Psalm 110:4
The LORD has sworn, and will not repent, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
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(4) After the order of Melchizedek.—This follows the LXX. and Vulg. Better, after the manner of since there could have been with the psalmist no intention of contrasting this priesthood with that of Aaron, as there naturally was when the Aaronic order had come to an end or was visibly doomed to extinction.

The previous history of Israel itself offered no example of the formal union of kingly and priestly offices in one person. It first appears in idea in Zechariah 6:12-13; in actual fact in the pontificate of Jonathan (1 Maccabees 10:21). It is true that the royal and priestly functions were sometimes united, especially in the case of David, and in 2Samuel 8:18, David’s sons are called “priests” (in English version, “chief rulers;” margin, or princes). It was therefore necessary to go back to Melchizedek, in whom history recognised this sanctioned and formal union (Genesis 14:18). For the various points brought out in the Epistle to the Hebrews 6, 7, see New Testament Commentary.

Psalm 110:4. The Lord hath sworn — He did not swear in constituting the Aaronical priesthood, Hebrews 7:21, but did here, that it might appear to all mankind that this priesthood was made irrevocable, which that of Aaron was not. Thou art a priest — As well as a king. Those offices, which were divided before between two families, are both united and invested in thee, both being absolutely necessary for the establishment of thy kingdom, which is of a nature totally different from the kingdoms of this world, being spiritual and heavenly, and therefore requires such a king as is also a minister of holy things. For ever — Not to be interrupted or translated to another person, as the priesthood of Aaron was upon the death of the priest, but to be continued to thee for ever. After the order of Melchisedek — Or, after the manner, &c.; that is, so as he was a priest and also a king, and both without any successor and without end, in the sense intended, Hebrews 7:3.110:1-7 Christ's kingdom. - Glorious things are here spoken of Christ. Not only he should be superior to all the kings of the earth, but he then existed in glory as the eternal Son of God. Sitting is a resting posture: after services and sufferings, to give law, to give judgment. It is a remaining posture: he sits like a king for ever. All his enemies are now in a chain, but not yet made his footstool. And his kingdom, being set up, shall be kept up in the world, in despite of all the powers of darkness. Christ's people are a willing people. The power of the Spirit, going with the power of the world, to the people of Christs, is effectual to make them willing. They shall attend him in the beautiful attire of holiness; which becomes his house for ever. And he shall have many devoted to him. The dew of our youth, even in the morning of our days, ought to be consecrated to our Lord Jesus. Christ shall not only be a King, but a Priest. He is God's Minister to us, and our Advocate with the Father, and so is the Mediator between God and man. He is a Priest of the order of Melchizedek, which was before that of Aaron, and on many accounts superior to it, and a more lively representation of Christ's priesthood. Christ's sitting at the right hand of God, speaks as much terror to his enemies as happiness to his people. The effect of this victory shall be the utter ruin of his enemies. We have here the Redeemer saving his friends, and comforting them. He shall be humbled; he shall drink of the brook in the way. The wrath of God, running in the curse of the law, may be considered as the brook in the way of his undertaking. Christ drank of the waters of affliction in his way to the throne of glory. But he shall be exalted. What then are we? Has the gospel of Christ been to us the power of God unto salvation? Has his kingdom been set up in our hearts? Are we his willing subjects? Once we knew not our need of his salvation, and we were not willing that he should reign over us. Are we willing to give up every sin, to turn from a wicked, insnaring world, and rely only on his merits and mercy, to have him for our Prophet, Priest, and King? and do we desire to be holy? To those who are thus changed, the Saviour's sacrifice, intercession, and blessing belong.The Lord hath sworn - He has confirmed the appointment of the Messiah by a solemn oath, or as by an oath. That is, It is as sure and fixed as if he had taken an oath. Compare Hebrews 6:13. The "time," so to speak, if the word time can be applied to transactions in a past eternity, was that when he was designated in the divine purpose as Messiah; in the eternal counsels of God. Compare Psalm 2:7.

And will not repent - Will not change his purpose.

Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek - The word rendered "order" here means properly a word, a thing, a matter; hence, a way or manner. The meaning here is, that he would be a priest "after the manner" of Melchizedek; or, such a priest as he was. He would not be of the tribe of Levi; he would not be in the regular line of the priesthood, but he would resemble, in the characteristics of his office, this ancient priest-king, combining in himself the two functions of priest and king; as a priest, standing alone; not deriving his authority from any line of predecessors; and having no successors. See this verse explained at length, in its application to the Messiah, in the notes at Hebrews 5:6 (note), Hebrews 5:10 (note); Hebrews 7:1-3 (note). The passage as it stands here, and as looked at without any reference to the use made of it in the New Testament, would imply these things:

(1) That he who was spoken of would be, in a proper sense, a priest.

(2) that he would have a perpetual or permanent priesthood - "forever."

(3) that he would not be of the established line of priests in the tribe of Levi, but that his appointment would be unusual and extraordinary.

(4) that the appointment would come directly from God, and would not be "derived" from those who went before him.

(5) that as a priest he would "resemble" Melchizedek, according to the record which was found of Melchizedek in Genesis.

(6) that as Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God, so he would be.

(7) that as Melchizedek combined in himself the functions of both priest and king, so these would be found in him.

(8) that as Melchizedek had no successors in office, so he would have none.

How far these things were applicable to the Lord Jesus Christ, and with what propriety the passage might be applied to him, may be seen by examining the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 5-7.

4. The perpetuity of the priesthood, here asserted on God's oath, corresponds with that of the kingly office just explained.

after the order—(Heb 7:15) after the similitude of Melchisedek, is fully expounded by Paul, to denote not only perpetuity, appointment of God, and a royal priesthood, but also the absence of priestly descent and succession, and superiority to the Aaronic order.

4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

We have now reached the heart of the Psalm, which is also the very centre and soul of our faith. Our Lord Jesus is a Priest-King by the ancient oath of Jehovah: "he glorified not himself to be made a high priest," but was ordained thereunto from of old, and was called of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. It must be a solemn and a sure matter which leads the Eternal to swear, and with him an oath fixes and settles the decree for ever; but in this case, as if to make assurance a thousand times sure, it is added, "and will not repent." It is done, and done for ever and ever; Jesus is sworn in to be the priest of his people, and he must abide so even to the end, because his commission is sealed by the unchanging oath of the immutable Jehovah. If his priesthood could be revoked, and his authority removed, it would be the end of all hope and life for the people whom he loves; but this sure rock is the basis of our security - the oath of God establishes our glorious Lord both in his priesthood and in his throne. It is the Lord who has constituted him a priest for ever, he has done it by oath, that oath is without repentance, is taking effect now, and will stand throughout all ages: hence our security in him is placed beyond all question.

The declaration runs in the present tense as being the only time with the Lord, and comprehending all other times. "Thou art," i.e., thou wast and art, and art to come, in all ages a priestly King. The order of Melchizedek's priesthood was the most ancient and primitive, the most free from ritual and ceremony, the most natural and simple, and at the same time the most honourable. That ancient patriarch was the father of his people, and at the same time ruled and taught them; he swayed both the sceptre and the censer, reigned in righteousness, and offered sacrifice before the Lord. There has never arisen another like to him since his days, for whenever the kings of Judah attempted to seize the sacerdotal office they were driven back to their confusion; God would have no king-priest save his son. Melchizedek's office was exceptional; none preceded or succeeded him; he comes upon the page of history mysteriously; no pedigree is given, no date of birth, or mention of death; he blesses Abraham, receives tithe, and vanishes from the scene amid honours which show that he was greater than the founder of the chosen nation. He is seen but once, and that once suffices. Aaron and his seed came and went; their imperfect sacrifice continued for many generations, because it had no finality in it, and could never make the comers thereunto perfect. Our Lord Jesus, like Melchizedek, stands forth before us as a priest of divine ordaining; not made a priest by fleshly birth, as the sons of Aaron; he mentions neither father, mother, nor descent, as his right to the sacred office; he stands upon his personal merits, by himself alone; as no man came before him in his work, so none can follow after; his order begins and ends in his own person, and in himself it is eternal, "having neither beginning of days nor end of years." The King-priest has been here and left his blessing upon the believing seed, and now he sits in glory in his complete character, atoning for us by the merit of his blood, and exercising all power on our behalf.

"O may we ever hear thy voice

In mercy to us speak,

And in our Priest we will rejoice,

Thou great Melchizedek."

Hath sworn; which he did not in the Aaronical priesthood, Hebrews 7:21, but did it here, partly because the thing was new and strange, and might seem incredible, because God had already erected another, and that an everlasting priesthood, Numbers 25:13, and given it to Aaron and his posterity for ever, and therefore this needed all possible assurance; and partly that his priesthood might be established upon better promises, as is said, Hebrews 8:6, and made sure and irrevocable, and such that God neither could nor would repent of it, as it follows.

Thou art, to wit, by my order and constitution; thou shalt be so, and I do hereby make thee so.

A Priest, as well as a King. Those offices which were divided before between two families, are both united and invested in thee, both being absolutely necessary for the discharge of thine office, and for the establishment of thy kingdom, which is of another kind than the kingdoms of the world, spiritual and heavenly, and therefore needs such a King as is also a minister of holy things. This word plainly discovers that this Psalm cannot be understood of David, as some of the Jews would have it, but only of the Messias. And although this word cohen be sometimes used of a prince or great person in the state, as the Jews object, yet it cannot be so understood here, partly, because it signifies a priest in Genesis 14:18, from whence this expression is borrowed; partly, because that word is never used of a sovereign prince or king, (such as the Jews confess the Messiahs to be,) but only of inferior princes or ministers of state, as Genesis 41:45 2 Samuel 8:18; partly, because such an inconsiderable assertion would never have been ushered in by so solemn an oath, especially after far greater things had been said of him in the same kind, Psalm 110:1-3 and partly, because the Messias is called a Priest, Zechariah 6:13; compare Jeremiah 23:21 35:15,18. For ever; not to be interrupted or translated to another person, as the priesthood of Aaron was upon the death of the priest, but to be continued to thee for ever.

After the order of Melchizedek, or, after the manner, &c.; so as he was a priest and also a king, and both without any successor and without end, in the sense intended, Hebrews 7:3. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent,.... What he swore about, and did not repent of, was the priesthood of Christ, as follows; and which shows the importance of it, since when Jehovah swears, as it is by himself, because he can swear by no greater; so it is about matters of great moment only that are sworn to by the Lord, as this of the priesthood of Christ was; which was concerned in things pertaining to God and his glory, as well as in making reconciliation for the sins of his people: and it shows the truth, and was for the confirmation of it; since doubts might arise whether the Aaronic priesthood was changed, seeing it was given to Phinehas for an everlasting priesthood; and since so great a person as the Son of God is said to be a priest; and since, in the human nature, he was of the tribe of Judah, of which tribe nothing was said concerning the priesthood: and this oath was not so much for Christ's sake, to establish the priesthood with him, and assure him of it, as for the sake of his people; who, by two immutable things, the word and oath of God, might have strong consolation from it; and it clearly shows the validity of his priesthood; that he was called of God to this office, and invested with it, and consecrated in it with an oath; and which is expressive of the singularity of it, and of the dignity and preference of the priesthood of Christ to that of Aaron's, Hebrews 7:20. What follows was said, and this oath was made, in the council of peace, when Christ was called to this office, and he accepted of it, Psalm 40:6, and of this the Lord never repented; as he never does of any of his acts of grace, Numbers 23:19.

Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek; or, "according to the word of Melchizedek" (z); that is, according to what is said of him; there being an agreement between the things said of one and of the other; so the Syriac version, "according to the likeness of Melchizedek", see Hebrews 7:15 of him no mention is made elsewhere, but in Genesis 14:18 and in the epistle to the Hebrews. Various are the opinions of men concerning him: some think he was not a man, but an angel that appeared to Abraham: others, a divine power, superior to Christ, who were called "Melchizedecians": and others, that he was the Holy Ghost; and others, the Son of God himself, in an human form. On the other hand, some take him to be a mere man. The general notion of the Jews is, that he was Shem, the son of Noah; others, that he was a Canaanitish king, of the posterity of Ham: but others do not think it proper or lawful to inquire who he was, or from whom he descended; this being purposely hidden from men, that he might be more clearly a type of Christ. That there is a likeness between them is certain; the signification of his name, a title of office, King of righteousness, and King of peace, agrees with Christ the Lord, our righteousness and our peace: his being without father, mother, descent, beginning of days, and end of life, agree with the divinity, humanity, and eternity of Christ; and who is likewise King and Priest, as he was; and who blesses his people, as he did Abraham; and refreshes them with bread and wine, as he did Abraham's soldiers; See Gill on Hebrews 7:2. See Gill on Hebrews 7:3. Now Christ is a Priest like him; whose office is to offer sacrifice, which he has done, even himself, for the atonement of the sins of his people; to make intercession for them, which he ever lives to do; to introduce their persons to his Father, and present their petitions to him; and to call for every blessing for them, and answer all charges against them: in which office he continues for ever; there never will be any change in his priesthood, as there has been in Aaron's; nor will he ever have any successor: his priesthood is unchangeable, or does not pass from one to another, Hebrews 7:24, the efficacy of his blood and sacrifice always continues, and intercession is ever made by him, and the glory of his mediation is ever given him. The apostle produces this passage in proof of the change of the Aaronic priesthood, and so of the law, Hebrews 7:11 and about the time Christ appeared as the high priest, the legal priesthood sensibly declined, and which the Jews themselves own; for they say,

"after the death of Ishmael Ben Phabi, the splendour of the priesthood ceased (a);''

which man was made priest by Valerius Gratus, governor of Judea, under Tiberius Caesar (b),

(z) "super meum verbum", Montanus; "juxta verbum", Vatablus. (a) Misn. Sotah, c. 9. s. 15. (b) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 18. c. 2. s. 2. Vid. ib. l. 20. c. 7. s. 8.

The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of {d} Melchizedek.

(d) As Melchizedek the figure of Christ was both a King and Priest, so this effect cannot be accomplished on any king save only Christ.

4. The priesthood of the king.

Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent] The king is also priest by an immutable Divine decree. The immutability of this decree is affirmed in the most solemn manner possible. The ‘oath’ of Him who cannot lie is no stronger than His word; He who knows all things from the beginning cannot repent or change His purpose (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29), though man’s failure or change may necessitate a temporary interruption of His purpose which appears to finite man in the light of a ‘repentance.’ But He who is absolutely true and unchanging condescends for man’s sake to confirm His word by an oath. Cp. Amos 6:8; Psalm 132:11.

Thou art a priest for ever after the order (or, manner) of Melchizedek] Melchizedek, king of Salem, and priest of God Most High (El Elyôn), appears in Genesis 14:18 ff. as the representative of a true faith in the primitive world. He was a type of that union of civil and religious life, which must be the ideal of the perfect state. The thought here affirmed is that the new king of Jerusalem must hold a position in no way inferior to that of the ancient king of Salem. As the representative of “a kingdom of priests and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) he had a priestly character. As the representative of God to the people and of the people to God he had a mediatorial office. David, when he brought up the Ark into the city of David, laid aside his royal robes and wore the dress of a priest (2 Samuel 6:14): both he and Solomon exercised priestly functions in offering sacrifice, or at least in directing the sacrifices, if they did not actually offer them (2 Samuel 6:17-18; 1 Kings 8:62 ff.), and in blessing the people (2 Samuel 6:18; 1 Kings 8:14; 1 Kings 8:55); Solomon deposed and appointed a high-priest (1 Kings 2:27; 1 Kings 2:35). David’s sons, in whatever sense the term may have been used, were styled priests (2 Samuel 8:18). But the priesthood of the king is here implicitly distinguished from the hereditary priesthood of the family of Aaron, as a priesthood ‘after the manner of Melchizedek.’

For ever, as applied to an individual, may be a relative term, as in 1Ma 14:41, quoted above, p. 663. Cp. 1 Samuel 1:22. But the promise of an eternal priesthood corresponds rather to the promise of eternal dominion in 2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:10; 2 Samuel 7:25; 2 Samuel 7:29. Made to an individual, it is realised in his descendants. Jeremiah speaks of the priestly right of access to God which is to be conferred upon the Messianic prince (Jeremiah 30:21); and the union of civil and religious life was symbolised under the altered circumstances of the return from Babylon by the coronation of Joshua (Zechariah 6:12-13).

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews dwells upon this verse in his exposition of the typical significance of the priesthood of Melchizedek, quoting it to illustrate the divine appointment of Christ to his high-priestly office, and the eternal duration and unique character of that office (Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:17; Hebrews 7:21).Verse 4. - The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent. "A fresh revelation" (Cheyne). David, admitted into the councils of the Most High, has been made aware that the Messiah is, by God's decree, to be both King and Priest. God has "sworn" this, and will certainly not draw back from his oath. Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Not, like ordinary priests, a priest for a few years, or for a lifetime, but a priest forever and ever (לעולם) - seeing "he ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25). And a priest "after the order of Melchizedek." Not, that is, after the order of Aaron, who was a priest and nothing more, but after that of Melchizedek, the elder priesthood, which combined the offices of priest and king (see Hebrews 5:6-10; Hebrews 7:1-10, 20-28). The cry for help is renewed in the closing strophe, and the Psalm draws to a close very similarly to Psalm 69 and Psalm 22, with a joyful prospect of the end of the affliction. In Psalm 109:27 the hand of God stands in contrast to accident, the work of men, and his own efforts. All and each one will undeniably perceive, when God at length interposes, that it is His hand which here does that which was impossible in the eyes of men, and that it is His work which has been accomplished in this affliction and in the issue of it. He blesses him whom men curse: they arise without attaining their object, whereas His servant can rejoice in the end of his affliction. The futures in Psalm 109:29 are not now again imprecations, but an expression of believingly confident hope. In correct texts כּמעיל has Mem raphatum. The "many" are the "congregation" (vid., Psalm 22:23). In the case of the marvellous deliverance of this sufferer the congregation or church has the pledge of its own deliverance, and a bright mirror of the loving-kindness of its God. The sum of the praise and thanksgiving follows in Psalm 109:31, where כּי signifies quod, and is therefore allied to the ὅτι recitativum (cf. Psalm 22:25). The three Good Friday Psalms all sum up the comfort that springs from David's affliction for all suffering ones in just such a pithy sentence (Psalm 22:25; Psalm 69:34). Jahve comes forward at the right hand of the poor, contending for him (cf. Psalm 110:5), to save (him) from those who judge (Psalm 37:33), i.e., condemn, his soul. The contrast between this closing thought and Psalm 109:6. is unmistakeable. At the right hand of the tormentor stands Satan as an accuser, at the right hand of the tormented one stands God as his vindicator; he who delivered him over to human judges is condemned, and he who was delivered up is "taken away out of distress and from judgment" (Isaiah 53:8) by the Judge of the judges, in order that, as we now hear in the following Psalm, he may sit at the right hand of the heavenly King. Ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι...ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξῃ! (1 Timothy 3:16).
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