- Psalm 45 is a unique psalm to the psalter. Most of the versions word this psalm as a love song. The NIV declares psalm 45 to be a wedding song, according to the title. As one reads the psalm, it has a similar style and layout as the Song of Solomon. The psalm is addressed to two people, first to the king who is the groom and second to the bride.
- As we read this psalm, knowledge of Jewish understanding concerning these prophetic psalms is also needed. If you have not done so, please read the lesson titled, “Grasping the Gospel: The Resurrection of Jesus” to understand how the Jews interpreted psalms like psalm 45. The first verse of psalm 45 simply is the introduction declaring the psalmist’s purpose to write verses about the king.
I. In Praise of the King (45:2-9)
A. The king and his beauty (45:2-5)
- The psalmist begins by describing the beauty of the king. As we read verses 2-4, we must try to visualize the king in his grandeur. The king is described as most handsome among men. The king is further described as a mighty warrior who straps a sword to his side. We see the king riding on a horse in majesty and splendor. The king is a victorious warrior who has triumphed for the cause of justice, humility, and truth. The works of the king are awe-inspiring to the people.
- It does not seem that the psalmist is praising the appearance of the king. Rather, the king is handsome because of what the king has accomplished. The king is handsome because of his mighty deeds which has brought about truth and justice. The king is beautiful because of his military might.
B. The king and his rule (45:6-9)
- The psalmist continues that the king’s throne is forever and ever. We must not be troubled by the usage of the Hebrew word elohim in verse 6. It is clear by the context that the psalmist is still speaking about the king. Verse 7 shows this point clearly where he says concerning the king, “Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, more than your companions, with the oil of joy.” The psalmist is praising the king as he has been anointed by God.
- There are times in the Old Testament, though rare, where the Hebrew word elohim is used for a master or ruler. Most of the time the Hebrew word elohim is used in reference to the Almighty God. But there are times where that is not the case, such as Psalm 82:6-7 and Exodus 21:6. Again, the context tells us the psalmist is still addressing the king. The subject in verse 6 and verse 7 is the same subject.
- Therefore, when the psalmist decrees the king’s throne to be forever, he is not talking eternally. Rather, he is simply using an idiomatic expression to say, “long live the king.”
II. In Praise of the Bride (45:10-16)
A. Forget the past (45:10)
- The bride is admonished to not look back. Do not think about your people and family that are being left behind. The bride is joining to the groom, who is the king. This will be your new life.
- The bride was not to ruin the marriage by always thinking back to the ways things used to be. She was not to recall the old life but fully give herself to the king and begin a new life together.
B. Honor your lord (45:11)
- The bride is admonished to have humble reverence for the groom. She is to bow down and give him the respect that is due him. She is submitting her will to the will of the husband.
- Of course, this is what was described by Paul in Ephesians 5:22-23. The husband is to love and cherish the bride and the wife is to submit to the groom. A marriage can only succeed where both people are loving and honoring one another.
C. Look to the future (45:11-16)
- Finally, the bride is also instructed to look to the future glory to be received. People will come desiring her favor. She will be clothed in a beautiful array of garments. She will live a life full of gladness and rejoicing in the palace of the king. Her sons will succeed and be made princes to rule throughout the land.
- This final point seems to be a helpful consolation as she was told to forget the past. Since she is not to look longingly back to her former country, former people, and former family, she is to look ahead to how much she will receive and how bright the future is for her.
- The psalm concludes describing how the union between the king and his bride will cause all the generations to remember the name and praise them forever and ever.
III. Viewing the Messiah
A. Understanding Jewish interpretation
- We must remember that the Jews saw these inspired writings as applicable to every generation. Particularly, the Jews had a great emphasis on the end times, meaning, the time of the coming of the Messiah.
- Therefore, this psalm would be used by many kings who would be wed to their bride. But it looked forward to the day when the Messiah would come and establish his throne. We will spend the rest of the study looking at the psalm again, now looking at it with the context of the Messiah.
B. Messianic bridegroom (45:2-9)
- As we reread verses 2-9 of psalm 45 it is easy to see the Messiah as the greater fulfillment of these words. We see the beauty and splendor of the Messiah riding on a horse, claiming victory, and bringing truth, humility, and justice to the land.
- This splendor is depicted similarly by John in Revelation 19:11-16. (11) “Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. (12) His eyes were like a fiery flame, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. (13) He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is called the Word of God. (14) The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. (15) From His mouth came a sharp sword, so that with it He might strike the nations. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. (16) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
- Furthermore, verses 6-7 are directly applied to Jesus in Hebrews 1:8-9. Jesus is the king of kings. His throne truly is forever and ever and his rule is a rule of justice. Because of his love of righteousness and hating of lawlessness, God anointed him. The Jews understood Psalm 45 to ultimately refer to the Messiah. The writer of Hebrews shows how perfectly Jesus, the Son of God, fits this prophecy.
C. We are the bride (45:10-16)
- If the Messiah is the groom, then who is the bride? “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior” (Ephesians 5:23). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27). The bride refers to those who are saved, the disciples of Jesus, called the church.
- “Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself” (Revelation 19:7). “I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). Clearly, we are in view as the bride of Christ. Therefore, we must apply the three principles to ourselves that were applied to the bride.
- Forget the past. Christ has called us to forget our family, friends, and country and follow him. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead…” (Philippians 3:13). We are not look back longing for our previous lives. The Israelites sinned when they looked back to Egypt longingly. Lot’s wife sinned when she looked back to view Sodom. We sin when we look back longingly to the life of sin and lusts. We can never be the bride of Christ if we are looking to another man, Satan and his ways.
- Honor your Lord. We are to bow down before the Messiah and give him all honor and respect. We are to fully submit our lives to God. Jesus has shown and proven his love for us. Jesus has shown us great respect and devotion. We are required to honor our Lord and submit to his will. Our marriage to Christ will never work if we do not submit our wills to his will.
- Look to the future. In the psalm, the bride is told to consider all that is available from the king. We will receive the glorious robes: “She was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8). With joy and gladness we will enter the palace of the king. “Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). The Messiah, Jesus, reigns on the throne. We are to prepare ourselves to be his bride. Do not look back to the old life. Why would we look back to the life of a peasant when we will be accepted into the royal house of God? Honor and obey the Lord and look forward to the excellent blessings we will receive. (HCSB)