Click here to get started today!
Marriage Song in Honour of the Peerless King
To a Korahitic Maskı̂l is appended a song of the same name, and likewise bearing a royal impress after the style of the Korahitic productions. But whilst in Psalms 44:5 the words “Thou, Thou art my King, Elohim,” are addressed in prayer to the God of Israel, in this Psalm the person of the king who is celebrated is a matter of doubt and controversy. The Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:8) proceeds on the assumption that it is the future Christ, the Son of God. It is supported in this view by a tradition of the ancient synagogue, in accordance with which the Targumist renders Psalms 45:3, “Thy beauty, O King Messiah, is greater than that of the children of men.” This Messianic interpretation must be very ancient. Just as Ezekiel 21:32 refers back to שׁילה , Genesis 49:10, גּבּור אל among the names of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:5 (cf. Zechariah 12:8) refers back in a similar manner to Ps 45. And whilst the reception of the Song of Songs into the canon admits of being understood even without the assumption of any prophetically allegorical meaning in it, the reception of this Psalm without any such assumption is unintelligible. But this prophetically Messianic sense is therefore not the original meaning of the Psalm. The Psalm is a poem composed for some special occasion the motive of which is some contemporary event. The king whom it celebrates was a contemporary of the poet. If, however, it was a king belonging to David's family, then he was a possessor of a kingship to which were attached, according to 2 Sam. 7, great promises extending into the unlimited future, and on which, consequently, hung all the prospects of the future prosperity and glory of Israel; and the poet is therefore fully warranted in regarding him in the light of the Messianic idea, and the church is also fully warranted in referring the song, which took its rise in some passing occasion, as a song for all ages, to the great King of the future, the goal of its hope. Moreover, we find only such poems of an occasional and individual character received into the Psalter, as were adapted to remain in constant use by the church as prayers and spiritual songs.
With respect to the historical occasion of the song, we adhere to the conjecture advanced in our commentary on Canticles and on the Epistle to the Hebrews, viz., that it was composed in connection with the marriage of Joram of Judah with Athaliah. The reference to the marriage of Ahab of Israel with Jezebel of Tyre, set forth by Hitzig, is at once set aside by the fact that the poet idealizes the person celebrated, as foreshadowing the Messiah, in a way that can only be justified in connection with a Davidic king. It could more readily be Solomon the king of Israel, whose appearance was fair as that of a woman, but majestic as that of a hero.
(Note: So Disraeli in his romance of Alroy (1845).)
Even to the present day several interpreters
(Note: So even Kurtz in the Dorpater Zeitschrift for 1865, S. 1-24.)
explain the Psalm of Solomon's marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh; but the entire absence of any mention of Egypt is decisive against this view. Hence Hupfeld imagines a daughter of Hiram to be the bride, by reference to the Zidonian Ashtôreth which is mentioned among Solomon's strange gods (1 Kings 11:5, 1 Kings 11:33). But the fact that the king here celebrated is called upon to go forth to battle, is also strange, whilst the glory of Solomon consists in his being, in accordance with his name, the Prince of Peace, or אישׁ מנוּחה , 1 Chronicles 22:9. Further, the wish is expressed for him that he may have children who shall take the place of his ancestors: Solomon, however, had a royal father, but not royal fathers; and there is the less ground for any retrospective reference to the princes of Judah as Solomon's ancestors (which Kurtz inclines to), since of these only one, viz., Nahshon, occurs among the ancestry of David.
All this speaks against Solomon, but just with equal force in favour of Joram, as being the king celebrated. This Joram is the son of Jehoshaphat, the second Solomon of the Israelitish history. He became king even during the lifetime of his pious father, under whom the Salomonic prosperity of Israel was revived (cf. 2 Chronicles 18:1 with Psalms 21:3, 2 Kings 8:16, and Winer's Realwörterbuch under Jehoram); he was also married to Athaliah during his father's lifetime; and it is natural, that just at that time, when Judah had again attained to the height of the glory of the days of Solomon, the highest hopes should be gathered around these nuptials. This explains the name שׁגל which the queen bears, - a name that is elsewhere Chaldaean (Daniel 5:2.) and Persian (Nehemiah 2:6), and is more North-Palestinian
(Note: In Deborah's song (Judges 5:30) probably שׁגל is to be read instead of לצוּארי שׁלל .)
than Jewish; for Athaliah sprang from the royal family of Tyre, and was married by Joram out of the royal family of Israel. If she is the queen, then the exhortation to forget her people and her father's house has all the greater force. And it becomes intelligible why the homage of Tyre in particular, and only of Tyre, is mentioned. The Salomonic splendour of Asiatic perfumes and costly things is thus quite as easily explained as by referring the Psalm to Solomon. For even Jehoshaphat had turned his attention to foreign wares, more especially Indian gold; he even prepared a fleet for the purpose of going to Ophir, but, ere it started, it was wrecked in the harbour of Ezion-geber (1 Kings 22:48-Philippians :; 2 Chronicles 20:35.). And Solomon, it is true, had a throne of ivory (1 Kings 10:18), and the Salomonic Song of Songs (Song of Solomon 7:5) makes mention of a tower of ivory; but he had no ivory palace; whereas the mention of היכלי־שׁן in our Psalm harmonizes surprisingly with the fact that Ahab, the father of Athaliah, built a palace of ivory ( בּית־שׁן ), which the Book of Kings, referring to the annals, announces as something especially worthy of note, 1 Kings 22:39 (cf. Amos 3:15, בּתּי השּׁן ).
But why should not even Joram, at a crisis of his life so rich in hope, have been a type of the Messiah? His name is found in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Matthew 1:8. Joram and Athaliah are among the ancestors of our Lord. This significance in relation to the history of redemption is still left them, although they have not realized the good wishes expressed by the poet at the time of their marriage, just as in fact Solomon also began in the spirit and ended in the flesh. Joram and Athaliah have themselves cut away all reference of the Psalm to them by their own godlessness. It is with this Psalm just as it is with the twelve thrones upon which, according to the promise, Matthew 19:28, the twelve apostles shall sit and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. This promise was uttered even in reference to Judas Iscariot. One of the twelve seats belonged to him, but he has fallen away from it. Matthias became heir to the throne of Judas Iscariot, and who has become the heir to the promises in this Psalm? All the glorious things declared in the Psalm depend upon this as the primary assumption, as essential to their being a blessing and being realized, viz., that the king whom it celebrates should carry out the idea of the theocratic kingship. To the Old Testament prophecy and hope, more especially since the days of Isaiah, the Messiah, and to the New Testament conception of the fulfilment of prophecy Jesus Christ, is the perfected realization of this idea.
The inscription runs: To the Precentor, upon Lilies, by the Benê-Korah, a meditation, a song of that which is lovely. Concerning Maskı̂l , vid., on Psalms 32:1. שׁושׁן is the name for the (six-leafed) lily,
(Note: This name is also ancient Egyptian, vid., the Book of the Dead, lxxxi. 2: nuk seshni pir am ṫah - en - Phrā , i.e., I am a lily, sprung from the fields of the sun-god.)
that is wide-spread in its use in the East; it is not the (five-leafed) rose, which was not transplanted into Palestine until a much later period. In על־שׁשׁנּים Hengstenberg sees a symbolical reference to the “lovely brides” mentioned in the Psalm. Luther, who renders it “concerning the roses,” understands it to mean the rosae futurae of the united church of the future. We would rather say, with Bugenhagen, Joh. Gerhard, and other old expositors, “The heavenly Bridegroom and the spiritual bride, they are the two roses or lilies that are discoursed of in this Psalm.” But the meaning of על־שׁשׁנים must be such as will admit of the inscribed על־שׁוּשׁן עדוּת , Psalms 60:1, and עדוּת על־שׁשׁנּים (which is probably all one expression notwithstanding the Athnach), Psalms 80:1, being understood after the analogy of it. The preposition על אל ) forbids our thinking of a musical instrument, perhaps lily-shaped bells.
(Note: Vide C. Jessen, On the lily of the Bible, in Hugo von Mohl's Botanische Zeitung, 1861, No. 12. Thrupp in his Introduction (1860) also understands שׁושׁנים to mean cymbals in the form of a lily.)
There must therefore have been some well-known popular song, which began with the words “A lily is the testimony...” or “Lilies are the testimonies ( עדות ) ...;” and the Psalm is composed and intended to be sung after the melody of this song in praise of the Tôra.
(Note: The point of comparison, then, to adopt the language of Gregory of Nyssa, is τὸ λαμπρόν τε καὶ χιονῶδες εἶδος of the lily.)
It is questionable whether ידידת (Origen ιδιδωθ , Jerome ididoth ) in the last designation of the Psalm is to be taken as a collateral form of ידידת (love, and metonymically an object of love, Jeremiah 12:7), or whether we are to explain it after the analogy of צחות , Isaiah 32:4, and נכחות , Isaiah 26:10: it is just on this neuter use of the plur. fem. that the interchange which sometimes occurs of ōth with ūth in an abstract signification (Ew. §165, c) is based. In the former case it ought to be rendered a song of love (Aquila ᾀσμα προσφιλίας ); in the latter, a song of that which is beloved, i.e., lovely, or lovable, and this is the more natural rendering. The adjective ידיד signified beloved, or even (Psalms 84:2) lovable. It is things that are loved, because exciting love, therefore lovely, most pleasing things, which, as שׁיר ידידת says, form the contents of the song. שׁיר ידידת does not signify a marriage-song; this would be called שׁיר חתנּה (cf. Psalms 30:1). Nor does it signify a secular erotic song, instead of which the expression שׁיר עגבים שׁיר דּודים , would have been used. ידיד is a noble word, and used of holy love.
(Heb.: 45:2-3) The verb רחשׁ , as מרחשׁת shows, signifies originally to bubble up, boil, and is used in the dialects generally of excited motion and lively excitement; it is construed with the accusative after the manner of verbs denoting fulness, like the synonymous נבע , Psalms 119:171 (cf. Talmudic לשׁונך תרחישׁ רננות , let thy tongue overflow with songs of praise). Whatever the heart is full of, with that the mouth overflows; the heart of the poet gushes over with a “good word.” דּבר is a matter that finds utterance and is put into the form of words; and טּוב describes it as good with the collateral idea of that which is cheerful, pleasing, and rich in promise (Isaiah 52:7; Zechariah 1:13). The fact that out of the fulness and oppression of his heart so good a word springs forth, arises from the subject in which now his whole powers of mind are absorbed: I am saying or thinking ( אני pausal form by Dechî, in order that the introductory formula may not be mistaken), i.e., my purpose is: מעשׁי למלך , my works or creations (not sing., but plur., just as also מקני in Exodus 17:3; Numbers 20:19, where the connection leads one to expect the plural) shall be dedicated to the king; or even: the thought completely fills me, quite carries me away, that they concern or have reference to the king. In the former case למלך dispenses with the article because it is used after the manner of a proper name (as in Psalms 21:2; Psalms 72:1); in the latter, because the person retires before the office of dignity belonging to it: and this we, in common with Hitzig, prefer on account of the self-conscious and reflecting אמר אני by which it is introduced. He says to himself that it is a king to whom his song refers; and this lofty theme makes his tongue so eloquent and fluent that it is like the style of a γραμματεὺς ὀξύγραφος . Thus it is correctly rendered by the lxx; whereas סופר מהיר as an epithet applied to Ezra (Ezra 7:6) does not denote a rapid writer, but a learned or skilled scribe. Rapidly, like the style of an agile writer, does the tongue of the poet move; and it is obliged to move thus rapidly because of the thoughts and words that flow forth to it out of his heart. The chief thing that inspires him is the beauty of the king. The form יפיפית , which certainly ought to have a passive sense (Aquila κάλλει ἐκαλλίωθης ), cannot be explained as formed by reduplication of the first two radicals of the verb יפה יפי ) ; for there are no examples to be found in support of quinqueliterals thus derived. What seems to favour this derivation is this, that the legitimately formed Pealal יפיפה (cf. the adjective יפהפי יפיפי , Jeremiah 46:20) is made passive by a change of vowels in a manner that is altogether peculiar, but still explicable in connection with this verb, which is a twofold weak verb. The meaning is: Thou art beyond compare beautifully fashioned, or endowed with beauty beyond the children of men. The lips are specially singled out from among all the features of beauty in him. Over his lips is poured forth, viz., from above , חן (gracefulness of benevolence), inasmuch as, even without his speaking, the form of his lips and each of their movements awakens love and trust; it is evident, however, that from such lips, full of χάρις , there must proceed also λόγοι τῆς χάριτος (Luke 4:22; Ecclesiastes 10:12). In this beauty of the king and this charm of his lips the psalmist sees a manifestation of the everlasting blessing of God, that is perceptible to the senses. It is not to be rendered: because Elohim hath blessed thee for ever. The assertion that על־כּן is used in some passages for על־כּן אשׁר cannot be proved (vid., on Psalms 42:7). But the meaning of the psalmist is, moreover, not that the king, because he is so fair and has such gracious lips, is blessed of God. If this were the idea, then the noble moral qualities of which the beauty of this king is the transparent form, ought to be more definitely expressed. Thus personally conceived, as it is here, beauty itself is a blessing, not a ground for blessing. The fact of the matter is this, beauty is denoted by על־כן as a reason for the blessing being known or recognised, not as a reason why the king should be blessed. From his outward appearance it is at once manifest that the king is one who is blessed by God, and that blessed for ever. The psalmist could not but know that “grace is deceitful and beauty vain” (Proverbs 31:30), therefore the beauty of this king was in his eyes more than mere earthly beauty; it appears to him in the light of a celestial transfiguration, and for this very reason as an imperishable gift, in which there becomes manifest an unlimited endless blessing.
(Heb.: 44:4-6) In the ever blessed one the greatest strength and vigour are combined with the highest beauty. He is a hero. The praise of his heroic strength takes the form of a summons to exert it and aid the good in obtaining the victory over evil. Brightness and majesty, as the objects to חגור , alternating with the sword, are not in apposition to this which is their instrument and symbol (Hengstenberg), but permutatives, inasmuch as חגור is zeugmatically referable to both objects: the king is (1) to gird himself with his sword, and (2) to surround himself with his kingly, God-like doxa. הוד והדר is the brilliancy of the divine glory (Psalms 96:6), of which the glory of the Davidic kingship is a reflection (Psalms 21:6); mentioned side by side with the sword, it is, as it were, the panoply that surrounds the king as bright armour. In Psalms 45:5 והדרך , written accidentally a second time, is probably to be struck out, as Olshausen and Hupfeld are of opinion. Hitzig points it והדרך , “and step forth;” but this is not Hebrew. As the text runs, wa - hadārcha (with Legarme preceded by Illuj, vid., Accentsystem xiii. §8 c, 9) looks as though it were repeated out of Psalms 45:4 in the echo-like and interlinked style that we frequently find in the songs of degrees, e.g., Psalms 121:1-Exodus :; and in fact repeated as an accusative of more exact definition (in the same bold manner as in Psalms 17:13-2 Chronicles :) to צלח , which, like Arab. ṣlḥ , starting from the primary notion of cleaving, breaking through, pressing forward, comes to have the notion of carrying anything through prosperously, of being successful, pervadere et bene procedere (cf. the corresponding development of signification in Arab. flḥ , 'flḥ ), and, according to Ges. §142, rem. 1, gives to רכב the adverbial notion of that which is effectual (victorious) or effective and successful. We cannot determine whether רכב is here intended to say vehi curru or vehi equo ; but certainly not upon a mule or an ass (1 Kings 1:33; Zechariah 9:9), which are the beasts ridden in a time of peace. The king going forth to battle either rides in a war-chariot (like Ahab and Jehoshaphat, 1 Kings 22), or upon a war-horse, as in Revelation 19:11 the Logos of God is borne upon a white horse. That which he is to accomplish as he rides forth in majesty is introduced by על־דּבר (for the sake of, on account of), which is used just as in Psalms 79:9, 2 Samuel 18:5. The combination ענוה־צדק - is very similar to עריה־בשׁת , Micah 1:11 (nakedness - ignominy = ignominious nakedness), if ענוה ענוה is to be taken as the name of a virtue. The two words are then the names of virtues, like אמת (truth = veracity, which loves and practises that which is true and which is hostile to lying, falseness, and dissimulation); and whereas צדק ענוה would signify meek righteousness, and צדק ענות , righteousness meekness, this conjunction standing in the middle between an addition and an asyndeton denotes meekness and righteousness as twin-sisters and reciprocally pervasive. The virtues named, however, stand for those who exemplify them and who are in need of help, on whose behalf the king is called upon to enter the strife: the righteous, if they are at the same time ענוים עניּים ) , are doubly worthy and in need of his help. Nevertheless another explanation of ענוה presents itself, and one that is all the more probable as occurring just in this Psalm which has such a North-Palestinian colouring. The observation, that North-Palestinian writers do not always point the construct state with ath , in favour of which Hitzig, on Psalms 68:29, wrongly appeals to Hosea 10:6; Job 39:13, but rightly to Judges 7:8; Judges 8:32 (cf. Deuteronomy 33:4, Deuteronomy 33:27), is perfectly correct. Accordingly ענוה may possibly be equivalent to ענות , but not in the signification business, affair = ענין , parallel with דּבר , but in the signification afflictio (after the form ראוה , Ezekiel 28:17); so that it may be rendered: in order to put a stop to the oppression of righteousness or the suffering of innocence. The jussive ותורך , like ויתאו in Psalms 45:12, begins the apodosis of a hypothetical protasis that is virtually there (Ew. §347, b): so shall thy right hand teach thee, i.e., lead thee forth and cause thee to see terrible things, i.e., awe-inspiring deeds.
But in Psalms 45:6 both summons and desire pass over into the expression of a sure and hopeful prospect and a vision, in which that which is to be is present to the mind: thine arrows are sharpened, and therefore deadly to those whom they hit; peoples shall fall ( יפּלוּ )
(Note: It is not יפּלוּ ; for the pause falls upon שׁנוּנים , and the Athnach of יפלו stands merely in the place of Zekaph (Numbers 6:12). The Athnach after Olewejored does not produce any pausal effect; vid., Psalms 50:23; Psalms 68:9, Psalms 68:14; Psalms 69:4; Psalms 129:1, and cf. supra, p. 56, note 2.)
under thee, i.e., so that thou passest over them as they lie upon the ground; in the heart of the enemies of the king, viz., they (i.e., the arrows) will stick. The harsh ellipse is explained by the fact of the poet having the scene of battle before his mind as though he were an eye-witness of it. The words “in the heart of the king's enemies” are an exclamation accompanied by a pointing with the finger. Thither, he means to say, those sharp arrows fly and smite. Crusius' explanation is similar, but it goes further than is required: apostrophe per prosopopaeiam directa ad sagittas quasi jubens, quo tendere debeant . We are here reminded of Psalms 110:2, where a similar בּקרב occurs in a prophetico-messianic connection. Moreover, even according to its reference to contemporary history the whole of this strophe sounds Messianic. The poet desires that the king whom he celebrates may rule and triumph after the manner of the Messiah; that he may succour truth and that which is truly good, and overcome the enmity of the world, or, as Psalms 2:1-2 Kings : expresses it, that the God-anointed King of Zion may shatter everything that rises up in opposition with an iron sceptre. This anointed One, however, is not only the Son of David, but also of God. He is called absolutely בּר , ὁ υἱὸς . Isaiah calls Him, even in the cradle, אל גּבּור , Isaiah 9:5, cf. Isaiah 10:21. We shall not, therefore, find it to be altogether intolerable, if the poet now addresses him as אלהים , although the picture thus far sketched is thoroughly human in all its ideality.
(Heb.: 45:7-8) In order to avoid the addressing of the king with the word Elohim, Psalms 45:6 has been interpreted, (1) “Thy throne of God is for ever and ever,”, - a rendering which is grammatically possible, and, if it were intended to be expressed, must have been expressed thus (Nagelsbach, §64, g); (2) “Thy throne is God (= divine) for ever and ever;” but it cannot possibly be so expressed after the analogy of “the altar of wood = wooden” (cf. Psalms 45:9), or “the time is showers of rain = rainy” (Ezra 10:13), since God is neither the substance of the throne, nor can the throne itself be regarded as a representation or figure of God: in this case the predicative Elohim would require to be taken as a genitive for אלהים כּסּא , which, however, cannot possibly be supported in Hebrew by any syntax, not even by 2 Kings 23:17, cf. Ges. §110, 2, b. Accordingly one might adopt the first mode of interpretation, which is also commended by the fact that the earthly throne of the theocratic king is actually called יהוה כסא in 1 Chronicles 29:23. But the sentence “thy throne of God is an everlasting one” sounds tautological, inasmuch as that which the predicate asserts is already implied in the subject; and we have still first of all to try whether אלהים cannot, with the lxx ὁ θρόνος σου, ὁ Θεὸς, εἰς αἰῶνα αἰῶνος , be taken as a vocative. Now, since before everything else God's throne is eternal (Psalms 10:16; Lamentations 5:19), and a love of righteousness and a hatred of evil is also found elsewhere as a description of divine holiness (Psalms 5:5; Psalms 61:8), אלהים would be obliged to be regarded as addressed to God, if language addressed to the king did not follow with על־כּן . But might אלהים by any possibility be even addressed to the king who is here celebrated? It is certainly true that the custom with the Elohim-Psalms of using Elohim as of equal dignity with Jahve is not favourable to this supposition; but the following surpassing of the אלהים by אלהים אלהיך renders it possible. And since elsewhere earthly authorities are also called אלהים , Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7., Psalms 82:1-Ruth :, cf. Psalms 138:1, because they are God's representatives and the bearers of His image upon earth, so the king who is celebrated in this Psalm may be all the more readily styled Elohim, when in his heavenly beauty, his irresistible doxa or glory, and his divine holiness, he seems to the psalmist to be the perfected realization of the close relationship in which God has set David and his seed to Himself. He calls him אלהים , just as Isaiah calls the exalted royal child whom he exultingly salutes in Psalms 9:1-Joshua :, אל־גּבּור . He gives him this name, because in the transparent exterior of his fair humanity he sees the glory and holiness of God as having attained a salutary of merciful conspicuousness among men. At the same time, however, he guards this calling of the king by the name Elohim against being misapprehended by immediately distinguishing the God, who stands above him, from the divine king by the words “Elohim, thy God,” which, in the Korahitic Psalms, and in the Elohimic Psalms in general, is equivalent to Jahve, thy God” (Psalms 43:4; 48:15; Psalms 50:7); and the two words are accordingly united by Munach.
(Note: The view that the Munach is here vicarius Tiphchae anterioris (Dachselt in his Biblia Accentuata) is erroneous, vid., Accentuationssystem, xviii. §4. It is the conjunctive to אלהיך , which, in Heidenheim and Baer, on the authority of the Codices, has Tiphcha anterior, not Athnach as in the editions heretofore published. The proper place for the Athnach would at first be by שׁשׁון ; but according to Accentuationssystem, xix. §6, it cannot stand there.)
Because the king's sceptre is a “sceptre of uprightness” (cf. Isaiah 11:4), because he loves righteousness and consequently ( fut. consec.) hates iniquity, therefore God, his God, has anointed him with the oil of joy (Isaiah 61:3; cf. on the construction Amos 6:6) above his fellows. What is intended is not the anointing to his office (cf. Psalms 89:21 with Acts 10:38) as a dedication to a happy and prosperous reign, but that God has poured forth upon him, more especially on this his nuptial day, a superabundant joy, both outwardly and in his spirit, such as He has bestowed upon no other king upon the face of the earth. That he rises high above all those round about him is self-evident; but even among his fellows of royal station, kings like himself, he has no equal. It is a matter of question whether the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:8) has taken the first ὁ Θεὸς of the expression ὁ Θεὸς ὁ Θεὸς σου as a vocative. Apollinaris does not seem so to have understood him; for he renders it τοὔνεκά σοι Θεὸς αὐτὸς ἑὴν περίχηευεν ἀλοιφήν χηρίσας τερπωλῆς μετόχηοις παρὰ πάντας ἐλαίῳ , and the Greek expositors also take ὁ Θεὸς here as a nominative.
(Heb.: 45:9-10) The song of that which is lovely here reaches the height towards which it aspires from the beginning. It has portrayed the lovely king as a man, as a hero, and as a divine ruler; now it describes him as a bridegroom on the day of his nuptials. The sequence of the thoughts and of the figures corresponds to the history of the future. When Babylon is fallen, and the hero riding upon a white horse, upon whom is inscribed the name “King of kings and Lord of lords,” shall have smitten the hostile nations with the sword that goeth out of His mouth, there then follows the marriage of the Lamb, for which the way has been prepared by these avenging victories (Revelation 19:7.). It is this final ga'mos which the Psalm, as a song of the congregation, when the light was dawning upon the Old Testament church, sees by anticipation, and as it were goes forth to meet it, rejoicing to behold it afar off. The king's garments are so thoroughly scented with costly spices that they seem to be altogether woven out of them. And מנּי out of the ivory palaces enchant him. This מנּי has been taken mostly, according to Isaiah 59:18 (cf. also Isaiah 52:6), as a repetition of the מן : “out of ivory palaces, whence they enchant thee.” But this repetition serves no special purpose. Although the apocopated plural in ı̂ , instead of ı̂m , is controvertible in Biblical Hebrew (vid., on Psalms 22:17; 2 Samuel 22:44), still there is the venture that in this instance מנּי is equivalent to מנּים , the music of stringed instruments (Psalms 150:4); and if in connection with any Psalm at all, surely we may venture in connection with this Psalm, which in other respects has such an Aramaic or North-Palestinian colouring, to acknowledge this apocope, here perhaps chosen on account of the rhythm. In accordance with our historical rendering of the Psalm, by the ivory palaces are meant the magnificent residences of the king, who is the father of the bride. Out of the inner recesses of these halls, inlaid within with ivory and consequently resplendent with the most dazzling whiteness, the bridegroom going to fetch his bride, as he approaches and enters them, is met by the sounds of festive music: viewed in the light of the New Testament, it is that music of citherns or harps which the seer (Revelation 14:2) heard like the voice of many waters and of mighty thunder resounding from heaven. The Old Testament poet imagines to himself a royal citadel that in its earthly splendour far surpasses that of David and of Solomon. Thence issues forth the sound of festive music zealous, as it were, to bid its welcome to the exalted king.
Even the daughters of kings are among his precious ones. יקר is the name for that which is costly, and is highly prized and loved for its costliness (Proverbs 6:26). The form בּיקּרותיך resembles the form ליקּהת , Proverbs 30:17, in the appearance of the i and supplanting the Sheba mobile, and also in the Dag. dirimens in the ק (cf. עקּבי , Genesis 49:17; מקּדשׁ , Exodus 15:17).
(Note: It is the reading of Ben-Naphtali that has here, as an exception, become the receptus ; whereas Ben-Asher reads בּיקּרותיך . Saadia, Rashi, Simson ha-Nakdan and others, who derive the word from בּקּר (to visit, wait on), follow the receptus , comparing משׁיסּה , Isaiah 42:24, in support of the form of writing. Also in ליקּהת , Proverbs 30:17; ויללת , Jeremiah 25:36; כּיתרון , Ecclesiastes 2:13, the otherwise rejected orthography of Ben-Naphtali (who pointed ויחלּוּ , Job 29:21, לישׂראל ויתּן , and the like) is retained, as quite an exception, in the textus receptus . Vide S. D. Luzzatto, Prolegomeni, §cxcix., and Grammatica della Lingua Ebraica, §193.)
Now, however, he has chosen for himself his own proper wife, who is here called by a name commonly used of Chaldaean and Persian queens, and, as it seems (cf. on Judges 5:30), a North-Palestinian name, שׁגל ,
(Note: Bar-Ali says that in Babylonia Venus is called ודלפת שגל , vid., Lagarde, Gesammelte Abhandl. S. 17. Windischmann ( Zoroastrische Studien, S. 161) erroneously compares ćagar (pronounced tshagar ) as a name of one of the two wives of Zarathustra; but it happens that this is not the name of the wife who holds the first rank (Neo-Persic padishāh - zen ), but of the second ( ćakir - zen , bond-woman).)
instead of גּבירה . From the fact that, glittering with gold of Ophir, she has taken the place of honour at the right hand of the king ( נצּבה , 3rd praet., not part.), it is evident that her relationship to the king is at this time just in the act of being completed. Who are those daughters of kings and who is this queen standing in closest relationship to the king? The former are the heathen nations converted to Christ, and the latter is the Israel which is remarried to God in Christ, after the fulness of the heathen is come in. It is only when Israel is won to Him, after the fulness of the heathen is come in (Romans 11:25), that the morning of the great day will dawn, which this Psalm as a song of the church celebrates. בּנות מלכים cannot certainly, like בּת־צר , be a personificative designation of heathen kingdoms, although שׁגל is the believing Israel conceived of as one person. It is actually kings' daughters as the representatives of their nations that are intended; and the relation of things is just the same here as in Isaiah 49:23, where, of the Israelitish church of the future, it is predicted that kings shall be its foster-fathers and their princesses its nursing-mothers.
(Heb.: 45:11-13) The poet next turns to address the one bride of the king, who is now honoured far above the kings' daughters. With שׁמעי he implores for himself a hearing; by ראי yb ;gni he directs her eye towards the new relationship into which she is just entering; by הטּי אזנך he bespeaks her attention to the exhortation that follows; by בּת he puts himself in a position in relation to her similar to that which the teacher and preacher occupies who addresses the bridal pair at the altar. She is to forget her people and her father's house, to sever her natural, inherited, and customary relationships of life, both as regards outward form and inward affections; and should the king desire her beauty, to which he has a right, - for he, as being her husband (1 Peter 3:6), and more especially as being king, is her lord, - she is to show towards him her profoundest, reverent devotion. ויתאו is a hypothetical protasis according to Ges. §128, 2, c. The reward of this willing submission is the universal homage of the nations. It cannot be denied on the ground of syntax that וּבת־צר admits of being rendered “and O daughter of Tyre” (Hitzig), - a rendering which would also give additional support to our historical interpretation of the Psalm, - although, apart from the one insecure passage, Jeremiah 20:12 (Ew. §340, c), there is no instance to be found in which a vocative with ו occurs (Proverbs 8:5; Joel 2:23; Isaiah 44:21), when another vocative has not already preceded it. But to what purpose would be, in this particular instance, this apostrophe with the words בּת־צר , from which it looks as though she were indebted to her ancestral house, and not to the king whose own she is become, for the acts of homage which are prospectively set before her? Such, however, is not the case; “daughter of Tyre” is a subject-notion, which can all the more readily be followed by the predicate in the plural, since it stands first almost like a nomin. absol. The daughter, i.e., the population of Tyre - approaching with presents shall they court (lit., stroke) thy face, i.e., meeting thee bringing love, they shall seek to propitiate thy love towards themselves. ( פּני חלּה corresponds to the Latin mulcere in the sense of delenire ; for חלה , Arab. ḥlâ (root חל , whence חלל , Arab. ḥll , solvit, laxavit), means properly to be soft and tender, of taste to be sweet (in another direction: to be lax, weak, sick); the Piel consequently means to soften, conciliate, to make gentle that which is austere. Tyre, however, is named only by way of example; עשׁירי עם is not an apposition, but a continuation of the subject: not only Tyre, but in general those who are the richest among each separate people or nation. Just as אביוני אדם (Isaiah 29:19) are the poorest of mankind, so עשׁירי עם are the richest among the peoples of the earth.
As regards the meaning which the congregation or church has to assign to the whole passage, the correct paraphrase of the words “and forget thy people” is to be found even in the Targum: “Forget the evil deeds of the ungodly among thy people, and the house of the idols which thou hast served in the house of thy father.” It is not indeed the hardened mass of Israel which enters into such a loving relationship to God and to His Christ, but, as prophecy from Deut. 32 onward declares, a remnant thoroughly purged by desolating and sifting judgments and rescued, which, in order to belong wholly to Christ, and to become the holy seed of a better future (Isaiah 6:13), must cut asunder all bonds of connection with the stiff-neckedly unbelieving people and paternal house, and in like manner to Abram secede from them. This church of the future is fair; for she is expiated (Deuteronomy 32:43), washed (Isaiah 4:4), and adorned (Isaiah 61:3) by her God. And if she does homage to Him, without looking back, He not only remains her own, but in Him everything that is glorious belonging to the world also becomes her own. Highly honoured by the King of kings, she is the queen among the daughters of kings, to whom Tyre and the richest among peoples of every order are zealous to express their loving and joyful recognition. Very similar language to that used here of the favoured church of the Messiah is used in Psalms 72:10. of the Messiah Himself.
(Heb.: 45:14-16) Now follows the description of the manner in which she absolutely leaves her father's house, and richly adorned and with a numerous train is led to the king and makes her entry into his palace; and in connection therewith we must bear in mind that the poet combines on the canvas of one picture (so to speak) things that lie wide apart both as to time and place. He sees her first of all in her own chamber ( פּנימה , prop. towards the inside, then also in the inside, Ges. §90, 2, b), and how there
(Note: In Babylonia these words, according to B. Jebamoth 77 a, are cited in favour of domesticity as a female virtue; in Palestine ( במערבא ), more appropriately, Genesis 18:9. The lxx Codd. Vat. et Sinait. has Ἐσεβών (Eusebius), which is meaningless; Cod. Alex. correctly, ἔσωθεν (Italic, Jerome, Syriac, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Apollinaris).)
she is nothing but splendour ( כּל־כּבוּדּה , prop. mere splendour, fem. of כבוד as in Ezekiel 23:41; cf. כּל־הבל , Psalms 39:6, mere nothingness), her clothing is gold-interwoven textures (i.e., such as are interwoven with threads of gold, or woven in squares or diamond patterns and adorned with gold in addition). She, just like Esther (Esther 2:12), is being led to the king, her husband, and this takes place לרקמות , in variegated, embroidered garments ( ל used just as adverbially as in 2 Chronicles 20:21, להדרת ), with a retinue of virgins, her companions, who at the same time with herself become the property of her spouse. According to the accents it is to be rendered: virgines post eam, sociae ejus, adducuntur tibi , so that רעותיה is an apposition. This is also in harmony with the allegorical interpretation of the Psalm as a song of the church. The bride of the Lamb, whom the writer of the Apocalypse beheld, arrayed in shining white linen ( byssus), which denotes her righteousness, just as here the variegated, golden garments denote her glory, is not just one person nor even one church, but the church of Israel together with the churches of the Gentiles united by one common faith, which have taken a hearty and active part in the restoration of the daughter of Zion. The procession moves on with joy and rejoicing; it is the march of honour of the one chosen one and of the many chosen together with her, of her friends or companions; and to what purpose, is shown by the hopes which to the mind of the poet spring up out of the contemplation of this scene.
(Heb.: 45:17-18) All this has its first and most natural meaning in relation to contemporary history but without being at variance with the reference of the Psalm to the King Messiah, as used by the church. Just as the kings of Judah and of Israel allowed their sons to share in their dominion (2 Samuel 8:18; 1 Kings 4:7, cf. 2 Chronicles 11:23; 1 Kings 20:15), so out of the loving relationship of the daughter of Zion and of the virgins of her train to the King Messiah there spring up children, to whom the regal glory of the house of David which culminates in Him is transferred, - a royal race among which He divides the dominion of the earth (vid., Psalms 149:1-1 Samuel :); for He makes His own people “kings and priests, and they shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). Those children are to be understood here which, according to Psalms 110:1-Judges :, are born to Him as the dew out of the womb of the morning's dawn - the every-youthful nation, by which He conquers and rules the world. When, therefore, the poet says that he will remember the name of the king throughout all generations, this is based upon the twofold assumption, that he regards himself as a member of an imperishable church (Sir. 37:25), and that he regards the king as a person worthy to be praised by the church of every age. Elsewhere Jahve's praise is called a praise that lives through all generations (Psalms 102:13; Psalms 135:13); here the king is the object of the everlasting praise of the church, and, beginning with the church, of the nations also. First of all Israel, whom the psalmist represents, is called upon to declare with praise the name of the Messiah from generation to generation. But it does not rest with Israel alone. The nations are thereby roused up to do the same thing. The end of the covenant history is that Israel and the nations together praise this love-worthy, heroic, and divine King: “His name shall endure for ever; as long as the sun shall His name bud, and all nations shall be blessed in Him (and) shall praise Him” (Psalms 72:17).
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Psalms 45". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17