Four Reasons Why Every Christian Should Study Psalm 110
September 21, 2017
Every Christian should be well acquainted with Psalm 110. I could give you way more than four reasons. As a matter of fact, Psalm 110 will help us in perseverance. Hebrews 10:23 exhorts us to persevere in the Christian faith telling us this: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Doesn’t it seem strange that holding fast to a confession is key to perseverance? Building up to this verse, the writer to the Hebrews packs in a lot of theology. When studying this verse within its context of Hebrews for my book Theological Fitness, I discovered that new scholarship suggests Hebrews is a sermon letter based off of Psalm 110. I found that fascinating. Psalm 110 gives us the confession of our hope. It may be my favorite piece of Scripture. I want you to love it as much as I do, so here are some reasons why every Christian should study it.
Study Psalm 110…
If you want to hear God speak
The Christian bestsellers list shows us how badly we want to hear God speak. Isn’t that the success of Jesus Calling? We want to hear from God---today. And so Christian bookstores are full of bestselling books telling us about special words from our Lord to the authors, and how we can hear him too (or at least through them). This is what many well-intentioned believers think they need to persevere in the Christian life. But what we really need is to hold fast to our confession of hope.
Why don’t we let God tell us our confession of hope? This is not a mere message for one person today, but something that applies to every single one of us in every single situation. Psalm 110 begins with an amazing revelation, “The LORD said…” Here is our special word from the Lord. In his commentary on Psalm 110, Puritan Edward Reynolds elaborates,
The "word of God" in Scriptures signifies his blessing, power, pleasure, ordination. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," Matt. iv. 4. That is, by that command which the creatures have received from God to nourish by, that benediction and sanctification which maketh every creature of God good unto us, 1 Tim. iv.5. God’s saying is ever doing something; his words are operative, and carry an unction and authority along with them. (An Explication of the Hundred and Tenth Psalm, 5.)
And so we see this blessing and ordination again in Scripture in Matt. 3:17, “and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” None of us can speak with that kind of authority. Study Psalm 110 to hear what the Lord says.
If you want to know God’s will
What do you cling to when your faith is challenged? Your friends, your church attendance, your family, your quiet time, your emotions or psychological health? A prayer that you prayed? These are times in our lives when we really want to know God’s will. Psalm 110 delivers again. Here we see the covenant of redemption, God’s eternal plan, and the appointment of Christ to his office. In these poetic words we see Christ’s Kingdom, his church, his enemies, his humiliation, his exaltation, and triumph.
And we see this seemingly insignificant word that is like an X-marks-the-spot on the map for us: Until→ You are here.
We see where Christ is now and what he’s doing. That until can be hard to bear sometimes but in Psalm 110 we have the comfort of knowing, “He shall gather a church, and he shall confound his enemies, because for that end he hath finished and broken through all the sufferings with he was to drink of, and has lifted up his head again” (Explication, 4.).
If you want to know what all the NT writers were talking about
Psalm 110 is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. We have direct quotes in Matt. 22:44, Mk. 12:36, Luke 20: 42-43, Acts 2: 33-34, and Heb. 1:13. We have indirect references to it, saying “It is written,” in Matt. 26:64; Luke 22:69; 1 Cor. 15:25; and Heb. 5:6, 7:17, 21. Compare. Mark 14:62; 16:19; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 5:6; 8:1; 10:12, 13; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22 to Psalm 110 and you will see how heavily the writers in Scripture relied on God’s words there and how he built upon them. And heck, maybe Hebrews really is a sermon-letter based on the text of Psalm 110.
Why? Don’t you think this must be an important Psalm worth our study?
If you want a creed as solid as David’s
“For this psalm is one of the clearest and most compendious prophesies of the prophecies and person and offices of Christ in the whole Old Testament, and so full of fundamental truth, that I shall not shun to call it David’s creed.” (Explication, 2.)
There you have it. In seven verses, we have David’s creed, David’s confession of hope---one that we too can hold fast to. As a matter of fact, Reynolds pulls 14 confessions out of these 7 verses: the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, the sufferings of Christ, Christ’s completed work and resurrection, ascension and intercession, a holy catholic church and communion of the saints, the last judgment and day of his wrath, the remission of sins, resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.
I was honored to teach a Sunday school class on those 14 confessions from David’s creed. You may ask, why would the writer to the Hebrews exhort us to persevere in the Christian life of faith and obedience by holding onto a confession? Christianity is a historical faith that has content. There are certain elements to our confession that would devastate our faith if they were not true. As Paul demonstrates in 1 Cor. 15, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’” (33). Hope is not the same as wishful thinking; it is built on truth. Jesus is Lord in his person and in his work. That is something that we can hold fast to. And he indeed holds fast to us as our anchor, interceding on our behalf as he is seated at the right hand of the Father.
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
in 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.