Verse 1 throws you into it, it’s one of the most quoted Psalms through the new testament:
The Lord says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
Suddenly there is three: God, David, and “my Lord” – who is David’s Lord, and seated at the right hand of God – just a minute isn’t that in the creed? It seems David had this extraordinary insight into the plans of God, the Messiah, the rule of the whole earth, the destruction of evil. And it is so concise – 7 verses. And confrontingly violent.
He’s put together a bunch of ideas from his time, plus some pure revelation of the Spirit, into a vision of our time now, and our future: armageddon. A vision of the establishment of god’s rule.
I imagine him as an older king, perhaps, sending off fresh young troops under the power of his kingly sceptre to subdue their military enemies, and waiting till victory is reported back. When that comes, he will declare formally that their rule is at an end and that any lands they took are now officially part of his kingdom.
I imagine his mind turning, after that vivid image of the young troops marching off; to god’s Messiah, and how a Messiah would work.
The Messiah will declare kingship over not just Israel but the whole world, and the believers will go ahead like his troops and declare the kingship to God’s enemies until the day when their time of power ceases.
A few of the images also struck me as having similarities with Psalm 23. Like David had some go-to images of God that lasted his whole life.
His rod and staff comforting him as he passed through the shadow of death, reminded me of the royal sceptre here. Both solid symbols of a higher authority.
Being led to cool waters, reminded me of the moment here where the victorious king is calm enough to stop and take a “drink from a brook along the way” in the last verse, an evocative but otherwise odd inclusion.
And the feast laid out in the midst of enemies, the same phrase, the king’s rule being established in the midst of enemies. There’s a time before the enemies are finally gone where they can see, and maybe respond to the inevitability of god’s rule, his invitation.
He’s also pulled in, with the “make my enemies my footstool” line, to my mind, the image of the destruction of the snake, the evil one from genesis. The finality when the foot crushes the head. The commentators said it was a reference to a known ancient practice of a conquering king placing his foot on the neck of a conquered king.
And the new priest. The Messiah is another kind of priest, not the ones they had in the temple. David pulls out the precedent of Melchizedek to show that it is not heresy. He was king of Salem before it was Jeru-salem and was a priest to Abram before there was a priesthood.
God’s plan for the world is so much bigger than David’s kingship and Israel’s religion. Kingship and priesthood meet in the Messiah and are restored/fulfilled/transformed to their true cosmic meaning.
Our job is running around declaring God’s kingship and priesthood, like David’s troops introducing his enemies to the reality of his kingship.
And, though I feel (Monday morning) a bit burned out and confused, to God I am beautiful “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” Isaiah wrote. Turns out perhaps it was an actual question, answered here: “like dew from the morning’s womb”. Such a description for his young troops!
And the day will come when the opportunity to yield to the king is gone and evil is destroyed forever. The bodies will be piled high, it says. I trust in a God whose love and justice are perfect, but I live with that urgency.
May I work vigorously, worthily this week.