Nuptial Ode for the Messianic King
1 For the director.[b] According to “Lilies.” A maskil of the sons of Korah. A love song.
2 [c]My heart[d] is moved by a noble theme
as I sing my poem to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a skillful scribe.
3 You are the most handsome of men;[e]
grace has anointed your lips,
for God has blessed you forever.
4 Gird your sword upon your thigh, O warrior,
and advance in splendor and majesty.
5 Ride on triumphantly in truth, humility, and justice;
may your right hand perform wondrous deeds.
6 Your arrows are sharp;
nations will lie beneath your feet;
the enemies of the king will lose heart.[f]
7 Your throne, O God,[g] will last forever and ever;
the scepter of your kingdom will be a scepter of justice.
8 You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has established you above your fellow kings
by anointing you with the oil of gladness.
9 [h]All your robes are fragrant
with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
from palaces of ivory
stringed instruments bring joy to your heart.
10 Daughters of kings[i] are among your women in waiting;
at your right hand is your queen
adorned in gold of Ophir.
11 My daughter, listen carefully to my words
and follow them diligently.
Forget your people and your father’s house;[j]
12 then the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord,
13 bow down before him.
The Daughter of Tyre[k] will bring you gifts,
people of wealth will seek your favor.
14 Within the palace the king’s daughter is adorned
in robes threaded with gold.
15 In embroidered garments she is led to the king,
followed by her virgin companions,
who are also led to you.,[l]
16 They are brought in with joy and gladness
as they enter the palace of the king.
17 Your[m] sons will take the place of your ancestors;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
18 I will extol your name through all generations;
therefore, the nations will praise you forever and ever.[n]
- Psalm 45:1 This unique psalm, probably composed for a royal wedding, opens with the dedication to the king, then lets the ceremony unfold before our eyes. First, it celebrates the monarchy, depicting it under the characteristics of a new David, the Anointed One already acclaimed by Isaiah (see Isa 9:5f; 11:3-5). He is a splendid war chief, a lieutenant of God who comes forth with a dazzling cortege; upon him rests the promise made to the House of David (see 2 Sam 7). Next it addresses and celebrates the queen—a foreigner (Ps 45:11-18)—placed at the right hand of her royal spouse, richly adorned and heaped with gifts. She is ushered into the palace followed by her bridesmaids and offered an array of good wishes.
The psalm also reminds us of a different kind of marriage. The Prophets had spoken of God as espoused to his people (see Isa 62:5; Ezek 16:8f; Hos 2:16), a rich, though bold image. As Jews reread this beautiful lyric text, they had a presentiment of the covenant that the future Messiah was to establish and extend to include the pagan peoples. The Christian tradition finds in it a prediction of the marriage of Christ and the Church (Mt 9:15; 22:9; Jn 3:29; 2 Cor 11:5; Eph 5:22; Rev 19:9; 21:2), the new and definitive covenant that is extended to all peoples.
The Liturgy draws upon this psalm in celebrating the most impressive fulfillment of these mystical espousals: the Virgin Mary, Queen and Bride of the King, and those who, following her, have chosen Christ for their Bridegroom.
- Psalm 45:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation. According to “Lilies”: nothing is known about these words. Maskil: see note on Ps 32:1a. Sons of Korah: see note on Ps 42:1.
- Psalm 45:2 The poet addresses the King-Messiah and applies to him attributes of Yahweh (see Ps 145:4-7, 12f, etc.) and of Immanuel (see Isa 9:5f; 11:3-5). He is urged to conduct himself in such a way that his reign will be adorned even more splendidly than the wedding vestments he has on (Ps 45:4-6). The best way he can do so is to make the glory of his kingdom consist in justice and righteousness (vv. 7-10).
- Psalm 45:2 Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
- Psalm 45:3 Most handsome of men: so far above all other men was a king of that era regarded (see 1 Sam 9:2; 16:18) that he is akin to a god (see note on Ps 45:7). Older versions translated this phrase as “fairest among the sons of men.” Grace has anointed your lips: see Prov 22:11; Eccl 10:12; see also Isa 50:4; Lk 4:22.
- Psalm 45:6 Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
- Psalm 45:7 O God: a title of honor applied in the Bible to the Messiah (see Isa 9:6), as well as to the leaders and judges (see Ps 82:6), to Moses (see Ex 4:16; 7:1), to the spirit of Samuel (see 1 Sam 28:13), and to the House of David (see Zec 12:8). The fullest meaning of this description of the Davidic king is attained when it is applied to Christ (see Heb 1:8f).
- Psalm 45:9 The psalmist’s descriptions and references of the preparations for the wedding ceremony—robes, spices, music, the royal daughters, and the royal bride—all emphasize the rightness of the moment and the anointing of this king, who is a son of David. God’s blessing on him ensures the continuity of David’s house in accord with God’s promise (see 2 Sam 7:16). Myrrh and aloes and cassia: Oriental perfumes (see Gen 37:25; Ex 25:6; Song 1:13; 4:14). From palaces of ivory: see 1 Ki 22:39; Am 3:15; 6:4. Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
- Psalm 45:10 Daughters of kings: in the allegorical sense, these are the pagan nations converted to the true God (see Song 1:3; 6:8; Isa 60:3f; 61:5) and admitted to his service (Ps 45:16). Gold of Ophir: the most prized kind of gold (see 1 Ki 9:28; 10:11; Job 22:24). The location of Ophir is not known; it is sometimes identified with the southern coast of Arabia or eastern Africa.
- Psalm 45:11 Forget your people and your father’s house: all her concern should be with what follows, not with what went before; she is the queen and should be concerned with her husband the king.
- Psalm 45:13 The reward for joining God’s people and for following the new way of life is exaltation among the nations. The people of Tyre—as well as other wealthy nations—will bring tribute to Jerusalem. Indeed, during Solomon’s rule, precious gifts were brought to Jerusalem because of his great renown. Daughter of Tyre: the city of Tyre, famous for its wealth, which was the first foreign city to recognize the Davidic dynasty (see 2 Sam 5:11) and remained close to Solomon (see 1 Ki 5; 9:10-14, 26-28). See also note on Ps 9:15.
- Psalm 45:15 To you: i.e., to the king.
- Psalm 45:17 Your: i.e., the king’s. Earth: or “land.”
- Psalm 45:18 The psalmist sees the nations praising the Israelite king, i.e., especially the Messianic King. The Prophets had foretold that in the restoration the nations would bring him gifts to celebrate the dignity of the People of God among the nations. The Book of Revelation also mentions this aspect of the everlasting state: “The kings of the earth will bring their treasures. . . . The nations will come into it bringing their treasures and wealth” (Rev 21:24, 26). Filled with blessings (see Gen 17:6; 35:11), the new Zion will be glorious and sovereign (see Isa 60:15, 21; 61:9; 62:2, 7), especially in Messianic times.