Continued from Chapter 38

(Psalms 45:7-8)

Psalms 45:7-8 reads: “Your throne, God [’Elohim], is for ever and ever; a scepter of equity is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; therefore God [’Elohim], your God [’Elohecha], has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.”

In particular, we are interested in the literal text of Psalms 45:7a which states, “Your throne God [’Elohim] is forever and ever.” The overall context shows that an earthly king of Israel is being addressed. As a result, some Christians ask, “How is it possible that an earthly king is called ’Elohim? Tendentiously, presupposing this to be a messianic passage, they then contend that verse 7a actually points to the Messiah as a divine king, and then draw the conclusion that it refers to Jesus. But, these Christians ignore the poetic symbolism expressed in verse 7a. The Davidic king is the earthly ruler of God’s people. In that capacity he is God’s surrogate, the representative of the actual and eternal king of Israel, Israel’s Divine Ruler.

Thus, it is said: “Solomon sat upon the throne of the Lord as king, in place of his father, David, and he was successful” (1 Chronicles 29:23). Verse 7a, “Your throne, God [’Elohim], is for ever and ever,” is a parenthetical statement placed in the text to explain why verse 8b says, “therefore God [’Elohim], your God [’Elohecha], has anointed you.” As an ideal, the earthly king of the house of David is rewarded because he has “loved righteousness, and hated wickedness” (verse 8a); this will, of course, someday include the Messiah. Yet, whoever the reigning king may be, the throne still belongs to the eternal God of Israel. The Davidic throne is God’s throne on earth. Kings of the house of David rule by God’s permission and are His representatives. Therefore, verse 7a is to be understood as an acknowledgement made to God but addressed to God’s surrogate. The reigning king is told, in effect, “Your throne is God’s forever and ever.” And, today, although this earthly kingship is temporarily suspended it is, nevertheless, God’s “for ever and ever.”

© Gerald Sigal