Year B – Proper 17 – Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9

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

1 My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
2 You are the most handsome of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you for ever.

6 Your throne, O God,* endures for ever and ever.
Your royal sceptre is a sceptre of equity;
7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honour;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Summary Psalm 45 is a “love song”—a song of exultant admiration—addressed to a Davidic king.  But which Davidic king?  The only one whose majesty might be described as this psalm describes it is Solomon; however, we know that the king admired in this psalm must not be Solomon for several reasons—for instance, the king admired in this psalm is a warrior (v.4-5), and Solomon was not.  No, the one admired in this psalm is not only a Davidic king, but God, and His throne endures for ever and ever (v.6).  The psalm simply does not make sense unless it refers to Jesus. 

Insight A surprising portion of psalm 45 is spent, not on the King, but on His bride (v.9-16).  This is certainly the Church.  But why would so much of this psalm be devoted to the beauty of the bride (v. 9, 13-14)?  Isn’t that a distraction from the King?  No, we think that only because our culture practices and promotes bride-centered weddings, whereas the weddings of the ancient Near East—the weddings of the Bible—were radically groom-centered.  The bride’s beauty glorified, not herself, but her husband.  To marry a woman was to crown your head (Prov. 12:4).  So, in psalm 45, praising the beauty of the bride is just another way of praising the King. 

Child Catechism
Q:  For how long does King Jesus’ throne endure?
A:  For ever and ever.

DiscussionIf the king in psalm 45 is Jesus, and the bride is the Church, then what is the bride’s beauty?  In what sense is the Church beautiful for her Husband?  How do you contribute to that beauty which crowns King Jesus?

Prayer King Jesus, Your throne endures for ever 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.  Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.  From ivory palaces, stringed instrument make You glad.  Grant we who stand at Your right hand—Your Church: Your Bride—might crown Your glory with the beauty of holiness.  AMEN.

Contributed by Scott Cline

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