The LORD said unto my Lord Divine power of attorney in Holy Writ

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On at least two separate occasions, Christ testifies of His own divinity by quoting Psalms: “The LORD (i.e., Jehovah, יְהוָ֨ה) said unto my Lord (i.e., Christ, the Messiah, לַֽאדֹנִ֗י), Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1). We will pay special attention to the clause, literally, “The LORD (Jehovah, יְהוָ֨ה) declares (נְאֻ֤ם) unto my Lord (Adonai, Lord, Master, לַֽאדֹנִ֗י)” (נְאֻ֤ם יְהוָ֨ה לַֽאדֹנִ֗י)[1].

Some English language translations explicitly name Jehovah here in Psalms, “Jehovah saith unto my Lord” (ASV, also see HRB, LEB, LITV, MKJV, TLB, TPT, WEB, WEBA, YLT), while most replace Jehovah with LORD, and the Bishops Bible replaces it with “God.” TS2009 does not translate it, but leaves the Hebrew, “יהוה said to my Master.”

In quoting the Psalms, our Savior confounded the learned while the unlearned rejoiced. But Christ also perplexes the modern reader, especially those of us who believe that Christ of the New Testament is the Jehovah of the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament. It is, of course, impossible to translate without interpreting. Nor is it possible to read without doing the same, even if we do so form the Hebrew Bible itself. Let us begin with the New Testament setting and then carefully examine the verse in Psalms.

Christ declares His Divinity and Pre-Mortal Existence

In Matthew we read: “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions” (Matthew 22:41–46).

In Mark we find: “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:35–7).  

The people knew that the Messiah would be born from the house of David, so they expected Him to have this lineage. Many called Jesus “Son of David,” thus acknowledging His being the very Messiah (i.e., Christ). So, in quoting Psalms, our Savior is asking, in essence, “So, if Messiah is to be the son (i.e., descendant) of David, how was it that David was inspired by the Holy Ghost to call Messiah his Lord?”

Divine Investiture

What we find here in Psalm 110:1 is yet another example of Divine Investiture. In this case, of the Son speaking on behalf of His Father. Or, communicating through a divine power of attorney, as if He was the Father.

In an earlier article, “Isaiah Speaks through Divine Investiture,” I quoted President Joseph Fielding Smith, who taught: “All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. In all of the scriptures, where God is mentioned and where he has appeared, it was Jehovah who talked with Abraham, with Noah, Enoch, Moses and all the prophets. He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the Law of Moses. The Father has never dealt with man directly and personally since the fall, and he has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:27).

In the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, we find a wonderful example of Christ speaking about Himself, with the words of the Father, through Divine Investiture: “And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all” (Moses 1:6).

For those interested in further reading on the topic of Divine Investiture, please see “Isaiah Speaks through Divine Investiture.”


[1] Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: with Westminster Hebrew Morphology. (1996). (electronic ed.). Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society; Westminster Seminary, for pointed Hebrew references.

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