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Psalm 45

 

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
45:1-2 45:1-5 45:1 45:1 45:1
    45:2-3 45:2-3 45:2
45:3-5       45:3a-4a
    45:4-5 45:4-5 45:4b-5
45:6-9 45:6-9 45:6-9 45:6-9 45:6-7a
        45:7b-8a
        45:8b-9
45:10-12 45:10-12 45:10-13a 45:10-12 45:10-13a
45:13-15 45:13-17 45:13b-15 45:13-15 45:13b-16
45:16-17   45:16-17 45:16-17  
        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 Sam. 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. The Psalm has

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

2. an address to the king, Ps. 45:3-9

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

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 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.

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)

 

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. Pro. 22:11; Eccl. 10:12); I think Ps. 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 at Ps. 25:12). Obedience is important but call is crucial. He was not King because he deserved it but by family line.

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 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.

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. Pro. 15:33; 18:12; 22:4; Zeph. 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, Ps. 45:3, cf. Deut. 1:41; Jdgs. 3:16; 18:11; 1 Sam.17:39; 25:13

2-3. "ride on victoriously," Ps. 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," Ps. 45:4 — BDB 434, KB 436, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

5. "let the peoples fall under You," Ps. 45:5— BDB 656, KB 709, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

 

45:3 "Splendor" (BDB 217 I) and "majesty" (BDB 214) are often associated with God (i.e., Ps. 104:1). Notice how NASB capitalizes the pronouns in Ps. 45:2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. But they are also used of the Israeli King (i.e., Ps. 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 — Gen. 10:9; Ps. 78:65; 120:4; 127:4; Eccl. 9:11; Song of Songs 3:7

2. Messiah — Isa. 9:5 (David as type — Ps. 89:20)

3. YHWH as faithful covenant warrior (i.e., holy war) — Neh. 9:32; Ps. 24:8; Isa. 10:21; Jer. 32:18

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

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

1. some refer to God

2. some to the King

This same confusion is in verses 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., Heb. 1:8-9) saw this as a Messianic Psalm. For them the Messiah had come and the OT pointed to Him (i.e., Jesus).

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 — Deut. 1:19; 7:21; 10:20-21

2. His deeds — 2 Sam. 7:23; Ps. 145:6 (splitting the Red Sea, Ps. 106:22)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 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.

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

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 at Ps. 2:7) 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).

YHWH's throne (cf. 1 Chr. 29:23; Lam. 5:19) is forever (cf. Ps. 93:2; see Special Topic at Ps. 9:5). The King's throne is for a lifetime. The Messiah is the special coming King (see Special Topic at Ps. 2:2). This phrase has one connotation in the OT and a fuller one in the NT!

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 at Psalm 2 Intro.).

One last thought, verse 7 shows clearly that verse 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. Ps. 11:7; 33:5), so too, should His earthly representative, the Israeli king (i.e., His anointed, cf. Ps. 2:2).

45:8

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"cassia"
TEV, NJB,
REB -omit-

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

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. Neh. 2:6) 

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 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.

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 Kgs. 11:1-8)

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

 

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. Pro. 22:17

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

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 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.

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

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

45:14

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; Pro. 3:15; 8:11; 31:10; Lam. 4:7).

The UBS Text Project gives the MT an "A" rating.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 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.

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."

Verse 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 verse 6 refer to the Israeli king?

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

4. Explain verses 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?