The first of this morning’s psalms, Psalm 110, is one of those psalms that confuses a lot of readers who don’t regularly pray the psalms. Well heck, for all I know Psalm 110 might also confuse some of you, too. I honestly don’t know the level of erudition among my readership here. A bunch of you are clergymen, a bunch aren’t, but are astute readers of Scripture, so who knows. If you already know this then pat yourself on your back and move on with your day happy in the knowledge that you Know The Thing!
Anyway, the Psalm begins with a bit of odd wordplay in the very first verse.
The Lord said unto my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, *
until I make your enemies your footstool.
Who is speaking? Who are the two Lords? Unless we figure that out, none of the rest of this will have any context, or make any sense. I once asked a Bible Study group who those two lords are, and got some interesting tentative theories and guesses, but I don’t recall if anyone figured it out. Perhaps one person did. Honestly it is a tricky one on its own. But if you read the Gospels, you’ll find the answer. From the end of Matthew 22:
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
So, according to our Lord, Psalm 110 is prayed in the voice of King David, who begins by speaking of the Lord (God the Father) addressing the Lord (God the Son) to sit at his right hand until victory is complete. Reading on through the Psalm, the Father invites the Son to “rule in the midst of your enemies” which is certainly seen in the persistence of the Church throughout the world and history. The offerings described in verse 3 are the fruit of our lips, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and most especially the celebration of Holy Communion – our most great thanksgiving (hence ‘eucharist’). In verse 4 God the Father confirms the priesthood of Jesus, which the epistle to the Hebrews expounds throughout its middle chapters. Jesus, at the right hand of the Father, will also judge, smite kings, and slay the wicked, as the remaining verses describe.
Psalm 110, therefore, is a celebration of Jesus as priest and king. Around him is gathered his royal priesthood, the Church, who join him in prayer, worship, suffering, and glory. So when you take up your Prayer Book this morning and pray or chant this psalm, consider the journey with Christ it takes you on as you celebrate, with all prayer-book-users, our glorious Lord and Savior.