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The mighty sceptre

May 28, 2017

The mighty sceptre

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Prepare

How comfortable are you reading about God crushing his enemies, piling up their dead, judging them for their sin? Why do you react like you do?



Bible passage Psalm 110

Psalm 110

A David Prayer

 1-3 The word of God to my Lord: “Sit alongside me here on my throne 
      until I make your enemies a stool for your feet.” 
   You were forged a strong scepter by God of Zion; 
      now rule, though surrounded by enemies! 
   Your people will freely join you, resplendent in holy armor 
      on the great day of your conquest, 
   Join you at the fresh break of day, 
      join you with all the vigor of youth. 
 4-7 God gave his word and he won’t take it back: 
      you’re the permanent priest, the Melchizedek priest. 
   The Lord stands true at your side, 
      crushing kings in his terrible wrath, 
   Bringing judgment on the nations, 
      handing out convictions wholesale, 
      crushing opposition across the wide earth. 
   The King-Maker put his King on the throne; 
      the True King rules with head held high! 

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Explore the Bible

Victorious God
As a child I was impressed with the power of God. I loved to read about the creation, Jesus walking on water and calming the storm, Elijah calling down fire from heaven, the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In Psalm 110, David prophesies about the Messiah, as Jesus makes clear (Matthew 22:44). He looks forward to the day when God will defeat his enemies once and for all. David was a warrior king; perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the image he uses for this victory is a human battlefield: troops ready to die for their commander (v 3), the bodies of the dead piled up high (v 6).

Enemies defeated
Often people shy away from the ‘spirit of hatred which strikes us … like the heat from a furnace’* in some of the psalms. Yet which of us can truthfully say we don’t feel these emotions too – even those of us who have never faced the fierce heat of battle?

Ultimately, such psalms remind us that God’s ‘mighty sceptre’ will one day rule supreme, that in Jesus all God’s enemies – including death itself – lie crushed and defeated. That power, which raised Jesus from the dead, is given to all who believe (Ephesians 1:19,20).

*CS Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (London: Fount Paperbacks, 1998), p17

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Respond

What enemies are you facing right now? Are you able to stand firm against them, in God’s strength?

Ben Green

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Deeper Bible study

‘Christ is alive and comes to bring good news to this and every age, till earth and sky and ocean ring with joy, with justice, love, and praise.’1

The New Testament quotes Psalm 110 more than any other passage from the Old Testament. The psalm speaks of the exaltation of the Israelite king who reigned at YHWH’s behest. However, in new circumstances old Scriptures take on new meanings. After the events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Christians read the psalm in a brand new way. They took the words about the king to refer to Jesus Christ in his ascended glory. They took the words about the suppression of enemies to refer, not so much to human beings, but to evil as a personified foe.

Paul makes use of Psalm 110 in a stirring address about the resurrection of the dead. He writes, ‘Then the end will come, when he [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.’ (1 Corinthians 15:24–26). Ephesians also draws on Psalm 110, when it asserts that God’s power is at work in the church. It is the same power God ‘exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.’ (Ephesians 1:20–22)

At the crucifixion of Jesus, the powers of evil seemed to win the day. In the resurrection and ascension, God vindicated Jesus and the way of suffering love, turning the tables on the powers of darkness. The world does not yet know it, but evil will not have the last word. In the end, the love of God will triumph.

Robert Parkinson

 

1 Brian Wren, ‘Christ is alive! Let Christians sing’, Hymn 244, Baptist Praise and Worship

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