Psalm 110 The Most Important Psalm?
Do you have a favourite Psalm? Maybe Psalm 19, or 23, or 119, or 139? This Psalm is possibly the most important of them all. Certainly it is the one quoted or referred to most often in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews, all refer to it, directly or indirectly, in their writings.
It is one of the ‘Messianic’ Psalms, because it clearly looks forward to the coming and reign of the Messiah, or Christ – God’s anointed one, specially chosen by God to be Servant, Saviour and King. As he writes this Psalm, King David of Israel is enabled by the Holy Spirit to see a future King-Priest, greater and more powerful than he ever was. The Psalm has two themes: the victorious king in v1-3, and the eternal priest in v4-7.
In Matt. 22, Jesus questions the Pharisees about the Messiah: ‘Whose son is he?’ ‘He’s the son of David,’ they reply, which wasn’t incorrect, but their understanding was inadequate. Jesus quotes Ps. 110:1, and explains that the Messiah was not merely a human descendent of King David, but also his Lord. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter links Psalm 110 with the resurrection of Jesus and his exaltation to the right hand of God (see Acts 2:32-36). Paul extends this in 1 Cor. 15:24 & 25, looking ahead to the day when death itself is defeated and put under the feet of Christ. Our Jesus is the victorious Risen King, whose kingdom will one day be revealed in all its radiant splendour and glory!
This Psalm contains one of the few mentions of Melchizedek. Abraham meets him in Gen. 14, where he is introduced as ‘priest of God Most High’. He pronounces a blessing on Abraham, who gives him ‘a tenth of everything’. The writer to Hebrews explains, based on v4 of this Psalm, that Jesus ‘was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.’ (Hebs. 5:10), and that his priesthood is eternal (Hebs. 6:20). He goes into more detail in ch. 7, making it clear that Jesus is a different kind of priest from those descended from Aaron. His priesthood goes back to Melchizedek, who was a priest long before Aaron was around. Jesus is therefore is the guarantor of a better covenant, which introduces a better hope, by which we can draw near to God (Hebs. 7:19, 22).
Praise God that we have such a wonderful King and Priest, seated for us at the right hand of the Lord of the universe, who rules over his enemies, and who will one day bring his justice to bear. Thank God for ‘Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us’ Rom. 8:34)!