Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" (Matt. 4:5-6)Is the "devil" really addressing Jesus as the "son of God" here?
The devil is quoting scripture?
If so, then that would mean that the verse being quoted by the "devil" ("For it is written") would be speaking of the "son of God" right?
Not so fast.
The verse the "devil" is quoting comes from David's Psalm 91. Here is the Psalm in its entirety, with the verse quoted by the "devil" in bold:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.If you say, "The LORD is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent."Because he loves Me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My Name.He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation." (Psalm 91)So who is the subject of this Psalm? Is it the "son of God"?
Don't be ridiculous. The subject of this Psalm is clearly stated in the beginning with: "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High..."
Then the subject of this Psalm is further elaborated with: "Because he loves Me..."
So who is David writing of here?
"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High." This means it is a conditional description of anyone who takes shelter of the Supreme Being. Anyone who surrenders and dedicates their life to the Supreme Being.
David is also considering himself in this position as he states:
"I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."This indicates that while David is explaining what happens when a person takes shelter of the Supreme Being, he is also engaging himself.
And he is engaging the reader as well:. "Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence" and so on. David is telling the reader that if we take shelter in the Supreme Being then we will be protected. The Supreme Being will give us protection.
And according to this Psalm, the Supreme Being's protection also utilizes God's angels:
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11-12)This is clearly stating that if we take shelter in the Supreme Being, then God's protection of us will extend to His angels, as they also will watch over one who is taking shelter of God.
So what does this have to do with Jesus being the "son of God" then?
Actually, "son of God" is a mistranslation.*
The word "son" here is being translated from the Greek word υἱός (huios). According to the lexicon, this word can only mean "son" "in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)." Outside of this "restricted sense, it indicates another type of relationship: "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower." In other words, a devoted follower or loving servant.
Now we can match up the person David is speaking of in Psalm 91 - "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High" and "because he loves Me" with the attribute given to Jesus - υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ - which is typically versed as υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. The word θεοῦ is the Name of God - the Supreme Being. And τοῦ means "of".
This means that υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ doesn't translate to "son of God" but rather "devoted follower of God" or "loving servant of God." This is not only confirmed by the Greek alone, but with Psalm 91 referring to "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High" - which is precisely what a "devoted follower of God" or "loving servant of God" does.
And how about the word εἶ in this particular verse? εἶ is the second person singular - which translates to "you are" or "thou art" in the King's English.
In other words, the "devil" is stating the conditional just as Psalm 91 is: "If you are the loving servant of God then throw yourself down..."
Why would the "devil" be saying this? Because Psalm 91 defines clearly that if a person takes shelter in the Supreme Being then the Supreme Being will protect him. Since Jesus was a "devoted follower" or "loving servant" of the Supreme Being - then he would be protected. This is the challenge the "devil" is giving Jesus.
Jesus quotes his own verse
But Jesus responds with another verse from the scriptures:
"It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"Jesus is quoting Moses as Moses instructed his students:
"Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah." (Deut. 6:16)Moses is referring to a time when his followers the Israelites tested God:
And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7)Thus we find the foundation of this exchange between the "devil" and Jesus during his 40-day fast in the desert. We find that Jesus was being encouraged to challenge and test the bond God gives those who take shelter in Him, as said by David:
If you say, "The LORD is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. (Psalm 91:9-10)Jesus refused to test the Supreme Being as he was challenged by the "devil."
Why is this important? Because Moses, David and Jesus are all discussing the same thing: A relationship with the Supreme Being.
They are discussing the love that exists between the Supreme Being and someone who takes refuge in the Supreme Being.
This is not just an ordinary relationship.
It is a relationship built upon trust.
The very notion of taking refuge or shelter in someone is a proposition of trust. By taking shelter, such a person is saying 'I trust in you.' 'I trust that you will take care of me.'
And by testing the Supreme Being, one abandons that very trust at the foundation of their relationship.
This illustrates precisely the relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being - also described by υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ - "devoted follower of God," "loving servant of God," or in this case, "Representative of God."
When a person puts themselves at the feet of the Supreme Being and becomes His devoted follower and servant, this is an expression of our natural position. Each of us was created by the Supreme Being to be one of His loving servants - to serve Him and please Him, and when teaching on His behalf, represent Him..
But love requires freedom.
So the Supreme Being gave us each the freedom to love Him or not.
And those who chose not to love the Supreme Being - those who wanted to act independently of Him - the opposite of taking refuge - were sent to the physical world and given these temporary physical bodies. Why?
So we could act out our independence.
You see, when a person loses their love for the Supreme Being it leaves a hole in the heart. A hole where there once was love for the Supreme Being.
This hole in the heart creates self-centeredness. In order to fill that emptiness created by losing our love for the Supreme Being, our focus turns to ourselves. We want to become the greatest. We want to become the best. We want to become the hero.
This is why everyone in the physical world is striving so hard to win. Each of us wants to win because winning represents being on top. Winning represents being the best.
But this is God's position. Yes, the citizens of the physical world are all competing for God's position, because we have lost and forgotten our loving relationship with the Supreme Being - so we are trying to fill our emptiness with self-centeredness.
But this is not our natural position. This is why even a person who wins seven or even eleven gold medals at the Olympics is still empty inside. That person might be called the greatest athlete ever, but that person is still empty inside, and is still searching to become fulfilled.
This indicates two things: First it indicates that we are not these physical bodies. These bodies are vehicles that we get in and drive for awhile. This body will only live a few decades and then it will die.
Just consider if a driver of a car is hungry and pulls up to the gas station to get some gas. Will putting gas in the gas tank make the driver less hungry? No. Because the driver is not the car. The car and the driver are distinct.
In the same way, each of us are distinct from our physical bodies. Even if our bodies get the best food, the most wealth, and the most fame - we will still be unfulfilled. Because we are spiritual beings. We are not physical bodies.
And we - the spirit-persons within this temporary body - need spiritual food. What is that?
It is our relationship with the Supreme Being.
This is the only thing that will satisfy us because this is our natural position.
Our natural position is our loving service relationship with the Supreme Being. Our natural position is to take shelter in Him, and serve Him, and love Him, and He takes care of us. He protects us - the spirit-person. And He gives us the love that we are always looking for as we search the world for fulfillment.
This is the basis for the relationship that is being described between Jesus and the Supreme Being. Jesus confirmed this relationship elsewhere:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)