THE LOVE SONG OF THE KING
For the choir director; according to the Shoshannim. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love. My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. (Psalm 45:1).
This Psalm opens with a superscription. Before you even get to verse 1, there is something written here by way of an introduction. This was not added by the translators. These superscriptions appear in all of our earliest manuscripts.
It tells us that this is a love song. That is nice because nearly everyone loves a love song. Paula and I are going on our 30th year of marriage and we have a wonderfully romantic relationship. We still hold hands when we go for a walk. We still go on dates. We still whisper the sweet somethings. There are even times when, in our more romantic moments, I describe her to herself. I tell her about how I love her green eyes and the way they come alive and sparkle when she smiles. Or I tell her about the way her hair shimmers and shines. Or I tell her how a particular outfit she is wearing has that special look.
We are going to see that same sort of language in this Psalm. This is a love song. But is isn't ONLY a love song. We read that it is a Maskil v a teaching Psalm. There is something here that will touch both your heart and your head.
IN PRAISE OF THE KING
Verses 1-9 are a description of the King. We are not told which king is being described. Tradition has it that it is Solomon who is in view. But as we read through this Psalm, we are going to see things said that go far beyond Solomon. The ultimate king in this Psalm is King Jesus.
1. THE BEAUTY OF THE KING.
Thou art fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Thy lips; Therefore God has blessed Thee forever. (45:2).
These words seem at first glance to be in contrast to the description of Isaiah: He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him (Isaiah 53:2). But that is a description of the Crucified Christ, the Messiah who hung upon a cross whose appearance was marred more than any man (Isaiah 52:14).
However as we look more closely at this Psalm, we note that the beauty of the King is seen most strikingly in the words that flow from His lips: Grace is poured upon Thy lips.
The one thing for which Jesus was known even among His enemies was the power and authority with which He spoke. When Jesus was teaching openly in the Temple, those in authority sent forth soldiers to arrest Him. They came back empty-handed.
The officers therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, "Why did you not bring Him?"
The officers answered, "Never did a man speak the way this man speaks." (John 7:45-46).
There was something wonderful compelling about the words of Jesus. It was the way He spoke with authority and with truth, but there was also something more. It was also the way in which He spoke with GRACE. That is the particular quality that is mentioned in this Psalm.
Do you recall the incident in which Jesus went into the synagogue of His hometown in Nazareth and opened the scroll of Isaiah and read to the people? Then He rolled up the scroll and proceeded to tell the people how that very prophecy was being fulfilled in their hearing. Their initial response was that all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips" (Luke 4:22). There was something wonderfully winsome about the words of Jesus. At the same time, there was great strength in His words.
2. THE STRENGTH OF THE KING.
The strength of the King is described in terms of military prowess. He is seen strapping on His sword and riding off to victory in the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness.
The book of Revelation presents this same picture of King Jesus. The only difference there is that the sword is no longer sheathed. Instead it is pictured as going out of His mouth as He rides a white horse into victory.
This is not a case of extreme halitosis. It is not a literal sword that extends from His tonsils. This is symbolism for the power of His Word -- the Gospel that goes forth and strikes at the very heart of men and changes their lives forever. This is the good news that God entered time and space to be born of a virgin and to walk our dirty streets and to die upon our dirty cross for our dirty sins and then to rise in victory from the grave.
That is the message of Revelation and it is the message of this Psalm. It is the message that JESUS WINS.
It is a message for us today.
3. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KING:
This passage is quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9 where the writer of that epistles says that it is a reference to Jesus. In that passage, the writer says that Jesus can be seen to be much better than the angels.
That is a striking thing in itself, for angels are highly exalted. They are beings who are so holy and so powerful and so awesome that, should one appear, your first impulse might be to bow down and worship.
But as wonderful as angels are, Jesus is more so. He is not merely one who stands around the throne. He is seated on the throne. It is His throne. It is His throne permanently.
Furthermore, we are not merely speaking of some temporal throne located in the Middle East. This is the throne of heaven. It is the throne of God. He is called "God" -- the Hebrew Elohim.
When we first came to Jesus, we might not have understood just how big He is. We came to see a winsome Galilean rabbi, but we found that He is so much more.
C.S. Lewis makes this point in his Chronicles of Narnia when Lucy returns to the magic land and sees Aslan, the Christ figure.
"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger.
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.
"Not because you are?"
"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."
Notice the quality that is presented in these verses. It is the quality of RIGHTEOUSNESS. God is righteous. And God demands righteousness of His creation. The good news of the Gospel is that God in Christ has freely provided that which He has demanded. He is the very fulfillment of His own demands.
4. THE ANOINTING OF THE KING:
The Hebrew word for anointing in this passage is
Anointing was a normative process in the ancient world. There were three different types of anointing described in the Old Testament.
And you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him; and you shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve Me as priests. (Exodus 28:41).
And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister as priests to Me. (Exodus 30:30).
Then Samuel said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD" (1 Samuel 15:1).
When the Lord wanted to demonstrate that He had rejected Saul and was now going to ordain David and his descendants as the new king, He did so by sending Samuel to anoint him.
We read of this in the Lord's instructions to Elijah: And the LORD said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram;
There are three anointings described in that passage. The first two are the kings of Aram and Israel. But the third anointing is not for a king at all. It is for a prophet.
Jesus was anointed. His anointing was not with mere oil. He was anointed by the very Spirit of God.
And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2).
You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power... (Acts 10:38).
The wonderful thing about this is that, if you have come to Christ in faith, then you have an anointing, too (1 John 2:20). The same Spirit that was upon Jesus has also been given to you.
5. THE JOY OF THE KING:
Jesus was known as the "Man of sorrows." But He was also a man who was imbued with joy. Hebrews 12:2 speaks of how He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. And on the night of the Last Supper, He said to His disciples, "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full".
You have a duty and a calling. It is a calling to be filled with JOY.
Our problem is that we go looking for joy in all of the wrong places. We look for THINGS to bring us joy. Or we look for PEOPLE to make us joyful. Or we look for CIRCUMSTANCES to bring us joy. They never can.
How do you pursue joy? It is through celebration. That is seen in the Old Testament with the establishment of regular feast days throughout the year for activities such as eating, drinking, gathering with our loved ones, singing and dancing as God's people gathered to reflect upon the wonderful blessings that God had given.
We are told to do the same in the New Testament as we gather around the Lord's Table to remember and to rejoice in the sacrifice He made for us.
This Table is for us a source of Joy. Such joy is in realizing that we are a part of this love song. It is realizing that this king is MY King. And it is in our focus upon...
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE BRIDE
1. FORGET THE PAST
The pattern for a marriage is that the bride is to leave her family and be joined to her husband as a part of a new family.
You wouldn't think much of a bride who wanted to keep pictures of her old boyfriends on the mantle.
There is a real danger to living in the past. It is the danger that was seen in the Israelites who were in the wilderness. Every time a trouble came their way, they would think back to the "good old days" of their slavery in Egypt.
How different is the attitude of Paul when he says, ...forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
2. A PROSPECT FOR THE FUTURE
You are desired by the King. It isn't that you are so wonderful in yourself; it is because He is making you over into His image.
You know about make-overs. They show them occasionally on television where they take someone who looks one way and they do things with their hair and their clothes and their makeup to transform them into a beautiful person.
That kind of transformation is only skin deep. The transformation that God is working in His people is a real transformation from the inside out. We have the promise that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
THE WEDDING PROCESSION
Notice how the Psalm ends. It is a vivid description of a wedding procession. But this procession does not merely walk down an aisle. To get the full impact of the end of this Psalm, you need to know something about weddings in the ancient world.
Long before the wedding, the families of the bride and groom would meet and announce a betrothal. At this time, the prospective bride and groom would give their vow of marriage and even exchange rings. At this point, they were legally married and it would take a divorce to nullify the betrothal.
But then the groom would go home to prepare a place for his new bride. There were plans to make and a great feast to be prepared.
On the appointed day of the wedding, the groom would go forth at the head of a procession that would make its way to the residence of the father of the bride. As they arrived, she would be waiting in her wedding dress. She would be led out to meet him and the entire procession would return to the home of the groom for the wedding celebration.
That is the picture presented in verses 12-17. It is a wedding procession, not just of a bride and groom, but of the King and His bride.
Notice the tense used here. It is the Hebrew imperfect, used for incomplete action -- used here to express the future tense. That is how the Psalm ends. The final wedding procession has not yet taken place. The King is on his way. The bride is waiting for His arrival. He could come at any moment.
That is where we are today! We are dressed in the robes of His righteousness that is imputed to us through faith. We are awaiting the coming of the King. He could come at any day. We are expectant. Will it be today?
This is not the same as the "Last Days Madness" that seems to affect so much of American Christianity today. I am not talking of setting dates as to when Jesus shall return. I believe that great harm has been done to the church by those who propagate such things.
But we are to be not less expectant; no less ready. And even as we come to the Lord's Table, we are reminded of the words of Paul of how we are to thus remember the Lord's death until He comes.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!