Hebrews 1:8
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
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(8) Unto.—Rather, of. The connection with Hebrews 1:7 is so close (“Whereas of the angels He saith . . . of the Son He saith”), that we must not vary the rendering of the preposition. The passage which follows is taken from Psalm 45:6-7. As the words stand in the ordinary Greek text, they agree exactly with the LXX.; but certain alterations of reading are required by the best evidence. After the words “for ever and ever” and must be restored, and in the following clause the and a must change places. The latter change is of moment only as it affects the former. Were the words in all other respects cited with perfect exactness, the introduction of and would probably indicate that the writer intended to split up the quotation into two parts, each significant for his purpose. (Comp. Hebrews 2:13.) As, however, we note other minor changes, the insertion of the connecting word is probably accidental. A third reading is of much greater importance. At the close of the verse the two oldest of our Greek MSS. agree in reading “His kingdom:” to this we will return afterwards.

We have every reason to believe that the application of Psalms 45 which is here made was fully received by the ancient Jews; thus in the Targum on the Psalm Hebrews 1:7 is taken as a direct address to the King Messiah. Hence the readers of this Epistle would at once recognise the argument which the words contain. It is strongly maintained by some that the Psalm (like Psalms 110, see below, on Hebrews 1:13) is altogether prophetic, the promised Messiah alone being in the Psalmist’s thought. There appear to be insuperable objections to this view, from particular expressions used (in the later verses especially), and from the general structure and colouring of the Psalm. It is in every way more probable that the second Psalm (see Note on Hebrews 1:5), rather than Psalms 110, represents the class to which Psalms 45 belongs. Originally writing in celebration of the marriage of a king of David’s line (we know not whom, but many of the arguments urged against the possible reference to Solomon have no great weight), the inspired Psalmist uses words which bear their full meaning only when applied to that Son of David of whose kingdom there shall be no end. The promises made to David (2 Samuel 7) are before the writer’s mind in the first verses of the Psalm. The king appointed by God is His representative to God’s people; his cause is that of truth and righteousness; his dominion will continually advance. It is at this moment that, with the promise of a divine sonship (Psalms 2) in his thought, he suddenly addresses the sing as Elohim (Hebrews 1:7), a divine king who receives from God the reward of righteousness (Hebrews 1:8). There are in the Old Testament examples of the use of Elohim which diminish the difficulty of its application to an earthly king (such as Psalm 82:1; Psalm 95:3; 1Samuel 28:13; Exodus 7:1); but it must still be acknowledged that the passage stands alone. This difficulty, however, relates only to the primary application. As the higher and true reference of the words became revealed, all earthly limitations disappeared; the Christian readers of the Psalm recognised in the Messiah of whom it speaks a King who is God.

The reading “His kingdom” has seemed to require a different rendering of the words in the first part of the verse: God is Thy throne for ever and ever. This rendering, however, will suit either reading of the Greek, and is equally admissible as a rendering of the Hebrew. Nor is it really inconsistent with the position in which the verse here stands: in contrast with the ministry of angels is set, on this view, not indeed a direct address to the Son as God, but the sovereign rule which the Son receives from God. The objections raised against it are: (1) such an expression as “God is Thy throne” is contrary to the analogy of Scripture language; (2) the ordinary rendering has the support of almost all ancient authority, Jewish writers and ancient versions being apparently united in its favour. The former argument is not very strong in face of Psalm 90:1, and similar passages; but the latter is so weighty that we hesitate to accept the change, helpful as it would be in making clear the original and typical reference of Hebrews 1:7. It should be said that the reading “His kingdom” is not inconsistent with the ordinary translation of the preceding words; for a sudden transition from “Thy throne, O God” to “His kingdom” is in full accordance with the usage of Hebrew poetry. (See Psalm 43:4; Psalm 67:5-6; Psalm 104:4-6, et al.) There are other renderings which would require discussion if we were concerned with the Hebrew text of the Psalm: the two given above are the only possible translations of the Greek.

A sceptre . . .—Rather, the sceptre of uprightness is a sceptre of Thy (or, His) kingdom. Righteousness itself (so to speak, the very ideal of righteous government) bears sway in Thy kingdom.

1:4-14 Many Jews had a superstitious or idolatrous respect for angels, because they had received the law and other tidings of the Divine will by their ministry. They looked upon them as mediators between God and men, and some went so far as to pay them a kind of religious homage or worship. Thus it was necessary that the apostle should insist, not only on Christ's being the Creator of all things, and therefore of angels themselves, but as being the risen and exalted Messiah in human nature, to whom angels, authorities, and powers are made subject. To prove this, several passages are brought from the Old Testament. On comparing what God there says of the angels, with what he says to Christ, the inferiority of the angels to Christ plainly appears. Here is the office of the angels; they are God's ministers or servants, to do his pleasure. But, how much greater things are said of Christ by the Father! And let us own and honour him as God; for if he had not been God, he had never done the Mediator's work, and had never worn the Mediator's crown. It is declared how Christ was qualified for the office of Mediator, and how he was confirmed in it: he has the name Messiah from his being anointed. Only as Man he has his fellows, and as anointed with the Holy Spirit; but he is above all prophets, priests, and kings, that ever were employed in the service of God on earth. Another passage of Scripture, Ps 102:25-27, is recited, in which the Almighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ is declared, both in creating the world and in changing it. Christ will fold up this world as a garment, not to be abused any longer, not to be used as it has been. As a sovereign, when his garments of state are folded and put away, is a sovereign still, so our Lord, when he has laid aside the earth and heavens like a vesture, shall be still the same. Let us not then set our hearts upon that which is not what we take it to be, and will not be what it now is. Sin has made a great change in the world for the worse, and Christ will make a great change in it for the better. Let the thoughts of this make us watchful, diligent, and desirous of that better world. The Saviour has done much to make all men his friends, yet he has enemies. But they shall be made his footstool, by humble submission, or by utter destruction. Christ shall go on conquering and to conquer. The most exalted angels are but ministering spirits, mere servants of Christ, to execute his commands. The saints, at present, are heirs, not yet come into possession. The angels minister to them in opposing the malice and power of evil spirits, in protecting and keeping their bodies, instructing and comforting their souls, under Christ and the Holy Ghost. Angels shall gather all the saints together at the last day, when all whose hearts and hopes are set upon perishing treasures and fading glories, will be driven from Christ's presence into everlasting misery.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 'elohiym, is 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; Philippians 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.

8. O God—the Greek has the article to mark emphasis (Ps 45:6, 7).

for ever … righteousness—Everlasting duration and righteousness go together (Ps 45:2; 89:14).

a sceptre of righteousness—literally, "a rod of rectitude," or "straightforwardness." The oldest manuscripts prefix "and" (compare Es 4:11).

In the Father’s apostrophe to the Son, he giveth him the name of God, and thereby is he proved to have a better one than angels, made by, and servants to, him; and as the great gospel Minister hath a kingdom, in which they are his ministers and servants: this proof is quoted out of Psalm 45:6,7. It was not to Solomon or David, but to the Son God-man, spoken by the Father. The whole Psalm is written of him, and incompatible to any other is the matter of it. It represents him and his mystical marriage to the church; compare Ephesians 5:23-33 Revelation 19:7,8 22:17.

Thy throne, O God: some heretics, to elude this proof of Christ’s Deity, would make God the genitive case in the proposition, as: Thy throne of God, expressly contrary to the grammar, both in Hebrew and Greek: others gloss it, that o yeov is the nominative case, as, God is thy throne for ever, &c. i.e. He doth and will establish it: but this is cavilling, since it is the Father’s speech to and of his Son, describing his nature in opposition to the angels before. They were created spirits, but he was God; they were ministers and servants in his kingdom, where he was King; therefore his name and person is better than theirs.

God, in the singular, was a name never given to any creature, but is expressive of his Divine nature, and his relation in the Deity, being God the Son.

Is for ever and ever: his office as God-man, and great gospel Minister, is a royal one. He is a great King, angels are subjects of his kingdom as well as men, which royalty is set out by the ensigns of it; as here, by a throne, which is an emblem of royal authority, dominion, and power, whence he displayeth himself in his kingdom. It is a heavenly one, of a perfect constitution and administration, and of eternal continuance. His it was by natural inheritance, as God the Son; and as man united to the Godhead, he inheriteth the privileges of that person. This natural dominion over all things remaineth for ever, Colossians 1:16.

A sceptre of righteousness is a sceptre of thy kingdom: another ensign of his royal dominion and kingdom is his sceptre, which is his Spirit put out in his government of the world, and in his special work of grace, guiding and conforming, through his word and ordinances, the hearts of his chosen to the will of his Father. This sceptre is subjectively right in itself, and efficiently, making all under its power to be rectified according to the right and pure mind and will of God: compare Psalm 110:1-3.

But unto the Son, he saith,.... What he does not to angels, and which sets him infinitely above them; which shows him to be a Prince and King, and not a servant, or minister; and which even ascribes deity to him:

thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: this, with what follows in this verse, and the next, is taken out of Psalm 45:6 which psalm is not spoken of Solomon, to whom many things in it will not agree; he was not fairer than other men; nor was he a warrior; nor was his throne for ever and ever; and much less a divine person, and the object of worship; but the Messiah, and so the ancient Jews understand it: the Targum applies it to him, and mentions him by name in Hebrews 1:2 and some of their modern writers (z) affirm it is said of the Messiah; though Aben Ezra seems doubtful about it, saying, it is spoken concerning David, or Messiah his Son, whose name is so, Ezekiel 37:25. Deity is here ascribed to the Son of God; he is expressly called God; for the words will not bear to be rendered, "thy throne is the throne of God, or thy throne is God"; or be supplied thus, "God shall establish thy throne": nor are the words an apostrophe to the father, but are spoken to the king, the subject of the psalm, who is distinguished from God the Father, being blessed and anointed by him; and this is put out of all doubt by the apostle, who says they are addressed "to the Son", who is not a created God, nor God by office, but by nature; for though the word "Elohim" is sometimes used of those who are not gods by nature; yet being here used absolutely, and the attributes of eternity, and most perfect righteousness, being ascribed to the person so called, prove him to be the true God; and this is the reason why his throne is everlasting, and his sceptre righteous, and why he should be worshipped, served, and obeyed. Dominion and duration of it are given to him; his throne denotes his kingly power, and government; which is general, over angels, good and bad; over men, righteous and wicked, even the greatest among them, the kings and princes of the earth: and special, over his church and people; and which is administered by his Spirit and grace in the hearts of his saints; and by his word and ordinances in his churches; and by his powerful protection of them from their enemies; and will be in a glorious manner in the latter day, and in heaven to all eternity; for his throne is for ever, and on it he will sit for ever: his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; he will have no successor in it, nor can his government be subverted; and though he will deliver up the kingdom to the Father, it will not cease.

A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom; the sceptre is an ensign of royalty; and a sceptre of righteousness, or rightness, is expressive of the justice of government; the Syriac version renders it, "a sceptre stretched out"; which is a sceptre of mercy, as the instance of Ahasuerus stretching out his sceptre to Esther shows; and such is the Gospel of Christ, which holds forth and declares the mercy, grace, and love of God to men through Christ; and which may be called a sceptre of righteousness, since it reveals and directs to the righteousness of Christ, and encourages to works of righteousness; but here it designs the righteous administration of Christ's kingly office; for just and true are, have been, and ever will be his ways, as King of saints.

(z) Kimchi & R. Sol. ben Melech in loc. & R. Abraham Seba, Tzeror Hammor, fol. 49. 2.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy {o} throne, O God, is for ever {p} and ever: a {q} sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

(o) The throne is proper for princes and not for servants.

(p) For everlasting, for this repeating of the word increases the significance of it beyond all measure.

(q) The government of your kingdom is righteous.

Hebrews 1:8-9 derived from Psalm 45:7-8 (6, 7). The psalm is an epithalamium, a wedding-song. But even by Rabbins like Aben Esra, Kimchi, and others, it is Messianically interpreted.

Hebrews 1:8. The nominative ὁ θεός is taken by our author in the sense of the vocative (comp. e.g. Colossians 3:18 ff.; Luke 8:54; Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 172; Kühner, II. p. 155), thus as an apostrophe to the Messiah.[38] In the Hebrew words: כִּסְאֲךָ אֱלֹהִים עו̇לָם וָעֶד, אֱלֹהִים is not vocative, but to be translated either after the analogy of Leviticus 26:42 (וְזָכַרְתִּי אֶת־בְּרִיתִי יַעֲקו̇ב, I will remember my Jacob’s-covenant, i.e. the covenant made by me with Jacob), with Bleek, de Wette, and Kurtz: “thy throne of God,” i.e. “thy divine throne;” or, with Ewald (ad loc. and Gramm. § 547): “thy throne is (throne) of God or divine.” The Greek ὁ θεός, too, it has been thought by Grimm (Theol. Literaturbl. to the Darmstadt Allg. Kirch.-Zeit. 1857, No. 29, p. 662) and Ewald (das Sendschr. an d. Hebr. p. 55), ought not to be explained in the sense of a vocative. According to Grimm, the words are to be taken in the acceptation: “Thy throne, i.e. the foundation of Thy throne, is God;” according to Ewald, they say that “the throne of the Messiah for everlasting ages is God Himself, so that where He reigns, there God Himself is virtually ever present.” But the argument urged by Grimm in favour of this construction—that, since Philo, as frequently also the Christian Alexandrians, makes a sharp distinction between ὁ θεός (with the article) as a designation of God, and θεός (without an article) as designation of the Logos, it is hardly to be regarded as probable that a man of Alexandrian culture, like our author, would have called Christ as to His divine nature Ὁ ΘΕΌς—would have had weight only if that designation, in place of being met with in a citation, had occurred in our author’s own discourse.

ΕἸς ΤῸΝ ΑἸῶΝΑ ΤΟῦ ΑἸῶΝΟς] sc. ἐστίν. So LXX., Cod. Alex.; Cod. Vatican.: εἰς αἰῶνα αἰῶνος. The same (merely Hellenistic) formula, strengthening the simple εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (Hebrews 5:6, and often), also Tob. 2:18; Psalm 83:18, al. In independent discourse the author uses in place thereof ΕἸς ΤῸ ΔΙΗΝΕΚΈς. Comp. Hebrews 7:3, Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 12:14.

ῬΆΒΔΟς ΕὐΘΎΤΗΤΟς] a sceptre of uprightness, i.e. of righteousness. εὐθύτης, in the N. T. only here; but comp. LXX. Psalm 9:9; Psalm 67:5; Psalm 96:10; Psalm 98:9. Comp. also Aeschylus, Persae, ver. 1:726 f. (according to the division in Hartung’s edition, Leipzig 1853):

[38] Against the peculiar opinion of Hofmann (Schriftbew. I. p. 168 f. 2 Aufl.), that, vv. 8, 9, it is not Christ who is addressed; that, on the contrary, the author of the epistle leaves it to the reader “to take the words: ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεός, as an address to Jehovah, or with a right understanding of the connection כִּסְאֲךָ אֱלֹהִים as an address to the king, the anointed of Jehovah,” see Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 286, Remark.


ταγεῖν, ἔχοντα σκῆπτρον εὐθυντήριον.

Hebrews 1:8. πρὸς δὲ τὸν υἱός …, the quotation being from Psalms 45 in which the King in God’s kingdom is described ideally. The points in the quotation which make it relevant to the writer’s purpose are the ascription of dominion and perpetuity to the Son. The emphatic words, therefore, are θρόνος, εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ῥάβδος, and παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους σου. It does not matter, therefore, whether we translate “Thy throne is God” or “Thy throne, O God,” for the point here to be affirmed is not that the Messiah is Divine, but that He has a throne and everlasting dominion. Westcott adopts the rendering “God is thy throne,” and compares Psalm 71:3; Isaiah 26:4; Psalm 90:1; Psalm 91:1-2; Deuteronomy 33:27. He thinks it scarcely possible that “God” can be addressed to the King. Vaughan, on the other hand, says: “Evidently a vocative. God is thy throne might possibly have been said (Psalm 46:1): thy throne is God seems an unnatural phrase. And even in its first (human) application the vocative would cause no difficulty (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34-35).” Weiss strongly advocates this construction, and speaks of the other as quite given up. εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τ. f1αἰῶνος, “to the age of the age,” “for ever and ever,” “to all eternity.” Cf. Ephesians 3:21, εἰς πάσας τ. γενεὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος τ. αἰώνων, and the frequent εἰς τ. αἰῶνας τ. αἰώνων. See others in Vaughan or Concordance. “The aim of all these varieties of expression is the same; to heap up masses of time as an approximation to the conception of eternity” (Vaughan). καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς εὐθύτητος ῥάβδος τ. βασιλείας σου. The less strongly attested reading [see notes] gives the better sense: The sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness. The well-attested reading gives the sense: “The sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom”. The everlasting dominion affirmed in the former clause is now declared to be a righteous rule. An assurance of this is given in the the further statement.

8. But unto the Son he saith] Rather “But of (lit., with reference to) the Son.” The Psalm (45) from which the quotation is taken, is called in the LXX. “A song for the beloved,” and has been Messianically interpreted by Jewish as well as Christian expositors. Hence it is chosen as one of the special Psalms for Christmas Day.

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever] The quotation is from Psalm 45:6-7 (LXX.) which in its primary and historic sense is a splendid epithalamium to Solomon, or Joram, or some theocratic king of David’s house. But in the idealism and hyperbole of its expression it pointed forward to “the King in His beauty.” “Thy throne, O Elohim,” is the rendering which seems most natural, and this at once evidences the mystic and ideal character of the language; for though judges and rulers are sometimes collectively and indirectly called Elohim (Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8; Psalms 73; John 10:34-36) yet nothing which approaches a title so exalted is ever given to a human person, except in this typical sense (as in Isaiah 9:6). The original, however, has been understood by some to mean “Thy divine throne;” and this verse maybe rendered “God is Thy throne for ever and ever.” Philo had spoken of the Logos as “the eldest Angel,” “an Archangel of many names” (De Conf. Ling. 28), and it was most necessary for the writer to shew that the Mediator of the New Covenant was not merely an Angel like the ministers of the Old, or even an Archangel, but the Divine Præ-existent Son whose dispensation therefore supersedes that which had been administered by inferior beings. The Targum on this Psalm (45:3) renders it “Thy beauty, O King Messiah, is greater than the sons of men,” and Aben Ezra says it refers not so much to David as to his son Messiah.

a sceptre of righteousness] Rather, “the sceptre of rectitude.” The Greek word is euthutçtos not dikaiosunçs, which is the word used in the next verse. “Euthutçs” occurs here only in the N.T.

of thy kingdom] The two oldest MSS. (א, B) read “of His kingdom.”

Hebrews 1:8. Πρὸς τὸν Υἱὸν to the Son) by a direct speech. Comp. πρὸς, to, Hebrews 1:7.—ὁ θρόνοςμετόκους σου) So again, the LXX. say distinctly, Psalm 45:7-8, Thy throne, O GOD, is for ever and ever: the sceptre (rod) of thy kingdom is a sceptre (rod) of righteousness. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hast hated iniquity; therefore GOD, even thy GOD, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Concerning the Throne, comp. Lamentations 5:19. [Government over all is indicated.—V. g.]—ὁ Θεὸς, O God) The vocative case with the article is in the highest degree emphatic. They clearly do violence to the text, who hold the opinion, that it is the nominative case in this passage, as Artemonius does, Part. ii. c. 2. The Throne and the Sceptre are joined; nor did God say, I will be thy throne, but, I will establish the throne of the son of David; Psalm 89:5; Psalm 89:30; Psalm 89:37.—αἰῶνα· εὐθύτητος, for ever: of righteousness) Eternity and righteousness are attributes very closely connected, Psalm 89:15, where the words מכון and יקדמו should be well considered. See also Hebrews 1:3 of this Psalms 45, where לעולם may be taken into consideration.

Verses 8-13. - Two more quotations from the psalms with reference to the SON adduced in contrast. Verses 8, 9. - But unto the Son he saith. The preposition here translated "unto" is πρὸς, as in ver. 7, there translated "of." As is evident from its use in ver. 7, it does not imply of necessity that the persons spoken of are addressed in the quotations, though it is so in this second case. The force of the preposition itself need only be "in reference to." The first quotation is from Psalm 45:6, 7. The psalm was evidently written originally as an epithalamium on the occasion of the marriage of some king of Israel to some foreign princess. The general and probable opinion is that the king was Solomon. His marriage with Pharaoh's daughter may have been the occasion. The view taken by some (as Hengstenberg), that the psalm had no original reference to an actual marriage, being purely a Messianic prophecy, is inconsistent both with its own contents and with the analogy of other Messianic psalms (see what was said on this head with reference to Psalm 2.). Those who enter into the view of Messianic prophecy that has been given above, will have no difficulty in perceiving the justness of the application of this psalm to Christ, notwithstanding its primary import. Like Psalm 2, it presents (in parts at least) an ideal picture, suggested only and imperfectly realized by the temporary type; an ideal of which we find the germ in 2 Samuel 7, and the amplification in later prophecy. Further, the title, "For the precentor" (" To the chief musician," A.V.), shows that the psalm was used in the temple services, and thus, whatever might be the occasion of its composition, was understood by the Jews of old as having an ulterior meaning. Further, there is possibly (as Delitzsch points out) a reference to the psalm as Messianic in Isaiah 61:1-3, where "the Servant of Jehovah," "the Anointed," gives the "oil of gladness" for mourning; and in Isaiah 9:5, where the words of the psalm," God" (ver. 6) and "mighty" (ver. 3) are compounded for a designation of the Messiah; also in Zechariah 12:8, where it is prophesied that in the latter days" the house of David" shall be "as God." The Messianic interpretation is undoubtedly ancient. The Chaldee paraphrast (on ver. 3) writes, "Thy beauty, O King Messiah, is greater than that of the sons of men." Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. Attempts have been made to evade the conclusion that the king is here addressed as "God,"

(1) by taking the clause as a parenthetic address to God himself;

(2) by regarding" God" as appended to "throne," or as the predicate of the sentence; i.e. translating either "Thy throne of God is," etc. (according to the sense of 1 Chronicles 29:23, "Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king"), or "Thy throne is God [i.e. Divine] for ever and ever." As to

(1), the context repudiates it. As to

(2), it is a question whether the Hebrew is patient of the supposed construction. At any rate, "God" is understood as a vocative in the LXX. as well as in the Epistle, in which the LXX. is quoted (for the use of the nominative form, ὁ Θεὸς, in a vocative sense, cf. Luke 18:11, 13; Matthew 27:29; Mark 9:25; Luke 8:54; Luke 12:32);' and in the Chaldee paraphrase, and all ancient versions, it is understood so also. Probably no other interpretation would have been thought of but for the difficulty of supposing an earthly king to be thus addressed. It is to be observed, however, that the other rendering would express essentially the same idea, and be sufficient for the argument. In either case the throne of the SON is represented as God's throne, and eternal. The only difference is that the vocative rendering makes more marked and manifest the ideal view of his subject taken by the psalmist. For it is most unlikely that a bard of the sanctuary, a worshipper of the jealous God of Israel, would have so apostrophized any earthly king except as prefiguring "a greater than Solomon" to come. It is true that kings are elsewhere called "gods" in the plural (as in Psalm 82:6, referred to by our Lord, John 10:35); but the solemn addressing of an individual king by this title is (if the vocative rendering be correct) peculiar to this psalm. The passage (1 Samuel 28:13) adduced in abatement of the significance of the title, where the apparition of Samuel is described by the witch of Endor as "Elohim ascending out of the earth," is not a parallel case. The word "Elohim" has a comprehensive meaning, depending on context for its precise significance. If vocatively used in a solemn address to a king sitting upon an everlasting throne, it surely implies the assigning of Divine honors to the king so addressed. In this case still more is implied than in Psalm 2, where the King is spoken of as God's Son, enthroned on Zion, the Son being here addressed as himself "Elohim." It may be that the inspiring Spirit suggested language to the psalmist beyond his own comprehension at the time of utterance (see 1 Peter 1:10, 11). It may be added that the ultimate Messianic reference of the expression is confirmed by Isaiah 9:6, where the title El-Gibber ("Mighty God," A.V.) distinctly used of God himself in Isaiah 10:21 (cf. Deuteronomy 10:17; Jeremiah 32:18; Nehemiah 9:32; Psalm 24:8), is applied to the Messiah. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. In this and the following clause is expressed the important idea that the ideal throne of the SON is founded on righteousness, whence comes also his peculiar unction with "the oil of gladness." Only so far as Solomon or other theocratic kings exemplified the Divine righteousness, did they approach the ideal position assigned to the Son. cf. the latter part of ver. 14 in the original promise, 2 Samuel 7, and especially 2 Samuel 23:3, etc., in the "last words of David." Observe also the prominence of the idea in Psalm 72. and in later prophecy (cf. Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:2, etc.). Therefore, God, even thy God. The first "God" here may be again in the vocative, as in the preceding verse, or it may be as the A.V. takes it (cf. Psalm 43:4; Psalm 50:7). Hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. The primary reference is, not to the king's coronation (as in Psalm 89:20), but to unction as symbolical of blessing and joy, connected with the custom of anointing the head at feasts (cf. Deuteronomy 28:40; Psalm 23:5; Psalm 92:10; Song of Solomon 1:12; Matthew 6:17). "Thy fellows," in its original reference, seems most naturally to mean "thy associates in royalty," "other kings;" cf. Psalm 79:27, "I will make him my Firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth." Or it might mean the companions of the bridegroom, the παρανύμφιοι. The latter reference lends itself readily to the fulfillment in Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, whose παρανύμφιοι the redeemed are; themselves also being, after their measure, χριστοί (cf. 1 John 2:20, 27). But they are also made "kings and priests unto God" by Christ (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10); so that either of the supposed original references may be shown to be typical, if it be thought necessary to find a definite fulfillment of all the details of the address to the theocratic king. The view that in the fulfillment the angels are to be understood as Christ's μετόχοι is inadmissible. There is nothing in the psalm to suggest the thought of them, nor does the way in which they are contrasted with the SON in this chapter admit of their being here spoken of as his μετόχοι. Men, in the next chapter, are so spoken of. Hebrews 1:8Fifth quotation, Psalm 45:7, Psalm 45:8. A nuptial ode addressed to an Israelitish king. The general sense is that the Messiah's kingdom is eternal and righteously administered.

Thy throne, O God (ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ θεὸς)

I retain the vocative, although the translation of the Hebrew is doubtful. The following renderings have been proposed: "thy throne (which is a throne) of God": "thy throne is (a throne) of God": "God is thy throne." Some suspect that the Hebrew text is defective.

Forever and ever (εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος)

Lit. unto the aeon of the aeon. See additional note on 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

A sceptre of righteousness (ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς εὐθύτητος)

Rend. the sceptre. The phrase N.T.o. olxx. Ἐυθύτης, lit. straightness, N.T.o. It occurs in lxx.

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