by Brian Currie, N. Ireland
It may be difficult to define what a Messianic Psalm really is. Most commentators say that if the New Testament quotes a Psalm and refers that quotation to the Lord Jesus Christ, then it may be considered as being Messianic. Bearing that in mind we can conclude there are at least thirteen Messianic Psalms. However, J.M. Flanigan states, “This may be generally true but there are three exceptions. Psalms 24, 72 and 89, are undoubtedly Messianic but are never quoted in the New Testament with reference to Christ.”1 This amounts to sixteen and these are listed in the contents page of this book.
- 1. Flanigan, J.M. “What the Bible Teaches – Psalms”. John Ritchie Ltd., Kilmarnock, 2001.
Seeing Christ in the Psalms is confirmed as a Scriptural principle in Luke chapter 24, when He, having being raised from the dead, taught the two on the road to Emmaus, v.13, and later “the eleven” v.33, that Christ is found in all the Scriptures: “Then He said unto them, ‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself … And He said unto them, ‘These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me’” Lk.24.25-27,44.
Another grouping of some Psalms is seen in the Maschil Psalms. These are Psalms 32,42,44,45,52-55,74,78,88,89 and142. Six of these thirteen were written by David. The word maschil means ‘instruction’ or ‘meditation’ and combining these thoughts we may say that such a Psalm provides instruction while encouraging devotion. It is not difficult to give instruction in a manner that is callous and discouraging, but in a Maschil Psalm there is a lovely balance, since we enlighten in order to encourage. When Paul is giving corrective teaching he does not command the saints to obey, although he could have done so using his apostolic authority, but he beseeches. For example, we should notice how he addresses the Christians at Rome in the Epistle to the Romans: “I beseech you therefore, brethren …” 12.1; “Now I beseech you, brethren …” 15.30; “Now I beseech you, brethren …” 16.17. The reader could profitably follow this pattern in Paul’s other letters. The teaching is not only for our personal encouragement but as we share what we learn with others, they also may be encouraged.
We have seen that if a Psalm is applied to the Lord Jesus in the New Testament then it is considered Messianic, and Psalm 45 fulfils this criterion. Heb.1.8,9 quotes Ps.45.6,7: “But unto the Son He saith, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.’” Thus Psalm 45 is both Messianic and Maschil in character.
The Psalm can be conveniently divided as follows:
|Title||The Seemly Background||– Inscription|
|v.1||He is Spiritually Boiling||– Meditation|
|vv.2-8||The Kingly Bridegroom||– Adoration|
|vv.9-12||The Queenly Bride||– Recommendation|
|vv.13-15||The Assembly of Bystanders||– Description|
|vv.16,17||The Goodly Blessing||– Benediction|
“To the chief Musician.” This is said of fifty-five Psalms, as well as in the last verse of the Prophecy of Habakkuk. It is composed for the master of song, who is the all-excelling singer. While it is said of the Lord in another context, it is really true in every situation, “that in all things He might have the preeminence” Col.1.18. The Lord must be praised with what is special. This would preclude much of the empty rantings of modern ‘Christian’ music! Many of these ‘hymns’ are erroneous both doctrinally and dispensationally. It seems that an attempt is being made to have a mixture of modern pop music with a religious element that will appeal to professing Christians.
Our Lord Jesus sang in the Upper Room, Matt.26.30; Mk.14.26: “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” It was in this spirit of worship and praise that He went to Gethsemane and later onward to Calvary. When He is with His own in the glory, He will lead the praise, Heb.2.12, quoting Ps.22.22: “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee.”
“Upon Shoshannim.” This word means ‘lily’. It is found in relation to the construction of the Temple, 1Kgs.7.19,22,26; 2Chr.4.5; and it also occurs in S of S.2.1,2,16; 4.5; 5.13; 6.2,3; 7.2 and Hos.14.5. It is also in the titles of four Psalms: this Psalm (45) and Psalms 60,69 and 80.
- Psalm 45: Christ and Adoration
- Psalm 60: the Nation and Restoration
- Psalm 69: Christ and Crucifixion
- Psalm 80: the Nation and Contrition
The lily is a symbol of purity and beauty, and the Psalm can only be appreciated by those who are pure and spiritually beautiful. The Lord said that the beauty of the lilies eclipsed the glory of Solomon: “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” Matt.6.28,29.
The lilies in their beauty are seen in the springtime, really at the time of Passover. The cold winter is past and the summer of His reign is coming. Combining these two thoughts we have the sufferings of Christ and the glories that follow.
“For the sons of Korah.” There are two sets of Psalms for the sons of Korah: 42,44-49 and 84,85,87,88, which totals eleven. These Psalms were to be sung by priestly singers specifically, and there is a spiritual lesson for us in this: singing in the assembly is not haphazard. A hymn is not announced because it has a nice tune, or a lilt to it. It takes priestly exercise to sing the right hymn at the right time.
The number eleven reveals treachery. This can be seen in the life of Samson when “the lords of the Philistines came up unto her [Delilah], and said unto her, ‘Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver’” Judg.16.5. We note that the treachery of Judas reduced the number of the disciples to eleven. Treachery is seen in Numbers chapter 16 where Korah, Dathan and Abiram instigated a rebellion against Moses and Aaron and they went alive into the pit. Here the family of one of them is brought back to sing God’s praise, which is a display of the great grace of God. Applying this to ourselves, our background was rebellion, yet great grace has been shown to us and fills our mouths with singing.
“Maschil.” We have already noted that there are thirteen Maschil Psalms, which are for our instruction, and these can only be spiritually understood. There is a meaning in them which will only be revealed by meditation and spiritual comprehension, certainly not by natural wisdom.
“A Song of loves.” In the Hebrew language the plural can be used to highlight the intensity of the love, as it is here. The word is used in Deut.33.12 where Moses said of Benjamin, “The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him”; in Ps.84.1: “How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!”; and twice in Isa.5.1: “Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching His vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill”.
The world has lost the difference in meaning between love and lust. Here it is not lust; there is nothing carnal, but teaching with regard to true, pure, spiritual love which is fit for the tongues of saints and the ear of God. Thinking of Maschil and loves together, there is a balance between instruction and devotion. Both the head and the heart must be in the right spiritual state to appreciate that there is truth for the head and grace for the heart: “full of grace and truth” Jn.1.14. The Corinthians were ‘all heart and no head’, so they would tolerate sin without judging it, whereas the Galatians were ‘all head and no heart’, and they were biting and devouring one another.
Subject of the Psalm
Regarding the subject of the Psalm, C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “Some here see Solomon and Pharaoh’s daughter only – they are short-sighted; others see both Solomon and Christ – they are cross-eyed; well-focused spiritual eyes see here Jesus only, or if Solomon be present at all, it must be like those hazy shadows of passers-by which cross the face of the camera, and therefore are dimly traceable upon a photographic landscape.”2
The quotation of v.6 in Heb.1.8 proves that “a greater than Solomon is here” Matt.12.42: “But unto the Son He saith, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.’” He is here seen as the King Who comes out to reign after the marriage and His bride is with Him. T.E. Wilson helpfully indicates that the Lord Jesus fulfils the three great offices: “In Psalm 91 we have the Prophet, in Psalm 110 the Priest, but in Psalm 45 it is the King”.3 He is the Prophet and His Temptation is in view in Psalm 91; then He is the Priest and His Glorification is seen in Psalm 110; in this Psalm He is the King and His Adulation is in focus.
- 2. Spurgeon, C.H. “The Treasury of David”.
- 3. Wilson, T.E. “The Messianic Psalms”. Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1978.
The Psalmist is:
- A Man of Meditation: “My heart is inditing a good matter”;
- A Man of Communication: “I speak of”;
- A Man of Preparation: “the things which I have made”;
- A Man of Appreciation: “touching the King”;
- A Man of Passion: “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer”.
A Man of Meditation
“My heart.” There is more to Christianity than mere human intellect, although a keen, clinical mind can be of great benefit in analysing a passage of Scripture. However, that can leave us cold, but the Psalmist commences here with the warmth of devotion that begins in the heart. J.N. Darby translates as “my heart is welling forth”.
“Is inditing.” This indicates that his heart overflows or bubbles up. It implies warmth and feeling, suggesting that there ought to be nothing cold about our worship. The offerings were on the altar so they were warm. The large brazen altar was the first article of furniture to be met by anyone approaching God and the offerer would have felt the heat. 1Sam.21.6 has this in mind with respect to the shewbread: “there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.” Spurgeon said, “It is a sad thing when the heart is cold with a good matter, and worse when it is warm with a bad matter, but incomparably well when a warm heart and a good matter meet together.”4
- 4. Spurgeon, C.H., ibid.
A Man of Communication
“I speak.” In the first verse he spoke about himself and J.M. Flanigan notes, “One verse will suffice for this personal prelude to a Psalm which will exalt the Messiah. After this he will talk no more about himself.”5 He is speaking to those who will listen, as he communicates with appreciation what he has enjoyed of the King. It is a very good exercise to share what we get in our times of communion with Him. It is bordering on selfishness if we do not share our spiritual food with others for their enjoyment and benefit also. When we gather socially we can talk about many subjects and sometimes the Lord is hardly mentioned. We may be surprised to experience how blessed we can be when we emulate those in the days of Malachi: “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name” Mal.3.16. He should be our occupation when we converse one with the other. The subjects of our conversation can reveal our true spiritual state, since we usually speak of that which is in our hearts. We can say of those who are among the critics and are knowledgeable in the world’s sports and entertainment: “Thy speech bewrayeth thee” Matt.26.73.
- 5. Flanigan, J.M., ibid.
A Man of Preparation
“The things which I have made.” The main thought is that of work. He had spent time and expended labour in preparation so that he had something of value to offer to the Lord. He was not dealing in ‘fast food’, or in that which costs us very little or nothing. We remember that the Levitical Offerings were prepared in advance; Mary’s alabaster box was prepared before it was needed; David “the king said unto Araunah, ‘… neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver” 2Sam.24.24. To show our appreciation we work at the Scriptures and we bring that which is costly in terms of time, perhaps missing out on various social occasions, so that it becomes costly to us.
A Man of Appreciation
“Touching the King.” The definite article is omitted before “King” in the original text, indicating that the writer was taken up with the kingly bearing and dignity of this Person. We listen to His words, watch His deeds, see His compassion, note His perfection, take account of His devotion to His God and we acknowledge with Nathanael, “Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel” Jn.1.49.
A Man of Passion
“My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” He was writing as quickly as he could think. We would say that His fingers were ‘flying over the keyboard’! It is wonderful when we sit and meditate upon Him and the thoughts just flow until we are lost in appreciation. This causes true worship which stems not so much from our blessings but from our overwhelming enjoyment of His greatness and glory.
In this section there are four glories of the Lord Jesus:
- His Moral Glory as Man – v.2
- His Official Glory as the Warrior-King – vv.3-5
- His Personal Glory as God – vv.6,7
- His Mediatorial Glory as Saviour – v.8
His Moral Glory as Man – v.2
In the next two statements we have His Person and His Pronouncements: Who He is and how He spoke.
His Beauty: “fairer than the children of men.”
Helen Spurrell’s translation is lovely: “beauteous in beauty more than the sons of men”.6 Spurgeon states, “The Hebrew word is doubled, ‘Beautiful, beautiful art thou.’ Jesus is so emphatically lovely that words must be doubled, strained, yea, exhausted before He can be described.”7 We can appreciate that He is fairer than the fairest, lovelier than the loveliest, stronger than the strongest, greater than the greatest, humbler than the humblest, and so on. In the Epistle to the Hebrews He is acclaimed as being better than angels, prophets, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, sacrifices, covenants and ritual; He is better than the best of Judaism, not the Judaism which is sinful and decrepit. He is greater than Solomon in pre-eminence, greater than the Temple place and greater than Jonah in preaching, Matt.12.6,41,42.
- 6. Spurrell, Helen. “A Translation of the Old Testament Scriptures from the Original Hebrew”. James Nisbet and Co., London, 1885.
- 7. Spurgeon, C.H., ibid.
His Beneficence: “grace is poured into Thy lips.”
Remarkably, the only other mention of grace in the Book of Psalms is in Ps.84.11, where we read, “The LORD will give grace and glory”. This may imply that regarding the Christian life we have grace to commence with and glory to finish with, but what about the middle section of life? It is then we need to hear His voice, and He speaks most graciously to us. Even His enemies had to acknowledge, “Never man spake like this Man” Jn.7.46. The people “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” Lk.4.22. His bride acknowledges, “His mouth is most sweet: yea, He is altogether lovely” S of S.5.16, or as the Newberry margin beautifully renders this latter phrase, “all of Him desirable”.
His Blessing: “God hath blessed Thee for ever.”
God blessed His Son and in so doing He publicly acclaimed His pre-eminence. At His baptism the spectators may have thought that this was another sinner confessing his sins and thus coming to be baptised. Such would have been bringing Him down to the level of others and God would not permit this, so He declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” Matt.3.17. On the Mount of Transfiguration Peter “said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.’ While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him’” Matt.17.4,5. Peter was not seeking to bring Him down to the level of men, but was seeking to bring men up to His level and again God intervened from heaven and disallowed this. Also, we note that at His baptism, in Mk.1.11, God addressed His Son and said, “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”, whereas in Matthew’s account He addressed others: “This is My beloved Son …”
His Official Glory as the Warrior-King – vv.3-5
His Preparation – v.3
“Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty.” This is expressed like a prayer and all who love Him wish to see Him glorified, vindicated and victorious over His enemies. We do not pray that He would pour out judgment on His enemies, but we do desire to see His glory in terms of mighty, military victory. This will be experienced in a future day when He will return in glory, and is seen in Rev.19.16, when He is announced as “King of kings, and Lord of lords”.
“O most mighty”: He is mighty in so many ways: in salvation, in love, in power, in authority, in position. This is why the translators have supplied the word “most”, emphasising the intensiveness of His might.
His Prosperity – v.4
“And in Thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things.” This may be read: ‘ride forth upon truth and meekness and righteousness’, as if these are the three horses on which He rides. Truth, meekness and righteousness are all rejected and decried in our day. Truth is our creed; meekness is our character and righteousness is our conduct.
Only He could say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” Jn.14.6; “I am meek and lowly in heart” Matt.11.29; and it is written concerning Him, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” 1Jn.2.1. Even the centurion had to confess, “Certainly this was a righteous Man” Lk.23.47.
These things should mark our walk for Him and are illustrated in the following men: truth in Daniel; meekness in Moses; righteousness in Noah. It was Daniel who used the expression, “the scripture of truth” Dan.10.21. He also said, “Now will I shew thee the truth” Dan.11.2. Num.12.3 states, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” The first mention of “righteous” in the Bible is in Gen.7.1, “And the LORD said unto Noah, ‘Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation.’”
It is important to note that “truth” is first, since what we believe moulds our character and governs how we behave. Our deportment cannot be correct if our doctrine is not correct. This underscores the importance of purity of doctrine.
This ought to mark every Christian. Col.3.9 commands that we “lie not one to another”. This can be done by silence or innuendo. How challenging are the words of Jer.9.3, “And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not Me, saith the Lord.” Truthfulness will mark the nation in a day yet to come, Zeph.3.13: “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” Zech.8.16 states, “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates …” The source of lying shows the solemnity of being untruthful: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” Jn.8.44.
This is sometimes mistaken for weakness, but E.W. Rogers gave a very succinct definition when he said in a ministry meeting, “Meekness is power under control”. The use of this word in the Psalms teaches us the blessedness of one who is meek: “The meek shall eat and be satisfied” 22.26; “The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way” 25.9; “the meek shall inherit the earth” 37.11; “The LORD lifteth up the meek” 147.6.
These characteristics are not natural since they combine with other qualities to be the fruit of the Spirit: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” Gal.5.22,23. All who are walking as controlled by Him will “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith [they] are called, with all lowliness and meekness” Eph.4.1,2. It marks the elect: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering …” Col.3.12. It is a feature of a man of God: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” 1Tim.6.11. It is seen in a servant of God: “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves …” 2Tim.2.25. It is needed to benefit from the Word: “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able …” Jms.1.21. It is precious to God: “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” 1Pet.3.4. It is necessary if we are to witness well: “… be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” 1Pet.3.15.
Again, the Psalms are very valuable in ascertaining the scope of truth that is embraced under the heading “righteous”: “the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish …” 1.6; “For Thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous …” 5.12; “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous …” 34.15; “He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” 55.22; “The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in Him” 64.10; “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree …” 92.12.
It is part of our armour: “having on the breastplate of righteousness” Eph.6.14. It marks the servant: “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness …” 2Tim.2.22. It is taught by grace: “we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world …” Titus 2.12. It is necessary for prevailing prayer: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” Jms.5.16. It marks all born again ones: “ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him” 1Jn.2.29.
His Prevailing – v.5
“Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee.” In the prophetic outlook of this Psalm envisaging warfare, it is not difficult to see Armageddon. The warfare is carried out at a distance, since they use arrows and these are so fired that they reach the hearts of “the king’s enemies”. There are no missed shots; every one hits the target. While we need to be careful and not let imagination override our spiritual sense, yet can we detect computer-guided missiles, every one hitting its predetermined target? Whatever is depicted here, nothing will stop His ongoing march to victory. This warfare is also the subject of the early verses of Isaiah chapter 63 and the closing verses of Revelation chapter 19.
His Personal Glory as God – vv.6,7
In these verses we are directed to:
- His Throne: “Thy throne, O God” v.6;
- His Truth: “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness” v.7;
- His Transcendence: “above Thy fellows” v.7.
His Throne: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever” v.6. It is Invincible.
Those who foolishly and fiendishly deny the Deity of Christ find it impossible to correctly interpret this verse. It is a proof text regarding His Deity and is quoted in Heb.1.8: “unto the Son He saith, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever’”. God addresses His Son as “God”. Note also the following texts, which convey the same wonderful truth: Isa.9.6: “For unto us a child is born … His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”; Matt.1.23: “‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,’ which being interpreted is, God with us”; Jn.1.1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”; Jn.20.28: “Thomas answered and said unto Him, ‘My Lord and my God’”; Rom.9.5: “… of whom, as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever”; 1Tim.3.16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh …”; Titus 2.13: “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ …”; 1Jn.5.20: “His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life”.
This throne will never topple nor crumble. It will be the place of Divine rule through the Millennial reign and on to eternity. Note the following Scriptures that clearly present His invincibility; so much so that exposition is not required: Ex.15.18: “The LORD shall reign for ever and ever”; Dan.2.44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever”; Dan.4.3: “How great are His signs! and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation”; Dan.7.14: “And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed”; Dan.7.27: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him”; 2Pet.1.11: “for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”; Rev.11.15: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.’”
“The sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre.” In our day we hear much about governments being unrighteous and they are often accused of ‘spin’ and sleaze. However, this is a straight and upright sceptre, which exemplifies David’s requirement in 2Sam.23.3, “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” This should be seen also in the rule of the assembly, where there should be neither bias nor prejudice: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” 1Tim.5.21.
His Truth: “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness” v.7. It is Incomparable.
None other than our Lord Jesus could display such a balance of love and hate, a balance that can be seen in His life and heard in His teaching. He is always “full of grace and truth” Jn.1.14. Power often corrupts, but never so with Him.
His Transcendence: “Above Thy fellows” v.7. It is Incontestable.
In v.6 His Deity is seen and in v.7 we have His humanity.
“Therefore”: this is the reason for the anointing, namely because of the perfect balance taught in v.7. A parallel thought is in Phil.2.9: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him”.
“God” may be qualified by the next expression, “Thy God”. That is, God is personally enjoyed by the Psalmist in communion, or it may be a reference to the Lord Jesus as in v.6. Then the expression, “God, Thy God” involves two Persons in the Trinity, and the third Person is seen in the anointing. “How beautiful and how tender it is that the God who anoints Him is His God. ‘God, thy God, hath anointed thee.’ There is an undoubted reference to the dependent Man here.”8
- 8. Flanigan, J.M., ibid.
“Hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” Our Lord was anointed four times: three times on earth, Lk.4.18; 7.38; Jn.12.3, and once when He returned to glory carrying the victorious spoils of Calvary. This final anointing is referred to in this verse. It is not too often that we read of our Lord rejoicing, since He wears the title “Man of sorrows” more frequently in His ministry, which took place in the midst of people who were afflicted by sin and its accompanying sorrows. However, Heb.12.2 gives us an insight into His joyful anticipation, when the author states of our Lord, “who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Referring to His resurrection, Ps.16.9 is quoted in Acts 2.26, “Therefore did My heart rejoice, and My tongue was glad …”
“Thy fellows”: Darby translates “fellows” as “companions”. This anointing is above these companions and the probable connection is that He is above all the saints and each of them has been anointed of the Spirit at conversion as taught in the following Scriptures: 2Cor.1.21: “Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God”; 1Jn.2.27: “But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.”
In the Old Testament men were anointed with respect to four different situations. There was the Priest: “thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto Me in the priest’s office” Ex.30.30; the King: “Samuel also said unto Saul, ‘The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over His people, over Israel’” 1Sam.15.1; a Prophet: “Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room” 1Kgs.19.16; a Leper: Lev.14.14-18 describes the anointing of the leper at the time of his cleansing.
His Mediatorial Glory as Saviour – v.8
“All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made Thee glad.” In v.2 there is something for the eye: “Thou art fairer than the children of men”; for the ear: “Thy lips”; and in v.8 for the nose: “all Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes and cassia”. It takes a multiplicity of spices, and that of rare ones, to fully describe the beauty of the Saviour. This is pointing to His manifold, His variegated glories.
This is seen in the anointing oil, in which there were four ingredients. They were called “principal spices” Ex.30.23, because “in all things He might have the pre-eminence” Col.1.18. To adequately speak of Him only the best will do. To depict Him they must use pure gold, fine flour and fine twined linen. There is a difference in the weights of the spices to be used. There are to be five hundred shekels of myrrh, two hundred and fifty of cinnamon, two hundred and fifty of calamus, and five hundred of cassia. The difference in weights displays difference in appreciation: the five hundred shekels show God’s appreciation of His Son, and the two hundred and fifty shekels show our appreciation of Him. The temptation to continue meditating upon this subject is strong, but we must return to Psalm 45. Two of the ingredients are in the holy anointing oil in Exodus chapter 30, namely myrrh, v.23, and cassia, v.24.
Here we have three spices which are very fragrant. These are myrrh, aloes and cassia, Ps.45.8. In Exodus chapter 30 the emphasis is on the production of the anointing oil, but here it is on the perfume: “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia …”
“All”: there is not a part of Him, even His garments, which are not sweet and fragrant.
“Thy garments”: the anointing oil ran down and was diffused through His garments, leaving a most exquisite perfume. Garments in the Scriptures speak of character, and His character is always fragrant to His Father.
“Smell”: J.M. Flanigan’s comment is worthy of repetition here: “It will be noticed that the word ‘smell’ of v.8 is in italics. It has been supplied by the translators to assist in the reading of the verse, but the thought appears to be that the garments which the Mediator wears have been, as it were, woven of these very fragrances. ‘All of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.’”9
- 9. Flanigan, J.M., ibid.
“Myrrh”: this means ‘bitterness’: “And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter” Ex.15.23. This is confirmed in Ruth 1.20, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” This occurs eight times within seven verses in the Song of Solomon and implies the close connection with love and devotion. Sometimes those who are devoted find life bitter and this must be appreciated if we are to be in close contact with Him. This spice describes His life and death of suffering and bitterness.
It was offered by wise men in His infancy: “gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” Matt.2.11. It was offered to Him on the cross: “they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but He received it not” Mk.15.23. It was connected with His burial: “there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight” Jn.19.39. It was sweet to the smell but bitter to the taste, meaning that what was a bitter experience for Him is sweet to us when we discern it rightly.
“And cassia”: this has the meaning ‘to stoop or bow down the head’ and implies His communion with God, even through the night. It also has healing qualities. It may be asked, “Where can sick saints be cured?” The answer is, “By partaking of the sweetness of His sufferings: the cure for every problem is to be found at the cross.”
“Out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made Thee glad.” Darby translates, “out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made Thee glad”. This highlights that the music of heaven will pervade all heaven and earth when He appears with His spotless bride: what a glorious day that will be!
We are now introduced to His bride and the order is as in Revelation chapter 19, where no sooner do we hear the cry, “Alleluia: for the LORD God omnipotent, reigneth” v.6, than we hear, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready” v.7.
“Kings’ daughters were among Thy honourable women” v.9; “the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift” v.12; “the virgins her companions” v.14. These appear to be the bridesmaids, matrons of honour and flower girls! There will be those from every stratum of society, both Jews and Gentiles, who will be called to the Supper. The kings’ daughters may refer to the political world; the daughter of Tyre may refer to the commercial world; the virgins may refer to the religious world.
“Upon Thy right hand” v.9. This brings to our attention the Dignity of Acceptance. Note the right hand in the following references: Gen.48.14: “Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn”; 1Kgs.2.19: regarding Bathsheba and Solomon, “she sat on his right hand”; Ps.16.11: “at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”; Matt.25.33: “And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”
“Did stand” v.9. This shows the Regality of Acceptance. This is not cringing before Him, but highlights the boldness and acceptance of the regal bride.
“The queen” v.9. The word used for the queen is shegal rather than the more usual malkah or gebireh. It is interesting to note that shegal is used in Neh.2.6 of a Persian queen and in Dan.5.2,3,23 of a Babylonish queen. The word actually means a queen by marriage, rather than a queen in her own right, and may suggest a Gentile bride, who depicts the Church. This follows the order of the events in Revelation chapters 19-22. T.E. Wilson notes that “the bride is the Church, composed of both Jew and Gentile, and in that relationship will reign over the earth in the New Jerusalem …”10
- 10. Wilson, T.E., ibid.
“In gold of Ophir” v.9. Gold symbolises Divine righteousness, albeit not that of Christ but “the righteousness of God” 2Cor.5.21. The righteousness of Christ was exclusively His own as a perfect Man and was not, nor could be, shared by any other. The only acceptance of the bride is “in the beloved” Eph.1.6, and nothing can compete with this. Gold was the richest of metals, and the gold of Ophir was the best and purest known. Nothing inferior could be used to picture her.
Advice is given for two spheres: firstly, with regard to the head we “hearken”, “consider”, “incline” and “forget” v.10; and secondly, with the heart we “worship” v.11.
Along with the exhortation to “hearken”, meaning to listen, we are enjoined to “consider”, which means to meditate on what is heard. Meditation will lead to a better understanding and at the same time it is important to give full attention to what we hear.
“Incline” has the meaning to lean forward so that we miss nothing; we give special attention. When persons are listening very intently we sometimes say that they are ‘sitting on the edge of their seat, hanging on every word’.
“Forget”: if we “hearken”, “consider” and “incline” we will be enabled to “forget” our father’s house. This reminds us of Ruth (a Gentile bride) who left all of nature behind and moved in total separation from all that would hinder her enjoyment of the King. Likewise, we could trace this idea with a similar experience in the life of Rebekah, Genesis chapter 24.
All earthly ambitions will be relinquished and there will be no grasping after materialism and worldly pleasures. When a foreign bride came to the country of her bridegroom, she had to forget all the customs, language and religions of her homeland and act in accord with the practices and principles of her new people. We are to “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus [our] Lord” Phil.3.8, and “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple” Lk.14.33.
There is appreciation both by Him and of Him, and then of her.
It may be thought that to forget so much of her family and home life would be a difficult and a time-consuming thing to do, and instead of leaving us with the memory of a beautiful bride, we will be left with the vision of a bride, who through worry and pining for home, was somewhat withered up and wrinkled. However, the opposite was true and her beauty was enhanced and thus:
“So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty” v.11. There is a beauty the Lord sees that seems to be invisible to the natural eye; for instance we read in 1Pet.3.3,4, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
“He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him” v.11. It is a genuine spirit of worship and appreciation that will sustain us in the midst of the trials brought about by separation. The Nazarite moved in devoted separation because he wanted to show his appreciation of Jehovah. The lack of separation seen in the lives of some saints indicates their lack of devotion to the Lord. We can observe in various places the secularisation of the Lord’s Day just after the Lord’s Supper. A correct understanding of the one would correct the other. This is also a further proof of His Deity, since only God can be worshipped.
“And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour” v.12. The inhabitants of the city of Tyre will bring a wedding gift of considerable value. It is to be noticed that the word “favour” is often translated “face” and is feminine in gender. Thus, the implication is that people of Tyre will bring a splendid wedding present to have a place of acceptance before her face.
Now the Psalmist is watching the bridal procession and is describing the bride’s attire, her associates and approval.
The Bride’s Attire – “Her clothing is of wrought gold” v.13
“The King’s daughter is all glorious within” v.13. It is difficult to define accurately the meaning of “within”. Again, J.M. Flanigan is helpful: “Is it within the palace …? Is it in the inner apartment … which belonged to the women …? Or is it rather within herself, morally and spiritually, in her real inner self, her nature and character? Whichever is true, there is glory.”11 J.N. Darby’s margin reads, “in the royal apartments”.
- 11. Flanigan, J.M., ibid.
It should be noted that “her clothing is of wrought gold” v.13. This is as a result of gold being beaten in the heat. Her character is moulded by suffering down here on earth so that something special is produced and will be seen on her wedding day. Her “clothing” is hand woven, golden strands, skilfully interwoven with beautiful needlework. The result is an exquisitely splendid and all glorious garment, the glory of which can only be imagined. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1Pet.1.7; “He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” Job 23.10. Also note the expression “ouches of gold” in Ex.28.11,13; 39.6,13,16. This is the wreathen or chequered work of gold for the gems of the breastplate and shoulder clasps, to produce something exquisite and to uphold and display even more glory.
“She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework” v.14. She, the bride, shall be splendidly attired in the Father’s house, heaven, where not a rag of the prodigal shall be seen. She is seen in splendour as she enters the King’s inner palace. The needlework is woven on the fine linen of Revelation chapter 19, which refers to the righteous acts of the saints, the Church. This shows that the Judgment Seat is over and she is coming out wearing the spinster’s garment which she is presently sewing. Every day, every act is another stitch and we need to be so careful that all will be made so that we come out in brilliant, unsullied glory.
Practically we note that we are sewing a stitch at a time by our character and all will be assessed and valued at the Judgment Seat of Christ. All words and works will be seen in the all-revealing light of Divine glory then. We will be presented by Himself and to Himself: “that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” Eph.5.27.
The Bride’s Associates – “The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto Thee” v.14
These companions are in association with all the glory of the bride, but are not as close as the bride; she is unique. It seems that they depict Israel, restored and redeemed and ready to acclaim their Messiah, the King. They will be raised and rewarded at the end of the Tribulation and ready to enter into the Millennium and will enjoy the great one-thousand-year Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
The Bride’s Approval – “With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the King’s palace” v.15
“Gladness” is a plural word, and so literally it reads ‘joys’. The plural highlights the intensity and varied nature of the joy that is enjoyed by all. There will be no rivalry, no jealousy; it will be the day of espousals and all shall rejoice. “Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart” S of S.3.11.
In vv.16,17 we note the threefold reference to “Thy”: “Thy fathers”; “Thy children”; “Thy name”.
Posterity – “Instead of Thy fathers shall be Thy children, whom Thou mayest make princes in all the earth” v.16
Since all the pronouns are masculine we understand that the King is being addressed. Therefore, this benediction pronounced at the wedding feast is for tremendous increase so that His posterity shall make His forefathers pale into insignificance. That means Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Solomon, David and such like will be eclipsed by the glory of the Church. It would be insulting for the Church to return to the practices of Judaism. Their offerings, beautiful buildings, incense, choirs, music and more besides have been left since they are now obsolete. The lofty administrative position of the Church will be seen in that it will provide the princes who will be ruling over all the earth.
Promise – “I will make Thy name to be remembered in all generations” v.17
A difficulty is raised by the phrase “I will make …”: who is speaking? If we parallel this with Phil.2.9-11, we understand that it is God’s voice: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The “generations” are seen in the posterity of v.16.
Praise – “Therefore shall the people praise Thee for ever and ever” v.17
The word “people” is plural, indicating that both Jews and Gentiles will bow in worship to God’s King and this worship will be eternal. It is then that “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” Isa.53.11.