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Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
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PSALM 45

Ps 45:1-17. Shoshannim—literally, "Lilies," either descriptive of an instrument so shaped, or denoting some tune or air so called, after which the Psalm was to be sung (see on Ps 8:1, title). A song of loves, or, of beloved ones (plural and feminine)—a conjugal song. Maschil—(See on Ps 32:1, title, and Ps 42:1, title) denotes the didactic character of the Psalm; that it gives instruction, the song being of allegorical, and not literal, import. The union and glories of Christ and his Church are described. He is addressed as a king possessed of all essential graces, as a conqueror exalted on the throne of a righteous and eternal government, and as a bridegroom arrayed in nuptial splendor. The Church is portrayed in the purity and loveliness of a royally adorned and attended bride, invited to forsake her home and share the honors of her affianced lord. The picture of an Oriental wedding thus opened is filled up by representing the complimentary gifts of the wealthy with which the occasion is honored, the procession of the bride clothed in splendid raiment, attended by her virgin companions, and the entrance of the joyous throng into the palace of the king. A prediction of a numerous and distinguished progeny, instead of the complimentary wish for it usually expressed (compare Ge 24:60; Ru 4:11, 12), and an assurance of a perpetual fame, closes the Psalm. All ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters regarded this Psalm as an allegory of the purport above named. In the Song of Songs the allegory is carried out more fully. Hosea (Ho 1:1-3:5) treats the relation of God and His people under the same figure, and its use to set forth the relation of Christ and His Church runs through both parts of the Bible (compare Isa 54:5; 62:4, 5; Mt 22:3; 25:1; Joh 3:29; Eph 5:25-32, &c.). Other methods of exposition have been suggested. Several Jewish monarchs, from Solomon to the wicked Ahab, and various foreign princes, have been named as the hero of the song. But to none of them can the terms here used be shown to apply, and it is hardly probable that any mere nuptial song, especially of a heathen king, would be permitted a place in the sacred songs of the Jews. The advocates for any other than the Messianic interpretation have generally silenced each other in succession, while the application of the most rigorous rules of a fair system of interpretation has but strengthened the evidences in its favor. The scope of the Psalm above given is easy and sustained by the explication of its details. The quotation of Ps 45:6, 7 by Paul (Heb 1:8, 9), as applicable to Christ, ought to be conclusive, and their special exposition shows the propriety of such an application.

1. An animated preface indicative of strong emotion. Literally, "My heart overflows: a good matter I speak; the things which I have made," &c.

inditing—literally, "boiling up," as a fountain overflows.

my tongue is the pen—a mere instrument of God's use.

of a ready writer—that is, it is fluent. The theme is inspiring and language flows fast.

2. To rich personal attractions is added grace of the lips, captivating powers of speech. This is given, and becomes a source of power and proves a blessing. Christ is a prophet (Lu 4:22).

3, 4. The king is addressed as ready to go forth to battle.

sword—(Compare Re 1:16; 19:15).

mighty—(Compare Isa 9:6).

glory and … majesty—generally used as divine attributes (Ps 96:6; 104:1; 111:3), or as specially conferred on mortals (Ps 21:5), perhaps these typically.

4. ride prosperously—or conduct a successful war.

because of—for the interests of truth, &c.

meekness … righteousness—without any connection—that is, a righteousness or equity of government, distinguished by meekness or condescension (Ps 18:35).

right hand—or power, as its organ.

shall teach thee—point the way to terrible things; that is, in conquest of enemies.

5. The result.

people—Whole nations are subdued.

6. No lawful construction can be devised to change the sense here given and sustained by the ancient versions, and above all by Paul (Heb 1:8). Of the perpetuity of this government, compare 2Sa 7:13; Ps 10:16; 72:5; 89:4; 110:4; Isa 9:7.

7. As in Ps 45:6 the divine nature is made prominent, here the moral qualities of the human are alleged as the reason or ground of the mediatorial exultation. Some render "O God, thy God," instead of

God, thy God—but the latter is sustained by the same form (Ps 50:7), and it was only of His human nature that the anointing could be predicated (compare Isa 61:3).

oil of gladness—or token of gladness, as used in feasts and other times of solemn joy (compare 1Ki 1:39, 40).

fellows—other kings.

8. The king thus inaugurated is now presented as a bridegroom, who appears in garments richly perfumed, brought out from

ivory palaces—His royal residence; by which, as indications of the happy bridal occasion, He has been gladdened.

9. In completion of this picture of a marriage festival, female attendants or bridesmaids of the highest rank attend Him, while the queen, in rich apparel (Ps 45:13), stands ready for the nuptial procession.

10, 11. She is invited to the union, for forming which she must leave her father's people. She representing, by the form of the allegory, the Church, this address is illustrated by all those scriptures, from Ge 12:1 on, which speak of the people of God as a chosen, separate, and peculiar people. The relation of subjection to her spouse at once accords with the law of marriage, as given in Ge 3:16; 18:12; Eph 5:22; 1Pe 3:5, 6, and the relation of the Church to Christ (Eph 5:24). The love of the husband is intimately connected with the entire devotion to which the bride is exhorted.

12. daughter of Tyre—(Ps 9:14); denotes the people. Tyre, celebrated for its great wealth, is selected to represent the richest nations, an idea confirmed by the next clause. These gifts are brought as means to conciliate the royal parties, representing the admitted subjection of the offerers. This well sets forth the exalted position of the Church and her head, whose moral qualities receive the homage of the world. The contribution of material wealth to sustain the institutions of the Church may be included (compare "riches of the Gentiles," Ps 72:10; Isa 60:5-10).

13. the king's daughter—a term of dignity. It may also intimate, with some allusion to the teaching of the allegory, that the bride of Christ, the Church, is the daughter of the great king, God.

within—Not only is her outward raiment costly, but all her apparel is of the richest texture.

wrought gold—gold embroidery, or cloth in which gold is woven.

14, 15. The progress of the procession is described; according to the usual custom the bride and attendants are conducted to the palace. Some for the words—

in raiment of needlework—propose another rendering, "on variegated (or embroidered) cloths"—that is, in the manner of the East, richly wrought tapestry was spread on the ground, on which the bride walked. As the dress had been already mentioned, this seems to be a probable translation.

15. shall they be brought—in solemn form (compare Job 10:19; 21:22). The entrance into the palace with great joy closes the scene. So shall the Church be finally brought to her Lord, and united amid the festivities of the holy beings in heaven.

16. As earthly monarchs govern widely extended empires by viceroys, this glorious king is represented as supplying all the principalities of earth with princes of his own numerous progeny.

17. The glories of this empire shall be as wide as the world and lasting as eternity.

therefore—Because thus glorious, the praise shall be universal and perpetual. Some writers have taxed their ingenuity to find in the history and fortunes of Christ and His Church exact parallels for every part of this splendid allegory, not excepting its gorgeous Oriental imagery. Thus, by the dresses of the king and queen, are thought to be meant the eminent endowments and graces of Christ and His people. The attendant women, supposed (though inconsistently it might seem with the inspired character of the work) to be concubines, are thought to represent the Gentile churches, and the bride the Jewish, &c. But it is evident that we cannot pursue such a mode of interpretation. For, following the allegory, we must suspend to the distant future the results of a union whose consummation as a marriage is still distant (compare Re 21:9). In fact, the imagery here and elsewhere sets before us the Church in two aspects. As a body, it is yet incomplete, the whole is yet ungathered. As a moral institution, it is yet imperfect. In the final catastrophe it will be complete and perfect. Thus, as a bride adorned, &c., it will be united with its Lord. Thus the union of Christ and the Church triumphant is set forth. On the other hand, in regard to its component parts, the relation of Christ as head, as husband, &c., already exists, and as these parts form an institution in this world, it is by His union with it, and the gifts and graces with which He endows it, that a spiritual seed arises and spreads in the world. Hence we must fix our minds only on the one simple but grand truth, that Christ loves the Church, is head over all things for it, raises it in His exaltation to the highest moral dignity—a dignity of which every, even the meanest, sincere disciple will partake. As to the time, then, in which this allegorical prophecy is to fulfilled, it may be said that no periods of time are specially designated. The characteristics of the relation of Christ and His Church are indicated, and we may suppose that the whole process of His exaltation from the declaration of His Sonship, by His resurrection, to the grand catastrophe of the final judgment, with all the collateral blessings to the Church and the world, lay before the vision of the inspired prophet.

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