The greeting ‘live for ever’ throughout history.

The words ‘live for ever’ have been used throughout history as royal greetings.

King David

The third time the words ‘live for ever’ are mentioned in scripture is just before King David’s death. King David lived from c. 1040–970 BC. His reign over Judah was c. 1010–1002 BC, and his reign over the United Kingdom c. 1002–970 BC. When King David makes good on his promise to hand over the reign of his kingdom to his son Solomon; Bathsheba, his wife and the mother of Solomon, responds as follows,

Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever.

King Artaxerxes

The fourth time that the phrase ‘live for ever’ is mentioned in the bible is in the second half of the fifth century BC, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes, the King of Persia.  Nehemiah is the cup-bearer to the King in Susa, the Persian capital and learns that the wall of Jerusalem is destroyed. Nehemia asks the king for leave to return to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls. The king doesn’t only grant permission but gives aid to Nehemia so that he can go and rebuild the walls.  

Nehemia said unto the king, Let the king live for ever …

The book of Daniel

It appears that the book of Daniel was written about events which took place in the sixth century B.C. with the final composition of the book made during the second century BC. In the book of Daniel we find in chapter 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 12 the words ‘live for ever’ mentioned as follows,

King Nebuchadnezzar

The seventh time that the words ‘live for ever are used in the bible, is in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah. This is when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.  In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams which troubled him and

Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation.

The eighth time the words ‘live for ever’ are used is when Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold and commanded all people to fall down and worship the golden image.

After God spectacularly saved three of his devout followers, who refused to bow down to the golden image, from a fiery furnace, king Nebuchadnezzar made a decree.
And he said,  Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

During this whole process certain Chaldeans had accused the Jews and said to king Nebuchadnezzar,

O, king, live for ever.

King Nebuchadnezzar did not acknowledge that all his riches were blessings from God. As a result of his arrogance he lost his kingdom and found himself for seven years living with the beast of the field as had been prophesied to him by Daniel who was also called Belteshazzar.

At the end of his seven year exile Nebuchadnezzar’s reason returned unto him and he acknowledged our Creator as the most High, the King of heaven who lives for ever and said,  ‘Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.’

The ninth time the words ‘live for ever’ are mentioned in the bible is when Nebuchadnezzar praised God,

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation …

King Belshazzar

The tenth time the words ‘live for ever’ are used is when Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords. The king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank out of golden and silver containers that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the house of God, which was the temple in Jerusalem.
As they drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone; fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. And the king became extremely troubled.

Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed …

King Darius

The eleventh time the words ‘live for ever’ are used is during the reign of king Darius when those in power set up a trap which had Daniel thrown into the lion den.

Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.

The twelfth time that the words ‘live for ever’ are used is when king Darius came to check in the morning to see if Daniel survived the lion’s den and found a cheery Daniel who greeted him,

Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.

Daniel added that God hath sent him an angel to shut the lions mouth because Daniel was innocent before God as well as before the king. The king was so impressed that Daniel survived the lion’s den that he said, ‘I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.’

The greeting ‘live for ever’ is commonly used to address royals.

From the above greetings we see that the greeting, ‘live for ever’ was commonly used to address royals. As mentioned above are the third, fourth, seventh, eight, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth time that the words ‘live for ever’ are mentioned in scripture.

Batsheba addressed her husband King David with the greeting ‘live for ever.’ After this the prophet Nehemia addresses king Artaxerxes, the King of Persia in the same way. After this the Chaldeans to king Nebuchadnezzar in Syriack followed by King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging our Creator as the most High, the King of heaven who lives for ever. Followed by the queen greeting Belshazzar the king with ‘live for ever’ and presidents and princes assembled together to king Darius, wishing him to live for ever. As well as Daniel himself greeting king Darius in this way.

Are our royals still greeted like this today?

Queen Elizabeth

At the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster, on the second day of June, 1953 after homage and alliance was pledged to the queen,

the drums beat, and the trumpets sounded, and all the people shouted, crying out:

God save Queen ELIZABETH.
Long live Queen ELIZABETH.
May the Queen live for ever.

From the above we can tell that the greeting ‘live for ever’ has been used throughout history to honour kings and queens as is in line with the promise made in scripture that those who obey God may live for ever.

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