In her post on JewishIsrael about the Messianic Jewish interpretation of Psalm 110, Penina Taylor writes:
According to the Ibn Ezra and the Radak, Tehillim 110 is not a Psalm of (by) David, but one that was composed by an unnamed psalmist, possibly one of his soldiers, about his king. The Psalmist here is saying that David, like Melchizedek, recognizes and serves the One True God, in his righteousness, and he will be responsible for setting events into motion which will ultimately bring all people closer to God – the role of a priest.
This raises some interesting issues.
According to the Bible itself, Psalm 110 is a psalm of David, beginning “לְדָוִד, מִזְמוֹר” – “a Psalm of David”.
Throughout the Tehilim, whenever a Psalm is written by David, it starts off by saying “of David.” No less than 73 of the 150 Psalms are ascribed to David, many containing personal information, such as Psalm 34, written when David pretended to be insane before Abimelech, Psalm 51, written after David became aware with his sin following the Bathsheba affair, and Psalm 56 written when the Philistines had seized David at Gath. These are just three examples from the dozens of Davidic psalms.
If, then, Penina is going to argue that a Psalm “of David” was not actually written by David but by one of his servants, surely the burden of proof is on her to show how this is the case. Quoting the medieval rabbi the Radak does not prove anything other than that the Radak thought Psalm 110 was about David.
Verse 4 is the key verse for us:
|ד נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה, וְלֹא יִנָּחֵם– אַתָּה-כֹהֵן לְעוֹלָם
|4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent: ‘Thou art a priest for ever
according to the order of Melchizedek.’
Let us consider Penina’s proposition that Psalm 110 is about David. According to Penina, God swears to David – and no-one else – that he is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Yet God did not allow David to build the Temple in which his priests would serve.
In 1 Chronicles 17, we read about how David wanted to build a house for God in verse 1:
|א וַיְהִי, כַּאֲשֶׁר יָשַׁב דָּוִיד בְּבֵיתוֹ; וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִיד אֶל-נָתָן הַנָּבִיא, הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי יוֹשֵׁב בְּבֵית הָאֲרָזִים, וַאֲרוֹן בְּרִית-יְהוָה, תַּחַת יְרִיעוֹת.||1 After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent.”|
The prophet Nathan tells David to do what is in his heart in verse 2, yet then receives a word from the Lord in verse 4:
|ד לֵךְ וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל-דָּוִיד עַבְדִּי, כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה: לֹא אַתָּה תִּבְנֶה-לִּי הַבַּיִת, לָשָׁבֶת.||4 ‘Go and tell David My servant: Thus saith the LORD: Thou shalt not build Me a house to dwell in;|
Why could David not build God’s house?
David explains to his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 22:7-8:
So because David had shed blood, he could not build the Temple.
David had shed blood because he had fought wars as King of Israel. It was because of the kingly duties of fighting wars that David was not permitted to construct the Temple where the priestly Levites would serve. Instead, God would command David’s son Solomon to build the Temple, and so intentionally gave him a peaceful reign.
God essentially told David that the wars which he was duty-bound to fight as a king prevented him from being able to build the Temple for the priests. And so David’s kingly office clashed with the priestly office. Compare this with the eternal priest of Tehilim 110 whose priestly and kingly duties do not clash at all.
We know that Melchizedek himself was both a king and a priest from Bereshit 14:18:
|יח וּמַלְכִּי-צֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם, הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן; וְהוּא כֹהֵן, לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן.||18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High.|
From this verse we see how the king-priest Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine – as Yeshua eventually would.
David meanwhile ate the bread which had been consecrated by the priests, as we read in 1 Samuel 21:1-6. David tells Abimelech in verse 2 that he is alone because the king has charged him with a matter, and thus he has gone about his business. After speaking with Abimelech, we read in verse 6 (verse 7 in Hebrew Bible):
|ז וַיִּתֶּן-לוֹ הַכֹּהֵן, קֹדֶשׁ: כִּי לֹא-הָיָה שָׁם לֶחֶם, כִּי-אִם-לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים הַמּוּסָרִים מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה, לָשׂוּם לֶחֶם חֹם, בְּיוֹם הִלָּקְחוֹ.||7 So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.|
Thus David’s obedience to the kingly decree leads him to eat the bread that has been sanctified by the priests, which further shows how the priestly and kingly offices clashed for David. Compare this with Melchizedek, the King of Salem who offered bread and wine to God, combining his priestly and kingly offices without any tension.
So it seems a stretch for Penina argue that a psalm of David, written about one who is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, was actually written about David.
Furthermore, it is odd that Penina chooses to describe the role of a priest as someone who ‘ultimately brings all people closer to God.’ Where has Penina taken this idea from?
There is nowhere in the Bible which suggests that the actions of a priest may actually bring other people closer to God – that is until you meet the Great High Priest, the Cohen haGadol Yeshua haMashiach, whom we read of in Hebrews 9:11-15:
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
It is clear that only King Yeshua, and not King David, is able to fulfil the priestly office of Melchizedek, and to be a priest forever.