A Prophecy About a Coming King-Priest (Psalm 110:1–7)

Every good and effective government must provide both laws to govern its citizenry and courts to represent its citizenry. If laws are absent, unarticulated, or unenforced, there is anarchy. If courts are corrupt, powerless, or inaccessible, there is tyranny.

God’s government promises both infallible regulation and unending representation for the good of its people. Foreshadowing this reality in the past, God gave ancient Israel kings from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10; Ps 60:7) and priests from the tribe of Levi (Ex 29:9; Deut 18:1–8), the former bringing divine authority to earth and the latter bringing human frailty to heaven.

But in Psalm 110, David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, predicts a coming time when these two necessary offices will reside eternally and perfectly in a single person. (Spoiler: he’s talking about Jesus!) God’s people need to be governed by God and represented before God and this psalm declares that that time is coming.


Every good and effective government must provide both laws to govern its citizens and courts to represent its citizens. If laws are absent, unarticulated, or unenforced, there’s anarchy. If courts are corrupt, powerless, or inaccessible, there’s tyranny. 

God’s government has always included both. To ancient Israel, for example, God gave kings from the tribe of Judah and priests from the tribe of Levi, the former bringing divine authority down to earth and the latter bringing human frailty up to heaven. 

While many people filled those roles sincerely, they all filled them imperfectly. Kings like David, Hezekiah, and Josiah may have “done right in the sight of the Lord,” but they still sinned. Priests like Aaron, Phineas, and Eli may have loved God truly, but they still sinned. On top of that, both kings and priests, no matter how godly they were, still died and had to be replaced, often with less godly successors.

But Psalm 110 foresees a time when the two offices will reside eternally and perfectly in a single person, one who will never sin, never stray, never die, and never fade. (Spoiler: it’s talking about Jesus.) You see, humanity needs to be perfectly governed by God and perfectly represented before God. And Psalm 110 says that that time is coming.


David wrote Psalm 110. Not only does the superscription say so but Jesus said so in Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 20. 

And since David is the author of the psalm, he’s not its subject. Why? Because the author is recounting a conversation he overheard between two others. David reports, “The Lord,” that is, Yahweh, the God of Israel, “says to my Lord.” God is speaking to someone else—a human being, it seems—who is above David, someone David calls “my Lord” or “my master.” But David’s king of Israel. Only God is above him. So, who’s this other authority being spoken to and about by Yahweh?

Well, whoever he is, he’s eventually going to be a king. We say “eventually” because David overhears that his rule won’t be immediate. [110:1a–b] God invites this person to the place of greatest honour and power in his glorious presence.

After God delivered his people from Egypt, Moses sang, “Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy” (Ex 15:6). The right hand of God represents honour, authority, power, victory, and majesty.

And in Psalm 110, David’s Lord is told to sit there and wait. [110:1b–c]“Sit here until I cause all who oppose you to be subjected to you.”

In the Psalms, the term “your enemies” is used for God’s enemies and, throughout the OT, the “footstool” is God’s. But in Psalm 110, both are attributed to this waiting king. Perhaps he and God share opponents and furniture or, perhaps they also share divinity.

Either way, after the waiting, this Lord will reign in ways David never did. [110:2, 5–6] God will extend the reach of this king’s authority from its epicentre in Jerusalem. He will descend from heaven upon his enemies, conquer all powers that oppose him, and bring God’s perfect justice to all the world.

And when he comes to do this, he won’t be alone. [110:3] People will join the ranks of his holy army. No coercion will be necessary; no divine draft needed. The vigorous will excitedly sign up in droves to follow him to his certain and total victory. 

Humanity needs to be governed, organized, and protected and different models have been tried throughout history: aristocracy, monarchy, and oligarchy, communism and colonialism, dictatorship and democracy. Some systems have proven more conducive to human flourishing than others but not one is perfect. Why? Because in every case, those holding the authority—whether an individual, a privileged group, or the citizens themselves—are sinners with finite knowledge, limited power, and short lives.

What we need is a never-ending, global monarchy ruled by a perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful monarch who is full of grace and love.

Psalm 110 predicts the coming of that monarch, a king who, after waiting for a season in glory with God, will descend to establish a physical, righteous, unchallenged, and worldwide reign. Scripture describes this kingdom as one of flawless peace (Mic 4:2–4; Isa 32:17–18), unending joy (Isa 61:7, 10), and total comfort (Isa 40:1–2). All who live there will be characterized by obedience (Jer 31:33), holiness (Isa 35:8), truth (Isa 65:16), and knowledge of God (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14). 

This is the global government the original hearers of Psalm 110 were waiting for. This is the kingdom David was waiting for. And this is what God’s people today are still waiting for because let’s state the obvious: that kingdom is not here now. 

There is no king on David’s throne in Jerusalem. There is no global reign of righteousness, no total subjection of wickedness, and the world is not moving in that direction. The church is not the kingdom, we are not building the kingdom nor advancing the kingdom. The king will bring the kingdom when he comes from heaven. At the moment, he’s waiting. [Col 3:1; Heb 12:1–2] 

Like David, who after being anointed by God as king had to wait for wicked Saul to be removed before he ascended to his throne, so the Son of David, Jesus Christ, though anointed as King, is waiting for the wicked Prince of this world to be removed—to be made a footstool—at which time he will take his place on that throne and establish the kingdom Scripture promises.

[110:1–3, 5–7] The Psalm opens with the king resting in heaven and closes with him resting on the earth, being refreshed by a post-battle drink from running water. The Psalm starts with his exaltation to the right hand of Yahweh’s throne and ends with his exaltation as he takes David’s throne. Thus sayeth the Lord: a king is coming to rule.

So we pray together, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” And so we say together, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Come, King Jesus.


But remember, a ruler is not enough, even if he’s perfect. Why? Because we’re not perfect and, because we’re not perfect, we need representation, someone worthy to go before the God we’ve wronged and persuasively plead our case. We need a priest, and Psalm 110 predicts that a special one is coming.

[110:4a] David reports that he overheard God swear an oath to his Lord. He hasn’t merely promised—though that would be enough—he’s pinky-promised. And when the God who cannot lie, the God who is truth itself, the God whose words cause creation to respond in obedience—when that God swears an oath, it’s binding.

And what is it that’s such a sure thing? [110:4b] The God of heaven tells David’s Lord—this human who seems to share divine attributes, enemies, authority, and privileges—“Not only are you a king to rule globally but you are a priest to represent eternally.”

Now, keep your finger in Psalm 110 and turn to Genesis 14 to meet this Melchizedek guy. In Genesis 14, starting in verse 17, Abraham has just returned from battle when we read this: [Gen 14:17–20]

So, mysterious Melchizedek, whose name means “righteous king,” is king of Salem, a city whose name means “peace” and would later be called Jerusalem. But while he’s a king he’s also a priest of the Most High God, the same Most High God Abraham served. 

While later God would separate these offices within the nation of Israel, during Abraham’s time they resided in a single person: Melchizedek. And, according to Psalm 110, it will happen again. In fact, “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind.” One is coming according to the order of Melchizedek—one with the authority to make even King David bow—and he will be another “righteous king,” a “prince of peace” ruling over and from Jerusalem who, at the same time, will function as a priest forever of the Most High God. 

David is speaking of the Messiah, the same one the prophet Zechariah wrote of when he said, “It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he who will bear the honour and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, he will be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices”’ (6:13). The Messiah will be king and priest, ruling and representing. 

And, in case we’re still a little foggy as to the identity of this beautiful and much-needed figure, the author of Hebrews gets explicit. [Heb 5:5–6; 6:19–20; 7:17]

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and promised Messiah, is not only our anointed and coming King, but he’s also our current and eternal High Priest, perpetually standing before the Most High God representing perfectly and satisfactorily all who belong to him by faith. Listen to this description of his current role: [Heb 7:20–28].


Centuries before the infant cries were heard coming from the Bethlehem manger, hundreds of years before the Word became flesh and dwelled among us, long before Jesus lived, taught, suffered, died, and rose, the Holy Spirit spoke to his needy people through his servant David and said, “He’s coming. Look to him. Rest in the Messiah!

God knows humanity. He knows our hearts, our corruption, our needs, and our vulnerabilities. He knows us better than we know ourselves, as sin-stained as we are, and he knows that we need to be ruled and represented. This world needs righteousness to reign, peace to permeate, and wickedness to be wiped out. We need a perfect, all-powerful king and a faithful, all-knowing High Priest. And Psalm 110 says, “He’s coming. Run to him. Hope in him. Hide in him. Rest in the Messiah! Rest in Jesus, your coming king and current priest.”

There are some here this morning who, to rest in the Messiah, means to believe in him for the first time. Jesus himself said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” Come, find rest in the Messiah.

There are others here today who, to rest in the Messiah means to be reminded that only his kingdom will fix this world. Your political party of choice will not. The latest scientific consensus will not. Pronouncements from world councils, global economic strategies, advice from popular experts, and condemnations from mass media will not fix this world. 

That’s not to say we’re hopeless. Psalm 110 screams that we’re not! But we need to be disciplined to ultimately hope in the right things, the right person, and the right government. We’re to labour in this world, yes, doing good and seeking truth but, ultimately we must come back to the fact that Jesus is good news and because of him and his any-moment return, everything is going to be okay. The king will reign. Evil will be crushed. The kingdom is coming. And “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.” Rest in the Messiah.

Finally, for most of us, to rest in the Messiah means to accept what he says about us, namely, that we’re forgiven. When we placed our faith in the person, work, and promise of Jesus Christ, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Ps 103:12). To rest means to believe God when he tells us “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10) and that there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). “No guilt in life, no fear in death; this is the power of Christ in me.” If you’re in Christ, you have a perfect, holy, eternal High Priest sitting next to the God of the Universe pleading your case. If you’ve trusted in Jesus, you’re free. Live like it. Rest in the Messiah.

Psalm 110 declares that God’s people will be gloriously governed and are eternally represented. Hallelujah, what a king. Hallelujah, what priest. Hallelujah, what a Saviour. Let’s pray.

Our Father in Heaven, thank you for ordaining your Son, Jesus, to be our king. Yes, he’s the one about whom the psalmist writes. He’s the one who currently sits at your right hand, rightly honoured. He’s the one who will defeat evil with righteous finality. He’s the one waiting to reign perfectly and forever. He’s Jesus, our Messiah. And it’s to him we, as his bride, say with longing in our hearts: “come, Lord Jesus. Come.”

But we also thank you for the present session of Christ, the work he’s doing while he waits to sit on David’s throne. We thank you that, while we continue to sin against you, we have a perfect high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but one who, like us, has been tempted in all things and yet remains without sin. Thank you that, day and night, he does not cease to provide intercession for imperfect creature like us.

Our Father, thank you for your graciousness, kindness, holiness, and mercy. Thank you for the salvation you’ve provided, the representation we enjoy, and the glory that awaits. Help us, your servants, to live in light of these realities, to rest in your Son. It’s in his exalted and saving name we come before you now, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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Josiah has served the Oakridge Bible Chapel family as one of its elders and one of its pastoral staff members since September 2018, before which he ministered as an associate pastor to a local congregation in the Canadian prairies. Josiah's desire is to be used by God to help equip the church for ministry, both while gathered (edification) and while scattered (evangelization). He is married to Patricia, and together they have five children—Jonah, Henry, Nathaniel, Josephine, and Benjamin.

Josiah Boyd

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