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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 45

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Introduction

Psalms 45:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
A Song Celebrating the King's Marriage MT Intro For the choir director; according to Shoshannim, A Maskil of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love. The Glories of the Messiah and His Bride An Ode For a Royal Wedding A Royal Wedding Song Royal Wedding
Psalms 45:1-2 Psalms 45:1-5 Psalms 45:1 Psalms 45:1 Psalms 45:1
Psalms 45:2-3 Psalms 45:2-3 Psalms 45:2
Psalms 45:3-5 Psalms 45:3-4a
Psalms 45:4-5 Psalms 45:4-5 Psalms 45:4-5
Psalms 45:6-9 Psalms 45:6-9 Psalms 45:6-9 Psalms 45:6-9 Psalms 45:6-7a
Psalms 45:7-8a
Psalms 45:8-9
Psalms 45:10-12 Psalms 45:10-12 Psalms 45:10-13a Psalms 45:10-12 Psalms 45:10-13a
Psalms 45:13-15 Psalms 45:13-17 Psalms 45:13-15 Psalms 45:13-15 Psalms 45:13-16
Psalms 45:16-17 Psalms 45:16-17 Psalms 45:16-17
Psalms 45:17

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm is praising an Israeli King.

1. probably Solomon at the time of one of his marriages (NASB margin)

2. Ahab and his marriage to Jezebel (Jewish Study Bible, p. 1332)

3. David (Ibn Ezra)

4. Messiah (Ibn Ezra's second choice and the Church Fathers)

B. This Psalm has been viewed by some as Messianic (notice the capitalized pronouns) but only in a typological sense. Historically it fits

1. the hyperbolic royal language of the ANE

2. a marriage of Solomon would have been attended by the people groups his empire controlled

C. All Israeli Kings were meant to represent YHWH (cf. 1 Samuel 8:6-7). He is the King of the Universe and they are to lead His people (by example) in His law.

D. The NASB Study Bible (p. 784) assumes the author was a Levitical singer and that as such his song was considered as coming from the temple (i.e., from God Himself). This is how the fluidity of terminology between God and the King is to be explained.

E. Psalms 45:0 has

1. a related opening (Psalms 45:1-2) and close (Psalms 45:16-17)

2. an address to the king, Psalms 45:3-9

3. an address to the bride, Psalms 45:10-15

Verses 1-2

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 45:1-2 1My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. 2You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips; Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Psalms 45:1 The author describes himself to his readers (only here in the Psalter) in this verse.

1. his heart (i.e., he himself) overflows (BDB 935, KB 1222, Qal perfect; LXX has “erupts”) with a good theme (i.e., praise for the King of God's people)

2. he writes to praise the King on his marriage

3. his tongue is the pen of a ready writer (i.e., [1] he was eager to praise the King or [2] he was a court poet or scribe, cf. Ezra 7:6)

Psalms 45:2 He describes the King in poetic imagery.

1. he is fairer (i.e., “more handsome,” cf. NRSV, TEV, NJB; this word [BDB 421, KB 421] is rarely used of men; it is in a rare form Pealal perfect) than other men (lit. “the sons of men”)

2. his speech is eloquent (TEV) and gracious (cf. Proverbs 22:11; Ecclesiastes 10:12); I think Psalms 45:4c is parallel

3. therefore, God has blessed You forever two thoughts about this

a. be cognizant of ANE hyperbolic, royal language

b. be careful of cause and effect logic (i.e., YHWH blessed him because he acted appropriately). There is a tension in Scripture between God's sovereignty and human free will (see SPECIAL TOPIC: Election/Predestination and the Need for a Theological Balance). Obedience is important but call is crucial. He was not King because he deserved it but by family line.

Verses 3-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 45:3-5 3Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One, In Your splendor and Your majesty! 4And in Your majesty ride on victoriously, For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; Let Your right hand teach You awesome things. 5Your arrows are sharp; The peoples fall under You; Your arrows are in the heart of the King's enemies.

Psalms 45:3-5 This strophe is poetic imagery about the King's military victories. Notice he represents YHWH as he fights for the cause of (LXX)

1. “truth” (BDB 54)

2. “meekness” (unusual vowel pointing, BDB 776, cf. Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 18:12; Proverbs 22:4; Zephaniah 2:3)

Notice the three imperatives and two jussives which reflect military imagery.

1. “gird Your sword on Your thigh” BDB 291, KB 291, Qal imperative, Psalms 45:3, cf. Deuteronomy 1:41; Judges 3:16; Judges 18:11; 1 Samuel 17:39; 1 Samuel 25:13

2-3. “ride on victoriously,” Psalms 45:4

a. “be successful!” BDB 852, KB 1026, Qal imperative

b. “ride” BDB 938, KB 1230, Qal imperative

4. “let Your right hand teach,” Psalms 45:4 BDB 434, KB 436, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

5. “let the peoples fall under You,” Psalms 45:5 BDB 656, KB 709, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

Psalms 45:3 “Splendor” (BDB 217 I) and “majesty” (BDB 214) are often associated with God (i.e., Psalms 104:1). Notice how NASB capitalizes the pronouns in Psalms 45:2, Psalms 45:3, Psalms 45:4, Psalms 45:5, Psalms 45:6, Psalms 45:7, Psalms 45:8, Psalms 45:9. But they are also used of the Israeli King (i.e., Psalms 21:5).

NASB, NKJV, NRSV“O Mighty One” TEV“Mighty King” NJB“Warrior” JPSOA“O hero” REB“warrior king” LXX“O powerful one”

This adjective (BDB 150) basically means “strong,” or “mighty.” It was used of

1. human warriors Genesis 10:9; Psalms 78:65; Psalms 120:4; Psalms 127:4; Ecclesiastes 9:11; Song of Song of Solomon 3:7

2. Messiah Isaiah 9:5 (David as type Psalms 89:20)

3. YHWH as faithful covenant warrior (i.e., holy war) Nehemiah 9:32; Psalms 24:8; Isaiah 10:21; Jeremiah 32:18

In this context it refers to the Davidic King as victorious warrior, empowered by YHWH.

Psalms 45:4-5 The pronouns are difficult to identify.

1. some refer to God

2. some to the King

This same confusion is in Psalms 45:6-7. The problem is that the author is describing the King as a representative of YHWH Himself. It is obvious how early Christian authors (i.e., Hebrews 1:8-9) saw this as a Messianic Psalm. For them the Messiah had come and the OT pointed to Him (i.e., Jesus).

Psalms 45:4

NASB, NKJV“awesome things” NRSV“dread deeds” TEV“great victories” JPSOA, REB“awesome deeds” LXX“marvelously”

This participle (BDB 431, KB 432, Niphal participle) means “awe-inspiring deeds.”

1. God Himself Deuteronomy 1:19; Deuteronomy 7:21; Deuteronomy 10:20-21

2. His deeds 2 Samuel 7:23; Psalms 145:6 (splitting the Red Sea, Psalms 106:22)

Verses 6-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 45:6-9 6Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. 7You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows. 8All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad. 9Kings' daughters are among Your noble ladies; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.

Psalms 45:6-9 Here again is a strophe that addresses both YHWH and His royal representative in a unified way.

Psalms 45:6

NASB, NKJV, NRSV, LXX“Your throne, O God” NRSV margin“Your throne is a throne of God” TEV“The kingdom that God has given you” NJB“Your throne is from God” JPSOA, RSV“Your divine throne” REB“God has enthroned you” NEB“Your throne is like God's throne”

You can see from the variety of translations that the Hebrew text is uncertain (JPSOA footnote). In a monotheistic (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM) OT context this cannot be asserting deity to the King, but it is asserting that all the King is and has comes from his relationship to YHWH. The King is YHWH's earthly representative, as is the High Priest (cf. Zechariah 4:0).

YHWH's throne (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:23; Lamentations 5:19) is forever (cf. Psalms 93:2; see SPECIAL TOPIC: FOREVER (‘OLAM). The King's throne is for a lifetime. The Messiah is the special coming King (see SPECIAL TOPIC: OT TITLES OF THE SPECIAL COMING ONE). This phrase has one connotation in the OT and a fuller one in the NT!

Psalms 45:7 One wonders if this is royal hyperbole or this Psalm truly addressed a godly King. If it is addressed to Ahab, it is royal hyperbole; if Solomon, it was true at first but not later; if David it was true at first and at last but not during his sinning period (i.e., Bathsheba, Uriah).

We must always be careful of attributing God's blessing based on human performance. God anointed the King for His own purposes of redemption and revelation (see SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN).

One last thought, Psalms 45:7 shows clearly that Psalms 45:6 is not attributing deity to an Israeli king. Hebrews 1:8-9 sees it as a Davidic royal typology!

As YHWH loves righteousness (cf. Psalms 11:7; Psalms 33:5), so too, should His earthly representative, the Israeli king (i.e., His anointed, cf. Psalms 2:2).

Psalms 45:8

NASB, NKJV, NRSV“cassia” TEV, NJB, REB omits word

This spice (BDB 893 I) is mentioned only here in the OT. It may refer to a cinnamon fragrance.

Psalms 45:9 Does this verse imply that at the current wedding there were already

1. royal daughters

2. other wives/concubines

3. a Queen (rare word, BDB 993, cf. Nehemiah 2:6)

Verses 10-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 45:10-12 10Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear: Forget your people and your father's house; 11Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him. 12The daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; The rich among the people will seek your favor.

Psalms 45:10-12 This is the strophe that implies the marriage was with a foreign lady, which fits

1. David if Bathsheba was not Jewish

2. Solomon with his many foreign wives (cf. 1 Kings 11:1-8)

3. Ahab marrying Jezebel, a Tyrian princess (note Psalms 45:12)

Psalms 45:10 This verse has four imperatives.

1. listen BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

2. give attention (lit. “see”) BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative

3. incline your ear BDB 639, KB 692, Hiphil imperative, cf. Proverbs 22:17

4. forget your people BDB 1013, KB 1489, Qal imperative

Verses 13-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 45:13-15 13The King's daughter is all glorious within; Her clothing is interwoven with gold. 14She will be led to the King in embroidered work; The virgins, her companions who follow her, Will be brought to You. 15They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing; They will enter in to the King's palace.

Psalms 45:13-15 This refers to the wedding party from the harem (“virgins”). The other wives (besides the Queen) are called “daughters” (cf. Psalms 45:9, Psalms 45:10, Psalms 45:12, Psalms 45:13).

This strophe was spiritualized by the Church to refer to herself! This was also done with Song of Songs (Canticles).

Psalms 45:13

NASB, NKJV“within” JPSOA“inside”

The MT has “within” (פנימה, BDB 819, LXX), but some scholars suppose “pearls” (פנינים, BDB 819, cf. Job 28:18; Proverbs 3:15; Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 31:10; Lamentations 4:7).

The UBS Text Project gives the MT an “A” rating.

Verses 16-17

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 45:16-17 16In place of your fathers will be your sons; You shall make them princes in all the earth. 17I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.

Psalms 45:16-17 The UBS Handbook, p. 429, has a good summary.

“The poet concludes by addressing the king, promising him that he will have many sons who will, like his ancestors, also be kings and rule over the whole earth.”

Psalms 45:17 is a way of asserting that this Psalm will be around for a long time and keep the memory of the king alive.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is it thought this is a royal wedding song?

2. Does Psalms 45:6 refer to the Israeli king?

3. Why is it thought the bride is not from Israel?

4. Explain Psalms 45:16-17 in your own words.

5. Define “Your throne, O God” and explain how Hebrews 1:8-9 is using it.

6. Why is this Psalm thought to be Messianic?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 45". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-45.html. 2021.
 
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