We’ve now arrived at the third major part
of the Old Testament Scriptures —the Writings.
Psalms 110:1-7 ESV
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 The Lord sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
In our series of messages about the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ, we arrive today at the third major part of the Old Testament Scriptures—the Writings. The first book in the Writings is the book of Psalms. In fact, Jesus referred to the whole third part as the Psalms, perhaps because of its prominence in that section (Lk 24:44). The Writings are divided into three sections: the Book of Truth (Psalms, Proverbs, and Job), the Small Scrolls (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther), and the Other Sacred Writings (Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles). The Writings complement the Law and the Prophets in various ways. For example, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles complete the narrative storyline in the OTS and Job provides a reflection on the theme of God’s sovereignty and human suffering. We’ll talk more about their purpose when we look at the various books.
Structure of the Psalms: (This is usually indicated in most English printings of the Bible)
- Book 1 (Psalms 1-41)
- Book 2 (Psalms 42-72)
- Book 3 (Psalms 73-89)
- Book 4 (Psalms 90-106)
- Book 5 (Psalms 107-150)
Later, we’ll explore the idea of this arrangement.
Ideas and features of the Psalms
- It seems that the original Hebrew title was Tehillim, meaning “Praises”, but by the time of Jesus, and the apostles (Lk 20:42; Ac 1:20), they were called “Psalms”, which means “Songs”
- They are musical compositions; they are songs to be sung; they convey God’s truth in an artistic way that intends to engage the emotions. “The Psalms are impassioned, vivid and concrete; they are rich in images, in simile and metaphor. Assonance, alliterations, and word plays abound in the Hebrew text” (NIV Study Bible, p. 783)
- They are songs of worship in a variety of moods: some feature exuberant praise, while others are melancholy in tone; some are instructional, telling part of God’s story or celebrating some of his glorious attributes to one another, and others ask God to act; some proclaim the way of salvation, but others call for doom on the rebellious; some lament suffering, while others thank God for deliverance
- The Psalms were composed by a number of human writers. David is referred to in the titles of 73 psalms, and the NTS add two more (Ps 2; cf. Ac 4:25; Ps 95; cf. Heb 4:7); other writers include the Sons of Korah (11 psalms), Asaph (12 psalms), Solomon (1 or 2 psalms), and Moses (one). At some point after the exile, one or more editors put the collection together in its present form. Since they are God’s Word, the Holy Spirit would have guided this process
- In the Psalms we also see smaller collections of songs; for example, Psalms 93-100 seem to be grouped together around the theme “the Lord reigns”; other examples are the “Egyptian Hallel” (111-118), the “Great Hallel (120-136), and the closing psalms (146-150). Psalms 1-2 provide the introduction to all the Psalms and should be read together, as should Psalms 9-10 and Psalms 42-43
I. The theme of the Psalms.
David, Great David’s Greater Son and the Reign of God – Psalm One describes the blessed person that the Lord watches over, and Psalm Two presents the Anointed One that will rule over the whole earth. Blessing comes by taking refuge in God’s Anointed One (2:12). From this starting point the Psalms develop this way.
A.In Book One, we encounter a number of lament type songs, featuring the struggles of David.
1.In Psalms 3-7, we see David in seeking refuge, beginning with his exile from his own son Absalom. (The Psalms are not arranged chronologically but thematically.) They are followed by a creation psalm that discusses the regal purpose of humanity under God’s majestic name.
2.In Psalms 9-15, we read more about David’s struggles and faith, which are followed by a psalm about the Messiah (16). The pattern repeats in Psalms 17-21, which leads to three messianic songs (22-24). David’s experience enlarges in Psalms 25-31, but then comes a psalm of repentance (32) that is followed by a song of joyful hope (33). The remainder of Book One returns to the theme of his troubles but ends on a confident note.
B.In Book Two, psalms written by other writers make their appearance.
1.The Book opens with eight psalms by the sons of Korah, including the messianic wedding psalm (45).
2.Psalm 50 presents God’s greatness as King before we read King David’s psalm of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba (51). After promising that he would instruct sinners in God’s ways, David does that in a series of instructional psalms (52-55). Then we have a number of psalms on the believer’s experience, resting in the Lord’s reign. Book Two concludes with a magnificent psalm about the Messianic King, written either by or for Solomon. Significantly, this Great King is the end or goal of the prayers of David (72:20).
C.In Book Three, the theme is the disaster facing God’s people on every side.
1.Psalms 73-83 were written by Asaph. This collection begins with the great song about the suffering of God’s people while the wicked prosper and it includes the great psalm of salvation history (78).
2.The remainder of psalms in Book Three include the only one by David in this book, and it is a prayer for mercy to the Lord (86). After a song about God’s love for Zion, Book Three concludes with two “dark songs” (88-89) that feature experience “at war” with theology. Psalm 89 contrasts “the present plight of the king and people with their ideal theology” (Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty, p. 197). It is an anguished cry about the seeming failure of the Lord to remember his covenant promise to David. Only the last line, which closes Book Three, presents any firm confidence that God will act.
D.In Book Four, we read of the experience of the old covenant people without a human king.
1.It begins with a wisdom psalm written by Moses (90). As Moses could have faith in God as he watched a whole generation perish in the wilderness, so all the Lord’s people should turn to God in repentance and faith to receive blessing. Psalm 91 is an additional song about trust in the Lord.
2.Next, we find a number of psalms about God’s kingship and reliability (92-100), followed by songs of the suffering of God’s people (101-102). The mood changes to praise in the remainder of these psalms, which include two companion songs (105-106) that provide contrasting looks at salvation history.
E.In Book Five, we come to the great theme of restoration.
1.It opens with a call for those redeemed by the Lord to praise him, because he brings his people back from all corners of the earth (107).
2.Next, there are three psalms of David about kingship (108-110), the last two of which are definitely messianic.
3.Next, we encounter two groups of worship songs (the Egyptian Hallel and the Great Hallel, see above). They are separated by the great psalm about God’s word and our afflictions (119) that Spurgeon called “the Golden Alphabet”.
4.The Psalms now hurry to their conclusion. The bitter song of exile (137), is followed by a collection of Davidic psalms that emphasize trust in the Lord (138-145). He will establish his reign. In the magnificent Psalm 145, David leads all people in praise to the Lord God as King. The closing psalms reverberate with praise for the coming restoration that the Lord will bring by his reign. It is time to sing and to dance!
II. The psalm of the King and Priest (110)
This psalm contains two enthronement oracles or sayings to the Messiah, as David prophetically looks ahead to the installation of his greater Son as the Great King, the Messiah. It is referenced many times in the NTS and is a key passage of scripture in understanding what God is doing in his story. Understand clearly that Jesus himself accepted that David was the author of this psalm and that he wrote it by the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit the NT apostles and prophets followed Jesus in saying that this psalm prophesied of the Lord Christ.
A.The first saying to the Messiah with commentary (110:1-3) – Notice that what God does in history proceeds from the purpose that the Father told the Son, and which the Holy Spirit makes known to us in the written word. Here the Spirit tells us about a conversation between God the Father and God the Son. This is for our benefit. God is not making up his plan on the fly, like he has been caught off-guard by human wickedness. No, the history of salvation, his great story, flows out from his eternal purpose (Eph 3:11).
1.David, speaking as a prophet, reveals a message from Yahweh to his Adonai. As Jesus definitively states (Mk 12:35-37), David was referring to Christ or Messiah as his Lord, though the OTS clearly teach in the Davidic covenant that the Messiah is a son or descendant of David. Jesus asked, “How could this be—how could the Messiah be both David’s son and David’s Lord?” The only answer to that question is the Biblical reality of the Trinity and the Person of Christ himself. This OT text presents one Person of the Godhead speaking to another. The Trinity is not a fabrication of the NT writers. And the one who is David’s Lord and Son is also Adonai. He is truly God and truly human. After Christ’s resurrection, Thomas echoed this truth (Jn 20:28).
2.The saying tells the Messiah to sit at Yahweh’s right hand until Yahweh does something for him—until the Lord makes Messiah’s enemies a footstool for his feet. This is the prophetic basis for the NT teaching about Christ’s ascension and present session in heaven. Jesus could not remain on earth after his resurrection, because the Father called him to heaven to reign until the time decreed by the Father. As Jesus said in John 5, he only does what the Father says and does.
Point: Be confident in God’s plan. All the enemies of Jesus will be defeated. As Jesus sits and waits, so we may quietly wait for the time set by the Father.
3.The commentary on the saying lets us know two important truths. First, the reign of Jesus will extend from Zion. This probably means the earthly Jerusalem, and that is what happened in the book of Acts. The good news started in Jerusalem and is extending to the ends of the earth. Second in 110:3, the text literally reads “your people (will be) freewill offerings”. For this idea, consider Rm 12:1; Ph 2:17). Messiah’s people willingly give themselves to serve him.
Point: Every true follower of Christ serves him.
B.The second saying to the Messiah (110:4)
1.Yahweh (the Lord) makes an irrevocable covenant promise to the Christ. He would be a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is a somewhat obscure figure in the OTS, mentioned only here and in Gen 14:18-20. The main point about his priesthood is that he was not from a long line of Levitical priests, one serving and then dying, father followed by sons through many generations. Melchizedek is only mentioned as living, and Jesus Christ is a priest like him, because he always lives. Melchizedek was priest by God’s choice, and not by human flesh. Jesus is also priest by the selection of the Lord God. To look for another is to oppose God.
2.This prophecy is important because it foretells the end of the law covenant and its priesthood (Heb 4:14-8:2). Observe the strong language used to prophesy that something very important would happen in Messiah’s priesthood. There is no priest after Jesus, the Great High Priest. Because Messiah is seated in heaven and the Great High Priest, it means that he has become the guarantee of the better or new covenant.
Point: All our hopes rest on the truth that Jesus Messiah lives as both Victorious King and Better Priest.
C.An additional reflection the reign of the Messiah (110:5-7)
1.Yahweh and the Messiah partner together to bring about God’s victory. Father and Son stride forth into battle in omnipotent strength to crush Messiah’s enemies on the day of his wrath—the day of the Lord. The Priest-King will be utterly victorious (cf. Rev 19:11-16).
2.The Messiah will pursue this victory until his triumph is complete (1 Cor 15:20-28). He doesn’t stop to rest, but drinks from a brook along the way. Think also of the Great Commission promise of the Lord Jesus (Mt 28:20).
Point: We live in the time when Jesus Christ is still acting to bring glory to God. Are you a fellow worker with him in his certain victory?
Ideas to transform our lives:
- Be confident in God’s plan
- Every true follower of Christ serves him
- All our hopes rest on Jesus Messiah
- Christ continues to act to bring glory to God
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.