Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari has jumped on the so-called “Christian” unitarian bandwagon by rehashing the same old worn out arguments and objections of these heretics against the true historic Christian faith which is based on the accurate interpretation of the Holy Bible.
In one of his articles, Zaatari appeals to the unitarian interpretation of Psalm 110:1 to prove that Jesus is nothing more than a mere man whom God has exalted (*).
Here is the verse in question:
“A Psalm of David. The Lord says to my Lord (neum YHWH l’adoni): Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’”
In this psalm we have king David addressing the Messiah as his Lord, which in Hebrew is Adoni. Zaatari parrots the argument of his unitarian mentors by claiming that the Hebrew Bible never employs this specific term for Yahweh, and therefore proves that the Messiah cannot be God (or so he thinks).
Zaatari writes that,
The first thing that everyone should notice are the clear distinctions, the verse says that Jehovah said to my adoni (lord). If David really believed that the Messiah was God then he could've made it even more clear by saying "and Jehovah said unto my Jehovah". If the Messiah was Jehovah, then the Messiah would have been called Jehovah, yet a distinction is made between Jehovah, and the Messiah, called adoni.
Now comes the major problem for the missionary, and basically the refutation to their argument. The word adoni in the Hebrew Bible is never used in reference to God; rather the word adoni is always used when referring to men. More specifically, adoni is always used when referring to leaders and judges amongst the men.
-David calls the Messiah adoni
-The Hebrew word Adoni is never used when referring to God
-The Hebrew word adoni is always used when referring to men
We have decided to address Zaatari’s claims in order to show him that it is not a wise thing for a Muslim apologist to starting aping the claims of unitarian heretics since this will end up backfiring against him/her, as we are about to see.
David’s theology proves that Muhammad was a false prophet
In the first place, no one in the Holy Bible ever speaks of Yahweh or Jehovah as “our Yahweh” or “my Yahweh” since Yahweh is a proper name, and the inspired Scriptures do not attach singular or plural suffixes to proper names.(1) As such, it was actually more appropriate for the prophet David to refer to the Messiah as his Lord, especially since a key and crucial theme of this Psalm is to highlight the Messiah’s preeminence over David, i.e. that the coming Anointed King is far greater than his human ancestor.
However, this raises a problem for Zaatari since the Quran denies that Allah would ever permit anyone to worship prophets as their lords:
He would never order you to take the angels and the Prophets as Lords; what, would He order you to disbelieve, after you have surrendered? S. 3:80 Arberry
And yet according to the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit moved David to worship and honor Christ as his exalted Lord!
“And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, ‘How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself said in the Holy Spirit, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet.”’ David himself calls Him “Lord”; so in what sense is He his son?’ And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.” Mark 12:35-37
This means that the Quran is wrong, which makes Muhammad a false prophet, since God has commanded his followers to worship one specific prophet, namely the Christ, as their sovereign Lord. The reason God would do so is because Christ is more than a mere prophet, since he is the unique Son of God whom the Father loves and delights in,
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’” Mark 1:9-11
“And Jesus was saying to them, ‘Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.’ Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them,and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!’” Mark 9:1-7
And who therefore demands that everyone honor his beloved Son in the same way that they honor him:
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son EVEN AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22-23
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
This, too, is a fact which Muhammad denied!(2)
The Jews say, 'Ezra is the Son of God'; the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the Son of God.' That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them.God assail them! How they are perverted! S. 9:30 Arberry
As such, Muhammad stands condemned as a false apostle by the message of God’s true emissaries.
Is Adoni never used of Yahweh?
The second problem that Zaatari faces is that it is simply not true that Adoni is never applied to Yahweh, since it is definitely used in reference to him in what is typically referred to astheophoric names (Gr. theoforētos, "bearing a deity”), e.g. proper names which contain or embed a name and/or characteristic of the deity worshiped by a particular individual.
In the Hebrew Bible there are certain theophoric names which identify Yahweh as Adoni, i.e. as the God whom the person bearing that specific name confesses and worships (or is supposed to confess and worship) as his/her Lord. These include the following:
“Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David at Hebron.” 2 Samuel 3:2-5
“Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,” Nehemiah 10:16
“and with them the Levites, Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tobadonijah, the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests.” 2 Chronicles 17:8
“Now King Solomon was king over all Israel. These were his officials: Azariah the son of Zadok was the priest; Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha were secretaries; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the recorder; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada wasover the army; and Zadok and Abiathar were priests; and Azariah the son of Nathan wasover the deputies; and Zabud the son of Nathan, a priest, was the king’s friend; and Ahishar was over the household; and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the men subject to forced labor.” 1 Kings 4:1-6
“Now King Solomon levied forced laborers from all Israel; and the forced laborers numbered 30,000 men. He sent them to Lebanon,
month in relays; they were in Lebanon a month and two months at home. And Adoniram was over the forced laborers.” 1 Kings
“Now these are the heads of their fathers’ households and the genealogical enrollment of those who went up with me from Babylon in the reign of King Artaxerxes… and of the sons of Adonikam, the last ones, these being their names, Eliphelet, Jeuel and Shemaiah, and 60 males with them;” Ezra 8:1, 13 – cf. 2:13; Nehemiah 7:18
Therefore, it is simply not true that Yahweh is never called Adoni since he definitely is, just as the foregoing examples clearly demonstrate. Besides, Adoni simply means “my Lord,” and if Yahweh isn’t a believer’s Lord than nobody is!
We are not through yet since we have a lot more to say in the next part of our rebuttal.
(1) It is interesting to note that according to the late great Bible expositor, Adam Clarke, a Hebrew manuscript actually exists where Psalm 110:1 has Yahweh speaking to Yahweh!
Psa 110:1 Said unto my Lord. Instead of לאדני ladoni, "my Lord," one MS. seems to have read ליהוה layhovah, "Jehovah said unto Jehovah, 'Sit thou on my right hand,'" etc. See De Rossi. (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible; *)
If Clarke wasn’t mistaken then this indicates that there was at least one scribe or group of scribes who realized that David must have been speaking of Yahweh as his Lord since there was no one greater than him in rank and honor besides Yahweh. This in turn suggests that the scribe or scribes responsible for this reading were aware that the God is a multi-Personal Being. For more on this topic of none being greater than David besides Yahweh God, which therefore proves that the Messiah must be God in order for him to be David’s Lord, please consult the following article:
Examining Psalm 110:1 — A look at Its Implications on God being a Multi-Personal Being and upon the Deity of Christ
(2) To make matters worse for Zaatari, the Hebrew Scriptures also proclaim that a day is coming when Yahweh will require everyone to serve the Messiah in the same way that they serve their God!
“‘It shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves. But they shall SERVE the Lord their God AND DAVID THEIR KING (wa'abadu 'et YHWH elohim wa'et Dawid malkam), whom I will raise up for them… Their leader shall be one of them, And their ruler shall come forth from their midst; And I will bring him near and he shall approach Me; For who would dare to risk his life to approach Me?’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 30:8-9, 21
As the context itself shows, David here doesn’t refer to the historical king who had long been dead but to one of his descendants whom the prophet prefigured. In other words, the term David is a reference to the Messiah whom the deceased king foreshadowed.
This is brought out more clearly by what Jeremiah states elsewhere:
“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely;And this is His name by which He will be called, “The Lord our righteousness (YHWH tsidqenu).”’” Jeremiah 23:5-6 – cf. 33:15-16
According to this passage, it is not David whom God will raise up for Israel, but a branch or descendant from David’s line who shall reign wisely and bring salvation to the people of God.
What makes this a rather remarkable prophecy is that the name of this Davidic King is said to be Yahweh our righteousness, a name which implies that this Ruler shall be more than a mere human descendant of David. This One who shall come from the household of David is actually Yahweh God Almighty coming to fulfill the Davidic promises!
Lest we be accused of reading too much into the text, or of wrongly applying it to the Messiah, note how the following rabbinic sources interpreted this specific passage:
Midrash Tehilim 21:12
“God will call the King Messiah after His own name, for it is said of the King MessiahThis is his name whereby he shall be called: the Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). Jerusalem also shall be called after the Lord’s name, for it is said of Jerusalem The name of the city from that day shall be the Lord…” (Douglas Pyle, What The Rabbonim Say About Moshiach [N. P., Third edition, paperback, published in 2010], p. 23)
Rabbi Joseph Albo:
“In the same way the Bible calls the name of the Messiah, ‘The Lord our righteousness’(Jeremiah 23:5, 6), because he is the medium through whom we obtain justice from God. For this reason he is called by the name of God. Similarly Jerusalem is called, ‘The Lord is there.’ Because it is a place where the glory of the Lord was revealed more constantly than anywhere else.” (Ibid.)
Rav Saadia Gaon:
“‘And behold with the clouds of heaven, one like a man was coming.’ This is Messiah our righteousness.” (Ibid., p. 24)
“In the future, the Holy one, blessed be He, will seat Messiah in the supernal Yeshiva [House of Study], and they will call him ‘Lord,’ just as they call the Creator [Jeremiah 23:6]…
“And the Messiah will sit in the Yeshivah, and all those who walk on the earth will come and sit before him to hear a new Tora and new commandments and the deep wisdom which he teaches Israel…” (Ibid., pp. 32-33)
The foregoing helps us understand why God would permit – in fact, command – his people to serve the Messiah in the same way that they serve Yahweh their God, even though the Law expressly forbids serving and worshiping anyone other than the true God:
“Then God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them orserve them (ta'abadem); for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,’” Exodus 20:1-5
“You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him (ta'abod), and shall take oaths in His name.” Deuteronomy 6:13 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Messiah is not simply a man from the line of David, but is actually God Almighty who will (and has) become a flesh and blood human being in order to perfectly realize and fulfill all of God’s promises to his servant David.
All of this causes additional problems for Zaatari since the Quran denies that the Messiah is divine or shares in the worship and service due to God alone. In fact, the Quran expressly says that Allah will never permit anyone from serving someone besides him:
It was not to a human that God gives him The Book and the judgment/rule and the prophethood then he says to the people: "Be/become worshippers/slaves ('ibadan) to me, from other than God". And but: "Be knowledgeable Lord worshippers with what you were teaching The Book and with what you were studying ". S. 3:79 Muhammad Ahmed – Samira
Zaatari must therefore face the music and come to terms with the fact that the Holy Bible, God’s inspired Word, condemns Muhammad as a false prophet.