By Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry Jr
Psalm 110:1 “is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament text.”1 It exercises a great bearing on New Testament theology. Psalm 110:1–2 reads:
The LORD says to my Lord: / “Sit at My right hand, / Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” / The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. / Rule in the midst of Your enemies!The Psalm is purely prophetic, not referring to David himself. 2
This becomes obvious in light of Jesus’ teaching (Mt 22:42–45) and in that David was not a priest (v 4). And it clearly anticipates Christ subjugating his enemies. But he does this while sitting at the right hand of God (“sit until”3), not by his leaving heaven and returning to the earth at the second advent. We see that this Psalm is now in force and expects Christ’s ultimate victory, in both its numerous New Testament allusions and in that he is already the Melchizedekan priest, mentioned in verse 4 (cf. Heb 7). According to Genesis 14:18, this peculiar priest is both king and priest — as is Christ.
His strong rod will rule from Zion, which portrays the New Covenant-phase church headquartered at Jerusalem, where the Apostles first preach the gospel (Lk 24:47; Ac 1:8; Gal 4:26). He rules through his rod, which is his word (Isa 2:3; 11:4). He leads his people onward into battle against the foe (v 3). The allusion to kings in verse 5, following as it does the reference to Melchizedek in verse 4, probably reflects Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek after his conquest of the four kings in Genesis 14. Because “kings” is in the emphatic position in Hebrew, it indicates Christ will not only rule the lowly, but also kings and nations through his redemptive power, as in Psalms 2 and 72. His rule shall be over governments, as well as individuals; it will be societal, as well as personal.
1. Bruce K. Waltke, “Psalm 110: An Exegetical and Canonical Approach,” in Tipton and Waddington, Resurrection and Eschatology, 60. Quotations include: Mt 22:44; 26:64; Mk 12:36; 14:62; Lk 20:42–43; 22:69; Ac 2:34–35; Heb 1:13. Allusions may be found in: 1Co 15:24; Eph 1:20–22; Php 2:9–11; Heb 1:3; 8:1; 10:12, 13; 1Pe. 3:22; Rev 3:21. For a detailed study of this psalm’s impact in both Jewish and Christian literature, see Hay, Glory at the Right Hand (1973). For a fuller postmillennial commentary on this Psalm, see: William O. Einwechter, “Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope” in Gentry, Thine Is the Kingdom, ch. 2.
2. Waltke in Tipton and Waddington, Resurrection and Eschatology, 85.
3. The Hebrew adverbial particle ‘d indicates duration. See: Perowne, Psalms, 2:292–293.