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Traditional translation:

Your throne, God, is forever and ever.

Or this translation:

Your throne is God forever and ever.

A significant clue is that the context is written about a human Israelite king who himself also serves as a foreshadow of Jesus, as the author of the book of Hebrews reveals.

Wouldn't this passage be saying that the throne of God's king comes from God and thereby represents his sovereign authority on earth? It certainly cannot be saying that the king himself is literally God.

The surrounding contextual clues actually favor strongly against the traditional translation in my humble opinion.

3 Answers 3

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Let us examine these two texts separately.

Psalm 45:6

The text of this verse is (with my literal translation with which all except one translation agrees:

כִּסְאֲךָ֣ אֱ֭לֹהִים עֹולָ֣ם וָעֶ֑ד שֵׁ֥בֶט מִ֝ישֹׁ֗ר שֵׁ֣בֶט מַלְכוּתֶֽךָ = You throne, God, forever and ever - a scepter of righteousness [the] scepter of your kingdom

Let us observe several things about this verse:

  • there is no "is" (verb to be) describing God as the throne. Rather, we have a simple chain of nouns which must be (if we be very pedantic) translated, "Your throne of God forever ... ". That is, God is not the throne, but the throne is that of which belongs to God.
  • this is confirmed by the Greek LXX translation which reads: ὁ θρόνος σου, ὁ θεός, εἰς αἰῶνα αἰῶνος,... = The throne of You, O God is forever and ever ... "
  • the Hebrew (unlike the Greek) does not have a vocative case and so uses the equivalent of the nominative case as reflected in the Greek
  • this interpretation is further confirmed by the angel to Mary in Luke 1:31-33 - " ... His kingdom will never end."

Hebrews 1:8

Again, the text of this verse is:

πρὸς δὲ τὸν Υἱόν Ὁ θρόνος σου ὁ Θεὸς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος, καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος τῆς εὐθύτητος ῥάβδος τῆς βασιλείας αὐτοῦ. = Unto the Son [He says]: "The throne of you, O God, is forever and ever ... "

We pause only long enough to note that this reflects the LXX wording very closely. Daniel B Wallace in his "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics", p59, deals with this verse specifically when he offers these comments:

There are three possibilities for Θεὸς here: as subject ("God is your throne"; predicate ("your throne is God"); and nominative for vocative ("You throne O God is forever ..."). The S and PN translations can be lumped together and set off against the nominative for vocative approach. It is our view that the nominative for vocative view is to be preferred for the following reasons:

  1. It is an overstatement to argue that if a writer wanted to address God he could have used the vocative Θεε, because no where in the NT is this done except in Matt 27:46. The articular nominative for vocative is the almost universal choice
  2. This is especially the case in quoting from the LXX (as in Heb 1:8; cf Heb 10:7), for the LXX is equally reticent to use the vocative form, most likely since Hebrew lacked such a form.
  3. The accentuation in the Hebrew of Ps 45:7(6) suggests that there should be a pause between "throne" and "God" (indicating that tradition took "God" as direct address).
  4. This view takes seriously the μὲν ... δὲ construction of vv7-8, while the S-PN does not adequately handle these constructions. Specifically, if we v8 as "your throne if God" the δὲ loses its adversative force, for such a statement could also be made of angels, viz., that God reigns over them.
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    "Your throne [is] the God forever and ever." Christ's throne will endure forever and is supported by God his Father. As a throne supports a sitting body, God the Father is the gardener who supports the vine of Christ by watering it. Jesus is not God, but the Son of the living God.
    – Joshua B
    Commented Jan 29 at 13:42
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    @JoshuaB - stop putting words in my mouth. Heb 1:8 & 9 both say that the Father declares Jesus to be "God" , that is, ho theos - God in the highest sense.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 29 at 19:42
  • Actually, Hebrews 1:8 & 9 both say that the Father declares Jesus to be exalted above all things yet underneath only God his Father, and that his authority comes from God and is everlasting.
    – Joshua B
    Commented Jan 29 at 20:12
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OP's question, "

Wouldn't this passage be saying that the throne of God's king comes from God and thereby represents his sovereign authority on earth? It certainly cannot be saying that the king himself is literally God."

I would say yes, and a few more things to substantiate that.

Yet to the Son: Thy throne, O God is for the eon of the eon. Heb.1:8. CLT

Therefore, God, Thy God, anoints Thee with the oil of exaltation beyond the partners. Heb.1:9

We know the Son is the emblem of the divine assumptions. God assumes various characters during His administration of the eons. He is Creator, Savior, Judge and Reconciler. In every assumption He is represented by His Son who, as His Emblem is also Creator, Savior, Judge and Reconciler. Concordant commentary Heb.11

As Christ, He reigns over the next eon, including the thousand years. After that, in the new earth. He reigns as son. This is called "the eon of eon ", because it is the fruit of His reign during the proceeding eon. The Son has reigned to such purpose that there is no further need of His rule, He abdicates, turning over the kingdom to God. CLT commentary

Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put everything under His feet.”Now when it says that everything has been put under Him, this clearly does not include the One who put everything under Him. And when all things have been subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will be made subject to Him who put all things under Him, so that God may be all in all. 1 Co 15:28.

€Thy throne, O God, [is] age-during, and for ever, A sceptre of uprightness [Is] the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hatest wickedness, Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee, Oil of joy above thy companions. Psalm 45.6-7

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The Truth

As is obvious in several Psalms, the vocative “O God” comes in the middle of sentences. This is visible in the Septuagint also.

Literal Hebrew Bible at Psalms 45:6:

“Your throne, God, forever and ever”.

Literal Greek Septuagint at Psalms 44:7:

“The throne of you, O God, to the age of the age”.

[Note:- Since the Greek Septuagint was translated around 250 years before Christ, the translators had no cause to be prejudiced against Jesus. So they translated with the obvious first meaning which was captured correctly by the inspired author of the Hebrews as shown below.]

Literal NT quotes in Hebrews 1:8:

“The throne of you, O God, to the age of the age”.

Vocative in the Middle in Other Psalms (in Septuagint)

  • 39:9 : “To do Your will, O my God, I desired”

  • 54:2 : “Give ear, O God, to my prayer”.

  • 54:24 : “But You, O God, will bring down the wicked”

  • 59:12 : “Is it not You, O God, You who have rejected us?”

  • 64:2 : “Praise awaits You, O God, in Zion”.

  • 68:30 : “May Your salvation, O God, protect me”.

  • 70:17 : “Since my youth, O God, You have taught me”.

  • 138:23 : “Search me, O God, and know my heart”.

Benefit of Doubt

IF Psalms 45:6 and Hebrews 1:8 are meant to be “God is your throne forever and ever”, then:

a) It will show that Christ is greater than God!! Definitely the one sitting on the throne is greater than the throne itself. But this is unscriptural. Jesus Christ Himself said clearly that God the Father is greater than Him in authority. So, God cannot be dwindled into a mere throne. Neither is He a throne of others nor is He a footstool of others.

OR

b) As some say, this means the authority of the king comes from God. IF this is so, then what about the following Scripture:

“But I say to you not to swear at all, neither by heaven for it is the throne of God” (Matt 5:34).

IF (b) above is correct, then, according to Matthew 5:34, the Almighty God gets His authority from Heaven!!

Heaven is the throne of God and so, according to the above funny interpretation, it is the Heaven that gives all the authority to God making Heaven greater than the Almighty God. So, obviously, option (b) above cannot be true thus making option (a) correct proving that Jesus is addressed as “O God”.

[Even when God says that He has made Moses a god (Exo 7:1), He doesn’t say that “God is Moses’ throne”!]

Another Hurdle for the Deniers

Hebrews 1:10 is addressed to the Christ, the Son of God:

“And, "You, Lord, at the beginning founded the earth, and the heavens are works of Your hands.”

This is a direct quote from Psalms 102:25-27.

The problem is, Psalms 102 is addressed, without any doubt, to none other than Yahweh God Himself as is clearly shown in verses 1, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, and 24.

Suddenly, in the very next verse (verse 25), “You founded the earth” means “Yahweh founded the earth”.

And the author of Hebrews uses this verse pointing to Jesus Christ. This proves, beyond any doubt, that he considers Jesus as the Yahweh God of Psalms 102!!

No Need for a Doubt

But some teach erroneously that here “You, Lord (i.e., Yahweh)" is actually referring to God the Father. Let us see if this is true:

Analysis of Heb 1:10:

  • Verse 1: Author of Hebrews writes: “God (the Father) spoke to the fathers…..
  • Verse 2: Author of Hebrews (AoH) continues: “He (the Father) spoke to us in the Son…..
  • Verses 3 and 4: AoH continues to write about Lord Jesus.
  • Verse 5: AoH writes that God the Father speaks to His Son……
  • Verse 6: AoH writes that God the Father instructs all the angels to worship the Son…..
  • Verse 7: AoH writes that God makes His angels ministers and other things……
  • Verse 8: AoH writes that God speaks to the Son, “Your throne, God, for ever and ever………
  • Verse 9: AoH writes that God continues speaking to the Son……..
  • Verse 10: AoH writes that God continues to speak to His Son, ‘And “You Lord (Yahweh)……….

It is obvious from the above analysis of each verse that in verse 10, God the Father is addressing His Son as YHWH who created the universe!

Collocation

So, the million dollar question is this:

If God the Father addresses Jesus Christ as the YHWH of the Old Testament in Heb 1:10, what prevents Him from calling Jesus “O God” in verse 8?

Hence, it is very clear that the inspired author of Hebrews, who has collocated both Psalms 45:6 and Psalms 102:25-27 in reference to Jesus Christ, clearly understood the former Psalm (in both Hebrew Tanakh and Greek Septuagint) as “Your throne, O God”.

A logical analysis does not leave any doubt about it.

Conclusion

As a person who has studied this single topic diligently over several years, I am sure that whichever way we look at the Scripture and from whatever angle we strain our eyes searching through the Scripture, the truth will shine through:

That the Lord Jesus Christ is the Yahweh of the Old Testament who interacted actively with the first Parents, the Patriarchs, and the Prophets.

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    I actually agree with you that Jesus was the Lord YHWH of the old testament. He came from God to represent God on earth without himself being God. Being God's own Son, Jesus was the Angel of YHWH and could say on behalf of God that he was God, because God gave him his own name, YHWH, and all the authority that comes along with it.
    – Joshua B
    Commented Jan 31 at 18:30
  • Thanks for your explanation showing the vocative in the middle of other Psalms. I am firmly convinced now that it says, "Your throne, God, is everlasting."
    – Joshua B
    Commented Feb 1 at 4:04
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    Thumbs down for declaring the literal Greek to be an English translation and not acknowledging that the Greek Septuagint translation of this verse has the exact same nominative ambiguity as the Greek New Testament quotation of it. The grammar does not decisively demand that the literal English translation of the LXX must be "O God."
    – Austin
    Commented Feb 1 at 7:34
  • +1. Excellent answer. Many thanks, and well done.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 1 at 10:33
  • Thank you very much, Joshua B, for the positive feedback. Commented Feb 1 at 16:23

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