Jehovah said unto my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I put thine enemies as footstool of thy feet … Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (Psalm 110:1, 4 DBY).
Psalm 110 is quoted in the New Testament more than any other portion of the Old Testament. The Epistle to the Hebrews quotes Psalm 110 with much of the apostle’s argument in that epistle concerning Christ’s present session at God’s right hand being drawn from it. Hebrews also uses Psalm 110 to prove the supremacy of Christ’s priesthood. The Lord Jesus quotes from it applying it to Himself in contending with the religious leaders of Jerusalem. It is one of the great messianic prophecies of the Bible.
The following brief outline is helpful in getting a bird’s eye view of its main themes:
(1) Messiah’s Person v. 1a;
(2) Messiah’s Present Position v. 1b;
(3) Messiah’s Power vv. 2–3;
(4) Messiah’s Priesthood v. 4;
(5) Messiah Prevailing vv. 5–6;
(6) Messiah’s Preeminence v. 7.
We will follow this simple outline in our comments. (This outline was adapted and slightly altered from: What the Bible Teaches, J. Flanigan; John Ritchie Ltd, 476).
Psalm 110 gives Christ’s present session at God’s right hand (v. 1), a description of His rule in the millennial kingdom (v. 2–3), His Melchisedek priesthood (v. 4), His judgment of the rulers of the nations (v. 5–6) and His moral beauty as the lowly dependent Man whom God will exalt (v. 7).
The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Your people shall be volunteers in the day of Your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth (vv. 2–3).
As we have seen in the opening verse of the psalm, Christ will sit at the right hand of God until the time comes for the subjugation of His enemies. Again, the entire Church age is passed over in silence (v. 1). The events of the Great Tribulation and ongoing subjection of Christ’s enemies1 are described in verses 2–3. It is the time when God’s power will be exerted to bring about that subjection to Christ.2
Christ will exert His authority from Zion (Jerusalem) and the people of Israel, a godly remnant which had been raised up, will be “willing” in contrast to their present blindness and rejection of Christ. During that period of time, Israel will be converted and their spiritual blindness will come to an end. Then will be fulfilled the words of the Psalmist, “Thy people shall be willing3 in the day of thy power” (v. 3 DBY).
It is described as the day of His “power.” It is now the time of His “patience” (Rev. 1:9), and the time of His “waiting” (Heb. 10:13), but in that day it will be the day of His “power.” The scene which is described here in verses 2–3 perfectly aligns with what we saw in Psalm 2:6, 9.
The Lord has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (v. 4).
In the day of Christ’s “power” the world will experience the full blessing of His Melchisedek priesthood. He will be priest and king of the “Most High God, possessor of heavens and earth” (Gen. 14: 18–19). All things will be headed up in Christ, both “the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth” (Eph. 1:10). By faith we know Him as Melchisedek now, the One who is “able to save completely” and “always living to intercede” for us (Heb. 7:25). The world knows nothing of the privileges and spiritual blessings that belong even to the simplest believer. May we walk in the power of them daily as we wait for Him!
The subject of Melchisedek and his priesthood is found at the very heart of the Epistle to the Hebrews.4 Melchisedek is introduced in chapter 5:6–14, chapter 6 is a parenthesis dealing with the subject of apostasy, and then the topic of Melchisedek is picked up again and covered throughout chapter 7. The point in Hebrews is not so much to show the exercise of the Melchisedek priesthood (that will be in the Millennium when heaven and earth will be “headed up” in Christ) but that the Old Testament Scriptures predicted there would be a change in priesthood from the Aaronic order to another superior one: the order of Melchisedek. Christ’s present priesthood is exercised after the pattern of Aaron but it is after the order of Melchisedek. When it is a question of the order of priesthood, Melchisedek is the fitting type of Christ’s priesthood; when it is a question of Christ’s present work then Aaron is the type that typifies it.5 The apostle’s argument is to show that there would be a change in priesthood and that Christ’s priesthood is superior to Aaron’s.
In Psalm 110 we see that Melchisedek is introduced as functioning in the “day of His power” (v. 3) when He shall “execute Kings” (v. 5). This is fully in keeping with the type found in Genesis 14 following the battle of the kings and the victory of Abraham. He brings a blessing to Abraham saying that God: “has delivered your enemies into your hand” (Gen. 14:20). It will be a deliverance for the nation of Israel at that time—the physical descendants of Abraham.
1. The “Day of the Lord” covers the entire period of the Millennium ending with the judgment of the wicked dead. It is followed by the “Day of God” the Eternal State (2 Pet. 3:12–13); Rev. 21:21:1–8).
2. cf. Psalm 2:8–9; Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:24–28.
3. Or “volunteers” see NKJV.
4. It is wonderful to see the important place that three sections of the Old Testament Scriptures have in the Epistles to the Hebrews when the apostle is making his argument to these Hebrew Christians: (1) Psalm 110:1 – Christ’s present session at God’s right hand; (2) Psalm 110:4 – Melchisedek showing there would be a new order of priesthood which would was superior to and replace the Aaronic; Leviticus 16 – the Day of Atonement and showing Aaron aa a type of Christ by way of contrast, His one offering superior to Aaron’s yearly sacrifices.
5. Melchisedek was a real man and real priest as we see in Genesis 14, He was not an Old Testament Christophany of Christ (Heb. 7:3 confirms this statement). The Holy Spirit uses the circumstances of this priest to be a type, just as He used Aaron (also a real man) to be a shadow of Christ,