Although every word of Scripture is God-breathed and without error (2 Tim. 3:16–17), there are certain passages that have received special emphasis in the history of God’s people. The New Testament, for example, quotes from the books of Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah more often than it does the rest of the Old Testament (though Old Testament themes pervade the New Testament). Moreover, there is one single passage of the Old Testament that the New Testament quotes more often than any other. That passage is Psalm 110, which is the subject of our studies today and tomorrow.
Psalm 110 is a Messianic psalm, as it is concerned with the reign of the Davidic king and is applied to Jesus in the New Testament both by the Apostles and Christ Himself (see, for example, Luke 20:41–43 and Heb. 1:13). The emphasis in vv. 1–3 is on the comprehensiveness of the reign of the coming Davidic king. In the ancient Near East, conquering kings and armies would often put their feet on the necks of their foes after they had subjugated these enemies (Josh. 10:24), and from this came the idea of making your foes into your footstool. The image is one of full authority that encompasses even those who in vain oppose the Lord’s chosen regent. Thus, Psalm 110:1 is pointing to the day when the ruler on David’s throne enjoys total rest from his enemies and unopposed control over them.
When Jesus applies this psalm to Himself, He notes how it proves that the king of whom David speaks must be more than a mere descendant of the son of Jesse. After all, David addresses this coming king as his “Lord,” and that would be inappropriate unless this king from David’s line is in some way greater than David himself (Luke 20:41–43). The nature of this greatness is unfolded in more detail in the New Testament, where this implicit reference to the Messiah’s deity is unfolded explicitly (for example, John 1:1–18). Yet the son to whom David refers is greater not only by nature but also in the kind of reign he exercises. David’s reign ended with his death, but the Messiah’s reign continues forever because all of the Messiah’s enemies are defeated (Ps. 110:1). Augustine of Hippo comments, “That reign of temporal government, by which, through the mediation of His flesh, He called us into eternity, beginneth with Christians; but of His reign there shall be no end. His enemies therefore are made His footstool, while He is sitting on the right hand of His Father, as it is written; this is now going on, this will go on unto the end.”