Here is another Psalm of gospel grace and truth, in which the Redeemer of his Church is celebrated in a Most illustrious strain of prophecy, as the Husband and Conqueror of his Church. And the Church as also beautifully set forth, as married to her Lord, and adorned with his grace end comeliness.
To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, a Song of loves.
The title of this Psalm is the first thing which demands our attention. Some have thought that the word Shoshannim means an instrument, and as such is addressed to the chief Musician of the temple service. But others, and with much greater probability of being right, as it is a Song of loves, and professedly treating of the love of Christ to his Church, make the word Shoshannim to mean, Roses or Lilies; thereby corresponding to what Christ himself hath said, I am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valley, Song of Solomon 2:1. And as it is well known that flowers were made use of at nuptial ceremonies among the Jews and this Song of loves is an epithalamium, it should seem that nothing can be more probable.
The person writing this Psalm, thus introduceth himself. He professeth to be under divine teaching. Like Elihu, his heart is so full, in inditing this glorious subject, concerning the King, the Messiah, that he is ready to burst. Job 32:19.
Nothing can be more beautiful than this abrupt way of discourse. The prophet sets out with a professed design to speak of the King. But, as if, in the moment he had so intended, the glorious Person, of whom he was going to speak, appeared to his view, he instantly leaves every other consideration, to speak to him himself. And what a rapturous address he makes. He first describes the glories, the beauties, the astonishing loveliness of his person. Though to a carnal eye there was no beauty to desire him, his visage was marred more than any man's, And his form more than the sons of men; yet to an eye truly enlightened, he is the King in his beauty, fairer, as the glorious Mediator, the Head, the Bridegroom, of his church and people, than all the children of men. And, in the, Father's view, so greatly beloved, so truly glorious, that grace was poured into his lips. Reader, observe the expression; not simply grace put into his heart, for the holiness and purity of his person, but poured into his lips, that, like the honey, it might drop upon his people; and be forever communicated to all his redeemed, in an endless perpetuity of all suited blessings here, and glory hereafter. Well might the Church, therefore; cry out, Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for thy love is better than wine, when, in the kiss, grace must be communicated. Song of Solomon 1:2. The expression, 'God hath blessed thee forever, is a most delightful conclusion to this rapturous verse. Therefore, for this cause, as the glorious Head and Husband of thy Church, Jehovah hath made thee an everlasting source of felicity to all thy redeemed. Men shall be blessed in thee; for there is no blessing out of Christ. All blessings are only blessings as they are in him; thus fulfilling the prophecy, Genesis 12:3, and confirming the word, Psalms 72:17. Reader, what saith your experience to this precious account of the Lord Jesus? Are you blessed in him? Hath the Lord Jehovah come to bless your soul? If so, depend upon it, it is only in the Beloved. And everyone that is blessed in Jesus finds cause to join the Apostle in that hymn of praise, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:3.
The prophet having represented the Messiah in the glories and beauties of his person, proceeds to show him as a Warrior and Conqueror. Before Christ, as the Bridegroom, can possess his bride, the Church, he must rescue her from the captivity of Satan and from the dominion of sin. She is, by nature and by practice, in the bonds of sin and Satan; yea, she is averse to be brought out of either. The Lord Jesus must therefore conquer Satan, rescue her out of his hands, and even rescue her out of her own love of sin, by making her willing in the day o f his power. Reader, do you know these truths? And are you brought to a saving acquaintance with them in your own experience? Behold, then, the Lord Jesus Christ thus going forth to the holy war, girded with his sword, upon his thigh, as the mighty God of Jacob! The sword of our almighty Conqueror is his Word, the Scriptures of Salvation, and which, the apostle tells the Church, is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. And hence the beloved apostle John, when he saw Christ, describes him as having a sharp two-edged sword coming out of his mouth; Revelation 1:16; Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17. How this blessed word of God hath wrought in the minds and consciences of sinners, like sharp arrows, the conversion of the world the doctrine of the cross can best testify: nay, it is exemplified in every sinner whom God the Holy Ghost hath regenerated, and brought over from the bitter enmity of the heart against God, existing in all men by nature, to the love of God in Christ, which is by grace. The world hath in all ages produced, and is still daily producing, instances, to the glory and majesty of Christ, and to the praise of the Father's grace, who maketh poor sinners accepted in the beloved.
Here we find Christ returned from the holy war, and sat down on the seat of the Conqueror. And we have God the Father speaking to this glorious Mediator, this triumphant king in Zion, and declaring the eternity and righteousness of his kingdom. Reader, do not forget, in this view of the Lord Jesus, that what is here said of him, and to him, is as Mediator: not as God only, but as God in Christ; the union of the manhood with the Godhead, to whom, as Jesus said himself, all power is given, in heaven and in earth; Matthew 28:18. It is of unspeakable importance to preserve alive in the mind this view of Christ's throne: the felicity, salvation, and everlasting welfare of the whole Church, depends upon it: Revelation 3:21. And observe what a confirmation of this blessed truth we have in what follows: He loved righteousness, and hated iniquity. Of whom but the One chosen out of the people is this declared, to whom God spake in vision, even his Holy One, Christ as Man, as well as Christ as God? for it is by the union of both in one person; that he is Christ. Psalms 89:19. Hence the Spirit, which was given, not by measure, unto him, was poured out upon him above, or for, his fellows; also, that he might be the first born among many brethren, and in all things might have the pre eminence. What blessed scriptures these are, and how sweetly do they illustrate and explain each other! Hence, in this light, thus beholding Christ as the Mediator; is it to be considered, and in no other could it be said, that God is his God, from whom this anointing came, who hath set him as his King in Zion, and as a Priest upon his throne, and as the Prophet of his people. John 3:34; Exodus 3:22; Exo_3:22; Psalms 133:2; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18; Psalms 2:6; Zechariah 6:13; Deuteronomy 18:15; 1 Samuel 2:35; Acts 3:22.
How beautiful a description is here given of the glories of Christ's person, in his garments of salvation, and of the loveliness both of the Church, as one collected body united to their glorious Head, and of every individual which makes up the one church of Jesus, both of Jew and Gentile. The sweet smelling garments, no doubt, represent the graces and gifts of the Holy Ghost, which make the savour of the very name of Christ as ointment pouted forth. Song of Solomon 1:3. Hence that description of the Church in Revelation 19:7-8.
This is a tender and affectionate address, to the Church, the Lamb's wife. And if we suppose God our Father thus speaking to the whole body of believers, concerning their union with his Son, as our glorious Husband and Redeemer, it gives a sweetness and strength to all that is said, inexpressibly endearing. Reader, how fit, how just, and reasonable it is, that if God our Father hath given us his dear Son; if Jesus hast purchased us by his blood; if, by the conquests of his Holy Spirit, he hath subdued the natural hatred of our hearts, and brought us over to voluntary surrender of ourselves to our God and Saviour forever; we to forget all objects which would thwart his gracious purpose, and so delight ourselves wholly in Jesus, as Jesus delights in his people. Zephaniah 3:17.
Reader, do not overlook this most precious verse. Surely we of the Gentile church can never be too much alive to remark the care of our God over us, that in the relation of so much mercy as this Psalm contains, the part that we poor Gentiles bear in it is carefully noticed and set down. Isaiah 49:6; Revelation 21:24.
Whether the church be called the Spouse of Christ, the daughter of Christ, or the Sister of Christ, (for these are only so many different terms to point out the several gracious connections into which Christ hath condescended to put himself) they all mean to show Jesus's love to his redeemed. Song 6. But under everyone of them, the adornings of their persons, being from and in the same apparel, even the righteousness of Jesus, cannot but be all glorious within. It is the hidden man of the heart; that which is spiritual, and altogether of his graces. Hence, in reference to this adorning, both Christ and his Church are represented in Isaiah 61:10.
Reader, do not fail to observe the manner of expression: the Church is brought; she doth not come of herself. No: she must be convinced, converted, made willing. No one can come to Christ, except the Father, who hath sent Christ, draw him; John 6:44. And when she is brought unto Jesus, the wedding-garment she hath is of the king's providing. And though originally hostile to all grace, yet now, being subdued by his love, there is a holy jubilee in the soul: it is with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Reader, if such be the joy when first brought to Jesus, in the day of our conversion, what must it be, in the day of being brought home to his kingdom forever! How will the realms of heaven resound with hallelujahs, when the whole church of the redeemed, accompanied with angels and arch-angels, shall sing aloud that song, Salvation to God and the Lamb!
What a vast multitude of souls begotten to Christ will appear in that day! So numerous, indeed, that even the Redeemer himself is represented, under the spirit of prophecy, as if expressing his astonishment, as he did at the centurion's faith in the day of his flesh, - Who hath begotten me these? Isaiah 49:18-23; Matthew 8:10. All the redeemed of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles, are said to be made kings and priests unto God and his Father. Revelation 1:6.
Thus, as might be well expected, the celebration of such glories in Christ's person, such triumphs in his holy war, and such love in his holy union of his people to himself, are terminated by the Psalmist in declaring, that the name of this glorious King, this almighty, gracious Husband, this blessed Redeemer of our poor ruined nature from Sin and Satan, Death and Hell, and the Grave, shall be sung in his Church, and celebrated among men, as long as the sun and moon endure, from one age to another: and when time shall be no more, the endless subject shall be continued through all the ages of eternity, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
READER, let both our hearts pause over the perusal of this divine Psalm; and, so far from hastily dismissing it, let us both seek the continued influences of the Holy Ghost, to keep up an unceasing remembrance of what is here said concerning the person, and the kindness of God our Saviour. Remember, Reader, it is a song of loves; and when we call to mind his love of whom it speaks, the loveliness and beauty of his person as he is in himself and the love he hath manifested to us and our fallen nature, O how shall we better testify our sense of that love, than by a perpetual remembrance of him?
Precious Jesus! methinks I would realize to my wondering view, by the eye of faith, thy glorious person as God and man, in one Christ! I would behold thee as here so sweetly described, fairer than the children of men. I would behold grace, not only poured into thy blessed lips, but continually dropping, as the golden drops of the honeycomb, for thy people; and under this view my whole soul should go out, in the most fervent desire, that Jesus would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. And hast thou not, thou almighty Warrior, brought my proud, my stubborn, my rebellious heart; to submit to thy power? Hast thou not made my stiff knee to bend before thee? Do I not this day own thee for my Sovereign, my King, my Redeemer, my lawful Lord?
And art thou not also my Bridegroom? Hast thou not betrothed me to thyself? Hath not thy blessed Spirit made we willing to be thine, and brought me to thee, in thine own garment of salvation, and thy robe of righteousness? Yes, Lord! I call heaven, and earth to witness, that it is the one unceasing object and desire of my soul, to forget all, and leave all, and sacrifice all, to follow thee. And oh, Lord, grant, I beseech thee, that my whole soul, and body, and spirit, which are all thine, by gift, by purchase, by conquest, and by grace, and by a voluntary surrender, may be wholly thine forever. And in the constant enjoyment of thy presence now by faith, O prepare m e for the everlasting enjoyment of thy presence in sight; where, among the whole church of thy redeemed, the praises of our almighty King-Mediator, will call up our intellectual powers in endless joy, and the glory of God and the Lamb will be the church's song forevermore. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 45". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany