One of the objections that “Christian” unitarian heretics raise against the Deity of the Lord Jesus is to claim that the Messiah is never called Adonay (“Lord”), the Hebrew term that is typically reserved for Jehovah God alone. Rather, as in the case of Psalm 110:1, the Messiah is called Adoni (“my Lord”), a word they argue is never used for the true God.
I have already thoroughly refuted this canard of Adoni elsewhere in my articles, the links to which will be provided at the end of my current post. Here I am going to focus on rebutting the assertion that Adonay is never used for the Messiah since I will show where this term is applied to the coming Messianic King.
In the following Psalm, God’s Anointed King is not only called Adonay, but he is also identified as Elohim (“God”)!
“My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer… Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty (Gibbor), with thy glory and thy majesty… Thy throne, O God (Elohim), is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God (Elohim), thy God (Eloheka), hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows… so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord (Adonayik); and worship thou him… I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.” Psalm 45:1, 3, 6-7, 11, 17
The ik in Adonayik is a second person singular suffix, and literally means “your Adonay.”
Here’s the Greek translation (typically referred to as the Septuagint [LXX]) of the relevant parts of this specific Psalm:
“Thy throne, O God (Ho Theos), is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness… Because the king has desired thy beauty; for he is thy Lord (Kyrios sou).” Psalm 44:7, 12 LXX
What makes this particular Psalm so remarkable is that the Anointed Ruler of Israel is identified with the very names and characteristics that are elsewhere ascribed to Jehovah himself!
For instance, it is Jehovah who is the Lord (Adonay) and God (Elohim) of his people,
“thus saith thy Lord (Adonayik) the LORD, and thy God (Elohayik) that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:” Isaiah 51:22
And it is his throne that endures forever:
“Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.” Lamentations 5:19
And yet Psalm 45 describes the coming Davidic King as the eternally reigning Adonay Elohim, the Mighty One who is worshiped by his bride and whom all the peoples are to praise forever and ever!
This isn’t the only passage that explicitly identifies the Messianic Ruler as the Mighty One who is God:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God (El Gibbor), The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
Astonishingly, the prophet attributes to the Messiah another one of the titles of Jehovah God himself, namely, El Gibbor!
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God (El Gibbor).” Isaiah 10:20-21
The NT treats Psalm 45 as a Messianic prophecy since it applies it to the risen Christ:
“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God (Ho Theos), is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God (Ho Theos), even thy God (Ho Theos sou), hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Hebrews 1:8-9
The following rabbinic Jewish sources also confirm the Messianic interpretation of this specific Psalm:
Your beauty, O King Messiah, is greater than the sons of men; the spirit of prophecy has been placed on your lips; because of this the Lord has blessed you forever… The throne of your glory, O LORD, lasts forever and ever; the scepter of your kingdom is an upright scepter… And then the king will desire your beauty; for he is your master and you will bow down to him… At that time you will say, “We will invoke your name in every generation”; because of this the Gentiles who are converted will praise your name forever and ever and ever. Psalm 45:3, 7, 12, 18 (Edward M. Cook, The Psalms Targum: An English Translation, 2001 http://targum.info/pss/ps2.htm; bold and underline emphasis ours)
What makes this citation so remarkable is that Psalm 45:6, which identifies the Messiah as the God who reigns forever, is actually applied to Jehovah himself! I.e., the Jewish composer(s) of the foregoing Targum (Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew Bible) took the Psalm’s reference to the Messiah as God and ascribed it Jehovah himself!
My works befit the king (vs. 2)… This song befits the King Messiah (Radak). You are beautiful beyond other men (vs. 3)… This refers to the all-inclusive excellence of the Messiah, of whom the prophet says (Isaiah 52:13) Behold My servant shall be enlightened, he shall be exalted and lifted up and he shall be very high (Ibn Yachya) Accordingly God has blessed you for eternity (vs. 3). The kingdom of the Messiah shall endure forever (Meiri). He shall be eternally endowed with the greatest of blessings: he will find favor in the eyes of all men (Radak).
Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one – your majesty and your splendor(vs. 4)… In consonance with his opinion that this psalm describes the Messiah, Radak understands the sword as a regal weapon. Although the prophets always portray the Messianic era as a time of universals peace, this tranquility will be achieved only after the terrible war of Gog and Magog… During this cataclysmic confrontation, the Messiah’s martial skills will be his splendor. See Psalm 21:6… majesty and splendor You conferred upon him which Midrash Shocher Tov interprets as reference to Messiah who is endowed with two forms of excellence: beauty and strength.
And this is your splendor – gain success, ride high on truthfulness and righteous humility. May it guide you to awesome deeds with your right hand (vs. 5)… Radak understands verses 4 and 5 to mean: After You (Messiah) achieve Your splendid triumph over the enemies, as described in the preceding verse, do not subjugate them (ride over them) with pride and haughtiness. Rather be guided always by truth and sincere humility. And ride [high] on truthfulness. Rashi explains that the Torah scholar will issue true and honest decisions, unaffected by external factors. This is also a distinctive feature of the Messiah, as Scripture says: And the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge… and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes nor decide after the hearing of his ears (Isaiah 11:2, 3). True faith and sincere belief in Hashem are hallmarks of the Messiah as Isaiah (11:5) says: And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins and faith the girdle of his body (Ibn Yachya; Norah Tehillos). Targum interprets: [Messiah] will ride on a unique royal steed… And right and humility. This alludes to the excellent characteristics of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:4): And with righteousness he will judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth (Ibn Yachya). May it guide you to awesome deeds with your right hand… Norah Tehillos comments that Messiah, will be endowed with an unerring genius for ‘sniffing out’ the truth, as it says: And he shall smell with the fear of HASHEM (Isaiah 11:3). According to Rashi (ibid), the Messiah will be able to detect a person’s innocence or guilt merely by observing his face…
You love righteousness and hate wickedness, accordingly has God, your God, anointed you with oil of joy above your peers (vs. 8). Other monarchs gain their thrones as a result of savage power struggles in which all law, order, and decency are callously discarded. The unpopular king who rules only by brute force oppresses and tyrannizes his subjects, plunging them into misery. Not so the king of David’s line. His throne is divinely established by virtue of the king’s equity and righteousness. Therefore his enthusiastic subjects welcome his anointment as a cause for national gladness… This is the message of our verse: You Messiah, personally love righteousness and have hate wickedness: therefore God has personally anointed you with a special anointment.
Hear, O maiden, see and incline your ear, forget your people and your father’s house (vs. 11)… Metzudas David interprets this entire verse in reference to the Messiah. The Psalmist exhorts all of the nations (the daughters) to listen to the commands of the Messiah and to forget the wicked conspiracy of the nations of Gog and Magog, who plan to battle God’s chosen king.
I will commemorate Your Name through all generations, therefore the nations will acknowledge You forever and ever (vs. 18). Rashi maintains that the Psalmist is referring to God. Radak is of the opinion that the verse is speaking of Messiah. In every generation we make the constant mention of his name and await his arrival with longing… Radak concludes that since Israel yearned for Messiah in every generation, therefore all nations will eventually acknowledge his [universal, absolute] sovereignty, which will be unprecedented in the annals of history. (Tehillim Psalms, Translation and Commentary by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer [Mesorah Publications, Brooklyn, 1978], Volume 2, Psalm 45, pp. 562-575; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Interestingly, even liberal, critical biblical scholars acknowledge that Psalm 45 identifies the Israelite King as Elohim. For example, in his comments regarding Isaiah 9:6 noted biblical authority John J. Collins writes the following concerning Psalm 45:6:
“… Most importantly the passage confirms that the king could be addressed as elohim, ‘god.’ The latter point is further Ps 45:6 is most naturally translated as ‘Your throne, O God, endures forever.’ The objection that the king is not otherwise addressed as God loses its force in light of Isaiah 9. The fact that the king is addressed as God in Ps 45:6 is shown by the distinction drawn in the following verse, ‘therefore God, your God, has anointed you.’ The king is still subject to the Most High, but he is an elohim, not just a man.
“In light of this discussion, it seems very likely that the Jerusalemite enthronement ritual was influenced, even if only indirectly, by Egyptian ideas of kingship. At least as a matter of court rhetoric, the king was declared to be the son of God, and could be called an elohim, a god. This is not to say that the Judahite and Egyptian conceptions were identical. Most probably, the Israelites took over their conception of kingship from their Canaanite forebears in Jerusalem, and modified it in various ways.” (King and Messiah as Son of God: Divine, Human, and Angelic Messianic Figures in Biblical and Related Literature, by Adela Yarbro Collins & John J. Collins [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company Grand Rapids, Michigan/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], The King as Son of God, pp. 14-14)
And despite not completely agreeing with the assessment of NT scholar Bart D. Ehrman concerning the precise meaning of all of the OT texts he cites, his comments are remarkable nonetheless seeing that they come from an agnostic and hostile critic of Christianity:
“The son of a human is human, just as the son of a dog is a dog and the son of a cat is a cat. And so what is the son of God? As it turns out, to the surprise of many causal readers of the Bible, there are passages in which the king of Israel is referred to as divine, as God.
“Hebrew Bible scholar John J. Collins points out that this honor ultimately appears to derive from Egyptian ways of thinking about their king, the Pharaoh, as a divine being. Even in Egypt, where the king was a god, it did not mean that the king was on a par with the great gods, any more than the Roman emperor was thought to be on a par with Jupiter or Mars. But he was a god. As we have seen, in Egyptian and Roman circles, there were levels of divinity, and so too in Jewish circles. Thus we find highly exalted terms used of the king of Israel, terms that may surprise readers who think–on the basis of the kind of thinking that developed in the fourth Christian century–that there is an unbridgeable chasm between God and humans. Nonetheless, here it is, in the Bible itself, the king is called both Lord and God.
“For example, Psalm 110:1… The first term, LORD–traditionally printed in capital letters in English–is the Hebrew name of God YHWH, often spelled Yahweh. The four Hebrew letters representing that name were considered so special that in traditional Judaism they were not (and are not) pronounced. They are sometimes called the Tetragrammaton (Greek for ‘four letters’). The second term, ‘Lord,’ is a different word, adn (= adonai, or adoni), which is a common term for the Lord God but is also a term that could be used, for example, by a slave for his master. What is striking here is that YHWH is speaking to ‘my Lord’ and telling him to ‘sit at my right hand.’ Any being enthroned with God is sharing the glory, status, and honor due to God himself. There is not a question of identity or absolute parity here–the king, sitting at God’s right hand–is not God Almighty himself. That is clear from what is said next: God will conquer the king’s enemies for him and put them under his feet. But he is doing so for one whom he has exalted up to the level of his own throne. The king is being portrayed AS A DIVINE BEING who lives in the presence of God ABOVE ALL OTHER CREATURES.
“Even more stark is Psalm 45:6-7, in which the king is addressed in the following remarkably exalted terms, as a God…
“It is clear that the person addressed as ‘O God’ (Elohim) is not God Almighty but the king, because of what is said later: God Almighty is the king’s own God and has ‘anointed’ him with oil–the standard act of the king’s coronation ceremony in ancient Israel. And so God has both anointed and exalted the king above all others, EVEN TO A LEVEL OF DEITY. The King is in some sense God. Not equal with God Almighty, obviously (since the differentiation is made clearly, even here), but God nonetheless.
“A yet more astonishing example comes in the prophet Isaiah, chapter 9, which celebrates a new king who has been given to the people. Anyone who knows Handel’s Messiah will recognize the words: but unlike Handel, the passage in its original context in Isaiah appears to be referring not merely to the birth of the king, but to the birth of the king AS THE SON OF GOD–in other words, it is about his coronation. At this coronation, a ‘child’ has been given to the people– that is, the king has been made the ‘son of God.’ But what is said about the king is truly remarkable…
“That this passage is referring to the king of Israel is obvious by the final line. This is a king from the line of David: most scholars think it is reference to the king at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy, King Hezekiah. He is acclaimed as the ‘son’ of God, one with great authority and one who will bring endless peace. Clearly, this person is not God Almighty himself, since his authority is said to ‘grow continually,’ and one can hardly imagine God not having final, ultimate, and complete authority from the outset. Nonetheless, the epithets delivered for the king are astounding. He is called ‘Mighty God’ and ‘Everlasting Father.’ As the son of God he is exalted to the level of God AND SO HAS GOD’S STATUS, AUTHORITY, AND POWER–so much so that he can be called God.” (Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee [HarperOne, First edition 2014], 2. Divine Humans in Ancient Judaism, pp. 77-80; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Here is a summary of what we discovered thus far in regards to the testimony of the Hebrew Bible concerning the Messianic King.
- The Messiah is identified as Adonay.
- The Messiah is called Elohim.
- The Messiah is described as El Gibbor (“the Mighty God”).
- The Messiah’s reign is eternal.
- The Messiah is worshiped and praised by all peoples forever and ever.
The foregoing not only proves that the Messiah is identified as the God-Man, e.g. a fully divine Being who is also completely human, but it also serves to refute the unitarian claim that the Messiah is never called Adonay since he certainly is. In fact, the word Adonayik is only used twice in the entire Hebrew Bible, once for the Messianic King and the other for Jehovah himself!
What this means is that the Messiah, who is Jesus, is none other than the Lord God of all true believers, a fact confirmed by the inspired NT writings:
“Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have yet believed.’” John 20:28-29
“as we await the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness and purify for Himself a special people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:13-14
“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ… For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly provided for you.” 2 Peter 1:1, 11
Now if this isn’t sufficient enough to convince unitarians how mistaken they are then I am afraid nothing will be good enough to show them just how heretical and blasphemous their position happens to be.