Psalm 110 is seven short verses that really brim over with knowledge, prophecy and even doctrine. In the book of Matthew (22) Jesus quotes the first verse to the Pharisees asking them how David, speaking through the Holy Spirit, could call the Messiah “Adonai” (Lord). You see, the Pharisees probably knew that this was a Messianic psalm, but they hadn’t really understood that it revealed the Messiah would be divine, too.
Vs. 1 says
The LORD (Yahweh) says to my Lord (Adonai): “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
Jesus asks the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They quickly answer that he is the son of David. Jesus asks then how the Messiah could be both the son of David and his Lord, quoting the above psalm. That stops the Pharisees in their tracks. They had never thought it out before.
There’s a lot more in that single verse. God gives the Messiah right hand authority, Kingship, and then leaves room for a great expanse of time – “until” his enemies are completely subjugated. Making your enemies a “footstool for your feet” refers to Joshua 10: 24-25 when the captains put their feet on the necks of the kings they conquered. When it was written this first verse of Psalm 110 was prophetical, now it is historical for Jesus now sits at the right hand of God.
There’s a lesson in each succeeding verse, but I’ll summarize: The LORD makes the Messiah the Ruler, his troops (we) are as numerous as the dew, the Messiah acts as a priest (covering our sins once and for all), the second coming is in verse 5, then the Judgment and finally the Triumph.
A couple of cool things I discovered while trying to puzzle out parts of this psalm were in verse 3. The Messiah’s troops will be arrayed in holy majesty, that is, dressed in priestly robes. (See Revelation 19:14 –
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.) The troops will be great in number like the “dew of your youth” which was confusing until I found this in Micah 5: 7: "And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD." When I looked at the original I found that the Hebrew word for dew is just one letter off from the word for lamb. Perhaps God was making a play on words since so often Christians are referred to as Jesus’ flock.