Psalm 45 - Royal Wedding
For the director of music. To [the tune of] "Lilies."
Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil. A wedding song.
As the inscription says, this is a "wedding song". After a brief introduction (vs. 1), the groom is described (vss. 2-9), and then the bride is given instructions to prepare for the wedding (vss. 10-16), followed by a brief conclusion (vs. 17). As we shall see, this is not to be an ordinary wedding: it is a royal wedding. And then also, this is not to be an ordinary royal wedding, it is a wedding between the Prince of Peace, and His bride. Though some commentators see this psalm as describing a wedding of Solomon (while at the same time containing Messianic symbols), in my opinion, the Messianic interpretation overwhelms any references this may have had to any earthly wedding. I hold to Spurgeon’s view of this psalm: "Some here see Solomon and Pharoah’s daughter only—they are shortsighted; others see both Solomon and Christ—they are cross-eyed; well-focussed spiritual eyes see here Jesus only, or if Solomon be present at all, it must be like those hazy shadows of passers-by which cross the face of the camera, and therefore are dimly traceable upon a photographic landscape… This is no wedding song of earthly nuptials, but an Epithalamium for the Heavenly Bridegroom and His elect spouse" [Spurgeon, 313].
The Psalmist introduces his work: "My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer" (vs. 1). The Psalmist describes his feeling of inspiration. His "heart is stirred" to write the psalm. The Psalmist attributes the cause of his feelings of inspiration to the subject matter, to "the noble theme". Indeed, this psalm has a "noble theme", the noblest of themes, the wedding of the Son of God to His bride, the church. And though the Psalmist feels his inspiration comes from "the noble theme", there is more behind his feelings of inspiration. The Holy Spirit is speaking through him, guiding his pen as he writes. How true is the statement: "My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer." The "skillful writer" is the Holy Spirit, dictating the words written by the Psalmist’s pen, choosing the words skillfully for inclusion in the Holy Word of God.
In the first half of the psalm, some attributes of the bridegroom are enumerated:
His excellency through His grace: "You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever" (vs. 2). It is quite appropriate that our Lord’s grace be described as the root of His excellence, because, from our viewpoint, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is the most valuable of His attributes. We are saved by His grace, and what more valuable a gift have we received from Him, but our salvation?
His splendor and majesty: "Clothe yourself with splendor and majesty" (vs. 3). Though He came to earth in humility, on that glorious wedding day, He will be clothed in "splendor and majesty": the "splendor" and "majesty" that His exalted position deserves.
His righteousness: "Gird your sword upon your side,… ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness" (vs. 3, 4). His dedication to righteousness is demonstrated by His willingness to fight for it, as He "girds His sword" and "rides forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness."
His almighty power: "Let your right hand display awesome deeds" (vs. 4). He has almighty power, which He displays in "awesome deeds."
His power to inspire conscience: "Let your sharp arrow pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies" (vs. 5). Throughout the ages, our Lord, by His Spirit, has pierced the hearts of His enemies. Many of His sworn enemies have repented, and have become among His staunchest allies. Many who formerly fought against Him, now serve Him willingly.
His power to inspire worship: "Let the nations fall beneath your feet" (vs. 5). There is no one else worthy of our worship.
His everlasting kingship: "Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever" (vs. 6). O you enemies of our Lord, know this: His throne "will last forever and ever." Wouldn’t you much rather serve the everlasting king than forever battle against Him?
His just rule: "…a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness" (vs. 6, 7). Fear not His rule, you lovers of righteousness and justice. Justice is the sign and "scepter of His kingdom."
God’s anointing: "…therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy" (vs. 7). Because of His righteousness, God has exalted Him to the highest place.
His beauty: "All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory, the music of the strings makes you glad" (vs. 8). The beauty of the bridegroom is evident to all who know Him. His beauty is in His fragrance, making beautiful everything around Him.
His bride: "Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir" (vs. 9). Our Lord could have chosen the rich and the beautiful of this world as His bride, but He chose those who belong to His Church, sinners redeemed by His grace. What a privilege! To be chosen as the bride of the Lord of the Universe.
It becomes clear in reading the description of the bridegroom, that this psalm cannot refer to Solomon, but must refer only to the Lord Jesus Christ. Who but He has been "anointed with grace" (vs. 2), "blessed forever" (vs. 2), "rides forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness" (vs. 4), has displayed "awesome deeds" (vs. 4), is worthy to have "the nations fall beneath His feet" (vs. 5), has a throne that "will last forever and ever" (vs. 6)?
In verses 10 through 15, the bride is addressed. The Psalmist gives the bride instructions to prepare for the wedding: "Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house" (vs. 10). As the affianced bride of Christ, we of the church are to "forget [our] people and [our] father’s house." We are to renounce the world and pledge ourselves to Christ. "To renounce the world is not easy, but it must be done by all who are affianced to the Great King, for a divided heart He cannot endure; it would be misery to the beloved one as well as dishonour to her Lord" [Spurgeon, 319]. Christ is our Lord, and in honor and service to Him, we are to "forget" our people. "Philosophy is an art of remembering, but divinity includes in it an art of forgetting" [Thomas Adams, in Spurgeon, 332]. We are to "forget" in the sense that we are not to keep looking back and longing for things worldly. As the bridegroom Himself warned us: "Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Luke 17:32-33).
The less worldly we are, the more beautiful we are to Christ: "The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord" (vs. 11). We must remember that, as His bride, we are to, in all things, honor our Lord. This may prove difficult (as we all know), because the world is constantly vying for our affections: "The Daughter of Tyre will come with a gift, men of wealth will seek your favor" (vs. 12). We must resist the overtures of the world, so as to not dishonor our wonderful Lord, and mar the royal wedding.
To honor our Lord in all things makes us beautiful to Him: "All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions follow her and are brought to you" (vss. 13-14). What a glorious day it will be, when we are brought to Christ as His bride: "They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the king" (vs. 15). We will know "joy and gladness" on that day such as we have never known. Then, after the wedding, the Church will rule with our Lord: "Your sons will take the place of your fathers; you will make them princess throughout the land" (vs. 16).
The Psalmist concludes with a response: "I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you forever and ever" (vs. 17). And indeed, through this beautiful psalm, the writer has served to "perpetuate" the memory of our Lord "through all generations." As we consider this royal wedding that we are to participate in, can we resist "praising" our Lord "forever and ever"?