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Psalms 110

This is a prophetic messianic royal psalm that describes a descendant of David who would not only be his son but his Lord. [Note: See Chisholm, "A Theology . . .," pp. 271-73, for further discussion of this psalm’s classification in the light of the New Testament’s use of it. See also Waltke, pp. 887-96, for discussion of messianism, and the Messiah and the New Testament.] This descendant would be both a king and a priest. David was a prophet, and in this psalm he revealed new information from God concerning the future. Such a prophetic message is an oracle.

There has been much speculation about the historical situation that formed the basis for what the psalmist wrote in this psalm. [Note: Elliott E. Johnson summarized 10 situations that various writers have suggested in "Hermeneutical Principles and the Interpretation of Psalms 110," Bibliotheca Sacra 149:596 (October-December 1992):430.] It is presently unknown, though David wrote it (cf. Mark 12:36). One view is as follows:

"David prophetically spoke the psalm to his ’lord,’ Solomon, when Solomon ascended to the Davidic throne in 971 B.C." [Note: Herbert W. Bateman IV, "Psalms 110:1 and the New Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra 149:596 (October-December 1992):453.]

This writer concluded that the New Testament applied this psalm to Jesus Christ. The traditional Christian interpretation is that David wrote that God the Father spoke prophetically to His messianic Lord (i.e., His Son).

More important than this psalm’s original historical context is its prophetic significance. The New Testament contains more references to this psalm than to any other chapter in the Old Testament (cf. Matthew 22:44; Matthew 26:64; Mark 12:36; Mark 14:62; Mark 16:19; Luke 20:42-44; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:34-35; Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:13; Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 7:17; Hebrews 7:21; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12-13; Hebrews 12:2). David Hay found 33 quotations of and allusions to the first four verses in the New Testament. [Note: David M. Hay, Glory at the Right Hand: Psalms 110 in Early Christianity.]

"Psalms 110 is the linchpin psalm of the first seven psalms of Book Five of the Psalter. Besides occuring [sic] in the middle of the seven psalms (Psalms 107-113), Psalms 110 joins two different groups of psalms together. Psalms 107-109 express anguished pleas for deliverance; Psalms 111-113 overflow with praise for Yahweh. Psalms 110, the connecting psalm, reveals that the Messiah is both a King and a Priest who gives victory to His people . . . Thus because God more than meets the grief-stricken cries of His people, He is to be praised." [Note: Barry C. Davis, "Is Psalms 110 a Messianic Psalm?" Bibliotheca Sacra 157:626 (April-June 2000):168.]

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