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The Glorious and Mighty Lord

Lecture on PSALM 110 by Lachlan Mackenzie

Known now as "the Happy Man", Rev. Lachlan Mackenzie was born in 1754 and died in 1819, after a long ministry at Lochcarron, Ross-shire. It is recorded that his spiritual awakening began at the age of eight, and that he excelled in the duty of prayer. A sister who survived him described him as "a moral lighthouse" to the Western Highlands and Islands, and mentions Begg's remark that "his doctrines were a means of leavening the minds of the people with those principles which in that part of the Highlands paved the way for the Disruption." Dr. Kennedy attributed his influence to "his genius, peculiar Christian experience, and his great acceptance as a preacher."

The subject of this lecture is the Kingly and Priestly offices of Christ.

This article was published in thePresbyterian Standard, Issue No. 2, April-June 1996.

T HIS Psalm, which was penned by the royal Psalmist, is a prophecy concerning the glorious Messiah who was to be King David's Son and Lord. Whatever perverse interpretations the modern Jews give to the words, it is certain they cannot with any propriety be applied to any but the Messiah. David was filled with the Spirit of God when he wrote this Psalm. He was predecessor to the Messiah and he was a rich and powerful monarch. Now we know that parents and ancestors are superior to the descendants. There is a respect due from the children to parents and progenitors whether near or more remote. The Messiah, then, as David's Son, if He was no more than man, should acknowledge David for His superior. But David in the Spirit calls Him Lord, and, if so, He must have a nature superior to David, and this proves the Divinity of the King Messiah. This Psalm speaks of the Kingdom, priesthood, and triumph of our Lord. I shall attempt to explain the words and conclude with practical observations by way of improvement.

Verse 1. – "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool."

This is the address of the Father to the second Person of the glorious trinity who was afterwards to assume the human nature. After finishing the great work of man's redemption, He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and now sitteth at the right hand of God. His human nature is highly exalted above all principality and power, and He now waits till all His enemies are made His footstool. And this takes place by degrees. All the enemies of God and of His Christ have been hitherto destroyed, and put to shame. Such as oppose the Gospel, whether as open enemies or as secret traitors, are seen to pay for it here often. Except they repent, they will become the footstool of Christ. If they become penitents they shall willingly bow at the footstool of His grace to receive His pardon. And if they perish in their rebellion they shall be crushed by the iron rod of His justice and lick the dust and fall before His power. Christ is now at the right hand of God. This phrase shows us the glory to which He is exalted, who was once in the lowest state of humiliation and suffering. From the height of His glory He looks down and smiles at the impotent attempts of His enemies. He sees that their destruction is near. The very means and weapons they employ against His interest and His cause or His people will come to nothing. Their schemes will fall with confusion upon their own heads. No weapon formed against His Church shall prosper, and every design formed against any of His people shall fall to the ground. The open enemies of Christ's Kingdom have been destroyed. Where are now the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman Empires? They are fallen like the baseless fabric of a vision. His first enemies have been destroyed. Ahithophel, Judas, and Simon Magus have come to their deserved end. What has been the fate of all the infidel tribe that wrote against Christianity? They fell into crimes suitable to their principles. They lived like brutes, died in despair, and now their memory rots. Others of them died in awful insensibility and were past conviction. They were given up by God to strong delusion. And as to the secret enemies of Christ under the Gospel, they professed to be His friends and to forward His Kingdom, but they proved themselves to be friends of Mammon. After heaping up the world by iniquity, when they came to the bed of death, they were objects of horror. Their ill-gotten gain was like a fire in their consciences, and that Saviour whom they sold for silver and gold, for lands and cattle, frowned upon them at the judgment seat. The silver which they gathered could not procure relief in the day of wrath, and the people of God whose company they avoided could not put any oil in their vessels when at the point of death. The terror of their souls is a prelude to what is to follow. They must yield to the power of Christ though they had no relish for His Gospel.

Verse 2. – "The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Sion: rule Thou in the midst of thine enemies."

The sceptre is an emblem of royal authority and power. Now we know that the Gospel sounded from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. It is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe. This is the blessed means by which He subdues all nations to the obedience of faith. The Gospel began at Jerusalem, and this is a proof that Jesus Christ is the glorious Person here spoken of. And He was to rule in the midst of His enemies. In fact, this has happened since the commencement of the Gospel. It shines less or more among most nations upon earth. It is surrounded by enemies, and He rules in the heart of them. Surrounding nations that do not believe have a heart-hatred to the Gospel. It opposes their lusts and their superstitions, and this makes them refuse to give it entertainment. The Gospel is an enemy to sin of every kind, otherwise it had been universally received. It is a comfortable doctrine and a benign scheme to recover lost sinners. But as it is an enemy to sin, Satan and the lusts of men oppose it with all their might. But Christ rules in the midst of His enemies, for He has a people in the midst of Pagans, idolaters and Mohammedans. And as to the nations that profess a nominal subjection to Christ, He rules also in the heart of His enemies. People that hear the Gospel are faulty, for they are as great enemies as His professed opponents. They hate the light because their deeds are evil. But He rules in the midst of them in the very heart of His enemies. In a certain sense Christ rules in the consciences of wicked men. Though the Gospel does not gain their love, the purity of the doctrine sometimes attracts their veneration and fear. They may have light in their heads though they have poison in their hearts. The Word which galls and troubles them keeps them from many sins till they harden themselves past feeling. Judas for a while was restrained by the Gospel from the sin of covetousness, but afterwards he showed himself in his proper colours. And there are some at first restrained from their lusts and sins by wholesome doctrine, who afterwards break out furiously and become almost incarnate devils. They return to their lusts, and are mad upon their idols. They break every hedge and restraint, and come at their object right or wrong. But Christ rules in the midst of His enemies in spite of them. Though their conscience galls them when they hear their sins and their picture drawn to the life, they do not amend. Their hearts are filled with enmity, and they hear with perfect hatred. The covetous Pharisees heard Christ and derided Him, and afterwards contrived His death. But though sinners are not converted, they may be convinced in spite or themselves. The word of Christ is their perfect torment; it is a fire in their consciences, and will make them uneasy.

Verse 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."

In the foregoing verses we are told that His enemies must yield to His superior power, for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But here we learn that he has a people over whom He rules. And the account or description we have of them is grand and glorious. They follow Him willingly; they were made willing in the day of His power, having got a sight of His glory, and therefore they follow Him. They are adorned with all the beauties of holiness, with all the armour necessary for the spiritual warfare. They are soldiers, and they do not stumble or go over to the camp of the enemy. They proceed in their course in battle array; they keep their ranks and handle their arms. And though they are beautiful they are terrible, like an army with banners. Wicked men and devils are afraid of good Christians. They are beautiful in the sight of God. The graces of the Spirit are the different pieces of armour by which the willing people are adorned. And they are a great multitude whom no man can number, even like the drops of dew from the womb of the morning. The light of the Gospel is like the morning in comparison of the night of the Mosaic dispensation. And it is night with every sinner till the morning light visits his soul and produces the softening dew that will refresh his soul and make him bring forth fruit unto God. As the fresh morning is the cause of the dew, in like manner every morning that shines upon his soul produces the dew. It renews their age like the eagle, and they bring forth fruit into age, and are like a green olive tree in the House of God. They are beautiful and fruitful, and whether the Christian is fourteen or four score, he is always in the beauty and vigour of youth. For Christ has the dew of youth, and is always ready to bestow it on His willing people who walk before Him continually in the beauties of holiness.

Verse 4. – "The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."

When the Psalmist describes the power and glory of Christ's Kingdom he makes use of plain though prophetical language. But when he speaks of His Priesthood he borrows very strong language indeed. When the Son of God was incarnate He had a right to the Kingdom – to all power in heaven and earth. When the Man Christ Jesus was united as the second person of the ever blessed and glorious Trinity He had a right to all treasures of grace and glory by virtue of that union. And this truth we can naturally believe. If we believe the one we are prepared to believe the other. But the truths that are connected with the priesthood of Christ are not so easy of belief. And therefore the Psalmist introduces it with the oath of God. The priest was to offer sacrifice and to bless the people. Christ was to be a priest, not according to the order of Aaron, but of Melchizedek. Now, Melchizedek was greater than Abraham. Consequently he was greater than any priest of the time of Aaron. Melchizedek was a type of Christ. His descent is not reckoned, and he was without beginning of days or end of life. In this respect he was a type of the Priesthood of Christ. Now, the sacrifice our great High Priest offered was Himself. It was not easy to believe that such an innocent, such a glorious Person as the Son of God could suffer. But our case required it. Nothing but a spotless victim, an offering of infinite dignity, would answer our purpose. And he was to continue for ever. We do not read that Melchizedek had a predecessor or successor in his priesthood. Now, Christ's priesthood was of the order of Melchizedek. He was of the tribe of Judah and not of Levi. There was no priest before Him, and none succeeds Him. And this shows us what opinion to form of those who call themselves priests. The New Testament acknowledges no priest or high priest but Jesus Christ. His sacrifice was complete, and He ever liveth to make intercession for us. We may, therefore, trust our concerns in his hand, for He is able to save to the uttermost.

Verse 5. – "The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath."

One of the names of our Redeemer is the Prince of Peace, and the Gospel makes peace between God and men and between one man and another. But we learn here the danger to which the enemies of the Gospel expose themselves. When people oppose the Gospel it rouses the wrath of God against them. His enemies, however powerful, cannot stand before Him. He strikes through kings in the day of His wrath. The Roman Empire opposed and persecuted the Gospel. God stirred up other nations against that power, and raised them up by His providence to avenge His quarrel. And it happens so to this day, and will wherever the Gospel is opposed, slighted, or refused. And when kings will suffer, no doubt their people will suffer with them, for both have the guilt and will feel the punishment.

Verse 6. – "He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries."

One character of Messiah is that He will not judge after the sight of His eyes, nor reprove after the hearing of His ears. We have no other way of judging, and, therefore, may be often deceived and give wrong judgment. We do not know the clever tricks of an acute, deep, worldly man. He can turn himself into various shapes according to the people he has to deal with. When he meets the great he can flatter, cajole, and cringe to them. And if he finds it necessary he has a bribe at their service to blind their eyes. He can cast a mist upon the truth, and has an art peculiar to himself of making black appear white. And the worst or it is, he can get people of his own kind to support his pretensions. And as he cringes to the great he is very rude and insolent to the poor if they happen to oppose his villainous tricks. But though he can deceive and impose upon men, the Saviour will detect all his arts and expose him at last to the contempt he deserved. The schemes he lays in private will be heard on the housetops. We are told here not only that He will judge among the heathen, but that He will fill places with dead bodies. And this will happen in two views.

1. He will send temporal judgments, great or small, and thus bring to light the secret practices.

2. But, again, He will send spiritual judgments.

His word will pierce the consciences of sinners, and the arrows of conviction will fix in the hearts of the king's enemies. And thus they shall fall as dead bodies before the great Conqueror. He will likewise judge among the heathen by defeating the schemes of the wicked and making them fall upon their own heads. Thus He defeated the scheme of Ahithophel. And as a dead body has a nauseous scent and stench, the secret arts of the wicked when brought to light by the just providence of God will cause their memory to rot. And in this way He shall wound even the heads over many countries. He shall wound Satan by the preaching of His Gospel, and destroy sin of every kind. He shall wound Antichrist. He shall wound all the enemies of His glory. He shall trample upon the greatest enemies, and, if so, surely meaner adversaries have great cause to tremble at the prospect of his day of vengeance.

Verse 7. – "He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head."

The general run of commentators are of opinion that by drinking of the brook in the way is meant His sufferings unto death. And, indeed, the Apostle informs us that His exaltation to the right hand of God is the reward of His sufferings. Others, however, think that this phrase signifies that fulness of grace by which the human nature of Christ was constantly supplied. There can be no harm in combining the two opinions, as they are both evidently founded on truth. The human nature of Christ was not left alone to finish the astonishing work of Redemption. It was constantly supplied from the fulness of God which dwelt, and will dwell, in Him bodily for ever. It was the Divine nature that gave infinite dignity to the sufferings of Christ, and it is the Divine nature this day that puts efficacy in His intercession as our Mediator. He is carrying on the war and the interest of His Church and people daily. His prevailing intercession supports His people, and either converts or restrains His enemies. He is still going forth as a mighty Conqueror, and still drinks of the brook of uncreated strength. And this He will continue to do till all His enemies are conquered. And though our Lord is gloriously exalted, He will be still more gloriously exalted when the Kingdom is delivered up to the Father, and God shall be all in all. Having thus endeavoured to explain the words, I shall make some practical inferences.

1. If Christ waiteth till all His enemies are made His footstool, his people ought to do the same; Christ and His people have the same enemies. Consequently, His people's enemies will be made their footstool. Enemies in their pride and wantonness of their hearts may threaten. They may read their fate in Isaiah 22:18,19. He that meddles with the people of God toucheth the apple of His eye. A thief who stole the cow of a good man when engaged in prayer, a little before his death, regretted this more than all his sins. And I ask you, do you think that God is blind to the injuries done to His people when the wicked take advantage of the very time they serve God? Let them wait with patience, for God will support their righteous cause.

2. As His people are made willing in a day of His power, we ought to examine ourselves. Such as are made willing forsake all their sins, and are gradually renewed after the Divine image. They have pleasure in the duties of religion, and live in the habitual preparation for the joys of Heaven. They are generally kept to their duty, not by the scourge of the law, but by the genuine spirit of the Gospel. Those who perform no duty but what they must, or who are hot upon solemn occasions, show that they are hypocrites or slaves, not sons.

3. Lastly, is Christ a Priest and intercessor? We should put our cause in His hands. Have we done so? Do we trust our souls to Him, and can we live at all adventures? If we trust our souls and all that we possess to Him we shall take care that we possess nothing by iniquity. He is not the Minister of Sin. He saves His people from sin, and it is for this purpose they employ Him. And as sure as he drank of the brook and lifted up the Head, all His true followers and willing people will do the same. God bless you. – AMEN.