The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
Once upon a time, I was Head of History in a prestigious boarding school. For a couple of years I was pretty much on my own in my department. Although I did have three other teachers, all of them had other responsibilities in the school, and so if I wanted something done, I had to do it myself. It meant that I was rather busy! In my final year, however, I was rather more fortunate; I had an excellent new teacher in my department, called Daniel, whose primary focus was teaching. Consequently, I had someone I could delegate tasks to, which meant that the department operated much more smoothly. In fact, you could say that Daniel was my right hand man.
Right hand man is quite a common expression these days. It generally means someone who can be relied upon to carry out tasks that support the person concerned. In Biblical times, it had an additional meaning; if someone was at your right hand, it was a real position of honour. If you found yourself sitting on the right hand side of a king at a banquet, then you were privileged indeed!
In today’s verse, David, the Psalmist, foretells of the messiah. He says that the LORD (God) allows David’s Lord (the messiah) to sit at his right hand. David therefore shows just how powerful he views the coming messiah, and how important the messiah is to God. Jesus is frequently referred to in the New Testament as “sitting at the right hand of the father,” illustrating that the writers firmly viewed Jesus as the messianic figure foretold of in this psalm.
Today’s verse also tells of how God will make the messiah’s enemies a footstool for his feet. This led to the common misconception that the messiah would be a powerful military figure, who, in the time of the Romans, would repel the invading armies and restore power and prestige to the Jewish people. This is what people expected of Jesus, and what the apostle Peter expected of Jesus when Jesus asked him, ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter could not believe when Jesus told him what would happen to him, the messiah. The truth is, of course, that Jesus does hold this important, powerful position, but this will only be evident on judgement day. When that day comes, Jesus will be telling the father which of us has honoured him, and which of us has not.
Do you believe Jesus to be the messiah? Do you believe that he is seated at the right hand of the father, and that he has the power to crush his enemies underfoot? If so, how will you honour him? Will you give him the worship that he deserves – worship that encompasses the whole of your life? Or will you idly stand by and watch as others do?
Slightly amended on 28/1/15.