Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 110

By Joseph Benson


Verse 1
Psalms 110:1. The Lord said unto my Lord — נאם יהוה לאדני, neum Jehovah ladoni, the saying, or decree, that is, I record the saying or decree of Jehohovah to my Lord, that is, to his Son the Messiah, whom I acknowledge as my Lord and God. This decree, made in eternity, was in due time published, and was actually executed when God raised up Christ from the dead, and brought him into his heavenly mansion. David designedly calls the Messiah his Lord, to admonish the whole church, that although he was his son according to the human nature, yet he had a higher nature, and was also his Lord, as being by nature God blessed for ever, and consequently Lord of all things, as he is called Acts 10:36; and by office, as he was God man, the Lord and King of the whole church, and of all the world, for the church’s sake. And this was said to prevent that offence which the Holy Ghost foresaw the Jews and others would be ready to take at the meanness of Christ’s appearance in the flesh. The Hebrew word אדון, adon, is one of God’s titles, signifying his power and authority over all things, and therefore is most fitly given to the Messiah, to whom God had delegated all his power in the universe, Matthew 28:18. Sit thou at my right hand — Thou who hast for so many years been veiled with infirm and mortal flesh, despised, rejected, and trampled upon by men, and persecuted unto death; do thou now take to thyself thy great and just power. Thou hast done thy work upon earth, now take thy rest, and the possession of that sovereign kingdom and glory, which by right belongs to thee; do thou rule with me, with an authority and honour far above all creatures, in earth or heaven. So this phrase is expounded in other places: see Luke 22:69; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12-13; Ephesians 1:20, &c. It is a figurative expression, taken from the custom of earthly monarchs, who placed those persons on their right hands to whom they would show the greatest honour, or whom they designed to advance to the greatest power and authority: see 1 Kings 2:19. It here signifies the dominion which Jesus Christ, after his death, received from the Father, as the Messiah. Thus he says of himself, Revelation 3:21, I overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne. Until I make thine enemies — Until, by my almighty power, communicated to thee, as Mediator, I make those that crucified thee, (converting some and destroying others,) and the idolatrous heathen, subjecting them to thy gospel, as also the power of sin and Satan in men’s hearts, and, at last, death itself, thy footstool — Thy slaves and vassals. This expression, thy footstool, which denotes an entire subdual of enemies, alludes to the custom of eastern nations, to tread upon the necks of the kings whom they had conquered, and so make them, as it were, their footstool.

Verse 2
Psalms 110:2. The Lord shall send — Or, send forth, the rod of thy strength —

Thy strong or powerful rod: that is, thy sceptre or kingly power, Isaiah 10:24; Jeremiah 48:17. But then, as the kingdom of Christ is not carnal, or of this world, John 18:36, but spiritual; so this rod or sceptre is nothing else but his word or gospel, published by himself, or by his apostles and ministers, and accompanied with his Spirit, by which the Messiah set up and established his kingdom: see Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 11:4; Micah 4:2; 2 Corinthians 10:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Hence this gospel is called the word of the kingdom, Matthew 13:19; and the power of God, Romans 1:16. David, having spoken of the Messiah, Psalms 110:1, in this verse addresses his speech to him. Out of Zion — From Jerusalem, which is frequently understood by the name of Zion. Here the kingdom of the Messiah was to be first established, according to the predictions of the prophets, and from hence the rod of his strength, the gospel word, was to be sent forth into all the parts and kingdoms of the world, to bring in the Gentiles, which also the prophets had foretold, as Isaiah 2:3, and in divers of the foregoing Psalms, as has been already frequently observed and proved. Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies — Or, Thou shalt rule, the imperative being put for the future, as is often the case elsewhere. Christ rules partly by his grace, converting some, and setting up his kingdom in their hearts, that kingdom which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; and partly by his powerful providence, whereby he defends his church and people, and subdues and punishes all their adversaries; in the midst of whom he is here said to rule, to signify that, though they should do what in them lay to oppose his kingdom, they should not be able to hinder the erection and establishment of it, but should bring ruin upon themselves by opposing it.

Verse 3
Psalms 110:3. Thy people — Thy subjects; shall be willing — Hebrew, נדבת, nedaboth, willingnesses, that is, most willing, as such plural words frequently signify, or shall be free-will-offerings, as the word properly means; by which he may intend to intimate the difference between the worship of the Old Testament and that of the New. They shall offer and present unto thee, as their King and Lord, not oxen, or sheep, or goats, as thy people did under the law, but themselves, their souls and bodies, as living sacrifices, Romans 12:1, and as free-will-offerings, giving up themselves to thee, to live to thee, and die to thee. The sense is, Thou shalt have friends and subjects, as well as enemies, and thy subjects shall not yield thee a false and feigned obedience, as those who are subjects to, or conquered by earthly princes frequently do, but shall most willingly and readily obey all thy commands, without any dispute, delay, or reservation. And they shall not need to be pressed to thy service, but shall voluntarily enlist themselves, and fight under thy banner against all thy enemies. In the day of thy power — When thou shalt take into thy hands the rod of thy strength, and set up thy kingdom in the world, exerting thy mighty power in the preaching of thy word, and winning souls to thyself by it. In the beauties of holiness — Adorned with the beautiful and glorious robes of righteousness and true holiness, wherewith all new men, or true Christians, are clothed, Ephesians 4:24; Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:14; and with various gifts and graces of God’s Spirit, which are beautiful in the eyes of God, and of all good men. From the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth — That is, thy offspring (the members of the Christian Church) shall be more numerous than the drops of the morning dew. Or, as Bishop Reynolds expresses it, “Thy children shall be born in as great abundance unto thee as the dew which falleth from the womb of the morning.” To the same purpose Bishop Lowth, in his tenth Lecture: “The dew of thy progeny is more abundant than the dew which proceeds from the womb of the morning.”

Verse 4
Psalms 110:4. The Lord hath sworn — He did not swear in constituting the Aaronical priesthood, Hebrews 7:21, but did here, that it might appear to all mankind that this priesthood was made irrevocable, which that of Aaron was not. Thou art a priest — As well as a king. Those offices, which were divided before between two families, are both united and invested in thee, both being absolutely necessary for the establishment of thy kingdom, which is of a nature totally different from the kingdoms of this world, being spiritual and heavenly, and therefore requires such a king as is also a minister of holy things. For ever — Not to be interrupted or translated to another person, as the priesthood of Aaron was upon the death of the priest, but to be continued to thee for ever. After the order of Melchisedek — Or, after the manner, &c.; that is, so as he was a priest and also a king, and both without any successor and without end, in the sense intended, Hebrews 7:3.

Verse 5
Psalms 110:5. The Lord at thy right hand — This, it seems, is to be understood of the Messiah, instated in his regal power at the right hand of his Father; and not of the Father himself, as his helper and defender, as the phrase is used Psalms 16:8, and in some other places. Thus, this is an apostrophe to God the Father concerning his Son. This sense of the clause agrees best with the following verses; for it is evident that it is the same person who strikes through kings, and judges among the heathen, and fills the places, &c. Shall strike through kings — That is, shall break in pieces the greatest powers upon earth, who shall provoke his displeasure, by an obstinate opposition to his authority, and the establishment of his gospel. In the day of his wrath — In the day of battle, when he shall contend with them, and pour forth the floods of his wrath upon them.

Verse 6
Psalms 110:6. He shall judge among the heathen — Shall demonstrate himself to all the heathen world to be their lawgiver and judge, and shall condemn and punish those that reject his salvation, and disobey his laws, rendering indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish unto all that refuse to obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, Romans 2:8-9. He shall fill the places with the dead bodies — Of his enemies, or of those powers whom he shall strike through in the day of his wrath; and he shall wound the heads — The principals, or rulers, over, or of, many countries — That is, the Roman emperors themselves, who shall then rule over the greatest part of the world, or all those princes who oppose him. The reader will easily discern that the psalmist here describes the exercise of Christ’s regal power and supreme dominion; his conquest over sin and sinners, and over all the opposition of the powers of darkness, in metaphorical expressions, taken from earthly conquests; and that this, and the like passages, are not to be understood literally and grossly, but figuratively and spiritually, according to the nature of Christ’s kingdom.

Verse 7
Psalms 110:7. He shall drink of the brook in the way — That is, says Houbigant, the brook Cedron, I suppose; David pointing out the passion of our Lord, by a continuance of the metaphor wherewith he began. Jesus was exalted because of his sufferings; therefore did he lift up his head, Hebrews 12:2. This is the more general interpretation of the verse. It expresses, says Poole, “the humiliation and passion of the Messiah, to prevent a great mistake which might arise in men’s minds concerning him, from the great successes and victories here ascribed to him, which might induce them to think that he should be exempted from all sufferings, and be crowned with constant and perpetual triumphs. To confute this notion, he signifies here that the Messiah should have a large portion of afflictions while he was in the way or course of his life, before he should come to his end or rest, and to the honour of sitting at his Father’s right hand.” Thus St. Paul, who may be considered as giving a comment on these words, observes, that being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, &c., Philippians 2:8-9. Waters in Scripture very frequently signify sufferings; and to drink of them signifies to feel or bear these sufferings. There are some, however, who give the verse a different meaning, and suppose that by drinking of the brook in the way, is meant the succour and supply of almighty grace: or, the influences of the Holy Spirit, frequently represented under the emblem of water, as Isaiah 12:3; Isaiah 55:1; John 7:38-39. Thus Mr. Hervey: “If it be asked, how the Redeemer shall be enabled to execute the various and important offices foretold in the former part of this Psalm, the prophet replies, He shall drink of the brook in the way. He shall not be left barely to his human nature, which must unavoidably sink, but through the whole administration of his mediatorial kingdom, and his incarnate state, shall be supported with omnipotent succours. He shall drink of the brook of almighty power: he shall be continually supported by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and therefore shall he lift up his head. By these means shall he be rendered equal to his prodigious task, superior to all opposition, successful in whatever he undertakes, and greatly triumphant over all his enemies.” — Hervey’s Med., vol. 1. p. 129.

Upon the whole, we have in this Psalm as clear a prophecy of the Messiah, and of the offices which he should sustain, as perhaps we can find, in so few words, in any part of the Old Testament, and a prophecy absolutely incapable of any other application. Now this prophecy was completely fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, when he rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of his Father; from thenceforth expecting till his enemies should be made his footstool; that is, “till Satan, the prince of this world, should be confined to the bottomless pit; till all the persecuting powers of it should be destroyed, and till death and the grave should be no more, Psalms 110:1. The kingdom, to which he was advanced, is a spiritual kingdom: the sceptre, with which he was presented in the heavenly Zion, is all power in heaven and earth; to be employed for the protection of his subjects, and the destruction of his enemies, Psalms 110:2. The laws of his kingdom are the laws of the gospel; which were to be published from Jerusalem: they who freely offered themselves to publish his laws, and gather subjects into his kingdom, were the apostles, and first preachers of his word; who, in a few years, being invested with power from on high, spread his gospel over the world, and gathered into his kingdom multitudes of subjects out of every nation under heaven, Psalms 110:3. At the same time that Jesus was seated on his throne as King, he was made High-Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, to intercede for his people, and be their advocate with the Father, Psalms 110:4. The sceptre was given him as well for the destruction of his enemies, as the protection of his subjects. When, therefore, the potentates of the earth opposed his gospel, and persecuted its publishers, he destroyed them with the breath of his mouth; first, by pouring out his wrath on Judea, in the excision of its inhabitants, and the subversion of its state; and afterward, by executing his vengeance on the persecuting powers of the heathen world, as they rose up to oppose the advancement of his kingdom, Psalms 110:5-6; Revelation 19:11-21. When Jesus set out on his warfare against the enemies of our salvation, he drank deep of the cup of sorrow and suffering; but, in reward for his humiliation, he is highly exalted to the throne of equal glory, at the right hand of God, that all should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father:” see Green, on the Prayer of Habakkuk.


Book Navigation Title Page Table of Contents Argument Introduction ► Chapter 1 ► Chapter 2 ► Chapter 3 ► Chapter 4 ► Chapter 5 ► Chapter 6 ► Chapter 7 ► Chapter 8 ► Chapter 9 ► Chapter 10 ► Chapter 11 ► Chapter 12 ► Chapter 13 ► Chapter 14 ► Chapter 15 ► Chapter 16 ► Chapter 17 ► Chapter 18 ► Chapter 19 ► Chapter 20 ► Chapter 21 ► Chapter 22 ► Chapter 23 ► Chapter 24 ► Chapter 25 ► Chapter 26 ► Chapter 27 ► Chapter 28 ► Chapter 29 ► Chapter 30 ► Chapter 31 ► Chapter 32 ► Chapter 33 ► Chapter 34 ► Chapter 35 ► Chapter 36 ► Chapter 37 ► Chapter 38 ► Chapter 39 ► Chapter 40 ► Chapter 41 ► Chapter 42 ► Chapter 43 ► Chapter 44 ► Chapter 45 ► Chapter 46 ► Chapter 47 ► Chapter 48 ► Chapter 49 ► Chapter 50 ► Chapter 51 ► Chapter 52 ► Chapter 53 ► Chapter 54 ► Chapter 55 ► Chapter 56 ► Chapter 57 ► Chapter 58 ► Chapter 59 ► Chapter 60 ► Chapter 61 ► Chapter 62 ► Chapter 63 ► Chapter 64 ► Chapter 65 ► Chapter 66 ► Chapter 67 ► Chapter 68 ► Chapter 69 ► Chapter 70 ► Chapter 71 ► Chapter 72 ► Chapter 73 ► Chapter 74 ► Chapter 75 ► Chapter 76 ► Chapter 77 ► Chapter 78 ► Chapter 79 ► Chapter 80 ► Chapter 81 ► Chapter 82 ► Chapter 83 ► Chapter 84 ► Chapter 85 ► Chapter 86 ► Chapter 87 ► Chapter 88 ► Chapter 89 ► Chapter 90 ► Chapter 91 ► Chapter 92 ► Chapter 93 ► Chapter 94 ► Chapter 95 ► Chapter 96 ► Chapter 97 ► Chapter 98 ► Chapter 99 ► Chapter 100 ► Chapter 101 ► Chapter 102 ► Chapter 103 ► Chapter 104 ► Chapter 105 ► Chapter 106 ► Chapter 107 ► Chapter 108 ► Chapter 109 ► Chapter 110 ► Chapter 111 ► Chapter 112 ► Chapter 113 ► Chapter 114 ► Chapter 115 ► Chapter 116 ► Chapter 117 ► Chapter 118 ► Chapter 119 ► Chapter 120 ► Chapter 121 ► Chapter 122 ► Chapter 123 ► Chapter 124 ► Chapter 125 ► Chapter 126 ► Chapter 127 ► Chapter 128 ► Chapter 129 ► Chapter 130 ► Chapter 131 ► Chapter 132 ► Chapter 133 ► Chapter 134 ► Chapter 135 ► Chapter 136 ► Chapter 137 ► Chapter 138 ► Chapter 139 ► Chapter 140 ► Chapter 141 ► Chapter 142 ► Chapter 143 ► Chapter 144 ► Chapter 145 ► Chapter 146 ► Chapter 147 ► Chapter 148 ► Chapter 149 ► Chapter 150