The Treasury of David, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, [1869-85], at sacred-texts.com
Title - A Psalm of David. Of the correctness of this title there can be no doubt, since our Lord in Matthew 22 says, "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord." Yet some critics are so fond of finding new authors for the Psalms that they dare to fly in the face of the Lord Jesus himself. To escape from finding Jesus here, they read the title, "Psalm of (or concerning) David," as though it was not so much written by him as of him; but he that reads with understanding will see little enough of David here except as the writer. He is not the subject of it even in the smallest degree, but Christ is all. How much was revealed to the patriarch David! How blind are some modern wise men, even amid the present blaze of light, as compared with this poet-prophet of the darker dispensation. May the Spirit who spoke by the man after God's own heart give us eyes to see the hidden mysteries of this marvellous Psalm, in which every word has an infinity of meaning.
Subject and Division. - The subject is the Priest-King. None of the kings of Israel united these two offices, though some endeavoured to do so. Although David performed some acts which appeared to verge upon the priestly, yet he was no priest, but of the tribe of Judah, "of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood"; and he was far too devout a man to thrust himself into that office uncalled. The Priest-King here spoken of is David's Lord, a mysterious personage typified by Melchizedek, and looked for by the Jews as the Messiah. He is none other than the apostle and high-priest of our profession, Jesus of Nazareth, and King of the Jews. The Psalm describes the appointment of the kingly priest, his followers, his battles, and his victory. Its centre is Psa 110:4, and so it may be divided, as Alexander suggests, into the introduction, Psa 110:1-3; the central thought, Psa 110:4; and the supplementary verses, Psa 110:5-7.
Hints to Preachers
Psa 110:1. - Here the Holy Ghost begins with the kingdom of Christ, which he describeth and magnifieth, -
I. By his unction and ordination thereunto, by the word or decree of his Father: "The Lord said."
II. By the greatness of his person in himself, while yet he is nearly allied in blood and nature unto us; "My Lord."
III. By the glory, power, and heavenliness of his kingdom, for in the administration thereof he sitteth at the right hand of his Father, "Sit thou at my right hand."
IV. By the continuance and victories thereof: "Until I make thy foes thy footstool." - Edward Reynolds.
Psa 110:1. - "My Lord."
I. Christ's condescending nearness to us does not destroy our reverence; he was David's son, and yet he calls him Lord; he is our brother, bridegroom, and so on, and yet our Lord.
II. Christ's glory does not diminish his nearness to us, or familiarity with us. Sitting on the throne as Lord, he is yet "my Lord."
III. It is under the double aspect as Lord, and yet ours, that Jehovah regards him, and speaks with him, and ordains him to the priesthood. Ever in these two lights let us regard him.
Psa 110:1. - "Sit," etc.
I. Our Lord's quiet amid passing events.
II. The abundance of his present power.
III. The working of all history towards the ultimate end, which will be -
IV. His easy victory, putting his foot on his foes as readily as we tread on a footstool.
Psa 110:2. -
I. What is that rod? The gospel (Illustrated by Moses' rod).
II. Who sends it? "The Lord."
III. Whence it comes? Out of the church of God.
IV. What is the result? Jesus reigns.
Psa 110:3. - A willing people and an immutable Leader.
I. The promise made to Christ concerning his people, "Thy people shall be willing," etc.
1. A promise of time, "In the day," etc.
2. Of persons, "Thy people."
3. Of disposition "Shall be willing."
4. Of character: "In the beauties of holiness."
5. The majestic figure employed, "From the womb of the morning, thou hast the dew of thy youth."
II. The promise made to Christ concerning himself, "Thou hast the dew of thy youth." Jesus Christ has the dew of his youth personally, doctrinally, and mystically, being surrounded by new converts, who are as the early dew. - Spurgeon's Sermons, No. 74.
Psa 110:3. - This is a prophecy of the subjects of Christ's kingdom.
I. Who they are; "Thy people."
1. A people. This denotes distinction, separation, similarity, organization. They are not a confused rabble, but a united community.
2. His people. By gift, by purchase, by effectual calling.
II. What they are.
1. A loyal people, "willing."
2. A conquered people, "in the day of thy power."
3. A holy people, "in the beauties of holiness."
4. A numerous people, "from the womb of the morning," etc. The number of converts at the first proclamation of Christ's gospel was but the dew of his youth. - G. R.
Psa 110:3. - First, the internal evidence of Christ's kingdom is in his people's willingness: "Thy people shall be willingness - thy people shall be a people all willing" - all volunteers, not pressed men. Secondly, the external evidence of it lies in his people's holiness; "the beauties of holiness;" or as it may be rendered - "in the magnificence of his sanctuary," for the ornaments of the sanctuary and the dress of the priests were very splendid. When you once give yourselves to God, you become temples of God; and sanctity must adorn that heart which is a living temple of the Holy Ghost. - J. Bennett, in a Sermon, 1829.
Psa 110:3. - All true followers of Jesus are
I. priests - beauties of holiness are their sacerdotal robes;
II. soldiers - "in the day of thine armies;"
IV. benefactors - as the dew. - Suggested by a paper in The Baptist Magazine.
Psa 110:3. - Here we have a cluster of subjects: - the willingness of the Lord's people, the beauty of holiness, young converts the glory of the church, the mystery of conversion, and so on.
Psa 110:4. - The eternal priesthood of Christ. On what its perpetuity is founded and the blessed results flowing therefrom.
Psa 110:4. - These words offer three points of special observation.
I. The ceremony used at the consecration of our Lord: "The Lord sware."
II. The office conferred upon him by this rite or ceremony: "Thou art a priest."
III. The prerogatives of his office; which office is here declared to be,
1. Perpetual "for ever."
2. Regular, "after the order."
3. Royal, "of Melchizedek." - Daniel Featley.
Psa 110:4. - Melchizedek: a fruitful subject. See notes.
Psa 110:5. - The certain overthrow of every power which opposes the gospel.
Psa 110:6. - The fearful calamities which have happened to nations through their sinful rejection of the Lord Jesus.
Psa 110:7. - Christ's alacrity, self-denial, and simplicity, the causes of his success. Example to be imitated.
Psa 110:7. - Christ's humiliation and exaltation.
Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
The preceding Psalm is a Passion-Psalm, and it is now followed by a Psalm of Christ's Resurrection, Ascension, and Session in glory. We have seen the same connection in Ps. 22-24, and in Ps. 45-47. The present Psalm grows up from the former Psalm, as the Hill of Olivet, the Hill of Ascension, rises up from the Vale of Gethsemane below it. - Christopher Wordsworth.
This Psalm has been well designated the crown of all the Psalms, of which Luther saith that it is worthy to be overlaid with precious jewels. More especially does the Reformer call Psa 110:5 a well-spring, - nay, a treasury of all Christian doctrines, understanding, wisdom, and comfort, richer and fuller than any other passage of Holy Writ. In his own peculiar manner, he styles Christ the Sheblimini ('Sit on my right hand'). 'Full sure, the devil must let alone my Sheblimini, and cannot bring him down either by his scorn or by his wrath.' Christ still liveth and reigneth, and his title is Sheblimini. On his stirrup is engraven, "I will make thine enemies thy footstool," and upon his diadem, "Thou art a priest for ever." - Alfred Edersheim, 1873.
The ancients (by Cassiodorus' collection) term this Psalm the sun of our faith, the treasure of holy writ verbis brevis, sensu infinitus (saith Augustine), short in words, but in sense infinite. Theodoret notes how it is connected with the Psalm going before, "there (saith he) we have his cross and sufferings, here his conquest and trophies." For he cometh forth as the heir apparent of the Almighty, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, graced with,
1. Title, "My Lord."
2. Place, "Sit thou on my right hand."
3. Power, "Until I make thine enemies thy footstool." - John Prideaux, in a Sermon entitled, "The Draught of the Brooke," 1636.
This Psalm is one of the fullest and most compendious prophecies of the person and offices of Christ in the whole Old Testament, and so full of fundamental truth, that I shall not shun to call it Symbolum Davidicum, the prophet David's creed. And indeed there are very few, if any, of the articles of that creed which we all generally profess, which are not either plainly expressed, or by most evident implication couched in this little model. First, the Doctrine of the Trinity is in the first words; "The Lord said unto my Lord." There is Jehovah the Father, and my Lord, the Son, and the consecrating of him to be David's Lord, which was by the Holy Ghost, by whose fulness he was anointed unto the offices of king and priest; for so our Saviour himself expounds this word "said," by the sealing and sanctification of him to his office, Joh 10:34, Joh 10:35, Joh 10:36. Then we have the Incarnation of Christ, in the words, "my Lord," together with his dignity and honour above David (as our Saviour himself expounds it, Mat 22:42, Mat 22:45). Mine, that is, my Son by descent and genealogy after the flesh, and yet my Lord too, in regard of his higher sonship. We have also the Sufferings of Christ, in that he was consecrated a priest (Psa 110:4) to offer up himself once for all, and so to drink of the brook in the way. We have his Completed Work and conquest over all his enemies and sufferings; his Resurrection, "he shall lift up his head"; his Ascension and Intercession, "Sit thou on my right hand." We have here also a Holy Catholic Church gathered together by the sceptre of his kingdom, and holding in the parts thereof a blessed and beautiful Communion of Saints; "The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the daft of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." We have the Last Judgment, for all his enemies must be put under his heel (which is the Apostle's argument to prove the end of all things, Co1 15:25); and there is the day of his wrath, wherein he shall accomplish that judgment over the heathen, and that victory over the kings of the earth (who take counsel and band themselves together against him), which he doth here in his word begin. We have the Remission of sins, comprised in his priesthood, for he was to offer sacrifices for the remission of sins, and "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," Eph 1:7; Heb 9:26. We have the Resurrection of the body, because he must "subdue all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death," as the Apostle argues out of this Psalm, Co1 15:25, Co1 15:26. And lastly, we have life everlasting, in the everlasting merit and virtue of his priesthood, "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek," and in his sitting at the right hand of God, whither he is gone as our forerunner, and to prepare a place for us, Heb 6:20; Joh 14:2; and therefore the apostle from his sitting there, and living ever, inferreth the perfection and certainty of our salvation, Rom 6:8, Rom 6:11; Rom 8:17; Eph 2:16; Col 3:1-4; Co1 15:49; Phi 3:20, Phi 3:21; Th1 4:14; Heb 7:25; Jo1 3:2. - Edward Reynolds, 1599-1676.
Although the Jews of later times have gone about to wrest it to another meaning, yet this Psalm is so approved and undoubted a prophecy of Christ, that the Pharisees durst not deny it, when being questioned by our Saviour (Mat 22:42, Mat 22:43) how it should be, seeing Christ is the son of David, that David notwithstanding should call him Lord, saying, "The Lord said unto my Lord," they could not answer him a word, whereas the answer had been very easy and ready if they could have denied this Psalm to be meant of Christ. But they knew it could not be otherwise understood, and it was commonly taken amongst them to be a prophecy of their Messias, according to the very evidence of the text itself, which cannot be fitted to any other, but only to Christ our Saviour, the Son of God. For whereas some of them since then have construed all these things as spoken in the name of the people of Judah concerning David their king, the text itself refuseth that construction, when in those words, "Sit thou at my right hand," it mentioneth an honour done to him of whom it speaketh, greater than can be fitted to the angels, and therefore much less to be applied unto David. Again, that which is spoken in Psa 110:4 of the priesthood, cannot be understood of David, who was indeed a king, but never had anything spoken as touching the priesthood to appertain unto him, and of whom it cannot be conceived how it should be said, "Thou art a priest for ever," etc. Yea, there is nothing here spoken whereof we may see in David any more but some little shadow in comparison of that which hath come to pass in Jesus Christ. - Robert Abbot (1560-1617) in "The Exaltation of the Kingdom and Priesthood of Christ."
The sixty-eighth Psalm hails the ascent of the Messiah, prefigured by the translation of the ark, and gives a rapid and obscure view of the glories and the blessings consequent upon that event. The twenty-fourth exhibits to us the Messiah ascending to his redemption throne upborne by the wings of angels and archangels, and hosannahed by the whole intelligent creation; it marks in the most glowing colours the triumphant entry of Messiah into the heavenly regions, and the tone of authority and power with which he commands that entrance - it sends him attended by the angelic host to his Father's throne, there to claim that pre-eminence which was his by inheritance and by conquest. At this point the Psalm before us "takes up the wondrous tale": it exhibits to us the awful solemnities of his reception, it represents the Father bestowing on his well-beloved Son the kingdom which he had earned, exalting him to the throne, and putting all things under his feet; receiving him in his office of prophet, and promising universality and permanence to "the rod of his strength"; receiving him in the office of priesthood, his own peculiar priesthood, and confirming its efficacy and duration by an oath; thus perfecting the redemption scheme, and completing the conquest over sin and death, and him who had the power of death. Man united with God was raised to the throne of being; man united with God perfected the sacrifice which was demanded, and the angelic host is represented by the Psalmist as taking up the strain, and hymning the future triumphs of the King of Glory - triumphs over his foes, whom he will visit in the day of his wrath, and triumphs with his willing people, whom he will assist with his Spirit, refine by his grace, and exalt into his glory. Such do I conceive to be the occasion, the object, and the tendency of this sacred song; to me it appears to be eminently an epinicion, or song of victory: it celebrates the triumph of the conqueror, it presents him with the rewards of victory, and it predicts future conquests as crowning his glory; while elsewhere we see the Captain of our salvation militant, here we see him triumphant; while elsewhere we see his offices inchoate, here they are perfected by the approval of the Godhead, and the promise of eternity: here we have instruction consolidating empire, and the atonement completed by the everlasting priesthood. - J. H. Singer, in "The Irish Pulpit," 1839.
In this one verse we have a description of Christ's person, his wars and his victory; so that we may say of it (and so indeed of the whole Psalm, which is an epitome of the Gospel), as Tully did of Brutus in his laconical epistle, Quam multa, quam paucis! How much in a little. - John Trapp.
"The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand." An oft-quoted passage - because it contains a memorable truth. We find it quoted by Messiah himself to lead Israel to own him as greater than David, Mat 22:44. It is quoted in Heb 1:13, to prove him higher far than angels. It is brought forward by Peter, Act 2:34, to show him Lord as well as Christ. It is referred to in Heb 10:12, Heb 10:13, as declaring that Jesus has satisfactorily finished what he undertook to accomplish on earth, "the one sacrifice for ever," and is henceforth on that seat of divine honour "expecting till his enemies be made his footstool" in the day of his Second Coming. - Andrew A. Bonar.
"The Lord said." Albeit the understanding of Christ's person and office be necessary unto the church, yet none know the Son save the Father, and they to whom he will reveal him: for David knew Christ only by the Father's teaching, "The Lord said," said he. - David Dickson.
"My Lord." From hence we learn that though Christ was man, yet he was more than a bare man, since he is Lord to his father David. For jure naturae no son is lord to his father; domination doth never ascend. There must be something above nature in him to make him his father's sovereign, as our Saviour himself argueth from these words, Mat 22:42, Mat 22:45. - Edward Reynolds.
"My Lord." It was a higher honour to have Christ for his son, than to be a king; yet David does not say that Christ is his son, but rejoices that Christ is his Lord, and he Christ's servant. But this joy has also been procured for it: see Luk 1:43; Joh 20:28; Phi 3:3, Phi 3:8. They who regard the Messiah only as the son of David, regard the lesser part of the conception of him. A dominion to which David himself is subject, shows the heavenly majesty of the King, and the heavenly character of his kingdom. - John Albert Bengel.
"Until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Every word is full of weight. For though ordinarily subdivisions of holy Scripture and crumbling of the bread of life be rather a loosing than an expounding of it; yet in such parts of it as were of purpose intended for models and summaries of fundamental doctrines (of which sort this Psalm is one of the fullest and briefest in the whole Scriptures), as in little maps of large countries, there is no word whereupon some point of weighty consequence may not depend. Here then is to be considered the term of duration or measure of Christ's kingdom, "until." The author of subduing Christ's enemies under him, "I, the Lord." The manner thereof; ponam, and ponam scabellum, put thy foes as a stool under thy feet. Victory is a relative word, and presupposeth enemies, and they are expressed in the text Enmity shows itself against Christ in all the offices of his mediation. There is enmity against him as a prophet. Enmity against his truth, - in opinion by adulterating it with human mixtures and superinducements, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men; in affection, by wishing many divine truths were razed out of the Scriptures, as being manifestly contrary to those pleasures which they love rather than God; in conversation, by keeping down the truth in unrighteousness, and in those things which they know, as brute beasts, corrupting themselves. Enmity against his teaching, by quenching the motions, and resisting the evidence of his Spirit in the Word, refusing to hear his voice, and rejecting the counsel of God against themselves. There is enmity against him as a priest, by undervaluing his person, sufferings, righteousness, or merits. And as a king; enmity to his worship, by profaneness neglecting it, by idolatry misappropriating it, by superstition corrupting it. Enmity to his ways and service, by ungrounded prejudices, misjudging them as grievous, unprofitable, or unequal ways; and by wilful disobedience forsaking them to walk in the ways of our own heart. - Edward Reynolds.
"Make thine enemies thy footstool." This expression, that the conquest of Christ's enemies shall be but as the removing of a stool into its place, noteth unto us two things: first, the easiness of God's victory over the enemies of Christ. They are before him as nothing, less than nothing, the drop of a bucket, the dust of the balance, a very little thing Secondly, as this putting of Christ's enemies like a stool under the feet noteth easiness, so also it noteth order or beauty too. When Christ's enemies shall be under his foot, then there shall be a right order in things; then it shall indeed appear that God is a God of order, and therefore the day wherein that shall be done, is called "the times of the restitution of all things," Act 3:21. The putting of Christ's enemies under his feet is an act of justice; and of all others, justice is the most orderly virtue, that which keepeth beauty upon the face of a people, as consisting itself in symmetry and proportion.
This putting of Christ's enemies as a stool under his feet, also denotes unto us two things in reference to Christ; first, his rest, and secondly, his triumph. To stand, in the Scripture phrase, denoteth ministry, and to sit, rest; and there is no posture so easy as to sit with a stool under one's feet. Till Christ's enemies then be all under his feet, he is not fully in his rest.
Furthermore, this "footstool" under Christ's feet, in reference to his enemies, denoteth unto us four things. First, the extreme shame and confusion which they shall everlastingly suffer, the utter abasing and bringing down of all that exalteth itself against Christ. Secondly, hereby is noted the burden which wicked men must bear; the footstool beareth the weight of the body, so must the enemies of Christ bear the weight of his heavy and everlasting wrath upon their souls. Thirdly, herein is noted the relation which the just recompense of God bears unto the sins of ungodly men. Thus will Christ deal with his enemies at the last day. Here they trample upon Christ in his word, in his ways, in his members; they make the saints bow down for them to go over, and make them as the pavements on the ground; they tread under foot the blood of the covenant, and the sanctuary of the Lord, and put Christ to shame; but there their own measure shall be returned into their bosoms, they shall be constrained to confess as Adonibezek, "As I have done, so God hath requited me." Lastly, herein we may note the great power and wisdom of Christ in turning the malice and mischief of his enemies unto his own use and advantage, and so ordering wicked men that though they intend nothing but extirpation and ruin to his kingdom, yet they shall be useful unto him, and, against their own wills, serviceable to those glorious ends, in the accomplishing whereof he shall be admired by all those that believe. As in a great house there is necessary use of vessels of dishonour, destined unto sordid and mean, but yet daily, services so in the great house of God, wicked men are his utensils and household instruments, as footstools and staves, and vessels wherein there is no pleasure, though of them there may be good use. - Condensed from Reynolds.
"Thy footstool." As this our king has a glorious throne, so has he also a wonderful footstool; and as his royal throne imparts to us comfort in the highest degree, so his footstool also imparts to us joy. How joyful shall his poor subjects be when they hear that their prince and king has slain their enemies and delivered them out of their hands! How did their poor subjects go forward to meet Saul and Jonathan when those kings had slain the Philistines!... Moreover, because our King has his enemies under his feet, thus shall he also bring all our enemies under our feet, for his victory is ours, God be thanked, who has given us the victory through Christ our Lord. - Joshua Arnd, 1626-1685.
"The rod of thy strength," or rather, "The sceptre of thy might," i.e., of "Thy kingly majesty," as in Jer 48:17; Eze 19:14. Chrysostom plays upon the word ῥάβδος (lxx) as a rod of strength and consolation, as in Psa 23:4; a rod of chastisement, as in Psa 2:9, Co1 4:21; a symbol of kingly rule, as in Isa 11:1, Psa 45:6. It was by this rod, he says, that the disciples wrought when they subdued the world, in obedience to the command, "Go and make disciples of all nations"; a rod far more powerful than that of Moses, "for that divided rivers, this brake in pieces the ungodliness of the world." And then with profound truth he adds, "Nor would one err who should call the Cross the rod of power; for this rod converted sea and land, and filled them with a vast power. Armed with this rod, the Apostles went forth throughout the world, and accomplished all that they did, beginning at Jerusalem." The Cross, which to men seemed the very emblem of shame and weakness, was, in truth, the power of God. - J. J. Stewart Perowne.
"The rod of thy strength." The power of this sceptre and word of Christ appeareth greatly in the saving of his elect.... So mightily hath it prevailed and overruled the minds of men against nature, and reason, and learning, and wisdom, and custom, and whatsoever else is strong to hold men in the liking of those things which they have once received and followed, as that they have been content to renounce the devotions which their forefathers had so long embraced; to cast away the gods which themselves had devoutly served; to stop their ears against the contrary motives and persuasions of father and mother; to harden their hearts against the kneelings and weepings and embracings of wife and children; to forego their honours, and inheritances, yea, and their lives also, rather than lose that peace and joy of heart which the same word of Christ had ministered unto them. Yea, how strange is it, and how greatly doth it commend the power of this word, to see weakness hereby prevailing against strength, simplicity against policy; to see the lamb standing without fear before the lion, the gentle turtle before the devouring kite; women and children and weaklings before the great monarchs and potentates of the world, not fearing their threatening words, nor dreading their tormenting hands, but boldly uttering the word of their testimony (Rev 12:11), in despite of all their fury, and never yielding to shrink from it, by anything that could be devised against them. The word of God in their hearts gave them courage and resolution and strength to go through fire and water, to bear all adventures of wind and weather, and howsoever they seemed to be beaten against the rocks, yet they escaped shipwreck, and arrived safe at the haven of their desire. - Robert Abbot.
"Out of Zion." We need not say much about how the omniscience of God is displayed in the wonderful fact, that in the very land of the covenant - in the very midst of that people who rejected and crucified the Saviour, the first church of Christ on earth was established. What would cartilers and blasphemers have said, had it been otherwise? had the Christian community been formed in any of the heathen countries? Would it not have been considered as a fiction of the idolatrous priests? Israel scattered among the nations, and the Church of Christ haying begun in Zion at Jerusalem, are the most wonderful and enduring monuments, and incontestable witnesses of the truth of Christianity. - Benjamin Weiss.
From his ruling in the midst of enemies we learn that the kingdom of Christ in this life is the kingdom of the Cross, of persecutions, and of dangers. Enemies are never wanting, not only external adversaries, but also spiritual and eternal; and therefore great sorrow is always awaiting the godly. In this most terrible conflict, however, their minds are lifted up by this consolation, viz., that the rod of the kingdom is strong, and cannot be overcome by any force or power; yea, more, albeit assailed with contendings and all kinds of storms, it will continue stable, firm, and perpetual: and there will always be a Church among men, which will fear and worship this King; because the experience of all the ages teaches, that this kingdom has the more grown and increased the more it has been opposed, according to that saying of Basil, ἐν ταῖς θλιψεσι μαλλον θάλλει ἡ ἐκκλησία, the Church flourishes more by tribulation. - Rivetus.
"Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." Set up thy power over them and reign in them. This is a commission to set up a kingdom in the very midst of those who were his enemies; in the hearts of those who had been and were rebellions. His kingdom is set up not by destroying them, but by subduing them, so that they become his willing servants. They yield to him, and he rules over them. It is not here a commission to cut them off, but one much more difficult of execution, - to make them his friends, and to dispose them to submit to his authority. Mere power may crush men; it requires more than that to make rebels willingly submissive, and to dispose them voluntarily to obey. - Albert Barnes.
"Thy people." That is, those whom thou dost receive from thy Father, and, by setting up the standard and ensign of the Gospel, gather to thyself "Shall be willing." The word is willingnesses, that is, a people of great willingness and devotion, or (as the original word is elsewhere used, Psa 119:108), shall be freewill offerings unto thee. The abstract being put for the concrete, and the plural for the singular, notes how exceeding forward and free they should be; as the Lord, to signify that his people were most rebellious, saith, that they were rebellion itself, Eze 2:8. So then the meaning is, thy people shall, with most ready aria forward cheerfulness, devote, consecrate, and render up themselves to thy government as a reasonable sacrifice, shall be of a most liberal, free, noble, aria unconstrained spirit in thy service, and shall be voluntaries in the wars of thy kingdom. - Edward Reynolds.
"Thy people," O Jesus Christ, which were given thee by the Father, purchased and redeemed by thee, who acknowledge thee for their Lord, and are bound to thee by a military oath, are extremely willing, being devoted to thy service with the greatest readiness of soul, alacrity, inclination, and voluntary obedience. Nor are they willing only, but willingness itself in the abstract; nay, willingnesses in the plural number, the highest and most excellent willingnesses, all which add an emphasis. This is seen to be so בּיום חילף "in the day of thy [valour] power," in which thy generous spirit laying hold of them, animates them to grand and bold enterprises. Then they go forth in the beauties of holiness, by which they are a terror to the devil, a delight to God and angels, and a mutual edification to one another. - Hermann Witsius, 1636-1708.
"Thy people shall be willing." Willing to do what? They shall be willing while others are unwilling. The simple term "willing," is very expressive. It denotes the beautiful condition of creatures who suffer themselves to be wrought upon, and moved, according to the will of God. They suffer God to work in them to will and to do. They are willing to die unto all sin, they are willing to crucify the old man, or self, in order that the new man, or Christ, may be formed in them. They are willing to be weaned from their own thoughts and purposes, that the thoughts and purposes of God may be fulfilled in them. They are willing to be transferred from nature's steps of human descent to God's steps of human ascent. Or, to abide by the simplicity of our text, God is Will, and they are "willing." God will beautify them with salvation, because there is nothing in them to hinder his working. They will be wise, they will be good, they Will be lovely, they will be like God, for they are "willing"; and there proceeds from God a mighty spirit, the whole tendency of which is to make his creatures like himself. - John Pulsford, in "Quiet Hours," 1857.
"Thy people shall be willing." They are willing in believing, loving, obeying, adhering, living piously and justly in this world; so that they do not need the constraints of laws or threats, because they are led by the Spirit of God, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there, also is liberty. - Wolfgang Musculus.
"Thy people shall be willing." Am I one of the "willing people" - not only my obedience and allegiance secured from a conviction of the truth, but my heart inclined, and my will renewed? To do the will of God, to bear the will of God, to coincide with the will of God - and that with calm if not cheerful consent of the heart, as seeing him who is invisible, and holding fast my living apprehension of his person and character? All unwillingness, whether practical or lurking in the heart, springs from unbelief - from a failure to realise him or his purposes. Were Jesus, as God become incarnate, and as giving himself for me, and his counsel of grace towards me, ever or even in any measure before my heart, how could I hesitate to yield myself, absolutely and implicitly, to him and his guidance? Again, this "willingness" is the essence of holiness; it constitutes "the beauties of holiness" - the beauty of Christ cast over the soul. The cure, therefore, for all my misery and sin is more faith, more of Christ, and nearer to him. This let me seek and ask with ever increasing earnestness. - Alfred Edersheim.
"Thy people shall be willing in the day of, thy power," etc. The prophet here notes three things respecting the subjects of the kingdom of the Messiah:
1. Their prompt obedience.
2. Their attire or vesture.
3. Their abundance, or multitude.
This representation admirably agrees with what precedes. He had said that the Messiah should reign in the midst of his enemies, but lest any one should rein only over enemies, unwilling and opposing, as the devils are made subject to Christ, now he lets us know that he will have a loyal people, and obedient subjects, for else there would be wanting that same glory of which Solomon speaks in Pro 14:28, "In the multitude of people is the king's honour." He affirms also, that he would have his own people, who would recognise, receive, and serve him as King, with true obedience, nor would it be a small company, but like the dew, which waters the face of the whole earth. - Rivetus.
"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." It is power acted and executed with all sweetness, mildness, and gentleness. Here is "leading, but no force; conduct, but no compulsion," vehemens inclinatio, non coactio: the will is determined, but not the least violence is done to it, to the infringing of its liberty. How spontaneously does the person led follow him that leads him! So it is here. This and all other workings of the Spirit are admirably suited to the nature of reasonable and free agents. Efficacious grace does not at all destroy natural liberty. Where the Spirit does not find sinners willing, by his sweet method he makes them willing: "Thy people shall be willing in the daft of thy power." A "day of power," yet "willing." Even the Spirit's drawing is managed with all consistency to the freedom of the will. Ελκυει ὁ Θεος, αλλα βουλομενον ἑλκυει "He draws; but it is one that he makes willing to follow." "Behold, I will allure her" (Hos 2:14): ay, there is the Spirit's leading I this being the constant and avowed doctrine of the Protestants, and particularly their explication of the Spirit's leading in the text [Rom 8:14]; how injurious and invidious are the Popish writers in their traducing and calumniating of them, as if they asserted the Spirit, in this or any other act, to work with compulsion, or in a way destructive to man's essential liberty! It is a vile scandal! - Thomas Jacomb, in "The Morning Exercises."
"In the day of thy power." In the day of thy strength, saith the Vulgate: of thy force and valour, say Tremellius and Junius: of the assemblies, say they of Geneva: of the armies, saith Munster; "at such times as thou shalt bring thy bands and join battle," so Vatablus, Castalio, and the Chaldee Paraphrase have it. All which the original בּיום חילך may bear without straining. - John Prideaux, 1578-1650.
The subjects of the Priest-King are willing soldiers. In accordance with the warlike tone of the whole Psalm, our text describes the subjects as an army. That military metaphor comes out more closely when we attach the true meaning of the words, "in the day of thy power." The word rendered, and rightly rendered, "power," has the same ambiguity which that word has in the English of the date of our translation, and for a century later, as you may find in Shakespeare and Milton, who both used it in the sense of "army." Singularly enough we do not employ "powers" in that meaning, but we do another word which means the same thing - and talk of "forces," meaning thereby "troops." "The day of thy power" is not a mere synonym for "the time of thy might," but means specifically "the day of thine army," that is "the day when thou dost muster thy forces and set them in array for the war." The King is going forth to conquest. But he goes not alone. Behind him come his faithful followers, all pressing on with willing hearts and high courage. - Alexander McLaren, 1871.
"In the day of thy power." This refers in a general way to the gospel dispensation, and in particular to the period of conversion. To the perishing sinner the gospel comes, "not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." It is an arresting power; it meets the sinner, and stays his mad career, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus. It is a convincing power, it teaches the sinner that he is ruined in every respect, and leads him to cry out, "What shall I do to be saved?"... It is a life-giving power; it quickens dead souls, and will eventually bring the dead bodies from their graves; "all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall live." This is the style of Jehovah, "I will, they shall"; none other dare speak thus. It is also liberating power; "if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." - Theophilus Jones, in a Sermon preached at Surrey Chapel, 1823.
"Thy people," etc. In homage, they shall be like a company of priests in sacred vestments, for they shall appear "in the beauties of holiness." In number, they shall be like the countless dewdrops "from the womb of the morning," sparkling in the rays of the rising sun, and reflecting his radiance. In glory they shall bear the likeness of Christ's resurrection in all its vernal freshness: "Thou hast the dew of thy youth." - Benjamin Wildon Carr.
"In the beauties of holiness." In holy vestments as priests. They are at once warriors and priests; meet for the service of him who was King and Priest. Neander (Mem. of Chr. Life, ch. iv.) remarks on the connection between these two sides of the Christian character. God's soldiers can only maintain their war by priestly self-consecration. Conversely: God's priests can only preserve their purity by unintermitted conflict. - William Kay.
"In the beauties of holiness." This expression is usually read as if it belonged either to the words immediately preceding, or to those immediately following. But in either case the connection is somewhat difficult and obscure. It seems better regarded as a distinct and separate clause, adding a fresh trait to the description of the army. And what that is we need not find any difficulty in ascertaining. "The beauties of holiness" is a frequent phrase for the sacerdotal garments, the holy festal attire of the priests of the Lord. So considered, how beautifully it comes in here. The conquering King whom the Psalm hymns is a Priest for ever; and he is followed by an army of priests: The soldiers are gathered in the day of the muster, with high courage and willing devotion, ready to fling away their lives; but they are clad not in mail, but in priestly robes; like those who wait before the altar rather than like those who plunge into the fight, like those who compassed Jericho With the ark for their standard and the trumpets for all their weapons. We can scarcely fail to remember the words which echo these and interpret them. "The armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean" - a strange armour against sword-cut and spear-thrust. - Alexander McLaren.
"The beauties of holiness." Godliness is our spiritual beauty. Godliness is to the soul as the light to the world, to illustrate and adorn it. It is not greatness that sets us off in God's eye, but goodness: what is the beauty of the angels but their sanctity? Godliness is the curious embroidery and workmanship of the Holy Ghost: a soul furnished with godliness is damasked with beauty, and enamelled with purity: this is the "clothing of wrought gold" which makes the King of heaven fall in love with us. Were there not an excellency in holiness, the hypocrite would never go about to paint it. Godliness sheds a glory and lustre upon the saints: what are the graces but the golden feathers in which Christ's dove shines? Psa 68:13. - Thomas Watson.
"Thou hast the dew of thy youth." These words are often misunderstood, and taken to be a description of the fresh, youthful energy attributed by the Psalm to the Priest-King of this nation of soldier-priests. The misunderstanding, I suppose, has led to the common phrase, "the dew of one's youth." But the reference of the expression is to the army, not to its leader. "Youth" here is a collective noun, equivalent to "young men." The host of his soldier-subjects is described as a band of young warriors, whom he leads, in their fresh strength and countless numbers and gleaming beauty like the dew of the morning.... It is as a symbol of the refreshing which a weary world will receive from the conquests and presence of the King and his host, that they are likened to the glittering morning dew. Another prophetic Scripture gives us the same emblem when it speaks of Israel being "in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord." Such ought to be the effect of our presence. We are meant to gladden, to adorn, to refresh this parched, prosaic world, with a freshness brought from the chambers of the sunrise.
The dew, formed in the silence of the darkness while men sleep, falling as willingly on a bit of dead wood as anywhere, hanging its pearls on every poor spike of grass, and dressing everything on which it lies with strange beauty, each separate globule tiny and evanescent, but each flashing back the light, and each a perfect sphere: feeble one by one, but united mighty to make the pastures of the wilderness rejoice - so, created in silence by an unseen influence, feeble when taken in detail, but strong in their myriads, glad to occupy the lowliest place, and each "bright with something of celestial light," Christian men and women are to be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord. - Alexander McLaren.
"The dew of thy youth." There does not, indeed, appear to me any reason to doubt that, in this place, David extols the divine favour displayed in increasing the number of Christ's people; and hence, in consequence of their extraordinary increase, he compares the youth or race which would be born to him to the dew. As men are struck with astonishment at seeing the earth moistened and refreshed with dew, though its descent be imperceptible, even so, David declares that an innumerable offspring shall be born to Christ, who shall be spread over the whole earth. The youth, therefore, which, like the dew-drops, are innumerable, are here designated the dew of childhood, or of youth. - John Calvin.
"From the womb of the morning" is, with the utmost pertinency, applied to the conception and production of dews; agreeably to a delicate line in that great master of just description and lively painting, Mr. Thomson:
"The meek ey'd morn appears, mother of dews."
We meet with a fine expression in the book of Job, which may serve to confirm this remark; and may illustrate the propriety of the phrase used in this connection, "Hath the rain a father, or who hath begotten the drops of dew?" It seems, the oriental writers delighted to represent the dew as a kind of birth, as the offspring of the morning. And if so, surely there could be no image in the whole compass of the universe better adapted to the Psalmist's purpose, or more strongly significant of those multitudes of proselytes, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God; by the powerful energy of his word and Spirit. Upon this supposition, the whole verse describes the willing subjection, the gracious accomplishments, and the vast number of Christ's converts. - James Hervey (1713-14-1758), in "Meditations and Contemplations."
"The dew of thy youth." The most apparent reference is to multitude. Compare Psa 72:16, and the proverbial use of the dew together with the sand of the sea shore to express a vast number. The people of the Messiah are a great number that no man can number: Rev 7:9. But this is only the common enwrapping veil of a further sense We must further note, First, the origen of the dew. From what comes it? From earthly matter, vapour and mist, as the new born soldier of Christ comes from the confused, dark substance of the old nature. By what is it produced? Through the influence of the heavenly warmth of the beams of the morning sun: so the people of God owe themselves to the light from above. In the vivifying light of heaven, the dewdrops are begotten, and from it they come more properly than from the earth-water. How are they produced? Invisibly, wonderfully, by the secret, incomprehensible influence of the divine power. We have by no means exhausted the figure, for we notice, Secondly, the design of the dew. It is for the fertilizing and refreshing of the earth. The spiritual Israel are a fructifying, quickening dew among men. It is also for the ornament of the earth, which the dew bestrews as with precious stones; and this beauty is caused because each little drop of dew reflects the morning sun and is an earthly reflection of the heavenly light. - Condensed from Rudolph Slier.
Psa 110:3 (last clause)
With singular beauty and propriety does the Psalmist compare the first preachers of the gospel to dew. In the first place, they may be compared to the drops of dew on account of their multitude. But, in order to judge of the correctness of the comparison in this respect, we must consider, that, in the Holy Land, the dews are remarkably abundant. A French traveller has observed of Judea, that in the morning the ground is as much moistened by dew, as if it had rained. We are informed in the sacred history, that, when the Dayspring from on high visited the earth, many were the followers of Christ; and that very soon after his ascension into heaven, "multitudes both of men and women were added to the Lord." Justly then may those who hastened to the blessed Jesus, when the glorious light of his gospel first dawned upon the world, or immediately on the commencement of his mediatorial kingdom, be compared in number to the drops of dew, which at the dawn of day fall to the earth.
It is mentioned also in this verse, that the first subjects of the Messiah were to present themselves adorned "with the beauties of holiness"; בהדרי קד in the splendours of holiness. In brightness, then, as well as in multitude, did they resemble the glittering drops of the morning dew. Our great poet has combined these two ideas in his beautiful comparison of an host innumerable to the
"Stars of morning, dew-drops which the sun impearls."
The formation of the dew is represented in Scripture as the work of God, and not of man; and its descending to refresh and fertilize the earth is mentioned as his peculiar gift, and in opposition to human means of rendering the earth more fruitful. "Who," saith Job, "hath begotten the drops of dew?" (Job 38:28). And the prophet Micah declares, that "the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men" (Mic 5:7). Well, then, might the term be applied by the Psalmist to those whom "God of his own will begat with the word of truth"; and who were his appointed instruments, by their preaching, to cause "the desert to rejoice and to blossom abundantly"; and "the wilderness to become a fruitful field."
Let it also be remembered, that those whom the Psalmist compares to dew are described under the image of young soldiers, going forth to fight the battles of a victorious prince. Now this comparison is used in Sa2 17:11, Sa2 17:12, "I counsel," said Hushai to Ahitophel, "that all Israel be generally gathered unto thee, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine own person. So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth upon the ground." It is perhaps not undeserving of notice, that amongst the Romans those troops who first attacked the enemy, and who were composed of young men, were, from a supposed resemblance to dew, called Rorarii. It is not incumbent upon me to investigate the reason of their receiving that name; it is sufficient to point out its similarity with the expression of the Psalmist, which is applied to those who were first to engage in the conflict with the enemies of the Gospel of Christ. - Richard Dixon, 1811.
Thee, in thy power's triumphant day,
The willing nations shall obey;
And, when thy rising beams they view,
Shall all (redeem'd from error's night)
Appear as numberless and bright
As crystal drops of morning dew.
N. Brady and N. Tate.
Lord, let thy day of power be known,
Thy people be confessed;
Eager and valiant - priests each one,
In holy garments dressed.
Countless they shine, as dews from heaven
When eastern skies grow bright -
More glorious than those dews are given,
Sparkling in morning light.
George Rawson, in "Hymns, Verses, and Chants," 1876.
"The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent," etc. It should be diligently considered, that God has consecrated Christ priest by an oath, and that this was done for our sakes: First, That we might know how exceedingly momentous was this transaction, and the more reverently and with the stronger faith believe it. Secondly, That we might acknowledge the goodness of God, who, being most truthful in himself, and concerning whose faithfulness it is the greatest crime to doubt, nevertheless has been pleased to speak to us not only with a bare word, but also, after the manner of men, to confirm his decree by an oath. - Rivetus.
"Sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever." God might have made the levitical priest by oath, and yet he might have been changed; but if he had made him by oath to be a priest for ever, then he could not have repented, that is, changed; but he must of necessity have been a priest for ever. Therefore you must take special notice, that God did not only swear that Christ should be a priest, or that he should be a priest for a long time, but a priest "for ever;" so that there should never be any priest joined with him, or come after him. So that if we consider the oath, and the thing confirmed by this oath, two things will be manifest:
1. That Christ's priesthood is personal, and settled in one single person for ever; so that he can have no fellow nor co-partner, nor any successor in his priesthood.
2. That, by this oath, God did limit his own supreme and absolute power in this particular; and took away the use and exercise of it, and that for ever. For now he hath no power to make Christ no priest, or take away his priesthood at will and pleasure: and in this God discovered his unspeakable love unto Christ, in that he did so much honour him, and so highly reward him. By this he also displayed his abundant mercy to man; for by this oath known unto man, he signifies that man shall never be destitute of a powerful and effectual priest, able for ever to save; and this doth minister unto sinful man most sweet and heavenly comfort. - George Lawson, 1662.
The form and manner of our Saviour's investiture or consecration was most honourable and glorious, God the Father performing the rites; which were not imposition of hands, and breathing on him the Holy Ghost, but a solemn testimony, with a protestation, "Thou art a priest": ceremonies never used by any but God, nor in the investiture of any but Christ, nor in his investiture into any office but the priesthood. At his coronation we hear nothing, but the Lord said, "Sit thou on my right hand": the rule of the whole world is imposed upon our Saviour by command; and even in this did Christ show his obedience to his Father, that he took upon him the government of his church. But at the consecration of Christ we have a great deal more of ceremony and solemnity, God his Father taketh an oath, and particularly expresseth the nature and condition of his office, a priesthood for ever after the order of Melchizedek: and he confirmeth it unto him for ever, saying, "Thou art a priest for ever." - Daniel Featley, in "Clavis Mystica." 1636.
What doctrine doth the Scripture afford more comfortable to a drooping soul than this, that God hath sworn his Son a priest for ever, to sanctify our persons, and purge our sins, and tender all our petitions to his Father? What sin is so heinous, for which such a priest cannot satisfy by the oblation of himself? what cause so desperate, in which such an advocate, if he will plead, may not prevail? We may be sure God will not be hard to be intreated of us, who himself hath appointed us such an intercessor, to whom he can deny nothing; and to that end hath appointed him to sit at his right hand to make intercession for us. - Abraham Wright.
"And will not repent." The meaning of this phrase is, that the priesthood of Christ is not like that of Aaron, which was after a time to expire, and is now actually with all the ceremonial law abolished, but a priesthood never to be altered or changed. - Daniel Featley.
"Thou art a priest." The reasons which moved our Lord to take upon him the office of priest are conceived to be these.
1. Because the salvation and redemption of mankind, wrought by the sacrifice of his priesthood, being a most noble work, and not inferior to the creation, it was not fit that any should have the honour of it, but the Son of God.
2. Neither was it agreeable that any should offer him, who was the only sacrifice that could expiate the sins of the whole world, but himself, therefore by offering himself he added infinite worth to the sacrifice, and great honour to the priesthood of the Gospel. For, as the gold sanctifieth not the altar, but the altar the gold; so it may be truly said without impeachment to the dignity of that calling, that Christ was rather an honour to the priesthood, than the priesthood an addition to him. For what got he by the priesthood which cost him his life? What preferment could it be to him, to take upon him an office, whereby he was to abase himself below himself, and be put to an ignominious and accursed death? What were we vile miscreants, conceived and born in original sin, and soiled with the filth of numberless actual transgressions, that to purge and cleanse our polluted souls and defiled consciences, the second person in the Trinity should be made a Priest? It was wonderful humility in him to wash his disciples' feet; but in his divine person to wash our unclean souls, is as far above human conceit, as it seemeth below divine majesty. There is nothing so impure as a foul conscience; no matter so filthy, no corruption so rotten and unsavoury as is found in the sores of an exulcerated mind; yet the Son of God vouchsafed to wash and bathe them in his own blood. O bottomless depth of humility and mercy! Other priests were appointed by men for the service of God, but he was appointed by God for the service and salvation of men, other priests spilt the blood of beasts to save men, but he shed his own blood to save us, more like beasts than men, other priests offered sacrifice for themselves, he offered himself for a sacrifice: other priests were fed by the sacrifices which the people brought, but he feeds us with the sacrifice of his own body and blood: lastly, others were appointed priests but for a time, he was ordained a priest "for ever." - Daniel Featley.
"Thou art a priest." This word, "Thou art," is verbum constitutivum, a "constituting word," whereon the priesthood of Christ was founded. And it may be considered, -
1. As declarative of God's eternal decree, with the covenant between the Father and the Son, whereby he was designed unto this office.
2. As demonstrative of his mission, or his actual sending to the discharge of his office. These words are the symbol and solemn sign of God's conferring that honour upon him, which gave him his instalment.
3. As predictive, for there is included in them a supposition that God would prepare a body for him, wherein he might exercise his priesthood, and which he might offer up unto him. - John Owen.
"Melchizedek." Some heretics of old affirmed that he was the Holy Ghost. Others, that he was an angel. Others that he was Shem, the son of Noah. Others that he was a Canaanite, extraordinarily raised up by God to be a priest of the Gentiles. Others that he was Christ himself, manifested by a special dispensation and privilege unto Abraham in the flesh, who is said to have seen his day, and rejoiced, Joh 8:56. Difference there is also about Salem, the place of which he was king. Some take it for Jerusalem, as Josephus and most of the ancients. Others for a city in the half tribe of Manasseh, within the river Jordan, where Hierom reports that some ruins of the palace of Melchizedek were in his days conceived to remain. Tedious I might be in insisting on this point who Melchizedek was. But when I find the Holy Ghost purposely concealing his name, genealogy, beginning, ending, and descent, and that to special purpose, I cannot but wonder that men should toil themselves in the dark to find out that of which they have not the least ground of solid conjecture, and the inevidence whereof is expressly recorded, to make Melchizedek thereby the fitter type of Christ's everlasting priesthood. - Edward Reynolds.
"Melchizedek." These things concerning are certain, First, That he was a mere man, and no more; for,
1. "Every high priest" was to be "taken from among men," Heb 5:1; - so that the Son of God himself could not have been a priest had he not assumed our nature.
2. That if he were more than a man, there would be no mystery in his being introduced in Scripture as, "without father, without mother, without pedigree," for none but men have such.
3. Without this conception of him there is no force in the apostle's argument against the Jews.
Secondly, That he came not to his office by the right of primogeniture (which includes a genealogy) or by any way of succession, but was raised up and immediately called of God thereunto; for in that respect Christ is said to be a priest after his order. Thirdly, That he had no successor on the earth, nor could have; for there was no law to constitute an order of succession, and he was a priest only after an extraordinary call. These things belong unto faith in this matter, and no more The first personal instituted type of Christ was a priest; this was Melchizedec. There were before real instituted types of his work, as sacrifices; and there were moral types of his person, as Adam, Abel, and Noah, which represented him in sundry things; but the first person who was solemnly designed to teach and represent him, by what he was and did, was a priest. And that which God taught herein was, that the foundation of all that the Lord Christ had to do in and for the church was laid in his priestly office, whereby he made atonement and reconciliation for sin. Everything else that he doth is built on the supposition of his priesthood. And we must begin in the application where God begins in the exhibition. An interest in the effects of the priestly office of Christ is that which in the first place we ought to look after. This being attained, we shall be willing to be taught and ruled by him. It may not be amiss to observe the likeness between Melchizedec and Christ. As for our Lord;
1. He was said to be, and he really was, and he only, first the king of righteousness, and then the king of peace; seeing he alone brought in everlasting righteousness and made peace with God for sinners. In his kingdom alone are these things to be found.
2. He was really and truly the priest of the most high God; and properly he was so alone. He offered that sacrifice, and made that atonement, which was signified by all the sacrifices offered by holy men from the foundation of the world.
3. He blesseth all the faithful, as Abraham, the father of the faithful, was blessed by Melchizedec. In him were they to be blessed, by him are they blessed, - through him delivered from the curse, and all the fruits of it; nor are they partakers of any blessing but from him.
4. He receiveth all the homage of his people, all their grateful acknowledgments of the love and favour of God, in the conquest of their spiritual adversaries, and deliverance from them, as Melchizedec received the tenth of the spoils from Abraham.
5. He was really without progenitors or predecessors in his office; nor would I exclude that mystical sense from the intention of the place, that he was without father as to his human nature, and without mother as to his divine.
6. He was a priest without genealogy, or derivation of his pedigree from the loins of Aaron, or any other that ever was a priest in the world, and moreover, mysteriously, was of a generation which none can declare.
7. He had, in his divine person, as the high priest of the church, neither beginning of days nor end of life, as no such thing is reported of Melchizedec; for the death which he underwent, in the discharge of his office, being not the death of his whole person, but of his human nature only, no interruption of his endless office did ensue thereon. For although the person of the Son of God died, whence God is said to "redeem his church with his own blood," Act 20:28; yet he died not in his whole person; but in his divine nature was still alive. Absolutely, therefore, and in respect of his office, he had neither beginning of days nor end of life.
8. He was really the Son of God, as Melchizedec in many circumstances was made like to the Son of God.
9. He alone abideth a priest for ever; whereof we must particularly treat afterwards. - Condensed from John Owen.
"The Lord shall strike through kings," etc. He really threatens such great heads in an awful manner, that if they will not hear, and cannot obey, they shall be terrified to death. And assuredly he would willingly, by these means, allure them to repentance, and persuade them to turn, and to cease from raging against the Lord. But if they will not, they shall know against whom it is that they go on.... This is our consolation which upholds us, and makes our heart joyful and glad against the persecution and rage of the world, that we have such a Lord, who not only delivers us from sin and eternal death, but also protects us, and delivers us in sufferings and temptations, so that we do not sink under them. And though men rage in a most savage manner against Christians, yet neither the gospel nor Christianity shall perish; but their heads shall be destroyed against it. If their persecutions were to go on unceasingly Christianity could not remain, wherefore he gives them a time, and says he will connive at them for a while, but not longer than till the hour comes which he here calls the "day of his wrath." And if they will not now cease in the name of God, they must then cease in the name of the devil. - Martin Luther.
"Shall strike through kings." To strike through notes a complete victory and full confusion of the enemy, an incurable wound, that they may stagger, and fall, and rise up no more, and that affliction may not arise a second time, Nah 1:9; Sa1 26:8. The only difficulty is what is meant by "kings." For which we must note that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, and his war spiritual, and therefore his enemies for the most part spiritual. - Edward Reynolds.
"In the day of his wrath." Note that it is not simply said, he will strike through kings in his wrath, but in the day of his wrath. Therefore as there is a time of grace and patience, so there is also an appointed time of wrath and vengeance of God. Frequent mention is made of this in the sacred Scriptures, that we may be admonished that the wicked will not be left always unpunished, because they contemn the patience of God, aye, provoke his anger; but that there will be a time when they will experience the wrath of God. Thus, armed with patience, we should persevere in the practice of piety, nor be turned aside from it, either by the example of the wicked, or from fear of them. - Wolfgang Musculus.
Psa 110:5, Psa 110:6, Psa 110:7
The sentenc'd heathen he shall slay,
And fill with carcases his way,
Till he hath struck earth's tyrants dead;
But in the high-way brooks shall first,
Like a poor pilgrim, slake his thirst,
And then in triumph raise his head.
N. Brady and N. Tate.
"He shall fill the places with the dead bodies." This notes the greatness of the victory, that none should be left to bury the dead. There shall be an universal destruction of wicked men together in the day of God's wrath, they shall be bound up in bundles, and heaped for damnation, Mat 13:30; Psa 37:38; Isa 1:28; Isa 66:17. And it notes the shame and dishonour of the enemy, they shall be like dung upon the face of the earth, and shall be beholden to their victors for a base and dishonourable burial, as we see in the great battle with Gog and Magog, Eze 39:11-16. - Edward Reynolds.
"Dead bodies." Either the corpses of the vanquished enemy; or (possibly) the living bodies of men in a state of servitude, as in Gen 47:18; Neh 9:37. (The construction as in Exo 15:9.) In the latter case, the meaning may be: that the bodies of those who had been enslaved by the Usurper, Death, were now claimed back by their rightful Lord. The full number is claimed back. The "last enemy" being destroyed, "all things" are brought beneath Christ's sway. - William Kay.
"The heads." Rather, the head; doubtless, the head of the Old Serpent (according to the prophecy in Gen 3:15), who acts in all who resist Christ. The verb machats, which is used here, is employed to describe the prophetical and typical act of Jael, smiting the head of God's enemy, Sisera (Jdg 5:26 and Jdg 4:22); and it is used in Psa 68:21, which describes Christ's victory, "God shall wound the head of his enemies"; and also by Hab 3:13, "Thou woundest the head out of the house of the wicked." - Christopher Wordsworth.
"He shall drink of the brook," etc. He describeth the passion of Christ and his glory. "In the way," saith he, that is, in his life while he is in this misery, "he shall drink out of the brook," that is, he shall suffer and be overcome. For to drink out of the cup is to suffer: but to drink out of the brook, is to be altogether full of trouble, to be vexed and tormented and utterly to be overwhelmed with a strong stream of troubles. Thus was it in David's mind to declare the passion of Christ. Afterward he saith, "therefore shall he lift up the head." After the passion followeth the glory, with the resurrection and ascension. Paul (Phi 2:1) speaketh of both, and saith: "Christ humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name," etc. - Myles Coverdale, 1487-1568.
I conceive that the "brook" here spoken of was not intended to give us the idea of a clear brook of refreshing water, which was to afford the Redeemer strength to endure the amazing conflict; as the drinking of the water enabled Gideon's chosen band of men to go forth to battle against the Midianites. No; in our Lord's case it was a polluted and turbid stream. Like the water of Marah, which the Israelites could not drink, it was bitter; for sin had made it so. It bore along with it, as it flowed, the curse of the broken law, and the vengeance of offended justice, and the wrath of the eternal God. It was pain, sorrow, suffering, death. This was the "brook" of which he drank. The "cup" which his Father gave him to drink was filled with the bitter water of this "brook"; and he may be said to have first put his lips to it, when he declared to his disciples, in his way to Gethsemane, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death."
But it is stated in the text that this "brook" was "in the Way." It is described here as running by the path in which the Redeemer was going in order to the accomplishment of his great work of man's salvation; that work which he had engaged in the everlasting covenant to perform; and by the performance of which, man could alone be accepted of God. The sin of man was the source from whence this water issued; and it flowed along in the Saviour's "way," through the wilderness of this world to his kingdom of glory in the next; as the brook Kidron, red with the blood of the typical sacrifices, flowed in his way to Calvary. - Fountain Elwin, 1842.
In the expositions of most of the ancients and moderns, we are told that he drank of the brook,
1. of mortality by his incarnation;
2. of strictness and hardness in all his passage, by his voluntary wants and poverty;
3. of the strong potion of the law, by his exact obedience and subjection;
4. of the Jews' malice, by their continual indignities;
5. of the floods of Belial, by apparent and unknown temptations;
6. of the heaviest wrath of his Father, by his unspeakable agony and bloody sweat in the garden.
7. And last of all, of death itself on the cross, by his sad and extreme passion. - John Prideaux.
"He shall drink of the brook in the way." These words were understood by Junius and Tremellius long ago as meaning, "He shall steadily press on to victory, as generals of energy act, who in pursuing routed foes, stay not to indulge themselves in meat or drink." Hengstenberg and others substantially approve of this view. While a few hold that allusion may be made to Samson at Ramath-Lehi (as if the words spoke of Christ having a secret spring of refreshment when needful). Most seem inclined to take Gideon as the type that best expresses the idea. Pressing on to victory, Messiah, like Gideon, "faint yet pursuing" as he passed over Jordan, shall not desist till all is won. "He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he hath set judgment in the earth." Perhaps the full idea is this: - His career was irresistibly successful like that of Gideon; for he allowed nothing to detain him, nor did he shrink in the enterprise from any fatigue nor did he stop to indulge the flesh. If we take it thus, there is both the Humiliation and the Exaltation of the Son of Man contained in the words; and Phi 2:8, Phi 2:9 supplies a commentary. - Andrew A. Bonar.
"Schnurrer," says Rosenmuller, "seems to have perceived the meaning of the verse, which he gives in the following words: - 'Though fatigued with the slaughter of his enemies, yet he will not desist: but, having refreshed himself with water from the nearest stream, will exert his renovated strength in the pursuit of the routed foe.'" - Messianic Psalms.
Christ shall "lift up the head" by way of triumphing and rejoicing, when he shall have taken full vengeance of his adversaries, and freed, not himself only, but the whole body of his church from the assaults and dangers of all enemies. We see now that oftentimes, though not in himself, yet in his members, he is fain to hang down the head, and to wear the badges of reproach and shame, whilst the ungodly vaunt themselves (Job 31:26) and in their hearts despise the righteous, accounting more vilely of them than of the dust of their feet. - Robert Abbot.
1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, 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 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.
"The Lord said unto my Lord" - Jehovah said unto my Adonai: David in spirit heard the solemn voice of Jehovah speaking to the Messiah from of old. What wonderful intercourse there has been between the Father and the Son! From this secret and intimate communion spring the covenant of grace and all its marvellous arrangements. All the great acts of grace are brought into actual being by the word of God; had he not spoken, there had been no manifestation of Deity to us; but in the beginning was the Word, and from of old there was mysterious fellowship between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ concerning his people and the great contest on their behalf between himself and the powers of evil. How condescending on Jehovah's part to permit a mortal ear to hear, and a human pen to record his secret converse with his co-equal Son! How greatly should we prize the revelation of his private and solemn discourse with the Son, herein made public for the refreshing of his people! "Lord, what is man that thou shouldst thus impart thy secrets unto him."
Though David was a firm believer in the Unity of the Godhead, he yet spiritually discerns the two persons, distinguishes between them, and perceives that in the second he has a peculiar interest, for he calls him "my Lord." This was an anticipation of the exclamation of Thomas, "My Lord and my God," and it expresses the Psalmist's reverence, his obedience, his believing appropriation, and his joy in Christ. It is well to have clear views of the mutual relations of the persons of the blessed Trinity; indeed, the knowledge of these truths is essential for our comfort and growth in grace. There is a manifest distinction in the divine persons, since one speaks to another; yet the Godhead is one.
"Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies they footstool." Away from the shame and suffering of his earthly life, Jehovah calls the Adonai, our Lord, to the repose and honours of his celestial seat. His work is done, and he may sit; it is well done, and he may sit at his right hand; it will have grand results, and he may therefore quietly wait to see the complete victory which is certain to follow. The glorious Jehovah thus addresses the Christ as our Saviour; for, says David, he said "unto my Lord." Jesus is placed in the seat of power, dominion, and dignity, and is to sit there by divine appointment while Jehovah fights for him, and lays every rebel beneath his feet. He sits there by the Father's ordinance and call, and will sit there despite all the raging of his adversaries, till they are all brought to utter shame by his putting his foot upon their necks. In this sitting he is our representative. The mediatorial kingdom will last until the last enemy shall be destroyed, and then, according to the inspired word, "cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even the Father." The work of subduing the nations is now in the hand of the great God, who by his Providence will accomplish it to the glory of his Son; his word is pledged to it, and the session of his Son at his right hand is the guarantee thereof; therefore let us never fear as to the future. While we see our Lord and representative sitting in quiet expectancy, we, too, may sit in the attitude of peaceful assurance, and with confidence await the grand outcome of all events. As surely as Jehovah liveth Jesus must reign, yea, even now he is reigning, though all his enemies are not yet subdued. During the present interval, through which we wait for his glorious appearing and visible millennial kingdom, he is in the place of power, and his dominion is in no jeopardy, or otherwise he would not remain quiescent. He sits because all is safe, and he sits at Jehovah's right hand because omnipotence waits to accomplish his will. Therefore there is no cause for alarm whatever may happen in this lower world; the sight of Jesus enthroned in divine glory is the sure guarantee that all things are moving onward towards ultimate victory. Those rebels who now stand high in power shall soon be in the place of contempt, they shall be his footstool. He shall with ease rule them, he shall sit and put his foot on them; not rising to tread them down as when a man puts forth force to subdue powerful foes, but retaining the attitude of rest, and still ruling them as abject vassals who have no longer spirit to rebel, but have become thoroughly tamed and subdued.
"The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion." It is in and through the church that for the present the power of the Messiah is known. Jehovah has given to Jesus all authority in the midst of his people, whom he rules with his royal sceptre, and this power goes forth with divine energy from the church for the ingathering of the elect, and the subduing of all evil. We have need to pray for the sending out of the rod of divine strength. It was by his rod that Moses smote the Egyptians, and wrought wonders for Israel, and even so whenever the Lord Jesus sends forth the rod of his strength, our spiritual enemies are overcome. There may be an allusion here to Aaron's rod which budded and so proved his power; this was laid up in the ark, but our Lord's rod is sent forth to subdue his foes. This promise began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, and it continues even to this day, and shall yet have a grander fulfilment. O God of eternal might, let the strength of our Lord Jesus be more clearly seen, and let the nations see it as coming forth out of the midst of thy feeble people, even from Zion, the place of thine abode. "Rule thou in the midst off thine enemies;" as he does whenever his mighty sceptre of grace is stretched forth to renew and save them. Moses' rod brought water out of the flinty rock, and the gospel of Jesus soon causes repentance to flow in rivers from the once hardened heart of man. Or the text may mean that though the church is situated in the midst of a hostile world, yet it exerts a great influence, it continues to manifest an inward majesty, and is after all the ruling power among the nations because the shout of a king is in her midst. Jesus, however hated by men, is still the King of kings. His rule is over even the most unwilling, so as to overrule their fiercest opposition to the advancement of his cause. Jesus, it appears from this text, is not inactive during his session at Jehovah's right hand, but in his own way proves the abiding nature of his kingdom both in Zion and from Zion, both among his friends and his foes. We look for the clearer manifestation of his almighty power in the latter days; but even in these waiting times we rejoice that to the Lord all power is given in heaven and in earth.
"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." In consequence of the sending forth of the rod of strength, namely, the power of the gospel, out of Zion, converts will come forward in great numbers to enlist under the banner of the Priest-King. Given to him of old, they are his people, and when his power is revealed, these hasten with cheerfulness to own his sway, appearing at the gospel call as It were spontaneously, even as the dew comes forth in the morning. This metaphor is further enlarged upon, for as the dew has a sparkling beauty, so these willing armies of converts have a holy excellence and charm about them; and as the dew is the lively emblem of freshness, so are these converts full of vivacity and youthful vigour, and the church is refreshed by them and made to flourish exceedingly. Let but the gospel be preached with divine unction, and the chosen of the Lord respond to it like troops in the day of the mustering of armies; they come arrayed by grace in shining uniforms of holiness, and for number, freshness, beauty, and purity, they are as the dewdrops which come mysteriously from the morning's womb. Some refer this passage to the resurrection, but even if it be so, the work of grace in regeneration is equally well described by it, for it is a spiritual resurrection. Even as the holy dead rise gladly into the lovely image of their Lord, so do quickened souls put on the glorious righteousness of Christ, and stand forth to behold their Lord and serve him. How truly beautiful is holiness! God himself admires it. How wonderful also is the eternal youth of the mystical body of Christi As the dew is new every morning, so is there a constant succession of converts to give to the church perpetual juvenility. Her young men have a dew from the Lord upon them, and arouse in her armies an undying enthusiasm for him whose "locks are bushy and black as a raven" with unfailing youth. Since Jesus ever lives, so shall his church ever flourish. As his strength never faileth, so shall the vigour of his true people be renewed day by day. As he is a Priest-King, so are his people all priests and kings, and the beauties of holiness are their priestly dress, their garments for glory and for beauty: of these priests unto God there shall be an unbroken succession. The realisation of this day of power during the time of the Lord's tarrying is that which we should constantly pray for; and we may legitimately expect it since he ever sits in the seat of honour and power, and puts forth his strength, according to his own word, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."
4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
We have now reached the heart of the Psalm, which is also the very centre and soul of our faith. Our Lord Jesus is a Priest-King by the ancient oath of Jehovah: "he glorified not himself to be made a high priest," but was ordained thereunto from of old, and was called of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. It must be a solemn and a sure matter which leads the Eternal to swear, and with him an oath fixes and settles the decree for ever; but in this case, as if to make assurance a thousand times sure, it is added, "and will not repent." It is done, and done for ever and ever; Jesus is sworn in to be the priest of his people, and he must abide so even to the end, because his commission is sealed by the unchanging oath of the immutable Jehovah. If his priesthood could be revoked, and his authority removed, it would be the end of all hope and life for the people whom he loves; but this sure rock is the basis of our security - the oath of God establishes our glorious Lord both in his priesthood and in his throne. It is the Lord who has constituted him a priest for ever, he has done it by oath, that oath is without repentance, is taking effect now, and will stand throughout all ages: hence our security in him is placed beyond all question.
The declaration runs in the present tense as being the only time with the Lord, and comprehending all other times. "Thou art," i.e., thou wast and art, and art to come, in all ages a priestly King. The order of Melchizedek's priesthood was the most ancient and primitive, the most free from ritual and ceremony, the most natural and simple, and at the same time the most honourable. That ancient patriarch was the father of his people, and at the same time ruled and taught them; he swayed both the sceptre and the censer, reigned in righteousness, and offered sacrifice before the Lord. There has never arisen another like to him since his days, for whenever the kings of Judah attempted to seize the sacerdotal office they were driven back to their confusion; God would have no king-priest save his son. Melchizedek's office was exceptional; none preceded or succeeded him; he comes upon the page of history mysteriously; no pedigree is given, no date of birth, or mention of death; he blesses Abraham, receives tithe, and vanishes from the scene amid honours which show that he was greater than the founder of the chosen nation. He is seen but once, and that once suffices. Aaron and his seed came and went; their imperfect sacrifice continued for many generations, because it had no finality in it, and could never make the comers thereunto perfect. Our Lord Jesus, like Melchizedek, stands forth before us as a priest of divine ordaining; not made a priest by fleshly birth, as the sons of Aaron; he mentions neither father, mother, nor descent, as his right to the sacred office; he stands upon his personal merits, by himself alone; as no man came before him in his work, so none can follow after; his order begins and ends in his own person, and in himself it is eternal, "having neither beginning of days nor end of years." The King-priest has been here and left his blessing upon the believing seed, and now he sits in glory in his complete character, atoning for us by the merit of his blood, and exercising all power on our behalf.
"O may we ever hear thy voice
In mercy to us speak,
And in our Priest we will rejoice,
Thou great 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 places with 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.
The last verses of this Psalm we understand to refer to the future victories of the Priest-King. He shall not for ever sit in waiting posture, but shall come Into the fight to end the weary war by his own victorious presence. He will lead the final charge in person; his own right hand and his holy arm shall get unto him the victory.
"The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath." Now that he has come into the field of action, the infinite Jehovah comes with him as the strength of his right hand. Eternal power attends the coming of the Lord, and earthly power dies before it as though smitten through with a sword. In the last days all the kingdoms of the earth shall be overcome by the kingdom of heaven, and those who dare oppose shall meet with swift and overwhelming ruin. What are kings when they dare oppose the Son of God? A single stroke shall suffice for their destruction. When the angel of the Lord smote Herod there was no need of a second blow; he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost. Concerning the last days, we read of the Faithful and True, who shall ride upon a white horse, and in righteousness judge and make war, "Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."
"He shall judge among the heathen," or, among the nations. All nations shall feel his power, and either yield to it joyfully or be crushed before it. "He shall fill the places with the dead bodies." In the terrible battles of his gospel all opponents shall fall till the field of fight is heaped high with the slain. This need not be understood literally, but as a poetical description of the overthrow of all rebellious powers and the defeat of all unholy principles. Yet should kings oppose the Lord with weapons of war, the result would be their overwhelming defeat and the entire destruction of their forces. Read in connection with this prophecy the passage which begins at Rev 19:17 and runs on to the end of the chapter. Terrible things in righteousness will be seen ere the history of this world comes to an end. "He shall wound the heads over many countries." He will strike at the greatest powers which resist him, and wound not merely common men, but those who rule and reign. If the nations will not have Christ for their Head, they shall find their political heads to be powerless to protect them. Or the passage may be read, "he has smitten the head over the wide earth." The monarch of the greatest nation shall not be able to escape the sword of the Lord; nor shall that dread spiritual prince who rules over the children of disobedience be able to escape without a deadly wound. Pope and priest must fall, with Mahomet and other deceivers who are now heads of the people. Jesus must reign and they must perish.
"He shall drink of the brook in the way." So swiftly shall he march to conquest that he shall not stay for refreshment, but drink as he hastens on. Like Gideon's men that lapped, he shall throw his heart into the fray and cut it short in righteousness, because a short work will the Lord make in the earth. "Therefore shall he lift up the head." His own head shall be lifted high in victory, and his people, in him, shall be upraised also. When he passed this way before, he was burdened and had stern work laid upon him; but in his second advent he will win an easy victory; afore-time he was the man of sorrows, but when he comes a second time his head will be lifted in triumph. Let his saints rejoice with him. "Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh." In the latter days we look for terrible conflicts and for a final victory. Long has Jesus borne with our rebellious race, but at length he will rise to end the warfare of long-suffering, by the blows of justice. God has fought with men's sins for their good, but he will not always by his Spirit strive with men; he will cease from that struggle of long-suffering love, and begin another which shall soon end in the final destruction of his adversaries. O King-priest, we who are, in a minor degree, king-priests too, are full of gladness because thou reignest even now, and wilt come ere long to vindicate thy cause and establish thine empire for ever. Even so, come quickly. Amen.