What do you think about the Messiah? Psalm 110

By Melissa McLaughlin

Reading the Bible can be positively life-changing. Imagine this, the Voice of Him who spoke us into existence is found in these pages. Is it any wonder we need His Word to live?

The Bible contains God’s will, character, law, heart and His marvelous message of salvation in Christ. If we allow God’s Word, the Bible, to penetrate our souls, the scriptures will teach, correct, encourage, comfort, challenge and nourish us.

To help people better understand God’s Word, during his time on earth Jesus asked some piercing and probing questions about the scriptures.

One example is recorded in the book of Matthew. Here Jesus challenged the Jewish leaders of His day to consider Psalm 110. This is a Messianic Psalm written by David proclaiming the coming Messiah (also known as the Christ, the Anointed One, King or Savior of God’s people.)

Interestingly, I have read this passage countless times and noted Jesus’ odd question. However, during a recent reading this section jumped off the page and stopped me in my tracks. I asked myself, “Why would Jesus point this scripture out?” I knew that every scripture Jesus referenced had great meaning. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more to Jesus’ question.

What do you think about the Messiah?

Matthew 22:41-46 (NLT)

Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They replied, “He is the son of David.”

Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord‘? For David said,

‘The LORD said to my Lord,
Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ [Excerpt from Psalm 110]

Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?”

No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

The Messiah had been prophesied in the scriptures and the Israelites anxiously awaited His coming.

In this scene Jesus asked the Pharisees to ponder anew the first verse of Psalm 110 that described Christ. Why would David refer to the Messiah (or Christ) with the opening phrase “The LORD said to my Lord“?

Jesus was pointing out that the Savior would be more than a mere man or descendant of David. The Messiah would also rule over David as Lord.

Psalm 110

Let’s take a closer look at Psalm 110. This Psalm describes the Messiah’s reign over all the earth with a powerful depiction of Christ’s victorious second coming. Psalm 110 is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Psalm. It reveals Christ’s personhood, position and power.

Psalm 110 (ESV)

The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Lord sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.

The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.

He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

Understanding LORD vs. Lord

When reading Psalm 110, it is critical to note the opening verse uses two different forms of the word “LORD / Lord“.

When written with all capital letters, “LORD,” denotes the personal Hebrew name given to the self-existing, eternal, omnipotent God. Yahweh. The Great I AM.

When written with only the first letter capitalized, as in “Lord,” the word in Hebrew is Adonai. The meaning in this case is Ruler, Master, having power or authority. This is a term of respect used when referring to God or humans of high rank (i.e. Lord Byron). One scholar suggested a more modern concept as Boss.

A careful reading of this first verse in Psalm 110 provides a clearer understanding of Jesus’ point:

“The Eternal God (LORD-Yahweh) said to my Master (Lord-Adonai)”

Psalm 110 – The Person, Position and Power of the Messiah

Jesus directed their attention to this verse. This scripture spotlights Christ as more than David’s son. He is David’s Lord. Further, this passage goes on to illustrate the full deity of the Messiah. It is both a revelation, an invitation and a warning.

As we continue reading in Psalm 110, we see this same Lord will:

  • Sit at God’s right hand
  • Enemies will be his footstool
  • Ruler over enemies (Satan, demonic forces and all who oppose Christ)
  • Arrayed in holy garments
  • Priest in the order of Melchizedek
  • Execute judgment over the nations
  • His head will be lifted up

This Psalm describes more than an earthly Lord or human King. Jesus Christ was both fully man and fully God. Descendent of David and reigning with God Eternal. KING of Kings and LORD of Lords!

Further, many Bible Scholars point out that the Trinity is referenced in this Psalm. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, as Jesus noted that David wrote this scripture by the inspiration of the Spirit.

Sadly, when Jesus illuminated this powerful scripture, the listeners responded with stone cold silence. How He yearned for them to recognize their Messiah. I can only imagine the ache in Jesus’ heart as He looked out over their hardened souls.

Interestingly, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, when Peter cited this same passage in his sermon in Acts 2, these listeners were “cut to the heart”, repented and were baptized in Christ.

What do you think about Christ?

As we read the Bible today, may we hear the voice of Jesus echoing in our souls.

For in the end, each of us need to answer His question.

“What do you think about the Messiah?”

May God’s message cut us to the heart.

John 5:39 (NLT) – “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!

Luke 24:25-27 (NLT) – Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:44 (NIV) – He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Acts 2:29-38 (ESV) – “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”‘

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Sources and Resources:

Bible Hub Commentaries

Living Stream Ministry Summary by Witness Lee

Who is this King of glory? Psalm 24 By Melissa McLaughlin

Believe By Melissa McLaughlin

15 thoughts on “What do you think about the Messiah? Psalm 110”

  1. This psalm says so much. What more could Jesus do to announce his presence? This should have made them pause in their plans to defy him – ”
    The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
    He will execute judgment among the nations,
    filling them with corpses;
    he will shatter chiefs
    over the wide earth.”

    • I agree, Tom! This Psalm is loaded with truth about God, the Trinity, Christ’ deity, Kingship, Priesthood and coming rule and reign over all. We can be certain they knew the rest of this Psalm. May our hearts never be hardened to God’s truth.

  2. An excellent post! You did such a wonderful job explaining these very difficult passages, Melissa. Again, we’ve overwhelmed by the wisdom of Messiah Jesus as he carefully explains what a difficult passage of Scripture truly means. Sadly, he is met with stone cold silence, as you stated. They were unable to understand, for what he said wasn’t at all what they assumed the passages meant. And yet, here was God in the flesh, explaining what the Holy Spirit meant when he inspired that Psalm. You captured here the wonder of Messiah, “God with us,” and the patience he brings to every human interaction.

    • Thank you, Melinda! Glory to God! You are right, Christ, the Messiah, does indeed work patiently to reveal to hard-hearts that He is God with us. As many times as I have read the words “The LORD said to my Lord”, it was in a recent reading that these words “cut me to the heart”. I wondered, why, of all possible scriptures, did Jesus ask His opponents about this verse? It struck me so hard, how often I had glossed over this as if it was nothing really. When I started finding the source, Psalm 110 and studying the expansive theology presented in Psalm 110, I was blown away. I did not know before this, that Psalm 110 is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. However, when we see how clearly it presents the Messiah, it is not so surprising. It was a magnificent scripture connection for me to learn. I pray it is a blessing to others, too.

  3. This is a beautiful psalm that portrays our Lord. He is my all and all and LORD of my life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom.

  4. So many people today are still like the Pharisees… they don’t see Jesus as the Messiah due to a hardness of heart. I think a good prayer for those who have hardened hearts, would be along the lines of “cutting to the heart.” Sometimes that is what is desperately needed – a circumcision of the heart, to remove the “flesh” (i.e. our own sinful junk) to be able to experience the Spirit.

    I also love how you pointed out that Ps. 110 shows a trinity concept, too. Very cool. Thanks for this informative post!

    • Wow, what a powerful insight, Lisa. It is true, what is desperately needed is a circumcision of the heart, to remove the “flesh” of our sinful selfishness, that we may bow down before Christ, as our rightful LORD over all. It is a powerful Messianic Psalm.

  5. Such a wonderful post, Melissa! I love how you pull things together! Amen! Thank you for your discernment….God’s Holy word is indeed a’ light to our path’…as scripture clearly tells us. You are such a beautiful blessing to those who read your words. You have studied God’s word and you spread so much joy as you share it. God bless you and keep you!

    • Thank you, Linda, for reading and sharing your responses! God’s Word is an unending storehouse of treasure for our souls. May we keep pressing in to know Christ and the power of His Word! God bless you, sister! You are an encouragement to me!


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