1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy 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.
4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.
7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
Jesus Christ reigns over history and every empire that collapses is His doing.
The king rides into the castle victoriously after waging war with ferocious and formidable enemies. Tens of thousands of us line the passageway into the castle as our king passes by. We cannot help but notice streaks of blood on the horses, the swords, and the boots of the mighty warriors. “It must have been quite a battle!” somebody says. What makes this king so unusual is that He fights His wars far and wide. He rides over the face of the whole world, taking on evil principalities and powers of the highest order. Thus, His people greatly rejoice to be represented by such a King and to be delivered from such horrible enemies. The rejoicing calls for a little trembling as well, especially as we reflect upon what violent warfare is engaged on that battlefield by our King!
A right view of history is critical for our faith. Without it, we are not Christians. To doubt the resurrection of Christ, for example, is to doubt the very essence of the Christian faith. But if we believe that Jesus really rose from the dead victorious over Satan and death, then we will use this paradigm to interpret all the rest of human history. That is why Acts 2:34-36 is so important. If you were to lose the entire New Testament, but retain the Acts 2:34-36 fragment, that would be sufficient. Jesus was crucified and now He is alive, and He is both Lord and Christ! He is also making war with His foes for the rest of history. To interpret history in any other way is to lose the fundamental paradigm of the Christian faith.
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32-36).
“Yahweh has said to my Lord, sit thou at my right hand.” In His treatment of this highly significant portion of Scripture, Jesus Christ leaves us with no doubt concerning the major players in this Psalm. He explained to the Jewish leaders that Yahweh God must have been referring to somebody in David’s line whom David thought of as exceeding himself in seniority (Matt. 22:42-45). But how could this be, seeing that this Lord would have to be his son? Typically, a son is not considered to be in a senior position above his father! So Yahweh God must be speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Therefore, we can say that God the Father is speaking to God the Son here.
This Psalm was fulfilled on Jesus’ ascension into heaven. At that time, God the Father placed Him on His right hand and gave Him the marching orders. “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” To think that Jesus Christ would fail to follow through on these orders would be nothing short of blasphemy. This is exactly what Jesus Christ has been doing since He ascended into heaven two thousand years ago. He plants His church deep into enemy territory, and from this vantage point He conquers His enemies. Who would have thought that the church of Christ would be 60 million strong today in China? When the virulently anti-Christ, communist regime took over that country, there were only 600,000 Christians there. After sixty years of vicious persecution against the Christian church at the hands of Christ’s enemies, He has increased His church by one hundred fold! There is no use picking a fight with the King of kings and Lord of lords. He will use every enemy for His own ends.
Some of those who have set themselves in opposition to Christ have eventually come to be His servants. The Apostle Paul once persecuted Christ and His people, a futile endeavor at best. Jesus told Saul (or Paul), that he was “kicking against the goads.” In His sovereign purposes, God made that man both willing and able to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:1, 2 Cor. 1:1, Eph. 1:1, Col. 1:1, 2 Tim. 1:1). This has happened literally millions of times throughout history.
Ever since Peter preached that sermon (in 33 AD or thereabouts), Jesus Christ occupies that throne next to His Father. For the last two thousand years, true believers rest in His Kingship. When a good and righteous man is put in office, for a while the people take heart in high expectations of what he might achieve. After awhile the euphoria wears off, and people realize this politician is hardly better than the last loser they put in office. This has never been the case with the Lord Jesus Christ. We never get the impression that our King is growing old or that His kingdom is tired and fading. If anything, our King is just getting started. The initial euphoria of His inauguration has not worn off in two thousand years, and expectations of a long and glorious reign remain strong in the minds of His people to this day.
In yet another remarkable, prophetic reference to Jesus Christ, David declares this King to be a Priest after the order of Melchizedek. He refers to the old King-Priest of the true God who ruled in Jerusalem in the days of Abraham. This order of priests was different from that of Levi who held exclusive right to the priesthood for almost 1500 years. Since Jesus Christ was born in the line of Judah, His right to the priesthood must have come from a different line. The writer of the book of Hebrews argues that Melchizedek was superior even to Abraham since the King of Salem received tithes from him. He concludes that Jesus Christ must therefore have taken up a superior priesthood to that of Levi and Aaron.
A proper understanding of this text requires a proper view of God’s sovereignty and the historical record of His work among nations. Throughout the Old Testament, we find that God is closely involved in the national affairs of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19), Philistia (Amos 1:6ff), Edom (Amos 1:11ff), Moab (Jer. 48, Amos 2:1ff), Egypt (Jer. 44, Ezek. 29:1-20; 32:1-3), Tyre (Ezek. 26-28), Assyria (Jonah), Babylon (Isa. 47, 48), and Persia and Greece (Dan. 8). If Rome is the city on seven hills spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18, then it should be no surprise that God is sovereignly ordaining the destruction of this humanist empire as well! According to Acts 17:30, God is even more interested in the repentance of the nations today than He was in the Old Testament era.
All of the nations around the globe are called to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to His laws. If they do not, they are subject to His wrath. Since God the Father put all things under His feet to the benefit of the church, all of the wars of the nations are under His sovereign direction. He cursed Germany with Hitler’s rule, because the church in Germany had led the apostasy in the west in the 19th century. He brought the Muslims and the concomitant reign of terror into Europe, because of the disobedience of the Christian church. After France killed off most of the faithful Christian Huguenots, the Lord Jesus Christ allowed the demonic hordes to initiate the bloody reign of terror (a century later). When the Eastern Church had perverted itself by centuries of idolatry, empty ritualism, and an infatuation with power, He turned the entire eastern world over to the cursed bane of communism. All of the revolutions, wars, and disasters in the world must never be attributed to mere chance, or autonomous evil men, or to Satan alone. Is God as sovereign and involved today as He was with Sodom, Philistia, Egypt, Tyre, Babylon, Persia, and Greece? Of course, He is far more involved, and eyes of faith would recognize every action as the true and righteous judgments of the Lord of lords and King of kings! He treads the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God (Rev. 19:15), and nothing can thwart His purposes.
Verse 7 establishes His position relative to this world’s powers. The Lord Jesus Christ is in total control of the situation. He lifts His head over His enemies. He takes a drink at the brook in the midst of the battle because nothing can possibly overwhelm Him in this war. The outcome of each and every battle is according to His agenda. At the end of every era, His church will always be improved in quality or quantity or both. Synthesis and compromise will be soundly defeated. Rebellious, wicked power centers will be utterly annihilated, and history will bear more testimony to the rule of Jesus Christ!
1. So many things get old and passé, in this life. Great movements fizzle out after a while. Great men fade away. Exciting young churches with great leaders will lose fervor over a couple of decades. Even the great reformation of the 16th century carries hardly a shadow of influence into the 21st century. What does this say about men? We are nothing- here today and gone tomorrow. If it were not for our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and His ascension into heaven, we would be of all men most miserable (1 Cor. 15:19)!
When children are young, they don’t think about growing old. But everybody does grow old eventually. Their minds become less fluid, their efforts fail for energy, and their eyes grow dim. But wherever there is true faith in aged people, that faith will grow vibrant and hope will spring eternal. They know that there is something bigger happening in history than the few meager things they have accomplished in life. This is why it is important that we never leave Jesus Christ out of our every thought, our every purpose, and our every project! We hang every one of our projects on the fact that He rules over all of history, and we hope that we can play at least a small part in His Project!
2. This is the Psalm that must frame the way we view the present and the future. Jesus Christ is on the throne, and He will have His way in history. The powerful, proud men who ignore Christ think that they will get away with their tyranny, immorality, and institutionalized, godless systems. Perhaps they have had a pretty good run of it for as many as two hundred years. But true believers fully expect swift and sure judgment in every era of history. “As surely as water will wet us, as surely as fire will burn,” the Lord Jesus Christ with terror and slaughter returns .
Our faith is rooted in true historical events that really took place at some time and place in history. Moreover, our faith is also tied to a real Person who really lived, lives, and rules on the right hand of God. When we begin our worship services with the cry, “Christ is risen,” we place our faith in that historical context. Everything for us in temporality and eternity hinges on this fact. It might also be good to begin the worship service with “Christ is Lord!” or “Christ rules!” And all of God’s people should respond with a hearty, “Amen!”
1. Why is Acts 2:32-36 so important to our faith?
2. How does Jesus argue for His superiority using this text?
3. Give an example of a man whom Christ made willing in the day of His power.
4. How is Christ a Priest after the order of Melchizedek? How does the priestly line of Levi compare to the priestly line of Melchizedek?
5. Which nations was God involved with in the Old Testament times? What nations is He involved with in the New Testament era?
6. What is the position of Christ in this Psalm, and how do we perceive Him?
7. Give several examples of Messianic Psalms.
1. What do people think when you tell them that Jesus Christ is conquering the nations today? How important is faith as you apply this paradigm to what happens in the world around you?
2. How will our lives be different, if we truly believe that Jesus Christ is reigning right now?