"The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand."
"Yahweh said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand"
Trinitarians usually like to claim David could not have called his son Jesus 'Lord' unless his son Jesus was also 'God."
The Claim vs. the Facts
When David was King, he was the Lord of Israel and his Lord was God (1 Kings 1:36). Israel's Lord, David, was not the Lord God. In Acts 2, Peter informs us plainly that Psalm 110:1 was fulfilled when the Lord God raised Jesus from the dead and made him Lord by seating him at His right hand.
The Problem with the Claim
1. The Psalm 110:1 Challenge (aka "David's Riddle")
With respect to Messianic prophecy, Psalm 110:1 is an extremely important passage. It is the most quote Old Testament passage in the New Testament.
Jesus of Nazareth had challenged the Pharisees with this passage.
Jesus said, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put your enemies under your feet.' David himself calls him Lord, so how is he his son?" And the great crowd heard him gladly. (Mark 12:24-37; see 11:27).2
At Psalm 110:1, Christians understand that King David spoke these words. Hence, he is calling the Messiah "my Lord." The Pharisees agreed that this Psalm was referring to the expected Messiah. So Jesus asks the Pharisees how it was possible that David could call his son "my Lord." In the ancient world, a son was never Lord of his father. Rather, a father was Lord of his son. Therefore, the Pharisees could not answer Jesus' question. However, the answer to this question is remarkably simple and explicitly stated in the Bible as we shall see.
2. David: God's Forefather?
The implications of this Trinitarian claim are already too obvious right on the surface of it. They are claiming that David could not refer to his son as his Lord unless his son is "God"! By implication, this would make David the forefather of the second person of the Trinity. If the second person of the Trinity is David's son, then David is God's father.
Nor will claiming, "Jesus was David's son according to the flesh" help them. Let the reader understand that they are claiming David could not call his son "my Lord" unless David's son is God making David the father of God who is his son.
3. YHWH, Adonai, Adoni, Kyrios, LORD, Lord
It is quite common for Trinitarians, and others, to be extremely confused concerning the terms which are used at Psalm 110:1. This is due to the fact that Jews would not pronounce the divine name "YHWH" and instead used a distinct replacement word, Adonai, ("Lord") which in turn cannot be distinguished in Greek from the other Hebrew way of saying "Lord" (Adon). The same problem essentially exists in English as with Greek. Trinitarian apologists commonly exploit this confusion to make some very disingenuous claims. The reason for this confusion is illustrated in the following table:
|The original Hebrew Text ||   ||YHWH said to Adoni|
|The original Hebrew translated into English||  ||Yahweh said to my Lord|
| || |
|The original Hebrew Text||  ||YHWH said to Adoni|
|What Jews would say instead of the divine name YHWH||  ||Adonai said to Adoni|
|What Jews would say translated from Hebrew into English||  ||The LORD said to my Lord|
|What Jews would say translated from Hebrew into Greek||  ||The Kyrios said to my Kyrios|
|What Jews would say translated from Greek into English||  ||The Lord said to my Lord|
The most important fact here is what the original Hebrew text stated. The original Hebrew text actually reads, "YHWH said to my Lord." The divine name "YHWH" or "YHVH" (also known as the tetragrammaton or tetragram) is usually pronounced in English as "Yahweh" or anglicized as "Jehovah." However, Jews would not pronounce the divine name YHWH and this is where the confusion begins. So whenever the divine name YHWH appeared in the Scriptures, Jews would say Adonai instead. Adonai means "Lord" in English. So instead of saying God's name ""YHWH," the ancient Jews would simply refer to him with the title "Lord" or "the Lord." If we referred to Abraham Lincoln as "the President" instead of using his personal name, we would be doing the exact same thing. The Jews knew that when they saw the word Adonai in the Scriptures that the original word was the divine name "YHWH" because the word Adonai was only used for that purpose.
The second term is Adoni which means "my Lord" in English (Adon means "Lord"). The Greek word for "Lord" is "Kyrios." When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, there were two Hebrew words which meant "Lord": Adonai and Adon. However, there was no way in the Greek language to make this distinction. So both words were translated into Greek as kyrios and the distinction between Adonai and Adon was lost. And because that happened, there was now no way to know where God's divine name had appeared in those Greek translations. This is also represented into English translations as "the LORD said to my Lord." The English word "LORD" is a translation of Adonai. The English term "my Lord" translates "Adoni.
The words "my Lord" in this verse are an English translation of "Adoni" not "Adonai." The word Adoni could be used to refer to God but was usually used to refer to higher authorities among men. For example, King David is called Adoni several times at 1 Kings chapter 1. Unfortunately, the Greek Septuagint necessarily used the word kyrios to translate both Adonai and Adoni because there was no way in Greek to translated Adonai one way and Adon another way. This obscured the distinction between these two Hebrew terms. This was carried into English translations when this verse was quoted in the New Testament. For example, Acts 2:33 says "the Lord said to my Lord," in most English translations because it translates from the Greek where the distinction between the two words had already been lost in the Greek translation. So not only is the distinction between Adonai and Adoni lost in the Greek and English translations, the fact that the Hebrew text actually said, "YHWH said to my Lord" is completely obscured by the translations process from Herew to Greek and from Greek into English. Hence, it is vital that we remember what the original Hebrew text actually states.
Analysis of the Evidence
1. Peter Affirms that the first "Lord" (YAHWEH) is God the Father
Therefore, having been therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens but he himself says, 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool.' Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him, both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:34-36).
Peter is here referring to David's prophetic word in the Spirit whereby his seed Jesus would ascend to the right hand of God the Father. Obviously then, in Psalm 110:1 Yahweh is the Father of Jesus. Therefore, we know Psalm 110:1 means "The Father said to Jesus, 'Sit at my right hand.'"
2. Peter Declares this Psalm was Prophetic and Fulfilled when God raised Jesus from the dead and made him Lord
When Jesus challenged the Pharisees with Psalm 110:1, he had indicated that David said these words "in the Spirit." Peter explains that David's words as Psalm 110 were prophetic and were not fulfilled until Jesus rose from the dead and sat down at the Father's right hand, "the LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand.'"
Because [David] was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ... This Jesus God raised up again, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens but he himself says, "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool.' Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.. (Acts 2:34-36).
Clearly, Peter teaches us that Psalm 110:1, "YHWH said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand'" came to pass when God the Father seated the man Jesus to His right hand and made him "Lord." In this way, David's son had become David's Lord and David had prophesied it would come to pass in his descendant's resurrection as Peter testifies. The question Jesus had posed to the Pharisees was answered by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. The Lord God, the Father, had made Jesus Lord by seating the man Jesus at His right hand. To be seated at God's right hand is to be given the authority of God the Father's throne, all authority in heaven and earth (see Matthew 28:18).
Concerning the resurrection of the body, Jesus taught that God IS NOT a God of the dead but a God of the living. However, Jesus IS Lord of the living and the dead. And that is so because God had raised him from the dead and Jesus had conquered death. In this way, God the Father had made Jesus Lord of both the living and the dead. David was dead and Jesus his human son had become his Lord when God raised him from the dead and seated him at His right hand.
3. Psalm 110 and Hebrews Chapter 5
Yahweh says to my Lord [Adoni], "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." YAHWEH sends forth from Zion your mighty sceptre. Rule in the midst of your enemies. Your people will offer themselves freely on the day you lead your host upon the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning like dew your youth will come to you. Yahweh has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." Psalm 110.
Now carefully observe what the Hebrew's writer says:
So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, "You are my son, Today I have begotten you," just as He says also in another passage, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:5-10; cf. 7:1-15).
And again, we find that that Psalm 110:1 was fulfilled when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. It is the risen Christ who is our High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek In Acts, Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 and indicates this prophetic Psalm came to fulfillment when God raised David's son, the crucified man Jesus from the dead and made him "Lord" seating Jesus at His right hand. Here in Hebrews, the writer quotes Psalm 110:4 and indicates this Psalm was fulfilled when Jesus became High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek after Jesus had suffered and had been perfected when God raised him from the dead. So again, it is clear that Psalm 110:1 is a Davidic prophecy fulfilled when God raised Jesus from the dead.
4. The Trinitarian Dilemma
In the end, Trinitarians find themselves in the same dilemma as those first century Pharisees. When examined carefully, one finds that the Trinitarian is faced with an inescapable dilemma. He wants to have it that a pre-existent second person of the Trinity, Jesus according to his divine nature, is David's Lord. The problem here is that the one who is David's Lord is also David's son, David's descendant. Logically, the pre-existent second person of the Trinity was not David's son! Otherwise, one would need to say David was the father of his son: God. Absurd. David's son can only be a future human being, Jesus according to the flesh.
Jesus indicates that David's Lord is David's son. Only a human descendant of David can possibily be David's son. Hence, it is only a human being who can possibly be David's Lord. And this is the crucified human who God raised from the dead and made him Lord fulfilling Psalm 110 as Peter explains at Acts 2. David could not possibly be referring to Jesus as a pre-existing divine being because David is referring to his human son who had not yet been born. David is not the Father of God.
The Bible quite clearly shows us that Psalm 110:1, "The LORD said to my Lord" (YHWH said to my Lord), is a prophecy of David which came to pass when God raised Jesus from the dead and made him "Lord" just as Psalm 110:4 came to pass when God raised Jesus from the dead and he became High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Jesus tells us that David had been speaking "in the Spirit" and Peter informs us that David was speaking prophetically. Jesus challenged the Jews the Pharisees by asking them how it could be possible that the Messiah is David's Lord if the Messiah is also David's human son. The Scriptures answer the question vividly. David was dead but his risen son was not. Jesus risen from the dead is the Lord of the living and the dead, God having made him "Lord" when Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father. David's son Jesus became David's Lord when he rose from the dead and sat down at the right hand of the Father, "the LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand'.... God has made him Lord..." (Acts 2:33-36). David's HUMAN son had become David's Lord because God had made this human being the Lord of all having given him all authority in heaven and on earth.
Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for your feet.'" Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. Acts 2:33-36.
Related Links: Psalm 110:5
Last Revision/Update: February 13, 2016