In my post (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/22/solomon-was-not-davids-lord-psalm-1101-revisited-again/), I demonstrated why David in Psalm 110:1 could not have been referring to his son Solomon as his lord whom Jehovah exalted to sit enthroned alongside of him.
Here I am going to highlight the fact that for believing Christians who affirm the historical accuracy, preservation and inspiration of the New Testament writings, the only interpretation of this Psalm that they can actually embrace is the one espoused by the Lord Jesus and his followers. I say this because one will find even in the commentaries of professing conservative Christians, whether Evangelical or otherwise, a view of this Psalter which directly contradicts and opposes that of Christ and his inspired emissaries.
According to one view, a court prophet in honor of David himself may have written the Psalm. Note, for instance, the following comments of the translators of the New English Translation Bible (NET https://netbible.org/bible/Psalms+110):
sn My lord. In the psalm’s ORIGINAL CONTEXT the speaker is an unidentified prophetic voice in the royal court, likely addressing David, the head of the dynasty. In the course of time the psalm is applied to each successive king in the dynasty, and is likely understood as such by David (see 2 Sam 7:11-14, 19). Since the Psalm as a whole is attributed to David, it is appropriate to speak of any of its parts as coming from him, whether he composed them, reported them, or commissioned them. Ultimately these words come to apply to the ideal Davidic king, specifically Jesus Christ, the Son of David. Thus, in the irony of the incarnation, the lord who receives the promise is the Lord who made the promise. This creates some complexity in typographic convention, as NET chooses to use lower case here in the Psalm (“my lord”) due to its ORIGINAL CONTEXT, even though we now know it to be ultimately fulfilled by our Lord. The Greek translation introduces more difficulty because it uses κύριος (kurios, “lord”) for both the Lord’s name, יהוה (YHWH, probably pronounced “Yahweh”) and the title אֲדוֹנַי (ʾadonay, “Lord”) (the word here is not the title, but simply “lord” [אָדוֺן, ʾadon] with the suffix “my”). This complexity and irony are the grounds for the riddle posed by Jesus in the gospels (Matt 22:43-45; Mark 12:36-37; Luke 20:42-44), which the Pharisees could not solve because they were not expecting the Davidic lord to be the Lord. Peter incorporates the answer “that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ” into his sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:34-35). (Capital and underline emphasis ours)
Suffice it to say, this directly contradicts the words of our Lord and his Apostles:
“Then Jesus said to them, “How do they say that Christ is David’s Son? DAVID HIMSELF SAYS in the Book of Psalms, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” David therefore calls Him “Lord.” How is He then his Son?’” Luke 20:41-44
“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all you who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words… Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this which you now see and hear. For David has not ascended to the heavens, yet HE SAYS: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” Therefore, let all the house of Israel assuredly know that God has made this Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ.’” Acts 2:14, 29-36
Both Jesus and Peter are adamant that David wrote this Psalm ABOUT the Messiah, NOT about himself. The Apostle even goes so far as to claim that the Israelite king was actually speaking of Jesus’ physical ascension and enthronement alongside of God the Father in heaven!
Another interpretation that is found even among those professing to be conservative believers is the very one I sought to refute in my current discussion. I.e., David actually composed this Psalm for Solomon in recognition of the fact that God had chosen him to sit on the throne of Jehovah’s kingdom over Israel.
It is amazing to find believing scholars who actually hold the position that David wrote Psalm 110 in honor of his son Solomon and that it came to be applied to Jesus, much like other OT texts were ascribed to Christ, even though in their initial historical contexts they were speaking of some other individual and/or event. (Cf. Matthew 2:15 [Hosea 11:1]; Hebrews 1:5 [2 Samuel 7:14], 8-9 [Psalm 45:6-7]; 2:5-9 [Psalm 8:4-6]; 10:6-9 [Psalm 40:6-8]).
There are two main problems with this view. First, as we already noted, this interpretation contradicts the explicit witness of the Lord Jesus and his inspired spokespersons that David wrote this specifically about the Messiah.
In fact, Jesus plainly states that it was the Holy Spirit who inspired David to compose this Psalm in recognition of the fact that the Christ was his very own exalted Lord:
“While Jesus taught in the temple, He said, ‘How can the scribes say that Christ is the Son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies under Your feet.’” David himself calls Him “Lord.” How then is He his Son?’ And the large crowd heard him gladly.” Mark 12:35-37
How, then, can any conservative scholar argue for a meaning other than the one given by the Lord Jesus and his Spirit filled emissaries?
This brings me to my second objection. The claim that the Psalm was originally written by David in honor of Solomon overturns Jesus’ whole argument, and makes his interpretation look rather foolish. Basically, this view ends up blaspheming the Lord Jesus by showing that he didn’t know what he was talking about.
Pay close attention to Jesus’ objection and challenge to the religious authorities:
“While the Pharisees were assembled, Jesus asked them, ‘What do you think of the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,” saying: “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool’”? If David then calls Him “Lord,” how is He his Son?’ No one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask Him any more questions.” Matthew 22:41-46
Jesus’ entire point here is that the Messiah COULD NOT be David’s Lord if he was nothing more than a physical offspring of the Israelite monarch. But since David acknowledged that the Messiah is indeed his very Lord then this means that the Messiah is either more than a human descendant of the ancient king, or the Messiah cannot be David’s son.
That the Lord wasn’t intending to contradict the commonly held Jewish belief that the Messiah is a physical Davidide is confirmed by the fact that the NT writings repeatedly stress Jesus’ physical lineage from David:
“Then they came to Jericho. And as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat along the way begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many ordered him to keep silent. But he cried out even more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. So they called the blind man, saying, ‘Be of good comfort. Rise, He is calling you.’ Throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. Jesus answered him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ The blind man said to Him, ‘Rabbi, that I might receive my sight.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way. Your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the way.” Mark 10:46-52
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham:” Matthew 1:1
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary… ‘Listen, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:26-27, 31-33
“Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, who was the son of Heli… who was the son of Melea, who was the son of Menna, who was the son of Mattatha, who was the son of Nathan, who was the son of David,” Luke 3:23, 31
“Brothers, I may speak confidently to you concerning the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. But being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of his seed according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he foresaw this and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. God raised up this Jesus, of which we all are witnesses.” Acts 2:29-32
“When He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified, saying, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will fulfill My entire will.’ From this man’s descendants God has raised a Savior for Israel, Jesus, according to His promise.” Acts 13:22-23
“concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:3-4
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel,” 2 Timothy 2:8
“Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’” Revelation 5:5
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16
The foregoing makes it abundantly clear that the Lord wasn’t denying that the Messiah is a physical son of David. Rather, Jesus was attempting to show that the Christ is more than that, since he is more than a man.
Jesus was trying to get the religious authorities and the common folk to see that the Messiah is actually the unique divine Son of God who chose to become a physical descendant of David. And being the Son of God the Messiah is much greater than the Israelite monarch since, as God’s unique Son, the Christ stands over David as his exalted Lord.
In other words, the Lord was proclaiming the fact that the Messiah is the God-Man, One who is both truly divine and truly human. In regards to his human nature the Messiah is a Son of David. Yet in respect to his divine nature the Christ is infinitely greater than David, ranking over him as his very own divine Master and Ruler:
“For certain men have secretly slipped in among you—men who long ago were marked out for the condemnation I am about to describe—ungodly men who have turned the grace of our God into a license for evil and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4 NET
Even the NET translators admit that this is the point Jesus was seeking to make in their textual notes (https://netbible.org/bible/Matthew+22):
sn It was a common belief in Judaism that Messiah would be the son of David in that he would come from the lineage of David. On this point the Pharisees agreed and were correct. But their understanding was nonetheless incomplete, for Messiah is also David’s Lord. With this statement Jesus was affirming that, as the Messiah, he is BOTH GOD AND MAN.
sn The Lord said to my lord. With David BEING THE SPEAKER, this indicates his respect for his descendant (referred to as my lord). Jesus was arguing, as the ancient exposition assumed, that the passage is about the Lord’s anointed. The passage looks at an enthronement of this figure and a declaration of honor for him as he takes his place at the side of God. In Jerusalem, the king’s palace was located to the right of the temple to indicate this kind of relationship. Jesus was pressing the language here to get his opponents to reflect on how great Messiah is. (Capital and underline emphasis ours)
Talk about a blatant contradiction!
It seems that the NET translators want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the readers to believe that Psalm 110 was composed by a court prophet and that in its supposed original context the Psalm is referring to David, while also accepting the NT view that this Psalm is about the Messiah and that it was actually composed by David himself!
Here is where the dilemma lay for those conservative Christian scholars who want to argue that David in Psalm 110 was actually speaking about his son Solomon. Jesus’ entire argument hinges on the fact that a mere human descendant of David CANNOT be his lord, since human sons are, and will always be, subordinate to their fathers.
This is precisely what I demonstrated in my post, namely, Solomon could never be David’s lord, and never was, but always remained in subjection to his father as long as the latter was alive, precisely because he was David’s son.
Therefore, if the Psalm is really about Solomon then not only was our Lord mistaken that David wrote this Psalm in honor of the Messiah, but he was also wrong in arguing that the monarch would not address a mere physical son of his as his Lord since, as far as these scholars are concerned, that is precisely what the ancient Israelite king did!
It truly has become a very sad time that we live in when even conservative biblical scholars and theologians are making arguments, which actually end up doing greater damage to our faith and directly contradict the recorded words of our glorious Lord and his blessed emissaries. It really is frightening when the views of those who are supposed to be Bible believers sound more like the kind of arguments and objections raised by liberals and those who reject the historical veracity and inspiration of the Holy Bible, individuals whose aim it seems is to destroy faith in the authority and inspiration of the God-breathed Scriptures.
As the old proverbial saying goes, with friends like these who needs enemies? Better yet, with scholars like these who needs liberals or skeptics?!
New Testament Citations and Allusions to Psalm 110
“Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Matthew 26:64 – cf. Mark 14:62; Luke 22:70
“After the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat at the right hand of God.” Mark 16:19
“God exalted this Man to His right hand to be a Ruler and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31
“But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts 7:55-56 – cf. 2:33-35
“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes, who is risen, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” Romans 8:34
“For He will reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For He ‘has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says, ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is revealed that He, who has put all things under Him, is the exception.” 1 Corinthians 15:25-27
“and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He performed in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet and made Him the head over all things for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all things in all ways.” Ephesians 1:19-23
“If you then were raised with Christ, desire those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1
“… When He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… But to which of the angels did He at any time say: ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool’?” Hebrews 1:3b, 13
“As He also says in another place: ‘You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.’” Hebrews 5:6
“For He testifies: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’… (Other priests were made without an oath, but this One with an oath by the One who said to Him: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not relent, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”’)” Hebrews 7:17, 21
“Now this is the main point of the things that we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” Hebrews 8:1
“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He has been waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool.” Hebrews 10:12-13
“Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him.” 1 Peter 3:22
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural citations taken from the Modern English Version (MEV) of the Holy Bible.