Tom Lowe



Title: The Melchizedek Psalm

(To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David.)


Theme: Messianic―the Exaltation of Christ

  • KJV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.
  • “Special Notes” and “Scriptures” are at the end of the psalm.


Psalm 110

  1. {A Psalm of David.} The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand[2], until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
  2. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
  3. Thy people shall bewilling in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
  4. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent; Thou arta priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
  5. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
  6. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the placeswith the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
  7. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.



It is safe to say that David[1] is the author of this important little psalm. We cannot be sure, however, when he wrote it. Some think it was at the time the kingdom was confirmed to belong to him, and his seed was assured the throne-rights of Israel until the coming of the Christ. Others think it was written when he took the ark up to Jerusalem. One thing is certain about that occasion. David laid aside his royal robes and donned a priestly garment. The historian tells us that “David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod” (2 Sam. 6:14). We see, then, that this is an important psalm; it is remarkable because it sets forth the deity of Christ. No psalm is referred to more often in the entire New Testament.


Commentary: Psalm 110:1-7 (KJV)

(110:1) {A Psalm of David.} The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

David is in the middle of the scene. On one side he sees the Lord, Jehovah; on the other side he sees the Lord, Adonai. Jehovah is speaking to Adonai, his (David’s) Adonai. We can see David stare in perplexity at what he has written. Since New Testament light now shines on that page, let’s unravel the problem for him. First, look at the word Lord (Jehovah). It is one of the primary names for God in the Old Testament. It is sometimes used as a name for God the Father, sometimes as a name for God the Son, and sometimes as a name for God the Holy Spirit. The context determines in each case to which person in the Trinity reference is being made. Here in Psalm 110, Jehovah is God the Father. The word Adonai (Lord) refers to God the Son. He was to be David’s son, but David calls Him “my Lord.”

“The Lord said unto my Lord.” We could render that: “The oracle of Jehovah, the Eternal, to my Adonai, my Ruler.” Amazingly, David was recording a conversation between Jehovah and Adonai. This is an equal speaking to an equal. This is God speaking to God, if you please. When someone says that the Bible does not teach the deity of Jesus, they are not acquainted with this section of the Word of God, I can assure you that.

He knew already that his dynasty was to be especially blessed by God. That knowledge, dimly apprehended by David, is here made startlingly simple. He was to have a son who would be his Lord and he, David, would acknowledge Him as Lord.

But how could such a thing be? When Nathan first came to David with the promise of a magnificent dynasty, he expressly told him that the Messiah would not come in his lifetime: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Sam. 7:12, 16).

So, it was to happen after his death. But a dead father cannot render allegiance to a living son, and a living son cannot exercise lordship over a dead father. Yet here was Jehovah talking to Adonai, with David calling Adonai “my Adonai, my Ruler.” Adonai was to be David’s son and David’s Sovereign, but David himself was to be dead! Here we surly have one of those prophetic utterances of which the apostle Peter spoke when he said that the prophets searched diligently what, of what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify . . .” (1 Peter 1:11-12).

We can see David scratching his head in bewilderment over that statement, but the solution is simple to us. If David, being dead was to have a Son who would at the same time be acknowledged by him as his Lord, then David must live again. The first oracle [prophesy] of this psalm, its opening prophetic announcement, carried David over to resurrection ground.

He had barely grasped that astounding fact, if indeed he grasped it at all, before the words flowed again from his Spirit-enlightened mind: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand[2], until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” That was to be the remarkable position of the coming Prince. The statement represented a tremendous advance in the Old Testament concept of the coming Messiah. As eternal God, Jesus is the “root [originator] of David” and as a man He is the offspring of David (Rev. 22:16; 5:5). Had the Pharisees honestly faced this truth, they would have had to confess that Jesus is indeed the Son of God come in the flesh, but they refused to do so.

David knew that the promised Messiah would sit on his throne: Nathan had told him so, but here is something new. The coming Messiah, that one who was to be his Son, would actually sit with Jehovah on His throne. Only one who was God Himself could ever sit there. David’s Son, therefore, was to be David’s God.

No wonder the enemies of Christ did not dare argue further with Jesus when He confronted them with this Old Testament verse. “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?” He said. They replied: “The son of David.” “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord [Adonai] saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool [until I subdue your enemies completely]?” To use the enemies’ soldiers as footstools meant to defeat and humiliate them (Josh.10:24; see 1 Cor. 15:24-25; Eph. 1:22). Jesus’ enemies were before Him. They acknowledged Messiah to be the Son of David, but David acknowledged Him to be also the Son of God.

Jesus today is where David envisioned Him―on God’s throne in heaven. Where are His enemies? Those who confronted Him in Jerusalem long ago were either saved after Pentecost or they are either dead or damned.


(110:2) The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion[3]: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

The first time Israel had seen the rod it was in the hand of Moses. That rod became a serpent before Pharaoh’s eyes, a serpent which swallowed up the serpents into which Pharaoh’s magicians turned their rods. The sign was remarkably relevant because Pharaoh wore a serpent insignia on his brow: God’s man confronted Pharaoh with a sign that needed no explanation. Moses had in his hand a symbol of power that could swallow up all the power of Egypt. The same rod divided the Red Sea. When held up over the battlefield, it enabled Israel to smite Amalek with the edge of the sword. It is the rod of which David sang in Psalm 23; the rod that would comfort him in the gloomy valley of the shadow of death.

That rod (scepter), or at least all it stood for, is in the hand of Christ. All power is now held by the pierced hand of Christ. “The LORD shall send the rod” is the way of promising an ever-increasing kingdom.

“Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” indicates that Christ’s sovereignty does not await the submission of everyone to His authority. Christ is even now Lord of all, though the masses are in revolt against His rule.


(110:3) Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

This verse is full of wonders. The scene is the last great battle before the Millennium[5].  The enemies of the Lord are about to become His footstool. The youthful warriors of beleaguered Israel flock with eagerness to the royal standard of the coming Christ. They are clad in priestly vestments. They are volunteers, “willing in the day of thy Power” to serve God; they are not mercenaries. They spring to their feet eagerly at the call to war from on high. That is how these young people will volunteer. Reluctant service, while better than none at all, can never fully satisfy the requirements of the divine holiness. O how I wish today that we might see such willingness among the youth of our churches and assemblies. “Here am I, send me!”

These volunteers, flocking to the standards of the coming King, will be arrayed as priests. The translators have trouble with the phrase “the beauties of holiness.” One renders it, “holy adorning” and another “holy garments.” The psalmist might have in mind the gorgeous robe “for glory and for beauty” worn by Israel’s priests (Ex. 28:2); this war is to be won, not with carnal, but spiritual weapons. God’s volunteers are going to battle as priests.


(110:4) The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

What a priest Melchizedek[4] is! If you look back at the Old Testament you will see the need for such an individual. Think of the only human priesthood ever ordained by God, the priesthood of Aaron. It dominates the Old Testament age. Everything about the Old Testament age was significant: the priestly robes, rituals, and restrictions. Everywhere we are confronted with symbolism and types

Aaron, his sons, and his heirs had a monopoly on that restricted priesthood: the only way to become a priest was to be born a priest. No amount of wisdom, wealth, wishing, or work, no amount of well-doing would make a man a priest unless he was born into the family of Aaron.

We can imagine, then, the surprise with which David recorded the words that take up the second great theme of this psalm. What God had to say about the Melchizedek priest struck at the roots of the priestly system in Israel, a system sanctioned by God and already made venerable in David’s day by five centuries of practice.

“The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent . . .” The word sworn corresponds to the word said in verse 1. David’s son was to be a priest. In one sweeping statement, that abolished the entire fabric and function of the priestly order of Aaron. No wonder it was confirmed by an oath. Of course, God’s naked word is enough. God’s word is His bond. God cannot lie. Why then was there a divine oath? Because the installation of Messiah as a priest meant an end to a priestly order which, by the time of Christ, had been entrenched by divine decree for fifteen hundred years.

The day Christ died; God reached down and rent the temple veil. Judaism, as it had been known, ceased to be; the Levitical priesthood was over. There was a new priest, one of David’s royal lines. How much of that do you think David was able to grasp?

“Thou art a priest for ever.” One who would live a priest forever must live an endless life. He must count time not by years but by ages. David must have rubbed his eyes. That was astonishing enough, but a priest forever? If the inspiring Spirit of God had not God-breathed the line, he would have rubbed it out.

Melchizedek is set before us in the Bible in an astonishing way. He was a king-priest, not an appearance of Jesus Christ on earth; he is only a type of Jesus in his present priestly ministry (see Heb. 5:1-11, 7-8; Zech 6:12). Jesus Christ is our glorified King-Priest in heaven interceding for us (Rom. 8:34). His throne is a throne of grace to which we may come at any time to find the help we need (Heb.4:14-16). In him church and state merged, as it was never allowed to do under the Mosaic Law. He was king of Jerusalem, a mysterious figure, mentioned only once in the Bible until David drops his name into this psalm, and mentioned only three times in all of Scripture. In Genesis he is mentioned historically; in psalm 110 he is mentioned prophetically; in Hebrews he is mentioned doctrinally.

Since he was a thoughtful man, David would have meditated on the Spirit’s introduction of the name Melchizedek in this psalm. He would have concluded that his coming Son, this coming Messiah, if He were to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek, would introduce a totally new order of the priesthood, which could be described with three words: stable, sovereign, superior.

  • A Stable Priesthood.

Melchizedek was introduced into the Genesis account without a genealogy. One moment he was there, the next moment Abraham had moved on, but Melchizedek remained. He had no family tree, no ancestry, and no heirs. The Spirit of God had written it this way on purpose. Melchizedek was, genealogically speaking, and as far as his priesthood was concerned, “without father or mother, without beginning or ending of days.” His would be a stable priesthood.

  • A Sovereign Priesthood.

One of the points about Melchizedek was his position as both king and priest. He was something Aaron’s sons could never be, a king. He was something David’s sons could never be, a priest. “All power” then was concentrated in the same hands: all royal power, all religious power.

  • A Superior Priesthood.

All the priests whom David knew were sons of Aaron, but Melchizedek was his spiritual superior; Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. Since Aaron and Levi and all the priests were descendents of Abraham, they too, so to speak, paid tithes to Melchizedek, in Abraham, when Abraham paid his. It followed, therefore, that any priest after the order of Melchizedek would be superior to any priest after the order of Aaron.

The Spirit of God has made matters clear for us in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Jesus is this Melchizedek priest of whom David spoke so profoundly.


(110:5) The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.

Beginning here at verse 5 the scene shifts to the end of the age to focus on the coming battle that will dethrone all those human and demonic forces which have usurped the government of the globe. Three features of this battle are mentioned―the day of the battle (v. 5), the din of battle (v. 6), and the dust of battle (v. 7).

This psalm closes with a reference to a fearful crisis. It anticipates the battle of Armageddon when the coming Priest-King will cut down those who have arrayed themselves against God. It anticipates the coming day of wrath, stroke after stroke. First the crushing of the confederate kings, then the filling of the battlefield with dead bodies, and finally the crushing of God’s foes.

We are living today in the day of blessing, the Lord’s Day of Salvation (2 Cor. 6:1-2) when He is calling sinners to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18-21). The Priest-King is interceding at God’s right hand; tomorrow will be the day of battle, a day of wrath, “the Day of the Lord,” when Jesus the Lamb of God will begin to “roar” as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5-6), and judgment will fall on the world. This is the victory the Father promised back in verse 1 and also in 2:5-9. God will be at the right hand of the Priest-King to strike down all His foes. The triumph of our Lord is guaranteed by the omnipotence of God.


 (110:6) He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.

David engaged in many battles in his tumultuous life, so he was a warrior who knew a lot about war and fighting; but he had never seen a battlefield like the one opening up before him. He saw a battlefield filled with corpses. Then he saw the head of the rebellious nations, the lawless one, whom the Lord is to destroy by the breath of his lips and with the brightness of his coming. He saw the monstrous head crushed. He can do it, because he will let nothing detain him, detour him, or discourage him as he attacks the enemy.


(110:7) He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

The head of the warring nations is crushed, and Christ, the head of the Church and of the nations, is lifted up.

But first He drinks from the brook in the way. “The brook in the way” is a little depression in the road into which water has run from a recent rain. In other words, the coming Priest-King will actually drink out of a puddle, a muddy puddle by the side of the road.  Drinking from the puddle suggests that He will be refreshed and will not fade during the rigorous demands of battle. We are reminded of the three hundred warriors of Gideon, who went down on their knees and lapped water like dogs and who were later used to battle the enemy of Israel and exalted through victory. But the Lord Jesus went further than that. He drank of the deep waters of suffering and death. And therefore God has highly exalted Him.

The description expresses in a marvelous way the humiliation through which our Priest-King passed on the way to the throne. He shall drink from the mud puddle, and therefore shall He lift up His head, which is an indication of victory and power. As the apostle Paul says: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:” (Phil. 2:8-9).

Jesus can be such a magnificent sovereign because He is such a magnificent Savior. He has stooped to drink out of this mud puddle we call human life and is therefore fit to be both Priest and Prince. “Hallelujah! What a Savior.”


“Special Notes” and “Scriptures”

[1] Jesus acknowledges David as the author and He also applies the psalm to Himself in Matthew 22:41-45. This psalm is quoted several times in the New Testament as proof that Jesus is the Messiah (Mark 12:35-37; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13, 5:6, 7:17, 21).

[2] Jesus’ right hand is a position of great honor.

[3] “Out of Zion” means “Out of Judaism,” the seat of which was Zion.

[4] Melchizedek means “king of righteousness.” He was identified in Genesis 14:18-20 as “king of Salem,” which means “king of peace.” He was spoken of as “the priest of the most high God” seven hundred years before the Levitical priesthood was instituted. In the kingly priest of righteous and peace, we have a fitting type of Christ, who unites in Himself the Old Testament functions of prophet, king, and priest.

[5] A millennium is a period of a thousand years counted from the beginning of the Christian era. The year 2000 was celebrated as the beginning of the third millennium.