemies are reduced to being His footstool (v. 1). While He is seated there, Jehovah will send out the rod of Adonai’s strength from Zion, with the result that He will rule in the midst of His enemies (v. 2). The seat of His authority is in the heavenly places, while the extension of it is from Zion—His people will be willing in the day of His power (v. 3). They will be arrayed in the beauty of holiness, they will be an army of priests (v. 3). As Spurgeon put it, “in brightness, then, as well as in multitude, did they resemble the glittering drops of the morning dew” (v. 3). Jehovah has taken an oath, and He will not turn back from it—Adonai is a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek (v. 4). Adonai, there at the right hand of Jehovah, shall strike down kings in the day of His wrath (v. 5). He will judge among the goyim, and many of them will be killed (v. 6). He will slake his thirst from the brook after the battle, and will lift up His head (v. 7).
A Davidson on the Throne
Why should it be thought remarkable for the throne of David to be established in the heavenly places? A sonof David is there. Why should His throne not be there?
In this famous exchange with His adversaries, the Lord asked a question that pointed out an incongruity in their doctrine of the coming Messiah. The Christ, whose son would he be?
“And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lordsaid unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Luke 20:42–43; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36)
So he would be David’s son, they replied. That is correct, Jesus said, but have you never noticed that David addresses the one descended from him as his ultimate superior? David calls a Davidson Lord. How can that be? The only way to answer this question satisfactorily is through the doctrine of the Incarnation.
The Great Melchizedek
This is a psalm about a great king, one seated at the right hand of Almighty Jehovah. But this king is also described as a priest, and so it is fitting that another king, Melchizedek, would be mentioned as a type of the coming Messiah. But this Melchizedek is a type in more than one way. He is also a king—and whata king.
“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; 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” (Heb. 7:1–2).
He was a priest of the most high God, but he was also a king in different sense. He was the king of Salem (probably Jerusalem), which means king of peace. His name means king of righteousness. This is why his antitype belongs at the right hand of Jehovah.
“As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 5:6; 7:17, 21).
Enemies a Footstool
The first chapter of Hebrews is dedicated to showing that the Christ is vastly superior to the angels.
“But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Hebrews 1:13).
And in the book of Acts, we are told that this has reference to someone other than David himself. The reference must be to the Christ.
“For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lordsaid unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.” (Acts 2:34–35).
This should be very straightforward. When was Christ seated at the right hand of His Father? When did that happen? We are told that it happened at the Ascension.
“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20).
“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 8:1, ESV).
So He has been seated there for the last two thousand years. How long will He remain seated there? He will remain seated at the right hand of power, ruling from the midst of our Zion, until all His enemies are under His seat. The only enemy that will be destroyed by His Second Coming will be the last enemy, death. Every other enemy will be subdued prior to that, through the ministry of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
“For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25–26).