The Messianic Psalms
Dr. John Boyd is a Specialist in Medicine. He practises in Belfast, Ireland. In spite of his many duties, he makes time for precise biblical studies. His present contribution is the result of his research in regard to the Messianic Psalms. This is the ninth in the series.
(9) Psalm 45
Messiah - The Coming Glorious King
In vain do we search the annals of history for such a king as is described in Psalm 45. The glory of Gentile world-rulers is far surpassed here. No monarch of Israel fits this picture. None save Christ, God’s coming King, the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, is portrayed in this poem. To Him the Holy Spirit applies it.
The Psalmist tells us that his heart had been inditing, a good matter. In effect he says, “The subject of my meditation is so thrilling that my heart is overflowing; it is bubbling over; it is bursting to express its delight. My poem, The things which I have made, is about the coming victorious King, the majestic sovereign Lord of the universe, and about His resplendent coronation. Because of this lofty theme my tongue seems to be running away with me.”
In the title instructions are given to the Chief Musician to handle this important Psalm himself for the choral service of the temple. ‘Shoshannim’ (lit., lillies) may mean the name of the tune to which it is set, or it may refer to a six-stringed instrument corresponding to the six leaves of the lily. This is one of eleven Psalms written by the sons of Korah. Maschil means “for teaching.” It is described as a “song of loves,” the plural of majesty, that is, a song of pure love.
This is the Psalmist’s introduction. Between it and the epilogue (v. 17) we have seven stanzas, each presenting a different glory of Messiah the King. Let us examine these stanzas, that we, too, might praise the King.
Stanza 1 The Glory of Messiah’s Person (v. 2)
Messiah is endowed with a beauty above all others. At His first advent men found nothing to admire in Him; He was despised by them; He was a Man of Sorrows; His visage was so marred more than any man. But when He comes the second time men will marvel at His beauty. Even kings shall shut their mouths in astonishment, for there will be none to compare with Him. He is the altogether lovely One, the chiefest among ten thousand.
His beauty is moral as well as physical. In Him there is no fault, no flaw, no sin. Only perfection is seen in Him.
Wonderful, wonderful Jesus!
Who can compare with Thee.
Fairer than all the fairest,
Jesus art Thou to me.
As an example of His surpassing beauty the Psalmist draws attention to His lips. His speech is grace, or graciousness. His words of grace that produced wonder at His first advent (Luke 4:22) will be much more in evidence when He comes again. From His lips will drop the sweet smelling myrrh of fragrant words. From the excellence of His personal appearance the Psalmist expresses his assured conviction that the eternal blessing of God is His portion.
Stanza 2 The Glory of Messiah’s Conquest (vs. 3-5)
Here we see the conquering Messiah coming to deliver Israel in response to their cry (Ps. 44:26). The King is called upon to prepare for battle. The sword, the emblem of war, girded on His thigh indicates that Messiah has taken up the challenge of the nations. Then will be displayed His might, and His Glory, and His majesty. These were veiled at His first advent, but then, to the utter consternation of His enemies, they will be manifested in all their fulness. His might is the might of God (Isa. 9:6). With His sword He will smite the nations, and tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God (Rev. 19:15).
As He comes forth a scene of unparalleled majesty and splendour will burst upon an astounded universe; it will dazzle every eye; it will startle the nations; it will shut the mouths of kings; it will bring to nought the design of all His enemies; it will proclaim Him ‘KING OF KINGS’ (Rev. 19:16).
Thus arrayed in His majesty Messiah goes from triumph to triumph. None can withstand Him. He will be the Champion of those who have maintained the truth. He has come to vindicate the meek, and to reward the righteous. In this conquest His right hand, that is, His mighty power, will cause terror in the hearts of His enemies, who will call on the mountains and rocks to fall upon them. The King is seen alone in His conquest. Though He will be accompanied by the armies of Heaven, His own arm will bring salvation. “The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11).
In v. 5 the Psalmist describes in three short sentences, as in R.V., the terrible havoc wrought amongst the King’s enemies. His arrows are sharp; they cause a mighty slaughter; they never fail in their deadly mission, for each one finds its man. Israel’s foes are those of Israel’s King; He will contend with the peoples gathered against Jerusalem to battle; He will utterly destroy those nations.
Stanza 3 The Glory of Messiah’s Reign (vs. 6-7)
The character of Messiah’s reign is now outlined —its perpetuity and impartial justice. Messiah is addressed as God. The Holy Spirit cites these verses in Hebrews 1:8-9, and refers them to the Lord Jesus Christ. The everlasting duration of His kingdom also indicates that He is God. Some expositors take the first ‘God’ in v. 7 to be a vocative, a further affirmation of Messiah’s Deity.
Here at last is God’s ideal king, One whose rule takes its pattern from His character. He loves righteousness, and hates lawlessness in others. And so He rules with impartial justice — the same laws for all men. The Psalmist glories in this administration, in its superiority to that of any other king, and in its perpetuity. He rejoices because that which is perfect will be permanent.
On account of the King’s love of righteousness, God has anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows, that is, above all other kings who had ruled in Israel before Him. This is not the anointing of consecration to an office, but the anointing of honour, as seen in John 12:3. So God will honour Christ. The gladness emanating from Messiah’s reign will mark Him out as being infinitely superior to all other kings. He is King of kings.
Stanza 4 The Glory of Messiah’s Court (vs. 8-9)
The Psalmist now approaches his main theme, the marriage of the all-conquering King. This he introduces by describing the glory and unparalleled splendour at Messiah’s court —the glory of His garments, of His palaces, of His music, of His attendants, and of His queen. Messiah’s garments will be so fragrant as to appear to be woven wholly from costly spices — myrrh, aloes, cassia. Messiah’s palaces will be built of ivory, suggesting solidity and beauty. Ivory was the material of choice for the houses of the rich. From these palaces, so resplendent in dazzling white, will drift the strains of the soft music of stringed instruments, enhancing the atmosphere of sweet contentment manifest everywhere, and gladdening the heart of the King. Messiah’s attendants, His honourable women, who run to do His bidding, will be the elect of the earth, those of the Gentile nations who favoured Israel in the day of her rejection. They are the sheep of Matthew 25:33, here seen inheriting the kingdom.
In completing his description of the glories of this court scene, the Psalmist draws our attention to the queen — Israel — regathered, regenerated, restored. Her days of mourning are now ended, and, fully justified, she has finally inherited the Land of Promise. The queen stands at Messiah’s right hand, the place of honour. There, adorned with the gold of all the nations, she adds another to the accumulated glories of her Bridegroom, the great Millennial King. The whole scene resplendent and beautiful.
Everything with “Glory!”
Stanza 5 The Glory of Messiah’s Bride (vs. 10-12)
Before describing the marriage in detail, the Psalmist directs an exhortation to the bride. He addresses her as “daughter,” a title so often given to Israel in the Old Testament. He uses three words to compel her attention, Hearken, Consider, Incline thine ear. She is required to separate herself from all the past, to cease from glorying in her ancestors, and to forget her heritage the better to devote her energies and thoughts entirely to her new relationship. Israel, as the bride of Messiah, will in the day of her espousals cease to boast in “the fathers.” Abraham will be forgotten, for Messiah has priority over him; Jacob will be forgotten, for the greater than Jacob has come; Moses will be forgotten, for the Son over the House is now present, and is counted worthy of more glory than Moses, the servant in the house. The memory of the greatest kings of Israel’s palmy days will fade in the light of the splendour of the great Millennial King, for “great David’s greater Son,” the greater than Solomon is come to reign. Thus Israel will cease to glory in her traditions, being amazed by the surpassing greatness and excellencies of her glorious Bridegroom.
In that day the nations of the earth will pay their respects to Israel. The term ‘daughter of Tyre’ is used of the nations who will honour Israel because of her alliance with the great King, and because of the position of blessing into which He will bring her. Even the richest of the nations will entreat her favour. What a change for Israel! Instead of being a despised and hated people, her friendly regard will be courted by all.
To be continued