The first revelation is that the Messiah will be Israel’s King. Before we go any further, the importance of the number three in Jewish thinking needs to be mentioned. The number three is of special importance when used in sacred contexts. It conveys the idea of completeness, having a beginning, middle, and end. When we look at the three-fold authority of Yeshua, we are observing His perfect and complete authority.
- The Source of Kingship – 110:1a
- The Chosen King – 110:1a
- The Proclamation of Kingship – 110:1b-3
- The Place of Authority-110:1b
- The Conquest by Authority-110:1c
- The Word of Authority-110:2
- The People under Authority-110:3
The LORD says
In verse 1, David speaks to the reader about his psalm. He is given the privilege of describing God the Father’s statement to the Messiah. In this statement, God the Father explains the interval between the First and Second Coming.
However, the speaker of the message and the recipient of the message are not clear in the English translation. This state of affairs exists because this verse is rather weakly translated and, in consequence, the English can be confusing. The confusion comes from the repeated use of the word LORD with each letter being in capitals (L-O-R-D) versus Lord with the first letter being capitalized and the rest of the letters being lower case (Lord). What is the difference? Whenever you see LORD, it is a substitute for God’s personal name. The first word translated LORD is actually the personal name of God. The personal name of God is often referred to as the tetragrammaton. The word tetragrammaton is a Greek word that means four letters. It is a reference to the four letters that spell the personal name of God. Those four letters are represented in the English by the word YHVH or YHWH. Here, God the Father is speaking.
The translation “said” or “says” is weak as well. The Hebrew word underlying the translation is the Hebrew word neum. Neum refers to a revelation from God but would be better translated to include the idea of an oracle or divine pronouncement.
to my Lord:
Now David indicates to whom God is speaking. This brings us to the second word Lord; capital L, lower case o-r-d. The actual Hebrew underlying that word is a form of the word Adon. Adon means Lord or master. This person is David’s Lord, David’s superior, David’s boss. The form of the word Lord used here (Adonee) is a title of respect used when addressing a superior, “my Lord.” The person God is speaking to is the king chosen by God to rule. This person is the Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth.
The complete thought here is that God Himself is speaking to us, to the reader, through His servant David. God is the divine author and David is the human author of a revelation, a divine pronouncement spoken to David’s Lord, to the Messiah.
An expanded translation of this passage would be a declaration, utterance, or revelation of YHVH to my Lord (to Adonee). This is a much clearer rendering of the plain meaning of the text.
The implication of this statement is that this is not a light weight message. This is a divine utterance of the highest and most significant importance. Psalm 110 is a highly important, notable, vital, and crucial Messianic revelation.
Sit at my right hand
In this phrase, we come to the first revelation presented in Psalm 110. God has chosen the Messiah to fulfill the office of king because God commanded him to sit at His right hand. The command “Sit” is significant because it indicates a finished work. We will soon learn that this king also functions in the role of a priest. With that thought in mind, the writer of the book of Hebrews will explain the magnitude of this command in Hebrews 10:11-13.
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.
The writer of the book of Hebrews knew that the priests of the Levitical Order never finished their work. The symbolism contained in the tabernacle and temples never included the idea of rest or completion. These priests never sat down. Day after day after day they stood and offered the sacrifices. In contrast, when David’s Lord offered His one sacrifice, He sat down. He now waits at YHVH’s right hand in preparation for taking up His role as king.
The phrase “at my right hand” indicates a position of authority, distinction and honor. In the Bible, the right hand was often a symbol for strength. In Exodus 15:6, Isaiah 62:8 and Psalm 17:7, Israel’s enemies were defeated by the right hand of God and it is often praised by psalmists. God also marches on the right side of man when assisting him in battle (Isaiah 63:12 and Psalm 109:31), and God grasps the right hand as a symbol of election. Today, in rabbinic thinking, the right is the position of honor.
In Matthew 26:64, Yeshua predicted his attainment of this position by alluding to Psalm 110. “Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.'” In Acts 1:9, Yeshua attained this position as He ascended to Heaven. “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
Peter proclaimed the Messiah’s attainment of this position by directly applying Psalm 110 to Yeshua in Acts 2:32-36:
This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: “THE LORD SAID TO MY Lord, SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.” Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-this Jesus whom you crucified.
Stephen, in Acts 7:55, saw Yeshua in this position. “…he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
Yeshua is at the ultimate place of authority in the universe. He has the highest of all possible honors. This prevents the psalm from being reasonably applied to David. It would be entirely improper, even sacrilegious for the psalm to have been written about David, even by his most ardent admirer. If this psalm is about David, it is certainly out of bounds. The same would apply if it were written to flatter or honor any other Jewish ruler. However, Psalm 110 would be appropriate when applied to the Messiah.
The final thought in verse 1 proclaims the results of this authority.
until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.
This phrase is “A metaphor for the decisive defeat of enemies, originating in the custom of the victor placing his foot upon the neck of the conquered general or king.” The fact is brought out that the Messiah is resisted in His redemptive ministry. He has enemies. His work is not accomplished all at once or even in a short time. The opposition is great, so much so that He is called to wait upon God for the ultimate conquest. The fulfillment of this verse will come at the end of the tribulation period when Yeshua returns as the King of Kings. Revelation 19:11-16 reads:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
In Revelation, we observe a graphic and awe inspiring scene, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords returns in glory to execute God’s righteous judgment on His enemies. Isaiah the prophet was likewise given a glimpse of this same event. He relates what he saw in Isaiah 63:1-6:
Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? “I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me. I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
Isaiah emphasizes that when the Messiah/King returns, He will return for the purpose of saving His chosen people, Israel, as well. At the end of the Tribulation, Israel will be totally alone, abandoned by the world and at the mercy of the antichrist. Israel’s only hope for salvation will be God alone. He will not abandon her. Instead, He will decisively defeat the nations that have come against her eager to annihilate the Jewish people.
In verse 1, David has been speaking to us, to the reader. He has related to us what God the Father stated to the Messiah, God the Son, Yeshua of Nazareth. Now David’s attention shifts from us, the reader, to the Messianic person. In verses 2 to 4, David is given the privilege of addressing the Messiah Himself. Here, he describes the Messiah’s kingship and priesthood.
The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.
Here is the word LORD again, God’s personal name-YHVH. The expanded translation for this verse is as follows: “YHVH (God the Father) will stretch forth Your strong scepter (Messiah Yeshua) from Zion, saying ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.'”
The Messiah is given a command from God to rule as King of Kings. This is the official proclamation-the word of His authority. His rulership proceeds from Zion, or Jerusalem, Israel’s physical and spiritual capital (Zech. 8). Jerusalem will be the physical, political, economic and spiritual capital of the planet during the Messianic Kingdom.
David mentioned a scepter in this verse. A scepter is a staff or rod born by a ruler as a badge of his authority. David is saying that Yeshua is King of Kings and will rule even over those who are His enemies. The Messiah’s reign will be expanded in ever widening circles until no foe remains to oppose his rule.
In verse 3, a very special group of people who fall under the Messiah’s authority are singled out and their response to His authority emphasized.
Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.
It is necessary for a king to rule over a nation and subjects. Here, the Messiah rules over “His people.” Yeshua is the Jewish king, so primarily, this application refers to his Jewish subjects. The fact that a stress is made on the willingness of the people is important. The time emphasized is “the day of Your power.” The point is emphasized due to the fact that the Jewish nation in general does not willingly accept Yeshua as king, but instead they reject Him. Even today, 99% of the Jewish people reject the Messiahship of Jesus. This phrase is predicting the national regeneration of Israel that will occur at the close of the Tribulation period. At that time, the Jewish nation will change its mind and repent. At the end of the Tribulation period every living Jewish man, woman and child will personally place their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. The Jewish people will accept Yeshua as the Messiah and beg him to return. He will respond by rising from His place at the right hand of God to come again and save His people. The Apostle Paul (Rabbi Shaul of Tarsus) makes this point in Romans 11:25-26.
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”
Jesus made this same point during His First Coming in Matthew 23:37-39:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, he way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you are unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!”
Yeshua will respond to the pleas and return. Israel will be saved from her enemies. The begging for Yeshua to return is found in a number of places. One instance is Zechariah 12:10:
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
Joel 2:28-32 contains another reference to Israel’s call for the Messiah to return.
It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
One key psalm that records the Jewish plea to receive Yeshua as king is Psalm 80:14-16. First Israel is describing their plight at the end of the Tribulation. The nation has been devastated:
O God of hosts, turn again now, we beseech You; Look down from heaven and see, and take care of the vine, even the shoot which Your right hand has planted, and on the son whom You have strengthen for Yourself. It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
Then Israel pleads for Yeshua the Messiah to come and save them in verses 17-18:
Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Then we shall not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Israel is calling for God to save them by sending the same individual mentioned in Psalm 110, the individual at God’s right hand – the Son of Man – Yeshua.
Returning to Psalm 110, the phrase translated “in holy array” can also be translated “in the beauty of holiness.” Either rendering is applicable when Israel is regenerated. At that time, we will be truly adorned in holy clothing. Physically we will not only receive the white linen robes described in Revelations 19, but also spiritually because God sees great beauty in holiness.
The reference to the dew would have a great significance to the Jewish reader. Israel is an agricultural country, but not all the water for Israel’s crops comes from rain. A significant portion comes from the very heavy dew that falls at night. The dew fall is an extremely necessary and valued occurrence in Israel. Because of its value, the dew is a symbol of refreshment and life. Here in Psalm 110, the Messiah’s people bring Him refreshment and joy the way the dew refreshes the parched land.
The phrase referring to the “womb of the dawn” is a most beautiful and poetic description of the bright morning when the Messiah would come. It will be the dawn of the glorious day when He should reign. This refers to the birth of the magnificent Messianic Kingdom.
By way of application, verse 3 is significant for all believers. Our salvation depends on our willingness to change our view about ourselves and about God and submit to His authority. Every individual must do today what the Jewish people will do in the future. We must be willing to admit our sin and accept God’s provision for cleansing. Our part is to voluntarily commit ourselves to Yeshua as Savior and Lord and accept, by faith, His sacrificial death on our behalf.
Our sanctification also includes the idea of willingness. The growth process is a cooperative relationship between the believer and God. We can choose to submit to God’s commands for our lives, as found in scripture, or we can choose to be uncooperative. The choice of unwillingness will be painful for us because our Father will have to chastise His reluctant child along the road to maturity. Revelations 3:19 says “those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” Our loving Father, however, much prefers the attitude of willingness in our hearts.
If we are willing to submit to God’s authority and accept His salvation and growth programs, our lives will not cease to be trouble free, but we will experience the freshness and innocence of a new beginning. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” The potential for each new day will be the freshness of a deepening relationship with our loving, heavenly Father as we walk with Him clothed in His robes of righteousness.
When this psalm sees its fulfillment, Israel will willingly consecrate themselves to the service of the Messiah. We will be fully prepared to place ourselves at the service of the king. We will be abundant as the dew at dawn. The king’s army is prepared, strong and numerous. Therefore, verses 1-3 proclaim Yeshua as our king.
As we move to verse 4, God now reveals a second kind of authority given to the Messiah.
- ^ Encyclopedia Judaica, “Numbers Typical and Important: Three,” CD ROM Edition, (Jerusalem, Israel: Keter Publishing House Jerusalem Ltd., 1972)
- ^ KJV Bible commentary, Electronic edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994)
- ^ Encyclopedia Judaica, CD ROM Edition
- ^ Cohen, The Rev. Dr. A., The Soncino Books of the Bible–The Psalms (The Soncino Press, LTD., London, Jerusalem, New York, 1992), p. 371
- ^ Lapides, Louis, The Rabbinic and Hebrew Christian Views of Messianic Prophecy (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries)
- ^ Gaebelein, F. E., General Editor, Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), Vol. 5, p. 698