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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Psalms 45

 

 

Verses 3-5

DISCOURSE: 575

THE REIGN OF CHRIST DESIRED

Psalms 45:3-5. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

THIS psalm is called “a song of loves:” and it is supposed to have been written on occasion of Solomon’s marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter. But, beyond all doubt, a greater than Solomon is here. Solomon was altogether a man of peace: but the King here spoken of was “a man of war;” and all the address which is here made to him has reference to him under that character. It may seem strange that this view of him should be introduced on the occasion of a nuptial solemnity; but it must be remembered, that as the Jews were wont, by God’s special permission, to connect themselves in marriage with females whom they had taken captive in war, allowing them a month to forget their former relatives, so the Messiah first takes captive those with whom he afterwards unites himself in the nuptial bonds. This is particularly marked in the address to the spouse herself: “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty [Note: ver. 10, 11.].” Hence, even whilst contemplating the Lord Jesus under the idea of an husband, we see why we should be anxious to behold his conquests extended over the face of the whole earth. That we may attain the spirit which David breathed, let us consider,

I. The frame of his mind—

In reading the Holy Scriptures, we should not be content with noticing the mere sense of any particular passage, (though that is doubtless in the first place, and with the greatest diligence, to be examined;) but we should mark the peculiar spirit of it, the spirit which the passage itself breathes, the spirit of the person who wrote it, or which it has a tendency to produce in those who read it. Now, when David penned this psalm,

His mind was full of zeal for Christ—

[He had been contemplating the glory and excellency of Christ: “My heart,” says he, “is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King.” And so full was his heart of this glorious subject, that “his tongue was as the pen of a ready writer,” which yet was scarcely capable of keeping pace with the ardour of his mind, or of giving utterance to the vast conceptions with which his soul laboured. He beheld the Lord Jesus Christ as possessing in himself an excellency far beyond that of any created being: “Thou art fairer than the children of men.” He saw that, both in the subject and manner of his ministrations, there was a grace which nothing could equal, and which God would honour with the most wonderful success: “Grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.” And anxious to behold the full accomplishment of all that the Messiah had undertaken, he further calls upon him to take to him his great power, and to subdue the whole world unto himself: “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, and let the people of every nation under heaven fall under thee.” In all this you will perceive, that, instead of speaking of Christ, as he had intended to do, he is constrained, by the ardour of his own mind, to address himself directly to Christ; and, instead of making his thoughts a subject of communication with man, he is led by them into the exercise of immediate communion with his God. Now,]

Such should be the frame of our minds also—

[We should be in the constant habit of meditating upon Christ; and of so musing upon his glorious excellencies, that a fire should be kindled in our bosoms, and we should speak of him with our tongues. And what other subject is there under heaven to be compared with this? Reflect a moment, who the Saviour is! He is “the mighty God.” Consider what he has done! He has assumed our nature, and become a man, in order that, by substituting himself in our place and stead, he might deliver us out of the hands of our great enemy, and bring us into an everlasting union with himself, as “our Friend and our Beloved.” Consider how rich and free and full are all his invitations and promises: and what blessings will attend the progress of his arms, wheresoever men shall be subdued unto him. Should we not long to see his glory advance, and his kingdom established in the world? Should it not be grievous to us to behold so great a part of the world both ignorant of him, and in rebellion against him? Should we not be urgent with him in prayer, to make bare his arm, and to subdue the world unto himself? Surely these are the meditations that become us; and our hearts should be so full of them, that, wherever we go, and whatever we do, He should be present to our minds; and his praise should be, as it were, the constant effusion of our souls.]

But in my text we are more particularly led to notice,

II. The object of his desire—

He desires that Christ’s kingdom may be established in the world. But, that I may open this to you the more fully, I wish you to mark,

1. Wherein that kingdom consists—

[It is “in the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness” that the Saviour advances to the combat. The whole world is lying in darkness; and he comes to dispel error from their minds. The whole world is full of all manner of abominations: pride stalks through the earth, defying even God himself: “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” and every species of wickedness is indulged, without either remorse or fear. But the Lord Jesus Christ comes to humble man in the dust before God; and to transform the children of the wicked one into the very image of their God, in righteousness and true holiness. Who must not wish for such a kingdom to be established throughout the whole world? Who must not make it his very first petition from day to day, “Thy kingdom come?” — — — Truly, wherever that kingdom is, which consists “in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost,” there is heaven itself begun in the souls of men.]

2. By what means it is to be erected—

[The sword of the Messiah is the word of God, which, proceeding from his mouth [Note: Revelation 1:16; Revelation 19:15.], subdues the universe before him. “That sword is quick and powerful, and pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart [Note: Hebrews 4:12.].” Nothing can eventually stand before it: weak as it may appear, it is “mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.].” Look at the primitive ages of the Church: what was it that brought down all the power and policy both of men and devils? It was not human wisdom, or worldly power: it was the simple exhibition of the cross of Christ, and the preaching of Christ crucified. “This word came to the hearts of men in demonstration of the Spirit and of power;” and, to every soul that received it, it was made “the power of God to his everlasting salvation.”]

3. The certainty of its establishment—

[Very sharp were the arrows which were thus sent forth from the Messiah’s bow. Truly “he was a polished shaft in the quiver of Jehovah [Note: Isaiah 49:2.],” and nothing could stand before it [Note: Isaiah 59:16-18.]. True, indeed, God has not yet seen fit to accomplish all the purposes of his grace: but the time is quickly coming, when Satan, that great adversary of God and man, shall be bound, and “all the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” “Terrible things will God work,” either in a way of mercy or of judgment. He has sworn, that “unto his Messiah every knee shall bow [Note: Isaiah 45:23.].” And every soul that bows not to the sceptre of his grace shall be broken in pieces, as a potter’s vessel [Note: Psalms 2:8-9.].”]

Methinks you will now be disposed to ask—

1. How shall I know whether this kingdom be yet begun within me?

[Consider only wherein this kingdom consists; and you will be at no loss to ascertain the state of your souls before God. Has the truth of the Gospel been so revealed in your hearts, as to “bring you out of darkness into marvellous light”? — — — Have you been so humbled by it, as to put your hand on your mouth, and your mouth in the dust, with a deep consciousness of your vileness, and of your desert of God a wrath and indignation? — — — And, lastly, are you so under “the constraining influence of the love of Christ, that you die daily unto sin, and live altogether, not unto yourselves, but unto Him who died for you, and rose again?” These are questions which, if put to your consciences with fidelity, and answered with truth, will shew you at once whose you are, and whom you serve. Truly, by such marks we may infallibly “distinguish the children of God from the children of the devil [Note: 1 John 3:9-10.]:” and I entreat you to examine yourselves by them with all imaginable care; because, if you still continue to cast off the Saviour’s yoke, the time will quickly come when he will say, “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me [Note: Luke 19:27.].”]

2. How shall I get it established in my soul?

[You have seen the frame of David’s mind. You have seen how he contemplated the Saviour’s love, till his soul was ravished with it, and he burst forth into the devout raptures which we have been contemplating. And this is the way in which the Saviour will acquire an ascendant over our souls. The Apostle tells us: “We, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:18.].” I am far from saying that we ought not to search out our own evil ways, and to mourn over them before God; for it is by such repentance that the preparatory work is usually wrought within us: but I say, that nothing but the love of Christ will ever perfect that work, or bring us into the full liberty of the children of God. It is from a view of God’s “truth” that our “meekness” will be matured, and our “righteousness” be perfected: and when we are enabled to live altogether by faith in Christ, and in dependence on his promises, then shall we be enabled to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God [Note: 2 Corinthians 7:1.].”]


Verse 7

DISCOURSE: 576

BENEFITS ATTENDANT ON HOLINESS

Psalms 45:7. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

THIS psalm is a nuptial song; wherein Christ, as the heavenly Bridegroom, is celebrated by his Bride, the Church; and she also is commended by him as worthy of the union proposed between them. In the former part, the glory and excellency of Jesus are set forth in a variety of views. In the verse before the text, he is addressed as the supreme “God, whose throne is for ever and ever;” while, as man, he is acknowledged to have received his glory and felicity from the Father, as the reward of his unparalleled virtues. This is undoubtedly the primary sense of the words before us. But they may also be considered as containing a general truth, expressive of God’s regard for holiness, and of those testimonies of his approbation which all godly people shall enjoy.

Let us then turn our attention to them,

I. As applicable to Christ—

That they refer to him there can be no doubt; because in the Epistle to the Hebrews it is expressly affirmed that they were addressed to him [Note: Hebrews 1:8-9.].

To him the character transcendently belongs—

[In his doctrine, he removed the false glosses with which the Jewish doctors had obscured the law, and established its authority over the motions of the heart as well as the actions of the life [Note: He shelved that the laws prohibiting murder and adultery were violated by an angry word or impure desire. Matthew 25:21-22; Matthew 25:27-28.]. He laid the axe at the very root of sin; and gave a system of morality more pure and perfect than the united wisdom of the whole world had been ever able to devise.

In his life, “he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” Neither his friends who were most intimate with him, nor his enemies who were most inveterate against him, could ever find the smallest flaw or blemish in his conduct. God himself repeatedly attests that “in him was no sin.

But most of all in his death did our blessed Lord approve himself a lover of righteousness and a hater of iniquity: for he died in order to expiate the guilt of sin: yea, he came down from heaven on purpose to atone for it by his blood; and to mark in indelible characters its malignity, by the very means which he used to deliver us from its curse.

In the whole scope of the economy which he introduced, he manifested the same righteous disposition: for at the same time that he commissioned his Apostles to go forth and evangelize all nations, he bade them “teach their proselytes to observe and do whatsoever he had commanded.” His Gospel, while it “brings salvation to men, teaches them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live righteously, soberly, and godly in this present world:” and the ministers who are sent forth to proclaim it, are “sent to bless men, in turning away every one of them from his iniquities.”]

On this account God in a super-eminent degree “anointed him with the oil of gladness”—

[The Father “gave not the Spirit by measure unto him,” even during the time of his ministration upon earth [Note: See Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 61:1.]. But though he was anointed in this world in an infinitely more abundant measure than all who were partakers of the same divine unction, yet it was rather after his death that the Spirit was given to him as “the oil of gladness.” At his ascension the words before us received their full accomplishment. Then was “the joy given him, in the expectation of which he had endured the cross and despised the shame.” Then was he “made full of joy by the light of his Father’s countenance [Note: Compare Psalms 16:10-11; Psalms 21:6. with Acts 2:27-28.],” and was invested with a glory as much transcending that of the highest archangel, as the brightness of the sun exceeds the lustre of a glimmering star. This was given him as the reward of his righteousness: “he loved righteousness;” “therefore the Lord anointed him with this oil of gladness [Note: Philippians 2:8-9.].”]

Though this is the primary sense of the words, we may without impropriety consider them,

II. As applicable to us— The character of the true Christian is here most fitly drawn—

[There are many unbelievers whose moral characters are unexceptionable: they abstain from open iniquity, and they perform many acts of righteousness. But the distinctive mark of the believer is, that “he loves righteousness and hates, iniquity.” He looks upon sin as the worst enemy of his soul. Not contented with suppressing the outward acts of it, he strives to mortify its inward motions. The existence of sin within him is his pain, his burthen, his grief. He abhors it; he lothes himself on account of it: he often cries with anguish of heart, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?” As for righteousness, he considers it as the health and felicity of his soul. It is the very element in which he desires to live. Were he possessed of it in ever so high a degree, he would not be satisfied, as long as there were any measure of it which he had not attained. He would be “holy as God is holy,” and “perfect as God is perfect.” We repeat it, that this is the distinctive character of a true believer. Others, whatever their conduct be, have no real hatred of secret sin, no unfeigned delight in the secret exercises of religion: but in the believer these dispositions radically and abidingly exist.]

On this account God vouchsafes him the richest communications—

[Who amongst the sons of pleasure can be compared with the Christian in respect to real happiness? The happiness of the carnal man is only as “the crackling of thorns under a pot;” it blazes for a little time, and then expires in smoke. L~et a true Christian be bereft of all that the world holds most dear, and be reduced to a condition the most calamitous in the eyes of carnal men, yet would he not exchange states with the happiest worldling upon earth: he would spurn at the proposal with contemptuous indignation.

But it is not merely over the ungodly world that a lively Christian has this advantage: “he is anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows,” above those who in an inferior degree participate the same heavenly calling. Occasional circumstances of temptation or of darkness may indeed for a time reduce the most eminent Christian below the standard of his weaker brother: but in the general it will be found, that the more we have of the divine image, the more we shall abound in heavenly consolation: they will have most of heaven in their souls, who have the greatest meetness for it in their hearts and lives.

And though these holy joys are not bestowed on account of the believer’s merits, yet are they strictly and properly a reward for his piety: they are a reward of grace, though not a payment of a debt. God has in numberless places assured his people, that “he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” and that “it shall be well with the righteous, who shall eat the fruit of their doings [Note: Isaiah 3:10.].”]

Infer,

1. What a mercy is it to have such an example as Christ!

[If we entertain any doubt how we ought to walk, or what shall be the issue of a godly life, we need only look to the Lord Jesus Christ: in him we see precisely “how we ought to walk and to please God,” and what shall be the termination of a life spent in the service of our God. In him we shall find an answer to the cavils of the world on the one hand, and to the suggestions of Satan on the other. In those things which Christ did as a prophet, or as the Mediator, he is not an example to us; but in all other things he is: and as surely as we tread in his steps in this world, we shall be seated with him on his throne in the world to come.]

2. How vain are the expectations of those who are not conformed to it!

[Holiness and happiness are inseparable. It is in vain to hope for the “oil of gladness,” if we be not lovers of righteousness, and haters of iniquity. We may applaud and canonize those who conform to the world’s standard of perfection; but God will not ratify our sentence. The precepts of the Gospel are the infallible, the only rule of duty. They were exhibited in all their perfection by our blessed Lord, who gave us in his own life a comment on them. If we labour to imitate Him, and to walk in all things as he walked, our short-comings and defects will be forgiven us for His sake: but if we make any reserves in our obedience, we shall be regarded as despisers of his law, and take our portion with hypocrites and unbelievers. “Herein the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; he that doeth not righteousness is not of God.”]


Verse 10-11

DISCOURSE: 577

THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH AS MARRIED TO CHRIST

Psalms 45:10-11. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house. So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.

THE psalm before us is a kind of nuptial hymn; the former part of which recites the excellencies and glories of the heavenly Bridegroom; and the latter celebrates the praises of the Church, which is his bride. Into this relation to Christ every Believer is brought [Note: Isaiah 54:5.].

Now, as every change of situation brings with it correspondent duties, so that of marriage in particular requires a sacrifice of all other attachments. It binds each party to renounce whatever habits or practices may be found inconsistent with their mutual happiness. Such sacrifices are more eminently necessary for those united to Christ. To this effect, God addresses the Church in the words of our text.

We may consider,

I. The direction given to the Church—

The Church is, by adoption, by regeneration, and especially by her union with the Lord Jesus Christ, become the “daughter of Almighty God [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:18.].” She is here addressed by him under that affectionate appellation. Nor is it possible for a father to give more salutary advice, or to deliver it in more persuasive terms; “Hearken, consider, incline,” &c.

The direction itself is of a very peculiar nature—

[The Jews were permitted to marry the heathen virgins whom they had taken in war; but they were to allow them the space of a month to forget their own relations [Note: Deuteronomy 21:10-13.]. Thus the captives, weaned from former habits, might become loving companions, and obedient wives. In reference to this law, the Church is exhorted to forget her former friends. She has been taken captive by Christ, who makes her the first overtures of marriage; but his union with her is incompatible with carnal attachments. She can never love and obey him as she ought, till her heart is weaned from all other lovers.]

It is given to every individual in the church of God—

[Every wife is to forsake her parents, and cleave to her husband [Note: Genesis 2:24.]: much more is it needful for the soul to forsake all for Christ. To him we are espoused by our own voluntary surrender [Note: 2 Corinthians 11:2.]; nor will he be satisfied with a divided heart [Note: Hosea 10:2.]. Ungodliness and worldly lusts must be entirely renounced [Note: Titus 2:11-12 and 1 Peter 4:2-3.]: the companions of our unregenerate state must be forsaken [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.] Our very parents, yea, even life itself, must be hated, when they stand in competition with him [Note: Luke 14:26.]. The change in our actions and affections must be entire [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:17.]; and we must subscribe from our hearts the terms proposed to us [Note: Hosea 3:3.].]

This injunction will not appear harsh, if we attend to,

II. The arguments with which it is enforced—

God deals with us in all things as intelligent beings, and labours to persuade us by rational considerations.

1. It is our highest interest—

[Though the Church is vile in herself, she is complete in Christ [Note: Colossians 2:10.]: he has given orders for her thorough purification [Note: Esther 2:3.]. When she is presented to him, she is cleansed from all the filthiness of her former state [Note: Ephesians 5:25-27.]. Hence she is exceeding beautiful in his eyes [Note: Song of Solomon 4:9-11.]; and he feels a longing desire after communion with her [Note: Song of Solomon 2:14.]. No bridegroom ever so much rejoiced over his bride, as he over her [Note: Isaiah 62:5.]. More especially is he delighted with her when he sees that her heart is whole and entire with him [Note: Proverbs 11:20.]. How powerful an argument is this with an ingenuous soul! What can influence a wife more than to know that her conduct will conciliate the esteem of her husband? And what can delight a regenerate soul so much, as to please the Lord Jesus Christ? Let this hope then animate us to renounce all for him, and to address him in the words of holy David [Note: Psalms 73:25.].]

2. It is our indispensable duty—

[The husband is to be considered as lord over his wife [Note: 1 Peter 3:6.]: to him she owes an humble obediential reverence [Note: Ephesians 5:33.]. Christ also is the supreme Head and “LORD” of his Church. No limits whatever are to be set to his authority. We must “worship” and serve “him” equally with God the Father [Note: John 5:23.]. Let us then at least shew him that regard, which we ourselves expect from a fellow-creature. A husband will not endure a rival in his wife’s affections; shall we then “provoke the Lord himself to jealousy” by carnal attachments? Let us not dare in such a way to violate our nuptial engagements. When any thing solicits a place in our hearts, let us utterly reject it; and let us exercise that fidelity towards him, which we have ever experienced at his hands.]

Address—

1. Those who are endeavouring to unite the love of the world with the love of Christ—

[The interests of the world, and of Christ, are altogether opposite. Our Lord declares them to be absolutely irreconcileable [Note: Matthew 6:24.]. St. James also represents even a wish to reconcile them, as an incontestable proof of enmity against God [Note: James 4:4.]. As Jesus deserves, so he demands, our whole hearts [Note: Proverbs 23:26.]. Let us not then “mock him, and deceive ourselves.” If the Lord be God, let us not serve Baal, but him [Note: 1 Kings 18:21.]; and let us unite in imitating the repentant Jews [Note: 2 Chronicles 15:12.].]

2. Those who are desirous of uniting themselves to Christ—

[It is a great honour indeed which ye aspire after; yet is it offered to the vilest of the human race [Note: Ezekiel 16:3-5; Ezekiel 16:8.]. But you must get a change of raiment, that you may not dishonour your new station [Note: Zechariah 3:3-5. Revelation 19:7-8.]. Labour then to “purge out all remains of the old leaven.” Be on your guard, lest, after having escaped the pollutions of the world, you be again entangled with them and overcome [Note: 2 Peter 2:20.]. “Remember Lot’s wife,” that you may shun her example; so shall you enjoy the sweetest fellowship with Jesus, and live in the fruition of him to all eternity [Note: This subject, and all others of a similar nature, must be treated with extreme care and delicacy. The passages from the book of Canticles are cited rather for the reader’s satisfaction, than for use in a public discourse.].]


Verses 13-16

DISCOURSE: 578

THE CHURCH’S BEAUTY AND HAPPINESS

Psalms 45:13-16. The King’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needle-work: the virgins, her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee: with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King’s palace.

AMONGST the schoolmen of former days, there were many disputes about works of condignity, and works of congruity as contributing to effect the salvation of men. That in no point of view whatever, did works render men deserving of God’s favours is the avowed sentiment of our Church; yet to the full attainment of salvation, it is quite necessary that every man be holy, and possess what the Scriptures call “a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light.”

The Church is here represented under the character of a Bride that is to be joined, as in the marriage union, to her Lord. For this she must be prepared: and a preparation shall be given her suited to the occasion. In the former part of this psalm, which is penned on the occasion of her marriage, the excellencies of her Lord are set forth: in this latter part, her excellencies also. Let us consider,

I. Her transcendent qualities—

In the words which we have read, we see,

1. The internal qualities of her mind—

[“The King’s daughter is all glorious within.” She once, in her unconverted state, was corrupt even as others: but she has been “born again,” and “renewed in the spirit of her mind,” and made altogether “a new creature.” Once, being born only after the flesh, she had nothing but what was carnal: but now, having been born of the Spirit, she possesses a truly spiritual nature, or, as St. Peter expresses it, “she is a partaker of the Divine nature [Note: 2 Peter 1:4.];” and is progressively “changed into the image of her Lord himself, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:18.].” Hence “the mind that was in Christ Jesus is found in her [Note: Philippians 2:5.].” She has the same views, the same principles, the same desires, the same delights. There is indeed still a corrupt nature within her, “the flesh lusting against the Spirit, as well as the Spirit against the flesh:” but she longs to be holy, as her Lord is holy; and strives to be “perfect, as her Father which is in heaven is perfect.” When compared with what she was, she differs as light from darkness: but in comparison of what she will be, she is only as the dawn to the meridian sun; for “her path is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”]

2. The external habits of her life—

[“Her clothing is of wrought gold.” This refers to the outward conversation, which is often in Scripture represented as a putting off of the old man, and putting on the new: “Put off, as concerning the former conversation,” says the Apostle, “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and put on the new man, which after God is created in right-eousness and true holiness [Note: Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:24.].” To the same effect is that other expression of his, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ [Note: Romans 13:14.]:” that is, let your whole deportment be such as his was; so that any one who beholds you may be constrained to confess, that you “walk as he walked [Note: 1 John 2:6.],” and that, “as he was, so are you in this world [Note: 1 John 4:17.].” Such is every true Believer; nor will the heavenly Bridegroom acknowledge as his, any one, whose spirit, and temper, and conduct do not accord with his. “The raiment of needle-work” may fitly represent the assemblage of all the diversified graces which adorn her. All her dispositions being duly chastised, harmoniously tempered, and opportunely exercised, she shines in every department, and in every act; and at once approves herself faithful to her obligations, and meet for the ulterior honours that shall be conferred upon her.]

Suited to these qualities is,

II. The felicity prepared for her—

In due time “she shall be brought to the King’s palace,” there to be united to him in indissoluble and everlasting bonds.

Whilst she is here, she is to be employed in making herself ready—

[In royal nuptials, much time was spent in preparing the bride for her husband. In the purification of the virgins from amongst whom King Ahasuerus was to select a wife, a whole year was occupied: “six months in purifying them with oil of myrrh, and other six months with sweet odours of different kinds [Note: Esther 2:12-13.]:” after which they were presented to him. In like manner we are told, that the Church also is dealt with, in order to prepare her for her heavenly Bridegroom: for it is said, that “Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish [Note: Ephesians 5:25-27.].”

This process is going forward through the whole of this life. Every work of Providence, every communication of grace, every afflictive dispensation, and every joyous occurrence, is intended to advance it; that so at last the soul of the Believer may be altogether “worthy to stand before” the King of kings, and to be admitted to the closest fellowship with him for ever and ever.]

This work completed, she is introduced “into the palace of her Lord”—

[It was customary for a number of bridemaids to attend upon the bride, in order to welcome her to her destined home [Note: Matthew 25:1.]. Accordingly it is said, “The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought with her to the King’s palace.” Even here, whenever any are united unto the Lord, many, both of saints and angels, are ready to congratulate them on the blissful occasion. And how much more will this be the case, when those who are espoused to him in this world shall be brought to consummate their nuptials in the realms of bliss! We read of angels waiting upon Lazarus to bear his spirit to Abraham’s bosom. So at the departure of every saint we may well conceive of multitudes of angels and of their former friends coming forth to welcome their arrival. And O! what Joy will fill every soul! It is said, “With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought:” and we may see in the book of Revelations the whole ceremony pass, as it were, before our eyes. “I heard the voice of a great multitude, saying, Allelujah! Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the white linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb [Note: Revelation 19:6-9.].” Yes, blessed are they indeed, whether in the character of the spouse or her attendants: for though on earth they are different, in heaven they are the same; the one being the collective body of the Church, of which the others are the individual members. This representation, it must be confessed, is figurative: but under the figure there is a reality: for, as the Scripture says, “These are the true sayings of God [Note: Revelation 19:9.]!”]

Address—

1. Those who have never yet been espoused to Christ—

[Let it not be forgotten, that this is a very common figure in Scripture to represent the surrender of the soul to God. To his Church of old, God said by the prophet Hosea, “Thou shalt abide for me many days; (referring, like our text, to the purifications preparatory to nuptials;) thou shalt not play the harlot; and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee [Note: Hosea 3:3.].” And again; “I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies: I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord [Note: Hosea 2:19-20.].” In the New Testament also every believer is spoken of in this view: “I have espoused you to one Husband,” says St. Paul, “that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 11:2.].” Know ye then, that if you have never solemnly engaged yourselves to Christ, as a virgin does to the object of her affections, and so pledged yourselves, as not for a moment to admit a rival to your heart, you are not yet Christians indeed: you may bear the name; but you have no just title to the character. I call upon you therefore to do this without delay. And, if you desire to postpone this necessary act, I ask, Whom have you found so worthy of your affections as the Lord Jesus Christ? Who has done so much for you to deserve them? — — — and who will ever make you so rich a return? — — — Say not, “What is thy Beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us [Note: Song of Solomon 5:9.]:” for there is none to be compared with Him, either in heaven or on earth. “He is fairer than the children of men [Note: Psalms 45:2.]:” “He is the chiefest among ten thousand:” “He is altogether lovely [Note: Song of Solomon 5:10; Song of Solomon 5:16.].” O, rest not, till with holy confidence you can say, “This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem [Note: Song of Solomon 5:16.].” And so set yourselves from this moment to prepare yourselves for him, that he may shortly “bring you to his banqueting-house, and his banner over you be love [Note: Song of Solomon 2:4.].”]

2. Those who profess to stand in the relation of his Spouse—

[Look forward for the period when he will come and take you to himself. The precise hour of his arrival is not known: but it will not be very long, at all events. In the mean time, let your preparation for him be diligent and unintermitted. Seek to be daily more and more “glorious within,” and to have your clothing of wrought gold ever ready; so that if his arrival be ever so sudden, he may not find you unprepared for his call. Be jealous over yourselves; and forgive me if I also be jealous over you, in relation to this matter. You know how “the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety” even in Paradise: and you may be sure that he will use his utmost efforts to “corrupt you from the simplicity that is in Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 11:3.].” Be on your guard therefore, lest either in principle or in practice you turn aside from him. He has numberless instruments whom he employs as his agents to deceive the world; “deceitful workers, who can transform themselves into the Apostles of Christ; as he himself also is not unfrequently transformed into an angel of light [Note: 2 Corinthians 11:13-14.].” But entreat of God to keep you: beg of him to “hedge up your way with thorns, and even to build up a wall around you, that, if you should for a moment incline to follow after your former lovers — — —, you may not be able to find your paths.” If unhappily you have gone in pursuit of them — — —, implore of God, that “you may never find them; or, having found, may never overtake them:” or, if you have overtaken them — — —, separate yourselves instantly from them, and say, “I will go and return to my first husband; for then it was better with me than now [Note: Hosea 2:6-7.]” — — —]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 45:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-45.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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