Study Guide

Psalms Psalm 45

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Psalm 45

Verse 1

My heart overflows with a goodly theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

  • This psalm is addressed to an Israelite king on the occasion of a royal wedding.
  • Remember, this would have been sung or read as poetry. Fancy. That's why the author says that his tongue is like a pen (simile alert!). There's no pen involved.

Verses 2-5

You are the most handsome of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your glory and majesty.
In your majesty ride on victoriously for the cause of truth and to defend the right; let your right hand teach you dread deeds.
Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; the peoples fall under you. 

Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
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 kings enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.

  • Finding it hard to figure out who's God and who's king? That's what the writer wants. God teaches the king how to use divine power. It's good to be the king, right?
  • See, this one is dripping with sycophantisms. Translation: we've got a goody-two-shoes on our hands.
  • Truth pops up here in an interesting way, one which we haven't really explored yet in Psalms. Think about it: Psalms would say that truth is God's law and loyalty to it, but the book doesn't really go into what that law is or what "truth" means.
  • It's ambiguous to us, but would have been crystal clear to the Israelites.

Verses 6-9

Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
Kings daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.

  • From this passage, we get an idea of what kinds of luxuries came with royalty. We've got ivory, spices, gold, and an entourage of virgins and soldiers for the princess and prince, respectively. Not too shabby.
  • Pretty poignant images, right? These smells and materials would have been familiar to the audience. Think about it: even if you've never held a bar of gold, you know what it looks like and what it represents, right? Here we have symbols of power and wealth that the writer is tying to divine power.

Verses 10-17

Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your people and your father's house,
and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him;
the people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people
with all kinds of wealth. The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
in many-colored robes she is led to the king; behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.
With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.
In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons; you will make them princes in all the earth.
I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.

Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy fathers house;
So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.
And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.
The kings daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: 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 kings palace.
Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.
I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

  • Notice how the royal family is tied to God, which naturally lends them a certain legitimacy (divine right). They also seem to have the ability to create a long-lasting line of kings that can uphold God's power (and their own).
  • How do they do it? Sons, sons, sons! The key to maintaining your grip on royal power was to pass the title on to a male heir. Since they naturally couldn't control the gender of their children, royals liked to hear it said at court and believed that asking God helped them out a bit.

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