I think most of us grew up thinking that “Christ” is Jesus’ last name. We later found out that Christ is the title that is given to the person Jesus from Nazareth. There are actually over 330 names and titles given to Jesus throughout Scripture and each one provides insight into the person and work of our Lord. The title “Christ” is unique in that it is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah,” which refers to the anointed one that was prophesied about in the Old Testament. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Matrix,” the Messiah’s coming was prophesied much like Neo’s coming is referred to in the movie. The Messiah would be “the one.”
We have an advantage that many throughout history have not had. When God reveals His word, He seems to do it progressively, over the course of thousands of years and in snippets that we can manage and that build upon each other. This is true concerning the prophecies related to the Messiah. We can look to the fulfillment of these prophecies now that they’ve come true and see what the Lord intended when they were originally given. Of course, some prophecies have yet to be fulfilled, but we have many more pieces of the equation than those that came before us.
We have an advantage that many throughout history have not had. When God reveals His word, He seems to do it progressively...
Believe it or not, the Psalms make up 25 percent of all the Old Testament passages that are quoted by the New Testament writers. That makes it the most quoted book of the Old Testament in the New Testament. Psalm 110, as it so happens, is the most quoted psalm. So, we’re talking about the most quoted chapter from the most quoted book! We see all sorts of psalms in the Psalter such as psalms of lament, thanksgiving, and praise. Psalm 110 is considered a royal psalm and these psalms often reflect upon the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16) in which God promises that a king from David’s line will have an eternal kingdom that extends to all the nations. This is a psalm that speaks about one king in particular—the Messiah.
A few instances where this Psalm is referenced:
- In Acts 2, we see this psalm used to show that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father.
- Again in Acts 2, Peter uses this passage to show that Jesus is the Messiah promised.
- In Hebrews 1, this passage is used to show that the Messiah is greater than the angels.
- Jesus Himself uses this psalm to explain that the Messiah would not just be a physical man (Matt 22).
Take this opportunity to read through Psalm 110
The first prophecy: The Reign of the Messiah will be providential and absolute (vs. 1-3)
I don’t know to what degree David understood the implications of his prophecy, but what we end up with in verse one is a conversation between two persons of the God-head. The Messiah would be given supreme authority as He rules over all the nations. This ruler will sit at the authoritative position of power at the right hand of God Himself. As we see in Joshua 10, the conquered kings of this time may submit to their conqueror by lowering their head to the ground and allowing their necks to be stepped on by the new ruling power. It was a recognition of the conqueror’s dominance. The enemies of Christ, those who refuse His mercy and good will and still remain committed to rebellion against the Law and rule of God, will be conquered by Christ. Their heads will be like a footstool underneath the foot of the ruling Messiah!
The second prophecy: The Messiah will be a Priest-King (vs. 4)
There is no other figure in all of history that could fulfill this role of both priest and king. Sure, David performs some priestly duties. In 2 Samuel 6, for instance, we see David making sacrifices and blessing the people but he was not considered a priest by any means. Under the sacrificial system, the priests interceded on behalf of the people and made sacrifices for their sins. This entire institution was created by God to prepare the way for Christ so that we could, ultimately, grasp what He was and is doing as our high priest. Jesus, above and beyond the wording seen in Psalm 110, became the perfect priest and perfect sacrifice. Where the old system fails, the sacrifice of this spotless lamb would be final and once and for all (Hebrews 10:10-14)! Through Him, sinners have accessibility to a holy God!
Jesus, above and beyond the wording seen in Psalm 110, became the perfect priest and perfect sacrifice
How was Jesus qualified to be a priest, when the priests were to come from the line of Levi and Aaron? We find our answer here in Psalm 110:4. He is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is the somewhat mysterious figure we see way back in Genesis as the king of Salem (like “Jerusalem”). Abraham paid tithes to this king and this king is actually described in Genesis as a priest of the most high God. This line is more ancient than the Levitical priesthood and even Father Abraham paid his respects to this figure in the Old Testament. In other words, Jesus’ priesthood is greater than what is seen in the priesthood of Levi and Aaron.
The third prophecy: The Messiah’s coming brings judgment (vs. 5-7)
These verses describe a day when the Priest-King does more than just perform priestly duties. This King unleashes the power and anger of God. Think about all the enemies of God’s people throughout the past millennia and all the wicked men that have taken advantage of the righteous. We see in the psalms, and this is confirmed in the NT, that God is storing up wrath against those that have broken His Law, abused the powerless, and mistreated the innocent. This bloody imagery, complete with corpses and shattered heads, includes a picture of evil kings who will be destroyed. Evil men may think that they have “gotten away with murder” as they hide behind their earthly power. The battle with the Messiah, however, ends with a warrior king pursuing His enemies. He chases them down, each one, and He doesn’t lose. Justice will be served.
Justice will be served.
We do know that the fulfillment of these three verses is still to come. This introduces an interesting point about prophesies. When the prophets were given their “visions” by God, they didn’t always see the time frame of their fulfillment. This is why, often, the prophets did not see Jesus’ coming as two separate occasions. In other words, the prophets didn’t know there would be two comings of Christ (first He came to go to Calvary and He will return in triumphant splendor in the future.) For the prophets, it was like looking out at the mountains. They could see that there was a whole landscape, but it is hard to know that the mountains actually have some distance between them.
3 Takeaway Applications
- Are you an ally or adversary of the Messiah? If you stand under His reign as a believer who has turned from sin and toward the Gospel, you stand with the benefits of being in the favor of an almighty king who also stands as a priest interceding on your behalf before God. If you are not “in Christ,” you are on the side of the Messiah’s adversaries and will eventually face the wrath of God if you continue in rebellion against Him.
- We live in a world full of injustice, where it seems far too often the people with power are corrupt and wicked to varying degrees. This prophecy stands to remind us that Jesus will right all wrongs in the end and His justice is absolute and perfect (Revelation 19:11-16).
- In the midst of whatever trials you find yourself in, you can reflect upon the promises of God in His word to find strength, as David did. Not only is this psalm prophetic, it is also a true statement of confidence in God’s promises first given in the Davidic covenant.