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The New Testament's Most Quoted Psalm

August 6, 2023 Speaker: Jonathan McLeod Series: Summer in the Psalms 2023

Topic: Jesus Scripture: Psalm 110:1–7

A Bible Trivia Question

Let’s begin with a Bible trivia question: Which psalm is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament? 

If the question was which psalm is the most quoted by Christians today, you’d get a different answer … probably Psalm 23. But Psalm 23 is never quoted in the New Testament.

The answer is Psalm 110. (The first verse of Psalm 110 is the most quoted verse in the New Testament.)

But my purpose isn’t to give you Bible trivia. I want us to consider why Psalm 110 is so important in the New Testament.

Why is Psalm 110 the New Testament’s most quoted psalm?

Yahweh’s Two Statements

Psalm 110 includes two statements made by Yahweh (“the LORD”). 

In verse 1 Yahweh says, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Then in verse 4, Yahweh says, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchiedek.”

To whom is Yahweh speaking? Psalm 110 is a royal psalm, which means that it’s about the king of Israel. Psalm 110 is also a psalm of David, meaning that David is its author. The person Yahweh is speaking to is a king who is a descendent of David.

Jesus Quotes Psalm 110

Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1 in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Let’s go to Matthew 22. [Read vv. 41-46.]  Jesus accepts that David is the author of Psalm 110 and that what he wrote is God’s word (“in the Spirit,” v. 43). 

The Pharisees believe (correctly) that Psalm 110 is about the Christ (i.e., the Messiah). Jesus asks them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” (v. 42). The Pharisees answer that the Christ is “the son of David” (v. 42). But Jesus has a second question for them:  “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (v. 45). The Pharisees are stumped.

Jesus: The Christ will be more than the son of David.

Jesus doesn’t come right out and say it, but what he’s getting at is that the Christ is both the Son of David and the Son of God. [Read Rom. 1:3-4.]

Peter Quotes Psalm 110

In Acts 2, the apostle Peter also quotes Psalm 110:1. [Read vv. 22-36.] Peter is preaching in Jerusalem only a few days after the crucifixion of Jesus.

Peter says that “David did not ascend into the heavens” (v. 34), but Jesus did (in v. 9 of the previous chapter). And he is now at the right hand of God.

Peter: Jesus is the Christ.

The Writer of Hebrews Quotes Psalm 110

The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 110:1 and 4. [Read 1:13.] Jesus is greater than the angels. 

[Read 7:1-25.] The point in chapter 7 is that the priesthood of Jesus is greater than the Old Covenant priesthood. The word “forever” is found in Psalm 110:4: “You are a priest forever.” Jesus “holds his priesthood permanently” (v. 24). For this reason, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him” (v. 25).

Nothing will void our salvation (like a warranty can become void). Forever is forever. There’s no fine print.

The writer of Hebrews: Jesus is both a king and a priest.

As a priest, Jesus offered his own blood as an offering to atone for our sins. He’s seated, indicating that his work is finished.

Psalm 110 Is About Jesus

Let’s return to the question we started with: Why is Psalm 110 the New Testament’s most quoted psalm?

Psalm 110 is the New Testament’s most quoted psalm because it’s about Jesus!

The psalm also includes God’s promise that the king’s enemies will become his footstool (v. 1). The New Testament writers tell us that this will happen when Jesus returns. [Read Heb. 10:11-13.]

Why would we turn away from Jesus?

The Profit Far Surpasses the Cost

Let’s consider why the book of Hebrews was written. 

We aren't certain who the recipients were. It’s called “Hebrews” because it’s likely that the recipients were Jewish Christians. It’s also possible that they lived in Rome (see 13:24). 

Based on the book’s contents, it appears that the author’s purpose was to encourage his readers to persevere in the faith. In 10:23, he writes, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” They were tempted to walk away. (You can probably think of someone who has done this.)

Jesus cautioned people to “count the cost” before making the decision to follow him. He didn’t try to trick people into making a quick decision that they’d later regret. He didn’t say, “Just follow me and all your problems will disappear.” Instead, he declared, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:28).

The words “bear his own cross” tell us that the Christian life won’t always be easy. It might actually create some problems that we didn’t have before. So Jesus says, “Make sure you know what you’re getting into.”

For the original readers of Hebrews, there was a significant cost to being a Christian. They were probably Jewish Christians, and accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ could have resulted in their friends abandoning them, their family disowning them, and their parents disinheriting them. Some of them were beginning to wonder, “Is it worth it?”

Have you ever asked that question? Is being a Christian worth it? 

Is being a Christian worth it? Yes, the profit far surpasses the cost. 

Hebrews 13:13-14 says, “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” The profit far surpasses the cost. 

On one occasion, when many people were abandoning Jesus, he asked the twelve disciples, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67). And what did Peter say? “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). The profit far surpasses the cost. 

 The apostle Paul writes, “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:7-8). The profit far surpasses the cost. 

Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (v. 37). The profit far surpasses the cost.

Yes, being a Christian is worth it. The profit far surpasses the cost!

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