The Glory of the Israel’s Davidic King and Yahweh

The Glory of the Israel’s Davidic King and Yahweh December 20, 2015

Crispin Fletcher-Louis was gracious to take up the conversation about Josh Jipp’s third chapter over at his Jesus Monotheism in response to my post.

In particular he discusses my reference and interpretation of Psalms of Solomon 17:30-31. I was unaware of his discussion of this in his own work and his dependence on Bauckham.

Crispin writes,

If Joel is right about this passage, then, to my mind, the Psalms of Solomon would be an exception to the rule that divine glory in the biblical and Jewish tradition is withheld from the king and royal messiah. As it is, and to quote from my own published words (in JM 1, p. 231, n. 59), “I agree with [Richard] Bauckham (God of Israel, 228–29) that Ps. Sol. 17:31 does not refer to the glory of the coming royal messiah as the glory of Yhwh-Kyrios … The context and other references to the glory of Jerusalem (in Pss. Sol. 2:19, 21; 11:7) show that the reference is to the glory of the restored holy city.”

He adds to further technical points to substantiate the claim that 17:31 “does not refer to the glory of the coming royal messiah as the glory of YHWH-Kyrios”. Crispin proposes this translation of 17:31 as an alternative to Wright’s in Charlesworth:

“… for the nations to come from the ends of the earth to see its [Jerusalem’s] glory to bring as gifts her children who had fainted, and to see the glory of the Lord with which God has glorified her.”

Was Bauckham correct? And is Cripsin? I think he’s right in what he affirms and wrong in what he denies. So I would not disagree that the glory of Jerusalem is both mentioned and a significant theme in the passage. Still there are grammatical and textual reasons that support my reading and the translation history of both Wright and earlier Charles (“So that nations shall come from the ends of the earth to see his glory“), which both read the passage as a reference to the Messiah’s glory.

  1. Crispin’s translation of the Greek phrase τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ as “it’s [Jerusalem’s] glory” does not work grammatically. The pronoun autou is masculine singular and its antecedent must agree with the gender. So the two options in the near context for the antecedent is either the Messiah or God. Given the focus of the actions in these verses surrounding the Son of David the antecedent of autou is the Messiah. In any event this cannot be Jerusalem because the term in Greek is feminine – as Crispin notes.
  2. Furthermore, the whole section 17:26-44, describes the nature of his person and the quality of his reign progressively in five discrete units: the Davidic king will powerfully lead the Lord’s flock by (1) gathering and reconstituting the sanctified tribes of Israel in the Land (17:26-28), (2) judging the nations from the glorious restored city of Jerusalem (17:29-31), (3) governing Jew and non-Jew righteously by remaining faithful to the covenant stipulations (17:32-34a), (4) showing mercy to the nations and blessing Israel (17:34b-36), (5) being invincible against every foe because of his faith in YHWH, and (6) shepherding impartially so that none are oppressed (17:40-41). Most of the actions in the list were actions the OT ascribed to Yahweh not to the Messiah in the eschaton (eg. Ezek. 34-37). What seems clear is that the author has amalgamated the actions of Yahweh and the Messiah: Messiah’s works and God’s works. This means that when the Messiah is acting, God is acting.
  3. According to the Chronicler, David’s kingdom is God’s kingdom (2 Chron. 13:8) and David is a Priest-King. While not replacing the Aaronic priesthood, he conducts priestly service independent of it. The priestly nature of his kingship is affirmed. This priest-king role is unique to the reframing of kingship in Chronicles and is complemented by royal Psalms (eg. 110). It has been established that Pss. Sol. has a strong priestly interest in spite of the absence of an interest in the Temple.

So I contend that Pss. Sol. 17:30-31 names glories of the Messiah and God and the resultant glory of Jerusalem as a consequence of the Messiah’s/God’s actions. Thus, I believe this is ample evidence that within a Davidic-restorative stream of Second Temple Judaism, Davidic kingship, which emerged from the Davidic covenant tradition developed through the later Scriptural reflections/revisions contained in Chronicles and the Psalms and into the late first century BC, amalgamated the glory of the King and Yahweh. The NT’s Davidic christology reflects this tendency.

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