************ Sermon on Psalm 110 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 26, 2017
"King and Priest"
The most popular psalm today, or at least the most well-known, is Psalm 23: "The Lord is my shepherd ..." What might surprise you is that this was not the case at the time of the New Testament.
What psalm is most quoted by the New Testament authors? Not Psalm 23! Not the very long Psalm 119, which offers more to quote. It is the psalm in front of us this morning. Just its first verse is referred to one way or another a total of 27 times in the New Testament. And verse 4 is quoted 7 times.
The New Testament quotes make clear that Psalm 110 is a Messianic psalm. It begins and ends with the Messiah. In it David expresses his faith in the Messiah. Matthew Henry states:
This psalm is pure gospel; it is only, and wholly, concerning Christ, the Messiah promised to the fathers and expected by them.
This psalm reminds us, then, of the essential nature of the faith of the Old Testament saints. They were not saved by keeping the law of Moses; rather, they were saved in the very same way as people today; that is, they were saved through faith in Jesus the Messiah. The only difference between their faith and ours is that their faith looked forward to the coming Christ, while our faith looks back to the Christ Who has already come and someday will return.
I Two Offices in One Person
We continue our observance of Lent this morning. Psalm 110 tells us two things about Jesus: He is King and He is Priest. Jesus is like Melchizedek who served both as King of Salem and Priest to God Most High.
Except for Melchizedek and Christ, God did not permit the joining of the kingly and priestly offices in one person. Do you remember the story of King Uzziah? He was a godly king who sought God and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Uzziah was very successful as king and became proud. His pride led to his downfall. He entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense -- something that could be done only by the priests. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him into the temple and confronted him about this. Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. Uzziah was punished for improperly joining together the kingly and priestly office.
Because of the separation of the two offices, some of the Jews expected two different Messiahs. They expected a Messiah Who was King and they expected a Messiah Who was Priest.
Who is Jesus? Who is the Jesus we remember in this season of Lent? Psalm 110 tells us Jesus is King and Jesus is Priest. In Jesus is joined together both offices. Jesus is a Priest Who sits at the right hand of God in power. He rules as King and serves in the sanctuary. This reveals how special and exalted Jesus really is.
II Jesus is King
A First of all, this messianic psalm tells us Jesus is King. It tells us Jesus has supreme dominion and invincible power.
David starts the psalm with "The LORD has said to my Lord ..." Notice that the first time the word LORD appears in this verse it is in all capital letters. Meaning that in the original Hebrew we have the word YHWH or Jehovah. This is the personal name God called Himself when He appeared to Moses in the burning bush. The second word Lord in this verse is the Hebrew word Adonai, which means "master." So David mentions the LORD God Almighty, Yahweh. And, David mentions another Lord, his Master, Who can only be the Lord Jesus Christ.
B In our psalm, David records a conversation he overhears between the LORD God Almighty and the Lord Jesus Christ. So we understand this conversation I need to explain three common images from the time of David.
First, David overhears "right hand." "Sit at my right hand." In the Ancient World the "right hand" was the place of authority. So, to sit at God's right hand means to share His power and position. This is where the Messiah sits: at the right hand of God. This means His is glory and majesty and power and authority and position. James and John knew this. Do you remember what they asked Jesus one day? They asked to sit at Jesus' right hand and left hand in glory (cf Mk 10:35-37). James and John wanted to share in Jesus' glory and majesty and power and authority and position as Lord.
Second, David also hears "footstool." "Make your enemies a footstool for your feet." Imagine an enemy getting down on their hands and knees and being used as a footstool or foot rest. Meaning what? To be a footstool for someone's feet means to be completely subject to him or her (cf Josh 10:24-25). Meaning complete dominance and control on the part of Jesus.
Third, David hears "scepter." "The LORD will extend your mighty scepter." The "scepter" is the symbol of the king's right to rule. It is a symbol of His absolute power and authority. We see this power in the story of Esther. Esther's uncle, Mordecai, told her about Haman's plot to kill all the Jews in the Babylonian Empire and urged her to go into the king's presence to plead for her people. But Esther reminded her uncle that anyone who approached the king without being summoned was put to death unless the king extended the gold scepter to him or her and spared their life (Esther 3:11). The scepter was the symbol of the king's power over life and death. Jesus has the scepter. Jesus has the rule. He is the mighty King.
Right hand. Footstool. Scepter. All of this is the act of Yahweh. Christ was raised to His kingly office by the Lord God Almighty:
(Ps 110:1-2) The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (2) The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.And, because Christ's kingdom has been established by God, it can never be overcome. His name is above all names. And before King Jesus every knee will bow (cf Phil 2:9-11).
All of this happened, or began to happen, when Jesus ascended into heaven. I am sure you realize Jesus was not the first to ascend. We know Enoch and Elijah also ascended. But, unlike Jesus, these two men were not given God's right hand, a footstool, or a scepter. Unlike Jesus, these two men were not named King. Unlike these two men, Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. Unlike these two men, Jesus rules over every aspect of our lives. We are His subjects and must live according to His laws.
C As the almighty and exalted King, Christ's kingdom grows and expands:
(Ps 110:2) The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.This points to what happens on Pentecost. At that time God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven bowed before Jesus as Lord and Christ. But this also points to the Gentile mission. In His death, Christ ripped the veil and broke down the wall of His earthly kingdom, sending the Gospel to the ends of the earth and expanding His Kingdom to cover all of creation. As the song writer puts it:
Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Does its successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
This reign of King Jesus is evidenced by the people of God themselves. Look at verse 3:
(Ps 110:3) Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth.David is talking about people who were once the enemies of Christ. But the Gospel conquered them so now they are willing volunteers in the army of King Jesus. The army of Christ has never drafted its soldiers. These willing volunteers are pictured as youthful warriors and compared to the dew of the morning. Meaning what? Meaning their freshness, their sudden appearance, their glittering numbers, their joy in service.
Think, my brothers and sisters, about your service to the King. Are you willing to serve in the church and Kingdom where and when He calls?
What happens to those who don't acknowledge His throne and won't bow before His rule? Look at verses 5-6:
(Ps 110:5-6) 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.
This judgment of King Jesus is most severe. The day it happens is called "the day of his wrath." We call it the Day of Judgment. It is a most fearful and dreadful day.
This judgment is also thorough. Even kings and rulers are not too great to escape it. It will go through the nations and no nation is exempt.
Finally, the judgment is unfailing. It will be completed. Often, we need to rest when we undertake a work. But King Jesus never grows tired or weary. He is always refreshed and never exhausted. He is like a warrior who, in the process of pursuing his enemies, comes to a stream and drinks. Refreshed, he continues his pursuit and overtakes his enemies. This is what is in mind in verse 7.
(Ps 110:7) He will drink from a brook beside the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
Jesus is King. Jesus is the victorious King. Jesus is the King Who was given God's right hand, a footstool, and a scepter.
People have two choices when it comes to Jesus as King. Either they bow before Him and enlist in His army. Or, they are crushed and destroyed by Him. Either you serve Jesus as King or He will destroy you as Judge.
III Jesus is Priest
A So far we have not looked at verse 4. This is the most important verse of the entire psalm:
(Ps 110:4) The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."This verse makes clear that the Gospel reign of Jesus has the priestly work of Jesus Christ at its center. Remember what we said earlier: Jesus combines in His one person the offices of King and Priest. The King is also a Priest.
We all know what a king does: a king rules, he reigns, he sits on a throne, he defends against enemies. What does a priest do? A priest offers sacrifices: sin offerings, burnt offerings, prayer offerings. A priest represents a sinful people before a holy God.
As King, Jesus rules. He rules the universe. As Priest, Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice.
So, Jesus is King and Jesus is Priest.
B We can go further and say Jesus is King because He is Priest. Why did Jesus ascend into heaven? Why was He given God's right hand, a footstool, and a scepter? Because He also descended (cf Eph 4:9-10). Because He suffered the torments of hell. Because He sacrificed Himself upon the cross. Remember what Paul wrote about Christ Jesus to the church at Philippi?
(Phil 2:8-9) ... he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (9) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name ...
C I mentioned earlier that God did not allow anyone to be both king and priest. Christ does not have to observe this rule because He is a different kind of Priest. Christ does not have to observe this rule because He is not a priest from the tribe of Levi or the family of Aaron. Instead, our Scripture reading tells us Jesus is a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
Who is Melchizedek? Remember when Abraham came back from rescuing Lot from the hands of the four kings? Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abraham. Then Abraham gave him a tenth of everything (cf Gen 14:18-20).
The name "Melchizedek" means "king of righteousness. He was king of Salem -- a city which later would be known as Jerusalem. As "Salem" means "peace" this means Melchizedek is also "king of peace." The book of Hebrews suggests Melchizedek represents a continuing, eternal priesthood because Genesis mentions no father or mother, no genealogy, as if he was without beginning of days or end of life (Heb 7:3).
Jesus is a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is truly the King of righteousness and the King of peace. The way by which He produced peace between guilty sinners and the holy God was through righteousness. He Himself lived a perfectly righteous life, providing the righteousness that we do not have, righteousness that is credited to us when we believe. Furthermore, Jesus' death also has to do with righteousness. He died to receive the righteous judgment of the holy God against our sins.
Jesus is a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. While Melchizedek could only suggest or represent endlessness, the Lord Jesus actually possesses it. His priesthood, in which He represents sinners before God, continues forever.
Finally, as Melchizedek pronounced a blessing upon Abraham, so the Lord Jesus Christ pronounces blessing after blessing upon us. All spiritual blessings flow to us, not because we earn them or deserve them, but solely because of the priestly work of Jesus on our behalf.
Our Priest is also our King. He rules over us because He offered Himself on the cross.
How do you respond? Are you a footstool for His feet? Or, does your knee bow before Him? Does your tongue proclaim Him to be Lord? Does He rule over every aspect of your life? Are you a willing subject in His Kingdom, who lives according to His laws, and worships Him in spirit and in truth?
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