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Psalms 45:1 « To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves. » My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue [is] the pen of a ready writer.
Upon Shoshannim ] The name of an instrument with six strings, saith Kimchi. Or, concerning the lilies, Song of Solomon 2:1-2 , that is, the Messiah and his people, saith Kabuenaki. The city Shushan had its name from lilies there plentifully growing; as Rhodes from roses, Florence from flowers, &c.
Maschil ] It is not said, as elsewhere, of David; and yet some will have him to have been the penman, others Solomon, epitomizing his Book of Canticles; with which indeed it is of the self-same argument, viz.
A Song of loves ] An epithalamium or nuptial verse, made at the marriage of Solomon and the Shulamite. As for Pharaoh’s daughter, various good divines are of the opinion, that neither here nor in the Canticles any respect is had or allusion made to that match of Solomon with her, so expressly condemned by the Holy Ghost, 1 Kings 11:1-3 , ut per absurdum mihi videatur, illud matrimonium existimare fuisse tantae rei typum, saith learned Beza. Ainsworth rendereth it, A song of the well beloved virgins, friends of the bridegroom and bride, Psalms 45:9 ; Psalms 45:14 , to set forth Christ in his glory, and his Church in her beauty. So, when Jerome had freed the Locrians from the tyranny of Anaxilos and Cleophron, the virgins sang his praise, as is to be read in Pindarus’s Odes; which Politian preferred before David’s psalms, auso nefario, like an atheist as he was.
Ver. 1. My heart is inditing a good matter ] Heb. frieth, sicut quae in sartagine friguntur, as things are fried in a frying pan, Leviticus 7:9 . The prophet, being to sing of such a sublime subject, would not utter anything but what he had duly digested, thoroughly thought upon, and was deeply affected with, Exordium ut vocant floridum. What a high pitch flieth St Paul whenever he speaketh concerning Christ? See Ephesians 1:6 ; Ephesians 2:4 ; Ephesians 2:7 ; Ephesians 3:19 . The like is reported of Origen: Nusquam non ardet, saith Erasmus; sed nusquam est ardentior quam ubi Christi sermones actusque tractet; that he was ever earnest; but most of all when he discoursed of Christ (Praefat. ad Origen. Opera). Of Johannes Mollias, a Bononian, it is said, that whensoever he spake of Jesus Christ his eyes dropped; for he was fraught with a mighty fervency of God’s Holy Spirit; and, like the Baptist, he was first a burning (boiling or bubbling), and then a shining light. Ardor mentis est lux doctrinae. Zeal of mind is the light of doctrine.
I speak of the things which I have made touching the king ] Or, I will speak in my works, that is, in this psalm, concerning the king, viz. Solomon, and him that is greater than Solomon in all his glory, Christ, the King of the Church. Works he calleth this poem, not for the greatness, but for the exquisiteness thereof; it being breve et longum planeque aureum; utpote in quo universa pane salutis nostrae mysteria continentur, as containing almost all the mysteries of man’s salvation.
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer ] i.e. I will roundly and readily relate what I have so well ruminated; and dexterously deliver my most mature meditations concerning the mystical marriage of Christ and his Church. This is a good precedent for preachers. Demosthenes would have such a one branded for a pernicious man to the commonwealth who durst propose anything publicly which he had not beforehand seriously pondered. And Aristides, being pressed to speak to something propounded extempore, answered, Propound today, and I will answer tomorrow; for we are not of those that spit or spun up things, &c.
Psa 45:2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
Ver. 2. Thou art fairer than the children of men ] Heb. Thou art double fairer. The Hebrew word is doubled, ad corroborandum, saith Kimchi; Valde Pulchruisti (Vat.). It may very well be that Solomon was, for his beauty, another Nireus; and for his eloquenee, another Nestor; wisdom might make his face to shine. Of Christ we are sure, that his body, being of the finest temperament, and no way diseased, could not be but very beautiful. The Roman register reporteth him to have been of a reverend countenance, his stature somewhat tall, his hair after the colour of the ripe hazel nut, his forehead smooth and plain, his face without wrinkle, mixed with moderate red, his eyes grey, various, and clear (Lentulus ad Senat. ap. Magdeb. Cent. 1). Surely if Stephen’s face was "as the face of an angel," and if with his bodily eyes he could pierce the heavens, and see there what he would; how much more could the Lord Christ, whose very manhood came the nearest unto God of any that ever was or could be? His very countenance did express a Divinity in him. And what if to the Jews, who esteemed him not, but maligned him, and crucified him, he had "neither form nor beauty?" Isaiah 53:2 ; what if he were so broken at thirty-three years of age, with continual pains and grief for them, that they judged him well-nigh fifty? John 8:57 ; yet he was every way complete and comely above all the children of men; yea, above all the angels in heaven; for in him the "Godhead dwelt bodily," Colossians 2:9 , and we "beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," John 1:14 . His soul was like a rich pearl in a rough shell; like the tabernacle, goat’s hair without, but gold within; or as Brutus’s staff, cuius intus solidum aurum corneo velabatur cortice (Plutarch). He was all-glorious within; had a fulness of grace above that of Adam, John 1:16 , as much as a creature was capable of; and more near familiarity with the Godhead than any creature.
Grace is poured into thy lips ] So that thou canst gracefully deliver thyself in a set speech. Solomon could, no doubt, as another Phocion or Pericles; in whose lips, πειθω τις επεκαθηρο , said Eupolis, sat a strange persuasive faculty; so that he could prevail with the people at his pleasure. Jesus Christ could much more do so; for together with his words there went forth a power; he spoke as never man spake; he spoke with authority, and not as the Scribes; all that heard him wondered at the words of grace that proceeded out of his mouth, Luk 4:22 Isaiah 50:4 .
Therefore God hath blessed thee ] Or better, because that God hath blessed thee, and endowed thee with such gifts and graces.
Psa 45:3 Gird thy sword upon [thy] thigh, O [most] mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
Ver. 3. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty (O Heros).] This is one of Christ’s titles, Isaiah 9:6 , the giant, or the mighty strong God, the valiant champion of his Church. And his sword is the word of his mouth, Rev 1:16 Hebrews 4:12 Isaiah 49:2 . All the wars in the conquest of Canaan were types of the spiritual wars under the gospel, whereby the nations were subdued to the obedience of the faith, 2 Corinthians 10:4 Ephesians 6:11 . Christ hath his sword then, a two-edged sword; and he is here called upon to gird it to his thigh (after the manner of those easterns, as we do our skins, hangers, wood-knives), that is, to take unto him his authority, and to exercise it for the conversion of his people and confusion of his enemies. Additur ei gladius quem non ostentet velut ειδωλον , sed quem etiam destringat: A sword he hath, not for show, but for service; whence it is added, "with tby glory and thy majesty."
Psa 45:4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness [and] righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
Ver. 4. And in thy majesty ride prosperously ] Heb. Prosper thou, ride thou upon the word of truth, Equita super verbum veritatis, of meekness and of righteousness, q.d. Ride thou in thy triumphant chariot, as it were, drawn by those three glorious graces, truth, meekness, and righteousness; and governed by the word, as by the chariot man. Cui divinissimae allegoriae explicandae pro rei gravitate ac dignitate integro vohmine opus esset, saith Beza, for the explaining of which most divine allegory, according to the worth of it, a whole volume might well be full written. The kings of the earth for the most part have their chariots drawn by other horses, viz. pride, ambition, cruelty, &c., as Sesostris, king of Egypt,
Qui Pharios currus regum cervicibus egit.
And thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things ] i.e. Shall enable thee to perform them. Christ, riding on his white horse (his apostles and preachers), went forth conquering and to conquer, Revelation 6:2 . Solomon was no such swordman as was Jesus Christ.
Aμφοτερος Bασιλευς τ αγαθος, κρατερος τ αιχμητης .
Psa 45:5 Thine arrows [are] sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; [whereby] the people fall under thee.
Ver. 5. Thine arrows are sharp, &c. ] Peter’s converts were pricked at heart; and Stephen’s hearers were cut to the heart, Acts 2:37 ; Acts 7:54 . Christ can fetch in his rebels afar off; he hath arrows as well as a sword, to wound them; that men may either bend or break, yield or become his footstool; one way or other he will surely have the better of them.
Psa 45:6 Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom [is] a right sceptre.
Ver. 6. Thy throne, O God ] Here the prophet directeth his speech not to Solomon (who never took upon him the name of God, as did Sesostris, king of Egypt, Antiochus Yεος , Caligula, and some other proud princes), but to Christ, Hebrews 1:8 , who is God, blessed for ever, αυτοθεος , not so called by an excellence only, as the angels are, Psa 8:5 Hebrews 2:1-9 , nor by office and title only, as magistrates are gods, Psalms 82:6 , nor catachrestically and ironically so called, as the heathen gods, nor a diminutive god, inferior to the Father, as Arius held, but God by nature, every way co-essential, co-eternal, and co-equal with the Father and the Holy Ghost, Joh 1:1 Philippians 2:6 1 John 5:20 . Hold this fast; for it is the rock, Matthew 16:16 ; it is of the very foundation; so that if we believe it not there is no heaven to be had, 1 John 5:20 . As for his kingly office here described, it belongeth to him as Mediator, and what is here spoken of him is to be understood of his whole person; for so is he Head of the Church, and King of Israel, for ever.
The sceptre of thy kingdom, &c. ] Thy government is not with rigour, but with righteousness; thou camest rightly by it, casting out Satan the usurper, Mat 12:29 Hebrews 2:14 ; and dost most righteously administer it, Deuteronomy 4:8 .
Psa 45:7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Ver. 7. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedhess ] Solomon did so for a great while (nay, Nero’s first five years were such that Trajan was wont to say that none ever attained to the perfection of them), but Christ continually; neither can he do otherwise, Haec vere heroica est nemesis. See 2 John 1:5; 2 John 1:52 John 1:5; 2 John 1:5 :30 Matthew 12:18-20 .
Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed ] i.e. For which purpose God hath anointed thee his Messiah, or Christ, Psalms 2:2 .
With the oil of gladness ] Quia totus mundus in unctione Christi et eius missione laetabitur, saith Kimchi; so called because the whole world should be cheered up by the unction and mission of Messiah; he received the Spirit without measure, that of his fulness we might all receive, and grace for grace, righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Above thy fellows ] i.e. Ex reliquorum regum numero eximendus, above all earthly potentates (Beza); the best whereof (as David, Josiah) had their faults and flaws; or rather, above thy saints, thy fellow brethren by grace, and co-heirs of glory; they have Plenitudinem Vasis, but thou, Fontis ; neither only art thou anointed Prae consortibus, above thy fellows, but Pro consortibus, for those thy fellows, as some render it, and it is very comfortable.
Psa 45:8 All thy garments [smell] of myrrh, and aloes, [and] cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
Ver. 8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia ] Things not only of good savour, but of great price. Myrrh some take to be musk, aloes amber, cassia a kind of cinnamon, which in Galen’s time was very rare and hard to be found, except in the storehouses of great princes. And Pliny reporteth that a pound of cinnamon was worth a thousand denarii, that is, a hundred and fifty crowns of our money. This description, then, of Christ’s clothing doth allegorically set forth the sweetness and pleasure that the Father findeth in him ( εν ω ευδοκησα , Mat 3:17 ), and that we also find, while he is made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30 , confer 2Co 2:15 and that out of his ivory palaces, i.e. his heavenly habitation, from which he beholdeth us, and raineth down righteousness upon us.
Whereby they have made thee glad ] i.e. Servi et sodales tui, thy fellow friends and servants, who stand and hear the bridegroom, and rejoice greatly by reason of his voice, John 3:29 , yea, make him glad by their ready obedience, setting the crown upon his head, and adorning him, as it were, with all his bravery in the day of his espousals, Song of Solomon 3:11 , and making him say, How fair, how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! Song of Solomon 7:6 .
Psa 45:9 Kings’ daughters [were] among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
Ver. 9. Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women] Thy ladies of honour attending upon thy royal consort (for after the description of Christ, the bridegroom, followeth another, of the queen, his bride, and of the royal nuptials): or, Kings’ daughters are in thy preciousnesses, that is, in thy comeliness that thou hast put upon them, Ezekiel 16:14 ; for all the Church’s bravery is borrowed, and all her daughters, i.e. members, are adorned not with their own proper attire, Sed regio mundo et ornatu, out of the King Christ’s wardrobe; this is the righteousness of the saints, Revelation 19:8 , viz. imputed and imparted.
Upon thy right hand ] Which is a place of dignity and safety. As Christ is at the Father’s right hand, so the Church is at Christ’s right hand; where, as his wife, she shineth with her Husband’s beams. This is very comfortable.
Did stand the queen ] Heb. the wife, adiutorium illi exacte respondens, as Genesis 2:18 , saith Aben Ezra. Of our Edward III the chronicler saith, that he was happy in his wife, a lady of excellent virtue, who drew evenly with him in all the courses of honour that appertained to her side; and seemed a piece so just cut for him, as answered him rightly in every joint (Daniel’s Hist.).
Psa 45:10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;
Ver. 10. Hearken, O daughter, and consider; incline thine ear ] The prophet’s, or rather Christ’s, counsel to the Church, and each member thereof, wholly to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 3:12 ; to leave all, and to cleave to Christ. This, because it is soon said, but not so soon done, he presseth in many words all to one purpose, Hearken, see, incline thine ear. Self-denial is a most difficult duty, and yet so necessary, that if it be not done we shall be undone.
Forget also thine own people, &c. ] All evil opinions must be unlearned, and all evil practices abandoned, and all our love transferred and transfused upon Christ; or we cannot be a fit spouse for him. Christ’s spouse must as Deu 21:11-13 shave her head, pare her nails, and bewail her father and mother, that is, her natural inbred evils and corruptions.
Psa 45:11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he [is] thy Lord; and worship thou him.
Ver. 11. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty ] If thou deny thyself and forego all others to please him alone he shall set his whole heart upon thee, and be ravished with thy love, as Proverbs 5:19 . How could that Persian lady’s husband do less than love her, who, having been at Cyrus’s wedding, and asked how she liked the bridegroom? Like him? said she, I know not how I like him; for I looked upon no man there but mine own husband. Aspasia Milesia was very dear to Cyrus, because she was καλη και σοφη , fair, and wise (Aelian).
For he is thy Lord ] And, therefore, not to be slighted by thee for his great love, as many of the Persian monarchs were (Ahasuerus, for instance), but reverenced and obeyed, as Augustus was by his wife Livia.
Psa 45:12 And the daughter of Tyre [shall be there] with a gift; [even] the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.
Ver. 12. And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift ] Isaiah 23:18 . The Tyrians, that wealthy people, when once converted (think the same of other nations) shall leave hoarding and heaping; and find another manner of merchandise and employment of their substance, viz. to feed and clothe God’s saints, and maintain his ministers.
Psa 45:13 The king’s daughter [is] all glorious within: her clothing [is] of wrought gold.
Ver. 13. The king’s daughter is all glorious within] In the inner man, Ephesians 3:16 , the hidden man of the heart, 1 Peter 3:4 . Great is the glory of the new creature; but not discerned by the world, through which the saints must be content to pass as concealed persons; and not think much to have the greater part of their ware in the inner part of their shop, and not all on the board or stall.
Her clothing is of wrought gold ] Ex vestibus auro ocellatis. Clothed she is with humility, and other golden graces; as with that party-coloured garment, whereby kings’ daughters, as Tamar, were anciently distinguished from others.
Psa 45:14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.
Ver. 14. She shall be brought ] See Trapp on " Psa 45:13 " she shall be presented to Christ a glorious Church, not having spot, wrinkle, or any such thing, Eph 5:27 Revelation 21:2 .
Psa 45:15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.
Ver. 15. With, gladness and rejoicing ] As at marriages is usual. Samson’s wife, solecised in weeping at such a feast. Oh the joy! said that dying saint. But what in the meanwhile?
Psa 45:16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.
Ver. 16. Instead of thy fathers, &c. ] The Church shall still bring forth children to her husband Christ, and there shall be a succession of his name, Psalms 72:17 .
Whom then mayest make princes ] The saints are kings in righteousness, though somewhat obscure ones, as was Melchisedec.
Psa 45:17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.
Ver. 17. I will make thy name, &c. ] This is a second benefit promised to the Church, viz. everlasting renown, with highest estimation and imitation to the world’s end.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 45". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16