Psalm 45 — A Truly Divine Royal Wedding
45 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.
6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
9 Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;
11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.
12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.
13 The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.
15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.
16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.
17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.
Weddings are typically beautiful occasions filled with memories and with expectations. Two families enter a legal agreement and two people begin a romantic communion that will hopefully bring forth new hope in a new generation. The legal agreement suggests the state is bearing witness to the essential element to its continuation as a society. Anniversaries are celebrated to mark the continuation of vows, faithfully taken and kept. The compact must hold together, especially if the union is royalty.
In diverse times and places, the use of weddings and marriages to seal national covenants of peace have been known. The prince and princess offer hope for the future of nations coming together to share a future hope and blessing.
Psalm 45 is a royal psalm. The warrior king is about to be wed to a foreign princess. The writer of Hebrews adopts the peculiar identification of the king as God in vv. 6–7, and he applies them to the Lord Jesus Christ. This makes Psalm 45 a messianic psalm.
As a work of history, Psalm 45 complements the divine mandate for leaving and cleaving in marital relationships (Gen 2:24). The original setting is probably 1 Kings 3:1, where King Solomon consolidated his kingdom and entered a marriage alliance with Pharaoh’s daughter.
The prophet Hosea illustrates covenant as a marriage between God and Israel (Hos 1–3). In the New Testament, Jesus told the parable of the marriage feast in Matthew 22:1–14 to introduce the kingdom of heaven. Paul equates a wife and husband to the church and Christ (Eph 5:23). Finally, Paul and John received the revelation of Jesus Christ coming to rapture His betrothed in the end times (1 Thess 4:13–18) and to defeat her nasty old boyfriend (Rev 19:11–19). The marriage supper of the Lamb carries some of the same themes as Psalm 45 (Rev 19:7–10).
Psalms 42–44 (spiritual depression and suffering) act as a context primer for Psalms 45–49, which comprise the Sons of Korah collection in Book II of the Psalter. The 45th Psalm’s structure is fourfold: I. (v. 1) The author’s introduction; II. (vv. 2–9) Adoration for the warrior king; III. (vv. 10–15) Detachment and realignment of the foreign princess; IV. Toast of blessing for children (princes) to rule all the earth and for the king’s name to receive eternal gratitude.
The subject, a royal wedding, also carries a message that this wedding between God’s anointed king and his bride will produce a blessing to all nations, forever. The author is a court poet, possibly during Solomon’s reign, which dates the Psalm between 970–930 B.C.
The Korah collection continues (Title). For the choir director is common. According to the Shoshannim is rare (c/f 60, 69, 80). It means “lilies” and is a common term in Song of Solomon. It is likely a tune name by which the sons of Korah set the Psalm to music. Maskil is a didactic term suggesting the Psalm had educational purposes, too. A Song of Love is appropriate for a title to a song written for a special wedding occasion.
The author introduced the Psalm as an oral work put to paper (v. 1). My heart overflows with a good theme is a beautiful way of stating the inspiration of the artist. Love songs should be written from the heart. The good theme of a wedding that anticipates the eternal legacy of a king seems to be an oral production that found its way to paper. Blessed are those who can preach and write of these good tidings.
The psalmist opened the first section with adoration for the king (v. 2). Thou art fairer is double stated in the Hebrew, “beautiful, beautiful.” The comparison to the sons of men might remind us of the Scripture revealing the appearance of Saul or David as handsome men. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be nothing special in physical appearance (Is 53:2), especially after his scourging (Is 52:14). Grace is poured upon Thy lips is an eloquent way of saying his speech is excellent. Jesus, coming into the world as a prophet, quoted Scripture as the premier truth teller. God has blessed Thee is an observation recognized by the faithful. Jesus, as a son of David and son of Solomon, was blessed with the graces of God. His blessing is eternal.
The poet encouraged the king to arm himself for battle (v. 3). Gird Thy sword on Thy thigh follows the divine warrior motif with Jesus as the coming warrior king in Rev. 19:11–19. O Mighty One is a warrior in the Hebrew. In Thy splendor and majesty is sharply contrasted with the warriors of this world who pomp in pride and arrogance. This king is regal. He is going to deliver His girl and simultaneously defeat His enemies.
The three-fold political platform was revealed as worth the fight (v. 4). And in Thy majesty ride on victoriously does not reveal what he riding, but no doubt it is a white horse (Rev. 19:11). Jesus is victorious in battle, at the cross, and in the future destruction of His enemies. Behold, He comes, riding on the clouds! For the cause of truth is literally “word of truth,” which means the king has an enduring reliability. The second characteristic of his stand is meekness or humility before God. Finally, righteousness is representative of justice in his rule.
The songwriter wrote of the conflict going in favor of the king (v. 5). Thine arrows are sharp and in the heart of the king’s enemies articulates the military proficiency of the king. The scene echoes Psalm 110 where the peoples will fall under Thee. There the king sits at the right hand of God until the Lord will make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet. Jesus is hardly understood as a divine warrior by society, today. In fact, the church often shuns the militant Jesus because of the doctrine of God’s love. In this all other attributes of God are ignored. The result is the belief that Christianity is less offensive to a world that hates it and its message. We must recover this war motif and the understanding of Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
The author praised God for His eternal righteous rule (v. 6). Here is the key verse of the passage. The writer of Hebrews quoted vv. 6–7 and ascribed them to Jesus Christ, the son of God. Thy throne can reference a human king or God, who reigns over all. O God is disputed because it is unexpected. Is the king human or divine? It is “yes” in Christ Jesus. This verse makes Psalm 45 messianic. The political platform (v. 4) is secured through the defeat of the enemies of God and king (v. 5). The throne of God is eternal, forever and ever. A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy kingdom again echoes Psalm 110. A scepter is a rod held by the king to remind everyone who is king. Righteousness is the norm for this king and his kingdom. We can search the world and all of history and there is only one who is seen in these themes, and his name is King Jesus.
The psalmist praised the king for being anointed by God because of his love for justice (v. 7). Thou hast loved righteousness is complemented with hated wickedness. These are the great antithetical themes of the Bible’s wisdom literature. Jesus Christ, our righteousness, personifies and fulfills all of the types represented here. Therefore God, Thy God, has anointed Thee is provocative in recognizing Jesus’ deity, but it is clear about His role as messiah (“anointed one”). Oil of joy is a way of saying anointed with the Spirit of God, and above Thy fellows is indicative of the supreme level of joy achieved in Christ’s obedience during His earthly ministry.
The poet began to describe the wedding scene (v. 8). All Thy garments are fragrant is followed by a list of elements. Some have tried to spiritualize these, but this is not necessary. The point is that the king cleans up very well. Wedding garments are special. The imagery of garments reminds us of Christ garbed in glory in Revelation 1:13–15. The wedding guests are clothed in pure white robes in Jesus’ parable (Mt 22:1–14). The one with the wrong clothes is cast out. All of this can be contrasted with the sweat and blood stained garments of Christ gambled away at his death (Jn19:23–28).
Out of ivory palaces offers a royal background for the wedding. The ornate abode of royalty is known throughout history. Ivory is a precious decoration. We enter in and hear stringed instruments have made Thee glad. Beautiful surroundings are made sweeter with beautiful music. The mundane or cheap is a sad contribution for such an event. Beauty captures each of the human senses.
The author described the bride and her bridesmaids (v. 9). King’s daughters are called princesses. In the wedding procession, young, beautiful women in beautiful dresses build the anticipation for the entrance of the bride. Thy noble ladies suggest a quality, regardless of the quantity. At Thy right hand is the most coveted position for the princess, who becomes a queen. Gold, especially gold from Ophir, is the precious metal of choice for a wedding. The bride is laden in the finest, and this is the reputation of Ophir (although we do not know the location). Splendor and majesty (v. 3) are appropriate words for the queen who unites with her king.
The psalmist addressed the foreign princess directly (v. 10). Listen, O daughter is attention getting. Give attention and incline your ear is the quest for her full attention. Forget your people sounds cruel, but it is crucial. Forget your father’s house is necessary for her new role. The complement is Genesis 2:24, also known as the “leave and cleave” passage in the Bible. For a new thing is to be done, the old must pass away. In the context of this passage, the foreign princess is advised to leave behind her society, customs, gods, and the people who practice idolatry with these elements. We can think of Ruth leaving Moab as a virile illustration. The principle for the church is to leave the world and the god of this world in giving her attention to Christ.
The poet encouraged the foreign princess to submit herself to the king (v. 11). When the princess puts her focus on her new King (even Sarah called Abraham, “Lord”), then the king will desire your beauty. When the church keeps its eyes on Jesus, then He beautifies her with His Spirit and His Word. The wife submitting to her husband, bow down to him, is confirmed by Paul in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” He loves her, and she reveres Him.
The songwriter explained to her the homage coming from wealthy people (v. 12). And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift represents the honor given to the bride of the great king. The daughter of Tyre is like “the daughters of Jerusalem,” a saying which means, “the people of Tyre.” The rich among the people will entreat your favor is customary. Power by association belongs to the queen. Queens, it is assumed, have softer hearts than kings (see Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I of England before jumping to this conclusion). Regardless, the rich are not stupid. They know power and influence have an easier time producing what they have and want more of…money. Here is the privilege of the consecrated queen. Ideally, she favors the people who come to her. This is a beautiful picture of the church receiving people from the world.
The poet praised the princess for inner and outer beauty (v. 13). Now the focus assumes the queen’s allegiance, and her beauty begins to manifest. The familiar song announces the arrival of the bride. All stand in honor of her magnificent beauty. She is all glorious within, too. The white dress and clothing interwoven with gold is symbolic of her inner purity and worth. Christ is preparing His betrothed for the marriage supper (Rev 19:7–10).
The psalmist described the entrance of the bridal party into the wedding ceremony (v. 14). Even the poet cannot keep his eyes off her embroidered work. It is fearfully and wonderfully made. She will be led to the king is the heart pumping moment of procession. Even her old boyfriend will be blown away (2 Thess 2:8). The bridesmaids, virgins, her companions parade before the king. Pure and undefiled, avoiding sexual immorality, these are the faithful ones. These are the chamber attendants from every nation, tribe and tongue who attend to the queen forever. She and they are one.
The poet described the location and spirit of the occasion (v. 15). With the ceremony complete, the new couple will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing. She enters his home, “They will enter into the King’s palace.” It is a heavenly place with mansions of glory. He has prepared a place for her. The fruits of the Spirit are complete in her because she has entered His rest. The old things have passed away and the new ones are come. The promise of new life and eternal life are fulfilled as this becomes true for the Church of Christ, His bride.
The author addressed the king and gave a blessing to him and his progeny (v. 16). In place of your fathers will be your sons addresses the king and begins the final section. The toast adds hope to the wedded couple having children. The line of kings who rule, is the consideration in the original setting, but the writer of Hebrews expands this for us, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings (Heb 2:10).” He also quotes the prophet Isaiah (8:17–18) in showing us this gathering of God’s people in Christ, “And again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me (Heb. 2:13).’”
To be a child of the king, even one who is adopted, means one is to learn to rule. You shall make them princes in all the earth is the promise that the children of God in Christ shall reign with Him. We note this is not a local authority, but it is global in scope. Heaven worships the Lamb, who is the King, and who is assisted in His work, “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth (Rev 5:10; see also 20:6).”
YHWH promised the king an eternal accolade from the people who will revere his name forever (v. 17). I will cause Thy name to be remembered in all generations tells us that YHWH has not entrusted Christ’s fame to anyone else. What God begins, He completes. Christ’s name is above every other name because YHWH has given it to Him. The history of humanity is the story of how we forgot God because of sin, Satan, and the world of distraction.
God has not left Himself without a witness in the earth. The Holy Spirit is the Chief witness to Jesus Christ. Filling believers with Himself, the church has received power because the Holy Spirit has come upon us to join Him in going into all the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who receive this witness are therefore the peoples who will give Thee thanks forever and ever.
In sum, we have been invited to a truly divine royal wedding. We have the witness of the author, who has led us in adoration of the warrior king, who rules in truth, humility, and righteousness. We see the poet’s merit in encouraging the bride-to-be to forsake her past and embrace her glorious destiny. We are privy to the beauty, majesty, and splendor of the king receiving his bride. Our joy and added to our eternal gratitude. Our thanks will never end.
In conclusion, let the church never forget her identity in this world. Moreover, let her never forget her Lord, the King. God is preparing us for the glorious marriage supper of the Lamb. We have the promise of an eternal union. If you have received the token (Holy Spirit) of His love and betrothal, then join with the happy throng rejoicing in gladness. Your wedding day is coming soon. Come, Lord Jesus!
Spokane Valley, Washington
July 3, 2021