Examining Psalm 110:1

A look at Its Implications on God being a Multi-Personal Being and upon the Deity of Christ

Sam Shamoun

Christians often appeal to Psalm 110:1 to prove that the Hebrew Bible teaches that Yahweh is multi-Personal, that there is more than one Person who is Yahweh God, and that the Messiah is God. The text in question reads:

"The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’" NIV

According to the Lord Jesus and the other NT writers this is a Psalm of David which he uttered in relation to Christ’s ascension into heavenly glory:

"And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, ‘How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet." David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?’ And the great throng heard him gladly." Mark 12:35-36

"Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." Acts 2:33-36

On the basis of the above texts, Christians believe that Jesus is David’s Lord since he is the Christ. And since Yahweh is David’s Lord, Jesus must therefore be Yahweh God.

Many anti-Trinitarians claim that this is an erroneous conclusion or assumption since a careful reading of the Hebrew text disproves such a notion. The Hebrew uses two different words which English translations render as Lord:

"The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’" English Standard Version (ESV)

The words in Hebrew which the above version translates LORD and Lord are actually Yahweh and Adoni, two different words with two obviously different meanings (or so the argument goes). The text more literally reads in the following manner:

"The affirmation of Jehovah to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.’" Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

The assertion is that the use of two different words automatically proves that the Psalmist had two completely different beings in view, and that the second Lord refers to someone who isn’t God. The main problem with this claim is that just because the Psalmist used two different terms it doesn’t necessarily follow that he had two beings in mind who were of completely different essences, i.e. one is Divine while the other is human or angelic. We do agree that the Psalmist had two distinct and different Persons in view, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are of different essences or share different beings. After all, isn’t it true that David’s Lord is Yahweh God?

"I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.’" Psalm 16:2

"Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord!" Psalm 35:23

And wouldn’t this open up the possibility that the use of Adoni for the second occurrence of Lord is a reference to Yahweh God as David’s Sovereign, David’s Lord? It is quite possible, and yet the anti-Trinitarian says it isn’t very probable.

The reason given for why it is highly improbable that David was addressing Yahweh is because of the fact that anti-Trinitarians claim that the word Adoni is never once used for God in the Hebrew Bible. It is always used for human beings or angels. Moreover, they also claim that David could have used the word Adonai (literally, "Lords" or "my Lords") if he had intended for his audience to understand that he was addressing Yahweh as his sovereign since this word is normally used of God.

These claims are erroneous for several reasons. First, in ancient, biblical Hebrew there were no vowel markings to distinguish between the different forms of the word Adon, the word from where we get Adoni and Adonai, which means that the verses would have read the same way since they have the same consonants, making this a moot point.

Second, just because Adoni is used elsewhere for human beings or angels doesn’t mean that David didn’t use it in reference to God. Psalm 110:1 may actually be a case where the word is being used for Yahweh God, making it the exception to the norm. One cannot simply dismiss this as a possibility on a priori grounds, but must be decided by first looking and exegeting the text itself before looking elsewhere.

Third, the word Adoni is used for the Angel of Yahweh in Judges 6:13 who clearly isn’t a mere creature. This particular Angel is actually a manifestation of God himself, just as the immediate context shows:

"Now the angel of the LORD came and SAT under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.’ And Gideon said to him, ‘Please, my Lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, "Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?" But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.’ AND THE LORD TURNED TO HIM AND SAID, ‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?’ And he said to him, ‘Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.’ AND THE LORD SAID TO HIM, ‘But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’ And he said to him, ‘If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speaks with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.’ And he said, ‘I will stay till you return.’ So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. AND THE ANGEL OF GOD SAID TO HIM, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.’ And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was IN HIS HAND and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face. ’ BUT THE LORD SAID TO HIM, ‘Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.’" Judges 6:11-23

People normally become afraid of dying after seeing God face to face, and yet here Gideon is afraid because he saw the Angel face to face (cf. Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:20; Judges 13:22). What this basically means is that the Angel was Yahweh himself who both appeared and spoke directly to Gideon, which means that Gideon was addressing Yahweh as his Lord or Adoni.

In another place, Joshua sees a man wielding a sword and addressed him as Adoni after he realized who this man actually was:

"When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, "What does my lord say to his servant?’ And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so." Joshua 5:13-15

Compare the above with the following texts:

"Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And THE ANGEL OF THE LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, ‘I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.’ When THE LORD SAW that he turned aside to see, GOD CALLED TO HIM OUT OF THE BUSH, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ And he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God." Exodus 3:1-6

"Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out," Exodus 23:20-23

The man wielding the sword, the man who leads the armies of the Lord is actually the Angel of Yahweh sent ahead of Israel to fight their enemies, the One whom God says has his very own name within him and who can forgive sins, a divine prerogative. Putting it simply, the Adoni who Joshua saw was the Angel of God who happens to also be God Almighty himself! It is little wonder that Joshua fell down and worshiped him.

Here is one final example where Adoni is used for a Divine Being:

"On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, ‘I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.’ And they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’" Zechariah 1:7-11

Zechariah provides enough clues that identify this specific Angel as being the very same Angel of Yahweh mentioned in the above texts:

"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’" Zechariah 3:1-4

The inspired prophet identifies this Angel as Yahweh God who has the power to forgive or remove sins!

The above texts refute the assertion that Adoni is never used of Yahweh, since in at least three places Adoni is used for a man, for an Angel, whom the texts explicitly identify as Yahweh. More on this point a little later.

Noted Messianic and Hebrew scholar Dr. Michael L. Brown beautifully summarizes the above points in his response to some similar arguments raised by an anti-missionary named Rabbi Tovia Singer:

"There are at least three problems with his argument: First, he is incorrect in stating that ‘my lord’ is reserved ‘for the profane, never the sacred.’ Just look in Joshua 5:14, where Joshua addresses the angel of the Lord as ‘my lord’ (‘adoni). Yet this divine messenger is so holy that Joshua is commanded to remove the shoes from his feet because he is standing on holy ground, just as Moses was commanded when the angel of the Lord – representing Yahweh himself – appeared to him (Exod. 3:1-6). This is hardly a ‘profane’ rather than ‘sacred’ usage! Similar examples can be found in Judges 6:13 and Zechariah 1:9, among other places. In each of these, angels are addressed as ‘my lord,’ and in some of these cases, the angels bear the divine presence. Second, Singer’s whole argument hinges on the Masoretic vocalization, which did not reach its final form until the Middle Ages. As every student of Hebrew knows, biblical Hebrew was written with consonants and ‘vowel letters’ only; the vowel signs were added hundreds of years later. Yet both ‘adonai (used only for Yahweh) and ‘adoni (used for men and angels, as we just noted) are spelled identically in Hebrew, consisting of the four consonants ‘-d-n-y. How then can Rabbi Singer make such a dogmatic statement about the differences between these two forms in the Bible? His argument stands only if we accept the absolute authority of the Masoretic vocalization, which in some cases follows the original writing by almost two thousand years. Third, it is not really important whether we translate with ‘my Lord’ or ‘my lord,’ since Yeshua’s whole argument was simply that David called the Messiah ‘lord’ meaning that the Messiah had to more than David’s son. While many Christian translations do render ‘adoni as ‘my Lord’ in Psalm 110:1, they are careful to distinguish between the first Lord (i.e., LORD) and the second." (Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Messianic Prophecy Objections [Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI 2003], Volume Three, pp. 137-138)

More importantly, the Psalmist does refer to his Lord as Adonai right in verse 5:

"The Lord (Adonai) is AT YOUR RIGHT HAND; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head." Psalm 110:5-7

Here, Adonai is the One who will bring judgment against the nations and their kings, and will even drink from a brook! This clearly refers to David's Lord in verse 1, not just because he drinks from a brook of water, a human function, but also because he is said to be at "your right hand." In verse 1, this refers to the right hand of Yahweh:

"The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at MY right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’"

Now compare this again to verse 5:

"The Lord is at YOUR right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath."

"Your right hand" obviously refers to Yahweh's right hand. This means that the Lord or Adonai of verse 5 is actually David's Lord, the Messiah, since he is the one who is at Yahweh's right hand!

Moreover, the passage plainly states it is the Lord (Adonai) who executes judgment upon the nations and who will shatter kings in the day of his wrath which, according to the NT, is what Jesus will do when he returns to the earth:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left." Matthew 25:31-33

"The Father JUDGES NO ONE, but has given ALL JUDGMENT TO THE SON, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man." John 5:22-23, 27

"Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every 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. For 'God has put all things in subjection under his feet.' But when it says, 'all things are put in subjection,' it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all." 1 Corinthians 15:24-28

"When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from THE WRATH OF THE LAMB, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’" Revelation 6:12-17

"They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." Revelation 17:14

"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, 'Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.' And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh." Revelation 19:11-21

These texts provide further affirmation that the Adonai of 110:5 is indeed the Messiah, David's Lord.

With the foregoing behind us, we can resume our discussion of Psalm 110:1. In order to exhaust all points of views and arguments, so as to not leave anything out, there are really only three possibilities for us to consider. David could have been addressing one of the following three persons or beings as his Lord:

  1. Yahweh God.
  2. An angel.
  3. A human being.

The problem with claiming that David was addressing another human being as his Lord is that, according to the Hebrew Bible, David was the highest ranking human ruler in all the earth:

"Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said: I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, … He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." Psalm 89:19-20, 26-27

Thus, there was no human ruler that was greater in prestige, power, authority, and rank than David. This means that the One he addressed as his Lord could not simply be a human figure, and we are therefore left with the other two options. Either David’s Lord was a Divine Being or an angelic creature; he couldn’t merely be a human sovereign.

Although there is a text which implies that man is made a little lower than angels positionally:

"what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings (elohim) and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet," Psalm 8:4-6

This is due primarily to the fall of man, that since the fall man became lower than the angels in glory and rank. But according to the same Scriptures all those who are reconciled to God, all those whom God has elected for salvation, are restored to the glory which God created them with, whereby they once again become more exalted than the angels:

"Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, ‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’ Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." Hebrews 2:5-9

In fact, angels are created to serve God’s elect:

"And to which of the angels has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:13-14

Notice that the text denies that angels sit on God’s throne whereas earlier in the same text the author says that Jesus rules forever and is thereby superior to all the angels:

"having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’? Or again, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son’? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God's angels worship him.’ Of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.’ BUT OF THE SON he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.’ And, ‘You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.’" Hebrews 1:4-12

In order to show how and in what way Jesus is superior to the angels the inspired writer cites several texts which refer to the enthronement of the Israelite kings, namely Psalm 2:7, 45:6-7 and 2 Samuel 7:14 (10-15), and applies them to Christ. These texts initially had David and his sons such as Solomon in mind. What this shows is that the Israelite kings were greater than any of the angels since no angel ever sat on God’s throne to rule.

In other words, since all the anointed kings sat on God’s throne:

"Then David said to all the assembly, ‘Bless the LORD your God.’ And all the assembly blessed the LORD, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the LORD and to the king. And they offered sacrifices to the LORD, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the LORD, 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. And they ate and drank before the LORD on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and they anointed him as prince for the LORD, and Zadok as priest. Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king in place of David his father. And he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him. All the leaders and the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon. And the LORD made Solomon very great in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel." 1 Chronicles 29:20-25

They were therefore greater than angels in rank, authority and honor, which means that David could not have been addressing an angelic being as his Lord. Angels serve God’s elect and his anointed king, making God’s people superior to and sovereign over even the angels.

We are left with only one choice, namely, that David’s Lord is none other than Yahweh God himself. And since Jesus is identified as that Lord whom David was addressing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this therefore proves that the Christian interpretation is the correct one. Psalm 110:1 is a very strong text supporting the Christian understanding that, a) God is multi-Personal, and b) the Messiah is actually God!

But there is still one final possibility that we must consider if we are going to be fair. David may have actually been addressing a specific Angel, namely the Angel of Yahweh whom we had mentioned earlier, the very One that happens to be God in essence and who often appeared in the OT as a man. If this were so, then this would mean that the Angel of Yahweh became an actual human being from David’s line which then made him both David’s Lord and David’s Son.

This is actually the position we hold to, that David’s Son (whom the NT identifies as Jesus) in his prehuman existence appeared throughout the OT as the Angel of Yahweh, the very God who often spoke with the OT saints in the guise of a man. The difference with this specific Angel is that, unlike all the other angels, he isn’t a creature but the Creator God who took on the function of an Angel or Messenger. Hence, this view would still mean that it wasn’t a mere angel or human whom David acknowledged as his Sovereign, but he was addressing his God who assumed the role of an Angel and appeared in the form of a man.

Thus, David’s Son is all three things simultaneously, i.e. he is God who functioned as an Angel or Messenger, who then became man by virtue of his being born from a virgin maiden by the power of the Holy Spirit!

For more on the Angel being the pre-Incarnate Christ please consult this paper.

Now someone may say that Jesus is merely a human being who was granted a higher rank than David, and therefore doesn’t prove that he is God. There are several problems with this explanation. First, Jesus’ question regarding this Psalm presupposes that the Christ is more than just a man:

"Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet"? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?’ And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions." Matthew 22:41-46

If the Christ were merely a man then he couldn’t be David’s Lord since the latter was his ancestor. In other words, Jesus is saying that David’s son couldn’t be his ancestor’s Lord since fathers are normally greater than their sons in position and authority.

Second, it will not do to say that because the Messiah would be greater in glory he would therefore be superior to David, since this assumes that David’s son is his Lord by virtue of his rank. Jesus’ point is basically that the Messiah’s rank or prestige still wouldn’t make him David’s Lord if he were merely a human son. After all, Solomon was granted greater riches, glory and wisdom than his father without this ever making him Lord over his father. In a similar manner, the Messiah’s prestige and glory wouldn’t be grounds for his becoming David’s sovereign.

Third, the NT documents teach that Jesus is God in essence, the very unique Son of God. Basically, this explains why David’s Son could be his Lord and supports our position that only One who is God could ever be sovereign over David.

To summarize the data, we discovered that:

  1. According to the Lord Jesus and the NT writers David composed Psalm 110.
  2. David, in Psalm 110, addressed some unnamed entity as his Lord, as his Sovereign.
  3. Both the Lord Jesus and the NT documents also claim that David composed this Psalm about the Messiah. Hence, this is a Messianic Psalm composed about the greater David, the greater Solomon who was to come.
  4. According to the Hebrew Bible, there was no human ruler higher in rank and authority than David who could therefore be his sovereign.
  5. The Holy Bible also teaches that all of the kings sit/sat on God’s throne whereas angels do not, indicating that the former are/were greater than the latter.
  6. This would therefore imply that David could not have been addressing any angel as his Lord, forcing us to conclude that he was actually addressing Yahweh.
  7. Yet, since the Lord Jesus and his Apostles claimed that David was referring to the Christ, this means that the Christ (who is Jesus) is none other than Yahweh God himself.
  8. But the same Psalm says that Yahweh was addressing David’s Lord, which implies that there are actually two distinct individuals that exist as God.

All scriptural quotations taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible, unless stated otherwise.


Recommended Reading

http://www.tektonics.org/guest/antianti.html#ten
http://messianicart.com/chazak/yeshua/psalm110.htm


Appendix 1: At the right hand of God

Another way in which anti-Trinitarians try to undermine the fact that Psalm 110:5 refers to the Christ being at God’s right hand is to cite passages where it says Yahweh is at a person’s right hand. By Yahweh they mean the God and Father of the Messiah, not the Messiah himself, i.e. that the Father is at a person’s right hand.

What they hope to prove by this method of exegesis is to refute the idea that Psalm 110:5 identifies the Messiah as God. They seek to show, instead, that the passage is actually referring to the Father himself, that the Father is at the Messiah’s right hand to assist him in all his endeavors. Some of the passages that are often used are the following:

"You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great." Psalm 18:35

"With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD; in the great throng I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him." Psalm 109:30-31

There are a few problems with appealing to these texts to undermine Psalm 110:5 being a reference to the Messiah. First, a sound principle of hermeneutics is to first exegete a passage within its own immediate context before venturing into other texts. After all, a specific word or expression can have a completely different meaning or application due to the varying contexts in which it appears.

This leads us to our second point. None of these texts are remotely similar since they deal with different contexts and different situations. The above references either refer to God assisting David in his endeavors, or God coming to the aid of the weak and the poor. Psalm 110, however, is dealing with the enthronement of God’s Anointed One who rules forever over his subjects and who officiates as a high priest.

Third, in neither of the above texts do we find an explicit reference to any of the subjects sitting at God’s right hand, yet we do find an explicit mention in Psalm 110:1 of David’s Lord sitting enthroned at God’s right hand.

Hence, since the starting passage of Psalm 110 has already stated that the One seated at God’s right is the Messiah, or David’s Lord, we therefore have strong contextual reasons to assume that Psalm 110:5 also refers to him.

Another passage which anti-Trinitarians pull out in order to show that Psalm 110:5 is not identifying David’s Lord, the Messiah, as Yahweh is Psalm 16:8. Here is the passage with its immediate context so as to illustrate the point the Psalmist was making, and what the anti-Trinitarians are trying to show:

"I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:8-11

Peter even quotes this Psalm in reference to God being at Christ’s right hand (cf. Acts 2:25-28). In light of this NT application to Jesus, the skeptics think that this somehow proves that Psalm 110:5 is not speaking of the Messiah, but of the Messiah’s God being at his right hand to assist him.

This objection is based on a less than careful reading of Psalm 16 since even the Psalmist realized that the resurrection would result in a change of this situation:

"because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures AT YOUR RIGHT HAND." Psalm 16:10-11

The Psalmist speaks of enjoying eternal pleasures at God’s right hand, implying that after the resurrection the situation changed from God being at the Psalmist’s right hand to the latter being at God’s right hand!

In confirmation of this analysis, Peter himself went on to preach that even though God was at Christ’s right hand before the resurrection Christ afterwards went to be at God’s right hand.

Putting it another way, Peter by inspiration understood this text to mean that God was at Christ’s right hand while Jesus was on earth accomplishing the Father’s will. Yet after his death and resurrection Christ ascended to his Father’s right hand:

"For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope. For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.’ Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’" Acts 2:25-36

Peter cites Psalm 110:1 to prove that David predicted Jesus’ ascension to the Father’s right hand!

Thus, Psalm 16:8 does nothing to refute the fact that Psalm 110:5 is identifying the Messiah as Yahweh who is at God’s right hand since this particular verse is referring to a time before Christ’s ascension.


Appendix 2: Is this interpretation dependent on the New Testament?

A keen reader may say that our exegesis is based primarily on the NT interpretation of this particular Psalm and its view regarding the subordination of angels to God’s people. Thus, we may be accused of begging the question since the validity of our exegesis is dependent upon and presupposes the historical veracity and inspiration of the Christian Scriptures.

Even though Christians are on very solid grounds for affirming the historical validity and inspiration of the NT canonical books, our exegesis doesn’t depend necessarily on the writings of the NT. The Hebrew Bible itself supports our position that David could not have been addressing a human being or an angel as his master or sovereign.

In the following, we will provide several lines of evidence to support this premise. All scriptural quotations used in this section are taken from the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) version of the Hebrew Bible, 1917 edition, unless noted otherwise.

First, the Hebrew text ascribes this Psalm to David:

"A Psalm of David (leDavid mizmor). HaShem [lit., "the Name" which Orthodox Jews use in the place of Yahweh] saith unto my lord: ‘Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.’"

Thus, it is David himself who composed this particular Psalm. Some try to argue that the Hebrew preposition le has various meanings such as to, for, by, in, or into. On this basis some would wish to translate the ascription as for or to David, not by or of David. The only problem with this position is that there is nothing contextually which leads one to take the preposition to mean other than that it was a Psalm composed personally by David.

Some try to appeal to the Psalm 72:1,20 to justify that Psalm 110 is about David:

"A Psalm for Solomon (li’shlomoh). O G-d, give your judgments to a king; and your righteousness to a king’s son… The prayers of David the son of Jesse are completed."

Here the preposition is used in reference to a Psalm composed by David for Solomon, providing a basis for taking the preposition of Psalm 110:1 in a similar sense. The only problem with this argument is that Psalm 72 actually provides an argument against this view; it doesn’t support the claim being made.

For instance, the only reason why the preposition is translated as for Solomon is because of what is stated at the conclusion of this Psalm, namely that this particular Psalm ends the prayers of David. In other words, it is because verse 20 seems to identify David as the composer of this particular Psalm that the preposition doesn’t mean that Solomon authored it. Had it not been for verse 20 we would have to assume that the preposition is identifying Solomon as its composer. Yet no such qualification or statement appears for Psalm 110.

But besides all this, verse 20 still doesn’t necessarily justify taking the preposition of verse 1 as indicating that this Psalm was written for or about Solomon. It may in fact be a Psalm written by Solomon which was then included as part of the collection of prayers composed by his father. That is why some translations render 72:1 as being composed by Solomon:

A Psalm of Solomon. Give the king Thy judgments, O G-d, and Thy righteousness unto the king's son;

A Psalm of Solomon. Give the king Your judgments, O God, And Your righteousness to the king's son. NASB

No matter what a person’s view maybe regarding Psalm 72, the point still remains that this Psalm doesn’t support rendering the ascription found in Psalm 110:1 as implying that it is about David, not by David.

Second, the Hebrew Bible itself says that David and the other Israelite kings sat on God's throne, a point which we already saw above but which bears repeating:

"And David said to all the congregation: ‘Now bless HaShem your G-d.’ And all the congregation blessed HaShem, the G-d of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and prostrated themselves before HaShem, and before the king. And they sacrificed sacrifices unto HaShem, and offered burnt-offerings unto HaShem, on the morrow after that day, even a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink-offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel; and did eat and drink before HaShem on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and anointed him unto HaShem to be prince, and Zadok to be priest. Then Solomon sat on the throne of HaShem as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel hearkened to him. And all the princes, and the mighty men, and all the sons likewise of king David, submitted themselves unto Solomon the king. And HaShem magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel." 1 Chronicles 29:20-25

"My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever. Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; the peoples fall under you. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir. Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father's house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him. The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people… In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever." Psalm 45:1-12, 16-17 ESV

This Psalm is especially interesting because of what it says about the king. The king not only sits on God’s throne forever but he is also identified as God! What this basically implies is that the king’s enthronement makes him God’s visible representative on earth whereby he acts in the place of God and therefore becomes God in a functional (not ontological) sense.

Third, we know from Psalms 2 and 89 (which we already looked at above) that David was preeminent over all human rulers who were supposed to submit to him. Notice what the second Psalm says:

"Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain? The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against HaShem, and against His anointed (Messiah): ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.’ He that sitteth in heaven laugheth, the L-rd hath them in derision. Then will He speak unto them in His wrath, and affright them in His sore displeasure: ‘Truly it is I that have established My king upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ I will tell of the decree: HaShem said unto me: ‘Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.’ Now therefore, O ye kings, be wise; be admonished, ye judges of the earth. Serve HaShem with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Do homage in purity, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way, when suddenly His wrath is kindled. Happy are all they that take refuge in Him." Psalm 2:1-12

Now Psalm 2 isn’t necessarily limited to David, but also applies by extension to all of Israel’s righteous kings as the following passages show:

"A Psalm of Solomon. Give the king Thy judgments, O G-d, and Thy righteousness unto the king's son; … May he have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of the earth. Let them that dwell in the wilderness bow before him; and his enemies lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render tribute; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall prostrate themselves before him; all nations shall serve him." Psalm 72:1, 8-11

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee, he is triumphant, and victorious, lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace unto the nations; and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth." Zechariah 9:9-10

Thus, all peoples and their rulers are made subject to the Israelite kings, showing that no other human ruler could ever be sovereign over David or any of his sons, provided that they lived in covenant faithfulness. The only time a Gentile ruler would ever rule over one of Israel’s kings is during a time of punishment, i.e. that if the kings of Israel fail to honor and obey God then the Lord would hand them over to the Gentile rulers as punishment and judgment.

Furthermore, we are never told anywhere in the Hebrew Bible that angels sit on God’s throne. A person may object and claim that the archangel Michael is said to be Israel’s prince:

"Howbeit I will declare unto thee that which is inscribed in the writing of truth; and there is none that holdeth with me against these, except Michael your prince." Daniel 10:21

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence. And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn the many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:1-3

In actuality, these texts do not identify Michael as Israel’s king in the sense that he sits on God’s throne ruling over them. Rather, Michael is prince in the sense of being Israel’s defender, the one whom God assigned to fight for his covenant people. In other words, Michael is actually a servant sent to serve and defend God’s elect people, which is consistent with what Hebrews 1:14 says about the function of angels.

More importantly, Daniel himself identifies the Messiah as the Ruler:

"‘Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto one anointed (Messiah), a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times. And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed one (Messiah) be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and upon the wing of detestable things shall be that which causeth appalment; and that until the extermination wholly determined be poured out upon that which causeth appalment.’" Daniel 9:25-27

Hence, by necessary inference and deduction we can easily conclude that even the Hebrew Bible agrees that no angel or man could be David's Lord with the exception of Yahweh.

Fourth, given the numerous prophecies of the Messiah coming through David's line (Isa. 11:1 etc.), wouldn't that fact also make it inherently more probable that Psalm 110:1 is speaking of this predicted Messiah rather than (what would be) some obscure angel, the latter for which there is no known correlate?

Interestingly, other Messianic references explicitly identify the Son of David as the human manifestation of God, that the Messiah bears the very Divine presence:

"For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele [Wonderful]-joez [Counselor]-el [God]-gibbor [Mighty]-Abi [Father of]-ad [eternity]-sar [Prince]-shalom [Peace]; That the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of HaShem of hosts doth perform this." Isaiah 9:5-6 [6-7]

"Behold, the days come, saith HaShem, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, HaShem [lit., Yahweh] is our righteousness." Jeremiah 23:5-6

In these passages, the Son of David is called the Mighty God (el gibbor) and Yahweh is our righteousness! Hence, is it any wonder that David could refer to his own Son as his very Sovereign seeing that the latter is the human appearance of God on earth?

Again, this presupposes that this is a Messianic Psalm, which all the evidence strongly points in that direction. In fact, this Messianic interpretation was held by many rabbis, as noted Bible expositor John Gill pointed out:

till I make thine enemies thy footstool;
till all the enemies of him, and his people, are subdued under him; carnal professors, as the Pharisees, and profane sinners, who neither of them would have him to rule over them; the world, the devil, antichrist, and all the powers of darkness, and the last enemy, death itself. That these words were spoken of the Messiah, and therefore pertinently cited, and properly applied to him, by Jesus, is evident from the silence of the Pharisees; for had it not been the generally received sense of the Jewish church, they would, at once, have objected it to him; which might, in some measure, have relieved them under that distress, into which they were brought by this passage proposed unto them: but by their silence they acknowledged, that the Psalm was wrote by David; that it was wrote by him under the inspiration of the Spirit of God; and that the Messiah was the subject of it. And the same is owned by some of their doctors, ancient, and modern.

“Says R. Joden, in the name of R. Chijah, in time to come the holy blessed God will cause the king Messiah to sit at his right hand; as it is said, "the Lord said unto my Lord"... F6.”

And the same says, R. Berachiah, in the name of R. Levi, elsewhere {g}. And, says, another of their writers F8,

“we do not find any man, or prophet, whose birth was prophesied of before the birth of his father and mother, but Messiah our righteousness; and of him it is intimated, "from the womb of the morning" i.e. before the womb of her that bore thee was created, thy birth was prophesied of: and this these words respect, "before the sun, his name is Yinnon", (Psalm 72:17), i. e. before the creation of the sun, the name of our Messiah was strong and firm, and he shall sit at the right hand of God; and this is what is said, "sit at my right hand".”

In some writings of the Jews, esteemed by them, very ancient F9, the "Adon" or Lord, to whom these words are spoken, is interpreted of Messiah ben Joseph, whom they make to sit at the right hand of Abraham; which, though a false interpretation of the words, carries in it some marks and traces of the ancient sense of them: yea, even some of the more modern Jews F11 have owned, that they belong to the Messiah, and apply them to him. Though others, observing what confusion their forefathers were thrown into by Jesus, and what improvement his followers have made of this sense of the words since, have quitted it, and introduced strange and foreign ones. Some F12 of them would have Abraham the patriarch to be the subject of this Psalm; and that it was composed either by Melchizedek or by Eliezer, the servant of Abraham; or by David, on account of the victory Abraham obtained over the four kings, in rescuing his kinsman Lot: but Melchizedek could not be the author of it, because he was a far greater person than Abraham; he blessed him, and took tithes of him, and therefore would not call him Lord. Eliezer might indeed, as being his servant; but then he could not assign to him a seat at the right hand of God, or say of him, that he had an everlasting priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek: and though the Psalm was composed by David, yet not on the above account, for the same reasons. Nor is David the subject of it, as others F13 have affirmed; for it cannot be thought that David would say this of himself, or call himself his Lord, which this sense of the words makes him to do: and whereas others of them say, that it was wrote by one of the singers concerning him; it may be replied, that the title declares the contrary: besides, David is not ascended into heaven, nor is he set down at the right hand of God, nor had he any thing to do with the priesthood, much less was he a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and that for ever: but all is true of the Messiah Jesus, of whose kingdom and priesthood, sufferings, and exaltation, conquest of his enemies, and success of his Gospel, this whole Psalm is a very plain and manifest prophecy

FOOTNOTES:

F6 Midrash Tillira in Psal. xviii. 35. apud Galatin. de Cath. ver. arcan. l. 8. c. 24.
F7 R. Moses Hadarsan in Gen. xviii. 1. apud ib.
F8 R. Isaac Arama in Gen. xlvii. 6. spud ib. l. 3. c. 17.
F9 Zohar in Num. fol. 99. 2. & Raya Mehimna, in ib. in Gen. fol. 37. 3.
F11 R. Saadiah Gaon in Dan. vii. 13. Nachman. disp. cure Paulo. p. 36, 55.
F12 Zohar in Gen. fol. 60. 3. Jarchi in Psal. cx. 1. Vet. Nizzachon, p. 179, 180.
F13 Kimchi & Aben Ezra in Psal. cx. 1. R. Isaac Chizuk Emuna, par. 1. c. 40. p. 321.
    (Source)

After all, no one else besides Yahweh could be Lord over David and the Messiah is such a one for he is more than a mere man. As the above texts clearly testify, he is actually a Divine Being, the very human revelation of Yahweh God himself!

The foregoing conclusively shows that even the Hebrew Bible is essentially in agreement with the teaching of the New Testament and our exegesis of Psalm 110:1.


Appendix 3: The Anti-Trinitarians are wrong – Yahweh is Adoni

In the main article, we examined the claim that David, in Psalm 110:1, called his sovereign (whom the NT identifies as the Messiah Jesus) as Adoni, a term which anti-Trinitarians claim is never used of Yahweh. We addressed the assertion that this term is always used for human beings or angels and how this somehow proves that Jesus cannot be God.

Here, we are going to provide evidence that the Hebrew Bible does call Yahweh Adoni since there were a few individuals who were given the name Adonijah (Adoniyah):

Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream the son of David's wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron. 2 Samuel 3:2-5; cf. 1 Kings 1-2; 1 Chronicles 3:2 (1-9)

"With them were certain Levites—Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-Adonijah—and the priests Elishama and Jehoram." 2 Chronicles 17:8

"The Levites …Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin," Nehemiah 10:9, 16

The reader may be wondering how the name Adonijah proves or shows that Yahweh is called Adoni in the Old Testament. When it is kept in mind that Adonijah is a theophorus name (theophoric onomastica – a name which contains specific elements of the name or describes certain characteristics or roles of the Deity worshiped by the individual in question), and that it means "My Lord is (Adoni) Yahweh" or "Yahweh is my Lord,"

'Adoniyah (Strong's H138)

Adonijah = "my lord is Jehovah"

1) fourth son of David and Solomon's rival for the throne

2) Levite sent by Jehoshaphat to teach the Law

3) a chief of the people who co-operated with Nehemiah

Gesenius’ Lexicon

("Jehovah is my Lord"), [Adonijah], …   (Source)

The reader should then be able to see the relevance this particular name has in establishing the fact that Adoni is indeed used for the one true God of all. The assertions of the anti-Trinitarians are, therefore, without any merit since they are in error concerning Adoni never being used for Yahweh and are further grossly mistaken in assuming that Jesus is simply a human agent of God because of the fact that he is supposedly never called Adonai, but Adoni.


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