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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 45

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves.

The first verse is a dedication of the ode to the king. From Psalms 45:2-9, the king is praised; 1.) for his person, Psalms 45:2; Psalms 2:0.) for his conquests, Psalms 45:3-5; Psalms 45:3.) for his righteous government, Psalms 45:6-7; Psalms 4:0.) for the magnificence of his palace and the renown of his family, Psalms 45:8-9. Psalms 45:10-15 are an address to the queen, while Psalms 45:16-17 are an anticipation of their illustrious progeny and the perpetuation of the royal dynasty. The psalm is evidently a marriage song, though not wholly restricted to that limit. It is prophetic, also, though, in conformity to the common law of typical Messianic prophecy, it retains a historic basis. It may not be always easy to discover, as Dean Milman has said, “what are the irrepealable truths of the Bible, and what the imaginative (poetic) vesture, or frame work, in which truths are set;” and yet by the spiritually minded Bible student the line of distinction is always traceable. The order of procedure is obvious. The historic and literal sense should be first ascertained, and through this the prophetic and spiritual. The literal, as in parables, is always the step of ascent to the spiritual. So in the psalm before us. The question arises, Was it a Hebrew or a Persian monarch to whom the psalm is dedicated? The highly oriental style would assign it to one of these. Plausible considerations plead for the latter, but, contrary to a former opinion, (my “Psalms Chronologically Arranged,” etc.,) upon mature thought, I give the former precedence. The king is in the line of theocratic monarchs, and it is this feature of the psalm (Psalms 45:6-7) which is quoted by the author of the Hebrews in chapter Hebrews 1:8-9. This is decisive of a Hebrew sovereign; and the current of critical opinion is in this direction. The strong resemblance of the style to that of the Song of Solomon, of which poem it is “a concise model,” (Hale,) seems sufficient to decide him to be the author as well as the subject; and as Stanley says of the Song, we may say of the psalm: “The scene is such as could have been laid in Solomon’s court, and in no other period of the Hebrew monarchy.” If, as has been supposed, the beautiful “Abishag the Shunammite,” (1 Kings 2:21-22,) was the same as the “Shulamite” (Song of Solomon 6:13) who was the heroine of that incomparable pastoral, it is different in the case before us. Here the bride, or queen consort, is of foreign extraction, as appears from Psalms 45:10, the favourite of the king, which corresponds with the daughter of Pharaoh, 1 Kings 3:1. The psalm, as above stated, is not wholly an epithalamium, though in that strain, but fits better Solomon’s maturer years, when he had acquired fame for wisdom, for government, and for war, Psalms 45:3-5. It was not till the twentieth year of his reign, according to Hale, (twenty second year according to Calmet and Usher,) that his own palace and that for his Egyptian wife were finished. 1 Kings 7:8; 1 Kings 9:24; 2 Chronicles 8:11. His marriage with that princess occurred early in his reign; too early for the display of those wonderful qualities which are celebrated in this psalm. 1 Kings 3:1. It was after the twentieth year of his reign, and after he had finished his great buildings within and about Jerusalem, that God appeared to him in a dream and renewed to him his covenant with David. 1 Kings 9:1-5. Solomon was now in the zenith of his power and fame, and at this time his kingdom was modelled after that of his father’s. His great offence and defection occurred later, “when he was old,” about the thirty-fourth year of his reign and the fifty-fifth of his age. 1 Kings 11:1, et seq. It seems most suitable, therefore, to date this psalm at the removal of his Egyptian wife from Zion to her new palace, and her formal occupancy of the same.


Upon Shoshannim The plural of Shooshan. See note on title of Psalms 60:0.

Sons of Korah See on title of Psalms 42:0.

Maschil See on title of Psalms 32:0.

A song of loves Or, a song of loveliness, the plural feminine being used in the abstract; or, a song of the dearly beloved, as in Jeremiah 12:7, where the same word occurs. This phraseology allies the psalm to the Song of Solomon.

Verse 1

1. My heart is inditing Literally, is boiling over. I am full of my subject.

A good matter A pleasant word, or discourse, equal to “a song of loves,” in the title.

Which I have made touching the king Literally, I am speaking my words to the king; that is, the king is my theme, or, I dedicate my works to him.

Ready writer A rapid scribe, an expert. Psalms 45:1 is a dedicatory introduction.

Verse 2

2. Thou art fairer The poet strikes at once into the heart of his theme, the king; and first, of his person.

Grace is poured into thy lips “Grace,” in the sense of benignity, kindness, favour. From the beauty of his person the description rises to the beauty or loveliness of his character, evidenced by his words or discourse. Ecclesiastes 10:12.

Therefore Because of this faultless character.

God hath blessed thee for ever The most comprehensive expression for happiness and prosperity.

Verse 3

3. Gird thy sword He proceeds to describe the king as a conqueror. This has been supposed to be inapplicable to Solomon, whose reign was peaceful. 1 Kings 4:25. But after the death of David, Syria-Zobah and Edom, two powerful nations, which David had subdued with difficulty, revolted. 1 Kings 11:14-25. Moreover, the sword belonged to the rank of the king as an emblem of power, courage, and victory.

O most mighty O mighty one. “Most” is not in the text. The title applies to one mighty in deeds, especially in war.

Thy glory and thy majesty Kingly attributes, generally ascribed to God, as Psalms 21:5

Verse 4

4. Ride prosperously The figure is that of a conqueror in his war chariot.

Because of truth and meekness and righteousness It is better to understand this as referring to the issue or object of the war in the sense of “in the cause of truth,” etc., as in Psalms 79:9. We may suppose Solomon to have quelled the rebellion, (Psalms 45:3,) to which allusion is here made. But the language is Messianic. The war is not carnal, but spiritual, 2 Corinthians 10:4. See Revelation 19:11-16. The Christian war is for and in truth, meekness, and righteousness.

Verse 5

5. The people fall There is no withstanding the power of the war-king. His enemies submit and return to duty, or perish. See Psalms 2, , 110

Verses 6-7

6, 7. From the king in war, (Psalms 45:3-5,) the poet now turns to the king in peace his rank and the quality and perpetuity of his government.

Thy throne, O God The title “God,” אלהים , could apply to Solomon only in the theocratic sense, as the representative of God, or, as Calvin says, “because God hath imprinted some mark of his glory in kings,” and thus the same title is sometimes used. Exodus 7:1; Psalms 81:1; Psalms 81:6, compare John 10:34. But the historic view falls far into the background, and the language passes clearly into the typically prophetic, as quoted in Hebrews 1:8, where see note. Messiah, not Solomon, is now the theme.

God, thy God This, as Perowne says, makes a distinct personality of this theocratic king from God himself. The pronoun refers to Messiah, the perpetuity of whose throne is for ever and ever, or to eternity and eternity, applying to David’s throne only as a type, 2 Samuel 7:16, Psalms 89:36, and as it merges and reappears in Christ.

Acts 2:30. The terms right, righteousness, hatest wickedness, are characteristic of the king and government, and are a pledge that sin will be punished and obedience lovingly rewarded two elements of all perfect government and of the gospel kingdom. John 3:35-36; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

Anointed thee with the oil of gladness Not as a coronation ceremony, but as a token of joy and the reward of a righteous administration, as the therefore, stating the reason of this anointing, and the past tense of the verbs, indicate.

Fellows Thy companions, associates. See this fulfilled in Solomon, 1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 4:30-31; and in Christ, Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:9

Verses 8-9

8, 9. The description of the king culminates in these verses. He has been praised as a man, as a warrior, as a ruler, and now as bridegroom. The scene supposes the bridegroom issuing from the palace attended by musical bands to welcome and escort him to the queen.

Thy garments smell of myrrh Literally, All thy garments myrrh, aloes, and cassia, as if the substance of his garments was of costly aromatics. The Orientals are lavish of perfumery, especially on festive occasions, upon their persons, clothes, beds, and apartments. Song of Solomon 1:3; Song of Solomon 4:11; Song of Solomon 4:16. The Hebrews obtained it mostly from Southern Arabia.

Ivory palaces Palaces inlaid with ivory, or adorned with ivory furniture. 1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15. Such seems to have been the “tower of David, builded for an armory,” (Solomon’s Song of Solomon 4:4; Song of Solomon 7:4,) situated at the northeast corner of Zion, “at the turning of the wall.” (Nehemiah 3:19.) The same is probably the edifice called, 1 Kings 7:2, “the house of the forest of Lebanon.” which was built by Solomon. See also Isaiah 22:8. The reader must not confound this with the so-called “tower, or castle, of David,” on the northwest corner of Zion, near the Jaffa gate. See note on Psalms 48:12.

Whereby they have made thee glad The Hebrew is somewhat obscure from the doubtful meaning of מני , ( minnee,) translated “whereby.” Some take it as they do מנ , ( min,) with paragogic yod, ( י ) and read from the ivory palaces, therefrom they rejoice thee. Others take it as a proper noun for Minni, a province of Armenia, (Jeremiah 51:27,) but in Jeremiah’s time subject to Media. and read, from palaces adorned with Armenian ivory they make thee glad. Others still regard it as an apocopated form of the plural מנים , ( minneem,) which word in Psalms 150:4 is translated stringed instruments, and read, Out of the ivory palaces with stringed instruments they delight thee, which is the more common and probable interpretation.

Verse 9

9. Kings’ daughters Historically the description here given could apply only to Solomon.

Queen The word means bride, or queen consort.

Right hand The place of honour, 1 Kings 2:19.

In gold of Ophir With garments trimmed and decorated with gold. Where Ophir was is not known. It was a country reached only by sea, and hence known only to the Tyrians, and to the Hebrews in David’s time through them.

Verse 10

10. The address is henceforward to the bride. With a traceable line of historic allusion, a higher and mystical sense attaches to the descriptions. As the king was typical of Christ, so now is his bride of the Church, according to a frequent metaphor of Scripture. The personal character of the queen must here be left out. It is her relation to the king, not her piety, which gives the foundation of the metaphor.

Hearken, O daughter The address is in the familiar style of a parent or senior, like 1 John 2:1, and the threefold call for attention hear, see, extend the ear, (or lean forward,) that you may catch the sounds better suggests the importance of the matter to be communicated.

Forget also thine own people This is the momentous thought to which the poet had invoked so careful attention.

Taking the bride to be Pharaoh’s daughter, this might be considered as an earnest exhortation to her to forsake the idolatry of her ancestors and people, and identify herself in religion and nationality with the Hebrew family. This, had she thoroughly heeded, might have had a powerful influence for good over the king’s after life. But although we may suppose her native superstition was much modified, the fact that her queenly residence was fixed outside the walls of Zion, for religious reasons, (2 Chronicles 8:11,) indicates a public disfavour to her religion. But the exhortation is to the Church, as a people called out from the world, to forsake people and kindred, even all, for Christ.

Verse 11

11. For he is thy Lord “Lord,” here, is אדונ , Adon, (often written אדני , Adonah,) which is here to be understood of Christ in its prophetic application, the bride being the Church, of which, figuratively, he is the Head and Lord. Ephesians 5:23-25. In Psalms 97:5, (see note on Psalms 97:7.) he is called “Lord of the whole earth;” and in Psalms 110:1; Psalms 110:5, he is specially distinguished from Jehovah, as here, by the title Adonah; and in Psalms 2:2; Psalms 2:6-7, by “Messiah,” “king,” “Son of God.” Historically this verse, as to conjugal relation, must be viewed in the light of oriental custom and civilization. See Gen 18:12 ; 1 Peter 3:6.

Worship Bow down to him, the eastern method of reverence to superiors, and the appropriate form of divine worship, (Psalms 95:6,) and in its highest spiritual sense applied to Christ, Ephesians 3:14; Philippians 2:10; Hebrews 1:6

Verse 12

12. The daughter of Tyre A figurative expression for the people of Tyre, as the frequent phrase “daughter of Zion” is a poetic form for the inhabitants and worshippers in Zion. There is nothing improbable in the supposition that Tyre and other nations should represent themselves with valuable gifts at Solomon’s nuptials with the daughter of the powerful king of Egypt, or on the memorable occasion of the formal occupancy of her new palace. But prophetically we know this honour is to be conferred on Christ and his Church. Psalms 72:10-11; Isaiah 49:23

Verse 13

13. King’s daughter is all glorious within That is, in her interior apartments of the harem. Gesenius supposes it to be the inner wall of the house, opposite the entrance, the place of the throne, and hence equal to “upon the throne.” But it seems more natural and more in accordance with usage to simply understand it of her own apartments, which Solomon had finished in such magnificence.

Clothing is of wrought gold Gold inwrought with the texture of the fabric; an embroidery of gold settings.

Verses 14-15

14, 15. Having described (Psalms 45:13) the splendour of the “king’s daughter,” in her private chamber as one attired for the marriage, the psalmist now proceeds to the ceremony of escorting her to the king’s palace, or more probably to her own house, which Solomon had prepared with such unwonted taste. The imagery is intensely Oriental. See Esther 2:15; Solomon’s Song of Solomon 1:4. On the allegorical interpretation of the “bride” and her attire, which at once symbolizes the richness and purity of the Church, see Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9. Compare Isaiah 45:5; Isa 61:10 ; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-27

Verses 16-17

16, 17. From the wedded pair the poet turns to the illustrious progeny.

Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children A proverbial expression for a renowned posterity. The children shall excel their fathers, who will derive more honour from having such sons than from all their titles of grandeur and royalty.

Princes in all the earth The diffusion of the royal family in their proper rank and character will give a world wide fame to the dynasty. Such shall be the glory of the sons and daughters born to God in the Church.

Thy name… remembered in all generations Literally, in every generation and generation, that is, perpetually, without intermission.

People praise thee for ever and ever Literally, to eternity and perpetuity. This applies to Christ and his Church only. The language is too lofty and emphatic for any literal application, even giving the most liberal allowance for the oriental imagination. Thus shall Christ be glorified in his Church. To recapitulate, he shall be glorified in the beauty of his person and the grace of his words, Psalms 45:2; for the might and majesty of his victories as the “captain of our salvation,” Psalms 45:3-5; for the righteousness and holiness of his government, Psalms 45:6-7; for his magnificence as the bridegroom of the Church, Psalms 45:8-9; for the beauty, purity and excellence of his bride, the Church, Psalms 45:10-15; and, as a culminating joy, for the noble character of the converts “princes in all the earth” which shall be born to him in the Church, through whom, in an exalted measure, “shall be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God,” in moral government and redemption.

Ephesians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:10. Amen and amen.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 45". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-45.html. 1874-1909.
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