This is one of the prophetic psalms that Jesus used to challenge the religious leaders when they hounded him in verses 22-24 in the twenty-second chapter of Matthew’s gospel. The verse he spoke of was the first where David spoke of his Lord. Jesus asked the Pharisees: “How does David ‘in spirit’ call the messiah ‘Lord,’ if the messiah is David’s future descendant?”
What I love about Jesus’ question was that he said David was ‘in spirit’ when he wrote the first verse? The religious leaders could not very well say that David was not ‘in spirit.’ That would mean that some parts of their Scripture were not inspired or God-breathed. Nor could they say ‘David didn’t say that.’ What Jesus had in common with the Pharisees was that they all agreed that David’s words were inspired by God. It is a wonderful thing to have common ground to challenge each other. It is also wonderful to know that Jesus honored all Scripture and equally wonderful to see Jesus’ skill in using Scripture against religious people who should know better. It’s interesting too how clear certain truths are and yet because of tradition we have no eyes to see clearly.
There is another verse in this psalm which also sheds light on interpreting Scripture. The verse which reads —in the King James Version— “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchisedek.”
The phrase “in the order of” is a King James slang which means “just like.” That is all it means. In other translations, the verse is translated as “similar” or “just like.” And yet, there are certain people who have used the King James Version’s wording to create a belief in this mysterious “order” to which Melchizedek belonged. It is sad but often whole theologies, doctrines, and denominations are created because of lack of proper reading comprehension.
So how was Jesus ‘just like’ Melchisedek? In his letter to the Hebrews, St Paul writes that Melchisedek had neither father nor mother, took bread and wine from Abram as a priest of God, and was king of Salem (King of Jerusalem.) Melchizedek was a priest/warrior/king as Jesus was. Melchizedek foreshadows Jesus by being a priest forever. Jesus is our priest forever. Paul considered any further exegesis of priests who are eternal priests two deep for his Hebrew-Christian listeners to understand. Whatever and Whoever Melchizedek was — and some say he might have been a pre-incarnation of Jesus Christ— all we need to know is that God will make the Lord’s enemies his footstool and that Jesus is our eternal priest.
1The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
5The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
7He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.