Psalm 110

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 110

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the *Hebrew Bible.

The notes explain some of the words with a *star by them. A word list at the end explains the other words that have a *star by them.

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The *Pharisees met together. Jesus asked them a question. He said, "What do you think about the *Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "(He is the son) of David". Jesus said to them, "Why then did David, in his *spirit, call him *Lord? David said, 'The *LORD said to my *Lord, Sit on the right of me until I put your enemies under your feet'. If David calls him *Lord, how can he be his son?" And nobody could answer Jesus one word. Nobody was brave enough to ask him anything after that (Matthew 22:41-46).

Psalm 110

(This is) a Psalm of David.

v1   The *LORD spoke to my *Lord.
  "Sit on the right of me until I put your enemies under your feet", he said.

v2   The *LORD will send your great power out from Zion.
  You will rule over all the enemies that are round about you.

v3   When you fight your enemies, your people will give you help.
  In the early morning (on the day of *battle),
  your young people will be there, on the hills (round Zion).

v4   The *LORD has made a special promise. He will not change it.
  "You will always be a *priest, as Melchizedek was", (he said).

v5   The *Lord is standing on the right of you.
  When he gets angry, he will destroy kings!

v6   He will be the *judge of all the *nations.
  There will be many dead people.
  He will destroy kings over all the earth.

v7   He will drink from the stream at the side of the road.
  And so, he will lift up his head.

The Story of Psalm 110

This is a very old psalm. Today, Bible students are not sure what many of the verses really mean. But it is a very important psalm. Jesus repeated part of it just before his enemies killed him. He was talking to the Pharisees, who were *Jewish leaders. He asked them what they thought about the Christ. Christ is the Greek word for *messiah. *Messiah is the Hebrew word for "anointed". Anointed means "someone with oil poured over them". The oil came from plants called olives. It was not the oil that we use in our cars. The *Jews anointed men when they made them kings. So "Christ" really means a king that someone has anointed.

When David wrote the psalm, he was the king. He was anointed, or the *messiah. But he said, "The *LORD said to my *Lord". The two words (*LORD and *Lord) do not mean the same. *LORD is a name for God. It is the name only his servants really use. It is the "*covenant-name". A *covenant is when two people (or groups of people) agree. Here the two are God (the *LORD) and his people (the *Jews). This *LORD (or God) said to Davidís *Lord, "Sit on the right of me". Who was Davidís *Lord? This Hebrew word means "master", or "someone with authority". It is another word for God!

In Matthew 22:43 we read "Why then did David, in his spirit, call him *Lord?" What does "in his spirit" mean? The spirit is the part of a person that lives after their body dies. It is the part of a person that talks to God. So here, David was talking to God. He was calling him, "*Lord". So everything in the psalm is about the *Lord, or God. It is not about David. This is very important in verse 4. It means that God is "always a *priest, as Melchizedek was".

A *priest in the *Old Testament was someone that was Godís servant in the *temple (house of God) in Jerusalem. There were many *priests in the *temple. But that was only a picture of what was going to happen! In the *New Testament there was one great *priest. His name was Jesus. But he was not a *priest as the *Jews were *priests. He did not give dead animals to God. He gave himself! And he was not as the *Jewish *priests, he was as Melchizedek!

What Psalm 110 means

In verse 1, "the right of me" means "in a place where you will be powerful". "Under your feet" means "where you have destroyed them". Really, the Hebrew says, "until they are your footstool". Hebrew is the language that David spoke. He wrote his psalms in Hebrew. A footstool is where you rest your feet when they are tired. In verse 2, what does "Zion" mean? If this verse is about God, then Zion does not mean the city of Jerusalem. It means the place where God is ruler. That is the Jerusalem that we call "*heaven". Read Psalm 87 to learn more about this idea.

Bible students are not sure what verse 3 means. This translation makes it mean that people (young and old) will help God in the fight against *evil. "*Evil" means "very, very bad people, and the bad things that they do". "On the hills (round Zion)" is "on the *holy mountains" in the Hebrew Bible. "*Holy" is a word that means "very, very good". Only God is really *holy. Zion is the mountain in Jerusalem that they built the *temple on. *Jews believed that God lived in the *temple. So Zion was *holy too.

Verse 4 is an important part of the psalm. It tells us that Jesus (who is God) was a *priest as Melchizedek was. What do we know about Melchizedek?

    his name means righteous (zedek) king (melchi). Righteous means "very, very good". Only God is very, very good. (*Righteous means doing good things, *holy means not doing bad things.)

    he was the King of Jerusalem when Abram met him, (Genesis 14:18-20).

    he had no father or mother, (Hebrews 7:3).

Now the important thing about Melchizedek is this. He was a *priest of God before there were any *Jews. He was not a *Jewish *priest. This means that Jesus was not a *Jewish *priest! He was a *priest as Melchizedek was. Some Bible students think that Melchizedek was Jesus. We do not know if this is true. But we do know one thing. Melchizedek was a *priest (or servant of God) before there were any *Jewish *priests or religion. (Religion is a way of loving and obeying God.) The *Jewish religion is a way to lead people to God. Christians believe that Jesusí death gives us a better way to God than the *Jewish religion. Jesus said that he was the only way to God (John 14:6).

In verse 5, "on the right" means the same as in verse 1. It means that the *Lord is in a powerful place. So, when he gets angry, he will destroy kings! He will be "the *judge of the *nations", (verse 6). A *judge is a person that says who is right and who is wrong. *Nations are countries with governments. The people that are wrong will soon be dead!

In verse 7, "lift up his head" means that he will be powerful. And he will win every fight. Perhaps this will make him feel that he has had a drink of water from the stream at the side of the road! It will make him feel good.

Something to do

Study what the Bible says about Melchizedek. You will find him in Genesis 14, and Hebrews 5 and 7.

Word List

anointed ~ with (*olive) oil poured on.

battle ~ big fight between soldiers.

Christ ~ Christ is the Greek word for *Messiah.

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look in Psalm 120 about the covenant.

evil ~ very, very bad.

heaven ~ the home of God.

Hebrew ~ the language that the Jews spoke; they wrote the Psalms in Hebrew.

holy ~ all good with no bad in it; separate from *sin; very, very good; only God is really holy. The land where he lives with his people is also holy. This is because he is there.

Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

judge ~ a judge says who is right and who is wrong; or, to say who is right and who is wrong.

Lord ~ a name for God; it means he has authority, or "master"; it is the word "Adonai" in *Hebrew. Look also at *LORD below.

LORD ~ the *covenant name for God (in a *covenant you agree with someone).

Messiah ~ in the Old Testament, the *anointed king. In the New Testament, Jesus. The word messiah is *Hebrew for *anointed.

nation ~ people who live together in the same country.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus. It is about the things that Jesus did and taught. It is also about what Christians believe and do.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus; the *holy things that the writers wrote before Christís birth.

olive ~ a fruit.

Pharisees ~ *Jewish leaders.

priest ~ a servant of God in his *temple.

righteous ~ very good (only God is really righteous). God says that the people who love and obey him are righteous. Sometimes we say they are "the righteous", meaning "righteous people". Look after Psalm 5 in Book 1 of the Psalms of David for more about the word "righteous".

sin ~ not obeying God; or what you do when you do not obey God.

spirit ~ this part of us lives when our body dies.

temple ~ a place where people meet to worship God.


© 1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

December 2002

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