In previous article (Understanding the Kingdom of God), we read that the Kingdom of God appeared on earth when Jesus came. We also learned that only those that had been born again (born from above) had the right to enter the kingdom of God, and that life in the Kingdom requires obedience.
In this article, we will look at Psalm 110:1-4. Psalm 110 is a prophecy given by King David. The Jews at the time of Christ recognized that David wrote this psalm about their coming Messiah but did not understand its meaning. God kept the meaning hidden, leaving it a mystery until Jesus came.
Jesus and later the Apostles freely quoted this psalm when teaching about the kingdom. Because it is about Jesus’ role as both priest and king, the New Testament quotes and refers to Psalm 110:1-4 more than any other Old Testament passage. Therefore understanding this psalm will help us better understand the kingdom.
The LORD Declares that Messiah will Rule
Psalm 110 Verse One opens with the LORD (YHWH) telling Messiah (Christ) to sit at His right hand until the Lord has made Christ’s enemies His footstool.
When a person is granted the right to sit on the right hand (or left) of a monarch, he is granted power and authority throughout that monarch’s kingdom. Governing a kingdom is very difficult. When a king found someone full of wisdom whom he trusted, he often granted that person the right to govern. The king would declare him second in command, and award that person full power and authority over everything under the king. In the Bible, we see Pharaoh giving this kind of authority to Joseph. We also read in the Book of Daniel that King Nebuchadnezzar, and later King Darius gave Daniel the authority to rule over everything and everyone in their kingdom. In Psalm 110:1 God declares that the Messiah has the power and authority to rule over everything in His kingdom as well.
Peter declared Psalm 110 fulfilled and Jesus ruling as Christ and Lord
The Feast of Pentecost took place only ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven. At Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit had been poured out on those in the upper room, Peter preached to the multitude declaring the fulfillment of David’s prophecy. He told the crowd that once Jesus ascended into heaven God sat Him on His right hand, and appointed Him both Lord (master) and Christ. Jesus, as Christ, was ruling God’s kingdom on earth.
“Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:33-36
Psalm 110 Verse Two tells us that Jesus would reign in the midst of His enemies. It is easy to envision God’s kingdom full of only His subjects, and all His enemies vanquished. However, David’s prophecy and the New Testament writers tell us the opposite. Jesus would rule over God’s heavenly kingdom here on earth with His enemies actively opposing Him.
While on earth, Jesus repeatedly declared that the Kingdom of God was at hand. He went throughout Judea and Galilee declaring the good news of the Kingdom, preaching the arrival of the Kingdom of God. In case anyone doubted His announcement, He confirmed it with signs and wonders that only God could do.
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed,nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." Luke 17:20-21 Jesus’ answer was simple. Do not go looking for the Kingdom; it had already come and was in their midst.
Jesus represented ALL of God’s authority. That authority, kingdom authority, came with Him. He used God’s authority and power amongst them. Ironically, they did not even recognize either! They did not comprehend that the kingdom of God, which they had been waiting for, had finally arrived. Nor that their King had come.
Who were Christ's enemies?
Jesus identified who were His enemies in His parables; they were those who rejected Christ’s reign. The Scribes, Pharisees and the rulers of the Jews were His chief enemies. They hated Jesus and did not receive Him as Messiah or King. After Jesus rose, ascended, and sat at the right hand of God, He reigned from on high; His enemies, who did not accept His reign, then persecuted the Apostles and those Jews who believed in and declared Jesus as their King.
Psalm 110:3:Jesus was ruling over volunteers! Only those who had made Him Lord, Master, and King over their lives were His subjects. Only they were a part of His kingdom. His kingdom was set up and established whilst His enemies were still around. Unbelievers and the disobedient were not part of the kingdom. He did not rule them.
“In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth”
To understand this statement we first need to realize that it is a poetic phrase and should be treated like one. (Remember psalms are poems or songs.) The phrase ‘womb of the morning’ simply means the birth of a new day, or ‘dawn.’ David used the term ‘beauty of holiness’ in the same way he used it in Psalms 96:9-10; to refer to the place where God is enthroned; His heavenly throne room.
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.”Psalms 96:9-10
*It should be noted that from earliest times, dew was considered by the Jews to be a blessing, which comes from God. It was upon the morning and evening dew that God had His manna appear.
To simplify David’s poetic language we could say; ‘Jesus is enthroned in the beauty of holiness, on the right hand of God; His youth is renewed like the dew at dawn.’
Psalm 110:4 - Jesus appointed as Priest
What does it mean to be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek? Who was Melchizedek? How was his priesthood different from Aaron’s priesthood? Melchizedek was king of Salem. Unlike the Levitical Priesthood in which only the descendants of Aaron could be priests, Melchizedek did not come from a family of priests. In verse 4, God gave an oath that His Christ was also to be a priest, but not according to the Levitical Priesthood established by Moses. Christ would be a priest from the order of Melchizedek, which predated Moses and Aaron.
After Abram had defeated the kings that had captured Lot, Melchizedek came to him. Melchizedek was priest to the Most High God. He came to Abram, served him bread and wine, and pronounced God’s blessing over him. After which God appeared to Abram at night and made a covenant with him.
The Order of Melchizedek: Until Jesus, Melchizedek was the only one is his order. God had appointed him because he was worthy (the name Melchizedek means ‘King of Righteousness’.) He did not inherit the position nor pass the priesthood on to another.
Like Melchizedek, Jesus was directly appointed by God because He was righteous and worthy.
Like Melchizedek, Jesus did not descend from a line of priests nor pass the job onto another.
Like Melchizedek, Jesus came to His disciples, gave them bread and wine, and blessed them.
Just as God made a new covenant with Abram shortly after Melchizedek gave him bread & wine, and blessed him, God made a new covenant with Jesus’ disciples shortly after He gave them bread & wine, and blessed them.
Therefore, because He follows the same practices, Jesus belongs to the same order (class or tradition) of priesthood as Melchizedek.
To summarized what we have learned from Psalm 110:1-4
Jesus was appointed by God to be Lord until He had put Jesus’ enemies under him. Ps 110:1.
Jesus’ strength and authority came directly from God.
Jesus must rule while His enemies were still present. Ps 110:2.
Jesus became ruler over only those who willingly made Him Lord and Master. Ps 110:3.