The Throne of Grace
We continue our meditations of this most important psalm, and having considered the pre-eminence and power of Christ the King, ‘set at the right hand’ (v1), we now turn to the High Priestly Ministry of our Lord Jesus, as we muse upon ‘the right hand’ being the place of prayer.
A Place of Prayer
‘The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.’ (v4)
This is the central verse of this psalm, and gives the psalm its uniqueness and importance. Many other psalms tell of the Kingship of the Messiah, but only this one speaks of His High Priestly ministry being ‘after the order of Melchizedek’.
The importance of this verse is brought home further when we turn to the book of Hebrews, and find a divinely inspired commentary has been written. So let’s look at what is said about Christ’s occupying of this place of prayer at the right hand of God.
1) It is a holy calling
The writer to the Hebrews begins in chapter 5, showing that no man can take ‘this honour upon himself’ (5:4). To stand between God and men; to make offerings unto God; to act compassionately on behalf of men, one must be called of God, ordained or appointed to such a position.
In Exodus 28, we read of Aaron’s calling, and we learn firstly that he was called ‘from among the children of Israel’ (Exo 28:1). He was one of them, and just like them, with his faults and failings.
However, the One called to this priesthood, seated at the right hand of God, is the eternal Son of God. He is gloriously fit to occupy this position, and represent His Father God.
Yet, ‘though he were a Son’, in grace He came to live among us and suffer for us. This was all a part of His calling, and so the Hebrew writer says: ‘in the days of His flesh … He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him’ (Hebs 5:7-9). Now He is graciously fitted to represent us to God.
This perfection is not referring to moral perfection. This is made clear at the end of chapter 7, when we learn that unlike Aaron who had to have holy garments made for him (Exo 28:2), Christ is intrinsically holy:
‘For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.’ (Hebs 7:26,27)
2) It is an eternal blessing
Earlier in Hebrews 7, the writer moved from the thought of calling to that of blessing, showing us the greatness of this Melchisedecan priesthood.
‘To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.’ (Hebs 7:2-4)
Not only is Jesus Christ like Melchisedec in virtue of His being a King/Priest, Sovereign of a Kingdom characterised by righteousness and peace, but more pertinent to this point, He is eternal.
While Jewish tradition would link Melchisedec and Shem as one and the same, the divinely inspired record of Scripture makes no such connection, and for very good reason. Melchisedec is to be a type of Christ, the eternal Son, who ‘abideth a priest continually’.
While this in itself makes Christ greater than the earthly limitations of Aaron, the writer of Hebrews identifies another example of Christ’s greatness: that Aaron and the tribe of Levi, being in Abraham, paid tithes to Melchisedec. In doing so, they were honouring his role as ‘Priest of the Most High God’, and his God-given authority to intercede for them to God and give them a blessing from God.
Abraham was greatly blessed that day, but our blessing is so much greater, for we are not blessed by the type of Christ, but by Christ Himself – blessed with an eternal blessing: justified, sanctified, glorified!
‘But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God … For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified … and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’ (Hebs 10:12-17)
3) It is a sure setting
As people ‘of little faith’, a phrase repeated four times in Matthew’s gospel, we may ask the question, how can we be sure?
We come back to Psa 110, and remind our hearts that these things are so because ‘the LORD hath sworn and will not repent’. In other words, we do not simply have God’s Word on the matter, we have His oath.
And on that basis, the Hebrew writer would say, we ‘have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.’ (Hebs 6:18-20)
4) It is a gracious ministering
‘Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Hebs 4:14-16)
We end our meditation today with two practical lessons for us. In view of the wonderful truth that we have such ‘a great high priest that is passed into the heavens’, we are to ‘hold fast’ and ‘come boldly’.
A) Hold fast
Why would we not ‘hold fast’? Yes, the storms at times can be fierce, the pressure intense, and the grass can look greener on the other side of the fence, but if we let go of our confession, where else are we going to turn ‘to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need’?
We are certainly not talking here about losing our salvation. That has nothing to do with us holding on to Christ, but is all about Christ holding us, and there we are eternally safe. We are talking about practically living out our faith, even in the most trying of circumstances, knowing we always have ‘a great high priest’, to whom we can:
B) Come Boldly
The idea here is that because Christ sits at the right hand of God, we no longer have to fear entering God’s holy presence, or feel reserved in our supplications.
Knowing that the One who sits upon the ‘throne of grace … was in all points tempted like as we are, sin apart’ … and is ‘touched with the feelings of our infirmities’, we are now able come with absolute freedom, to speak to our God unreservedly, telling it like it is. And as we do so, our Melchisedecan priest seated at the right hand of God, intercedes on our behalf to obtain for us the mercy of God, and bestow upon us in timely fashion of the manifold grace of God.
What a blessed ministry Christ now has? Why do we do often hesitate to come before His throne of grace?