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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 45

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verse 1

The psalmist claimed to be full of joy and inspiration as he composed this song. He said what he did out of a full heart.

Verses 1-9

1. Praise for the bridegroom 45:1-9

Verses 1-17

Psalms 45

This royal psalm glorified a king as he prepared for his wedding. The writer related the counsel that the bride had received as she anticipated the wedding. He then predicted that people would honor the king forever because of the descendants born to him. The psalmist also appears to have spoken prophetically of Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:32-33; Hebrews 1:8-9). [Note: Kidner, p. 170.]

"Psalms 45 is another example of a royal psalm which reflects the historical situation of ancient Israel, but which ultimately applies to Christ in that He is the one through whom the primary aspects of its idealistic portrayal of the Davidic ruler are fully realized." [Note: Chisholm, "A Theology . . .," p. 270.]

"Shoshannim" in the title means "lilies." This may have been a hymn tune. The meaning of "Maskil" is still unclear. "A song of love" (lit., NASB) probably means "a wedding song" (NIV).

Verse 2

To him, the king was the greatest man he knew. One evidence of this was his gracious speech, for which God had poured out His blessing on the king.

Verses 3-5

The writer called on his king to champion the cause of truth, humility, and righteousness. He encouraged him to pursue the enemies of justice and defeat them. He was confident that, with the weapons of righteousness, the king would gain many victories.

Verses 6-7

The writer addressed his human king as "God" (Elohim). He did not mean that the king was God but that he stood in the place of God and represented Him. Compare Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9; and Psalms 82:1 where the biblical writers called Israel’s judges gods because they represented God. [Note: See also ibid., p. 266, n. 17.] This is an extravagant expression of praise for the king. God had blessed this king because he had represented the Lord faithfully by ruling as Yahweh does. God had given the king a double anointing, the writer affirmed. He had made him king, and He had blessed him with great joy as king.

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews used these verses to point out the superiority of the Son of God to the angels (Hebrews 1:5-7). He also used them to argue for the exaltation and righteous rule of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:8-9). He viewed the anointing not so much as an event (Matthew 3:16-17) as the permanent state of the King (Isaiah 11:1-2). He viewed these verses as prophetic of the eternal rule of David’s greatest Son (cf. Psalms 45:6). What the writer of the psalm said of his king will happen when Jesus Christ returns to earth and sets up His kingdom that will endure forever.

Verses 8-9

The king’s wedding garments were fragrant with aromatic spices. Perfumers made myrrh out of a gum that a certain kind of Arabian tree secreted (cf. Proverbs 7:17; Song of Solomon 1:13). Aloes apparently came from a good-smelling wood (cf. Numbers 24:6; Proverbs 7:17; Song of Solomon 4:14). Ancient oriental monarchs decorated their palaces with ivory, and the amount of it they displayed represented their wealth and glory (cf. 1 Kings 10:18; 1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15; Amos 6:4). Kings’ daughters were among the most prestigious attendants in weddings. The ancients considered gold from Ophir, probably situated in Arabia, to be the best (cf. 1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:11; 1 Kings 22:48; Job 28:16; Isaiah 13:12). The total picture of this wedding ceremony is one of extreme elegance and beauty, fitting for such a good king.

Verses 10-11

The psalmist gave some good advice to the bride. She would be wise to make her husband her primary object of affection (cf. Genesis 2:24). This would make her even more attractive to him. She should also honor him because he was now her authority (cf. Genesis 2:18; Genesis 2:22).

Verses 10-15

2. Advice for the bride 45:10-15

Verse 12

If she followed this advice, she would enjoy the love and respect of other powerful people. Tyre was a Phoenician seaport. The Phoenicians were world travelers and traders. A gift from the daughter of the king of Tyre (or possibly the people of Tyre) would therefore be very desirable. Other powerful people would also court the bride’s favor if she glorified her worthy husband.

Verses 13-15

The bride was the daughter of a king herself. In these verses the psalmist pictured her coming into the palace for her marriage to her husband.

Verses 16-17

3. Benediction on the couple 45:16-17

The memory of the king’s ancestors would pale in comparison with that of his descendants. The king’s sons would become famous princes who would occupy positions of authority far and wide because of the king’s righteous rule. He would also enjoy a lasting reputation and the eternal gratitude of his subjects.

"There can be little doubt that this psalm was in the mind of John as he wrote Revelation 19:6-21. As he looked forward to the marriage of Christ, the Lamb, in heaven, he recalled how the bride clothed herself with acts of righteousness in preparation for Him (Revelation 19:6-8). Then John described the royal groom going forth to battle in righteousness (Revelation 19:11-21). Psalms 45, then, is typological of the greater Davidic King, Jesus Christ." [Note: Ross, p. 828.]

"Words like these spoken at an ancient eastern wedding would be considered polite exaggeration, but when applied to Jesus Christ, they aren’t strong enough!" [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 182.]

We who are believers should rejoice in our glorious King who will one day experience full union with His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:23-32). He is worthy of our praise because He is completely true, humble, and righteous. We should also submit to His authority in view of who He is. We can look forward with great anticipation to our union with Him and our glorious future with Him from then on. His kingdom will endure forever, and everyone will honor His name throughout eternity.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 45". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-45.html. 2012.
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