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Who is David referring to when he wrote in Psalms 110:1

"The Lord said to my lord"

Who is he referring to when he says "THE LORD," and who is he referring to when he says "my lord"?

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  • Yehovah and Adonai.
    – David
    Commented Mar 23 at 18:51
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    Since this is a proof text of Christianity, I think Rabbi Tovia Singer would have a helpful answer for you. It's good to question, if you really seek an answer. The truth will endure. outreachjudaism.org/psalm110
    – user34203
    Commented Mar 24 at 22:43
  • I agree. She is one of the rabbis whose opinion I mentioned (without naming her) as teaching that "my lord" refers to David (and that the psalm is written about David rather than by him). That part of my reply was excised as off-topic. Commented Mar 25 at 1:17
  • I have now cited her opinion in my answer. Commented Mar 25 at 1:37
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    @DanFefferman Rabbi Singer is very much a man.
    – N.T.
    Commented Mar 25 at 6:05

1 Answer 1

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'The LORD' is Adonai. 'My lord' is the psalmist's human master. Rashi gives the traditional interpretation that David was speaking of Abraham:

Our Rabbis interpreted it as referring to Abraham our father, and I shall explain it according to their words (Mid. Ps. 110:1): The word of the Lord to Abraham, whom the world called “my master,” as it is written (Gen. 23:6): “Hearken to us, my master.”

Midrash Tehillim explains that vs. 4 refers to the person called "my lord" as a priest in the order of Melchizedek. This is none other than Abraham, who shared a sacred meal with the famous priest of El Elyon long before the institution of the Israelite priesthood.

Modern Jewish scholars such as Rabbi Tovia Singer have dealt with this verse a little differently. Rather than Abraham being addressed by David as "my lord," they see the singer as addressing David in this fashion. According to Rabbi Singer:

The central purpose of the composition of this sacred work [is] for the Levites to sing them in the Temple. The Levites would stand on a platform and joyfully chant these spiritually exhilarating Psalms to an inspired audience. Accordingly, the Levites would sing aloud:

The Lord [God] said to my master [King David] “Sit thou at my right hand…”

The above interpretation understands the psalm to have been written in praise of David ("about" David) rather that by him.

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    As this is the Judaism stack exchange, keep answers to Jewish sources. Modern scholars are off topic and belong somewhere else (if anywhere).
    – N.T.
    Commented Mar 24 at 5:43
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    Does this include ordained modern orthodox rabbis? Some do hold (as I pointed out before the paragraph was removed) that "my lord" refers to David and that the psalm is about David rather than written by him. Commented Mar 24 at 15:09
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    @N.T. I have rewritten the part that you erased to clarify it is a modern orthodox rabbinical opinion - in other words, a Jewish source. If you still object, I request you do not erase what I've written but flag it for a moderator's ruling. Commented Mar 25 at 1:32
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    Most users on this site are Orthodox and are looking for an Orthodox perspective. This is the perspective of one who accepts the Torah as entirely divine in origin, and explanations have to fit within certain parameters that take years of study to be able to apply properly. Rabbi Singer has those years of study. But study of the text of the Bible outside of the Orthodox tradition means the student will not have any grasp of the parameters of interpretation, so many users here will reject it out of hand. I personally find almost all verses I see translated by Christians (especially KJV) to have
    – N.T.
    Commented Mar 25 at 6:12
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    laughably poor quality with obvious mistakes. Rabbi Singer points out many that have theological significance, but there are many, many more that are just sloppy and amateurish. And while I am not a moderator, I do have a vote on what is on-topic or off, and I have the years of training at elite yeshivas to have a knowledgeable opinion.
    – N.T.
    Commented Mar 25 at 6:16

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