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Psalm 45

Ode for a Royal Wedding

To the leader: according to Lilies. Of the Korahites. A Maskil. A love song.


My heart overflows with a goodly theme;

I address my verses to the king;

my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.



You are the most handsome of men;

grace is poured upon your lips;

therefore God has blessed you forever.


Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,

in your glory and majesty.



In your majesty ride on victoriously

for the cause of truth and to defend the right;

let your right hand teach you dread deeds.


Your arrows are sharp

in the heart of the king’s enemies;

the peoples fall under you.



Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.

Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;


you love righteousness and hate wickedness.

Therefore God, your God, has anointed you

with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;


your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.

From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;


daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;

at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.



Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear;

forget your people and your father’s house,


and the king will desire your beauty.

Since he is your lord, bow to him;


the people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,

the richest of the people 13with all kinds of wealth.


The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;


in many-colored robes she is led to the king;

behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.


With joy and gladness they are led along

as they enter the palace of the king.



In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons;

you will make them princes in all the earth.


I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations;

therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.

10. Hearken, O daughter! and consider I have no doubt, that what is here said is spoken of the Egyptian woman, whom the prophet has described as standing at the right hand of the king. It was not, indeed, lawful for Solomon to marry a strange woman; but this of itself is to be accounted among the gifts of God, that a king so powerful as the king of Egypt was, 169169     “Comme estoit la Roy d’Egypte.” — Fr. sought his alliance. At the same time, as by the appointment of the Law, it was required that the Jews, previous to entering into the marriage relation, should endeavor to instruct their wives in the pure worship of God, and emancipate them from superstition; in the present instance, in which the wife spoken of was descended from a heathen nation, and who, by her present marriage, was included in the body of the Church, the prophet, in order to withdraw her from her evil training, exhorts her to forget her own country and her father’s house, and to assume a new character and other manners. If she did not do this, there was reason to fear, not only that she would continue to observe in private the superstitions and false modes of worshipping God to which she had been habituated, but that also, by her public example, she would draw away many into a similar evil course; and, indeed, this actually came to pass soon after. Such is the reason of the exhortation which the prophet here gives her, in which, in order to render his discourse of more weight, he addresses her by the appellation of daughter, a term which it would have been unsuitable for any private man to have used. The more clearly to show how much it behoved the new bride to become altogether a new woman, he employs several terms thereby to secure her attention, Hearken, consider, and incline thy ear It is certainly a case in which much vehemence and urgent persuasion are needed, when it is intended to lead us to a complete renunciation of those things in which we take delight, either by nature or by custom. He then shows that there is no reason why the daughter of Pharaoh should feel any regret in forsaking her father, her kinsfolk, and the land of Egypt, because she would receive a glorious recompense, which ought to allay the grief she might experience in being separated from them. To reconcile her to the thought of leaving her own country, he encourages her by the consideration that she is married to so illustrious a king.

Let us now return to Christ. And, in the first place, let us remember that what is spiritual is here described to us figuratively; even as the prophets, on account of the dulness of men, were under the necessity of borrowing similitudes from earthly things. When we bear in mind this style of speaking, which is quite common in the Scriptures, we will not think it strange that the sacred writer here makes mention of ivory palaces, gold, precious stones, and spices; for by these he means to intimate that the kingdom of Christ will be replenished with a rich abundance, and furnished with all good things. The glory and excellence of the spiritual gifts, with which God enriches his Church, are indeed held in no estimation among men; but in the sight of God they are of more value than all the riches of the world. At the same time, it is not necessary that we should apply curiously to Christ every particular here enumerated; 170170     This is certainly a most important rule in interpreting the allegorical compositions of Scripture. It is not to be imagined that there are distinct analogies between every part of an allegorical representation, and the spiritual subjects which it is designed to illustrate. The interpreter who allows his ingenuity to press too closely all the points of the allegory to the spiritual subjects couched under it, seeking points of comparison in the complementary parts, which are introduced merely for the purpose of giving more animation and beauty to the discourse, is in danger by his fanciful analogies of degrading the composition, and falling into absurdities. as for instance, what is here said of the many wives which Solomon had. If it should be imagined from this that there may be several churches, the unity of Christ’s body will be rent in pieces. I admit, that as every individual believer is called “the temple of God,” (1 Corinthians 3:17, and 6:19,) so also might each be named “the spouse of Christ;” but properly speaking, there is only one spouse of Christ, which consists of the whole body of the faithful. She is said to sit by the side of the king, not that she exercises any dominion peculiar to herself, but because Christ rules in her; and it is in this sense that she is called “the mother of us all,” (Galatians 4:26.)

This passage contains a remarkable prophecy in reference to the future calling of the Gentiles, by which the Son of God formed an alliance with strangers and those who were his enemies. There was between God and the uncircumcised nations a deadly quarrel, a wall of separation which divided them from the seed of Abraham, the chosen people, (Ephesians 2:14;) for the covenant which God had made with Abraham shut out the Gentiles from the kingdom of heaven till the coming of Christ. Christ, therefore, of his free grace, desires to enter into a holy alliance of marriage with the whole world, in the same way as if a Jew in ancient times had taken to himself a wife from a foreign and heathen land. But in order to conduct into Christ’s presence his bride chaste and undefiled, the prophet exhorts the Church gathered from the Gentiles to forget her former manner of living, and to devote herself wholly to her husband. As this change, by which the children of Adam begin to be the children of God, and are transformed into new men, is a thing so difficult, the prophet enforces the necessity of it the more earnestly. In enforcing his exhortation in this way by different terms, hearken, consider, incline thy ear, he intimates, that the faithful do not deny themselves, and lay aside their former habits, without intense and painful effort; for such an exhortation would be superfluous, were men naturally and voluntarily disposed to it. And, indeed, experience shows how dull and slow we are to follow God. By the word consider, or understand, our stupidity is tacitly rebuked, and not without good reason; for whence arise that self-love which is so blind, that false opinion which we have of our own wisdom and strength, the deception arising from the fascinations of the world, and, in fine, the arrogance and pride which are natural to us, but because we do not consider how precious a treasure God is presenting to us in his only begotten Son? Did not this ingratitude prevent us, we would without regret, after the example of Paul, (Philippians 3:8,) reckon as nothing, or as “dung,” those things which we admire most, that Christ might replenish us with his riches. By the word daughter, the prophet gently and sweetly soothes the new Church; and he also sets before her the promise of a bountiful reward, 171171     “En luy proposant bonne recompense.” — Fr. to induce her, for the sake of Christ, willingly to despise and forsake whatever she made account of heretofore. It is certainly no small consolation to know that the Son of God will delight in us, when we shall have put off our earthly nature. In the meantime, let us learn, that to deny ourselves is the beginning of that sacred union which ought to exist between us and Christ. By her father’s house and her people is doubtless meant all the corruptions which we carry with us from our mother’s womb, or derive from evil custom; nay, under this mode of expression there is comprehended whatever men have belonging to themselves; for there is no part of our nature sound or free from corruption.

It is necessary, also, to notice the reason which is added, namely, that if the Church refuses to devote herself wholly to Christ, she casts off his due and lawful authority. By the word worship we must understand not only the outward ceremony, but also, according to the figure synecdoche, a holy desire to yield reverence and obedience. Would to God that this admonition, as it ought, had been thoroughly weighed! for the Church of Christ had then been more obedient to his authority, and we should not in these days have had so great a contest to maintain in reference to her authority against the Papists, who imagine that the Church is not sufficiently exalted and honored, unless with unbridled license she may insolently triumph over her own husband. They, no doubt, in words ascribe supreme authority to Christ, saying, that every knee should bow before him; but when they maintain that the Church has an unlimited power of making laws, what else is this but to give her loose reins, and to exempt her from the authority of Christ, that she may break forth into any excess according to her desire? I stay not to notice how wickedly they arrogate to themselves the title and designation of the Church. But it is intolerable sacrilege to rob Christ and then adorn the Church with his spoils. It is no small dignity which the Church enjoys, in being seated at the right hand of the King, and it is no small honor to be called “the Mother” of all the godly, for to her it belongs to nourish and keep them under her discipline. But at the same time it is easy to gather from innumerable passages of Scripture, that Christ does not so elevate his own Church that he may diminish or impair in the least his own authority.

12 And the daughter of Tyre with a gift. This also is a part of the recompense which the prophet promises to the queen in order to mitigate or rather to extinguish entirely, the longing desire she might still feel after her former condition. He says: that the Tyrians will come humbly to pay her reverence, bringing presents with them. Tyre, we know, was formerly a city of great renown, and, therefore, he accounts it a very high honor that men will come from a city so distinguished and opulent to greet her and to testify their submission to her. It is not necessary for us to examine every word minutely, in order to apply to the Church every thing here said concerning the wife of Solomon; but in our own day we realize some happy fruits of this prophecy when God has so ordered it, that some of the great men of this world, although they themselves refuse to submit to the authority of Christ, act with kindness towards the Church, maintaining and defending her.

13 The daughter of the King is all glorious within 172172     Dathe and Berlin refer within to the interior of the queen’s palace, which seems to agree best with the context. The original word rendered within denotes the interior of a house in Leviticus 10:18, and 1 Kings 6:18. Fry explains the words thus: “Most splendid is the royal daughter within the awning of her covered vehicle;” and refers to the picture of a bridal procession in Mr Lane’s Egypt. Dr Geddes reads: —
   “All glorious is the queen in her apartment,
Her robe is bespangled with gold;
To the king she shall be brought in brocade,
Attended by her virgin companions.”

   “This,” says he, namely, verse 13th, “and the two next verses, contain a fine description of Oriental manners. The queen, before she be led to the king’s apartment, is gorgeously dressed in her own; and thence proceeds with her female train to the royal palace.”
This verse may be understood in a twofold sense; either as meaning that the queen, not only when she appears in public before all the people, but also when sitting in private in her own chamber, is always sumptuously apparelled; or, that the splendor and gorgeous appearance of her attire is not merely a thing of display, designed to dazzle the eyes of the simple, but consists of expensive and really substantial material. The prophet accordingly enhances the happy and lofty condition of the queen by the circumstance, that she has not only sumptuous apparel in which she may appear on particular occasions, but also for her ordinary and daily attire. Others expound it in this sense, That all her glory consists in the king inviting her familiarity into his presence; and this opinion they rest on the ground that immediately after there is a description given of her as passing into the chamber of the king accompanied with a great and glorious train of followers. This display of pomp exceeds the bounds of due moderation; but, in the meantime, we are taught by it, that while the Church is thus richly apparelled, it is not designed to attract the notice of men, but only for the pleasure of the King. If in our day the Church is not so richly adorned with that spiritual beauty in which the glory of Christ shines forth, the fault ought to be imputed to the ingratitude of men, who either through their own indifference despise the goodness of God, or else, after having been enriched by him, again fall into a state of poverty and want.

16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children This also serves to show the glory and transcendent excellence of this kingdom, namely, that the children will not be inferior in dignity to their fathers, and that the nobility of the race will not be diminished after the death of Solomon; for the children which shall be born to him will equal those who had preceded them in the most excellent virtues. Then it is added, that they shall be princes in all the earth, because the empire shall enjoy such an extent of dominion on every side, that it might easily be divided into many kingdoms. It is easy to gather, that this prophecy is spoken expressly concerning Christ; for so far were the sons of Solomon from having a kingdom of such an extent, as to divide it into provinces among them, that his first successor retained only a small portion of his kingdom. There were none of his true and lawful successors who attained the same power which he had enjoyed, but being princes only over one tribe and a half of the people, they were, on this account, shut up within narrow limits, and, as we say, had their wings clipped. 173173     “Et (comme on dit) ont eu les ailes rongnees.” — Fr. But at the coming of Christ, who appeared at the close of the ancient Church, and the beginning of the new dispensation, it is an undoubted truth, that children were begotten by him, who were inferior in no respect to their fathers, either in number or in excellence, and whom he set as rulers over the whole world. In the estimation of the world, the ignominy of the cross obscures the glory of the Church; but when we consider how wonderfully it has increased, and how much it has been distinguished by spiritual gifts, we must confess that it is not without cause that her glory is in this passage celebrated in such sublime language. It ought, however, to be observed, that the sovereignty, of which mention is here made, consists not in the persons of men, but refers to the head. According to a frequent mode of expression in the Word of God, the dominion and power which belong properly to the head, and are applicable peculiarly to Christ alone, are in many places ascribed to his members. We know that those who occupy eminent stations in the Church, and who rule in the name of Christ, do not exercise a lordly dominion, but rather act as servants. As, however, Christ has committed to them his Gospel, which is the scepter of his kingdom, and intrusted it as it were to their keeping, they exercise, in some sort, his power. And, indeed, Christ, by his ministers, has subdued to his dominion the whole world, and has erected as many principalities under his authority as there have been churches gathered to him in divers nations by their preaching.

17 I will make thy name to be remembered, etc. This also is equally inapplicable to Solomon, who, by his shameful and impious rebellion, stained the memory of his name with disgrace. In polluting by superstitious abominations the land which was consecrated to God, did he not bring upon himself indelible ignominy and shame? For this deed alone his name deserves to be buried in everlasting oblivion. Nor was his son Rehoboam in any degree more deserving of praise; for through his own foolish presumption he lost the better part of his kingdom. To find, therefore, the true accomplishment of what is here said, we must come to Christ, the memory of whose name continues to prosper and prevail. It is no doubt despised by the world, nay, wicked men, in the pride of their hearts, even reproach his sacred name, and outrageously trample it under their feet; but still it survives in its undiminished majesty. It is also true, that his enemies rise up on all sides in vast numbers to overthrow his kingdom; but notwithstanding, men are already beginning to bow the knee before him, which they will continue to do, until the period arrive when he shall tread down all the powers that are opposed to him. The furious efforts of Satan and the whole world have not been able to extinguish the name of Christ, which, being transmitted from one generation to another, still retains its glory in every age, even as at this day we see it celebrated in every language. And although the greater part of the world tear it in pieces by their impious blasphemies, yet it is enough that God stirs up his servants every where to proclaim with fidelity and with unfeigned zeal the praises of Christ. In the meantime, it is our duty diligently to use our endeavors, that the memory of Christ, which ought to prosper and prevail throughout all ages, to the eternal salvation of men, may never at any time lose any of its renown.

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