The Lord says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
your young men will come to you
like dew from the morning’s womb.
The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way,
and so he will lift his head high.
Questions for children:
Who is the subject of these verses?
What are two things you already know about the Promised One that are emphasized in this passage?
What new role is he given in the text?
Explanation and Meditation:
This prophetic Psalm of King David offers us never before seen information about the promised Snake-crusher. The setting is God’s throne room. The promised son has entered Heaven after completing his work on earth and God the Father speaks to him, inviting him to sit in the place of honor until all his enemies are subdued.
This text rehearses some things we already know about our great hero of history: it reminds us that he’s a King, and it reminds us that as King he will judge and defeat his enemies. But verse 4 reveals a new role that this great King will play. He’s declared to be a priest. Our last reading revealed the importance of the temple and the sacrificial system as God’s way of both punishing and forgiving sin. God instituted the priesthood to work in the temple, to care for the temple, to make the animal sacrifices and to intercede for the people before God. These were exalted positions, instituted long before the Kingship. And God had been very specific about who could be priests–only those from the tribe of Levi could perform the daily tasks in the temple. And only those who had descended from Aaron could fill the position of High Priest.
By naming our promised King (one who would descend from Judah and David rather than Levi and Aaron) a priest, God departs from the requirements of His own law. He puts his priest in the line of Melchizedek–a mysterious figure who seemingly appears out of nowhere for just three verses in the Old Testament (Genesis 14:18-20) and then vanishes in the same way he came. But those three verses give us some startling information about this man whose name we struggle to pronounce.
First, Melchizedek is a King. And he’s not just any King, but a king of Salem, which would later become Jerusalem–the great city of the King. Second, his name actually means King of Righteousness, a title our Promised King will also wear. Third, besides being a king, he is also a “Priest of the Most High God.” Abraham, the great Father of the Israelite nation senses the greatness of this man, pays him a tithe of all his war spoils and then receives a blessing from him after which Melchizedek, this great and mysterious King-priest, disappears off the pages of scripture much like he came–almost as if he were without beginning or end.
Our coming rescuer will be a King-priest like Melchizedek before him. He will bless Abraham’s nation and through him all the nations of the world. He will intercede for his people as a priest before God, ensuring that their sins are both punished and forgiven. And his righteous reign in the New Jerusalem will have no end.
Song of hope: Angels from the Realms of Glory, two lesser sung stanzas
Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.
Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.
Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.
Note to parents: We often have our kids read from the NLT. That version is a little more accessible for children–especially when it comes to poetry.