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a strange quotation in Hebrews 1

03-01-2012 - Posted by Andre Piet

The various blogs I’ve written in the past few weeks, about the “one God and the Man, Christ Jesus” (1Tim.2:5), have spawned quite a few reactions. Some questions and comments that have reached me, I would like to discuss, here, in the coming days. QUESTION: Is it not clearly stated in Hebrews 1:10-12 that the Son is the YAHWEH, Who has created the heavens and earth? ANSWER: At first glance, it seems indeed that the words, that are cited in Hebrews 1 from Psalm 102:26-28, are applied to the Son. After all, the writer of the Hebrew-letter shows from Chapter 1, beginning at verse 5, various passages from the Hebrew Bible in which God expresses facts about the Son:

  • in verse 5, a quote from Psalm 2 as well as from 1Samuël 7
  • in verse 6, a quote from Psalm 97
  • in verse 8, a quote from Psalm 145
  • in verse 13, a quote from Psalm 110

In all these examples, God spoke to or about the Son. When verse 10, also, begins with “And …”, you would expect again that a Scripture reference will follow in which God, directly or indirectly, speaks to the Son. But this time it such is not mentioned, as was the case in the above quotations. Moreover, it is clear from the content of the quote that follows, that God is not the speaker, but the One spoken to. Psalm 102 certainly is a Messianic Psalm, but that is true because the Psalmist himself is a type of the suffering Messiah. We can readily see this, by merely connecting the previous verses in Psalm 102 with the quotation (the italicized portion is quoted in Hebrews 1).

23 On the way He has humbled my vigor; He has shortened my days. 24 I am saying, O my El, do not take me away at the half of my days! Your years continue through generation after generations. 25 Beforetime You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 They shall perish, yet You shall stand. All of them shall decay like a cloak; You shall change them like clothing, and they shall pass by. 27 Yet You remain the same, And Your years shall not come to end.

the Psalmist a type of the Messiah The psalmist was here writing prophetic words, out of the mouth of the Messiah: “He has humbled my vigor; He has shortened my days… do not take me away at the half of my days…” And then follows the song of praise to God, Yahweh, Whose years will last through all generations. He established the earth and brought forth the heavens as the work of His hands. And so on. Here, God does not speak to the Messiah, but reversed, the Messiah speaks (through the psalmist) to God! A dying man groaning, in the half of his years, before God Yahweh, Whose years never end. How could these words relate to the Messiah? Is He not precisely the Messiah, because He did die?! interlude It must be clear that the quotation from Psalm 102, is of a very different order than the other quotations in Hebrews 1. Then the question imposes itself: Why this quote in Hebrews 1? Since it does not build on the presentation of the author, it is obviously an interruption, thereof. It is not a new argument, but an interlude, the same as presentations in the “The New Testament” often are interrupted by a hymn (See: e.g., Rom.1:25, 9:5, 1Tim.1:17). So is Hebrews 1:10-12 to be understood: as a hymn of praise to the God, Who anointed the Messiah with the oil of gladness (1:9) and Whose years never cease (1:12). ——————————— translation: Peter Feddema