The LORD says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
your young men will come to you
like dew from the morning’s womb.
The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek. ”
The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way,
and so he will lift his head high.
Psalm 110 begins with a declaration that has intrigued people for centuries. The psalmist, David, says, "The Lord says to my lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'" (Psalm 110:1)
The psalmist speaks of a conversation between two "Lords." Who are the two "Lords"? The first "Lord" is translated from the Hebrew name for God, spelled "YHWH" (often pronounced "Yahweh"). This is the personal name of the God of Israel, often called the Tetragrammaton. (Some trivia for you there!) The name signifies God's eternal nature, the one who is, who was, and who is to come.
The second "lord" is translated from the Hebrew word "Adoni," meaning lord, master, or ruler. It's a term of respect and can refer to humans or divine beings, depending on the context. Given this psalm's prophetic and messianic undertones, many interpret this "lord" as referring to the promised Messiah, who would be king.
Jesus himself interpreted this verse as pointing to the Messiah. In a conversation with the Pharisees, he asked them: "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?" "The son of David," they replied. Jesus then quotes this verse before posing another question. "If David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" Jesus was pointing out that the Messiah was not just David's descendant but also his Lord, pointing to his divine nature.
David makes another intriguing declaration in this psalm when he sings, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110:4). This has been interpreted as referring to the promised Messiah, who would also be a priest. The writer of Hebrews uses this psalm to elaborate on the high-priestly role of Jesus. But who is Melchizedek?
Melchizedek is a somewhat enigmatic figure in the Bible. He appears briefly in the Book of Genesis as the king of Salem (later identified with Jerusalem) and a "priest of God Most High" (Genesis 14:18-20). He blesses Abraham and receives a tithe from him. What's curious about Melchizedek is that there's no record of his lineage, birth, or death, making him a somewhat mysterious priest-king in the biblical narrative.
So what's the deal about being priest and king? In ancient Israel, the roles of king and priest were typically separate. The king came from the line of David (from the tribe of Judah), while the priests were from the line of Aaron (from the tribe of Levi). Yet, Melchizedek embodied both roles as a priest-king. The psalmist's declaration that the Messiah would be a priest in the order of Melchizedek suggests a unique, combined role that breaks with traditional expectations.
It is fascinating how David has woven together themes of kingship and priesthood. It's like finding a puzzle piece in the Old Testament that fits perfectly in the New Testament. For David, this might have been a song of victory or hope for a future righteous ruler. Yet, with the lens of the New Testament, we see a deeper layer that points directly to Jesus.
God bless you.