Click here to join the effort!
Luther calls this Psalm “the true high main Psalm of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ;” our Lord himself attests that it was composed in the Holy Ghost; and there is no other passage of the Old Testament so frequently quoted or echoed in the New.
Title. By David a Psalm. Ver. 1. The LORD says to my Lord: sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies thy footstool. Ver. 2. The Lord will send thy powerful rod of Zion, rule in the midst of thine enemies.
Ver. 3. Thy people freewill gifts in thy day of might, in holy beauty; out of the womb of the morning—heaven, to thee thy youth dew. Ver. 4. The Lord has sworn and will not repent: thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Ver. 5. The Lord at thy right hand smites Icings in the day of his wrath. Ver. 6. He shalt judge among the heathen, fill with dead bodies, smite heads on the wide earth. Ver. 7. From the brook he shall drink in the way, therefore he shall lift up the head.
The seven verses of the Psalm fall into two strophes, consisting, according to the usual division of the seven in the Psalms, the one of four and the other of three verses. The first strophe represents the foundation of the victory of the Anointed; and falls into two members, each of two verses. The offspring of David sits at the right hand of the Lord, partner of the might and the dominion of the Almighty, therefore he will make easy work with his enemies, Psalms 110:1-2; the offspring of David has a people which offers itself willingly to the Lord; a holy people to whom victory cannot be wanting is given him from above; for he is, according to the sure divine purpose, not only king but also a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec, and as such purifies his people from their sins. A double ground of hope is hence furnished to us. The first is the sitting of the Anointed at the right hand of God; the second, the people of the Anointed: this last, however, is not a human but a divine ground of hope. For the people is only what it is through the true priest which God has given it; the proper foundation therefore of the victory next to the true kingly power of the Anointed to whom all power in earth and heaven has been given, is his true priesthood.
As the first strophe describes the foundation of the victory, the second describes the victory itself. We see how the Lord by his Anointed, and the Anointed with the help of the Lord, overthrows the enemies with irresistible power.
At the beginning, Psalms 110:1, and at the end, Psalms 110:6-7, David speaks of the Anointed; and in the middle he speaks to him. In the first strophe the verses have a festive length; the description of the victory moves on in short clauses, like the rapid victory itself.
The Psalm was sung by David when the seat of government and the ark of the covenant were brought to Mount Zion. This is evident from Psalms 110:2, according to which the Lord extends the kingdom of his Anointed from Zion, and from the mention of Melchisedec, the royal priest of Salem, as the type of the union of royalty and the priesthood in the Anointed, in Psalms 110:4. David, further, must already have been in possession of the promise made to him according to 2 Samuel 7 by Nathan, of the eternal duration of his seed; for this forms the basis of the Psalm. The Psalm finally represents the triumphant termination of the wars of David, particularly the severest of them all, the Aramean-Edomitic and the Ammonitic-Aramean; for these victories form the terminating point of the Psalm.
The expectations and claims made by the servants of the true and living God are from the beginning wide and all comprehensive. The servants of the true God are not at all satisfied with a limited part; but they claim for their God and his kingdom, just because he is the true God, God in the full sense, the Creator and Lord of the whole world, the whole earth in its remotest extent; and they make this claim with a decision and hold it with a tenacity, which must surprise all who do not know their real reasons. Abraham even in the days of old had the nations of the whole earth in his eye, and the blessing to be brought to them by his seed formed the centre of his hopes. Jacob saw Shiloh coming from the tribe of Judah, whom the nations obey. Everywhere onward, wherever there is living faith, we find also claims to the dominion of the world. During the preceding and at the beginning of the present century it was one of the most mournful signs of the decay of the Church that believers were contented if they were only not disturbed in their own little corner. Expectations, claims, and efforts, wide as the world, arose along with the revival of faith. It was thus that David, notwithstanding his glorious victories and the elevation of the people of God above what had ever been known in former days, was not content with this corner-dominion. It served only to give a new impetus to his world-wide claims and expectations. But at the same time he perceived that there could be no fulfilment of these hopes in the ordinary way. Even with the mighty help of her Lord, a King like himself could have no prospect of ever being able completely to subjugate the power of the world, which like a wall of brass opposed the progress of the kingdom of God; this must be reserved for a King whose throne was withdrawn from earth to heaven, and who participated in divine omnipotence. A people, moreover, such as that of David, was not fitted to bring the holy war against the world to a thorough termination; it wanted the spirit of entire devotedness and surrender to the Lord; it wanted the holy dress necessary for the soldiers of the Lord; and David and any one like him were not able to give this: its root lies in reconciliation and the forgiveness of sin, which one sinner cannot impart to another. Still, David was not wrong in his hopes because of these apparently insuperable difficulties which opposed their fulfilment. He had received from God the sure promise of the eternal dominion of his race; he who was a prophet, Acts 2:30, by whom, as he himself says in 2 Samuel 23:2, the Spirit of the Lord spake, and on whose tongue the word of the Lord was, knew that this promise would reach its height in the Messiah, of whom there had been spread abroad some dark information from a remote antiquity. When he now drew near to God, at the holy moment to which our Psalm owes its origin, with “receive the prayer of our distress,” it was revealed to him in Spirit—for he speaks here in the spirit, according to the express declaration of our Lord—that in this his offspring, who at the same time is his Lord, these difficulties would come to an end. He shall sit at the right hand of Omnipotence and be a priest for ever, and therefore shall raise his people to the sovereignty of the world.
It may well fill us with deep shame when we see how believers under the Old Testament prepared for themselves, out of what the Lord had already done, ladders, on which they rose freshly and joyfully to comprehensive hopes (we are too much inclined to despise small beginnings), how David simply brought all his doubts to God, and how he laid hold of the word of God with triumphant joy and immoveable firmness,—he who was sent entirely alone to this word, while the Scheblimini and the “ Thou art a priest for ever.” have been verified to us for eighteen hundred years. “He clings to it,” says Luther, “with such firm faith, what he does not see he apprehends with such power of mind, and it is so sure to him, that he speaks of it as if he saw it already fulfilled before his eyes, and thus talks of it with a joyful rejoicing spirit, while his heart burns and overflows with joy towards the Lord Christ.” Who is the man who, with such an example before his eyes, ought not to feel ashamed of doubts, mourning, and lamentations when the billows of the world again break with power against the rocks of the church.
In accordance with the special point from which the Psalm sets out, the Psalm treats of only one view of the announcement of the Messiah, Christ, as ruler over his enemies; and, in like manner, this point exerts its influence upon the form in which the victory of the offspring of David over his enemies is celebrated,—a form which occurs elsewhere even in the New Testament, in the Apocalypse. It is a matter of indifference to us how far David recognised this form as such. It is not possible to suppose him to have been completely ignorant of it; for a king who is at the same time a high priest, who reconciles his people, and who is followed by his people to the battle in holy attire, can be no common warrior. Full explanations of the form were unnecessary; it was enough in the first instance to know that it was to be; history must tell how.
The address of God, the revelation in Psalms 110:1, is only in point of form directed to David’s Lord—it is David himself who receives it. Jo. Arnd: “I, says the prophet David, heard God our heavenly father speak with his dear Son, and because it was a glorious royal speech which I would fain all the world should hear, I have recorded it in this Psalm.” David calls his offspring his Lord, not merely in his own name but in that of the whole church of God; it is as the mouth of the church that he here speaks, and hence the explanation of the fact that our Lord in all the three Evangelists says David called him Lord, not his Lord. This mode of speech leads to the idea, as our Lord shows in arguing against the Pharisees, that David recognized in his offspring something altogether more than human. Its explanation and basis are to be found in the mighty word Scheblimini, with which, according to Luther’s expression, David leads and lifts Christ once for all from earth above all heavens. The throne of God, at the right hand of which the Anointed is to sit, is “the throne high and lifted up” of Isaiah, Isaiah 6], to which David in his own troubles, and in those of the Church, had so often directed his eye, Psalms 9:7, Psalms 68:18, Psalms 29:10 (comp. Psalms 2:4, Psalms 11:4), the symbol of his dominion over heaven and earth, and everything in them; comp. Psalms 103:19, “the Lord has prepared his throne in heaven, and his kingdom ruleth over all.” The right hand of the mighty is the symbol of his might. Therefore earthly sovereigns allow those whom they desire to constitute partakers of their sovereignty, to sit at the right hand of their throne. Thus Solomon set his mother at his right hand; in her case the participation in sovereignty was only ideal; she reigned in her son, not next to him or in his name. This place, however, was occupied altogether in a peculiar manner, by those who hold an office of great antiquity in the East, that namely of the representative of royalty, who was invested with full kingly rank and power. This office was held by Joseph in Egypt, whom we find Pharaoh thus addressing, “Thou shalt be over my house, and according to thy word shall all my people be ruled, only in the throne will I be greater than thou: behold, I set thee over the whole land of Egypt: without thee no one shall lift up hand or foot in the whole land of Egypt,” Genesis 41:40-44: he sits in Pharaoh’s chariot, and the proclamation is made before him, Bow the knee. It was this rank that Salome claimed for one of her sons in the Redeemer’s kingdom of glory, when taking occasion of the remark of Christ, that the twelve apostles should sit next his glorious throne, on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, she came to him and said, “Grant that these my two sons may sit in thy kingdom, the one on thy right hand and the other on thy left hand,” Matthew 19:28. He who is invested with this honour by the Lord of heaven and earth, he whom he calls to sit at the right hand of his throne, and thus proclaims as his vicegerent and representative, is thereby elevated far above every human condition, and is invested with full participation in divine power over heaven and earth, as our Lord interpreting the Scheblimini declared to be the case with himself before he left the earth. This Scheblimini is infinitely rich in consolation for the Church of God at all times; and the man who lets this one word get into his heart, is removed from all pain and all sorrow,—it is all one to him whether his enemies are few or many, he looks with serene smiles upon their tumults and their vain attempts. He says with Arnd: “I know one who sits at the right hand of God; and he is strong enough for my enemies and for all my misfortune. He sits on my account at the right hand of God to protect me.” The word is all the more full of comfort, as Christ not only sits at the right hand of God for himself, but also raises his people to the same place with him, even now in time, and more gloriously still in eternity, as John says in the Apocalypse: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit down with me on my throne, as I overcame and sat down with my father on his throne;” and Paul, 2 Timothy 2:12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” But that sitting of Christ at the right hand of God is still a concealed thing. It is only some one like Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, who sees the heaven open and the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God. The Schlebimini, first given to the Church by revelation, can be known to be true, and can be carried home to the heart only by revelation. He who sits at the right hand of the Father wields his power unobserved, so that it can be perceived only by faith. This is the case in order that believers may be exercised in faith, and that the world in righteous retribution for its unbelief towards him may run on to its own destruction. “What think you,” says Luther, “should this poor, weak, beggar-king do with his miserable, naked, defenceless crowd? His enemies run so full of confidence upon him, and rage at him with all their power, so that at first it seems as if they would push him from his throne. But take care of yourself,—though he seems to be very weak, and God winks at it, as if he saw and could do nothing. For now he is upon them, he will destroy them when they are in their best thoughts and in their highest power; and in the midst of their work he will cast the dice and turn all things upside down with them, so that they shall suddenly be found lying on the ground ere they have time to look around them; and lie will so deal with them that at the very moment when they are running at him and raging at them, they themselves shall run away and fall, and thus be overwhelmed and made his footstool at the very moment when they were intending to overthrow him and put him beneath their feet.”—“The Lord shall sit at the right hand of God until he makes his enemies his footstool,”—subjugates them entirely, not so as if he sat quiet and looked idly on; but, on the contrary, everything decidedly represents him overthrowing them himself, clothed with omnipotence. As the possession of divine omnipotence in “sit at my right hand,” is given to the king only for the one definite object set before us throughout the whole Psalm, viz., the contest against the enemies; the “until” is to be understood as excluding this. It is deserving of notice, that, as soon as we hear of Christ in the Old Testament, we hear also of his enemies, just as in the days of his flesh we see him everywhere surrounded by enemies, and engaged in contest with them. This serves as an evidence against those who would derive all the enmity of the world against Christ from the conduct of his servants; it shows that we should not feel surprised if, for the present, we see such hostility growing stronger and stronger, that we should consider it as quite a natural thing that we must suffer from this enmity, and that we can attain to peace only when, after a protracted and severe struggle, we participate in the victory of Christ. It is painful to be engaged in this conflict; but it cannot be otherwise, as the world “lieth in wickedness.”
The second verse merely develops a consequence from the first. If the Lord has said to his Anointed, in presence of his enemies, “sit at my right hand,” he must necessarily stretch forth his punishing hand as far as that enmity extends. This rod is the symbol, not of government, but of victory over resistance; it is the instrument by which the adversaries are punished; it corresponds to the sharp two-edged sword which, according to Revelation 1:16, proceeds out of the mouth of the Son of Man. The Lord will send this rod out of Sion, the ancient seat of the royal family of David, which reached its height in the Anointed, in order that, wielded by his mighty hand, it might wheel round among the enemies, and strike them to the ground. The “rule thou” is, in its connection with Psalms 110:1, an exhortation; but it really contains in it a prophecy. In the midst of thine enemies,—not at all in some corner of them; the enemies are round on every side, but Christ, in the midst of them, rules in every direction.
Psalms 110:3-4 are, like Psalms 110:1-2, bound together as one pair. The comfort which the omnipotent kingdom of the Lord imparts to the people of God, in view of a hostile world, is here accompanied, side by side, by that drawn from his eternal priesthood, which secures for them the forgiveness of sins, and, as rooted in this, the spirit of willing surrender and dedication, and the possession of holy garments, which are necessary for the holy contest. While Psalms 110:1 contains the ground, and Psalms 110:2 the consequence, the Lord has said, “sit thou at my right hand,” &c., “ therefore the Lord shall send.” &c., the order is here inverted, “thy people, willing gifts,” &c., “ for the Lord has sworn.” The Psalmist wished the people of the Lord to stand directly over against his enemies. The king has not only enemies, but he has also subjects, such subjects as, from their very nature, carry along with them a security for victory, not in consequence of any innate excellence, but from a divine cause; their king is, at the same time, the true high priest. The people of the king denote his subjects, not in and for themselves, his warriors. But, in seasons of danger, all subjects are also warriors; and it is in this view alone that they came into notice in this warlike Psalm; “he is a bad servant who dares to stand still when he sees the general advancing.” The נדבה has only the sense of free-will gifts; and it is the usual term for free-will gifts offered to the Lord. The Lord is also here the receiver; the Anointed is the priest by whose mediation they are brought to the Lord. Such free-will offerings were brought by Israel to the Lord at the erection of the tabernacle, which was entirely built out of such gifts. “Speak,” thus said the Lord at that time to Moses, ( Exodus 25:2), “to the children of Israel, that they bring to me free-will offerings, from every man whose heart inclines him, ye shall take my offering.” After the erection of the tabernacle, full opportunity was afforded by the law to grateful spirits to present such offerings. But while there the gifts consisted of things, which were offered by persons, in the passage before us, the persons offer themselves as free-will gifts. They dedicate and offer themselves to God through their high priest on the day of battle for life and death without any reserve. This offering takes place on the king’s day of power. The day of battle—this is what is meant—is at the same time for him the day of power. The king, who sits at the right hand of God, and who marches forward at the head of a people who willingly offer up themselves, must, when he fights, necessarily conquer. But this people who willingly offer up themselves in the day of battle can be known only by the eye of faith; and that faith is a more difficult thing than faith in the king at the right hand of God; just as I believe in a holy Catholic church is the most difficult article of the creed. The matter here is to discover the willing offering of the heart concealed under the surface of timidity, indolence, and unwillingness, to be able, in confidence in the eternal High Priest appointed by God, to believe and hope that the future shall more and more bring to pass what has been very much wanting in the past, and at the same time to continue earnest in believing prayer, that the offering up of the spirit on the part of the people of God may become more real.
The second half of the verse is to be explained: the youthful soldiers of the king resemble in their holy attire the dew in beauty, like which they unexpectedly present themselves. Holy attire,—the priests put on holy attire when they did duty in the sanctuary, in anticipation of “be ye renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness,” Ephesians 4:23-24,—a maxim intended to ring in the ears of every one who draws near to the holy God. The combatants are here clothed in holy attire, because the contest is no ordinary one; it is one in which it is necessary to put off the old man with his works, and in which not one thing even can be done by those who go forward in the spotted garments of the flesh; “it is a bearing of the cross, a holy warfare,” where those only are admitted to the honour of the battle who go forward in holy garments, the symbol of holy hearts, the dress suitable to the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy people, Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9. In this holy attire the youth-dew of the king appears, his youthful dew, his youthful soldiery, who in their holy garments resemble the dew in beauty. The soldiery of the king consists in part of old grey warriors, but the spirit of youth is common to them all; and therefore the whole army presents to the Psalmist a youthful appearance. “Those who wait upon the Lord renew their strength, they mount up on wings as eagles, they run without being wearied, they walk without fainting.” It is the service of the Lord alone that guarantees strength. This youth dew comes to the king “from the bosom of the morning-heaven.” In this it is implied, to use the words of Luther, “that it is with the birth of the children of this kingdom as it is with the lovely dew, which falls in spring every day early in the morning, and no man can say how it is made, or where it comes from, still it lies there every morning upon the grass.”
The youthful soldiers of the king are indebted for the willing spirit and the holy garments to his appointment to be a priest for ever after the manner of Melchisedec: for the Lord has sworn and will not repent, thou art not only a king, thou art also a priest after the manner of Melehisedec, who in days of old united in Sion the royal and the priestly office. The office of the high priest consisted in mediating between God and the people; and this duty is performed agreeably to the condition of the latter by obtaining the forgiveness of sins through offerings and intercessions. As the mediation of the high priest consisted chiefly in obtaining reconciliation and the forgiveness of sins, these come particularly into notice in Leviticus 16, where we have a description of the ceremonies which took place on the great day of atonement, on which were concentrated the main duties of the office of high priest. David felt his weakness painfully on this point. He might indeed by his transgression bring judgment upon the people ( 2 Samuel 24:17), but he could not effect reconciliation; safety therefore in the field against enemies could never be perfect. He knew that even a king at the right hand of God was not sufficient for the necessities of the people of God. A holy people might indeed be sufficiently cared for by him; but a sinful people can only be sure of victory, if their king is at the same time also a high priest. The discourse of the Lord is in reality addressed to this people, although in point of form to the Anointed. “I swear to you poor sinners”—thus Jo. Arnd gives correctly the sense “that for your comfort I have ordained and given this my Son to be your high priest, who shall reconcile you and bless you.” A people offering themselves freely to the Lord, in holy garments, a king at their head, who is at the same time a priest set apart by God himself to that office for all eternity, expiating whatever of sin cleaves to them, interceding, mediating, procuring the most intimate communion between them and God,—how is it possible that victory against the world should fail to be obtained even though the world rise against them with all its might?
The description the victory itself follows in the second strophe this allusion to the presence of all the foundations of victory. The address is in Psalms 110:5, as in the whole Psalm, directed to the king and high priest. As surely as he sits at the right hand of the Lord, so surely must the Lord stand at his right hand in the day of the mighty conflict, as his omnipotent helper and ally, and so surely must the enemies be destroyed by him, mighty kings no less than the feeblest and the smallest; for in view of omnipotence, human might is only a section of feebleness. “He strikes kings in the day of his wrath,” deeply affected the heart of Luther: “Thus,” he says, “as I rather think from this prophecy, it will be some day with Germany, so that it shall be said, there lies beloved Germany destroyed and depopulated. For they will bring it about that God will act towards them the same part that he acted towards Rome and Jerusalem. God grant that we and our children may then be dead and not see this misery.” This anticipation was once fulfilled when they sang: “May the lands depopulated, the churches destroyed by war and fire, be again restored.” God grant that it may not be fulfilled a second time.— That we cannot in Psalms 110:6 translate with Luther, “he shall smite the head over great lands,” which many interpreters apply to Antichrist, but only, “he smites the heads over the wide earth,” is evident, besides other reasons, from the manifest contrast between smiting the head of the enemies, and lifting up that of the king and high priest.
The figure of the brook out of which the king shall drink in the way, in the course of the contest and the victory, Psalms 110:7, is explained by the history of Samson. Samson, after he had slain a thousand Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass, was very thirsty, and cried unto the Lord and said: “Thou hast given this great deliverance unto the hand of thy servant; and now I shall die for thirst, and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised: then God clave the hollow place that was in Lehi, and there came out water, and he drank, and his spirit came back, and he revived; wherefore he called the name of it, The well of him that called, which is at Lehi unto this day.” “Our Samson, the beloved warrior,” is not like his type subject to fatigue, as sure as he sits at the right hand of Omnipotence: but people drink from the fountain not only to quench thirst, but also to remain exempt from thirst; and the service rendered by such a brook is performed for him by that divine strength always flowing in to him which secures him against fatigue in the hottest conflict. His servants, however, and warriors, are often fatigued in the way, and cry out with Samson of old, “I shall now die with thirst, and fall into the hands of these uncircumcised.” But the same fountain which secures the captain against fatigue, strengthens his soldiers in the endurance of fatigue, and supports them so that they can lift up their head along with their captain. What is wanting to the enemies of the Lord, is the brook in the way, “the well of him that calleth.” But he to whom this well is given cannot give way to despair, though he may at times be mournful and hang his head. The clause at the conclusion, “therefore he shall lift us his head,” corresponds to that at the commencement, “sit thou at my right hand.” Such a beginning can be followed only by such an end. The warrior lifts up his head in triumph after all his enemies have been cast down to the ground; “and his soldiers shout victory, and proclaim him to be a hero who keeps field and heart.” This shall happen, in the most glorious manner, when the blessed and joyful day shall dawn, on which it shall be proclaimed: “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever,” Revelation 11:15. “But may God help us,”—to conclude with the words of Luther—“to remain with this Lord, and to be found thankful to him, and to sing this Psalm to him with right faith and joy. To this our beloved Lord and Saviour alone be praise, glory, and honour, along with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever. Amen.”
Having given this general exposition of the Psalm, we would now subjoin some explanations and additions on particular points. First by way of Introduction.
The composition of the Psalm by David is attested by the title. This attestation is confirmed by the circumstance, that a Davidic trilogy of Psalms is, with manifest design, placed at the head of the dodecade, like a commanding citadel; by the connection which subsists; between the Psalm and the two preceding ones attributed in the titles to David; and finally by our Lord, whose whole train of reasoning grounded upon our Psalm, Matthew 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20:41-44, depends upon the fact of the Psalm having been composed by David. The internal reasons corroborate these external ones. The courageous, fresh, warlike tone, leads us to the hero David, to whom alone, of all the authors of the Psalms, this tone is peculiar. At the foundation of this Psalm are to be found lying the relations of David’s time, David’s wars and victories. Its intimate connection with Psalms 2 is also in favour of its having been composed by David. This is denied only by those to whom its admission would be unpleasant, on account of the resistance which it makes to their preconceived hypothesis in regard to exposition. The attempt to weaken, in part, the testimony of the title, by translating לדוד by de Davide, is altogether a vain one. In the titles of the Psalms this expression can occur only in one sense.
That the king and high priest of our Psalm is Messiah, was universally acknowledged among the ancient Jews: their testimony in favour of this is a national one. We see this so fully from the passages quoted above from the New Testament, that any other proof is altogether unnecessary. The Messianic character of the Psalm our Lord assumes as a fact universally admitted, and makes it the basis of all his reasonings; and his opponents never think of denying it for the purpose of evading the conclusions which he draws. That this national exposition rests upon a real foundation is clear from the testimony of our Lord, which, on the ground of the reference of the Psalm to the Messiah, exhibits the untenable nature of the view then generally held, that the Messiah was to be a mere man. The old rationalism has in vain made every effort to set aside this testimony of our Lord:—compare the enumeration and explanation of the manifold ancient expedients in Bergmann, comm. in Ps. ex. Leyden 1819, the only separate work on our Psalm, and a work which, on account of the careful and almost complete collection of materials, is well worthy of notice. In recent times, Bleek, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, has made an attempt of the same kind—the matter is so clear that it really is not worth while to subject these efforts of mere predjudice to further scrutiny. It would imply something altogether derogatory to our Lord, if we were to suppose that he could refer a Psalm of merely common import, with so much decision and confidence, to the Messiah, to himself (comp. still further Matthew 26:64), and deduce from it such important conclusions as he draws. In like manner it presents the apostles and the authors of the New Testament in a very pitiable light, and it implies views altogether derogatory to the divine character of the sacred Scriptures, to suppose that a Psalm, on which they build so much, on which the whole doctrine of the sitting of Christ at the right hand of God is founded, really contains nothing whatever on which to rear such a superstructure; comp. Acts 2:34, Acts 7:55-56; 1 Peter 3:22; Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:24 ss.; Ephesians 1:20-22; Php_2:9-11 ; Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 1:13-14, Hebrews 8:1, Hebrews 10:12-13. It is not necessary, however, in opposition to these men, to call in authorities which they hold to be of no value. We are able, independently of these, and entirely on the force of internal evidence, to shew the inadmissibility of every other reference, so completely; that the existence of such expositions in our day, can be accounted for only by the descent of rationalistic tradition from a time in which all Messianic Psalms had to be set aside at any cost—a descent which occasions a singular contrast to the interpretation of the prophets. If we are to have done with all the absurdities of Messianic Psalms, the important question arises, how comes it that nothing is to be found in the Psalms of what forms the kernel and the star of prophecy? The internal reasons in favour of the Messianic exposition are the following:
I. The speaker in Psalms 110:1 calls the Messiah his Lord. Now as, according to the title, David is the author of the Psalm, the object can—be neither himself nor any other subject, except the Messiah. This argument has been attempted to be got rid of by the assumption, that David does not speak in his own name, but in that of the people. The last author who adopts this view is Hoffmann. Most assuredly nothing is more frequent in the Psalms than for the Psalmist to speak in the name of the people; yea, this is the common case; and that it is the case here is manifest from the connection with Psalms 108, where, in like manner, the people are introduced speaking, and also from the evidence of our Lord, who, in all the three Evangelists, says, David calls the Messiah Lord, not his Lord. But everywhere in such passages the Psalmist does not place himself in opposition to the people, but includes himself in them. The only apparent exceptions in the whole book of Psalms, Psalms 20, Psalms 21, disappear on a closer view. For David there, along with the whole church, addresses his seed, his posterity on the throne. [Note: This objection has been removed in a correct manner by Calvin: The Jews have no good ground for objecting that Christ uses a quibble, because David does not speak in his own name, but in that of the people. For, although it must be acknowledged that the Psalm was composed for the common use of the church, yet, inasmuch as David himself was one of the pious, and a member of the body under the head, he could not exempt himself, nay, he could not dictate a Psalm without singing it also with his own voice.] II. “Sit at my right hand” is an expression which excludes David and every other ordinary king. It denotes the investing with divine omnipotence, or, as our Lord explains it, the giving all power in heaven and on earth. The attempts to give to this magnificent expression a sense by which it can be accommodated to inferior persons, are, from their very variety, worthy of contempt. They are thereby seen to be the product of mere inclination. Hoffmann., Pro. and its Fulfil., gives the sense thus: he shall receive the seat of honour in that place where Jehovah sits enthroned on Mount Sion. But, the sitting the right hand never occurs as merely expressive of honour; it denotes always participation in power and dominion; and the throne of the Lord cannot be in Sion, but in heaven; for in Sion, the throne of the Lord was nothing else than the king’s throne; the king sat there, not, next the throne, of God, but on it, as his vicegerent in the government of Israel; comp. 1 Chronicles 28:5, “He has chosen Solomon to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel;” 1 Chronicles 29:23, “And Solomon sat upon the throne of the Lord.” III. According to Psalms 110:3, the people of the king goes forth with him to the battle in holy attire. That this expression has occasioned great embarrassment, is manifest from the fact, that De Wette, on the ground of a few MSS., proposes, instead of בהדרי to read בהררי “on the holy mountains,” which, in this connection, is wholly unsuitable, and destroys the point of the comparison, so necessary, of the dew; while, at the same time, בהדרי is defended by the parallel between the holy priestly attire and the free-will offerings, and by the high priesthood of the king, who goes forth at the head of his people in holy priestly garments. History furnishes no example of the host going out, in common wars, in sacred garments. IV. The king, according to Psalms 110:4, is to be a priest for ever after the manner of Melchisedec. It has been maintained, that the predicate of priestly royalty might be applied to every one of the Israelitish kings, inasmuch as they all held the highest authority in ecclesiastical matters, arranged the festivals, offered sacrifices, &c., more especially David, who, at the bringing in of the ark of the covenant, 2 Samuel 6, acted entirely as the high priest, was dressed in sacerdotal garments, offered sacrifices, and blessed the people. But it is, after all, very singular, that the Israelitish kings are nowhere else termed priests. Assuredly the kings did exercise an important influence in religious matters; this was necessary from the nature of things, and everywhere occurred. Yet the essentials of the priestly office remained, as formerly, in the exclusive possession of the family of Aaron, which alone was charged with the service of God,—the attempt of Uzziah to share in this prerogative was punished as a dreadful offence with leprosy; comp. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21,—and which alone had to do with what formed the peculiar kernel of the priestly office; the expiating the sins of the people. David assuredly wore, at the bringing in of the ark, a linen ephod; but this, so far from being identical with what was peculiar to the high priest, was in direct opposition to it; it was the dress only of those who held a subordinate place in the service of God (comp. the Beitr. 3 p. 67);—so that we have here David himself, by a matter of fact, declaring that he was not high priest. And even this subordinate dress David wore only on one extraordinary and special occasion. We read, indeed, in 2 Samuel 6:17, “And David brought burnt offerings before the Lord, and peace offerings;” but that David offered these himself is about as clear from this passage, as that he brought himself to Jerusalem the ark of the covenant, may be proved from 2 Samuel 6:12, or that he built the altar with his own hands may be proved from 2 Samuel 24:25. Even in the law, the offering of sacrifices is frequently attributed to the people, according to the usage of speech, quae causae principali omnia etiam ad materialem pertinentia tribuit; comp. Beitr. p. 58; and also Joshua 8:30 ss. The blessing is, in the law, not confined exclusively to the priests, but only the priestly form of benediction in Numbers 6. David, though not a priest, blessed the people of God with the same right with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the children of Israel before his death, Deuteronomy 33:1. David’s submission to the revealed will of God was marked by tender regard; no one who does not completely misunderstand his whole position in reference to the law could attribute to him the slightest approach to the thought of intruding into the priestly office; and that he was very far from doing this is evident from the fact of his acknowledging Zadok and Abiathar as possessing this office. Moreover it is altogether impossible for us to conceive that the priesthood here spoken of is “one which is essentially connected with rightly constituted royalty,” inasmuch as this pretended priesthood never has applied to it in the Old Testament such a name, and the highly expressive language, “the Lord has sworn, and will not repent,” points to something altogether unusual, and so contrary to the existing state of things, that it required the strongest possible guarantee ere it could be believed:—what was a necessary concomitant of royalty did not require to be the object of a solemn asseveration. This priesthood, moreover, in so far as it came into notice in this connection, afforded no security for the willing surrender of the people to God, and for their holiness, no security for victory in the contest against the whole world arrayed in hostility. The imaginary priesthood finally was not after the manner of Melchisedec. For in his case, the narrative discriminates exactly between him as king and as priest: as king, he brings to Abraham bread and wine, and as priest, he imparts, to him the sacerdotal blessing, while Abraham, who himself exercised the duties of the priestly office in his own family, gave him tithes in acknowledgment of his sacerdotal functions. Hitzig gets quit of a portion of these difficulties by the assumption that the reference is to Jonathan the real high priest. But though, in this case, there exists what is wanting in the others, there is wanting in it what is to be found in them: Jonathan was not a king, and therefore cannot be the representative of the sacerdotal king Melchisedec. Besides, the first and second reasons weigh heavier against this exposition than they do against the others; and the Psalmist, who, according to Hitzig’s own view, does not utter poetic phantasies, but divine suggestions, would altogether stand in need of our compassion for speaking with such ridiculous pathos of such a man. The remark of Ewald, “King and royalty appear here on the highest summit of nobility and glory,” is alone sufficient to set aside this thought. There can, however, be the less difficulty in recognising in the Messiah the high priest for ever, as even in Isaiah 53, the Messiah appears not only as a real offerer of sacrifice, but even as real high priest: in the latter office, he sprinkles many nations, Isaiah 52:15, presents a sin-offering, Isaiah 53:10, intercedes for sinners, Isaiah 53:12. Zechariah also, in a prophecy referring to the Psalm before us, ch. Zechariah 6:9-15, foretells the union in the Messiah of the priestly and kingly (comp. the Christol. 2 p. 69 ss.), and in a passage before this, ch. Zechariah 3:8, represents the Messiah as the true high priest through whom God will forgive the sins of the whole laud, Christol. 2 p. 51.
V. The king is to be a high priest for ever. The expositions which give to this expression a sense less than that of absolute eternity cannot be admitted, inasmuch we have before us a solemn oath of God, and the “for ever” stands in manifest reference to the promise given to David regarding the eternal duration of his family. Hoffmann translates, “till the end of his life:” “we have no reason for understanding the לעולם otherwise than at Psalms 21:4,” but we have special reason for understanding the passage before us differently from the view taken by Hoffmann. Ewald supposes that people always wish the reign of a good king to be eternal; but we have before us no wish of the Psalmist, but a declaration of God, accompanied by a solemn oath. Comp., as to further points connected with עולם , the investigations in Christol. P. ii. p. 427 ss.
The reasons against the Messianic view are of no consequence. It has been said: 1. The Psalmist speaks to the king and high priest as to a contemporary, to one present; and there is no intimation whatever as to his appearing at a future day for the first time. Bleek writes in this strain, p. 183. But if David calls another king his Lord, he thereby intimates distinctly enough, that he speaks of a person yet to appear. And if we must not adopt the poetical-prophetic anticipation of the future, it will be necessary to return, in regard to Isaiah 9:11 and other Messianic passages, to the now exploded interpretations which refer them to some subject existing at the time when the prophet wrote. 2, The idea of a Messiah does not occur in the time of David or of Solomon. In answer to this we point to 2 Samuel 23, Psalms 2, Psalms 45, and Psalms 72:3. “Such a Messiah, a warrior and a priest, never appeared.” We answer: he did indeed appear; but those who adopt this objection “knew him not,” Matthew 16:12. The poetical form in which he is here spoken of cannot prevent the real fulfilment from being seen, as Jehovah himself in the Old Testament is frequently spoken of under the figure of a human warrior; comp., for example, Isaiah 13:4.
The relation already referred to in our introductory remarks at Psalms 109, as subsisting between that Psalm and the one now before us, was correctly perceived, as to essentials, by the Christian fathers: they say Psalms 109, contains τὰ? εἰ?ς χριστὸ?ν παθή?ματα , the sufferings of Christ, and the Psalm before us, τὰ?ς μετὰ? ταῦ?τα δό?ξας , the glory that should follow; comp. the passages in Corderius in the Catena, in which, however, they err in interpreting Psalms 109 exclusively of the Messiah.
Ver. 1. The נאם , a speech of God, a Revelation, is always used of an infallible divine revelation, and shows that we have not to do with a poetic dream; in 2 Samuel 23:2, it follows: “the Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, and his word is in my tongue.” It occurs in the mouth of David, besides Psalms 36:1, where the יהוה נאם is parodied, in 2 Samuel 23:1. In that passage the expression is dependent upon Numbers 24:3 (comp. the Treatise on Balaam, p. 133); and that the passage before us possesses a similar dependance is evident from the circumstance that here the discourse opens the piece—a form which, besides the passage before us and 2 Samuel 23, occurs only in Proverbs 30:1; comp. on Balaam. We have already remarked that in reality the expression, “The Lord says to my Lord,” is equivalent to “The Lord says to me of my Lord.” That David obtains this revelation in name of the church is evident from the fact that in Psalms 108 also he speaks in the name of the Lord.
Daniel 7:13-14, forms the most ancient commentary upon “Sit thou at my right hand.” There the Son of Man comes on the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days, to the heavenly throne of God, “and there is given to him dominion, and glory, and majesty, and all peoples, and nations, and tongues shall serve him, his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which does not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed,”—a passage which our Lord, in Matthew 26:24, connects with the one before us, the real import of which he explains in Matthew 28:18, “From henceforth ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Omnipotence, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Even there the Son of Man rules from heaven over the earth. It is constantly taken for granted in the New Testament that the throne of God, at whose right hand the king sits, is only the heavenly throne; comp. Acts 2:34, Ephesians 1:20-22, Hebrews 1:13-14. In reference to the right hand, as the seat and symbol of power and might, comp., for example, Exodus 15:6, “Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power; thy right hand destroys the enemy.” Knapp, in his treatise “On Christ sitting at the right hand of God,” maintains, without any good reason, that the place at the right hand of kings as he sat upon the throne was given not only to those whom they announced as sharers in their power, but also to those to whom they wished to exhibit their glory and friendship. The example of Bathsheba cannot prove this. She obtained the place at the right hand of Solomon, according to 1 Kings 2:19, as “the mother of the king;” as such she shared, in a certain sense, fully in his dominion. Even at table, those who sat at the right hand of Saul were the individuals who shared in his dominion, generally his son Jonathan, who held under him the place which he would willingly have held also under David (according to 1 Samuel 23:17, “And he said to David, Fear not, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee, and thou shalt rule over Israel, and I shall be thy vicegerent, למשנה ), and in his absence, Abner; comp. 1 Samuel 20:25, and Thenius on the passage:—it was a totally different thing, however, to sit on the throne. That in Psalms 45:9, the standing of the consort at the right hand denotes such participation in dominion as a woman can enjoy, is evident from Psalms 45:12, “So shall the daughters of Tyre make supplication to thee with gifts,” humbly solicit thy favour. Among the ancient Arabians the vicegerents of the king sat at the king’s right hand, at assembly; comp. Eichorn, monum. p. 220: assidet [Note: Arabic not reproduced
ED.] i.e. qui post sequitur, qui secundus a rege est, a dextera ejus, et si in expeditionem egressus fuerit rex, sedet in loco ejus et vices ejus gerit. In the passage before us the expression cannot refer to a mere place of honour. For the conquering power with which the seed of David overthrows all his enemies appears in the following verses as the consequence of the sitting at the right hand of God.
That the main emphasis does not lie on the sitting appears from Acts 7:55-56, where Stephen sees Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and from Romans 8:34, “who is at the right hand of God.” Still the sitting is by no means insignificant; it is the position of one ruling; sit at my right hand, that is, rejoice in thy kingdom, in sharing in my omnipotence and government of the world; comp. on sitting as the proper posture of a reigning sovereign at Psalms 29:10. We are led to this import of the sitting by the footstool, as the opposite of the royal throne, and also by Psalms 110:4, which takes for granted that in the preceding verses the language used had referred to the royal rank of the seed of David: thou art not only a king but also a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, who, to the kingly office from which he had his name, added also the office of priest. Even in representatives of earthly sovereigns, the sitting at the right hand of the king announced their rank as that of vicegerents of royalty.
The explanation of Grotius, “ be sure of my assistance,” has been of late renewed by Bleek on the Epistle to the Hebrews. According to him, the sitting at the right hand “denotes nothing more than the immediate shelter and defence which shall be imparted to the king by God.” But this translation proceeds entirely from the desire to adapt to the assumed subject words which generally are not suitable: sitting at the right hand is never used in this sense. This is rather the sense which belongs to the entirely different expression standing, or being at the right hand of any one; comp. Psalms 16:8, Psalms 119:31, and Psalms 110:5 here.
We have already observed that the עד is to be taken exclusively. It is used by Paul in this sense in 1 Corinthians 15:24, ss. We cannot translate: till I lay thine enemies, but only: till I make thine enemies. Jo. Arnd “As this our king has a glorious throne, so has he also a wonderful footstool; and as his royal throne imparts to us comfort in the highest degree, so his footstool also imparts to us joy. How joyful shall his poor subjects be when they hear that their prince and king has slain their enemies and delivered them out of their hands! How did their poor subjects go forward to meet Saul and Jonathan when these kings had slain the Philistines! . . . In like manner our king has his enemies under his feet; thus shall he also bring all our enemies under his feet, for the victory is ours, God be thanked, who has given us the victory through Christ our Lord.”
Ver. 2. That we must translate, his-power rod, in the sense of his powerful mighty rod, is manifest from such passages as Jeremiah 48:17, Ezekiel 19:11-12, Ezekiel 19:14, in which מטה עז occurs undoubtedly in the sense of powerful rod. מטה never signifies sceptre, but always rod. In Jeremiah 48:17, a passage which Gesenius, next to the one before us, adduces for this sense, the parallel lqm is decisive the other way; and Ezekiel, in ch. Ezekiel 19:11, distinguishes between the rod and the sceptre. The rod is the instrument of slaughter and punishment; comp. Isaiah 9:3, Isaiah 10:5, Isaiah 10:15, Isaiah 14:5, Ezekiel 7:10-11, where Theodoret says, “he called the rod the punishment.” It is hence more suitable in the connection, especially in relation to Psalms 110:1 (the entire Psalm has to do not with the government of the Anointed generally, but singly and alone with the subjugation of bitter enemies), and in parallel to רדה , which does not mean to reign but to lord it over. The emblem, therefore, of the rod of the Anointed thus considered is the rod of Moses, forming as it did the counterpart to the rod which Egypt raised against Israel,—a parallelism to which Isaiah, in ch. Isaiah 10:26 (comp. with Isaiah 10:24), refers, the emblem of the punishing power which the Lord has given to his church in relation to a hostile world. Next to this passage there are other two passages deserving of notice, Micah 4:2-3, and Isaiah 2:3-4, “And many nations go and say, Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways, and we may walk in his paths, for the Law goes out from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and he judges among nations, and rebukes many peoples; and they beat their swords into pruning hooks.” These passages are not exactly parallel; but they partake so far of the nature of parallel passages, that they give the opposite view, the peaceful reign of the Lord in his Anointed in Sion over his faithful subjects, or over those who willingly have submitted to him. “The royal sceptre was of a twofold symbolical nature: on the one hand, it pointed to the staff of the shepherd; and, on the other, to the rod of the governor of a house of correction.”
Stier. In the passages now quoted, the friendly aspect of the sceptre of the Anointed is presented as it is in Psalms 2:9, and in the fundamental passage, Numbers 24:17, alongside of the threatening one. Over Sion, as the centre point of the kingdom of the Anointed, comp. at Psalms 2:6. On “rule in the midst of thine enemies,” Numbers 24:19, ought to be compared, “And one shall rule out of Jacob, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city,” more especially as David, in 2 Samuel 23, undoubtedly refers to the prophecy of Balaam; comp. the Treatise on Balaam, p. 133. That prophecy received its preliminary fulfilment in David, who did rule in the midst of his enemies; comp. 2 Samuel 8. But David was not satisfied with this foretaste; his eyes were sharpened to perceive its proper fulfilment. Luther: “He gives us no other mark as to where Christ is to reign, and where we shall find his church, except in the midst of his enemies.”
According to the common interpretation, נדבות ought to have the sense of “willingness”— thy people is entirely willing. But it was shown at Psalms 54:6, that נדבה has only one sense, that of a free-will gift—a gift which the heart prompts any one to bring. We might look upon the Lord as the giver:— thy people, gifts, instead of shall be gifted to thee by the Lord—allusion being made to Psalms 68:9, where נדבות occurs in the sense of gifts given by God. But that we are rather to consider the people themselves as the giver, the receiver being not the Anointed, but the Lord— thy people give or consecrate themselves willingly to the Lord—is clear from the constant use of ליהוה נדבה in the sense of free-will gifts, which are brought to the Lord (נדבה is found only in one passage signifying gifts of God, and never occurs in the sense of human gifts offered to each other as to the Lord), from the manifest reference to the free-will offerings at the dedication of the tabernacle, Exodus 25:2, Exodus 35:29, Exodus 36:3, from התנדב ליהוה , to dedicate one’s self to the Lord, as found in the lips of David, 1 Chronicles 29:14, 1 Chronicles 29:17, and from the special use of this phrase as applied to such as dedicated themselves to the Lord for sacred warfare, in 2 Chronicles 17:16, Judges 5:2, Judges 5:9; and, finally, from Psalms 110:4, according to which the Anointed is the priest, who thus can not only receive himself the free-will gifts, but through whose mediation they must be offered. The expression ביום חילך is usually translated: in the day of thy host, i.e. in the day then the host is led out to battle or is mustered. But that חיל ought rather to be taken in its usual sense of strength, might, power (comp. Psalms 18:32, Psalms 59:11, Psalms 84:7), is manifest from Psalms 60:12; Psalms 108:13, “in God shall we execute might, and he shall tread down our enemies,” to which allusion is here made (by the king at the right hand of God, the hope there expressed shall be realized), and from the fundamental passage in the prophecy of Balaam, Numbers 24:18, “Israel executes might,” on which 1 Samuel 14:48 depends. “In thy power -day” refers, besides, to Psalms 110:1-2, where power had been promised to the Anointed in relation to the enemies, and is equivalent to, in the day of battle, when thou hast obtained possession of this power granted to thee by the Lord, when “rule thou in the midst of them” shall be in the act of being fulfilled. Finally, the “power-day” is parallel to the rod of strength in Psalms 110:2, and to the day of wrath of the Lord and of his Anointed in Psalms 110:5. It is evident from the accents after “in the power-day,” that we must consider the words, “in holy attire,” as belonging to the second half of the verse; the distinction between the two portions of the verse is very great—comp. Dachsel on the accentuation, Biblia accentuata. The words give the point of resemblance between the common and the figurative dew. It consists in the beauty which is peculiar to the troops of the king because of their holy garments, as it does to the dew. Those who rob themselves of this announcement of the point of resemblance, have recourse to guessing. They take, in most cases, the multitude as the point of resemblance, and refer to 2 Samuel 17:12, where Hushai said to Absalom, “and we come upon him in one of the places where he is found, and fall upon him as the dew falleth upon the earth.” In this passage it is exceedingly doubtful whether it is the multitude that does form the point of resemblance; it is as likely to be the sudden and unexpected surprise; but, at all events, it is only the preceding context that affords any justification for thinking of the multitude, which is by no means the most obvious thought. Then, by this view, the connection with Psalms 110:4 is destroyed; the true priesthood of the Anointed has no real connection with the mere quantity, but only with the quality of the people. Some seek the point of resemblance in מרחם משמר , and find it only in the idea of what is unexpected, inexplicable by human causes. But in this case the connection with Psalms 110:4 is destroyed, which demands that “from the morning-womb” be considered as limiting only what stands next to it. “ Holy ornaments” is a poetical expression for the holy garments, בגדי קדש , in which the high priest, according to Leviticus 16:4, discharged his duties on the great day of atonement. The “holy beauty,” the הדרת קדש , which in Psalms 29:2 is attributed to the angels worshipping God in the heavenly sanctuary, is a corresponding expression. In Revelation 19:14, the heavenly host of the contending and conquering lamb are seen clothed in pure white linen. In reference to what corresponds to the holy garments, comp. Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4.— משחר , which occurs only in this passage, is best taken in the sense of the place of the sun-rising, the eastern sky; comp. Ewald, 160, Psalms 133:3, is to be compared, where David compares brotherly harmony, as a lovely gift of heavenly origin, to the dew of Hermon; Micah 5:7, “a dew from the Lord which tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men;” Job 38:28, “hath the rain a father, or who hath begotten the dew?” As ילדות occurs in the sense of the season of youth in Lam. 11:9, 10, and as it is doubtful whether it can signify “young men,” it is better to translate “dew of thy youth;” “thy youth-dew;” “thy youthful dew;” “thy youthful soldiery like the dew in its beauty.”
In Hebrews 7:21, great stress is laid upon the oath with which God here assures the seed of David, and also in Hebrews 7:24-25, upon the expression “for ever,” which has no natural reference to the historical parallel. On “and will not repent,” comp. Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29. The י in על דברתי is the old external mark of the stat. constr., the so termed paragogic Jod, which occurs also in other passages in the Psalms of David; comp. Psalms 101:5, Psalms 103:3-4. In this case the form is manifestly in imitation of the preceding Melchesidec. The על דברת means properly “upon the thing of,” so that the thing, the relation of Melchesidec, forms the substratum, the measure and rule for thine. The Septuagint give κατὰ? τὴ?ν τά?ξιν , which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who follows that version in most cases—for example in Hebrews 5:10, Hebrews 7:15—explains κατὰ? τὴ?ν ὁ?μοιό?ντα . The על דברת occurs frequently in Ec., but in a sense altogether different. That Melchisedec was king of Jerusalem was shown at Psalms 76:2. This is clear also from the passage before us. For it is as to a type of the king of Sion, Psalms 110:2, that reference is made to Melchisedec. The oath is in reality not made to the king at the right hand of God, but to the trembling believer. Arnd: “I swear to you poor sinners, by my holy and great name, that I have appointed, and given to you for your comfort, this my Son for a high priest, who shall atone for you and bless you.”
That the second strophe begins here is evident, besides other reasons, from the reference of “the Lord at thy right hand,” “to sit at my right hand,” and to the conclusion of Psalms 109. Many ancient expositors suppose that the address is here directed to God, and consequently that the name אדני is here applied to the king and high priest. But the reasons adduced for this view will not stand the test. It has been said, 1st, It is not to be thought that the Psalmist should place, in such close juxtaposition, the two clauses, “the king is at the right hand of Jehovah,” and “Jehovah is at the right hand of the king.” But there is no reason why he should not. Assuredly because the king sits at the right hand of Jehovah, that is, to speak without a figure, because all power has been given unto him in heaven and in earth, Jehovah is at the right hand of the king, stands by him with his omnipotence in the conflict against his enemies. Or, because the king is connected with the right hand of omnipotence, his right hand must be strengthened by omnipotence. 2d, In Psalms 110:7, we add, even in Psalms 110:6, the king is undeniably the subject. But there occurs a change of subject before this; in Psalms 110:5 we have what the Lord does for the king, and in Psalms 110:6-7 what the king himself does in the Lord. And, on the other hand, against this interpretation may be urged the following reasons:—1. The address throughout the whole Psalm is directed only to the king and high priest; 2. In Psalms 109:31, to which passage attention is directed back in the passage before us, the Lord stands at the right hand of the needy man. As there he stands with his omnipotence in aid of the seed of David in his humiliation, so does he here in his exaltation. 3. Were the address directed to God, the name אדני would be given to the king, as distinguishing him from Jehovah, which is not suitable.
That after “he smites,” we should suppose added, “by thee,” is evident, irrespective of Psalms 110:6-7, from “at thy right hand,” according to which the right hand of the king is conceived of as in action, and is strengthened only by the Lord. The assertion of De Wette is very puzzling: the king sitting enthroned at Jehovah’s right hand, that is, conceived of as in a state of rest, cannot lead on a battle. The sitting at the right hand of God, on the contrary, is descriptive of a state of the highest activity, implies that God does nothing except through the agency of this his vicegerent. On the expression, “in the days of his wrath,” comp. Psalms 2:5. The day of the wrath of God is also the power-day of the king, ver. 3. On he strikes kings ( Psalms 18:38, Psalms 68:21, Psalms 68:23, Psalms 2:10), Luther: “He really threatens such great heads in an awful manner, that if they will not hear, and cannot obey, they shall be terrified to death. And assuredly he would willingly, by these means, allure them to repentance, and persuade them to turn, and to cease from raging against this Lord. But if they will not, they shall know against whom it is that they go on. . . . This is our consolation which upholds us, and makes our heart joyful and glad against the persecution and rage of the world, that we have such a Lord, who not only delivers us from sin and eternal death, but also protects us, and delivers us in sufferings and temptation, so that we do not sink under them. And though men rage in a most savage manner against Christians, yet neither the gospel nor Christianity shall perish; but their heads shall be destroyed against it. For if their persecutions were to go on unceasingly, Christianity could not remain. Wherefore he gives them a time, and says he will connive at them for a while, but not longer than till the hour comes which he here calls the day of wrath. And if they will not now cease in the name of God, they must then cease in the name of the devil.”
Ver. 6. Several suppose that Jehovah is here still the subject, and that the king, for the first time, is the subject in Psalms 110:7. But against this there is the consideration that “he drinks from the brook,” presupposes a hot contest, and appears unsuitable if no contest is supposed to be spoken of in the preceding clauses. We must, therefore, take it for granted that time change of subject goes on from this verse. As the מלא even with the Zere occurs undeniably in a transitive sense, and signifies to fill (comp. Gesen. in his Thes.), there is no reason to assume a change of subject: it shall be full of dead bodies. The place to be filled is to be supplied from the clause “upon the wide earth.” That the ראש is used in its proper sense and cannot be translated: a head over great lands, is clear not from the על—against the assertion that it must necessarily have been ארץ ראש רבה comp: Psalms 47:2—but from the clause, “he shall raise the head,” in Psalms 110:7, and from the parallel passage, Ps. 43:21, “God smites the head of his enemies, the hairy head of him who walketh in his sins,” and Habakkuk 3:13,—comp. Habakkuk 3:14, ראש מחץ occurs in like manner in the sense of a breaker of heads. On our verse, we should compare the expanded description in Revelation 19:11 ss., comp. Revelation 16:1 ss.
Ver. 7. That the בדרך is not to be connected with מנחל , “he shall drink of the brook in the way,” but that we must translate, “from the brook he shall drink on the way,” is evident from the accents (comp. Dachsel) and the parallel passage, Psalms 102:23, “He has weakened in the way my strength.” The occurrence in the life of Samson is in both cases well fitted to explain the figure. And in all probability allusion is distinctly made to it, as in Isaiah 9:3, Isaiah 10:26, allusion is made to the victory over Midian by Gideon, and also in Psalms 83:11, and in Psalms 68, to the song of Deborah, and in our Psalm to Melchisedec. The occurrence lying within the period of the Judges, immortalized by the name of the place, could not be unknown to David and to those for whom he wrote in the first instance; so that the allusion would in so far be understood. The Fathers and the old expositors understand by the brook partly the sufferings of Christ themselves, partly the revival of spirit which he experienced during these sufferings, without observing that the Psalm has to do throughout only with Christ exalted, and, without any good reason, going back to the subject of Psalms 109. According to several, the drinking out of the brook denotes the hardiness of the king “without stopping or having any royal self-indulgence, he drinks out of the brook in the way. Such a king must conquer.” But against this there is the fact that, according to this translation, the word of greatest importance, the “only” is wanting, and that water in the east is never reckoned as a drink of inferior description, but in Scripture is employed as an emblem of what revives; comp., for example, Psalms 36:8, Jeremiah 31:9. We cannot refer to Judges 6:5-6, as favouring this interpretation. The test which Gideon there made use of, refers only to the manner of drinking. All, the zealous and the effeminate alike, drink of the brook in the way:—according to the interpretation, בדרך is falsely connected with נחל . On, “he shall lift up the head,” that is, he shall triumph, Luther “that is, shall be glorious, and shall powerfully rule over all,” Psalms 3:3, Psalms 27:6. That the words indicate an enduring, a final triumph, not a momentary strengthening, appears from the opposition to the smiting of the head of the enemies. It is also only when thus understood that they are suitable as a conclusion, as is evident from the fact that this feeble interpretation has led many to the idea that the Psalm is only a fragment. To the Davidic trilogy there is now added in Psalms 111-113, a new trilogy. For that these three Psalms are connected together, appears from the following reasons: 1. All the three have the common object to strengthen the suffering and conflicting church by praising God; Psalms 111 does this by the praise of God on account of his glorious deeds in the past, which guarantee glorious help for the future, Psalms 112, by the praise of God as the faithful recompenser, and Psalms 113, by the praise of God as the helper of the needy and of the miserable. 2. While Psalms 111 and Psalms 112 have the hallelujah only at the beginning, Psalms 113 has it at the beginning and at the end, and thus announces itself, as does Psalms 106, in relation to Psalms 104 and Psalms 105 as the conclusion which binds together the whole trilogy. 3. In connection with this there is the fact that of the significant number twelve of Jehovah in the three Psalms, six belong to the first Psalm, and six to the two last. As in Psalms 111, Jehovah occurs four times, and in Psalms 112 twice, so it occurs in Psalms 113 in the first strophe four times, and in the second twice. 4. As the Psalms 113 th Psalm forms the conclusion of a trilogy, the fact that the Psalm is, in point of form, entirely ruled by the number three, is thereby illustrated.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 110". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany