By Henry Mahan
No study of Christ in the Old Testament can ignore this Psalm.
Note how many times vv. 1 & 4 are referred to in the New Testament (Matt. 22:44; Acts 2:34-35; Heb. 1:13; 5:6; 6:20; 7:17). The Old Testament reveals Jesus Christ in promise, picture, and pattern; and in the New Testament Christ comes to earth in person (Matt. 1:21-23). This Psalm is a clear revelation of the person and office of the Lord Jesus.
v. 1. 'The Lord' (the Father) 'said to my Lord' (the Son, Jesus Christ). O that we might understand just a little of the power of the word of God! 'And God said'--this is enough! All of the great works of grace are brought into being by the WORD OF GOD.
Had he not spoken, there would be no manifestation of deity to us (John 1:1-4). When he speaks, nothing can change it. 'I have spoken it; I will bring it to pass' (Isa. 46:11).
David knew that the Lord our God is one God, yet he discerns between the Father and 'my Lord'--his shepherd and redeemer. Thomas uses the same term, 'My Lord and my God.'
The Father sent the Son into the world as our Lord and Saviour (John 3:14-16: Gal. 4:4-5); yet, 'I and my Father are one.' 'Sit thou at my right hand,' This is an oft-quoted passage because it declares that Jesus Christ has successfully finished what he undertook to accomplish on earth--the full and complete redemption of his people (John 17:4; Heb. 10:11-14).
No earthly priest ever sat down in the tabernacle, for his work was never done! Christ sits as our representative and intercessor. He sits because all is safe and there is no cause for alarm. He sits at Jehovah's right hand because omnipotence waits to accomplish his will (John 6:37-39). Every enemy will be subdued and all the elect will come to him.
v. 2. Zion is the church or true Israel. What, then, is that rod of his strength? It is the gospel illustrated by Moses' rod. It was by his rod that Moses wrought wonders, smote the Egyptians, divided the sea, and brought water from the rock. The Lord sends his gospel out of the church to call his elect. Salvation is the result of the preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:15-16; 1 Cor. 2:14-16). The Lord Jesus reigns over the willing and the unwilling (John 17:1-2), but his gospel of truth is the rod of strength that awakens dead sinners (Eph. 1: 13; James 1:18; 1 Cor. 15:1-3) .
v. 3. 'Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power' (1 Thess. 1:4-5). The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16); and when the rod of his strength (the gospel) is preached in the power of his Spirit, his people willingly believe and embrace Christ.
The promise is made to Christ--'Thy people,' which were given by the Father, purchased by his blood, and called by the Spirit.
The disposition of his people--'shall be willing.' They are willing to turn from all idols; they are willing to forsake their own thoughts; they are willing to bow to Christ as prophet, priest, and king; they are extremely willing to receive Christ and rest only in him to redeem them. The character of his people--'in the beauty of holiness.' They are arrayed in the beautiful garment of Christ's righteousness and holiness.
The number of his people are as the dew from the womb of the morning.
v. 4. 'Here is the heart of the Psalm and the very center and soul of our faith,' said C. H. Spurgeon; 'Our Lord Jesus is the Priest-King by the eternal oath of Jehovah.'
'The Lord has sworn.' It must be the most solemn and sure matter which leads the eternal God to swear (Heb. 6:16-20) and to add, 'and will not change.' It is done and done forever: Jesus Christ is the surety, priest-king, and only mediator of his people (1 Tim. 2:5; John 14:6).
Aaron and his sons were types of Christ, but with limitations (Heb. 10: 11-12). They were many; he ONE. They were men; he is the God-Man. They were only Priests; he is King-Priest. They died; he lives. Their priesthood had a beginning and an end; his is forever. They offered many sacrifices; he one. They offered animal blood; he gave his own blood. They ministered in an earthly sanctuary; he in heaven. Their sacrifices could never take away sin; his perfected forever!
Read of the appearance of Melchizedek in Gen. 14:17-20 and Heb. 7:1-4. Melchizedek's office was exceptional; none preceded nor succeeded him. He comes upon the page of history mysteriously and goes away--no birth, no pedigree, no death, and he blessed Abraham. He is called the Priest of the Most High God and the King of peace! He was seen but once, and that once was enough.
Our Lord was made a priest by the Father; no one was before him nor after him; his order begins and ends in himself. He came once into the world and left his blessings upon the believing seed, and now he sits in glory exercising that merit and power on our behalf (Heb. 10:12-14).
vv. 5-7. These last three verses show the future victory and judgments of Christ over and upon his enemies. He shall not sit forever, but shall descend from heaven and destroy the works of evil.
'The day of his wrath.' As there is a time of grace and patience, so there is an appointed day of wrath and vengeance of our God. The wicked shall not go unpunished. 'Their foot shall slide in due time.'
'He shall strike through kings ... judge among the heathen (or nations) ... wound the heads of great countries.' What are the kings of the earth when they oppose the King of kings? All nations shall yield to his power or be crushed before it. He shall wound the heads of nations, heads of movements, and Satan's head. All who will not have Christ to be their head shall be destroyed (Rom. 10:9-10; Phil. 2:9-11).
Drinking from the brook in the way pictures a confident warrior who is sure of victory, a patient warrior who, without hurry, pursues the foe, and a victorious warrior who lifts up his head triumphantly in an easy victory.