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This phrase has perplexed me a little bit. It's a psalm that was quoted by both Jesus (Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42) and Peter (Acts 2:34).

Psalm 110:1 ESV The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

What does the statement "The LORD says to my Lord" mean? Why is one "The LORD" and the other "My Lord"? Please explain the meaning of this passage in its original context.

In addition to this, I would like to hear about the context of this passage being quoted in the New Testament (Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34). Do these NT quotations change the meaning it would have had for its original hearers? How so?

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migrated from Jun 30 '14 at 14:02

This question came from our site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

I've edited the question to focus it on the Psalm being asked about. Here on BH.SE we ask about the meaning of specific texts in their original context, language, etc. I've retained the NT portion of the question, but made it secondary to understanding the Psalm itself on its own grounds (i.e. when it was originally written, before the NT was written). Keep in mind that here on BH.SE we welcome all perspectives that take the text seriously, not just Christian ones. – Dan Jun 30 '14 at 14:55
up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is a messianic vision, and David is primarily concerned here with Christ and his place with God, and his Priesthood Authority.

I see the first part of your question as having two elements. Element 1, "The Lord says to My Lord" is a conversation between God The Father (Elohim) and Christ The Son (Jesus Christ). Element 2, it was necessary to distinguish a conversation between two who could both be described as God, or Lord. The reason one is "The Lord" and the other "My Lord" is because though God The Father is creator of all, David knew that there would be a more direct relationship with The Christ as a personal savior and redeemer of his house, and Israel as a whole. Hence Christ being David's Lord, or "My Lord."

As for the NT portion of your question, I can point to Matthew 22:41-46, as a clearer reference that this meaning as I explained was understood NT times, Jesus Christ was the Lord of Psalm 110, of David, and of the House of Israel, and "The Lord" was God The Father.

41 ¶While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,

42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

44 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

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In the original Hebrew we find the LORD (yud-hey-vahv-hey) says to my Lord (Adonee). The second lord, being in the singular, is referring to a human king or nobleman. In historical context it becomes clear that this psalm, written by David, was meant to be sung by the kohenim during temple liturgy. The kohenim would sing "The LORD says to my lord (king solomon, David, etc) etc"

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I would like to also contribute a bit more thought to this passage. In the original Hebrew Psalm 110 reads like this:

Yĕhovah nĕ'um Adonay (transliterated)

The Yēhovah here is usually shown to be distinct by capitalization like this: LORD. And Adonay is rendered in lowercase as: Lord.

The Septuagint is translated from the Hebrew to the Greek like this:

ὁ - κύριος - τῷ - κυρίῳ - μου The - LORD - to - Lord - of me

I think by adding this it generates more insight into the passage as it is originally stated.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. This doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. Please connect the dots for us, especially since the original text didn't contain upper and lowercase letters. – Dan Jul 7 '14 at 8:56

Psalm 110:1 (LXX) does not differentiate between God and Christ. Both are called κύριος.

However, the Hebrew differentiates between God and Christ as two distinct lords (source):

God = Yahweh (the LORD)

Christ = adoni (My Lord)

Note that in Psalm 110:5 (Hebrew), Christ is said to be Adonai (= the LORD).Thus, the rendering of the LXX is justified by the Hebrew context per se.

This is interesting because in the days of Christ and the apostles (1st century A.D./ C.E.), the Septuagint usage is prevalent (source). The NT itself is written in (koine) Greek (source).

Psalm 110:3 is quoted in the Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34.

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ 37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

Mark 12:28-37 (ESV)

The son of David = The Messiah (Mark 12:35)

The Messiah = David's Lord (Mark 12:36)

The Lord = [only] one (Mark 12:29)

How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?

Jesus is 'the Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness' (Romans 1:4). Jesus is 'God over all' (Romans 9:5). Jesus himself is 'the root of David' (Revelation 22:16).

David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?

Jesus 'was descended from David according to the flesh' (Romans 1:3).

Bottom line:

Jesus' twofold question reveals that he is identifying himself as Lord the same way God is.


In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul explicitly called Jesus Christ by the name 'one Lord'(Greek: eis kurios).

In first century Second-Temple [hellenistic] Judaism, only God is known as the 'one Lord' (Greek: eis kurios) as read in the Shema from the Septuagint but Christians ascribed this same Lordship to Jesus their Messiah which shows devotion to Jesus as God (source).

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