The story is told of a psychiatrist who had two sons: the eldest a stark pessimist, the youngest an avid optimist. One Christmas, the good doctor decided to perform a holiday experiment. While his boys slept, he filled his eldest son’s bedroom with beautifully wrapped gifts and his youngest son’s bedroom with horse manure.
The next morning he walked into his firstborn’s room to find him sitting silently on his bed, suspiciously eyeing the gifts, clearly expecting there to be some sort of catch. He opened his youngest’s bedroom door to find the boy happily sifting through the manure. Startled, he asked what his son was doing. The little boy excitedly replied, “Daddy, with all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!”
Optimists and pessimists often find it difficult to see eye to eye. They frequently talk past each other, often reaching radically different conclusions based on the same evidence. Sadly, this tendency is revealed even within Christianity. Far too many Christians view life in this world through a lens of pessimism, while many Scriptures, Psalm 110 included, suggest that we should have a far more optimistic outlook.
Psalm 110 reminds us, in short, that our God reigns. Originally a coronation psalm, this was written as a reflection of God’s good promises to King David when he took the throne of Israel. The truths of the psalm were profoundly messianic, however, as made plain by Jesus in Matthew 22:41–46, in which he applied these words directly to himself.
The psalm portrays Christ’s coronation (v. 1), highlights his work of conversion (vv. 2–3), teaches us something of his character (v. 4), and assures us of his ultimate conquest (vv. 5–7). Ultimately, its intent is to encourage his people to trust him because he has all things under control and to worship him as sovereign king. The theology of this psalm encourages his people to faithfully serve him, believing his promises, knowing that he will expand his reign until his enemies become his footstool.
Do we really believe this truth? Do we believe that Christ intends to conquer his enemies? It is this glorious truth that has moved missionaries, for generations, to leave home and family and forge into unreached places with the gospel, knowing full well the dangers of what lie before them, but believing that Christ reigns and will save his people. Far too often, our pessimism is displayed in our attitude, even if unspoken, that such men and women are wasting their lives or risking too much for the sake of the gospel. Prospects of success are minimal, while the work required will be extreme. Is it really worth it?
But it is not only in the area of missions that a psalm like this should encourage our faith. Do you pray fervently and believingly for the salvation of your own loved ones, believing that Christ is on the throne and desires to overcome unbelief with faith? Do you pray faithfully for the effective preaching of the word in your local church, trusting that King Jesus will bless your prayers by saving the lost and sanctifying the saved? Do you plead with God persistently to help you to overcome your persistent sin, believing that he is pleased to answer such prayers as he conforms you more to the image of his dear Son? King Jesus reigns. He will continue to reign until all his enemies have become his footstool.
As you enter a new week, may King Jesus be your vision, and may you live with victory as your aim. May you be amazed as Christ’s name is hallowed, as his kingdom comes, and as his will is done in nations, and in your own life, even as it is in heaven.