The Significance of Royal Psalms in Scripture

The royal psalms provide the opportunity to study kingship, Messianic prophecy, and God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises.

The book of Psalms contains some of the most beloved passages, songs, and poems in Scripture, written to express human emotion while proclaiming God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. Among the different types of psalms is a group known as the royal psalms. These psalms provide insight into God’s relationship with human rulers and the Messiah.

The following post identifies the role and characteristics of the royal psalms and explores their meaning. Five influential royal psalms will be examined to better understand their spiritual significance and ongoing value to contemporary Christians.

The Book of Psalms

What Are the Royal Psalms?

The royal psalms are a collection of psalms (2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 89, 101, 110, 132, and 144) that focus on the human king and his relationship with God. Several features characterize these psalms:

  • They portray the king as God’s anointed representative and adopted “son.”
  • They depict the close relationship between God and the king
  • They describe the king’s role in promoting justice and righteousness
  • They allude to promises made to David and his dynasty
  • They look forward to the future messianic king

In biblical antiquity, kings were seen as God’s agents on earth, and in Israel, the king was viewed as God’s adopted “son” (Psalms 2:7). As God’s representative, the king was responsible for establishing justice, protecting the nation, and promoting righteousness. The royal psalms celebrate this special relationship between God, the king, and the people.

The Importance of the Royal Psalms

The royal psalms connect the Davidic kings to God’s promises. God established an everlasting dynasty with David and promised that one of his descendants would reign as the Messiah forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16). The royal psalms link David and his heirs to God’s promises of protection, stability, and wise rule over Israel. Even when certain kings failed or Israel’s monarchy declined, the royal psalms kept alive the hope of a future, ideal Davidic king who would fulfill God’s promises completely.

The royal psalms point ahead to Jesus Christ, the son of David and Messianic King. The New Testament identifies Jesus as fulfilling the Davidic covenant and the ultimate heir to the messianic promises (Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:30-36). Through the lens of the royal psalms, we gain insight into Jesus’ messianic identity and the significance of His eternal Kingdom.

Prominent Examples of Royal Psalms

1. Psalm 2

Psalm 2 opens with a scene of earthly kings rebelling against God’s authority and His “Anointed” (v.2), the Davidic king of Israel. God affirms His choice of the king as His adopted “Son” (v.7) and promises to establish his reign over the nations (vv.8-9). The psalm closes with a warning to earthly rulers to “Kiss the Son” and acknowledge God’s true King (v.12). New Testament authors apply this psalm to Jesus as the Son of God and Messianic King (Acts 4:25-26; Hebrews 1:5).

2. Psalm 72

The psalmist in Psalm 72 prays that the king would judge the people with righteousness and justice (v.2), defend the oppressed (v.4), and rule in the fear of the Lord (v.5). His dominion would extend “to the ends of the earth” (v.8), and all nations would serve him (v.11). This points to the universal rule of the future Messianic King. The psalm closes by blessing God’s glorious name forever, linking the ideal king to fulfilling God’s promises to David (vv.17-19).

3. Psalm 89

Psalm 89 celebrates God’s covenant with David and his descendants. It highlights God’s promises to establish David’s line forever (vv.3-4) and preserve his dynasty despite adversity (vv.19-37). Even when Israel’s kings proved unfaithful, God’s commitment to His covenant promises endured. The psalm concludes with a plea for God to remember His “servant David” (v.49). Though the monarchy declined, Psalm 89 perpetuates hope in God’s oath to sustain David’s heir, the future Messiah.

4. Psalm 101

As a royal psalm of David, Psalm 101 expresses how the righteous king pledges to rule. He vows to lead with integrity and justice (vv.1-2), shun evil and wickedness in his court (v.4), and destroy all who practice deception (v.7). This psalm offers a model for good governance and upholding God’s standards. Jesus exhibits these same qualities of righteousness, justice, and holiness as the supreme Messianic King.

5. Psalm 110

In Psalm 110, God appoints the Davidic king as ruler over all creation and extends his dominion (v.2), picturing the universal reign of the messianic king. Verse 1 poetically captures the relationship between God the Father (“Lord”) and the king as His everlasting “Son”: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'” Jesus alludes to this psalm as speaking directly of Himself and the Messiah (Matthew 22:41-46). The book of Hebrews also references Psalm 110 to describe Christ’s eternal priesthood and kingship (Hebrews 5:6, 10). For deeper examination of Psalm 110, click here.

Are the Royal Psalms relevant to modern Christians?


In contemporary Christianity, the royal psalms enrich relationship with Jesus and strengthen our theology. They are an invaluable part of Scripture for worship, instruction, and hope in our daily lives. Here are five reasons why:

1. The royal psalms reveal the intimate relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son, highlighting Christ’s divine nature and authority as the Messiah. For example, meditation on Psalms 2 and 110 can deepen our awe of Christ.

2. They point to Jesus’ eternal reign as King. The royal psalms look forward to a day when God’s Anointed ruler will achieve total victory over evil and justly govern the nations. This gives hope that Christ will consummate His kingdom and creation will be set right.

3. The royal psalms instruct about righteous leadership under God’s rule. Psalms 101 and 72 describe what it looks like for a king to govern with justice, compassion, and integrity. Christians can apply these principles to all areas of leadership today.

4. The regal language and imagery in the royal psalms portray Christ’s supreme status and sovereignty. These psalms compel our reverence and submission to Jesus as Lord of all.

5. They affirm God’s covenant loyalty to His people. Despite the failures of human kings, God remained faithful to bless the world through the Davidic line. This steadfast love endures for all who take refuge in Christ today.


The royal psalms provide the opportunity to study kingship, Messianic prophecy, and God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises. They celebrate God’s relationship with David’s dynasty, hoping that one heir would establish an everlasting, righteous Kingdom. As Christians, we see the beauty of how the royal psalm prophecies find ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

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