Psalm 110:7
He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
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(7) Drink . . . lift up.—The victorious leader, “faint yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4), pauses at the stream that crosses his path, and then refreshed, with head once more erect, continues his pursuit of the foe. Such is undoubtedly the meaning of this verse, and we need not suppose a sudden change of subject, as some critics do, as if the picture representing a thirsty warrior were unworthy of Jehovah. Poetry knows nothing of such timidity, and with the grand scene of Isaiah 63:1-6, of the hero stained with blood, we need not hesitate to admit this further detail so true to life, even if we had not in Psalms 60, 108 images of a still more homely type.

Psalm 110:7. He shall drink of the brook in the way — That is, says Houbigant, the brook Cedron, I suppose; David pointing out the passion of our Lord, by a continuance of the metaphor wherewith he began. Jesus was exalted because of his sufferings; therefore did he lift up his head, Hebrews 12:2. This is the more general interpretation of the verse. It expresses, says Poole, “the humiliation and passion of the Messiah, to prevent a great mistake which might arise in men’s minds concerning him, from the great successes and victories here ascribed to him, which might induce them to think that he should be exempted from all sufferings, and be crowned with constant and perpetual triumphs. To confute this notion, he signifies here that the Messiah should have a large portion of afflictions while he was in the way or course of his life, before he should come to his end or rest, and to the honour of sitting at his Father’s right hand.” Thus St. Paul, who may be considered as giving a comment on these words, observes, that being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, &c., Php 2:8-9. Waters in Scripture very frequently signify sufferings; and to drink of them signifies to feel or bear these sufferings. There are some, however, who give the verse a different meaning, and suppose that by drinking of the brook in the way, is meant the succour and supply of almighty grace: or, the influences of the Holy Spirit, frequently represented under the emblem of water, as Isaiah 12:3; Isaiah 55:1; John 7:38-39. Thus Mr. Hervey: “If it be asked, how the Redeemer shall be enabled to execute the various and important offices foretold in the former part of this Psalm, the prophet replies, He shall drink of the brook in the way. He shall not be left barely to his human nature, which must unavoidably sink, but through the whole administration of his mediatorial kingdom, and his incarnate state, shall be supported with omnipotent succours. He shall drink of the brook of almighty power: he shall be continually supported by the influence of the Holy Spirit, and therefore shall he lift up his head. By these means shall he be rendered equal to his prodigious task, superior to all opposition, successful in whatever he undertakes, and greatly triumphant over all his enemies.” — Hervey’s Med., vol. 1. p. 129.

Upon the whole, we have in this Psalm as clear a prophecy of the Messiah, and of the offices which he should sustain, as perhaps we can find, in so few words, in any part of the Old Testament, and a prophecy absolutely incapable of any other application. Now this prophecy was completely fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, when he rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of his Father; from thenceforth expecting till his enemies should be made his footstool; that is, “till Satan, the prince of this world, should be confined to the bottomless pit; till all the persecuting powers of it should be destroyed, and till death and the grave should be no more, Psalm 110:1. The kingdom, to which he was advanced, is a spiritual kingdom: the sceptre, with which he was presented in the heavenly Zion, is all power in heaven and earth; to be employed for the protection of his subjects, and the destruction of his enemies, Psalm 110:2. The laws of his kingdom are the laws of the gospel; which were to be published from Jerusalem: they who freely offered themselves to publish his laws, and gather subjects into his kingdom, were the apostles, and first preachers of his word; who, in a few years, being invested with power from on high, spread his gospel over the world, and gathered into his kingdom multitudes of subjects out of every nation under heaven, Psalm 110:3. At the same time that Jesus was seated on his throne as King, he was made High-Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, to intercede for his people, and be their advocate with the Father, Psalm 110:4. The sceptre was given him as well for the destruction of his enemies, as the protection of his subjects. When, therefore, the potentates of the earth opposed his gospel, and persecuted its publishers, he destroyed them with the breath of his mouth; first, by pouring out his wrath on Judea, in the excision of its inhabitants, and the subversion of its state; and afterward, by executing his vengeance on the persecuting powers of the heathen world, as they rose up to oppose the advancement of his kingdom, Psalm 110:5-6; Revelation 19:11-21. When Jesus set out on his warfare against the enemies of our salvation, he drank deep of the cup of sorrow and suffering; but, in reward for his humiliation, he is highly exalted to the throne of equal glory, at the right hand of God, that all should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father:” see Green, on the Prayer of Habakkuk. 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.He shall drink of the brook in the way - The design here seems to be to represent the Messiah as a victorious king and conqueror pursuing his enemies. In the previous verse the psalmist had represented him under the image of one engaged in battle, and slaying his enemies with a great slaughter. He here represents him as pursuing those who should escape from the battle, and as pursuing them without fainting or exhaustion. He is like one who finds abundant springs and streams of water in his journeyings; who refreshes himself at those fountains and streams; who, therefore, is not faint and weary. He pursues his foes vigorously and with success.

Therefore shall he lift up the head - Therefore shall he triumph, or be successful. The head falls when we are faint and exhausted, when we are disappointed and are ashamed, when we are conscious of guilt. It is lifted up in conscious rectitude, in success and triumph, in the exuberance of hope. The idea here is, that the Messiah would be triumphant. He would achieve the victory over all his foes; he would pursue, without exhaustion, his flying enemies, and he would return from the conquest joyous, exulting, triumphant. All this is under the image of a victorious hero; all this will be accomplished in the conquest of the world by the Gospel; in the subduing of the foes of God; in the final scene when the Redeemer shall deliver up the kingdom to God. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

7. As a conqueror, "faint, yet pursuing" [Jud 8:4], He shall be refreshed by the brook in the way, and pursue to completion His divine and glorious triumphs. He shall drink of the brook in the way: this may be understood either,

1. Properly, to express the fervency and diligence of the Messias in the prosecution of his business; who having routed and destroyed the main body of his enemies’ forces, pursues those that fled with such eagerness, that he will not lose any time in refreshing himself, as might seem necessary after such hot and hard service, but will content himself with drinking a little water out of the brook which he finds in his way, that being a little refreshed therewith he may proceed with more rigour and efficacy in his work. And so this place alludes to the history of Gideon’s three hundred men, who only lapped a little of the water; of whom see Judges 7. Or,

2. Metaphorically, to express the humiliation and passion of the Messias, and thereby to prevent a great mistake which might arise in men’s minds concerning him, from the great successes and victories here ascribed to him, which might induce them to think that the Messias should be exempted from all sufferings, and be crowned with constant and perpetual triumphs. To confute this conceit, he intimates here that the Messias, before he should obtain that power and glory mentioned in the foregoing verses, should have a large portion of afflictions in the way to it, or whilst he was in the way or course of his life, before he came to his end or rest, and to that honour of sitting at his Father’s right hand. Waters in Scripture do very frequently signify afflictions or sufferings, as Psalm 42:7, &c. To drink of them, signifies to feel or bear them, as Isaiah 51:17 Jeremiah 25:15 49:12 Matthew 20:22; and in this case it may note Christ’s willing submission to them.

A brook or river of water is oft used in Scripture to express a great abundance, either of comforts, as Psalm 36:8, or of tribulations, Psalm 18:4 124:4; and therefore may be more fitly used in this place than a cup, by which the afflictions of other men are commonly expressed, to intimate that the sufferings of the Messiah were unspeakably more and heavier than the sufferings of other men, and that he should drink up not a small cup, but the whole river or sea of his Father’s wrath due to our sins.

Therefore, which word may note either the effect or the consequent of his sufferings,

shall he lift up the head, i.e. shall be delivered from all his sorrows and sufferings, and exalted to great glory, and joy, and felicity, as this phrase usually signifies, as Psalm 3:3 27:6 Jeremiah 52:31, and oft elsewhere; as, on the contrary, to hang down the head, is a signification of great grief and shame, as Lamentations 2:10. He shall drink of the brook in the way,.... This some understand of the sufferings of Christ, compared to a brook, a flow of waters, because of the abundance of them, as in Psalm 69:1, his partaking of which is sometimes expressed by drinking, Matthew 20:22 and this was in the way of working out the salvation of his people, and in his own way to glory, Luke 24:26. If this is the sense, there may be some allusion to the black brook Kidron; over which David, the type of Christ, passed when in distress; and over which Christ himself went into the garden, where his sorrows began, 2 Samuel 15:23, but seeing this clause stands surrounded with others, which only speak of his victories, triumph, and exaltation, it seems to require a sense agreeable to them; wherefore those interpreters seem nearer to the truth of the text, who explain it of Christ's victory over all enemies, sin, Satan, the world, and death; and illustrate it by the passage in Numbers 23:24, "he shall drink of the blood of the slain"; with which compare Isaiah 63:1. Others think the allusion is to the eagerness of a general pursuing a routed army, and pushing on his conquest; who, though almost choked with thirst, yet will not stop to refresh himself; but meeting with a brook or rivulet of water by the way, takes a draught of it, and hastens his pursuit of the enemy: and so this is expressive of, the eagerness of Christ to finish the great work of man's salvation, and the conquest of all his and their enemies; see Luke 2:49. But I think the clause is rather expressive of the solace, joy, and comfort, which Christ, as man, has in the presence of God, and at his right hand, having finished the work of our salvation; then he drank to his refreshment of the river of divine pleasure, when God showed him the path of life, and raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, and introduced him into his presence; where are fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore, Psalm 16:11.

Therefore shall he lift up the head; as he did at his resurrection; he bowed it when he died, he lifted it up when he rose again, and so when he ascended on high to his God and Father; when he took his place at his right hand; where his head is lifted up above his enemies, and where he is exalted above angels, principalities, and powers, and where he must reign till all enemies are put under his feet. Or, "so shall he lift up his head", as Noldius (d) renders it; not that his sufferings, which he understands by "drinking out of the brook", were the cause of his exaltation, but the consequent of it: these two, Christ's humiliation and exaltation, though they are sometimes joined together, yet not as cause and effect, but as the antecedent and consequent; Christ having finished what, according to the divine order was to be finished, glory followed by the same order: and so the words thus taken respect not the cause, but the constitution of things, according to that writer.

(d) Concord. Ebr. Part. p. 727. No. 1941.

He shall {f} drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

(f) Under this comparison of a captain that is so eager to destroy his enemies that he will not scarce drink by the way, he shows how God will destroy his enemies.

7. The subject of this verse is not Jehovah, though the O.T. does not shrink from the boldest anthropomorphisms (e.g. Psalm 78:65; Isaiah 63:1 ff.), but the king. The transition is abrupt, but as in the prophets we pass insensibly from the words of Jehovah to the words of the prophet, so here we pass from the action of Jehovah to the action of the king, who is His representative.

The poet presents him to our imagination in hot pursuit of the enemy. Though wearied with the toil of battle, he does not desist. He halts but for a moment to drink from the mountain torrent which he crosses. Refreshed and invigorated, he presses forward to complete his victory, till he is exalted in triumph over every foe.

lift high the head] i.e. be triumphantly victorious. Cp. Psalm 3:3; Psalm 27:6.

The martial language of the Psalm receives a natural explanation if its primary reference was to David, at a time when the nation of Israel had to fight for its existence against enemies on every side, rather than to the Messiah whom he expected. That such language should be imitated in the Psalms of Solomon (17:23ff.), in an age which looked for a conquering king as its Messianic ideal, is not to be wondered at. The passage is worth quoting for the sake of its contrast as well as its resemblance to this Psalm and Psalms 2.

“Behold, O Lord, and raise up for them their king, the son of David, in the time which thou knowest, O God,

That he may reign over Israel thy servant;

And gird him with strength to break in pieces unrighteous rulers;

To cleanse Jerusalem from the heathen that trample it down and destroy it,

In wisdom and in righteousness;

To thrust out sinners from the inheritance,

To break in pieces the arrogance of the sinners,

To shatter all their substance as a potter’s vessels with a rod of iron.

To destroy the lawless nations with the word of his mouth,

That the nations may flee from him at his rebuke,

And to punish sinners in the imagination of their heart.”

A translation of the Targum is subjoined. It will be noted that the Psalm is treated as referring to David.

Jehovah said by His word that He would make me lord of all Israel. But He said to me again, Wait for Saul who is of the tribe of Benjamin, until he die, for one kingdom approacheth not another [i.e. there cannot be two kings together], and afterwards I will make thine enemies thy footstool. [Another Targum. Jehovah said by His word, that He would give me dominion, because I devoted myself to learn the law of His (Psalm 110:1 my) right hand. Wait until I make thine enemy thy footstool.] The rod of thy strength shall Jehovah send forth from Zion, and thou shalt rule in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people of the house of Israel who devote themselves willingly to the study of the law, in the day of battle shalt thou be holpen with them: in splendours of holiness shall the mercies of God hasten unto thee like the descent of the dew: thy generations shall dwell securely. Jehovah hath sworn and will not repent, that thou shalt be appointed prince of the world to come for merit, because thou hast been an innocent king. The Shechinah of Jehovah at thy right hand hath stricken through kings in the day of His wrath. He is appointed judge over the peoples: he hath filled the earth with the bodies of the wicked who have been slain: he hath stricken through the heads of exceeding many kings over the earth. From the mouth of the prophet in the way shall he receive doctrine; therefore shall he exalt the head.Verse 7. - He shall drink of the brook in the way. Primarily, the action described is that of pausing in the pursuit of enemies to refresh one's self with a draught of water from a brook by the wayside; but, if we interpret the passage of the Messiah, we must understand the refreshing draughts which he ever draws from the well-spring of truth and righteousness as he advances on his career of victory. Therefore (i.e. because of these draughts) he shall lift up the head. He shall never faint nor be weary (Isaiah 40:28), but shall continue the pursuit of his enemies unremittingly, as Bishop Perowne says, "with renewed ardor, with head erect and kindling eye," never resting until at length all things shall have been put in subjection under his feet (Hebrews 2:8).

In Psalm 20:1-9 and Psalm 21:1-13 we see at once in the openings that what we have before us is the language of the people concerning their king. Here לאדני in Psalm 110:1 does not favour this, and נאם is decidedly against it. The former does not favour it, for it is indeed correct that the subject calls his king "my lord," e.g., 1 Samuel 22:12, although the more exact form of address is "my lord the king," e.g., 1 Samuel 24:9; but if the people are speaking here, what is the object of the title of honour being expressed as if coming from the mouth of an individual, and why not rather, as in Psalm 20-21, למלך or למשׁיחו? נאם is, however, decisive against the supposition that it is an Israelite who here expresses himself concerning the relation of his king to Jahve. For it is absurd to suppose that an Israelite speaking in the name of the people would begin in the manner of the prophets with נאם, more particularly since this נאם ה placed thus at the head of the discourse is without any perfectly analogous example (1 Samuel 2:30; Isaiah 1:24 are only similar) elsewhere, and is therefore extremely important. In general this opening position of נאם, even in cases where other genitives that יהוה follow, is very rare; נאם Numbers 24:3., Numbers 24:15, of David in 2 Samuel 23:1, of Agur in Proverbs 30:1, and always (even in Psalm 36:2) in an oracular signification. Moreover, if one from among the people were speaking, the declaration ought to be a retrospective glance at a past utterance of God. But, first, the history knows nothing of any such divine utterance; and secondly, נאם ה always introduces God as actually speaking, to which even the passage cited by Hofmann to the contrary, Numbers 14:28, forms no exception. Thus it will consequently not be a past utterance of God to which the poet glances back here, but one which David has just now heard ἐν πνεύματι (Matthew 22:43), and is therefore not a declaration of the people concerning David, but of David concerning Christ. The unique character of the declaration confirms this. Of the king of Israel it is said that he sits on the throne of Jahve (1 Chronicles 29:23), viz., as visible representative of the invisible King (1 Chronicles 28:5); Jahve, however, commands the person here addressed to take his place at His right hand. The right hand of a king is the highest place of honour, 1 Kings 2:19.

(Note: Cf. the custom of the old Arabian kings to have their viceroy (ridf) sitting at their right hand, Monumenta antiquiss. hist. Arabum, ed. Eichhorn, p. 220.)

Here the sitting at the right hand signifies not merely an idle honour, but reception into the fellowship of God as regards dignity and dominion, exaltation to a participation in God's reigning (βασιλεύειν, 1 Corinthians 15:25). Just as Jahve sits enthroned in the heavens and laughs at the rebels here below, so shall he who is exalted henceforth share this blessed calm with Him, until He subdues all enemies to him, and therefore makes him the unlimited, universally acknowledged ruler. עד as in Hosea 10:12, for עד־כּי or עד־אשׁר, does not exclude the time that lies beyond, but as in Psalm 112:8, Genesis 49:10, includes it, and in fact so that it at any rate marks the final subjugation of the enemies as a turning-point with which something else comes about (vid., Acts 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:28). הדם is an accusative of the predicate. The enemies shall come to lie under his feet (1 Kings 5:17), his feet tread upon the necks of the vanquished (Joshua 10:24), so that the resistance that is overcome becomes as it were the dark ground upon which the glory of his victorious rule arises. For the history of time ends with the triumph of good over evil, - not, however, with the annihilation of evil, but with its subjugation. This is the issue, inasmuch as absolute omnipotence is effectual on behalf of and through the exalted Christ. In Psalm 110:2, springing from the utterance of Jahve, follow words expressing a prophetic prospect. Zion is the imperial abode of the great future King (Psalm 2:6). מטּה עזּך (cf. Jeremiah 48:17; Ezekiel 19:11-14) signifies "the sceptre (as insignia and the medium of exercise) of the authority delegated to thee" (1 Samuel 2:10, Micah 5:3). Jahve will stretch this sceptre far forth from Zion: no goal is mentioned up to which it shall extend, but passages like Zechariah 9:10 show how the prophets understand such Psalms. In Psalm 110:2 follow the words with which Jahve accompanies this extension of the dominion of the exalted One. Jahve will lay all his enemies at his feet, but not in such a manner that he himself remains idle in the matter. Thus, then, having come into the midst of the sphere (בּקרב) of his enemies, shall he reign, forcing them to submission and holding them down. We read this רדה in a Messianic connection in Psalm 72:8. So even in the prophecy of Balaam (Numbers 24:19), where the sceptre (Numbers 24:17) is an emblem of the Messiah Himself.

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