Psalm 110 – Christ as Priest and King & The Exaltation of a Holy City in the Psalms and in the Myths

A Psalm of David.

The Sumerian story known today as the Epic of Gilgamesh is among the world’s oldest surviving texts, commonly dated to the 17th to 18th century B.C., though the earliest Sumerian poems can be traced in the Third Dynasty of Ur (2150-2000 B.C.).

The Akkadian versian, consisting of twelve tablets edited by the scribe Sin-liqe-unninni sometime between 1300 and 1000 B.C., was rediscovered in 1853 in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in Ninevah.

1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Enki is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology.

He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hitites and Hurrians.

He was the deity of crafts (gasam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestu, literally “ear”) and creation.

2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.

6 He shall Judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.

7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

God is to be praised for His graces and benefits to His church.  Experiencing Christ as king and priest in His kingdom in dealing with His enemies.

 

 

The Exaltation of a Holy City in the Psalms and in the Myths 

An ancient city would often have its own local myth that exalted that city and its patron god above all other cities and gods.

As a result of her control of fecundity and her centrality in the “Sacred Marriage,” Inanna kept her high standing among the Sumerian deities even as society increased in male-dominance.

The poem “Inanna and the Huluppu Tree” gives a mythic explanation of how the throne and th ebed used in the “Sacred Marriage” came into existence and, in the process, records a drastic demotion in Inanna’s status.

These myths served to reassure the inhabitants that their city and its shrine were somehow superior to all others.  One such myth comes from Sumerian civilization and was meant to glorify the city of Uruk and its goddess, Inanna.

In the myth the god Enki possess all the qualities of civilization in his city, Eridu.  These qualities include, among others, kingship, priestly order, crafts (carpentry, metal-working, etc.), jurisprudence, and truth.

Curiosity, negative elements such as prostitution and deceit are also included among the qualities of civilization.  Inanna ventures to Eridu and is welcomed by Enki.

While in a drunken state Enki confers upon Inanna the qualities of civilization, described in the story as physical objects.  She proceeds to load them onto her boat and sails away.

Too late, Enki realizes what he has done and tries to retrieve them, but Inanna has already conveyed them to Uruk.  Thus Uruk is exalted as the favored city of Inanna.

In the Bible, and especially in the Psalms, Zion is exalted as the chosen city of God.  The difference between the exaltation of Zion and the story of Inanna and Enki is profound.  The Sumerian Story is pure myth: Abstract qualities are described as physical objects, and gods seek to outwit or overpower one another.

In contrast, Zion was exalted because of God’s covenant with David and the promise of a Messiah, a greater son of David who was yet to come.

The Messiah would be a king (Ps 110:1-2), but also a priest (v 4), and a warrior (vv 5-6).  We see a similar exaltation of Zion and its Messiah in Psalm 2.

In short, the exaltation of Zion is not grounded in a myth but in a historical even (God’s choice of David) and in a hope for the future (the advent of the Messiah – Jesus Christ).