I hope the title catches your attention. I feel that’s what I’m doing when I read through the Grand Messianic Opus. That’s my term for Psalm110-118. Psalm 110 begins with a prophetic apocalypse concerning the Messiah and Messiah’s people. Psalm 118 ends this section with a prophetic apocalypse concerning the Messiah and Messiah’s people. Everything in between is also about the Messiah and His people which constitute His kingdom. The translators separated this longer psalm into shorter psalms because of the line “Praise the LORD” which is set apart by itself serving as a division between the stanzas within this longer psalm, or “opus” if you please.
Because I have laid a solid foundation already with other psalms, I’m not going to systematically prove every single point about the kingdom in my post. If you don’t believe that Messiah’s kingdom will be here on earth sometime in the future, then Psalm 45 and 72 would be a good place to start. Otherwise, I’m simply going to proclaim the Messianic Kingdom to you as contained in Psalm 110-118.
Verse 1 is set apart by itself in the Hebrew poetry. It is a command from the LORD for the Messiah to come up to sit at the right hand of the LORD until the time comes for the Messiah’s enemies to be made into a footstool. Then after the break in the poetry, the LORD is breaking forth into the affairs of mankind by establishing the Messiah’s rule in Zion. That rule, that scepter (vs. 2), is His Kingdom. Initially, this rule will be in the midst of Messiah’s enemies with a believing remnant of God’s people willingly following the Messiah.
We are seeing here how Messiah exerts His authority over the kings of the earth, namely by slaughtering them. So Messiah’s official reign here on earth begins with a time of His wrath (vs. 5). Notice that He is both a King and a Priest. Far from slaughtering dictators with no fair trial during a time of war, this King’s judgement will be completely holy since He is also a priest, just like Melchizedek. Notice also how His people offer themselves willingly on this day of His power. Sometimes I hear people ask the question, “Would Jesus take His bride into battle?” This type of question ignores the issue of whether God’s people would willingly follow Jesus into battle. Why wouldn’t they? God’s people know that Jesus the Messiah will be completely victorious and take care of them in the midst of the battle.
While there is a bit of a shift into Psalm 111, there is continuity as well. Here is a description of how God interacts with the assembly of the upright, or with His congregation. Verse 6 is the main point of this section. God shows forth His powerful works in order that He may give to His people the heritage of the nations. Messiah’s kingdom will consist of His people inheriting the world, meaning this earth. This is all in accordance with His progressive covenant plan (vs. 5, 9). So when we see the Messiah slaughtering kings in Psalm 110, we might ask the question, “What happens after that?” Psalm 111 is the answer to that question. The Messiah takes authority over the nations that He might give them to His people. God does what He does for His people, and note that they are His redeemed people (vs. 9). God provides food for His people, while His people fear Him and perform His commandments. That’s the nature of this kingdom relationship that God has with His redeemed as revealed in Psalm 111.
Here the concept of kingdom is delved into in a way that many in the church actually shun. The kingdom will exist here on earth as opposed to solely up in heaven. Kingdom here is an offspring on earth. Wealth will belong to those within the kingdom (vs. 3). Those with wealth will lend what they have to others, but with discretion (vs. 5). These kingdom citizens will not hoard the wealth that God gives them, but will give to the poor (vs. 9). In the ongoing affairs of the kingdom, evil news may come, but these kingdom citizens will not be shaken by any of this. These righteous people will endure forever, but the wicked will melt away (vs. 10). So the establishment of the kingdom will not result in all the wicked going away instantly. There will be wicked people still here on the earth after Messiah ascends the throne. The kingdom will be established, the righteous shall inherit the earth, they will flourish, but little by little the rest of the wicked will melt away. The Messiah shatters the kings on the day of His wrath, but not every single wicked person is slain. Other psalms verify that these enemy nations actually sent their armies to try to destroy the Messiah, and Messiah’s slaughter of them was a response to their provocative act of war against Him; Psalm 2, Psalm 21:8-12, Revelation 19:19.
So far from being some pie in the sky, the kingdom is a society here on earth with economic principles. These economic principles are quite foreign to the ways of this world. Instead of hoarding, in the kingdom we are to lend. Instead of trying to get ahead ourselves, we are to be generous to others. Instead of a system which keeps rich people wealthy, we have a system that is designed to truly help poor people. So far, the Messiah ascends into heaven, returns and executes His wrath, then establishes a kingdom wherein people are actually kind and generous with each other.
This short section exalts the LORD on high, and levels the playing field for everyone in the kingdom. Since God is so high and condescends to look upon us way down here on the earth, there is no need for us to exalt ourselves against each other. The LORD takes a poor man from his lowly position and raises him up to be a prince. It’s the ultimate makeover for any man within the kingdom of the Messiah. In the case of women, the barren, childless, homeless woman is transformed into a loving mother of many children with a beautiful home of her own. Note that the Messiah is King. So if a man is exalted to the position of prince, he is actually being exalted to the position of the King’s own son. This psalm envisions those within the kingdom of the Messiah interacting as a family, a royal family. The kingdom consists of sons and daughters of the king, but it is constructed in such a way that women still bear children.
Now in true poetic form, David goes back to the beginning of God’s dominion as Israel came out of Egypt. God’s kingdom is forever, and there is never a time when God was not ruling over all creation, but something new happened when Israel was born as a nation. Israel became God’s sanctuary. The questions here are slightly rhetorical, but should be contemplated upon by the serious Bible student. Allow me to rephrase a couple of them. What seemed to be your problem Red Sea, when you fled from the footsteps of the Israelites? Why did you stop flowing Jordan River? When the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, why were you trembling like little scared lambs you mighty mountains? The answer lies in verse 7. God’s presence was being revealed in the nation of Israel in a way that was previously unknown. David as a prophet is bringing the meta-narrative full circle. The kingdom that will be established when Messiah comes to town is part of a larger plan that began with the nation of Israel.
So as David prophesies of the Messiah to come who will sit on David’s throne, it must be remembered what the foundation for that throne is. The covenant plan of God is progressive. Without the nation of Israel’s birth, there is no Davidic throne. Without the promises to Abraham, there would have been no nation of Israel. Allow me to sketch a rough plan of how I see the covenant plan of God. There are way more details than this, but I believe it’s a good framework to start with.
Seed Promise >>> Noahic Covenant >>> Abrahamic Covenant >>> Mosaic Covenant >>>
Palestinian Covenant >>> Davidic Covenant >>> Messianic Kingdom
This seemed to be the way that David viewed God’s covenant plan. The Messianic Kingdom was not just some vague idea out in the future, it was based on God’s promises in the past. God had promised that David’s sons would sit on the throne forever, Psalm 89, 132. This was for the purpose of governing God’s people Israel, which of course wouldn’t exist without the previous covenants in the covenant plan of God. Later in the era of the prophets, Jeremiah would foretell of a new covenant whereby Israel would exist as a nation before the LORD forever. So did Jeremiah see the Messianic Kingdom and the new covenant as being one and the same? Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God at hand, and then later established the new covenant with the nation Israel. He affirmed it in the presence of a believing remnant of Israelites before dying on the cross. So did Jesus see the new covenant and the Kingdom of God as one and the same? This would mean that all new covenant believers are guaranteed a place in Messiah’s future kingdom.
Here is a bit of a mystery. Psalm 114 and 115 do not have the “Praise the LORD” division between them as do the other psalms in this section. So 114 and 115 should be viewed as more contiguous than the others. Here the voice changes somewhat. Instead of revealing a Messianic slaughter, the Messianic Kingdom, or reviewing God’s past dealings with Israel, Psalm 115 is the nation of Israel calling out to God in the first section (vs. 1-3). It’s sort of like saying, “Because you acted in the past, and because of your great plan for the future, LORD come help us in the present.” The reason given for the LORD coming to act on Israel’s behalf is so that God’s name might be glorified in the sight of other nations.
What we have is the voice of the nation of Israel calling out to God just as the Messiah is about to come. They are putting their trust in the LORD instead of manmade things (vs. 4-8). The nation of Israel, the priesthood, and any at all who fear God put their sole trust in the LORD (vs. 9-11). The nation of Israel proclaims that the LORD remembers them as they expect His blessings upon them (vs. 12-13). Vs. 14-18 make it clear that even though God created both the heaven and the earth, that here on earth is the place that He has given to mankind. The dead cannot praise the LORD (here on earth), but we (who live on the earth in the Messianic Kingdom) will bless the LORD. It is implied that these who are praising the LORD are truly alive here on earth and not dead. Since these people will bless the LORD from this time forth and forever, we see that these are now in the kingdom of the Messiah here on earth.
There is a change in voice beginning in verse 1. Instead of being in the plural as in Psalm 115, the voice that is speaking is now in the singular. Instead of a group of people calling out for God’s blessing, now a singular Messianic figure speaks of triumph over the grave. The voice is a person, yet somehow this person calls out to God in the midst of an experience whereby God gives Him victory over death. The “return to rest” in verse 7 is in contrast to “the pains of death” in verse 3. This Messianic figure walks before the LORD in the land of the living (vs. 9) because the LORD has delivered His soul from death (vs. 8). The Servant back from the grave (vs. 16) should be foundational for understanding Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, see Isaiah 42, 49, 53.
Remember that this is David writing from his own experiences. His experience was compared to the grave since he was separated from friends, family, and the tabernacle. He was on the run for his very life. At times he felt as if he might as well be dead. This experience became prophetic for the true Messiah. So this psalm which may seem to some to be figurative and not literal, should actually be to us a literally figurative prophecy, if that makes sense. It was figurative in the sense that David’s life stands as a figure for the true Messiah whose deliverance from death would be quite literal.
It must be remembered that the Messiah is a man who calls on the name of the LORD. The Messiah puts His trust in the LORD just as we do (Hebrews 2:13) since He shares flesh and blood with us. Because of His trust in the LORD which results in salvation from the grave, this man can lift up the cup of salvation and pay His vows in the presence of the congregation. Now after this deliverance from death, it can be said that “precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” Without the death of the Messiah, this statement has no basis. So because of Messiah’s death and salvation from the grave, the saints can have hope in their death knowing that it is precious to God.
Here is hope for the Gentiles. All Gentile nations are encouraged to praise the LORD. In fact, this verse gives the relationship between Israel and the Gentile nations. Gentile nations are supposed to praise the LORD because of His faithfulness to the nation of Israel. Since the psalm switches back to the plural first person, we know that this is picking up the thought from Psalm 115 where Israel was speaking about inheriting the earth. Instead of Gentile nations being sad or discouraged that the God of Israel is faithful to Israel, they should rejoice and be glad. Surely this is a God who can be trusted!
The larger context should not be ignored.
Remember that the Messiah comes in judgement – Psalm 110,
to establish the Messianic Kingdom – Psalm 111,
which is a place where the righteous flourish – Psalm 112,
a place where rich and poor exist together as family – Psalm 113,
this dominion began with Israel – Psalm 114,
it will come to fruition when Israel cries out to the LORD – Psalm 115,
the King/Priest/Messiah has also overcome death as God’s servant – Psalm 116,
now Gentile nations rejoice alongside the nation of Israel – Psalm 117.
So the Messianic Kingdom pictures Israel entering into that covenant relationship with the LORD. But far from the LORD forgetting about all other nations because of His great love for Israel, God now affirms that any Gentile nation can rejoice alongside Israel in the Messianic Kingdom. The LORD plans on extending salvation to all Gentile nations in the Messianic Kingdom. This is how the Apostle Paul used this quote in Romans 15:11. Paul quotes four OT passages in Romans 15:8-12 demonstrating God’s great love for the Gentile nations, but it is always alongside His love for the nation of Israel as a circumcised people.
David’s section on the Gentile nations is short, but set apart by itself. It is as if David is saying more by saying less. He states the fact that Gentile nations can rejoice and leaves it at that. By giving these two verses their own section, David highlights their great importance in God’s sight. The Apostle Paul agreed that this doctrine is important by highlighting it in Romans 15.
This end portion brings us back full circle. The apocalypse which we saw in Psalm 110 is now pictured again only in much greater pomp and circumstance. Now instead of “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of Your power,” we have a greater explanation of what is meant by that. We have the people of Israel, the priesthood of Aaron, and all who fear the LORD affirming that the LORD’s steadfast love endures forever (vs. 1-4). The Messianic figure called on the name of the LORD in the midst of distress (vs. 5). Now nobody can hurt Him (vs. 6-9). The Messiah proclaims that all nations surrounded Him but He cut them all off (vs. 10-16). The once rejected Messiah now enters the gates triumphantly (vs. 19-24). The stone which the builders rejected has become the true cornerstone of the nation of Israel, and of the Messianic Kingdom which all Gentile nations are invited to participate in, see Psalm 18:43-45.
This psalm pictures Messiah triumphant on His day of military success. He is accompanied by all His people, Israelites and Gentiles, who affirm that He is a God who keeps His word. Later in verses 25-26 they sing out to Him words that earlier followers of the Messiah sang out as He entered Jerusalem. “Save us” or “Hosanna”. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” The end of this psalm pictures the Messiah (King and Priest) offering a sacrifice. He is clearly in Jerusalem on Mount Zion with the priesthood of Aaron accompanying Him. It is a festal sacrifice, not a sin offering (vs. 27). An era of peace has dawned with the ascension of Messiah to His throne in Zion. Now that the armies of those who stood against the LORD have been slaughtered, now evil will begin to melt away during this Messianic Kingdom which will begin a time of feasting here on the earth.
I hope you can see now why I titled this post “Looking straight into the Messianic Kingdom”. David foresaw that the Messiah would come from His loins. He also saw a kingdom here on earth of which his present kingdom was merely a vague shadow. Yet in those shadows God revealed to David the pattern which he could sing about and reveal to us. This kingdom will exist here on earth. Jesus the Messiah will be both King and Priest in Zion. The nation of Israel will experience God’s salvation. Gentile nations will be invited to participate. It will begin with a period of 1000 years, but will actually continue for all eternity in some way that I don’t completely understand yet.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman