The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 45

Psa 45:1

SUPERSCRIPTION: "OF THE SONS OF KORAH. A MASKIL. A WEDDING SONG". All these Korah psalms belong to the time of Hezekiah. Attention to Psa 42, 50 ("A Psa of Asaph") confirm that here "For the sons of Korah" is not a SUBSCRIPTIONion but a heading.

MASKIL: See Lesson, Psalms, "Maschil".

WEDDING: Or "Loves" = Yedidoth. Prob an intensive plural -- sig "a song of great love" (or again, poss, pointing to more than one application: ie, it is both psalm and prophecy). LXX: Concerning the Beloved. Paul ref to this in Eph 1:6 (God hath accepted us in the Beloved). Solomon is called the "Beloved of Yahweh" (Jedidiah) in 2Sa 12:25, and the similarities between Psa 45 and the "Song of Songs, which is Solomon's" are obvious.

"Thus the great story of eternal love finds its emotion in the Psalms. By this means we hear the heart of our Bridegroom, and feel the emotion of the impending wedding. So the King is praised for his beauty, splendor, speech, justice and equity, valour, fulness of gifts, prosperity, stability of rule. The Bride is praised for her inward virtues, outward beauty, title and dignity, attire and vesture, position at the right hand. The maidens that follow her reflect her fruitfulness in posterity. We should keep this glorious vision in our minds, and strive to prepare as the heavenly Bride (Rev 19:8)" (GEM).

HEZEKIAH REFERENCE: Hezekiah's bride was Hephzibah (2Ki 21:1; Isa 62:1-5). It is poss that this Psa and Isa 62 do not describe the original wedding, but a corresponding ceremony which took place in the year after the Assyrian invasion. (Hezekiah's leprosy would in effect have nullified the original marriage, for he would have become as a "dead man". This would explain the peculiar lack of a child in the early years of the union.) The picture in Isa 54:1-8 (and Gal 4:24-27) of a fruitless marriage, like widowhood, being reinvigorated with prosperity, is almost certainly another part of the Hezekiah allegory, a part which fits wonderfully well into the Messianic type. So Isa 62:1-5 and Psa 45 may relate primarily to a renewed marriage after the king's recovery, and to the beginning of a wonderful wave of national prosperity.

(NT) Psalm 45 is a "miniature Song of Songs". Both Scriptures describe the marriage of a great "king" to a special "bride". The righteous King (vv 2,7), taken from among his fellows (v 7), but now elevated above all them to sit on God's throne (v 6), celebrates a great marriage (vv 9-11). This is none other than "the marriage of the Lamb" (Rev 19:7-9), with his "Bride" who has been taken out of the Gentiles (vv 11,12)! This King is also a great High Priest (cp Isa 61:1,2,10: a "bridegroom who decketh himself as a priest"), for (as in the Song of Songs) he is described in imagery reminiscent of the temple and its services. It is because of the surpassing sacrifice which the great King-Priest has offered that his prospective Bride has been cleansed, and prepared for him (Eph 5:25-27, citing Song 4:7; cp Song 6:8,9).

MY HEART IS STIRRED BY A NOBLE THEME: Ct Psa 39:1,2. In some psalms there seems to be an emphasis on inspiration: Psa 49:3,4; 78:2,3; 36:1,2; 110:1; 2Sa 23:2. The last three use the Heb word "said", which always sig a word from the Lord.

STIRRED: "Stirred" is the Hebrew "rachash" = "to boil or bubble up" (AV mg), overflowing like a perennial, inexhaustible spring. This conveys an eager enthusiasm that cannot be restrained. "My heart overflows with a goodly theme" (RSV). "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Mat 12:34,35). The common Hebrew word for prophet (nabi) is from another root which also signifies "to bubble forth". Surely here is a holy man of God speaking as he is moved by the Holy Spirit (2Pe 1:21).

MY VERSES: AV "the things which I have made", or "framed", a word, and phrase, used frequently about the tapestry and other handiwork of the Tabernacle and the Temple. Our words and thoughts are veritable "temples" in which God is most truly enshrined and worshipped! The "temple" motif is very evident in this psalm, as in the holy anointing oil of the priests (v 8) and the needlework and wrought gold (vv 13,14). (Cp the almost inexhaustible Temple imagery of the Song of Songs -- where both King and Bride are rapturously described in terms of temple worship.)

If our heart is stirred by these themes, then our "verses", or words and actions, will be -- like the curtains of the Temple -- a beautiful piece of handiwork that speaks forth the Glory of our God. We should remember that, every day, we are "building" and "furnishing" and "decorating" a "temple" which brings praise to our Heavenly Father: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1Co 6:19,20).

Psa 45:2

YOU ARE THE MOST EXCELLENT OF MEN: A physical detail about the king of some importance, now that he was recovered from the ravages of his disease.

(NT) In all senses this is true of Christ in his glory. And it is true also of his Bride, his eternal companion, who is "fairest among women" (Song 5:9) -- because she has been made, and she has made herself (both are true!), the fitting counterpart of her Beloved! When Christ lived among men, and esp in the circumstances of his sufferings and death, he was certainly not to be desired for his form or comeliness (Isa 52:14; 53:2). But having been glorified, he is now "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" (Heb 7:26); in short he is "altogether lovely" (Song 5:16).

YOUR LIPS HAVE BEEN ANOINTED WITH GRACE: An expression of Hezekiah's godliness.

(NT) Luk 4:22 -- a direct allusion to this verse, in a section which follows the exposition of Isa 61 (and Isa 62:1-5?). "Grace" in the NT has the dual meaning of Holy Spirit gifts (Rom 12:3,6; 1Co 1:4,7; Gal 2:9; Eph 4:7; 1Pe 4:10) and the forgiveness of sins (Rom 3:24; 5:17,20,21; 6:1; Eph 1:6,7; 2:5-8) -- both wonderfully apt.

SINCE GOD HAS BLESSED YOU FOREVER: (NT) This emphasis on eternal life (v 17) certainly looks beyond the primary ref. This is a divine king (vv 6,11), hence he is blessed by God for ever (Rom 9:5, prob citing this verse). The blessing certainly includes receiving a special Name, for the One who does God's work is given God's Name, or authority: Phi 2:9,10.

Psa 45:3

THY SWORD... THY RIGHT HAND (v 4): The expressions here of military strength are quite relevant, for after the destruction of the feared Assyrians, the kingdom of Judah moved into a new era of influence and importance.

Vv 3-5: (NT) Almost incongruously, a combination of symbolism: war and love! The great warrior, winning the ultimate victory over his enemies, then becomes the loving Bridegroom (Rev 19:7-9,11-16; 21:1-3; cp also 2Co 10:4,5). The same curious juxtaposition of themes dominates the Song of Songs (Song 3:6-8; 4:4; 6:10,12).

SWORD: (NT) Isa 11:4; 49:2. The "Word of God" (ie, the personal Word, Christ!) as a "sword" in Heb 4:12. Cp the usage in Eph 6:17.

O MIGHTY ONE: "Gibbor", the mighty warrior! Cp Isa 9:6 (a prophecy of Messiah's birth); Psa 24:8 (the Lord, mighty -- ie gibbor -- in battle); and Exo 15:3.

Psa 45:4

IN YOUR MAJESTY RIDE FORTH VICTORIOUSLY: (NT) "Rachav" (to ride) is rendered in the LXX by "basileuein" (to reign). In general "to ride upon" sig "to have dominion over" (Eur 2:486). The One who rode an ass into Jerusalem, in peace (Zec 9:9; Mat 21:5), will come to the Holy City another time riding upon a white horse and leading an army of heaven, in wrath to make war against his enemies (Rev 19:11-16).

IN BEHALF OF TRUTH, HUMILITY AND RIGHTEOUSNESS: (NT) What a powerful sequence of words to describe (1) Messiah's qualifications to be King, and (2) the objectives of his reign! Truth = his fulfillment of the Promises. Meekness = the humility of his first advent (Zec 9:9). And righteousness = his perfect sinlessness (Joh 8:46).

TRUTH, HUMILITY, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS: All of these fit godly Hezekiah, the second describing the period of his sickness and retirement from public affairs.

Psa 45:5

LET YOUR SHARP ARROWS PIERCE THE HEARTS: In Heb there is a well-recognized relation between firing arrows and teaching. (Consider, as one example, Act 2:37, where Peter's preaching "pierced" the hearts of the listeners.)

(NT) Heb "amim", which hundreds of times refers to the people of Israel. Now Israel is to suffer national abasement before the King whom once they rejected (cp Zec 12:10-14; 13:9).

LET THE NATIONS FALL BENEATH YOUR FEET: Hence this is a ref to the king's influence, throughout the whole twelve tribes, since the reformation he sponsored.

Psa 45:6

(NT) These vv are quoted in Heb 1:8,9 to prove that the Son has higher status than angels. What angel is anointed and has a throne and a scepter?

YOUR THRONE, O GOD: A phrase mistakenly used by some to prove the "deity" of Christ. The RSV has "your divine throne", and the NEB, "Your throne is like God's throne." But, nonetheless, the phrase as it stands in the AV should present no real problem: See Lesson, Jesus as "God"?

SCEPTER: Heb "shebet": a rod (Gen 49:10; Num 24:17; 2Sa 7:14). A rod was for ruling and correction (cp Psa 2:9; 23:4).

Psa 45:7

YOU LOVE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATE WICKEDNESS: (NT) The chief virtue of any ruler (2Sa 23:3; Isa 9:6,7; 11:3-5; Jer 23:5,6), but in the absolute sense it is true only of Jesus. All others are more or less in love with their favorite sins. Now note the force of "therefore" in Phi 2:9: it is just because (and only because) he was perfectly obedient that Jesus was highly exalted above all men (and even angels)!

ABOVE YOUR FELLOWS BY ANOINTING: What king since David compared with Hezekiah?

(NT) This King-Priest is the leader of others who, by impl, are anointed along with him; that is, they share his glory and joy (Rev 5:10).

ANOINTING YOU WITH THE OIL OF JOY: (NT) See Isa 61:1-3). This should have told the men of Nazareth plainly that Jesus was their promised Messiah -- "anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power" (Act 10:38). This anointing with oil is also a priestly anointing (Exo 30:23-25,30,37,38), sym purification, preservation, sacrifice, and dedication. Consider Joh 12:3 and 19:39: Jesus was thus anointed both before and after his great sacrifice. It is because of this anointing that the "virgins" love him (Song 1:3; Rev 14:4). Also see Psa 133:1,2.

Psa 45:8

ALL YOUR ROBES ARE FRAGRANT WITH MYRRH AND ALOES AND CASSIA: What was the first thing Jesus would smell on the resurrection morning? Since Psa 45 is a psalm of the resurrection (cp Heb 1:9), this verse might seem to provide an answer. These items are the ingredients in the holy anointing oil of the priests (Exo 30:23,24; Lev 8:30). It was the scent of sacrifice! The resurrected Jesus smelled like a holy priest. Further, Song 4:14,16, about the bride, demonstrates that she has about her the scent of sacrifice and resurrection as well!

MYRRH: A well-known gum resin, used in perfume (Pro 7:17) and for purification (Est 2:12). It was a present from the wise men to the child Jesus (Mat 2:11), and it was used in the anointing of his dead body (Joh 19:39,40; Mar 15:23). Suggestive of sacrifice, which is bitter (the meaning of "myrrh") in its experience yet purifying and cleansing in its effect. (See also Song 1:13; 4:6.)

ALOES: Heb "ahalim": Num 24:6; Pro 7:17; Song 4:14. A large tree with a very fine wood, containing a resin, and an essential oil, constituting a perfume greatly prized. It was used, along with myrrh, in the burial of Christ (Joh 19:39,40). The Heb sig "tents", suggestive of the wilderness wanderings and trials of the children of Israel.

CASSIA: Exo 30:24: a tree whose bark, when stripped off, has the flavor and aroma of cinnamon. From a Heb root "to bow down", thus sig humility (ie Psa 110:7; 2Co 8:9; Phi 2:5-8).

FROM PALACES ADORNED WITH IVORY: At this period, fine houses with ivory inlay (found by archaeologists) were fashionable (as Ahab's palace: 1Ki 22:39; cp Amo 3:15; 6:4). Here, "away from ivory palaces" is a poss reading, and not unsuitable.

(NT) Exactly the same word (shen) is translated "teeth". The Bride is praised for her white, even, beautiful teeth (Song 4:2)! And the King is compared also to ivory in Song 5:14. Ivory is white and smooth and precious; it is a living substance of great beauty and durability. Solomon's ivory throne (1Ki 10:18; 2Ch 9:17) is typical of the great white throne of peace and righteousness (Rev 20:11) from which Christ will rule the world.

THE MUSIC OF THE STRINGS MAKES YOU GLAD: (NT) The basic characteristic of the glorified Redeemed is incessant praise: They "rest not day and night", crying "Holy, holy, holy" unto the Lord (Rev 4:8). Such are the "harpers" (stringed instruments!) upon mount Zion (Rev 14:2,3).

Psa 45:9

DAUGHTERS OF KINGS ARE AMONG YOUR HONORED WOMEN: (NT) Lit, "thy precious ones", suggestive of the multitudinous nature of the "Bride" of the Lamb-like King. This is comparable to the "bride's maids" in Song of Songs, and the wise virgins in Christ's parable (Mat 25:1-12). In conjunction with the Bride herself, they portray both the singular (ie Joh 17:21; Rom 12:4; Eph 4:4) and the plural (ie 1Co 12:14: "many members") aspects and character of Christ's "bride" or church.

YOUR RIGHT HAND: The place of honor and power (Psa 110:1; Act 2:34; 1Ki 2:19) and acceptance (Mat 25:33,34).

GOLD: (NT) In the Temple, the cherubim and the ark and the mercy-seat and the altar were all overlaid with gold. The High Priest wore an ephod of gold (Exo 28:6,35). All these items are symbolic testimony to the fact that God's saints -- Christ's bride -- are perfected through the trials of their faith (1Pe 1:7).

OPHIR: Job 22:24; Isa 13:12; 1Ki 9:28; 10:11. The principal gold-producing (and/or gold-trading) region of the ancient world, also called Uphaz in Dan 10:5. See Lesson, Ophir. The word sig "abundance", and thus the LXX reads this differently: "arrayed in divers (or abundant) colours". 1Pe 4:10 (manifold) has the same word.

Psa 45:10

FORGET YOUR PEOPLE: This suggests that the bride was of Gentile origin. Hephzibah (lit Chephtsibah) means "my delight (Heb chephets) is in her" (see Deut 21:14, sw, about a Gentile wife put away). Also, "causing to forget" was the name given to the first child of the marriage (Manasseh) (cp Gen 41:51: the same name for Joseph's son by Asenath, another Gentile wife).

(NT) Alongside this consider Rth 1:16; 2:8,11; and Isa 54:1-8. In addition to Ruth, other "Gentile" brides introduced into the hope of Israel (and even into the house and lineage of David) were Rahab (Mat 1:5) and Rebekah (Gen 24:58) and Leah (Gen 29). The great purpose of God is to take a "bride" for His beloved Son out of all nations, to bring her to His Holy city, and there to present her to His Son (Rev 19:7-9; 21:2,9,10). "Hearken... consider... incline thine ear... forget" are necessary qualifications for the Bride of Christ. And the emphasis here (and in v 1) implies that this Scripture is to be received as a parable; so also Isa 62:1-5 and 2Co 11:2. "Forget" (Mar 13:15 and Luk 9:62) is matched by the husband's forgetting (Gen 2:24; v 16 here; cp Phi 3:13).

Psa 45:11

(NT) So, ie because she has forgotten her old associations, and has separated herself from her natural environment. This willingness to leave all for her Lord is her special beauty, a spiritual "beauty" elsewhere described in Song 4:1,9,10,12. Cp the force of "therefore" in v 2.

FOR HE IS YOUR LORD: Cp Gen 18:12 and 1Pe 3:6: Sarah calling Abraham "lord".

Psa 45:12

THE DAUGHTER OF TYRE WILL COME WITH A GIFT: (NT) Typ of those of the Gentiles who come to believe in Christ. Among the first to fit that category was the woman of Syrophoenicia (the same region as Tyre) who showed such great faith in Mat 15:21-28 and Mar 7:24-30. It may be objected that she came to Jesus asking for a gift rather than bringing one. But she did bring a gift -- the gift of faith! This, in the last analysis, is the greatest gift of all.

THE DAUGHTER OF TYRE: May simply sig a representative from the Tyrian people, just as Judah is often called "the daughter of Zion". The country's tremendous surge of prosperity after invasion would encourage renewal of the old alliance formed by Hiram of Tyre with David and Solomon.

TYRE: In the time of the psalmist, Tyre was probably the most wealthy and luxurious commercial town then existing; and it is referred to here as meaning that persons of highest rank, and of the greatest riches, and those who were surrounded most by affluence and luxury, would come to honor the king. Even the daughter of the magnificent prince of Tyre would deem it an honor to be present with a gift becoming her exalted station, and properly representing the wealth of a king of so much magnificence.

In the last days Tyre is (as recent events have shown) the representative of the Arab enemies of Israel who now at last realize who is the rightful ruler of the Holy Land. The original Tyre and its king helped to build God's Temple (1Ki 5:1-12). And, in like manner, the future "merchandise" of Tyre will be devoted to exalting the holiness of the Lord in Jerusalem (Psa 72:10; Isa 23:18; 60:9,11-14).

GIFT: "Minchah", used of the meal-offering in Lev 2.

Psa 45:13

ALL GLORIOUS IS THE PRINCESS WITHIN HER CHAMBERS: "Within" is used exclusively of the temple/tabernacle: cp Lev 10:18; 1Ki 6:18,19,21,29,30; 2Ki 7:11; 2Ch 3:4 29:16,18; Psa 45:13; Eze 40:16; 41:3. The "king's daughter" is the ecclesia which is "the temple of the living God" (2Co 6:16).

(NT) (1) In the chamber, where this union is solemnized; or (2) not only her outward adornment (v 14), but her personal character (Eph 5:27), her inward adorning (1Pe 3:3,4). Further on this latter possibility, cp the Tabernacle in the wilderness, its outward covering black and dull, but on the inside bedecked with beautiful curtains (Exo 26:31; cp 2Ch 3:14) and the brilliant Glory of the Lord. In like fashion, the prospective Bride of Christ is (externally) "black" "as the tents of Kedar", but also (internally) "comely" "as the curtains of Solomon" (Song 1:5)! The bride has transformed herself (or, more precisely, has been transformed) (Rom 8:29; Eph 5:27) into the glorious spiritual likeness of her Lord (Joh 1:14; Heb 1:3).

HER GOWN IS INTERWOVEN WITH GOLD: "Interwoven" is used only of the High Priest's shoulder pieces and the engraved stones of the breastplate (Exo 28:11-25; 39:6-18). Both have the same symbolism.

THE PRINCESS: "The king's daughter" (AV). Instead of a Gentile, was she perhaps the daughter of the last king of Israel -- an attempt, like 2Ch 30:5, at unification of the twelve tribes? This, of course, can be nothing more than guesswork.

Psa 45:14

EMBROIDERED GARMENTS: The same expression is used of the High Priest's girdle (Exo 28:39; 39:27-29). The painstaking labor, on a natural level, required for such garments suggests: thought, preparation, carefulness, and serious toil in spiritual matters.

SHE IS LED TO THE KING: That is, by the Father (Gen 2:22).

HER VIRGIN COMPANIONS FOLLOW HER: The wise virgins (Mat 25:10).

Psa 45:15

PALACE: "Naos" (LXX), the inner shrine of the temple (cp v 7).

Psa 45:16

YOUR SONS WILL TAKE THE PLACE OF YOUR FATHERS: Hezekiah had lamented the threatened discontinuity of the Davidic line: Isa 38:5,19. Now he can look forward to rejoicing in his children: cp Psa 127:3-5 (a song of -- or for? -- Solomon, but used by Hezekiah in his "Songs of Degrees") and Psa 128:3,4,6 (definitely a Hezekiah psalm).

YOUR SONS: (NT) Christ is the spiritual "father" (Isa 9:6,7; 53:10) of the "children" whom God has given him (Isa 8:18; Heb 2:13; cp also Psa 22:30; 24:6). Hence he is not only the "branch" (Isa 11:1) but also the "root" of David (Rev 22:16). And because he is the "resurrection" (Joh 11:25) they are also "the children of the resurrection" (Luk 20:36)!

YOUR FATHERS: (1) Adam, and the progenitors of the whole human race? (2) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Or, (3) The earlier generations of Israel, who lost their birthright through disbelief and disobedience (Luk 11:47; John 6:49; Act 7:39; Heb 3:17-19)?

PRINCES THROUGHOUT THE LAND: (NT) "Thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles" (Isa 54:3). Cp also 1Pe 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:9,10; 20:6.

Psa 45:17

I WILL PERPETUATE YOUR MEMORY: Simply, "You will have a seed!"

(NT) "Remember" is the word which is constantly associated with the Memorial Name; therefore this King is divine (v 6). And his "children" (v 16) will perpetuate his Name to all eternity.

ALAMOTH: A SUBSCRIPTIONion of Psa 45, not a SUPERSCRIPTIONion of Psa 46, according to Thirtle = Maidens. The singular is alma, a hidden one, a covered one, or a virgin (Isa 7:14; Gen 24:43; Exo 2:8). This Psa was assigned to a choir of maidens (1Ch 15:20), or else they provided accompaniment for it. Such a designation is appropriate to a wedding hymn (vv 9,14 here); the "maidens" here (called also "kings' daughters" and "honourable women": v 9) are the counterpart of the "daughters of Jerusalem" or "Zion" in Song 1:5; 2:7; 3:5; etc.


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