Did you know that Psalm 110 is the most frequently quoted Psalm in the New Testament? Its quoted over thirty times in fact. It seems that in the years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the early church referred to this Psalm of David time and time again as they tried to make sense of who Jesus was and what he had achieved. Indeed, as we see in our Gospel reading this morning, this was a Psalm that Jesus himself had used to explain his identity and mission. It’s a psalm that presents Jesus to us as a God-given king. As a monarch and messiah, even greater than King David.
I assume all of us will have heard of King David. Most of us will know David’s amazing exploits at least from our time in Sunday School. Nearly a thousand years before Christ, David was the man who fought Goliath, routed the Philistines, captured Jerusalem and united the nation. He even wrote poetry, including of course our psalm today. If anyone could claim to be the greatest king, it was surely king David.
So verse 1 of our Psalm comes as a great surprise. Let me remind us what it says: “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand”. The first LORD in that sentence is clearly God Almighty, David’s Heavenly Father. But who is this second ‘Lord’? Who does David, the great king of Israel, refer to as “my Lord”?
The answer is given to us in the New Testament. In passages like Matthew chapter 22 – our Gospel reading today – we are explicitly told that David was writing about the coming of Christ. An even greater king than David was on his way. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David had foreseen the arrival of the Son of God centuries in advance. We all groan when Christmas adverts appear on our TVs in October – but for David, Christmas really had come early!
As we read the following verses we learn three things about this coming King: Christ is a King with unrivalled authority, a King who will defeat every enemy, a King with a multitude of loyal subjects.
For a start, we are told that King Jesus will have unrivalled authority. In verse 1 and verse 5 of our psalm we’re told that Jesus will sit at God’s “right hand”. To sit at the right hand of any ruler, let alone God’s, is to occupy a position of tremendous authority and importance. It is to be God’s Chief Executive or Prime Minister in his governance over the universe. A position even more exalted than the angels.
So if we’re Christians, we’re friends with the most influential and powerful person we could ever hope to know. When we pray to Jesus, we are communicating with a King with unrivalled authority. Prayer is a privilege we should take every opportunity to enjoy.
Secondly, our Psalm also tells us that King Jesus will defeat every enemy. For example:
• Verse 1 tells us they will become “a footstall for his feet”;
• Verse 2 says he “will rule in the midst” of his enemies;
• While verses 5 and 6 predict that he will one day “crush” all who oppose him.
The New Testament tells us that Jesus’ great victory over his enemies has already begun. As he walked the earth he cast out evil spirits, resisted the temptations of the devil, cured the sick and restored sight to the blind. And when he rose from the dead he overcame the religious authorities who had mocked him, the Roman soldiers who had crucified him and the tomb that had held him.
Ever since that first Easter morning, Jesus’ ultimate victory over his enemies has been assured. Of course, for the time being we continue to live in a world of sin and suffering, a world with evil, death and disease. Millions continue to deny Christ and idolatry, blasphemy, cruelty and greed are still around us. But their time is limited, the Risen Christ’s ultimate victory is assured.
Verses 5 and 6 of our Psalm today are a solemn promise that Christ will return. One day, “on the day of his wrath” he will return to finally defeat death and evil. One day he will “judge” the nations and “crush” all opposition to his rule. If we are followers of Christ we should look forward to that day with hope. But those who are his enemies urgently need to end their rebellion and repent.
Thirdly and finally, Christ is also a king with a multitude of loyal subjects. Verse 3 of our Psalm is tricky to translate, but it should read something like this: “Your troops will be willing on your day of battle”. This tells us that King Jesus will have many willing subjects. He will have hordes of followers, a whole multitude of Christians trusting his promises and following his commands.
In fact, verse 3 is already coming true isn’t it? If we’re Christians here this morning we are among millions around the world who know Jesus as their Saviour and their Lord.
If we are Christians we should be willing servants of our perfect king. We should be willing to put our time, talents and treasure at his disposal. We should be willing to give him our loyalty and our love.
Most importantly, we can be obedient subjects of King Jesus by telling our non-Christian neighbours, friends and colleagues about him.
• We can tell them about his authority and his achievements.
• We can tell them about his death and resurrection.
• And we must tell them that he’ll return one day to judge us all.
In short, let’s invite every non-Christian we know to ‘lay down their weapons’ and join the winning side!
So as I finish this morning, Psalm 110 reminds us that Jesus is the perfect king. A king with unrivalled authority, a king who will overcome all opposition, a king who will rule over a great multitude from every nation, tribe and tongue. So, echoing the words of King David, let’s all trust and follow him as our “Lord”.
Copyright © 2015-2018 St John the Evangelist, Ashton Hayes. All rights reserved.