Dixit Dominus

Psalm 110 is quoted by Jesus and by the Apostles more than any other part of the Old Testament. Why?

  1. It describes the Person of Christ. In verse 1, He is called “my Lord”. “The LORD said to my Lord”. The Latin Vulgate captures this Psalm with its opening Dixit Dominus meaning “The LORD declared”.[1] It doesn’t come out in most translations but there is no verb here. There is only a noun. Translated literally, it is a prophetic “utterance or a declaration of Yahweh to my Adonai”.

What is a prophetic utterance? It is a word from God, a declaration and an oracle – a “thus saith the Lord” – predicting what will happen to God’s own Son. This is a prophecy made by the Father concerning the Son of God. The first person of the Trinity is speaking to the second person of the Trinity. The Father is speaking to the Son about what He wants Him to do. He wants Him to make His enemies a footstool (as we see in verse 1). He wants Him to rule in His kingdom (as we see in verse 4). He wants Him to judge the nation (as we see at the end of the Psalm).

What exactly is this communicating, you might be asking? Well Scripture testifies here the Unity of the Godhead. God is Triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no dividing essence or being. Yet Scripture still recognizes the difference between the two persons of the Godhead. The Son of David is both David’s offspring but also His own Lord. In other words, David was speaking prophetically about the Messiah who would be born from His own line. He calls Him His own Adonai, which means “Lord”. It’s a title for God. Jesus quoted these words to show that He Himself was the fulfillment of this oracle (cf. Matthew 22:41-46).

  1. But not only do we see His person. We see further His place. “Yahweh said to my Adonai – ‘Sit at my right hand’ ”. This again is a very important part of this prophetic announcement given by David. This is where we get the doctrine of the session of Christ. Not only did He ascend into heaven but “sits at God’s right hand” as our Apostles’ Creed says. This is the place that He has been given. He has passed through the heavens into the presence of God.

What does it mean that He sat down? David has actually given us an important teaching of the Scriptures here. We’re told that after God created all things He rested on the seventh day. You could almost say that He ‘sat down’ because His work was done. As Hebrews 1:3 says “when He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on High.” It means that while the world hated Him and harassed Him and unjustly tried Him in court and angrily placed on the cross, God used all this sin and evil in human beings to bring out about the most important moment in all of history – the payment for our sins. When He hung on the cross, the Father was pleased and accepting His work. He received into heaven and gave Him this place. He sat down at His Father’s side with His work on earth completed.

Don’t get the idea that this means that Jesus retired. He didn’t leave this world to take it easy. We might think He deserved a well earned rest. But He didn’t go to heaven in order to retire and live care free all His days. He continues to be busy for His church. He is involved in the lives of His people. The Heidelberg Catechism reminds us of the two ways that He is presently at work. For one thing, He sent the Holy Spirit to His church. Ten days after He went in heaven, in fact, He sent the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. He also is defending us from our enemies (Lord’s Day 19). The truth of His activity in our lives or in the world should be clear just by considering this phrase “God’s right hand.” This is another very significant phrase for the New Testament writers, used a total of fifteen different places in the New Testament where that phrase is found in describing His place. What does it mean that He is sitting at the right hand of God? It is an expression of His place of power and glory. The fact that He is seated at God’s right hand means that the Father has handed Him the reigns of government over the Church and over all things. This is where He is and what He is doing. He is a Ruler and His ruling right now. Presently! At this time!

  1. This is so significant for us, as we are still here on earth. He has been put into a position of a Mediator – as the One who is head of the body. He is our representative. He is using His power and authority for our benefit and our salvation until we are made more and more perfect. He is preparing us for the day when He will come again. But while He is there, He is doing much for us. We share in His benefits. And He is exercising much power of us. Think of how this compares to the weakness of our fellow men.

Think of how short a prime minister or a president is in power. Their terms are quickly over and then they retire or they could be impeached or they die.

But Christ rules now and until the end of history when He hands over His kingdom to His Father in heaven! What a glorious day that will be!

In Christ, Pastor Anjema

[1] George F. Handel and Antonio Vivaldi composed songs using the text of the Latin Vulgate of Psalm 109 (Psalm 110 in English versions) for their compositions: “Dixit Dominus Domino meo“.