Footstool Theology: Christ Will Conquer

Footstool Theology: Christ Will Conquer

No one remembers the furniture in the throne room. They remember the king on the throne. This is the end of all the enemies of God. They are destined to be a means for the exaltation of Jesus to the place of highest prominence. Do you want to know the purpose of human history? It is designed by the Father, as the master interior designer, to exalt his Son to the place of highest prominence (Eph. 1:9–10).

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

I always say that my biggest influences are three Johns and three Toms—John Owen, John Calvin, John Calvin, Thomas Watson, Thomas Brooks, and Thomas Boston. And even though I’d like to say of the six, my biggest influence is John Calvin, it is really John Owen. I wish I could say that I’ve read or planned to read the collected works of all six, but my forty-five years tell me that I must choose. And so I’ve begun the gradual and daily reading of one of them. I chose John Owen.

Out of all of them, Owen stands above the rest as a Christ-maximalist. But he arrived there being a thorough-going Trinitarian. And by that, I mean that he was no Christo-monist. He did not decide to focus on Jesus because it was cool, trendy, or hip. He didn’t hop on the Christo-centric bandwagon because he read about it in a popular book by a platformed1 author. Instead, Owen is thoroughly Trinitarian in his thought, as all good Christian theologians have and should be. But as he pondered the Trinity, he found that there is a Christ-centrality woven into the godhead. The Father is most enamored with his Son. And the Holy Spirit is heaven-bent on glorifying and extolling the person and work of the Son.2 And so, Owen is theologically bent on Christo-centrism, not because he is committed to Christ over the other members of the Trinity, but because he is thoroughly Trinitarian in all his theology.

For example, I have four sons. I have never thought that they should be just like me, though, inevitably, they will bear my likeness, for better and for worse (I’ve warned them about this). But I want them all to be the kind of men that I would be honored to call a friend. And that is all what they currently are—noble men who you and I would be honored to know, honored to call friends. And yet, if you were friends to my sons, you would only know them as they are. But if you knew them, and knew what I had to say about them, you would love them more than if you only knew them without knowing what I had to say about them.

To know a man is one thing; to hear what his father has to say about him is quite another. And this is because a father’s love for his sons, a father’s bestowal of fatherly honor, is an addition to a son’s glory, no matter how great that son’s glory may be. And in this, I think we arrive at some of the beauty behind our trinitarian theology. It is one thing to know the Son. It is an additional thing, an additive and greater thing, to hear the Father gush over his Son.

The Greatest Psalm

The book of Psalms is the most quoted Old Testament book in the Bible. Psalm 110 is the most quoted chapter of the Old Testament in the New Testament. Psalm 110:1 is the most quoted Old Testament verse quoted in the New Testament. Jesus, Paul, the author of Hebrews, and Peter all chose Psalm 110:1 to speak clearly and definitively about the person and work of Jesus, the Christ. And it is a psalm that has become even dearer to me over the past few years.

I’ve made it a personal practice to spend time daily in the psalms and learn to sing as many of them as possible from memory. Aside from the benefits of meditating on God’s Word and singing it back to him in praise, I noticed something consistent throughout Christian history, something begun from the earliest days recorded in Acts. Whenever we read of Christians imprisoned for their faith, we find them often spending their time of imprisonment in prayer and singing psalms. I thought to myself, “If I’m ever imprisoned for my faith (and I’d like to live my life in such a way as this might be possible), I don’t know any psalms to sing.” And so I decided I would learn some psalms by heart, in case I ever had to gladden the walls of a prison cell.

And that, of course, led me to decide where to start with 150 to choose from. And so I asked myself, “Which psalms did Jesus and apostles think were most important?” Clearly, the psalm at the top of the list is Psalm 110. So I started there. Not a week goes by that I don’t sing Psalm 110 a few times. And I say that because this devotion is not just born out of the academic fact of its prodigious use in the New Testament but also out of its frequent place in my life.

And to return to the emphasis of John Owen, few verses in the entire Bible tell us of what the Father thinks of the Son. And in meditating on Psalm 110:1, we have the opportunity to join our heavenly Father in his delight in his Son.

Psalm 110:1 was a mystery to the Jewish scholars who studied it before the incarnation. How could there be a “lord” who sat at the right hand of “the LORD” who was also a greater king than King David, a king that even David would call Lord? The general consensus was that this was a reference to the coming Messiah. And they were right. Jesus (as well as Peter, Paul, and the author of Hebrews after him) unequivocally teaches that he is the mysterious Lord that David wrote about in Psalm 110:1. So, to use New Testament divine familial nouns to describe what is going on in Psalm 110:1 is to say, “The Father said to the Son, “sit here at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” In this brief and profound verse, we see two things that God the Father says about God the Son.

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