Is Psalm 110 a Messianic Psalm? -- By: Barry C. Davis

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:626 (Apr 2000)
Article: Is Psalm 110 a Messianic Psalm?
Author: Barry C. Davis


Is Psalm 110 a Messianic Psalm?

Barry C. Davis a

Did the New Testament writers violate the intent of the author of Psalm 110 when they identified the undesignated אֲדֹנִי (“my Lord”) of Psalm 110:1 (and hence the focus of the entire psalm) as the Messiah, that is, Jesus Christ?1 This article investigates the legitimacy of the messianic interpretation of Psalm 110.

Before addressing the issue at hand, brief mention of two debated topics surrounding the understanding of Psalm 110 must be made.2 The first issue is the time when this psalm was written, and the second concerns the identification of the author of the psalm. Most commentators hold one of three views about the date of the writing: pre-Israelite Canaanite origins,3 postexilic Israelite origins,4 or preexilic Israel-

ite origins.5 An analysis of the arguments for these views favors the third position, that is, the view that the psalm was written before the Exile.

Commentators also say the author of the psalm was either Zadok and David together,6 an unnamed poet-prophet,7 or David himself. The present author, along with others,8 favors Davidic authorship. This view is based on (a) the content of the psalm, (b) several New Testament references to David as the speaker of the psalm (Matt. 22:43–44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42–44; Acts 2:34–35), and (c) the superscription that links David to the psalm.9

Once Davidic authorship for Psalm 110 is accepted, a third question arises: To whom did David refer when, in verse 1, he used the term אֲדֹנִי (“my Lord”)? Bateman identifies five options, the first four of which are earthly king...

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