Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Glorious Splendor and Majesty of King Messiah Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

In this particular article we are going to be examining the Hebrew Bible to see what it has to say concerning the Messiah being crowned with the very splendor and majesty of God Almighty himself.


Yahweh – The Gloriously Splendid and Majestic King

The Hebrew Scriptures describe Yahweh as the sovereign King of creation who clothes himself with glorious splendor and majesty:

Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” Psalm 96:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.” Psalm 104:1-2 NASB

“I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever… On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate… To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.” Psalm 145:1-2, 5, 12-13

These same inspired writings connect God’s name with his glory which he does not give to any other:

“I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8

“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” Isaiah 48:11


The Messiah – The King that shares God’s Glorious Splendor and Royal Majesty

And yet at the same time the Hebrew Bible depicts God placing upon the head of his anointed King, i.e., the Messiah, a crown of fine gold and also bestowing upon him splendor and majesty. The prophetic writings further state that this specific Messianic Ruler will live forever, thereby implying that his reign shall never end: 

“O Lord, in Your strength the king will be glad, And in Your salvation how greatly he will rejoice! You have given him his heart’s desire, And You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah. For You meet him with the blessings of good things; You set a crown of fine gold on his head. He asked life of You, You gave it to him, Length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through Your salvation, Splendor and majesty You place upon him. For You make him most blessed forever; You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord, And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken.” Psalm 21:1-7 NASB

Note how the following Jewish translation renders this particular section:

“For the leader. A psalm of David. O LORD, the king rejoices in Your strength; how greatly he exults in Your victory! You have granted him the desire of his heart, have not denied the request of his lips. Selah. You have proffered him blessings of good things, have set upon his head a crown of fine gold. He asked You for life; You granted it; a long life, everlasting. Great is his glory through Your victory; You have endowed him with splendor and majesty. You have made him blessed forever, gladdened him with the joy of Your presence. For the king trusts in the LORD; Through the faithfulness of the Most High he will not be shaken.” Psalm 21:1-8 (The Jewish Study Bible: Tanakh Translation, Torah, Nevi’im, Kethuvim [Oxford University Press; Hardcover, October 2003], p. 1304)

Now such statements obviously could not be made of David or any other King of Israel since none of them reigned forever since all of them died. Therefore, these descriptions must be speaking of the One to come whom both Jews and Christians call the Messiah. 

In fact, even Jewish sources realized that Psalm 21 could not be speaking of king David (or of any other Israelite king for that matter), but must be a prophecy concerning the Messiah. Notice, for instance, what the following Jewish reference states concerning this particular Psalm: 

may the king rejoice with Your strength: OUR RABBIS (Mid. Ps. 21:1) interpreted it as referring TO THE KING MESSIAH, but the matter may correctly be interpreted further as referring to David himself, in order to refute the sectarians, Who expounded upon it, that after he took Batsheva, he said this Psalm. (The Complete Jewish Bible With Rashi Commentary, Ps. 21:2; capital and underline emphasis ours)

The Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew Bible, called the Targums (Targumim), also took this to be a Messianic prophecy:

“For praise; a psalm of David. O Lord, in your strength the King Messiah will rejoice, and how greatly will he exult in your redemption! You have given him the desire of his soul; and you have not withheld the expression of his lips forever. For you will make good blessings go before him; you will place on his head a crown of refined gold. Eternal life he asked of you; you gave him length of days forever and ever. Great is his glory in your redemption; praise and splendor you will place on him. Because you will give him blessings forever; you will gladden him with the gladness that is from your presence. Because the King Messiah hopes in the Lord; and through the favor of the Most High he is not shaken.” (The Psalms Targum: An English Translation, Edward M. Cook, 2001; bold emphasis ours)

Another Jewish sourced called the Midrash goes as far as to say that the Messiah will be given the very crown and splendor of Yahweh himself!

The צמח ('Zemach'), mentioned by Jeremiah (23. 5) and by Zechariah (6. 12) is the Messiah.--Numb. Rabba 18.

Unlike the kings of this earth, God bestows some of His possessions and dignities upon beings of flesh and blood. He set Solomon upon His own throne (1 Chron. 29. 23). He caused Elijah to ride upon His own horse; that is to say, upon the storm and whirlwind. To Moses, He gave God's rod, and upon the head of Messiah He placed His own crown.--Exod. Rabba 8. and Tanchuma Voera. (Tales and Maxims from the Midrash, by Rev. Samuel Rapaport, Late Rabbi of Port Elizabeth and Eastern District of Cape Colony [George Routledge & Sons Limited, London; E. P. Dutton & Co, New York, 1907], “Messiah,” p. 50; bold emphasis ours)

The proper name of Messiah is ה׳ צדקנו (the Lord our righteousness).--Midr. Lament. 1. (Ibid., p. 53; bold emphasis ours)

The honour and majesty with which David tells us (Ps. 104.) that God is clothed, He will bestow on Messiah. As it is said, 'His glory is great in Thy salvation, honour and majesty hast Thou laid upon Him.'--Numb. Rabba 14. (Ibid., p. 47; bold emphasis ours)

Here is another rendering of the foregoing citations from the Midrash:

“The Midrash on the Psalms says of this king:

‘This is the Messiah, the Son of David, who has been hidden until the last days. Rabbi Tan.huma says, “The Messiah-King will come only to give the world six commandments, such as the Feast of Tabernacles, (the use of) the palm fronds, and the phylacteries, but all Israel will learn the Torah...  and why so? Because the Gentiles will seek him.”’

“After this the Midrash asks:

‘Who is this king?...  God will not crown a king of flesh and blood, but the Holy One -- may he be praised -- will give his own crown to the Messiah-King, because it is said of him, “You placed a crown of pure gold on his head”. God will not dress an earthly king in his own purple robe, rather he has given it to the Messiah-King, for it is said, “You have bestowed on him splendour and majesty”...  And he will call the Messiah-King by name, for it is said, “This is the name by which he will be known: The LORD our Righteousness”.’

“Even the Midrash on Exodus speaks of this same crown when it says:

‘“And Moses took the staff of God in his hand”: God will not adorn an earthly king with his crown, and the Holy One -- may he be praised -- will place his crown on the head of the Messiah-King.’4

“In connection with the 8th verse the Targum says that the ‘Messiah-King’ trusts in the LORD. It is significant that according to the Rabbis the purple robe and the crown were to be part of the Messiah's attire. The young Rabbi from Nazareth was however given this robe and crown of thorns only in derision.”

4. See Midrash Shemoth, par. va-erâ 8 and the corresp. description from Midrash on Numbers. The main discussion is found in Midrash Tehilim 21.   (Risto Santala, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, Translated from Finnish by William Kinnaird, “The Messiah in the Psalms”; bold emphasis ours)

With that said we can now proceed to the second part of our examination.