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Psalm 110




This Psalm again shows from around 3000 years ago, some of the features of Jesus the Christ. It was He Himself who told the Pharisees of the superficial nature of their conception of Him - indeed of the Messiah, whoever He was.

Whose son was the Messiah ? asked Christ (Matthew 22:42). David's! was the reply of the Pharisees, with all the full assurance of shallow tradition and mutual self-acceptance.  Receiving honour from one another, they well knew what was what and what was not: according to their own counsel. For this aspect, consider John 5:44, where Christ asks this:

  • "How can you believe, who receive honour form one another, and do not seek the honour that comes from the only God  ?"

An opal in the eye, gold rubbing in the palm of the heart can mutilate truth very well.

How could it be ? Just how would David, illustrious and regal ancestor, call any mere descendant of his, 'lord'! Christ pursued this point, since in this very Psalm, David refers to Him as Lord! Thus there we read that the LORD said to David's Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool!" How could David envisage a Messiah who was HIS OWN DESCENDANT from his own being, who would yet be his LORD! Clearly, there was a divine intervention which would elevate the descendant above the father, and the distinguished offspring over the father to whom God gave such a Son by covenant and agreement and promise!

Here then is THE DIVINE DESCENDANT, son of God, who through the maternal line would thus be the Redeemer spoken of by Job, the source of blessing to all nations, assured by God to line of Abraham (Genesis 12, 15). Here is the "mighty God" in human flesh (Isaiah 9:6, cf. Repent or Perish Ch.7, pp. 173ff., The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, p. 773), the father of eternity transcending any mere earthly fatherhood, even over the King to whom such promises were made, over David himself. Not merely would there be a certain pre-eminence; no, more than that: For David would receive this person as his Lord! Here would be the prince of peace whose nomenclature stretched right back to Counsellor and Wonderful, in an insistent, persistent parade of glory, free of all intrusion, plied and presented as the NAME (Isaiah 9:6-7).

In Verse 2 of this same Psalm, we see that not merely will protection arise, but there will be strength, a sovereign display of power of a masterful and unique kind, not attributable to man, for it is God Himself who is the authority back of it.

So when Christ came to this earth, He did indeed RULE IN THE MIDST OF HIS ENEMIES, as predicted. THEY were seeking to stop His words, shame His speech, remove His popularity, expose Him a pretender, deliver their nation from feared Roman reprisal if He were to become the sort of political king which their shrivelled spirits could consider! So in John 11 we see the High Priest actively plotting murder for the self-preservation of the Jews, quite simply.

The authority of the Messiah, however, was unbleached, whether it was in the presence of some or many, the learned or the lusting. His power to heal was staggering, always active in the hearts that trusted Him. He could raise the dead, rebut the self-righteous and rebuke the temple traders and in all this, continue with dignity, daring and uncompromising exposure of evil and sin, wickedness in high and low places. He ruled indeed, even to the point that the wind and the waves obeyed Him, when He told them to be muzzled, in the storm which disquieted the disciples (Matthew 8:25-27, Mark 4:39). He ruled in the midst of enemies as evil spirits, demons who could distress others; even those who besought Him not to remove them, were instantly subject to Him, even recognising Him, and asking Him not to torment them before their time. Indeed, more was said: Why torment us BEFORE OUR TIME! They spoke to Him as Lord (Matthew 8:28-34)..

This, from the viewpoint of Christian Apologetics, is one more illustration of the fulfilment of prophecy. It is here IN THE MIDST of enemies He was to rule, and if anyone ever ruled in tongue, in wisdom, in sickness, in death, in demons, against provocateurs, it was Christ. The strength and breadth of the opposition was as rife and real as the certainty, power and unblemished scope of the Christ, who ruled in the midst of His enemies. (Cf. Repent or Perish 2, pp. 41ff..)

A word here for brevity: in this Psalm as so often in the Bible, one sees that deft brevity which needs no lawyer's art to wrap up in words, the simplicity of the facts. The facts are friends of God in this sense, that they are all in His control. He fulfils the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11).

In Psalm 110:3, we find this: Your people shall be willing, shall be volunteers in the day of Your power. Is this not again, precisely what happened, despite the machinations of the ungodly ? Was it not so when in that miraculous way, tax-collector and fishermen, scholar and elder, harlot and priest could all come to Him (cf. John 8, 4, Acts 9, 6:7 etc.). It was not a simple swarming, swamping rush of people; it was rather in the MIDST of enemies, a bevy of thousands who would follow Him freely, at whatever cost (cf. John 6:65-71).

Now we come to this beautiful fragment, like a lily culled from its peaceful place by the side of still waters: "In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth" - Psalm 110:3b.

We need to ask a question here. OF WHOM has the Psalmist been speaking ? Of the Messiah as

v           1) addressed by the Father
2) sovereignly sent among enemies with prevailing power
3) receiver of free loyalty from many followers.

What then is to be expected in this poetical construction ? When we consider that immediately after this, in verse 4, we are again finding further aspects of the Messiah, namely this, that despite all provocation or possibility, there is simply NO WAY that the LORD will deviate on this point: the MESSIAH has an ETERNAL PRIESTHOOD. He is NEVER TO BE SURPASSED OR DISPLACED (cf. Ephesians 1:10).

In the midst of this concentration and focus on the features and qualities of the Christ, then, comes this further gleam. Different from all other men in this, that He was no sinner, He has this shield and this power, this prevailing in the midst of mortal enemies;  in the movements of hatred and guile, He remains UNTOUCHED, UNSPOILED, UNSOILED, FRESH and COMPOSED, not disquieted at all, but filled with that unarrested growth in grace, knowledge and wisdom in the presence of His Father, whom He ALWAYS OBEYED, to its pinnacle in this chosen format (cf. John 8:29, Luke 1:80). Indeed (the Hebrew noun here used appears in the abstract direction "youth, childhood"), He retains a quality of His youth, of His engendering, of His childhood. No blemish dulls His crown, no bitterness belittles His divine origin, no frustration puts lines of littleness on His face. He remains NASCENT...

Nascent is a term used in chemistry of OXYGEN when it is just being born, just being produced. SO there is a NASCENCY about Him, a beauty of composure and peace which attests both who He is and how He has used His time on earth. Youthfulness flows with Him like a stream along the tree-shaded banks.

It is a beautiful picture of a beautiful Spirit, incarnate in flesh, but adorning it.

'From the womb of the morning' attests the wonder of God's development of a human frame from childhood, and here the morning itself is seen as a dawn, and in that dawn, is the atmospheric background of the DAWN of the life of the Saviour on this earth. Again, the womb of the morning suggests light coming into play; not that it is there created, for it is there all the time, but it re-appears around the surface of the turning earth in the morning, anointing tree and meadow, stream and leaf with its freshness, with perhaps some slight mistiness to bring softness as the light itself, untouched by any foul thing, comes into the atmosphere untainted. So does the Messiah make His impact, and such is the wonder of His person.

Again, Christ as He said, came from the Father, hence appearing on earth as a nascent light, from the Father of lights; and it IS beautiful, as the dawn can be. How the earth longs for a child unspoiled, not heroic with brassy push, nor weak with tainted self-will or self-love; not arrogant, not ambitious, but enduring, industrious and godly; with a divine glow and a forward look, with knowledge that yet does not plague humility! Here He is and more also.

What then ? THIS IS PRECISELY THE PICTURE OF CHRIST IN THE HIGHLY PRACTICAL ACCOUNTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. As foretold, so told. He is unspoiled and does not spare Himself, full of light, of grace and truth (John 1).

Even at 12, there He was, in the womb of the morning, shining with a beauty which was arresting; but not a glamour. He has "no beauty that we should desire Him", says Isaiah in Ch.53. It is not that: it is a beauty like that of the dawn of the morning, like dew on the lily (cf. Hosea 14), fresh, natural and illumined with delight. "Never man spoke like this man!" said the soldiers, arrested by Him, when sent to perform an arrest upon Him (John 7).

Thus into this UNSOILED, WHOLLY PERFECT SON OF GOD comes the decree from the Father: "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ..." Hebrews 7 expounds the matter of Melchisedek, so we will not pause on it. The point is this: ETERNITY is the realm of His function in this high office. NOTHING will make His Father relent from this beautiful placement of this Messiah, filled with the beauty of holiness. Even in the celestial city, "the Lamb is its light" (Revelation 21:23). The "glory of God" illuminates it. Deity in unmixed beauty, brings glory in its trinity, trinity in its glory.

Then we move from the verifications which as always we find when we consider the evidence of the predictions of God on the one hand, and the attestations of the record and the data on the other. Now we come in Psalm 110:5-6, to the epoch of judgment. It is NOT that the Lord WANTED to destroy, but to save (John 3:17); but IF there is to be rejection of remedy, and contempt of grace, and hollow sophisticated dismissal of bounty, of pardon purchased in humility, wrought through horror by the sacrifices of the Lamb: then no more being there to give, and mercy being forsaken by those who treat Him so, there can be judgment only (John 3:19, 33-36). Thus we see likewise in John 15:22-24.

When the UTTERMOST is rejected then the JUSTICE that is always operative brings ruin to the renegade, and corruption to the proud, not merely for their pride, but for their INSISTENCE ON RETAINING IT, when resisting and rejecting the free offer of pardon and power and grace and renewal from Him who has the dew of His youth, who comes from the womb of the morning, like untainted light. God does not willingly afflict the children of men (Lamentations 3:33); but if they reject His graces, mutilate His mercies, tread Him underfoot and despise His blood of sacrifice (Hebrews 10:29), made in love and offered in grace as a gift, even a gift BY GRACE (Romans 5:15), then:

  • "He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath" (Psalm 110:5).

And it is not merely kings: "He shall judge among the nations!" (Psalm 110:6). Those who cling to their culture beyond and above Christ, they are not the Jews only; and those who do this, will be subject to the same judgment as preferring their darkness to His light, as were the Jews. No one race holds the laurels here.

Vast will be the change of hands in dominion when - "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). So is the constant message of the Psalms and the prophets (cf. Micah 4, Isaiah 2, Habakkuk 2:14, Amos 9, Zechariah 14, Psalm 2).

At this point, since it is here for a time to come, we can but note two things:
1) that the Bible is wholly consistent in this read-out, constantly reminding us (cf. Matthew 7, in the very Sermon on the Mount, at verses 21-23).
2) that the preliminaries both in the life-time of the Messiah on this earth, and since, are precisely as stated.

Now in verse 7 we see something so like verse 3b. It is a personal aside of tenderness and intimacy, signifying that all this judgment and justice, is reluctantly poured out on those who reject the Messiah (whose beauty of rule is shown in detail in Psalm 72, as seen in our Joyful Jottings18).  HE WILL DRINK OF THE BROOK BY THE WAYSIDE. Now the fact that at this point we have been dealing with the unmitigated judgment to be poured out when the case finally requires - one might almost say, 'requisitions' it: it is this which makes this reference very strong. He is NO MERE TYRANT. No, not even when He has been crucified ('pierced' to death, as in Psalm 22, Daniel 9:24ff.), does He act with simple power. He has heart. He "drinks of the brook by the wayside" - there is a commonality, a humility, a being there and participating in all this. The Messiah CAME to earth, and while wholly unearthy, He yet deals with the earth as it is. He has been here, and He knows it. It is the dominion of one who has been through the ranks of rank and cruel ways, and knows the terrain.

It is here that we look at the most interesting word to come: "THEREFORE". It is BECAUSE He so drinks that He lifts up His head. This clearly intimates that if He did not so drink, there might be as it were, a certain lack of freshness. This stirs His heart and refreshes Him. It is necessary to realise that being a PRIEST FOR EVER, and having a time on THIS earth when He shall inherit the KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD, that He will live here in this millenial reign, as it is called (from Revelation 20, though we must be careful to remember II Peter 3:8-9, and not be too dogmatic on the precise length of this undoubted period of rule).

He will live, as seen in Psalm 72,  as One who has concern for the poor, who will know the meaning of putting Himself out, whose humility and grace will continue, not in uplifted lordliness but with the humility ever His, so that where grace may be shown, it will be; and where participation calls for effort and large expenditure of energy, He will make it. He will in fact be altogether like a brother, yet 'with the dew of His youth': for if the characteristic is His, and He is in the form and format of a man, then it endures.

THIS IS THE MAN. Do you remember Pilate, desperate perhaps with guilt, and trying with all his wiliness to bring Christ out of judgment, since it was a travesty to condemn One who, by his own admission, was innocent ? Do you remember him declaring to the people, as the battered butchered body of Christ was whipped and bleeding before their rapacious greed for this vile violence: BEHOLD THE MAN!

Last time, they paid no heed. You reader, for you, this is this time. BEHOLD THE MAN! He has already shown the grandeur of His nobility of soul, humility in holiness, power to help, incorruptibility and love to the end (cf. John 13:1-2). He is coming back, and again there is to be displayed this wonder.

It will this time come after the judgment of the nations, one soon to be followed (Revelation 20) by the final judgment of each individual. Christians, covered in His grace, accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6), are loved for and through Him. They are received because of Him. Others who do not like to be so covered, are of course uncovered. They are welcome to it.

It is not their incomes or their conditions or their circumstances. All these may heighten sin; but it is not sin as such which brings them to that terminus which is interminable, that endless contempt (Daniel 12:2ff.). It is this: THEY PREFERRED DARKNESS TO LIGHT.  It says so in John 3:19. THIS, moreover is the PRINCIPLE OF JUDGMENT from the God of all MERCY. This is stated in John 1-3, in the midst of the exhibition of the COMING OF CHRIST AS SAVIOUR. It is in that light and in that domain that this, then, as in John 15:22-24, becomes the darkness assessor. They yet, for all His presence, preferred light to darkness, yes even though God so loved the world, yes even then. (Cf. The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch. 4.)

What more could He do for His vineyard, as Isaiah 5 remonstrates!

What more can you do for yours ? Receive Him and believe Him and wait for and on Him, and delight in Him, and wash in His pardon (Revelation 1:5-6), which has a power to reconstruct as well as to absorb and remit sin (Titus 3:5); rejoice in His resurrection (John 10:9) and await His coming glory, with that interim power which with His grace, is so delightful to know (Ephesians 1:19).

The power of His presence never overburdens its lustre, but rather illustrates it. His grace is so abundant in liberality and so enshrined with that peculiarly wonderful thing, this, that He has in all His maturity and might, yet the dew of His youth, from the womb of the morning. He has yet the beauties of holiness.