33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘ 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ -this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Whenever I have seen this quote from Psalm 110, it has always left me feeling a bit confused. It’s as if God put this riddle in an explanation of the deity of Jesus. Once again, our meaningless and limited English betrays us and creates this confusion. Psalm 110 (where this is quoted from) was originally written in Hebrew. If we look at the original text, we learn that the first “Lord” is a different word than that second “Lord.” The first “Lord” is yehova, the word that Jews used to describe God the Father. This is the word that, because they revered Him so much, they didn’t even mention His name unless absolutely necessary. The second “Lord” is adonoy, which signifies the title given to one who has authority over another. When we watch movies from the renaissance era and a servant addresses someone as “lord,” this is the word they would use if speaking Hebrew. It’s a title of respect, reverence, and ownership. So, what we have here is David talking about God the Father placing Jesus the Son at His right hand, while at the same time recognizing them both as Lord and Master.
In Matthew 22, Jesus presented this to the Pharisees, who doubted His deity and authority:
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: 42 "What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?" They said to Him, "The son of David." 43 He said to them, "Then how does David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying, 44 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET "'? 45 "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his son?" 46 No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.
One of the things we need to understand is the reverence of Jewish spiritual leaders from their history. David being one of them, it was prophesied that from his bloodline would come the Messiah. Even though David was one of their greatest kings in history, I think this prophecy added to their reverence of him instead of Jesus (hence the aforementioned conversation with the Pharisees). Because of the dominion of the Roman government at the time, the Jews wanted a political savior. Their shortsightedness made them think that their messiah would be a temporary king on earth to save them from physical oppression instead of an eternal king in the heavens who would save them from their spiritual depravity. Peter is explaining here that they have been looking at it from the wrong perspective all along and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was the beginning of Jesus’ reign.
It’s easy for us to look at Jesus as a one-time spiritual ruler on earth as opposed to an all-time spiritual king. We might sing the songs, read the scriptures, and even confess that Jesus is King, but do we live like He is? Our humanness continues to betray us in that we think of Jesus ruling there and then instead of here and now. His rule isn’t over a nation but over our hearts and as we submit to His authority (if we call Him Adonoy) we will begin to experience the benefits of His rule over us and realize what it means to live in the Kingdom of God. We have to remember, though, that Jesus isn’t Lord because we say He is. He is lord and king because God says He is. The only part we play in it is if we actually recognize or reject His authority.