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Examining the Deity of the Lord Jesus in light of the theology of Psalms

Sam Shamoun

The Psalms have a lot to say concerning the character and works of Yahweh. For example, we are told that believers should praise Yahweh since he is a great God and a great King above the gods who has created and sovereignly rules over the cosmos. The Psalms further exhort the people to worship Yahweh since he is their God and they are his flock:

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,” Psalm 95:1-8

Another reason which the Psalms give for worshiping and praising Yahweh is because he comes to judge the world in righteousness:

“Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.’ Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.” Psalm 96:9-13

Moreover, not only do the Psalms stress the fact that Yahweh is far exalted above the gods and that he alone is the Most High over the earth,

“that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.” Psalm 83:18

“For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.” Psalm 135:5

They even claim that the gods themselves worship Yahweh!

“The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O LORD. For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 97:5-9

Some of the Jews who translated the Hebrew Bible into the Greek understood the gods to be a reference to Yahweh’s heavenly council, to his angels:

“Let all who do obeisance to carved images be out to shame, those who make their boast in their idols. Do obeisance to him, all his angels!” Psalm 96:7 LXX

The following Psalms seem to substantiate this view:

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.” Psalm 86:8-10


“Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of God is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him, O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, OLORD, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.” Psalm 89:5-9

It seems certain that the gods of Psalm 86:8 are the sons of God or the holy ones mentioned in Psalm 89:5-9, the members of Yahweh’s heavenly council. This suggests that the gods of the nations were members of the divine council who were wrongly viewed and worshiped as rivals to the one true God.

Whatever the case may be, this much remains clear: By identifying these gods with the angels the Greek version is clearly stressing the point that Yahweh is greater and more exalted than the angels of heaven.

In light of all of these factors all believers are to fear/revere and praise Yahweh alone:

“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” Psalm 96:4-5

And now here is a summary of what we learned from these specific Psalms:

1. Yahweh is a great God and a great King above all the gods.

2. Yahweh is far exalted above the gods and he alone is the Most High over the earth.

3. There is none like Yahweh among the gods/the sons of God, e.g. the members of Yahweh’s heavenly council, and none of them can do the works which Yahweh performs.

4. All the gods must worship Yahweh. According to the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible these gods are the angels.

5. Yahweh created the cosmos and has complete control over it.

6. Yahweh is he who shall judge the nations.

7. Believers are to hear and obey Yahweh’s voice since they are the sheep of his hand, e.g., the flock that Yahweh protects.

8. All the peoples and nations that Yahweh created are to kneel before him in worship and sing praises to him since he is a God that is greatly to be feared.

With that said we now move to our next section to see what the inspired Christian Scriptures teach concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus.

What the NT says concerning the Lord Jesus Christ

According to the NT writings Jesus is unlike the members of the heavenly council since he is exactly like God (the Father), being the exact representation of the Father’s eternal Being, and can perform all the works that God does, such as creating and sustaining the universe, giving life etc.!

“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it… I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live… Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his [the Son’s] voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.’” John 5:19-21

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made… He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.” John 1:1-3, 10

“He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17

“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the universe. He is the radiance of the glory of God and is the exact representation of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power… And, ‘You, Lord [Jesus], did lay the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle you will roll them up, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.’” Hebrews 1:1-3a, 10-12

To say that these statements are astonishing would be a wild understatement since monotheistic Jews were taught and believed that it is Yahweh who sustains all things by his word!

“Because of him his messenger finds the way, and by his word all things hold together.” Sirach 43:26

The NT also identifies Jesus as our God, in fact our great God, whose glory was and shall be seen by the people:

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.’ And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.” Mark 9:2-8

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” John 1:14

“Thomas answered and said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’” John 20:28-29

“awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:13-14

“Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:” 2 Peter 1:1

And as God, Jesus rules eternally over all creation at the Father’s right hand in the most holy place of the heavenly tabernacle:

“to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” Romans 9:5

“When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… Of the angels he says, ‘Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.’ But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your comrades.’ … But to what angel has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies a stool for your feet’?” Hebrews 1:3b, 7-9, 13

“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord.” Hebrews 8:1-2

This means that Jesus has been exalted to the highest position of authority there is, far above Yahweh’s heavenly host, thereby sharing in the exclusive sovereign rule of Yahweh!

“and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23

“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.” 1 Peter 3:21-22

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

It is inarguable that, as far as the inspired Scriptures are concerned, the name that is above all names is Yahweh. Therefore, since Jesus has received the name that is above all names according to Philippians 2:9-11 this means that to confess Jesus as Lord is to confess that he is Yahweh, e.g., Lord being used here as a synonym for the Divine name. As the following scholar puts it:

“A key text in this connection is Phil 2:5-11. The section of Philippians has been characterized as either a hymn about Christ or a poetico-rhetorical didactic piece. The section contains three strophes. In the first Christ’s preexistence is described–his life with the Father (v 6). In the second we are told of Christ’s incarnation, human life, and ultimate death (vv 7-8). In the third strophe (vv 9-11) Christ’s exaltation is proclaimed and, moreover, in a way that is important for our purposes…

“Here the writer has not been content to use the normal Greek verb signifying ‘to elevate’ or ‘to exalt,’ hypsoo; rather, he has chosen the form with the prefix hyper-, an intensifier with which we are familiar from such words as ‘hyper-intelligent,’ ‘hyper-active,’ or the like. We are further told that Christ has received ‘the name which is above every name’ (v 9), a remark that is clarified by the note that every tongue will confess ‘that Jesus Christ is Lord (kyrios)’ (v 11). The confession reveals that Jesus Christ receives that which, according to v 6, he had renounced: equality with God. Jesus is installed in Yahweh’s domain.

“That Jesus is Kyrios (i.e., Lord) is one of the earliest Christian confessions: ‘Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Rom 10:9; cf. 1 Cor 12:3). It is, furthermore, exciting to observe that we can observe this confession of Jesus as Lord back to the oldest Jewish-Christian milieu in Palestine, to the primeval congregation. The thread which leads us there is the ‘Maranatha’ expression (see Excursus 2).” (Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God – The Meaning and Message of the Everlasting Names [Fortress Press, 2005], 2. The God Who Says “I AM”: The Riddle of the Name YHWH, Why Do We Find “the Lord” in Biblical Translations?, p. 18; underline emphasis ours)

Hence, like Yahweh Jesus is exalted far above all the gods since he bears the very name of Yahweh and therefore shares Yahweh’s exclusive sovereignty over all creation!

In light of this it isn’t surprising to discover that the NT teaches that Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings, the One who rules over all the kings of the earth:

“and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

“they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 17:14 – cf. 19:16

And that he is the Lord of all, being the Lord of both the living and the dead, the One who has complete mastery and control over creation:

“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” Mark 4:35-41

“You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),” Acts 10:36

“because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him.” Romans 10:9-12

“If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” Romans 14:8-9

Moreover, like Yahweh in the OT Jesus is to be greatly feared and worshiped since he shall judge all mankind:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world… The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” Matthew 25:31-34, 40-41

“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him… And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” John 5:22-23, 27

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.” 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

The NT further exhorts believers to sing praises to Christ:

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-21

In fact, even the heavenly host are worshiping and singing to Jesus!

“And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, ‘Let all God's angels worship him.’” Hebrews 1:6

“And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, ‘To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:8-14

Finally, Jesus himself taught that true believers are those who hear his voice since they are the sheep of his hand, i.e. the flock whom he perfectly preserves forever by his power:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:11, 14-18

“So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.’” John 10:24-30

Thus, according to the inspired Christian writings,

1. Jesus, like Yahweh, is a great God and a great King above all the gods, i.e. the heavenly host.

2. Like Yahweh, Jesus is far exalted above the gods and reigns as the Most High over the earth.

3. Like Yahweh, all the angels must worship Jesus.

4. Jesus is unlike the members of Yahweh’s heavenly council since he is exactly like Yahweh, being the exact representation of God’s uncreated essence who can perform all of the works that God does.

5. Like Yahweh, Jesus created the cosmos and has complete control over it.

6. Like Yahweh, Jesus shall judge all the nations.

7. Like Yahweh, all true believers are to hear and obey Jesus’ voice since they are the sheep of his hand, e.g., the flock that Jesus protects and preserves.

8. Like Yahweh, all the peoples and nations whom Christ created are to kneel before him in worship and sing praises to him.

The reason why the NT could make such bold statements about Christ is not hard to figure out. It is evident that the NT authors didn’t believe that Jesus was a creature whom God used to accomplish his purposes. Rather, these inspired writers were convinced that Jesus is the eternal Son of God who was both personally distinct from the Father as well as equal to him in essence and nature. Even though they knew that he wasn’t the Father or the Holy Spirit the eyewitnesses who knew Christ personally and their companions taught and affirmed that Jesus is Yahweh God who had become flesh. This means that Jesus’ disciples realized and went around proclaiming that the God of Israel wasn’t uni-personal but tri-personal, and that Jesus Christ now rules from heaven as the exalted God-man!

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus come! We believe and confess along with your faithful disciples that you are Yahweh God Incarnate, the eternal Son of the Father who became man for our salvation. We pray that by your grace and mercy we will continue to love and worship you for ever and ever, O risen Son of God and exalted King of glory! Amen.

Further Reading