Psalm 110:1 and the New Testament -- By: Herbert W. Bateman IV

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 149:596 (Oct 1992)
Article: Psalm 110:1 and the New Testament
Author: Herbert W. Bateman IV


Psalm 110:1 and the New Testament

Herbert W. Bateman, IV

Dallas, Texas

Old Testament scholars generally agree with form critics that Psalm 110 is a royal psalm because of its king motif,1 but they disagree over the historical setting for the psalm. Throughout this century several proposals have been offered, debated, and rejected concerning the time frame, speaker, recipient, and life situation for the psalm. These are natural concerns for Old Testament scholars, but many New Testament scholars share similar interests, since portions of the psalm occur in the New Testament. Does the New Testament contribute to these historical discussions? If so, to what extent can the New Testament be used to identify the historical setting and the historically intended recipient of Psalm 110?

The Time Frame for Psalm 110

Scholars have proposed three time frames for Psalm 110: pre-Israelite, postexilic, or preexilic. Those who have proposed a pre-Israelite time frame suggest that Psalm 110 is a hymn converted from

or based on a Jebusite royal tradition. In defense of their proposal, they note that a royal priesthood existed in Jebus (Jerusalem) in Abraham’s time (Gen 14:18) and that David later conquered Jebus (2 Sam 5:6–10; 1 Chron 11:4–5).2 Others appeal to Canaanite vocabulary and cultic parallels in Psalm 110. For instance Patton cites three examples of Canaanite word parallels, which Jefferson later reintroduces, to support the view that Psalm 110 originally was a Canaanite poem. The thought of sitting at the right hand of God (Ps 110:1a) is compared with “and he was seated on the right hand of mightiest Baal” (4 v 109–10). The “footstool” of El in Ugaritic, an important part of the royal furnishings (4 iv 29; 5 vi 12–13; 6 i 58), is compared with the “footstool” mentioned in several Old Testament texts (1 Chron 28:2; Pss. 99:5; 110:1b; 132:7; Isa 66:1). The verb “to smash” or “to ...

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