A STUDY OF PSALM 110:1
There is some controversy about the meaning of Psalm 110:1. In the KJV it reads, “The Lord (Jehovah) said unto my Lord, ‘Sit Thou at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool”. It is the Hebrew word translated “my Lord” that is problematic. Most agree that it is “Adoni” and many believe that the word is never used of God. (Please see the paper on this web-site A Study of the Hebrew Word “Adoni” for the Scriptural proof that “adoni” is indeed used of God).The implication is that Christ, about Whom, of course, this verse is written (it is Christ who will sit at the right hand of Jehovah) is not God, but Man.
I am not a Hebrew scholar, but because I believe that God’s truth is available to all who love His Word, not just Hebrew scholars, I offer this study from a different perspective than one of Hebrew scholarship.
Let me begin by saying that the phrase “My right hand” is not to be interpreted literally, but figuratively. “At my right hand” is a phrase often used in the Bible to express a position of power, authority and favor. That is proved in the paper on this web-site Sit Thou At My Right Hand.
Ps. 110:1 is quoted in the New Testament seven times. By studying all seven occurrences we will learn a great deal of what this verse has to say about Who Christ is. We will see that this verse is quoted several times by our Lord Himself to prove that Messiah is the Son of God. But it is just as true that Messiah was the Son of Man. Both are equally true, and neither truth detracts from the other. Therefore, it is not surprising that the context of two of the times Ps. 110:1 is quoted shows that it was intended to prove that Christ is Man. (Please see the paper on this web-site, Can Jesus Christ Be Both God And Man?.)
The first time Ps. 110:1 is quoted in the New Testament is in the context of Matthew 22:41-44. In verse 41 we learn that some Pharisees were gathered together and Jesus asked them, “What think ye of Christ, Whose Son is He”? And the Pharisees answered, “The Son of David” (verse 42). And our Lord’s answer is significant, “He said unto them, ‘How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying The Lord said unto My Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool”. If David then called Him Lord, how is He his Son?”
The point Christ was making to these Pharisees was that David refers to the coming Messiah as “Lord” and this proves that the Messiah was going to be much more than the Son of David. Who could David, the King of Israel, have possibly called Lord other than God Himself? No one! Christ was, of course, David’s Son. But the point of these passages is that Christ was much more than David’s Son, or David would not have called Him “lord”. Christ is in one sense the Son of David, but He is also the Son of God.
Going now to the second time Psalm 110:1 is quoted in the New Testament, we find it in Mark 12:36. Once again Christ asked, this time of the common people, “How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David Himself said by the Holy Ghost, ‘The Lord said unto My lord, sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool”. David therefore, himself calleth Him Lord; and whence is He then his son?” (verses 35-37). This is the same point made in the same way as we read in Matthew 22. That point being that David would not have called his own son “Lord”. That Messiah is the Son of God is the whole point of this discourse.
Luke 20:41-42 is the third time Ps.110:1 is quoted and it is quoted to prove the same point as was Matthew 22 and Mark 12. That David would not have called his own Son “Lord”.
Acts 2:34-35 is the fourth occurrence of the quote and shines a different light on the quote. In this context Peter is making the point stated in verse 30, “Therefore being a prophet (referring to David) and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on His throne”. As mentioned above, Christ is the Son of Man and the Son of God. One truth does not negate the other. In this context, Peter is pointing to Christ as the Son of Man. So when Peter, in verse 34 quotes Ps. 110:1 it is to show that Christ fulfilled the prophecy given to David, that “the fruit of his loins” will fulfill the prophecy of Ps. 110:1. To suggest that this proves that Christ is the Son of Man is true, but we must also consider the other references to this Psalm which were quoted above to prove that Christ is the Son of God. Both are true, neither cancels out the other.
The fifth time Ps. 110:1 is quoted is in I Cor. 15:25. Because it does not shed any light on our study we will not dwell on it. I will however comment on verse 28 as that has sometimes been used to try to prove that Christ is not God. “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him That put all things under Him”. Some believe that the fact that “the Son” will be subject to “Him” proves that Christ is not God. In the paper on this web-site The Trinity: Is God Three Persons In One? I give my reason for believing that “the Son” in this verse refers to one of the titles of God. It is the office of Son that is subject to God, not the Person of Jesus Christ Who Is God. God can not be subject to anyone.
Going now to the sixth quote of Psalm 110:1 which is found in Heb. 1:13. Let us examine this chapter so that we may put the quote in its context. Note verse 4, “Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they”. Note that it was not something He did that gave Him a “more excellent name” than the angels, it was “by inheritance”. In other words, it was because of Who He is, not by what He had done that gave Him that more excellent name. Who is “more excellent” than the angels “by inheritance” if not God? Certainly not man. The point of this entire chapter is found in verse 3, “Who (Christ) being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person….”. Man could never be the “express image of His person”. This can be said only of Christ as the Son of God. Therefore, we may conclude that once again this quote is being used to prove that Christ is God.
The last time the Psalm is quoted in the New Testament is in Heb. 10:13. Here the point is that Christ, as priest, offered Himself once a sacrifice for sin. This is in contrast to every other priest who, because of their own human sinful nature, could not satisfy the requirements of God as a righteous sacrifice. As in Act 2, the Psalm is quoted to show that Christ is the Son of Man. But as in Acts 2, this does not cancel out the other truth we have learned in the quotes of the Psalm in the New Testament, i.e. Christ is fully Man and fully God.
In my discussions with people who believe that Christ is not God, I have discovered one misconception that they all have in common. That is that they see that Christ is Man and conclude from that, that He cannot therefore be God. But there is too much Scriptural evidence which proves that He is both God and Man. In my opinion, the fact that the context of the quotes of Ps. 110:1 proves both truths, goes a long way to prove that Christ is both fully God and fully Man.
If you would like to express your thoughts on this paper please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org