“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’.”
~Psalm 110:4 (NRSV)
It could very well be the king of Psalms; it is every bit messianic and a piece of Scripture that calls long past David to, in fact, Jesus. It is the most quoted and referred-to psalm in the New Testament.
This Psalm combines two key parts of the Threefold Office of the Lord Jesus Christ: the roles of Priest and King are conjointly affixed in divine prophecy. (The other part of the Threefold Office is Jesus’ role as Prophet.)
Of all psalms that provide meditative and devotional delight, perhaps this Psalm, in its theological complexity, can evoke most spiritual interest, because it is so deep. It may easily open up a whole realm of enchanting revelation.
The Revelation Of The King And His Army
If there is any doubt as to the veracity of God’s absolute reign it is dispelled in the first verse: the Lord (the Father) has asked his Lord (Jesus) to wait until he has prepared his enemies to be as his footstool; to serve his victory. Taken forward as a prophecy that came to fruition in the event of the cross and the resurrection, we can see the making of the Dominion where Satan was comprehensively slain at that time. Satan and his angels served God’s purpose. They were revealed as Jesus’ everlasting footstool.
Our King rules in the midst of many foes, and his countless subjects offer themselves willingly, and devotedly, each day he leads his forces.
And each young one that hears the battle charge that leads to salvation, afresh, responds to their King—the glorious King, Jesus, one with no equal.
King And Priest
Verse 4 is the centrepiece of this Psalm. Joined to the role of King is the eternal calling of priesthood—the King is also High Priest; an unprecedented matching. Not even David in all his devotion as a sovereign would dare to seriously play to such a chaliced calling.
So deep is the theology regarding priesthood in this single verse that four chapters of Hebrews (7–10) are devoted to it—to reconciling the divine significance in Jesus’ status as eternal High Priest—for all humankind.
Jesus is, now and for all eternity, the atonement that each needs in order to present before the Father.
The Priest-King’s Warfare And Victory
Verses 5-7 offer the boldest hope that could ever be contemplated by any ordinary sinner. Whilst the words we read can sound deceptively like tribal warfare, we can know that they mean replete victory for the Saviour, and all those who served under his name.
Jesus is both everlasting Priest and King: we are right with the Father by our Priest’s selfless and God-made atoning sacrifice. It saves all humanity who call him their Saviour. He is their King also: a God who battles for, and defends, all his subjects. In Jesus we have both a Saviour and Defender.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: W. Graham Scroggie, A Guide to the Psalms: a Comprehensive Analysis of the Psalms – Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1995), pp. 82-89.