Psalm 110 has fast become overwhelmingly my favorite Psalm (although last week Psalm 103 was). When you read this Psalm quickly and without much thought you might be underwhelmed by its' simple and short structure. However, for a moment let us set the background and see if we cannot breathe the proper life into this Psalm and be thrust forward into reverent and vibrant worship.
Consider first that Psalm 110 is the most quoted Psalm in the NT. It has been quoted in some length at least 27 times, either directly or by way of allusion. That testifies to the unparalleled depth that it has in its' short 7 verses, none of which are wasted.
Secondly consider the phrase "The Lord said to My Lord". It is uniquely a messianic Psalm, and scholars are in agreement, it is not referencing a human ascension to leadership, but a Sovereign who has been eternally the Messiah.
Thirdly, the tone is that of complete victory. For a moment imagine the allies in WWII entering into Paris to liberate the city from German occupation. They passed by the Arch De Triomphe, signifying that the enemy had been destroyed, freedom was restored. This Psalm is a pass under the Arch De Triomphe only instead of an earthly structure, it is a heavenly one. Having defeated the enemy on the Cross, Christ arose victoriously and passed once again onto the hallowed streets of Heaven. There, the victorious King has again resumed His position at the right hand of Almighty God the Father. The right hand being a metaphor for absolute authority, absolutely. There David says that God shall "make your enemies a footstool under your feet".
Forth, Christ's eternal reign is illustrated by Melchizedek. Melchizedek is a very unique character who shows up only for a scant couple of verses in Genesis. In Genesis chapter 14 we read about this king of Salem, who was also described as a priest who blessed Abram and to whom Abram paid a tithe. The author of Hebrews (chapter 7) identifies this King as the Lord Jesus. The interesting thing is the name itself, which in Hebrew means "King of Righteousness". John the revelator echoes this by hailing Him the King who sits above and over all kings (Revelation 17/19).
He is the King, the great King, the glorious and majestic King. He is the King who came once in the form of a helpless baby, whimpering in need nestled in His mother's arms, yet the next time He is viewed, He will stampede forth from Heaven in utter judgement with the sound of thousands of thunderous hooves.The returned King will execute final judgment. The ending of the Psalm draws this final conclusion: there shall be room for only one King. All other rule shall be terminated and all who have not submitted to the authority of the Sovereign shall face judgment. Who is like this King? No one.
This King, who made His first full appearance with but a whimper, will come again, but not at all like the first. This time He will not whimper, but roar, bursting forth from Heaven on a thundering steed as all creation shudders from the deafening sound of hooves stamping down. Then as the Psalmist says,
5 The Lord is at your right hand,
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
7 He will drink from a brook along the way,
and so he will lift his head high
While contemplating this hymn, I was transported back to chapel at Southeastern. Back when we would regularly sing high church hymns and the massive pipe organ would trumpet in my ears, I can still hear my classmates and myself singing out with full force (imagine this sung to a pipe organ):
- Oh, worship the King, all glorious above,
Oh, gratefully sing His pow’r and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.
- Oh, tell of His might, oh, sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space;
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.
- Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
- Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!
O worship the King!