Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever - If this be said of the Son of God, i.e. Jesus Christ, then Jesus Christ must be God; and indeed the design of the apostle is to prove this. The words here quoted are taken from Psalm 45:6, Psalm 45:7, which the ancient Chaldee paraphrast, and the most intelligent rabbins, refer to the Messiah. On the third verse of this Psalm, Thou art fairer than the children of men, the Targum says: "Thy beauty, משיחא מלכא malca Meshicha, O King Messiah, is greater than the children of men." Aben Ezra says: "This Psalm speaks of David, or rather of his son, the Messiah, for this is his name," Ezekiel 34:24; : And David my servant shall be a Prince over them for ever. Other rabbins confirm this opinion.
This verse is very properly considered a proof, and indeed a strong one, of the Divinity of Christ; but some late versions of the New Testament have endeavored to avoid the evidence of this proof by translating the words thus: God is thy throne for ever and ever; and if this version be correct, it is certain the text can be no proof of the doctrine. Mr. Wakefield vindicates this translation at large in his History of Opinions; and ὁ Θεος, being the nominative case, is supposed to be a sufficient justification of this version. In answer to this it may be stated that the nominative case is often used for the vocative, particularly by the Attics; and the whole scope of the place requires it should be so used here; and, with due deference to all of a contrary opinion, the original Hebrew cannot be consistently translated any other way, ועד עולם אלהים כסאך kisaca Elohim olam vaed, Thy throne, O God, is for ever, and to eternity. It is in both worlds; and extends over all time; and will exist through all endless duration. To this our Lord seems to refer, Matthew 28:18; : All power is given unto me, both in Heaven and Earth. My throne, i.e. my dominion, extends from the creation to the consummation of all things. These I have made, and these I uphold; and from the end of the world, throughout eternity, I shall have the same glory - sovereign, unlimited power and authority, which I had with the Father before the world began; John 17:5. I may add that none of the ancient versions has understood it in the way contended for by those who deny the Godhead of Christ, either in the Psalm from which it is taken, or in this place where it is quoted. Aquila translates אלהים Elohim, by Θεε, O God, in the vocative case; and the Arabic adds the sign of the vocative ya, reading the place thus: korsee yallaho ila abadilabada, the same as in our version. And even allowing that ὁ Θεος here is to be used as the nominative case, it will not make the sense contended for, without adding εστι to it, a reading which is not countenanced by any version, nor by any MS. yet discovered. Wiclif, Coverdale, and others, understood it as the nominative, and translated it so; and yet it is evident that this nominative has the power of the vocative: forsothe to the sone God thi troone into the world of world: a gerde of equite the gerde of thi reume. I give this, pointing and all, as it stands in my old MS. Bible. Wiclif is nearly the same, but is evidently of a more modern cast: but to the sone he seith, God thy trone is into the world of world, a gherd of equyte is the gherd of thi rewme. Coverdale translates it thus: But unto the sonne he sayeth, God, thi seate endureth for ever and ever: the cepter of thi kyngdome is a right cepter. Tindal and others follow in the same way, all reading it in the nominative case, with the force of the vocative; for none of them has inserted the word εστι, is, because not authorized by the original: a word which the opposers of the Divinity of our Lord are obliged to beg, in order to support their interpretation. See some farther criticisms on this at the end of this chapter.
A scepter of righteousness - The scepter, which was a sort of staff or instrument of various forms, was the ensign of government, and is here used for government itself. This the ancient Jewish writers understand also of the Messiah.
But unto the Son he saith - In Psalm 45:6-7. The fact that the writer of this Epistle makes this application of the Psalm to the Messiah, proves that it was so applied in his time, or that it would be readily admitted to be applicable to him. It has been generally admitted, by both Jewish and Christian interpreters, to have such a reference. Even those who have doubted its primary applicability to the Messiah, have regarded it as referring to him in a secondary sense. Many have supposed that it referred to Solomon in the primary sense, and that it has a secondary reference to the Messiah. To me it seems most probable that it had an original and exclusive reference to the Messiah. It is to be remembered that the hope of the Messiah was the special hope of the Jewish people. The coming of the future king, so early promised, was the great event to which they all looked forward with the deepest interest.
That hope inspired their prophets and their bards, and cheered the hearts of the nation in the time of despondency. The Messiah, if I may so express it, was the “hero” of the Old Testament - more so than Achilles is of the Iliad, and Aeneas of the Aenead. The sacred poets were accustomed to employ all their most magnificent imagery in describing him, and to present him in every form that was beautiful in their conception, and that would be gratifying to the pride and hopes of the nation. Everything that is gorgeous and splendid in description is lavished on him, and they were never under any apprehension of attributing to him too great magnificence in his personal reign; too great beauty of moral character; or too great an extent of dominion. That which would be regarded by them as a magnificent description of a monarch, they freely applied to him; and this is evidently the case in this Psalm. That the description may have been in part derived from the view of Solomon in the magnificence of his court, is possible, but no more probable than that it was derived from the general view of the splendor of any Oriental monarch, or than that it might have been the description of a monarch which was the pure creation of inspired poetry.
Indeed, I do see not why this Psalm should ever have been supposed to be applicable to Solomon. His “name” is not mentioned. It has no special applicability to him. There is nothing that would apply to him which would not also apply to many an Oriental prince. There are some things in it which are much less applicable to him than to many others. The king here described is a conqueror. He girds his sword on his thigh, and his arrows are sharp in the hearts of his foes, and the people are subdued under him. This was not true of Solomon. His was a reign of peace and tranquillity, nor was he ever distinguished for war. On the whole, it seems clear to me, that this Psalm is designed to be a beautiful poetic description of the Messiah as king. The images are drawn from the usual characteristics of an Oriental prince, and there are many things in the poem - as there are in parables - for the sake of keeping, or verisimilitude, and which are not, in the interpretation, to be cut to the quick.
The writer imagined to himself a magnificent and beautiful prince; a prince riding prosperously in his conquests; swaying a permanent and wide dominion; clothed in rich and splendid vestments; eminently upright and pure; and scattering blessings everywhere - and that prince was the Messiah. The Psalm, therefore, I regard as relating originally and exclusively to Christ; and though in the interpretation, the circumstances should not be unduly pressed, nor an attempt be made to spiritualize them, yet the whole is a glowing and most beautiful description of Christ as a King. The same principles of interpretation should be applied to it which are applied to parables, and the same allowance be made for the introduction of circumstances for the sake of keeping, or for finishing the story. If this be the correct view, then Paul has quoted the Psalm in conformity exactly with its original intention, as he undoubtedly quoted it as it was understood in his time.
“Thy throne.” A throne is the seat on which a monarch sits, and is here the symbol of dominion, because kings when acting as rulers sit on thrones. Thus, a throne becomes the emblem of authority or empire. Here it means, that his “rule” or “dominion” would be perpetual - “forever and ever” - which assuredly could not be applied to Solomon. “O God.” This certainly could not be applied to Solomon; but applied to the Messiah it proves what the apostle is aiming to prove - that he is above the angels. The argument is, that a name is given to “him” which is never given to “them.” They are not called “God” in any strict and proper sense. The “argument” here requires us to understand this word, as used in a sense more exalted than any name which is ever given to angels, and though it may be maintained that the name אלהים 'elohiymis given to magistrates or to angels, yet here the argument requires us to understand it as used in a sense superior to what it ever is when applied to an angel - or of course to any creature, since it was the express design of the argument to prove that the Messiah was superior to the angels.
The word “God” should be taken in its natural and obvious sense, unless there is some necessary reason for limiting it. If applied to magistrates Psalm 82:6, it must be so limited. If applied to the Messiah, there is no such necessity, John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6; 1 John 5:20; Philemon 2:6, and it should be taken in its natural and proper sense. The “form” here - ὁ Θεὸς ho Theos- is in the vocative case and not the nominative. It is the usual form of the vocative in the Septuagint, and nearly the only form of it - Stuart. This then is a direct address to the Messiah, calling him God; and I see not why it is not to be used in the usual and proper sense of the word. Unitarians proposed to translate this, “God is thy throne;” but how can God be “a throne” of a creature? What is the meaning of such an expression? Where is there one parallel? And what must be the nature of that cause which renders such an argument necessary? - This refers, as it seems to me, to the Messiah “as king.”
It does not relate to his mode of existence before the incarnation, but to him as the magnificent monarch of his people. Still, the ground or reason why this name is given to him is that he is “divine.” It is language which properly expresses his nature. He must have a divine nature, or such language would be improper. I regard this passage, therefore, as full proof that the Lord Jesus is divine; nor is it possible to evade this conclusion by any fair interpretation of it. It cannot be wrong to address him as God; nor addressing him as such, not to regard him as divine. “Is forever and ever.” This could not in any proper sense apply to Solomon. As applied to the Messiah, it means that his essential kingdom will be perpetual, Luke 1:33. As Mediator his kingdom will be given up to the Father, or to God without reference to a mediatorial work, (1 Corinthians 15:24, 1 Corinthians 15:28 - see notes on these verses), but his reign over his people will be perpetual.
There never will come a time when they shall not obey and serve him, though the special form of his kingdom, as connected with the work of mediation, will be changed. The form of the organized church, for example, will be changed, for there shall be no necessity for it in heaven, but the essential dominion and power of the Son of God will not cease. He shall have the same dominion which he had before he entered on the work of mediation; and that will be eternal. It is also true that, compared with earthly monarchs, his kingdom shall be perpetual. They soon die. Dynasties pass away. But his empire extends from age to age, and is properly a perpetual dominion. The fair and obvious interpretation of this passage would satisfy me, were there nothing else, that this Psalm had no reference to Solomon, but was designed originally as a description of the Messiah as the expected King and Prince of his people. “A scepter of righteousness.”
That is, a right or just scepter. The phrase is a Hebraism. The former expression described the perpetuity of his kingdom; this describes its “equable nature.” It would be just and equal; see notes on Isaiah 11:5. A “scepter” is a staff or wand usually made of wood, five or six feet long, and commonly overlaid with gold, or ornamented with golden rings. Sometimes, however, the scepter was made of ivory, or wholly of gold. It was borne in the hands of kings as an emblem of authority and power. Probably it had its origin in the staff or crook of the shepherd - as kings were at first regarded as the “shepherds” of their people. Thus, Agamemnon is commonly called by Homer the “shepherd” of the people. The “scepter” thus becomes the emblem of kingly office and power - as when we speak of “swaying a scepter;” - and the idea here is, that the Messiah would be a “king,” and that the authority which he would wield would be equitable and just. He would not be governed, as monarchs often are, by mere caprice, or by the wishes of courtiers and flatterers; he would not be controlled by mere “will” and the love of arbitrary lower; but the execution of his laws would be in accordance with the principles of equity and justice. - How well this accords with the character of the Lord Jesus we need not pause to show; compare notes on Isaiah 11:2-5.
In this life we can only begin to understand the wonderful theme of redemption. With our finite comprehension we may consider most earnestly the shame and the glory, the life and the death, the justice and the mercy, that meet in the cross; yet with the utmost stretch of our mental powers we fail to grasp its full significance. The length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of redeeming love are but dimly comprehended. The plan of redemption will not be fully understood, even when the ransomed see as they are seen and know as they are known; but through the eternal ages new truth will continually unfold to the wondering and delighted mind. Though the griefs and pains and temptations of earth are ended and the cause removed, the people of God will ever have a distinct, intelligent knowledge of what their salvation has cost. GC 651.1
The cross of Christ will be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity. In Christ glorified they will behold Christ crucified. Never will it be forgotten that He whose power created and upheld the unnumbered worlds through the vast realms of space, the Beloved of God, the Majesty of heaven, He whom cherub and shining seraph delighted to adore—humbled Himself to uplift fallen man; that He bore the guilt and shame of sin, and the hiding of His Father's face, till the woes of a lost world broke His heart and crushed out His life on Calvary's cross. That the Maker of all worlds, the Arbiter of all destinies, should lay aside His glory and humiliate Himself from love to man will ever excite the wonder and adoration of the universe. As the nations of the saved look upon their Redeemer and behold the eternal glory of the Father shining in His countenance; as they behold His throne, which is from everlasting to everlasting, and know that His kingdom is to have no end, they break forth in rapturous song: “Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His own most precious blood!” GC 651.2
The mystery of the cross explains all other mysteries. In the light that streams from Calvary the attributes of God which had filled us with fear and awe appear beautiful and attractive. Mercy, tenderness, and parental love are seen to blend with holiness, justice, and power. While we behold the majesty of His throne, high and lifted up, we see His character in its gracious manifestations, and comprehend, as never before, the significance of that endearing title, “Our Father.” GC 652.1Read in context »
The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate—a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1, 2. Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2. And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting.... When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” Proverbs 8:22-30. PP 34.1
The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings. “By Him were all things created, ... whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him.” Colossians 1:16. Angels are God's ministers, radiant with the light ever flowing from His presence and speeding on rapid wing to execute His will. But the Son, the anointed of God, the “express image of His person,” “the brightness of His glory,” “upholding all things by the word of His power,” holds supremacy over them all. Hebrews 1:3. “A glorious high throne from the beginning,” was the place of His sanctuary (Jeremiah 17:12); “a scepter of righteousness,” the scepter of His kingdom. Hebrews 1:8. “Honor and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” Psalm 96:6. Mercy and truth go before His face. Psalm 89:14. PP 34.2
The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all intelligent beings depends upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love—service that springs from an appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced obedience; and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service. PP 34.3Read in context »
1, 2 (Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 11:26). Resurrection Did Not Consecrate First Day—Christ rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day, and when holy beings of both heaven and earth were astir on the morning of the first day of the week, He rose from the grave to renew His work of teaching His disciples. But this fact does not consecrate the first day of the week, and make it a Sabbath. Jesus, prior to His death, established a memorial of the breaking of His body and the spilling of His blood for the sins of the world, in the ordinance of the Lord's supper, saying “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” And the repentant believer, who takes the steps required in conversion, commemorates in his baptism the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He goes down into the water in the likeness of Christ's death and burial, and he is raised out of the water in the likeness of His resurrection—not to take up the old life of sin, but to live a new life in Christ Jesus (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:204). 5BC 1113.1
6 (John 1:1-3, 14; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:6, 8; 2:14-17; 4:15). Deity Did Not Die—Was the human nature of the Son of Mary changed into the divine nature of the Son of God? No; the two natures were mysteriously blended in one person—the man Christ Jesus. In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. When Christ was crucified, it was His human nature that died. Deity did not sink and die; that would have been impossible. Christ, the sinless One, will save every son and daughter of Adam who accepts the salvation proffered them, consenting to become the children of God. The Saviour has purchased the fallen race with His own blood. 5BC 1113.2Read in context »
Jesus took the nature of humanity, in order to reveal to man a pure, unselfish love, to teach us how to love one another. 5BC 1126.1
As a man Christ ascended to heaven. As a man He is the substitute and surety for humanity. As a man He liveth to make intercession for us. He is preparing a place for all who love Him. As a man He will come again with power and glory, to receive His children. And that which should cause us joy and thanksgiving is, that God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.” Then we may have the assurance forever that the whole unfallen universe is interested in the grand work Jesus came to our world to accomplish, even the salvation of man (Manuscript 16, 1890). 5BC 1126.2Read in context »