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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Psalms 45

 

 

Verse 1

Psalms 45.

The majesty and grace of Christ's kingdom. The duty of the church, and the benefits thereof.

To the chief musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil.

A Song of Loves.

Title. שׁשׁנים על al Shoshannim. Upon Shoshannim] Houbigant and others render it, upon the lilies; which seems to be the true meaning of the original word. Parkhurst observes, that Christ, the divine light, and true believers, who are the sons of light, and who are accordingly described as clothed in white, are emblematically represented by lilies: see Song of Solomon 2:1; Song of Solomon 2:16; Son_4:5; Son_6:1-2. Hence may be explained the title of the present, the 69th, and the 80th Psalms, which Acquila constantly renders "To the giver of victory, concerning the lilies:" i.e. the emblematical lilies just mentioned. The version of the LXX, of שׁשׁנים על al shoshannim, is, "Concerning those who are to be changed or transformed;" i.e. from corruption to incorruption, from dishonour to glory, from natural to spiritual. The title of the 60th Psalm is in the singular; שׁושׁן על al shushan, "concerning the lily; i.e. the divine light, who is a banner to them that fear God, and is his right hand, by whom the beloved are delivered." See Parkhurst's Lexicon on the word שׁשׁ shesh, and the remarks on the title of Psalms 22. It is further called a song of loves, which being in Hebrew ידידת שׁיר shiir iedidoth, may allude both to Jedidiah, the name given to Solomon by Nathan, 2 Samuel 12:25 and likewise to the custom observed in the Jewish marriages, wherein the bride was encircled by young virgins, who sung a peculiar song or Psalm in honour of her espousals. Hence some render it, A song of the beloved maids;—a song of the bride-maids; and it has been thought that the Psalm was sung on the marriage of Solomon with Pharaoh's daughters; though unquestionably, like the Book of Canticles, it has a much higher reference. Most interpreters, says Bishop Patrick, conclude that it was composed upon the occasion, at least, of Solomon's marriage with Pharaoh's daughter; who, it is most likely, was a proselyte to the Jewish religion. Some few indeed will not allow so much as this, or that there is any respect to Solomon at all in this Psalm, but only to Christ; and the truth is, many of the expressions in it are so magnificent, that they can but in a very poor and low sense be applied to Solomon and his bride; and some of them scarcely at all. It being so apparent, no Christian can deny it, that the mind of the prophet, while he was writing some part of this Psalm, was carried quite beyond king Solomon, to the great King, the LORD CHRIST: or, at least, he was guided to use words so high, that they proved too big for Solomon; and we must say, as our Saviour did in another case, BEHOLD! A GREATER THAN SOLOMON IS HERE! This the best of the Jewish interpreters acknowledge, particularly Kimchi, Aben-ezra, and Solomon Jarchi.

Psalms 45:1. My heart is inditing a good matter The word רחשׁ rachash, rendered inditing, signifies boiling or bubbling up; and is here used metaphorically for deeply meditating with fervour and vehemency, in allusion either to water boiled over a fire, or else springing forth from a fountain. The King, means either primarily Solomon, or more properly the Messiah. My tongue is the pen, &c. as if he had said, "I will recite what I have composed with so much fluency, as shall equal the style of the most skilful and diligent writer." Green transposes the clauses in this verse; making the words, I speak of the things, &c. the last clause; because, says he, the address follows in the very next words. He renders it, I will address my work unto the king.


Verse 2

Psalms 45:2. Grace is poured into thy lips Hebrew, Grace is poured upon thy lips. The former part of the verse describes the beauty of the king's person; this, his eloquence and gracefulness of address. In this sense Solomon uses these words, Proverbs 22:11. The king is a friend to the grace of lips; i.e. to eloquence of speech and graceful address; and in Ecclesiastes 10:12. The words of a wise man's mouth are said to be grace; i.e. graceful and eloquent. Grace is poured, is used here in the same sense in which Milton uses it, Book 4: ver.364.

————Such grace The hand that form'd them on their shape hath pour'd.

Perhaps we cannot have a better comment upon this period than Raphael's description of Adam, in the same author, Book 8: ver. 218.

Nor are thy lips ungraceful, fire of men, Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee Abundantly his gifts hath also pour'd, Inward and outward both, his image fair; Speaking or mute, all comeliness and grace Attends thee, and each word each motion forms.

Such was the eloquence of Solomon, that when the queen of Sheba, who came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear him, had been witness of the wisdom with which he spoke, There was no more spirit in her, nor was he less remarkable for the elegance of his person: and such was the eloquence and graceful address of our Lord, that even the Nazarites, the most prejudiced of his enemies, could not help wondering at the graceful words which proceeded out of his mouth; nor could the officers who were sent by the Jewish Sanhedrin to take him, find in their hearts to execute their commission; because, never man, said they, spake like this man. We may just observe, that the prophet Isaiah 52:14; Isa_53:2 represents the Messiah as having no form or comeliness; but this relates chiefly to the scandal of his cross; though it may also refer to his countenance, which, before his death, had been wasted and disfigured by fasting and weariness, by painfulness and sorrow; his visage being marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. But the words of the Psalmist principally relate to that internal beauty, which in the prophesy of Ezekiel is called The beauty of wisdom, chap. Psalms 28:7 or to that glory which men beheld when Christ was manifested in the flesh, even the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father. See Isaiah 50:4.; Luke 2:52. Instead of therefore God, in the last clause, some read, because God.


Verse 3

Psalms 45:3. Gird thy sword, &c.— This is meant of Christ's coming victoriously to set up his spiritual kingdom in our hearts, and to rule and reign in them by the power of his grace; in allusion to earthly potentates, who are invested with the ensigns of majesty, and girded with their proper armour when they go forth to battle. But the sword with which Christ was armed, was the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Bishop Hare renders the verse, Gird thee with thy sword on thy thigh, O powerful One: thy glory and thy renown are for ever.


Verse 4

Psalms 45:4. Ride prosperously i.e. "Go forth, like a great conqueror, (see Revelation 19:11.) not to enslave men's persons, or to spoil their goods; but to settle the true faith among them, and to make them humble and meek, just and merciful." Thy right hand, &c. means, "Thy mighty power shall instruct thee to do miraculous and amazing works." See Luke 4:36; Luk_5:26. Green renders this verse, Ride on successfully in the cause of truth, righteousness, and meekness; and let thy right hand direct thee to do formidable things: and others, And in thy majesty prosper thou: ride for the cause of truth, &c.


Verse 5

Psalms 45:5. Thine arrows are sharp, &c.— Thine arrows are sharp; people shall fall under thee, in the midst of the king's enemies. Or, Thy sharp arrows shall level the people under thee; they shall fall into the heart of the king's enemies. Houbigant. The allusion to an earthly conqueror is still continued. The meaning is, "Thy word shall pierce like sharp arrows into the hearts of all who oppose thee, and make all nations humble themselves and become subject to thee."


Verse 6

Psalms 45:6. Thy throne, O God, &c.— In Hebrews 1:8 this verse is immediately applied to Christ. The word here rendered God, is אלהים elohim, in the plural; concerning which, see the note on the 1st verse of the 1st chapter of Genesis. In agreement with this verse, St. Paul says of him, that He is over all, God blessed for ever, Romans 9:5 and we are told, Luke 1:33 that of his kingdom there shall be no end. The sceptre of his kingdom is a right sceptre; i.e. "His laws are all righteous and good." It is translated by Houbigant and others, A sceptre of equity.


Verse 7

Psalms 45:7. Thy God hath anointed thee Christ is emphatically, The Anointed; Luke 4:18.; Acts 10:38. Kings, priests, and prophets, were anointed when they entered upon their several offices. Christ was anointed of the Father, solemnly appointed to be the prophet, priest, and king of his people; but it is the regal dignity which is here chiefly referred to, with which (as man) he was not fully invested till after his resurrection, and exaltation to his throne in heaven. Gladness, means such as is remarkable at the coronation of kings, or rather infinitely beyond it. Thy fellows, must mean either other prophets, priests, and kings, or the faithful in general, who also have an unction from the Holy One, and who are made kings and priests unto God. See 1 John 2:20.; Revelation 1:6.


Verse 8

Psalms 45:8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, &c.— The aloes commonly known in England, to be used by the practitioners in physic, is found to be far from a perfume. It may be proper, therefore, to observe, that there is a wood called the wood of aloes, of Syria, which is a prickly shrub, and which the perfumers make use of. See Proverbs 7:17. It was, perhaps, from not attending to this particular, that some have rendered the verse, Myrrh, and cedar-oil, and cassia, are all thy garments, from the ivory palaces, wherein thou delightest. Green, after Bishop Hare, &c. gives us the verse thus; All thy garments, out of the ivory wardrobes perfumed with myrrh, aloes, and cassia, delight thee with their fragrance. And Houbigant translates it, myrrh, aloes, and cassia, all thy garments, from the ivory vessels, the vessels of thy anointing; those from which the myrrh, &c. are taken. These perfumes are mentioned as emblematical of the virtues and graces of Christ; and of the knowledge of him, which was spread as a sweet odour in every place, when he went to espouse a church unto himself. See 2 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 2:16.


Verse 9

Psalms 45:9. Kings' daughters, &c.— Kings' daughters were in thy magnificence. Or, Were among thy high-valued treasures. Mudge. The prophet here represents the bride, whose marriage he celebrates, as attended by princesses. There is no need to speak of the literal propriety, if referring to Solomon. But in the spiritual sense, these images of a bride or a queen, and of her honourable women, (who, in the proper and literal sense, are persons really different,) are not to be so distinguished: as in the parable of the virgins, Matthew 25 those who go before the bride, are not in the mystical sense different from the bride herself; since the church, who is the spouse of Christ, is no other than the faithful who compose the church: but the prophet in this Psalm, which is a continued parable, refers to the ceremonies observed in the marriages of kings; whose queens, richly clothed, are attended with a retinue of ladies of the first quality. Compare Revelation 21:9-11.


Verses 10-12

Psalms 45:10-12. Hearken, O daughter, &c.— The prophet here addresses himself to the bride, that is, the church, Psalms 45:13. Thine own people, and thy father's house, means, "the religion of the country in which thou wast educated, whether Gentile or Jewish." See Luke 19:26.; Ephesians 5:31-32. "Thus shalt thou be amiable in the eyes of Christ, as being a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." The version of the Liturgy of the Church of England adds the word God:—He is thy Lord God; which is not in the Hebrew or the LXX. Bishop Hare concludes the 11th verse with these words, for he is thy Lord; and he translates the next verse thus, And do thou, O daughter of Tyre, prostrate thyself before him with a present; let the rich also among thy people intreat his favour. The meaning of which seems to be, that the Gentiles, even the richest and proudest of them, such as were the Tyrians, shall honour the church of Christ, and join themselves to it. This was verified of the Tyrians in particular, Mark 3:8; Mar_7:4; Acts 21:3-5.


Verse 13-14

Psalms 45:13-14. The king's daughter, &c.— The king's daughter, the church, is said to be all glorious within; that is, adorned with the most excellent graces and virtues. Her clothing is of wrought gold; i.e. those graces and virtues shall display themselves outwardly, and recommend themselves by the lustre of good works. See Matthew 5:16 and respecting the companions of the church, and the rejoicing, Revelation 1:4; Rev_19:6-7; Acts 2:46-47.


Verse 16

Psalms 45:16. Instead of thy fathers, &c.— i.e. "Instead of the patriarchs, of their descent from whom the Jews were apt to boast, shall be pastors and ecclesiastical rulers throughout the world, and, at length, the temporal princes and governors thereof shall own thee for their mother." Houbigant renders the last verse very properly, in my judgment, after the Chaldee, They, that is, thy children, shall make thy name to be remembered.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, This Psalm is written especially concerning him who is the lily of the valley, and those faithful ones, who, by a marriage-union with him, partake of his beauty and fragrance. This is the epithalamium composed on this royal nuptial, A song of loves; the mutual love of Christ and his church; or, of the beloved virgins; sung by those faithful believers in honour of their august bridegroom, whose praise shall never cease from their lips, when in glory they shall follow the Lamb wheresoever he goeth.

The author introduces his bridal ode with a preface concerning the person. My heart is inditing a good matter; yea, the best subject that ever employed a poet's thought, the grace and glory of our Immanuel: is inditing, or bubbling as a fountain; his heart was big with the sacred theme, and ready to burst, like the fountain from its overflowing reservoir: deeply in thought he first digested and arranged the matter, then uttered his song. I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: Jesus is the grand object in his view, his person, grace, and government: I speak, not under the influence of mere poetic genius, but inspired by that eternal Spirit of truth and holiness, who dictates as I utter: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer; delight in the glorious subject gives freedom to the tongue, and fluency to the pen; and deeply may the song be engraven on every heart, and kindle still the sacred flame of love as it descends to latest ages! Note; They who know the excellence of Jesus, delight to think of him, speak of him, write of him; a sweet favour of Christ is in all their words and works, and this subject can never be exhausted to eternity.

2nd, We have a glorious description of the divine and adored Redeemer, appearing in the flesh for the salvation of the faithful, and the ruin of his enemies.

1. His beauty is described. Thou art fairer than the children of men: not considered in his uncreated beauty, nor, I apprehend, respecting his human form and countenance as man, but with regard to the transcendant excellencies which he possesses as Redeemer and Son of God, which render him the chief of ten thousand, and altogether lovely. Thus every faithful soul regards him as the grand object of his warmest affections; and, though he hath neither form nor comeliness to others, he can say, whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is nothing upon earth I desire in comparison of thee.

2. His words are as sweet and kind, as his person, as Mediator, is amiable. Grace is poured into thy lips; the gospel of grace, which was delivered unto him, and which he declared to men, containing those rich and inestimable promises of pardon, grace, consolation, and glory, the report of which makes his feet beautiful upon the mountains.

3. The blessing of God is upon him for ever. It pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell, that out of the plenitude which he had received he might dispense to his faithful people according to their necessities, be their fountain of blessing, their eternal excellence, and the joy of many generations. Blessed and happy are they who out of his fulness receive, and grace for grace.

4. Victory attends his chariot-wheels: he comes to conquer his faithful people's enemies, and to rescue the prey from the mighty; first bringing them from slavery, then making them partners of his throne. The Psalmist addresses him, therefore, as ready to go forth to battle against the powers of darkness: Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty; that sword of the Spirit, even the word of God; by the preaching and power of which, at last the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ: and in this warfare he appears with glory and majesty; not to the eye of sense; in that he was despicable; but they who regarded him as the only-begotten of the Father, beheld his glory; nor did his excellent majesty ever appear more distinguished than when covered with clotted gore, and streaming down with blood; he spoiled on the cross principalities and powers, making a shew of them openly. And in thy majesty ride prosperously: this is the church's prayer, that he would go forth conquering and to conquer, and triumph in the heart of every believer, as he hath overcome for them; and this because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; by means of these, by his word of truth, the promise which supported him in his sufferings; or the gospel, through which the saints overcome; because of meekness, either his own, which enabled him patiently to endure our punishment, or that which he works in his believing people under all their trials; because of righteousness, that which he hath wrought out in his own person; or that internal holiness of heart which he works in his people, whereby they are strengthened against all the temptations of sin and Satan: thus entering the lists, thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things; thy omnipotent arm shall prevail over all the combined powers of earth and hell. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies, whereby the people shall fall under thee; either those who, though once enemies, subdued by mighty grace, and pierced with deep conviction, fall down at the Redeemer's feet as humble supplicants for mercy; or those who, obstinately impenitent, and standing out against the warnings of his word, and the calls of his gospel, are broken under the rod of his judgments, and, pierced with the arrows of his eternal wrath, find it in vain to struggle with Omnipotence. Note; (1.) The sharpest convictions of sin are gracious wounds, designed not to destroy, but to recover us. (2.) When, by Divine Grace, the majestic Saviour takes possession of the heart, corruption must fall before his mighty sword. (3.) Wo to the sinner's soul against which the arrows of vengeance are ready on the string.

3rdly, The Psalmist, having set forth the king Messiah victorious over his foes, here describes him on his exalted throne, in robes of majesty, and graced with most magnificent attendants.

1. His throne and righteous administration are remarked. Thy throne, O God; no less a personage than the eternal Jehovah; not a creature of the highest rank, but the self-existent Creator, whom angels adore, and whose kingdom ruleth over all; and eternal as universal, for ever and ever: equitable in all his administrations, the scepre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre; none shall have cause to complain. Thou lovest righteousness, or righteous persons; those who, under the influence of faith and love, walk after his own blessed pattern and precepts, and hatest wickedness of all sorts, and those who practise it; and will, in condign punishment, make his hatred of it appear to all eternity.

2. The appointment of Christ to his mediatorial kingdom is observed. Therefore God, even thy God, John 20:17 who appointed him for the work of redemption, and was the head of Christ and his God, as incarnate, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness; all spiritual gifts and graces, without measure, were bestowed upon the man Jesus, that he might be every way qualified for the undertaking whereunto he was appointed; and have in all things the pre-eminence in the surpassing excellence of his human nature, as well as in the transcendant dignity to which he was advanced above his fellows.

3. His royal apparel is mentioned. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia; alluding to the ingredients of the holy oil, Exodus 30:23.

4. His court appears magnificently splendid. Kings' daughters were among thy honourable women; the children of God are sons and daughters of the eternal king, and their highest honour is to be attendants on his exalted Son; seeing that by him they obtain this glorious relation, becoming children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. And as particular believers, virgin souls of royal extraction, appear his attendants, his church sits as a queen at his right hand in gold of Ophir, adorned with gifts and graces more pure and precious than the finest gold. We may say of him, with infinitely greater propriety than the queen of Sheba did of Solomon's servants, Happy are they that stand continually before thee; for a greater than Solomon is here.

4thly, As the former part related to the king, the latter particularly respects the queen, the Lamb's wife; and the is called daughter, either referring to her relation to God's dear Son, or as a term of tender and affectionate regard.

1. A solemn injunction is given her. Hearken, consider, incline thine ear: thou art no longer thine own, thy husband's will must be thy law; hearken to it with attention, consider it with delight, and incline to it with cheerfulness; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; let no attachment beside engage thy heart, for the whole belongs to him. They who would be Christ's spouse must be separated for him from whatever here below would ensnare and draw away their affections. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: this is an argument for her faithful adherence to him alone; the delight he would take in her, and the happiness thence resulting. Another is drawn from his right and authority over her: He is thy Lord; thy master, to whom obedience is so highly due; and therefore worship thou him, as thy maker, as well as thy husband and thy Redeemer, who is most high in the glory of God the Father, equal as touching his godhead, and therefore to be adored with equal honour. Note; (1.) We cannot entertain too high thoughts of the glory of our divine Lord: the humiliation of the man must never lessen in our eye the essential deity of the Son. (2.) None can call Christ their bridegroom, whose fidelity and love do not evidence the truth of their relation. (3.) The Lord's delight is those who love and serve him; no beauty in his eye like the beauty of holiness.

2. The conversion of the Gentiles under her is foretold. The daughter of Tyre, the nearest bordering heathen nation, shall be there with a gift, offering up herself and her goods for the support of the Gospel; even the rich among the people; not only the lower ranks in life, but even kings shall intreat thy favour; desire to be admitted into the communion and fellowship of the Gospel, which in a measure has been, and yet shall be, more eminently fulfilled in its season.

3. Her beautiful apparel and admission into her husband's palace are observed. The king's daughter is all glorious within; her soul is adorned with every divine and gracious disposition; her clothing is of wrought gold; a shining profession, and exemplary conduct, mark all her steps. She shall be brought unto the king, conducted by the hand of grace, and prepared for her high estate, in raiment of needlework, in the richest garments of humility, purity, and love: the virgins her companions; the souls preserved in purity, unspotted from the world, that follow her in all holy ordinances and godly conversation, shall be brought unto thee, to the eternal enjoyment of thy presence and love. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought, amid congratulating angels, themselves lost in wonder, gratitude, and praise; and no marvel! when they shall enter into the king's palace; the heaven of heavens, the place where his throne of glory stands; and where, next to his own, thrones are prepared for them, that they may reign with him eternally. May my poor soul be numbered among these virgin fellows!

4. The progeny of the Redeemer is promised to be many and illustrious. Instead of thy fathers, the Jewish stock from whence he sprung, shall be thy children, of the Gentile world; whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth; for his dominion shall be from sea to sea; the very isles of the Gentiles shall come in unto him: and from all these nations he shall have a faithful people to reign with him as kings and priests for ever. In consequence of this spread of the Gospel, the Father engages to make his memorial everlasting. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations, by maintaining a perpetual succession of faithful men: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever: while the sun and the moon endureth, there shall be a church to praise him; and when these bright luminaries are extinguished, the praises of our Jesus shall continue the burden of the never-ceasing long of eternity. Amen, and Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 45:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-45.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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