Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Advent 2023: December 21 - Psalm

Thursday, December 21st: Psalm

Read Psalm 110.

This Psalm wins the award of being the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament.  And that is just referring to direct quotation, not to mention the allusions to it.  That alone should tell us that this Psalm has an important spot when we want to talk about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.
Jesus, Paul, Hebrews, and Revelation all refer to the ideas expressed in this Psalm.  It begins in a rather odd way.  David is getting the inside scoop in a conversation between YHWH and someone he calls his Lord.

What does that even mean?  And with David being the king, who is he calling his Lord?  This is the question Jesus poses to his adversaries during Holy Week.  Jesus asks how it could be that David’s Son could also be David’s Lord.  We never hear the answer, but it is assumed that Jesus is the Lord that David is referring to.  David sees that Jesus, his descendant, is greater than he is and that David will pay homage to him.  We could even say that David gets a glimpse of the promise made to him by God that a son of his would reign forever and ever.
This Psalm depicts Jesus reigning over everyone.  Of Jesus taking charge and leading forth and ruling in the midst of his enemies.  Even today, with conflict raging around and in the church, Jesus Christ still reigns.

The book of Hebrews also picks up on the identity of Jesus from this Psalm.  David sees YHWH promise David’s Lord that he will be a priest forever.   David is from the line of Judah, but the priests could only come from the tribe of Levi.  Hebrews notes that this means that what Jesus is bringing is a new covenant and that the old covenant will be phased out and replaced.  In fact, the idea in the New Testament that Jesus is making a new priesthood is something that Paul expresses in Romans 12 and what Peter writes about in his first letter to the church.
But who is this Melchizedek guy?  Back in Genesis 14, Melchizedek is introduced as the High Priest of Jerusalem when Abraham comes back from war and gives him a tithe of all his spoils.  Apparently, Melchizedek is a priest to the one True God and Abraham considers him so great that he pays a tithe to him for blessing him.

To be a priest in the order of Melchizedek means that the priesthood of Jesus is outside the Levitical priesthood and like Melchizedek he does not have a beginning or an end.
Elsewhere in Psalm 110 we are told of the victory that Jesus will bring.  He will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.  Another way to translate “shatter chiefs” is “crush heads.”  This reminds us of Genesis 3:15 when God said that the Son of Eve will crush the serpent’s head.

Finally, this Psalm ends by saying that he will be refreshed (an image of a King victorious and washing himself by a river) and that he will lift up his head.  Many have seen this as an allusion to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, that he is lifted up.  

There is a lot packed into just a few verses, but it is full of Jesus.