Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

45. Psalm 45

My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

2Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

3Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.

4And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.

5Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

6Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

7Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

8All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

9Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.

10Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;

11So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.

12And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.

13The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.

14She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.

15With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.

16Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.

17I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever 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.


VIEWNAME is study