I was up at Central Church in Manhattan recently and preached from the most quoted psalm in the New Testament, Psalm 110. The psalm is an extended reflection on the profile and administration of the Anointed One whom the poet anticipated. So why is this psalm so often cited by Jesus and his apostles?
The Hebrew Bible speaks to a divine plan for the world that the Hebrew Bible itself cannot sustain. The grandeur of creation and its concomitant call to fill the earth and subdue it. The promise that every family of the earth will be blessed through the offspring of Abraham. The call to Moses to expand the influence of Israel into the lands around Israel. The call to the nations to worship the Lord in the Psalms. All of these passages and so many more speak to promises that are never fulfilled in the text of the Old Testament…leaving it as an unfinished story, an unanswered question.
In fact, the story of the OT ends not in a bang but in a whimper, or better in whispered prayer of lament. Nehemiah 13:31 “o my God, remember me for good” and then, scene and intermission.
The text of the Old Testament can’t bear up under the weight of its own promises.
And that’s why Psalm 110 is so important to the voices of the NT.
Perhaps nowhere else are the promises of the Lord so grand and so future-looking. Perhaps nowhere else do we feel the unfulfilled nature of the Hebrew Bible than in this Psalm.