POST OVERVIEW. A detailed study of Psalm 110:1 focused on the eschatology contained in this verse and in the psalm.
The psalms serve the church of the Lord Jesus by giving us praises and prayers, by modeling for us how we can cry out to the Lord when we are afraid or in pain or lonely or threatened by others. The psalms show us how raw and honest we can be with our God as we seek Him with our whole heart. The psalms are well-known for all these things. But we should also keep in mind that the psalms provide us with rich theology, pouring out doctrinal teaching in the form of laments and praises and cries for mercy. As the book of Job uses the context of suffering to debate the nature of God and His righteousness, so the book of Psalms uses the form of Hebrew poetry to reveal profound truths about God and man.
A DETAILED STUDY OF PSALM 110
For the next couple of articles, we will be studying Psalm 110. There may be no better example of a psalm that teaches theology and Bible doctrine than this psalm. Contained in its seven verses are truths about the nature of the Trinity, the deity of Jesus, Jesus’ priesthood of Melchizedek, and the humanity of Christ, as well as much teaching about Christ and the end of the age (eschatology). I plan to write two articles on this psalm, the first one being a careful study of just the first verse and the second article going carefully but more quickly through the remaining six verses.
TARGET OF OUR STUDY. Although there are many things that we could learn from Psalm 110, we will be seeking to learn what this psalm teaches us about last things, particularly about the coming of the Lord at the end of the age.
METHOD. The pace of our study will be slow, moving carefully and deliberately through all the verses of Psalm 110, and especially moving deliberately through the first verse. We will spend a lot of time on verse 1 for two reasons. First, this verse is packed with powerful theology and we want to go carefully to be sure that our exegesis does not go beyond what is actually contained in the text. But second, by carefully studying verse 1, we effectively position ourselves to see how the rest of the psalm flows. In other words, if we properly understand verse 1, then we should be lined up to understand the entire psalm.
I will be using the New American Standard Bible (1995) for my text.
The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” Psalm 110:1
WHO. Simple observation tells us that there are two persons here in this scene, but who are these persons? One is “the LORD” and the other is “the Lord.” Both of these are names for God, but the names appear differently in English because the names are different in the original Hebrew. “The LORD” is “Yahweh” in Hebrew and is the first Person of the Trinity, whom we know as God the Father. “The Lord” is “Adonai” and is the second Person of the Trinity, whom we know as God the Son, Jesus Christ. So, this verse shows us God the Father speaking to Jesus. Much like Jesus’ so-called high-priestly prayer in John 17, in which God the Son prays to God the Father, so here we are allowed into the heavenly throne room to hear God the Father speak to Jesus, who is God the Son. We have now discerned who is speaking in Psalm 110:1.
WHAT. What is this event that prompts God the Father to speak to Jesus in this way? Again, observation of the details of the scene coupled with a basic knowledge of the flow of biblical history will make the answer plain. It appears that Adonai (Jesus) has been absent from His seat at the Father’s right hand for some reason and is now returning to His place. But when was there ever a time when God the Son was not seated at the Father’s right hand? Of course, the only time in all of eternity when Son was not at the Father’s right hand was when He had been sent into the world to accomplish His work of atonement by His death on the cross. For those thirty-three years of the Incarnation, Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and during those years, the seat at the Father’s right hand was empty.
But now, in Psalm 110:1, Jesus has perfectly accomplished His work of atonement on the cross (John 17:4; 19:30; etc.) and is returning to His place, seated at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12-13; Col. 3:1; Acts 2:33; 5:31). Thus, in Psalm 110:1, the Father (“the LORD”) welcomes Jesus back to heaven and back to His seat at His right hand.
WHEN. Since we now know what is happening here, we can know for certain when this occurred. The Father said this to the Son at ~ AD 30 in human history when Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9). [NOTE: For reference to other end-times passages, this scene is roughly simultaneous with the events of Rev. 5:6-14 and Rev. 12:5b.]
THE REST OF THE LAST DAYS AND THE END OF THE AGE
Having determined the participants in this scene and when the scene takes place, we now will examine the contents of the Father’s address to the Son.
“Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” This sentence from the Father to the Son looks out into the distant future and hints at events which will close the gospel age. Jesus, as the victorious Lamb (Rev. 5:6ff), has finished His atoning work and has sat down (Heb. 1:3), but the Father’s statement forces us to think about what will happen “then.” The LORD’s words create an anticipation about that future event when the Father makes Jesus’ enemies “a footstool for His feet.” This first verse, then, establishes that this psalm is prophetic and its theme is eschatological. The message is that, when His enemies are made a footstool, Adonai (“the Lord”) will arise from His seat to perform another work. The nature of that final work is what the rest of the psalm is about.
“The Lord” will remain seated at “the LORD’s” right hand for a long time (see Heb. 10:12-13 for this proof), but when His enemies are made a footstool, the Lord will arise to carry out His work of final judgment (see Rev. 19:11-21).
Our first study of Psalm 110 has focused on only the first verse, but that verse has established this psalm as both Messianic and eschatological, and the psalm is about events surrounding the coming of the Lord Jesus at the end of the age. The next article will study the rest of the psalm.
Soli Deo gloria rmb 3/4/2023 #629