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To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A song of loves
1 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.
2 Thou art fairer than the children of men:
Grace is poured into thy lips:
Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty,
With thy glory and thy majesty.
4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously,
Because of truth and meekness and righteousness:
And thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
5 Thine arrows are sharp
In the heart of the King’s enemies;
Whereby the people fall under thee.
6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:
The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness:
Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee
With the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,
Out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
9 Kings’ daughters were among thy honorable women:
Upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear;
Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;
11 So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty:
For he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.
12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift;
Even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour.
13 The King’s daughter is all glorious within:
Her clothing is of wrought gold.
14 She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework:
The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.
15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought:
They shall enter into the King’s palace.
16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children,
Whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.
17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations:
Therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Contents and Composition. In regard to the Title, see Introduction § 12, 13; § 8, 3; § 2. After a preface Psalms 45:2-3 in which are expressed both the elevated feelings of the poet, and the dedication to the king, of his song, so remarkable for its contents and structure, he begins, in a direct address to him, the praises of the king, his beauty, his grace, and the permanent blessing of God resulting therefrom. He then (Psalms 45:4-6) calls upon Him to arise in his royal majesty and might, which in the struggle for truth and righteousness, must ever be victorious. This promise of victory, in which the call to contest is implied, is in (Psalms 45:7-8), connected with the theocratic position of the king, and in consequence of this, there is vouchsafed to him a divine blessing, a greater fulness of joy than falls to the lot of other rulers. The description of his royal possessions and joys, naturally comes in here (Psalms 45:9-10), and prominent among these is the Bride standing on his right hand. This consort of the king (Psalms 45:11-13), is exhorted, in a paternal manner, to forget her home, to devote herself to the king as her Spouse and Lord, and to think of the advantages, she will thereby secure. In the midst of the description that immediately follows, of the queen as attended by her maidens and introduced to the king, there is a direct address to the king himself, and the promise is given that he shall have worthy descendants and everlasting glory (Psalms 45:17, 18). As in the preface, so in the song itself, the king in his glory and happiness is the special object of praise. But his relation to his consort introduced to him as his Bride is not here treated as simply one of the many happy circumstances of his life, as if the Psalm was only an ode to the king (De Wette); or as if it were merely a eulogy of the royal glory of Solomon (Hofmann). The references to a marriage come out, indeed, very prominently, yet it would limit it too much to regard it as merely a bridal song (Most comment, from Calvin to Hupfeld); yet the occasion of the ode must have been the nuptials of a king (Heng., Hitzig). Neither the marriage of the Syrian King Alexander to the daughter of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, in Ptolemais, recorded 1Ma 10:57, nor that of a Persian monarch (Rosen., De Wette) can be the one alluded to on account of the theocratic references in the Psalm. For the same reason we should not—as often happens in historical exposition—treat that Messianic idea of it which prevailed both in the Synagogue and in the Christian church, merely as an allegorical paraphrase made by a later age, whereby a song originally belonging to profane literature, obtained a place in the sacred canon, and was used in congregational worship. Such an allegorical paraphrase is necessary only when this Messianic conception is a direct one, (Chald., Kim., Geier, and most older Commentators, more recently Heng., and Bohl),—a paraphrase which regards this Psalm as having reference to the spiritual nuptials of the Messiah with the Jewish people, and such Gentile nations as were united with them. But this view of it is self-contradictory, and is consistent neither with the text nor with history (Kurtz). It, however, makes little difference whether we regard this poetico-prophetic description of the Messianic condition of things under the figure of nuptial relations, as an independent conception, or seek for its historic ground in the marriage of some Israelitish monarch. In either case, the main point is this, that the Bride is a Gentile princess. But how could she, in the Old Testament, represent God’s people Israel? And, how could her maiden companions who are brought with her before the king, symbolize those Gentile nations that are united with Israel and converted to the heavenly King, even if we understand this introduction to the king as meaning his marriage with all these virgins? Or perhaps these metaphors may be a prediction that the “fulness of the Gentiles shall enter the kingdom of God.” If so, there would be no allusion to the full conversion of Israel, since according to Romans 11:27, this is to follow the conversion of the Gentiles. We must, therefore, regard the covenant people among the queens who are already in the king’s palace, when she who is to be the first consort makes her entrance. Who then is meant by this Bride? And how can we reconcile what is here said of her, with other prophetic and historic accounts of Israel’s relation to Jehovah, and to the Gentile nations? The New Testament images of the marriage of the King’s son, and of the Lamb cast no light upon this point; for this last named marriage is the conclusion of the entire historical development of the union thus symbolized, and which reaches into eternity. But the text refers us to a history which was still in progress. We may add that a free use of the other parables and symbols bearing upon this subject is equally inadmissible. Such a use of them would be allowable if we occupied the standpoint of the completed relation of the New Testament on this head, because it refers not only to Jehovah’s marriage with His covenant people, but to Christ’s relation to His Church which is composed of Gentiles and Jews. In the Old Testament, however, the future union of Jehovah with the Gentiles, and the union of Messiah with them and with Israel, is never set forth under the figure of a marriage contract. And the New Testament when it employs this figure, never uses the expressions of this Psalm. The Psalm is quoted in the New Testament as a Messianic one,—a view of it which the Sept. and Chald. show had long obtained,—but it is quoted Hebrews 1:0 not in connection with any marriage of Messiah, but to exhibit His theocratic position and purposes. Now all this is overlooked by those who consider this marriage of the King as a type of Christ’s union with His Church (Calvin, Clericus, Ven. Stier, and in part Del.). Most of these expositors pass from the typical to the directly Messianic view, by assuming, that Messiah is spoken of sub figura Salomonis. But we maintain that this Psalm speaks of an actual historical event, because it makes that event the occasion of its praising the king, and because it purposely uses expressions which show that he is not only a member of the royal house of David, but that he is also to carry out a definite Messianic prediction, and to be the instrument of its historic fulfilment. In this view of it we can understand how this person would, in the history of Redemption, hold the place of a type for the later Church,—a type having a prophetico-messianic sense, which is really in the original text, and which a proper translation would bring out (see the Exposition.)—Hence we cannot suppose that the marriage of Ahab and Jezebel of Sidon (Hitzig), nor that of Joram the son of Jehosaphat and Athalijah (Del.) was the historical origin of this Psalm. The best view is that which connects it with the marriage of Solomon, not to an unknown Tyrian princess (Hupfeld), but to the daughter of the king of Egypt, 1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 9:24 (Calvin, Grotius, and most others). Since the historical references in the Psalm itself are by no means decisive, as the exegesis will show, the internal grounds appear to be all the more weighty. These, however, do not oblige us to regard David as the author of the Psalm (Böhl), who is supposed to have given it to the Korahites for use in public worship. There is no ground for referring it to the early days of Jeroboam II. (Ewald).
Psalms 45:1. My heart is inditing.—The Heb. word (רָהַשּׁ) occurs only here, and signifies to “boil up or over.” It denotes either the ebullition of the full heart in a way analogous to the motion of boiling water (Symm., Calvin, J. H. Mich., and many others, on account of the noun, Exodus 2:7; Exodus 7:9), or the outflow of speech like that of a stream from a fountain, (Sept., Syr., Jerome). The translation “to” instead of “of” seems to point to the latter sense. In the Hebrew we have the accusative, which in the latter case must be taken as the productive accusative, while in the former, in the way usual with redundant verbs, Psalms 119:121. The “good word,” (or good matter) is so not simply in form, i. e., a fine speech, nor is it exactly a Messianic word, Isaiah 52:7; Jeremiah 33:14; Zechariah 1:13, but one “most excellent,” both in structure and contents, conveying the idea of one who is congratulating another, Jeremiah 29:10.—All the older translators take the first and second verses as one sentence, but the authors of the Heb. accents divide them into two. The participle is placed first, because the emphasis is on the “speaking;” but the person speaking is also emphasized, because of the sublime consciousness that his poem is intended for a king. If we take מַעְשַׁיַ as a plural, denoting heart and tongue, “works” (Hengstenberg) are not to be included, as if the Psalmist had vowed to devote all that he did to the service of the king; nor are the later poems of David so designated,—those which the aged king connects with Solomon, and the Messiah as represented by him, (Böhl); but they are rather to be viewed as poetical productions of the speaker (Del.), with no special reference in the thoughts or the verses (De Wette). Still, as the song in question is the Psalm before us, it seems to be proper to adopt the singular form of the word as in Job 35:10; Numbers 20:19, whether we translate it “my doing,” 1 Samuel 19:4 (Hitzig), or “my poem” (Hupfeld), like the Ποίημα of Symm. We prefer the more general term “work,” thus also preserving the substantive form of the word. The translation to “a king” is in sense and structure more exactly according to the text than the equally possible one of to “the king.” In the latter case the word with the article may be treated like a proper name. The version, “I speak (or sing) my song to the king” (Hupf.), follows the older translations. But there is no reason for connecting these words with the previous line, “my heart boils over, I am speaking a good word” (Böttcher). As the tongue utters that of which the heart is full, and as the heart is here represented as being in a state of great excitement, as it were, boiling over, the meaning of Psalms 45:2 rather is, the unobstructed gliding along of a pen in the hand of a ready writer (Sept., Cal., Geier, Heng., Hup., Del.), than the beautiful display of the skilful writer (Hitzig and others), although the sense of “expert,” “skilful,” is not only sustained by the cognate dialects, but by Ezra 7:6, and perhaps by Isaiah 16:5; Proverbs 22:29. [Alexander: Although particular expressions in this verse may be obscure, its general import is entirely unambiguous, as an animated declaration of the writer’s purpose, and a preface to his praise of the Messiah.”—J. F.]
Psalms 45:2. Thou art fairer,etc.—The passive form of the Hebrew word is unusual, and is variously explained. It is certainly intended to present a pictorial climax of the idea of that beauty with which the king is so pre-eminently endowed. Elsewhere prominence is given to the physical beauty of individuals, e. g., Saul, David, Absalom (1Sa 9:2; 1 Samuel 10:23; 1 Samuel 16:12; 2 Samuel 14:25), and “grace playing around the lips” is quite as significant as the expression of the eye. But can such traits in themselves (comp. Proverbs 30:31) be the ground of a Divine blessing, or, as in this place, the ground of a blessing of eternal duration? Expositors deny that they can be. But how can they help themselves? Some (Calvin, Stier and others) take “therefore” in the sense of “because,” thus making these features the consequence of the blessing; but the usus loquendi will not admit of this. Others (Heng., Kurz) say that the “fairness” is a symbol and reflection of spiritual perfection, a manifestation of mental and moral beauty. But the text neither speaks of this last, nor of that absolute moral conduct, which is necessary to make this expression of inward beauty the ground of a blessing. For even if we take Psalms 45:3 in the sense of gracious speech (see Isaiah 50:4; Luke 4:22), we must not overlook the fact that the text presents this graciousness as a Divine gift, perhaps as an unction, and that the idea of absoluteness or independence is still wanting, even if we render it “because thy lips overflow with gracious, loving words” (Böhl), therefore, etc. As little does it satisfy us to be told that one gift draws after it the other—that we must not press the nexus causalis (Hupfeld)—or assume that “therefore” indicates the foundation, not of the blessing itself, but of the consciousness of it (Del.).—I therefore emphasize “beauty,” as meaning not only that it is given by God, but also that it is of a superhuman kind. Such an endowment betokens a grand and peculiar destiny,—it intimates that God not only will bless such a king (De Wette), but that he has already blessed him in this way, viz., that on account of this endowment He has appointed him to be the mediator who is to convey and give effect to that blessing of Abraham and David which is eternal in its duration and strength, and which makes those blessed, who with him and like him are blessing others. Thus the difficulty is removed—the connection of the passage with Psalms 45:7 and its Messianic meaning become the clearer. [Perowne:Therefore, i. e., beholding this beauty and this grace, do I conclude that God hath blessed thee forever.—Alexander: The first word in Hebrew is a reduplicated form, expressing the idea with intensity and emphasis. Grace, in Hebrew as in English, denotes both a cause and an effect; in this case, grace or beauty of expression, produced by Divine grace or favor, and tending reciprocally to increase it. On any hypothesis, except the Messianic one, this verse is unintelligible.—J. F.]
Psalms 45:3-4. Gird thy sword.—This verse can be used to show that there is here no reference to Solomon, only by forgetting that both Gideon and David (Judges 6:12; 1 Samuel 16:18) were styled Gibbor (Mighty One), before they had accomplished any warlike deeds; or by supposing that in this passage the king is simply called upon to prepare for a war, in which victory is promised him (De Wette); or by denying that there is here, in a poetic form, a description of the king’s readiness for war, and the certainty of his victorious career (Cal., Rosen., Hup.). This description is not simply a suitable close to that of the beauty of the royal bridegroom, in an ode to him (Hup., Hitzig), and which in no way depends upon the question whether he has already manifested or ever shall manifest these martial qualities, but it strikingly brings before us the circumstances which surround the king, who has received from God a theocratic position and task, which he is to maintain and execute in the world. He must be equipped for conflict, and certain of victory. The terms “majesty and glory” are only weakened by the translation “ornament and adornment” (De Wette), as if they were epithets of the sword. They are rather descriptive of that radiant splendor of majesty, that Doxa, which (calling for praise and revealing His glory) beams around the heavenly (Psalms 96:6; Psalms 104:1; Psalms 111:3; Job 11:10) and the theocratic king (Psalms 21:6; Psalms 8:6). These words, therefore, are not in apposition to the “sword,” as the symbol of majesty (Heng., Hupfeld), but they indicate with what the king should gird himself, beside the sword. A similar image is used in Psalms 30:12; Psalms 132:9; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13.—The word that follows וַהַדָרִךָ, which is the echo of what precedes, and is linked to it like the notes in a musical scale (Maurer, Böhl), cannot possibly be taken as simply strengthening it, as if the sense was—“yes, thy ornament is really thy ornament” (De Wette); nor can it be grammatically rendered “in thy ornament,” as most expositors do. Or, if we regard it as a nominative absolute (Hengsten.), or as the accusative to define more plainly the succeeding verb (Del.), the otherwise rapid movement of the Psalm would be checked and crippled (Hitzig). It is therefore, on critical grounds, suspicious. But as the word is found in all the older versions, its absence from Codd. 39, 73, Kennicott, proves nothing, and it is a mere assumption to say that it has been interpolated into the text by the repetition of the previous word (Olsh., Hup., Bött., Del.). By a change of the Hebrew points, Hitzig makes the word וַהַדרְך, which he renders “steps forth.” This is ingenious, but the Septuagint and Vulgate while following this reading, have translated the word “bend,” i. e., the bow. We should find here following the verb an accusative of the object, if the sense was “to take aim” (Ewald). Other later commentators maintain that the fundamental idea is “break through,” which, when applied to plants, has the sense of prosperare, and being by ancient expositors erroneously applied to men, occasioned the inadmissible translation, “be happy.”—“Riding” refers to the use of the war-chariot, or of the battle-horse. The older critics (Kim., Calvin, Ven.) connect the following words closely with “upon the word of truth.” Others (Chald., Geier, Rosen.) understand al-debar as in Psalms 79:9; 2 Samuel 18:5, as indicating the object, of the combat, i. e., for the sake of the truth. Others (Luther, Mendelsohn, Hengstenberg) explain it, needlessly, as a metonomy for the representative of truth, i. e., “the truthful and the meek,” or “the oppressed and the righteous.” The same may be said of the explanation, “in matters, or in favor of truth and oppressed righteousness” (Böhl), or “oppression” (Del.); also, “for the sake of faithfulness (which maintained peace), and pious innocence” (Hitzig). It is, perhaps, more in accordance with the context and the use of language to interpret the passage as indicating the reason of the victorious riding forth of the theocratic king, which, however, is not his moral qualifications of fidelity, justice and meekness (Hupf., Camp.), on account of which he merits the victory, but God’s truth, meekness, and righteousness, by which this theocratic servant and Messianic representative is sent into the world-historic struggle, and is led to final triumph. The compound noun (an intermediate form between the construct and the absolute state) must not be resolved into two distinct ideas, placed side by side (De Wette), the original position of which may have been the reverse of what it now is (Olsh.),—a reading which is found in some codices. It is that “righteousness” whose germ is gentleness (Heng.), or, more precisely, “condescension,” as in Psalms 18:36, where God’s gentleness is spoken of; compare also Isaiah 11:4; Psalms 72:4; Jeremiah 2:3. The “hand,” the ordinary instrument of action, is here represented as a “teacher,” because by the performance of terrible deeds it reveals a power hitherto concealed, of which its possessor had not been conscious. [Alexander: The two words (honor—majesty) are constantly employed to denote the Divine majesty (Psalms 96:6; Psalms 104:1; Psalms 111:3), as distinguished from that of mortals (Job 40:10), or as bestowed upon them by special Divine favor. The first of the two is separately used to signify specifically royal dignity (1 Chronicles 29:25; Daniel 11:21).—Perowne: “Thy glory and thy majesty,” a second accusative not in apposition with “thy sword,” but dependent on the verb “gird on” in the first clause.—“Ride on prosperously,” lit., “make thy way, ride on,” the first verb being used adverbially, to add force to the other (Ges. § 142, Obadiah 1:1).—Alexander: “Thy right hand” as the seat of martial strength and aggressive action. “Shall girdle” or point the way, the proper meaning of the Hebrew verb, which, like other verbs expressing or implying motion, may be followed directly by a noun, where our idiom would require an intervening preposition.—The insensible transition from the imperative to the future shows that the former was really prophetic, and that the prayer of this and the preceding verse is only a disguised prediction of Messiah’s triumph, as one going forth conquering and to conquer.—J. F.]
Psalms 45:6-7. Thy throne.—“Thy God-throne.” This construction, which the slat. construct., through the suffix, separates from its genitive, is supported by Leviticus 6:3; Lev 26:42; 2 Samuel 22:23; Habakkuk 3:8; Jeremiah 33:20; Ezekiel 16:27; Psalms 35:19. And that the idea as thus expressed is in accordance with grammatical rule, is proved by 1 Chronicles 29:23, where the throne of the Davidic dynasty is plainly called “the throne of the Lord” (Jehovah). And it is based upon the theory that the king of Israel is designed to be the visible representative of the invisible Ruler to the covenant people (Hupf., Kurz). Jehovah sits upon His throne forever. His throne is from generation to generation, Lamentations 5:19. We cannot simply transfer this predicate to the personal dominion (Heng.) of the theocratic king, and so give the passage an immediate Messianic reference. But it might properly be transferred to his throne, after the prophecy in 2 Samuel 7:13 had been promulged; compare Psalms 89:5. (Hupfeld erroneously adds Psalms 21:5; Psalms 72:5). If it be objected on grammatical grounds that ôlam-va-çd is nowhere else used as a predicate, we may still render the clause “thy throne is a throne of God forever and ever” (Aben Ezra, Hitzig, Ewald). This is better than the rendering “thy throne is Elohim” (Doederlein). It is also hazardous to supply a possibly lost verb, and make Elohim the subject of the sentence—“Elohim has founded thy throne” (Olshausen). The old view of Elohim as a vocative (Stier, Heng., Del., Böhl) rests upon strong grammatical grounds, and warrants the direct Messianic exposition. But in the Korahitic Psalms, as also in the Chald., Targ., Elohim stands for Jehovah. This might induce us to regard the address as made to God Himself. But whether Elohim Elohicha is taken as Elohim in a vocative sense, or as corresponding to the usual Jehovah, the following verse proves that the address is to the king, and other statements show that not the Messianic but the theocratic king is meant. He, however, cannot be addressed as Elohim—Jehovah. Such an address would involve a sense very different from that in which Elohim is applied to kings as the representatives of God on earth (Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6); compare John 10:35, especially in their judicial character (Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:7; Psalms 138:1). Hence Hebrews 1:8, where the Greek text has the vocative, may properly be quoted in proof of the divinity of the person addressed. Nor is there in this any difficulty in regard to the Messiah. According to Isaiah 9:5, He shall be called El Gibbor (the Mighty One)—a name often applied in the Old Testament to Jehovah; and in Jeremiah 23:6 he is styled Jehovah Zidkenu (the Lord our righteousness). This designation, the dogmatic importance of which is unjustly denied by Hupfeld, is historically vindicated by the fact that, in connection with it, mention is always made of a descendant of David,—so that finally David’s house shall be as Elohim, as Maleach Jehovah—“the angel of Jehovah, or the angel Jehovah” (Zechariah 12:8). The contents of this Psalm, however, show that Messiah is not directly addressed. Nor has the anointing mentioned in this place any relation to his name. The question here is not about the consecration of the king, as he enters upon the functions of his government, nor of his being replenished with the Holy Spirit, of which the anointing with oil was the symbol; but this last is here used as the symbol of joy, Isaiah 61:3; Psalms 23:5; Psalms 104:15. It does not precede his righteous administration as its source, but follows it, as its final, abundant, and Divine reward. Isaiah 61:8; Psalms 5:5. It is uncertain whether the phrase “thy fellows,” as in 2 Chronicles 1:12, is to be understood of other kings (as most expositors take it), or of the friends and companions of the bridegroom (Stier, Hupfeld).—[Perowne: “Thy throne, O God!” This rendering seems, at first sight, to be at variance with the first and historical application of the Psalm. I conclude, therefore, that in the use of such language the Psalmist was carried beyond himself, and that he was led to employ it by a two old conviction in his mind—the conviction that God was the King of Israel, combined with the conviction that the Messiah, the true King, who was to be in reality what others were but in figure, was the son of David.—Alexander: To avoid the obvious ascription of divinity contained in the first clause, two very forced constructions have been proposed: 1. Thy throne (is the throne of) God forever and ePsalm Psalms 45:2. Thy God throne (or Divine throne) is forever. But even admitting, what is very doubtful, that a few examples of this syntax occur elsewhere, the sense thus obtained is unsatisfactory and obscure,—and this is still more true of that afforded by the only obvious or natural construction besides the one first given, thy throne is God forever and ever.—Barnes:Thou lovest righteousness. The word “God” is rendered in the margin “O God, thy God hath anointed thee.” According to this construction, the thought would be carried on which is suggested in Psalms 45:6, of a direct address to the Messiah as God. This construction is not necessary, but it is the most obvious one.—J. F.]
Psalms 45:8-11. All thy garments smell of myrrh.—In the third word the vav is omitted as is often done in the enumeration of things of the same kind. (Deuteronomy 29:22). The nuptial garments are as thoroughly perfumed by these spices, as if they had been made of them. (Heng., Hup., Hitz.). Their costliness is increased by their having been brought from distant lands. Myrrh, a balm:—Cassia, a bark similar to cinnamon, from Southern Arabia; Aloes, for the purpose of fumigation, from India. The mention of ivory palaces might remind us of these countries, if we could refer the doubtful word Minnî to the Mynaeans in South Arabia, who according to Diod Siculus 3:47, had houses ornamented with ivory, or to the Armenians who were early celebrated for their commerce, Jeremiah 51:27. (Chald.); but we must then translate the following verse—“out of Armenia’s ivory palaces, king’s daughters make thee glad.” (J. D. Mich., Knapp, Muntinghe); or (according to more Ancient critics, Rosenmüller) “art made glad with presents.” In this case we must suppose a Persian king to be alluded to, (De Wette) because, according to Herodotus 3:93, to such kings, the Armenians were tributary. We might naturally think that these costly articles were obtained through the agency of traders, and we need not change the translation “palaces” into that of “chests” (Böhl) since Hêkal is generally taken in the sense of a capacious vessel (Sept., Kimchi, Vatablus, and others), just as Bottim is in Exodus 25:27; Exodus 36:29; Isaiah 3:20. But all this is far fetched. We are prepared to find here something notable in regard to the marriage of the king, and not a mere enumeration of his costly possessions. The latter idea would be possible only if the version were “in” ivory palaces. We might then consider Minnî as only a shortened form of Minnim i.e., strings, or stringed instruments Psalms 150:4. For though examples of such a defective plural are wanting, nearly all commentators since Sebastian Schmidt consider such a plural form as possible, and as in fact here used. But as the rendering “out of” cannot be avoided, it is also generally conceded that the allusion is not to the beauties of the royal palace into which the bride is led (Hup.), but to the palace of her father out of which a procession issues to greet the royal bridegroom (Maccab. 9:37; Proverbs 2:17, with the music usual on such occasions. In this view, it is useless to inquire whether Solomon had only a throne adorned with ivory (1 Kings 10:18); or also a tower of this sort (Song of Solomon 7:5); or even a palace, since it is plain from Amos 3:15, that there were several such houses in the kingdom of Israel, as well as the ivory beds mentioned Amos 6:4 (Hup.). It is equally needless to ask whether, because such a palace is not mentioned as having been the residence of Solomon, while Ahab is said to have had one (1 Kings 22:29), the reference is to this latter king (Hitzig), or to his daughter (Delitzsch). The plural does not indicate the various residences of the many brides here called “queens,” afterwards “companions,” and who are the types of the Gentiles (Heng.). It is simply intended to set forth in poetic form, the splendor of the palace into which the king, (who already has in his harem kings’ daughters, perhaps the daughters of neighbors (Kurtz) who though neither vanquished nor tributary princes (De Wette), were inferior to him,) now brings the principal consort, who takes the place of honor at his right hand (1 Kings 2:19) resplendent with gold of Ophir, the most precious kind of gold known in Jerusalem in David’s time. (1 Chronicles 29:4). Hence we do not favor the interpretation that once prevailed, based on the older versions, which regarded Minnî as a preposition with the Yod paragogic, in the sense of “out of them,” or to give emphasis to it, “out of it thou art made glad.” (Heng). The rendering “more than ivory palaces, yea more than they, art thou made glad by them” (Hofmann) gives an undue importance to the palaces as well as the garments. The same is true of the translation “a number of them i.e. more than one make thee glad.” (Bott.).—The title of the principal consort Shegal is used in Nehemiah 2:6, of a Persian, and in Daniel 5:2 of a Chaldean queen. But this is no certain proof that the Psalm belongs to a later period, for in Jer. 12:18; Jeremiah 29:24; 2 Chronicles 15:16, we find the usual and more comprehensive word Gebirah, “mistress” (applied also to the king’s mother) still in use, 1 Kings 11:19; 1 Kings 15:13. Nor can we admit the foreign origin of the word, for in its sense of “concubine” it is found in 1 Kings 5:30, and as a verb in Deuteronomy 28:30. The opinion of Bohl that the king’s daughters belonged to her retinue, and were clothed with ornaments presented by the king, founded upon the translation “Kings’ daughters go about in thy ornaments,” (Sept., Luth., many Ancient critics, Hofmann) is not confirmed by the text. The retinue of virgins (Psalms 45:14) holds a different position from that of the king’s daughters (Psalms 5:11). These already form part of the king’s “treasures.” (Bött., Hup.). They belong to his “dear ones,” i.e. his appreciated women, (the Rabbins, Calvin, and others, Del.), or his “little favorites and treasures” (Hitzig). We might also call them his “magnificent ones.” only that we must understand it in the sense of those who are “magnificently arrayed.”
[Perowne:King’s daughters. As polygamy had only the permission, not the sanction of God, it may seem strange that this should be mentioned as a feature in the splendor of the monarch. But polygamy was practiced by the best of kings; and the Psalmist is describing the magnificence of an Oriental court such as it actually existed before his eyes, not drawing a picture of what ought to be in a perfect state of things.—Alexander:Daughters of kings (are) among thy precious ones; stationed is the queen at thy right hand, in gold of Ophir. Precious, dear, not in the sense of beloved, which the Hebrew word never has, but in that of costly, valuable, which it always has. Stationed, not simply stands but placed there, as the post of honor.—Ophir, one of the places to which Solomon’s ships traded with the Phenicians (1 Kings 9:28; 1Ki 10:11; 2 Chronicles 8:18; 2 Chronicles 9:10). Its situation is disputed, and is of no exegetical importance.—J. F.].
Psalms 45:12. And the daughter of Tyre.—Most interpreters with the older versions explain this to mean the inhabitants of Tyre. In Isaiah 23:12, Tyre is personified as a daughter (the daughter of Zidon). Here the plural form of the verb which follows, brings out the idea of numbers, who are described as the richest among the people, while some suppose that they are the poor among the people mentioned in Isaiah 29:19. There is no mention of homage or tribute paid by the Tyrians to Israel, as there is no historic ground for supposing that such homage was ever rendered by them. It is simply declared that as a recompense for the Bride’s devotion to the king of Israel, he promised, that to gain her favor, the richest men, the neighboring Tyrians should bring her presents. A few critics (Jerome, Hitzig, Hupfeld) notwithstanding the “and” take the words in a vocative sense—“O daughter of Tyre!” But this would make the bride the daughter of a Tyrian king, to whom the rich men of the Israelitish nation should do homage by bringing presents to her. It is possible but by no means certain that this might become the basis for the historical interpretation. But even the common exposition involves so many grammatical difficulties, and such too is the structure of the verse, that a defect in the text is quite probable. (Camp.).
[Barnes:The daughter of Tyre. In the time of the Psalmist it was probably the most wealthy and luxurious commercial town then existing: and it is referred to here as meaning that persons of highest rank, and of the greatest riches, and those surrounded most by affluence and luxury, would come to honor the king. Even the daughter of the magnificent prince of Tyre would deem it an honor to be present with a gift becoming her exalted station. Even the rich, etc. The sense here is, the richest of the nations shall make court to thee with gifts.—J. F.].
Psalms 45:13-15. Within (Psalms 45:14,) i. e. the interior of the palace,—not that of her consort, seated upon the throne (Gesen.), but the palace of her father from whence, after the conclusion of the marriage and the exhortations and promises made to her, the festive procession goes to the residence of her spouse. The explanation of the term as denoting the internal disposition of the bride (Luth., J. H. Mich., Stier), with a reference to 1 Peter 3:3, has led to many typical and edifying applications. Certainly this sense suggests a more striking contrast with the splendor of her garments, than the supposed allusion to her personal beauty (Grot.). Hitzig translates 5:15, “upon cushions of many colors.”—The virgin companions who enter the palace at the same time with the newly married couple, with festive songs and dances are not bride’s maids, but belonged to the household of the young queen, and according to oriental custom, were upon her marriage transferred to the possession of the king. Of royal virgins, who are to be married to the king (J. H. Mich., Rosen, Heng.) there is no mention in the text. The benediction of their descendants, who should not only occupy the palace of their fathers, but resemble them in virtue, (Hupf.) may be rendered “princes in the whole land.” There is perhaps a reference to the fact that Solomon divided his kingdom into twelve governments. 1 Kings 4:7. David, before him had made his sons princely governors (1 Kings 22:26; Zephaniah 1:8), (Sarîm): and at a latter period, probably for a like reason Rehoboam placed his sons in charge of fortified cities (11:23). The larger view and application of these words as a prediction of the future spread of the Theocracy over all the earth is warranted by the promise that the name of this king shall be kept in the living remembrance of the Church through all generations, by her songs, and that through them, all people would come to know and forever praise him. (Psalms 72:17). This is not hyperbolical flattery (De Wette) but a promise due to the Theocratic king.
[Perowne:Gladness. Lit., “Joys,” the plural denoting fulness and manifoldness.
Psalms 45:16 and those immediately preceding are, to my mind, evidence sufficient that this Psalm cannot as a whole, be regarded as prophetical of the Messiah. It seems far wiser to me to acknowledge at once the mixed character of such Psalms as this. It does speak, no doubt, of One who is higher than the kings of the earth, but it does so under earthly images.—The sacred poet sees the earthly king and the human marriage before his eyes, but whilst he strikes his harp to celebrate these a vision of a higher glory streams in upon him. Thus the earthly and the heavenly mingle. Alexander:I will make thy name to be remembered. The Psalmist speaks as one in a long series of inspired heralds, and in behalf of all. The form of the festival implies fixed determination and involves a pledge.—J. F.].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. He who has a good message to deliver may well feel his heart swell with loving sympathy and grateful joy because God has chosen, called, and prepared him for such an errand. The depth of the sentiment will be proportioned to the dignity of the person to whom he is sent, and the importance of the message he has to deliver. But whoever may be the one addressed, if the message is important, its form of expression is not a matter of indifference;—the good word should have a good place.
2. If a man has superior endowments, he should consider them as a gift of God, and receive them as an ornament from the hand of God, bestowed upon him not that he may boast of them, or glorify himself, but that he may direct his life to the attainment of those ends for which God has chosen him, fitted him specially, and sent him into the world. The richer and more varied these gifts, and the higher the position in which God has placed him, the greater is his responsibility, and his obligation to regard himself as the servant of the Most High, and to use these advantages and blessings as the means of fitting himself to seek, that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, and that the kingdom of God through His abiding blessing, may overcome all the enemies it encounters in this world.
3. When princes adorn their persons with ornaments suited to their high rank, especially on festive occasions, they should do so not for the sake of vain glory, but, on the one hand, to command respect and admiration for the majesty of their office, and on the other, to lead the thoughts of men up to the eternal throne of God, from whom all blessings come, both to princes and their people. Of this throne, princely dignity and rank are an earthly image. By the effectual power and grace of God, all kingdoms are founded, princely dynasties become durable, and governments are stable. And the kingdom of God has been brought into this world, is kept in it, and extended over it, for the purpose of bringing high and low into its service.
4. Marriage as a divine ordinance is fraught with honor and joy, and even with a cross is blessed. As it introduces new relations, so it involves various new tasks and duties; and to these it is proper that the Christian pastor should call attention, in the way of exhortation and comfort, especially as it has been chosen to be a symbol and type of the mysterious union of God and His people, of Christ and the Church. But in dealing with it in this aspect we should not go beyond the example of the Scriptures.
5. Mutual conjugal devotion, involves, no doubt, many pains and sacrifices, but the love and obedience which are its essence, according to God’s promise, secure great blessings. Among these blessings are, the influence upon contemporaries, the preservation of the race by means of well trained children, and the leaving behind us a good name which may excite others to emulate us. But we must not forget that as the glory of the King in the kingdom of God infinitely surpasses all human glory, so no human name can be put upon a par with His. The Church is called upon to make a proper acknowledgment of His divine nature, dignity, and honor, to preserve the remembrance of His name through all generations, and by proclaiming it to the Gentiles to excite them to join in the same praises. Psalms 102:14; 135:31.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Out of the heart the mouth speaketh. See to it therefore what thy heart receives, and by what it is moved.—Remember from whom thou hast obtained thy beauty, for what purpose thy rank has been given thee, and for what end thy power is employed.—The highest point that any man can reach, is to become the recipient, the bearer and the producer of the divine blessing.—God’s love in the heart, God’s praises on the lips procure more than one happy hour.—If you would get a permanent blessing, you must follow the directions of God’s word, and seek His kingdom.—Pious and just kings deem it an honor to be called the servants of that God who has clothed them with majesty. Hail to the king who acknowledges that God is the giver of his crown, the strength of his throne, and the type of his government.—The ornament, calling, and aim of pious married people.—The honor, order and blessing of the matrimonial state.—Whoever in love, makes sacrifices, which he is bound in obedience to his calling to make, may hope for an abundant reward, according to the divine promise. More precious than gold is a happy marriage, and a family of well trained children. There are many names, renowned, blessed, and justly honored by the children of men; but there is only One name by which we can be saved. Its praises shall be sung in the church from generation to generation, and the knowledge of it shall extend unto the heathen, in order that it may be praised for ever and ever.—Ascending the throne by a king is, so to speak, solemnizing his marriage with his people.—The certainty of the glorious results accomplished by a king after God’s own heart, in his struggles for truth and righteousness.—He who proclaims the name of the Lord, prepares the way for his being praised by all the people.
Luther: Honored by thy bridegroom, thon art really honored before all the world.—This song can be truly comprehended only by faith; for it is God’s word, which unless taken hold of through faith, can be understood by no human being.—Mark this, whatever Christ has, He communicates to those who believe in Him.—The Lord Himself has adorned and endowed all who are betrothed to Him, and has given them that by which they are acceptable to Him.—Everything should be done in the service and for the honor of this King.—There may be a great difference among His people as regards gifts, but they are of one mind respecting the highest article of faith, viz., that they can be saved only through faith in Christ, and by no other way, or means.
Starke: Let heart and tongue have nothing to do with evil things, but rather with that word which God has revealed from heaven, and which is able to build up our souls unto salvation.—Personal beauty is a gift of God not to be despised, but the beauty of the soul, which consists of piety and other Christian virtues, is a far higher treasure.—To His own people, Christ is both a gracious Ruler and a mighty Defender against their enemies.—Wealth without fellowship with Christ is more injurious than useful to men.—The best adoration of Jesus consists in this, that we recognize Him as our only Lord and ourselves as His peculiar property,—that we love and serve supremely none but Him.—How can the Church perish, since Christ’s name and praise shall never be forgotten?—Oh! that the gladness of the marriage feast were always sanctified by the remembrance of the joyful home-bringing of the spouse to her Bridegroom in heaven. Osiander: Happy are the princes and rulers who surpass their subjects in wisdom and virtue, as well as in other gifts.—Selnekker: If we speak of this King, of His name and His office, we shall at once experience joy and pleasure in heart, soul, and body.—Franke: Christ will come to the terror of the wicked, to the joy and gladness of the pious who believe in Him.—Renschel: Christ is our Bridegroom, His beauty is our ornament, His gracious lips our comfort, His arrows our protection, His sceptre our guide, His oil of joy our unction—Frisch: Believing soul! be thou stimulated by this heavenly bridal song to deny the love of the world, and to love with a pure affection the bridegroom of thy soul.—Burk: See in how many points the bride may be compared to the bridegroom.—Rieger: A bridal song of the Holy Spirit for the marriage feast which the king makes for His Son.—Oetinger: The King of God’s kingdom deserves that men should proclaim His praise.—Tholuck: Truth and goodness joined to righteousness are the prize for which the Messiah struggles.—Vaihinger: Out of every contest with His enemies this king comes forth a complete conqueror, and in every new war His throne is proved to be immovably firm.—Diedrich: A song of praise to the greatest of kings, whose word has the greatest loveliness, and whose power is omnipotent. The mystery of divine love towards humanity.—Taube: The beautiful Song of Song of Solomon 1:0. Of the king; a, Of His beauty. b, Of His heroic power and victory. c, Of His anointment.—2. Of the king’s bride, a, Of the wedding garments in which she appears. b, Of the marriage sermon pronounced by the Holy Spirit. c, Of the treasures the bride receives. Earthly matrimony is not the prototype, but the image and copy of that higher relation.—F. W. Krummacher; The advent prayer of the Church of Christ. We consider1. The Address, “Thou hero.” 2. The six petitions. 3. The Amen.
[Henry: “I will speak of the things which I have made.” 1. With all possible clearness, as one that did himself understand, and was affected with the things he spake of. Note, what God has wrought in our souls, as well as what He has wrought for them we must declare to others. 2. With all possible cheerfulness, freedom, and fluency. “My tongue is as the pen of a ready writer.” The tongue of the most subtle disputant, and the most eloquent orator is but the pen with which God writes what He pleases.—They that have an admiration and affection for Christ, love to go to Him and tell Him so.—The glorious cause in which He is engaged, “because of the truth,” etc., which were, in a manner sunk and lost among men, and which Christ came to retrieve and rescue. 1. The Gospel itself is truth, meekness and righteousness; it commands by the power of truth and righteousness, for Christianity has these, incontestably, on its side, and yet it is to be promoted by meekness and gentleness, 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 13:2. Christ appears in it in His truth, meekness and righteousness, and these are His glory and majesty, and because of these He shall prosper. Men are brought to believe on Him because He is true, to learn of Him because He is meek, Matthew 11:29; the gentleness of Christ is of mighty force. 2 Corinthians 10:1. Men are brought to submit to Him because He is righteous and rules with equity. 3. The Gospel so far as it prevails with men, sets up in their hearts, truth, meekness and righteousness, rectifies their mistakes by the light of truth, controls their passions by the power of meekness, and governs their hearts and lives by the laws of righteousness.—All true children are born from above: they are the believers of the King of kings; these attend the throne of the Lord Jesus daily with their prayers and praises, which is really their honor, and He is pleased to reckon it His.—The conversation of Christians in which they appear in the world, must be enriched with good works, not gay and gaudy ones, like paint and flourish, but substantially good, like gold; and it must be accurate and exact, like wrought gold, which is worked with a great deal of care and caution.—They that help to support the honor of Christ on earth, shall in heaven see His glory, and share in it, and be forever praising Him.
Scott: In the Redeemer, the enlightened soul perceives unutterable goodness and beauty, which eclipses all the dim excellency that it was wont to admire in the children of men. The gracious words which He speaks to sinners, are replete with Divine harmony, and excite ineffable comfort in the broken heart.—In proportion as we are conformed to His holy image, we may expect the gladdening influence of the Comforter, which is communicated from His fulness, and while His name is to us “as ointment poured forth,” the fragrancy of heavenly affections will recommend our conversation to the spiritually-minded, and make us meet for His palace above.—The true believer’s privileges, as well as the most estimable parts of his character are internal, and undiscerned by an ungodly world; yet the holiness of his conversation proves the inward adorning of his soul, and that he is arrayed with the robe of righteousness and salvation.—J. F.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 45". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30