This Bible study on Psalms 110 contains outlines, extensive cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, lessons to learn, and applications. Visit our inductive Bible studies for more studies on this and other books of the Bible.
Psalm 110 – The Exalted Messiah – Inductive Bible Study With Discussion Questions
I. The Messiah Exalted (1)
II. The Messiah King (2-3)
III. The Messiah Priest (4)
IV. The Messiah’s Judgment (5-7)
I. The Messiah Exalted (1)
- Where is this quoted in the gospels?
- What point does Jesus make by quoting it?
- Who is the first “LORD” referred to?
- Who does “my” refer to?
- Who does the second Lord refer to?
- Who does the “my” in “my right hand” refer to you?
- How about “your” in “your enemies?”
- To understand the verse better, rewrite it using names instead of pronouns.
- What does this verse teach us about the Messiah?
2 Samuel 7:12 – When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom.
Matthew 22:42-46 – “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
“‘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 can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Luke 20:43 – until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.
1. Jesus identified this Psalm as a Messianic Psalm – Prophecy can sometimes be hard to understand. Some prophecies in the Bible have a short and a long term fulfillment. Some refer to events which foreshadow something God plans to do. And sometimes God repeats certain things in history. Therefore properly interpreting potential prophecies can be confusing. This question sometimes comes up in Psalms. Is a Psalm prophetic about the Messiah or not?
Well, in this case Jesus answered the question for us. In Matthew 22:42-46, Jesus clearly identifies this Psalm as Messianic. By doing so, He also implied that it is usual to interpret passages in this way. In other words, God fully intended for many Old Testament passages to accurately reflect the life and ministry of the Messiah.
2. We can read Jesus’ commentary on this Psalm! – We often like to study the commentaries of famous authors like John Piper or Charles Spurgeon. We don’t often get to read a commentary by Jesus. But that is exactly what Matthew 22:42-46 is. It is Jesus’ exposition of Psalm 110:1. It is a great blessing to be able to study what Jesus Himself said about certain Old Testament passages!
3. Jesus’ commentary on Psalm 110:1 – See Matthew 22:42-46.
Jesus’ logic is fairly simple.
A. David was the most important king (the highest position in the country) in Israel’s history.
B. The Messiah is in fact the Son of David, meaning he is descended from David. The Messiah must be human.
C. David calls him “Lord” showing that He is greater than David. The inference is the Messiah is divine.
The Jewish scholars at the time of Jesus believed that the Messiah was a son of David. They understood that he came from David’s line. But they did not believe that the Messiah was the son of God or divine in any way.
4. We can see an example of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture – Jesus said that David wrote this “speaking by the Spirit.” It is a clear statement of the divine origins of an Old Testament passage written by a human author. Jesus shows us that David did not come up with this idea on his own. It was divine inspiration. Therefore the inspiration of Scripture is not some idea that was invented by Christian zealots or even Paul. it was preached by Jesus Himself.
Secondly, we see that the Bible is so accurate (even in its details) that logical arguments can be built based on sentence structure, grammar, and individual words. In other words, it is not just right in the “big picture” sense. Even small details are inspired. Small details are important and Jesus builds a major doctrine from a single phrase in an obscure Psalm.
Application: Be a student of the Word! Jesus is our example here. He knew Scripture. And He shows us how important it is to correctly understand it and build our theology from it. It is inspired. It is inerrant. We should be passionate to study it, even in the small details!
5. Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool – The Messiah would be exalted to the highest position, on the right hand of the Father. All of His enemies will be defeated.
Today many people mock Jesus. They laugh at Christians. They scorn the Bible. Yet in the end, Jesus wins. If you want to be on the winning side, you must join His team.
II. The Messiah King (2-3)
- What does it mean that the Lord sends forth “your mighty scepter?”
- Who are the Messiah’s enemies? Do we see His enemies today? What does this verse tell us about God’s final plan?
- Who are His people? What will they do?
- When is the day of His power?
- Where do our holy garments come from?
- What does “the womb of the morning” mean?
- What does the “dew of your youth will be yours” mean?
Psalm 2:9 – You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.
Matthew 22:11-14 – “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
1. The Messiah will be king – Jesus will rule from Zion (Jerusalem) with a mighty scepter. These are the types of verses predicting the Messiah’s political might and power which the Jews were well aware of and expecting in the time of Jesus. It is the verses about the Messiah’s suffering and sacrifice which were ignored.
As of yet, this prophecy has not been fulfilled. When Jesus came, He did not reign in Zion with a mighty scepter. One day He will. What an exciting day that will be!
2. Your people will offer themselves freely – When Jesus comes back as king, there will be two types of people. One group consists of all of His followers. They will be waiting and expecting His return. Happy to welcome Him, they will cheer His coming and willingly join His ranks as His servants to do whatever requested of them.
On the other hand, His enemies will be ready for a fight. Their hatred will be burning and they will stop at nothing to try to defeat Him. The latter half of this Psalm shows us what their end will be.
3. The day of your power – All of Jesus’ power will one day be revealed. For those people on His side, it will be a very exciting day!
4. Holy garments – We know from Jesus’ parable of the Wedding Feast that the holy garments are not our own. In this parable Jesus mentioned that guests of the great banquet would be given proper clothes to wear. While given for free, no one will be admitted who is not wearing them.
Any person who tries to “make the cut” through their own efforts and good deeds will come up short. According to Isaiah 64:6, even our own good deeds are as “filthy rags.” The very best that we can come up with is utter filth and garbage in God’s sight. However, He is willing to take that dirt away and replace it with His own holiness. Will you accept the holy garments He offers?
5. Womb of morning and dew of your youth – These statements could be referring to the vigor and energy of the Messiah shown on the day of His power.
III. The Messiah Priest (4)
- Does God ever change His mind?
- In what way is Jesus a priest?
- Who is Melchizedek?
- What is a priest “according to the order of Melchizedek?”
- How is this order of priesthood different than the Levites?
Hebrews 7:13-17 – He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.
1. The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind – Here God’s immutability is emphasized. His plan is absolutely perfect so it cannot be improved. At the same time, He is strong enough to carry it out, so it cannot be thwarted. Therefore it will be fulfilled exactly as intended.
2. You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek – Melchizedek was a priest-king. Aaron’s line were priests, but they were not kings. David’s line were kings, but not priests. The two roles were distinct and separate. Melchizedek performed both roles in his office of priest-king. This is the type of high priest that Jesus was, re-affirming once again His supremacy.
Melchizedek was a king of righteousness – The time of Abraham was a dark, evil age. There was rampant idolatry. This idolatry led people into many horrible abominations. King Melchizedek’s righteous reign stood out light a lighthouse in the middle of a storm (just like Jesus who came as a light into a dark world). It is all the more mysterious since we know so little about it. How did he come to believe in the Most High God? How did God communicate with him? Did the people he ruled over also follow God? How long did this righteous kingdom last? Melchizedek is indeed a mysterious figure and we will never have the answer to these questions on earth. I do believe that this can teach us something about God, however. This shows us that God’s work and plans are not limited to what we know or even limited to events in the Bible. God is a big God. At any time in history, and within any culture, God could have used divine means of revelation to communicate His truth and save people. He did this in the case of Melchizedek and he could have (we don’t know) done it other times as well.
Melchizedek was a king of peace – This is another clear correlation with Christ. See John 14:27. Jesus came to break down the barriers between us and God and bring peace to the world. As Melchizedek was appointed to bring peace to the world, so we are God’s ambassadors and charged to bring his message of peace to those around us. War, conflict, hatred, rivalry, selfish ambition and the like are all from the pit.
3. You are a priest forever (perpetually) – We learn that Christ is a priest perpetually. There is no record of Melchizedek’s death signifying the end of his priesthood as there is with Aaron. Also, Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension did not end his priesthood. He is still at the right hand of God interceding for and mediating for us.
For more on Melchizedek see https://studyhebrews.com/hebrews7-1-10.html
IV. The Messiah’s Judgment (5-7)
- What will finally happen to the Messiah’s enemies?
- What form will this judgement take?
- Who will be judged?
- What does this show us about God’s character?
- Why is it important for us to know about this coming judgment?
- How does this effect how we live and look at the world now?
1. The Lord is at your right hand – In this verse it appears that “the Lord” refers to the Father and “your” refers to Jesus. Whereas before the Messiah was described as sitting at the right hand of God, now the Father is at His right hand supplying the strength and power for the Messiah’s ultimate victory over all His enemies. The Father will not be standing idly by.
This final day of doom for all of God’s enemies is described in this Psalm as “the day of your power,” or “the day of his wrath.” In many places in the Bible it is described as “the Day of the Lord.” All of these refer to God pouring out His wrath on an evil and unrepentant world, judging all of His enemies in preparation for the millennial reign. (See Revelation 6:16-17, 14:19, 19:15, Daniel 9:24-27.)
2. The destruction will be horrible – It will be global in nature (the nations), not limited to one region or people group. We can see even now governments becoming more and more evil and anti-God. Many countries which once professed to be Christian are not hostile to Christ. More and more sinful policies are being signed into law. While these nations may seem to escape judgment for the moment, their doom will come suddenly and it will be complete.
The world will be filled with corpses. The strong, rich and successful (chiefs) will not escape.
See Revelation 14:20 – They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. (This is about 300 KM.)
In this verse we see the Battle of Armageddon described. It will be so deadly that blood will flow like a river the height of a horse (5 feet tall). While this could be a symbolic description, it is clear that it will be a deadly battle with a lot of blood!
In fact, every enemy of God will one day be shattered. Therefore it is paramount to be sure we are on His side and safe from this coming judgment.
- How should we respond to what we have learned about Jesus in this Psalm?
- How can you treat Jesus as your King?
- If a person has a high view of Jesus, how might this affect their actions and thoughts?
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