Pope: Psalm 110 Paves the Way for Christ
Benedict said during his Nov. 16 audience that the Psalm’s prophecy 'is accomplished and the priesthood of Melchizedek is completed' in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, 'because it is rendered absolute and eternal, a reality that knows no sunset.'
VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA)—Pope Benedict XVI used his weekly General Audience to explain how Psalm 110 foreshadows the incarnation of Jesus Christ as Messiah, King and High Priest.
“The Church reads this Psalm as a prophecy of Christ, the messianic king and eternal priest, risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father,” said the Pope Nov. 16.
He explained that today would be the last time he focuses on a Psalm as part of his ongoing Wednesday general audience series on prayer. He said that he tried to focus on the “different situations in life and the various attitudes we may have towards God” in his remarks.
The Pope delivered his reflections for today on the “royal Psalm” to tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The Church calls Psalm 110 “royal” because it initially referred to the Davidic monarchy of the Old Testament, but it also simultaneously paves the way for Jesus Christ.
“St. Peter, in his speech on the day of Pentecost, applies its words to the Lord’s victory over death and his exaltation in glory,” the Pope explained.
Psalm 110 is one of the best known of the Psalms and begins with the declaration, “The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’”
It is used in vespers, the evening prayer of the Church, every Sunday and has been set to music according to its Latin text and title, Dominus Dixit, by famous composers like Handel and Monteverdi.
“From ancient times, the mysterious third verse of the Psalm has been interpreted as a reference to the king’s divine sonship, while the fourth verse speaks of him as ‘a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek,’ Pope Benedict said, explaining the short structure of the Psalm, which runs only seven verses.
The Pope also pointed out that the Letter to the Hebrews “specifically applies this imagery to Christ, the Son of God and our perfect high priest, who lives eternally to make intercession for all those who, through him, approach the Father,” while “the final verses of the Psalm present the triumphant King as executing judgment over the nations.”
He then said that the Psalm’s prophecy “is accomplished and the priesthood of Melchizedek is completed” in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, “because it is rendered absolute and eternal, a reality that knows no sunset.”
Similarly, “the offering of bread and wine, made by Melchizedek in Abraham’s time,” is fulfilled “in the Eucharistic gesture of Jesus, who in the bread and wine offers himself, and having overcome death, brings life to all believers.”
Jesus’ victory means that while in the “ongoing battle between good and evil, evil seems to be stronger”; but the reality is that, “the Lord, our true King and Priest, Christ, is stronger because he fights with the power of God and despite all those things which make us doubt a positive outcome for history, Christ wins and good wins; love wins, not hatred,” the Pope said.
Pope Benedict summed up Psalm 110 as an invitation to look at Jesus Christ to “understand the meaning of true kingship, which is to be lived as service and the giving of self, following a path of obedience and love ‘to the end.’”
“Praying this Psalm,” he said, “we therefore ask the Lord to enable us to proceed along this same journey, following Christ, the Messiah, willing to ascend with him on the hill of the cross to accompany him in glory, and to look to him seated at the right hand of the Father, the victorious king and merciful priest who gives forgiveness and salvation to all mankind.”