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
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;
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
21:5), perhaps these
4. ride prosperously—or conduct a
because of—for the interests of truth,
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,"
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).
8. The king thus inaugurated is now presented
as a bridegroom, who appears in garments richly perfumed, brought out
ivory palaces—His royal residence; by
which, as indications of the happy bridal occasion, He has been
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
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;
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
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
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.