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Sunday, February 14, 2021

“A Wedding Song” Psalm 45 [Matt's Messages]

“A Wedding Song”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
February 14, 2021 :: Psalm 45

I chose Psalm 45 for this Sunday because this Sunday is Valentine’s Day, February 14th. And here we are in the middle of a sermon series on the Psalms! And I don’t know when a better occasion would ever arise to preach Psalm 45. I’ve never preached Psalm 45. I don’t think I’ve even ever heard a sermon preached by anyone on Psalm 45!

Because Psalm 45 is a little different. It’s not quite like any of the other psalms in the Psalter. It’s not really a praise song. It’s not really a prayer song. It’s more of a prophetic song and even more of a royal song, but it’s not quite like any of the other prophetic or royal psalms either because Psalm 45 is a wedding song.

If anything, it’s more like the Song of Songs than any of the other psalms. But it’s not that much like the Song of Solomon either because it’s not love poems from the guy to the gal and back again. It’s a song composed by a court poet, one of the Sons of Korah (from whom we’ve heard some of their other songs in this series) written about and to the royal couple for the occasion of a royal wedding.

A song written about and to the royal couple for the occasion of a royal wedding.

There’s just nothing else like it in the Book of Psalms.

And, really, there’s nothing else like this wedding. You and I have never seen a wedding like this one in Psalm 45. It is so absolutely brilliant and beautiful, lavish and dazzling and supercharged.

And the language of Psalm 45 is so heightened and exalted and supercharged as well that it has to be talking about more than just this one stunning royal wedding. That’s why I say that it’s prophetic, as well.

Have I you piqued your curiosity?

As we read Psalm 45, you’ll see that it totally belongs in the Book of Psalms even though it is different from all the others because, in the end, it’s not just about this one resplendent couple, it’s ultimately about our Lord.

Let’s get into it. Here is the superscription. Psalm 45, verse 1.

“For the director of music. To the tune of ‘Lilies.’ [I wonder what that sounded like. I’m sure it was grand and expansive and beautiful!] Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil. A wedding song.”


So here we have a wedding song that was composed to be sung about and even to the royal couple at their royal wedding.

The king of Israel is getting married. A son of David is taking a bride to be his wife. That’s a big honking deal occasion! And so a wedding song has been commissioned.

Perhaps this was for Solomon. He certainly understood the role of brilliant pomp and opulent ceremony.

And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that this song had been sung at every Davidic King’s wedding from Solomon on.

Because I think that this psalm is aspirational and anticipational

This song describes what the royal couple ought to be and one day certainly will.

It’s clear that the wedding song writer was aware that he was writing something big. Look at the second half of verse 1.

“My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”

That’s different, isn’t it? In the Psalms, we don’t normally get the songwriter telling us how he feels as he sits down to put pen to parchment.

But this son of Korah is obviously feeling it. His heart is stirred. His tongue is writing with great skill. He is feeling the inspiration, and he just knows that something big and noble and good is going to flow right out of him.

And it’s going to be about the king.

Verses 2 through 9 are addressed directly to the Royal Groom. 

Verses 10 through 15 are going to directly address the Royal Bride.

And then in verse 16, the song will return to the Royal Groom, speaking really to both of them about their Royal Princes, the Royal Heirs.

And then in verse 17, the songwriter will talk about himself and what he’s doing with this song one more time to round things off.

Every true wedding has a Bride and a Groom.

And this songs starts with the Groom for he is the king. Verse 2. Listen for the exalted language. Again, this is aspirational and anticipational. This is how the king should be and how he certainly one day will be. Verse 2.

“You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.”

Do you see how exalted this is, right from the git-go?!

It’s the king’s wedding day, and this song praises him. He is the most excellent of men, and his speech is excellent, as well. His mouth is full of graciously anointed words, blessed by God forever! It says, “forever!”

Two things here. The first thing to note is how much God cares about gracious speech. He cares about how we talk. About what we say. This is where the psalmist begins to praise the character of this king, the king’s speech, his words.

The other thing to note is that probably this king didn’t quite live up to this song lyric.

He should have! Maybe he did to a degree that no one else had yet. We don’t know.

But it’s probably more aspirational than actual. It was sung about him on his wedding day with the hopes that it would come to pass.

This was his calling. That’s certainly true in verses 3 through 5.

“Gird your sword upon your side, O mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. In your majesty ride forth victoriously in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds. Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king's enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet.”

There’s a reason why this psalm is not sung at most of our weddings.

It surely wasn’t sung at Heather's and mine. 

Because this is not what every husband is supposed to be and do. 

Every husband should have lips anointed with grace. But we aren’t all supposed to suit up in splendor and majesty and run out to war.

The ancient king of Israel was supposed to do that. He was supposed to have his sharp arrows pierce the hearts of his enemies and have the nations fall beneath his feet.

Here the nations are not glad like we saw last week in Psalm 67. These are not repentant and newly worshiping peoples. These are the unrepentant enemies of Israel and her king such as we saw back in Psalm 2.

And this king is called to fight and to beat them. He is called to win. To ride forth victoriously and to win.

And yet notice on whose behalf he rides in verse 4.

It’s not for his own aggrandizement. It’s on “behalf of truth, humility, and righteousness.”

Humility?! Fighting on behalf of humility and meekness. That’s surprising.

And that’s a tall order! It takes a truly great king to defend humility.

Now, verse 6 is the verse that rockets this psalm to the highest level of just about any psalm in the book.

Apparently still addressing the Royal Groom, the King of Israel, the psalmist sings about his throne and his scepter, those powerful symbols of his rule, and he appears to call him, “God.” Look at verse 6.

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.”

Now, that’s pretty unique. Most of the time, humans are not called quote-unquote “God” in the Bible unless they are actually also God Himself.

So I would normally think that this was simply a change of address. That the psalmist was turning up to God in prayer in verse 6 before turning back to the king in verse 7.

Or perhaps I would go with a perfectly good alternative translation that says something like, “Your godly throne, or the throne of God from which you rule will last forever and ever.”

But the author to the letter to the Hebrews in our New Testament quotes this verse of Psalm 45 in Hebrews chapter 1 verses 8 and 9 and says that they are about God the Son. Listen to Hebrews 1, “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’”

So Psalm 45, verse 6 is, at least, about the Son of God.

And so this song apparently is actually addressing the king of Israel and calling him “God.”

Now, of course, Solomon was not actually God. And neither were any of the sons of David in the Old Testament.

But remember Psalm 2 says that they were in some sense the “Son” of God. God had promised David that He Himself would be a father to David’s sons and they would be as God’s sons (see 2 Samuel 7:14).

And so in that sense as “sons” of God, they could even, as they sit on this very throne, be called quote-unquote “God.”

How much more, of course, could One Who sat on that very throne be called “God” because He actually metaphysically eternally was God?!

This psalm is clearly prophetic. It anticipates the Messianic King Who is actually factually divine.

And it’s also aspirational. This king on his wedding day is being called rule with justice.

Don’t miss that word “justice” in verse 6 when you see that word “God.” Don’t get hung up on “God” and miss the word “justice.”

The king’s scepter is the scepter of justice. Unbiased, perfectly fair, righteous and just in every single way.

O how we long for justice!

The Psalms and the Prophets are full of calls for justice and predictions of the day when justice will be done and be seen to be done.

The songwriter says that the Royal Groom will rule with justice.

In fact, he says that he’s been set above all of the others in the kingdom because he loves justice. Verse 7.

“You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

Now, notice something interesting there. Here the king is not called “God.” He has a God. “God, your God, has set you above your companions.”

This king has been exalted by God.

So, now, which is it? Is he God or does he have a God?

I’m sure that this was a mystery to the first listeners to this song. Scratching their heads.

Maybe a mystery even to the songwriter himself. “Why did I write it like that?”

Answer: The original king of Psalm 45 was only a quote-unquote “God,” and he had a God.

But the One that this Psalm points us to, the One this Psalm anticipates is God and is with God, has a God. Sound familiar? Check out the Gospel of John chapter 1, verse 1.

Now, it’s easy to get caught up in the exalted language and forget that this is the king’s wedding day.

This is all lead up to the Royal Wedding.

The Royal Groom has been anointed with the oil of joy, but he’s anointed with much more. Verse 8.

“All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.”

The Royal Groom is all decked out and ready to get married!

He is layered with sumptuous luxuriant fragrances. Remember, they don’t have any deodorants! And these scents are expensive and extravagant for this unique imperial occasion.

The music is just right. It’s swelling and bouncing off of the priceless ivory in the palace and making the Groom’s heart glad.

And it’s an international affair of state. Highborn daughters of other kings in all of their foreign finery are present. 

And there she is!

Wearing a gorgeous gown embroidered with the most precious gold in the Bible, the gold of Ophir, is the Royal Bride!

And there, the song begins to sing to and about her. Verse 10

“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father's house. [Not totally of course, but change your primary allegiance. That’s what marriage is. You transfer your primary allegiance now to your spouse. And them to you. V.11] The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. [You can see them looking at each other as this is sung.] The Daughter of Tyre will come with a gift, men of wealth will seek your favor. [Again, this is an international affair of state. The Royal Bride will receive gifts and honored requests from heads of state. She, too, will be exalted. And she too is glorious. V.13] All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold.

[And here’s the actual wedding procession. You can hear Pacabel’s Canon in D. You can hear “The Wedding March.”] In embroidered garments she is led to the king; her virgin companions [her bridesmaids] follow her and are brought to you. They are led in with joy and gladness; they enter the palace of the king.”

What a holy moment!

This is the best part of just about any wedding, right?

There’s the “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” And that’s joyful and awesome.

But there’s that holy moment when the Groom sees the Bride, and she comes to him in all of her beauty.

And the two come together, and they are married!

And the psalmist says that their union will be blessed with children. 

In verse 16, he switches back to singing to the king. The Hebrew is masculine here. V.16

“Your sons will take the place of your fathers; you will make them princes throughout the land. [Davidic succession as promised. And then the song writer tells us why he’s so excited to have gotten to write this psalm. V.17] I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.”

He knew that he was writing one for the ages!

And here we are in Pennsylvania fulfilling it on Valentines Day 2021!!! We are perpetuating the memory of this king by reading this wedding song 3,000 years after it debuted at that particular royal wedding.
So how do we apply this psalm to our lives in 2021?

It’s really different from the other psalms, so our application has to probably be a little different, as well.

I think we could legitimately draw some applications for weddings and marriages from Psalm 45. We could use the Royal Groom and the Royal Bride as models for being godly husbands and wives.

Husbands with godly speech. Husbands that defend truth, humility, and righteousness. Husbands of justice that hate wickedness. Husbands that are enthralled by their wives’ beauty (and their beauty alone).

Wives that transfer their primary allegiances to their husbands and submit to their husbands’ headship.

I think we could draw some principles for good and godly weddings. There needs to be a Groom and a Bride. There are not two grooms or two brides. Or three of anything. (It’s amazing to me that I have to say that, but I do.)

We could draw the application of holding weddings and going big with them to mark them as the special occasion that they are. How sex should saved until that wedding day when the bride comes to her groom. How beautiful music and fine clothes are appropriate for a wedding. How good it is to have God-glorifying wedding songs.

Those are probably legitimate applications to some degree, but I don’t think they are main ones that we should take from Psalm 45.

Because the language of Psalm 45 keeps bursting the bonds of that original wedding to point to something much greater. And Someone much greater!

This psalm is not just aspirational about what the kings and queens of Israel were supposed to be and do. This wedding song is anticipational of what the ultimate king of Israel would be and do.

We get our cues from the book of Hebrews that says that this Psalm prophesies of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God the Son.

So if you and I are in this psalm at all, we are all prefigured in the person of the Royal Bride. 

Not each of us, but all of us together corporately are the Bride of Christ.

So we can hear the call of verse 10 to “forget” and leave as a call to sanctification and dedication to our Lord Jesus above all others.

And we can look forward to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb foretold in the Book of Revelation chapter 19 where John the Revelator says, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)” (19:6-8, NIV).

That’s us, brothers and sisters.

This psalm calls us to get ourselves ready for that great day of joy and gladness when many sons are brought to glory (see Hebrews 2:10 in juxtaposition to Psalm 45:16).

But the truest center and focus of this psalm isn’t us, is it? It isn’t the Bride as glorious as she is made to be.

The center and focus of this royal psalm is the Royal Groom because He is the king.

And it anticipates the King of Kings. 

Every time there was a new king in Israel, and probably every time one of them got married, everybody hoped that this new king would fulfill all of Psalm 45.

But none of them did. Some of them did it more than others, but none of them did it perfectly. None of them did it fully.

Who could live up to this song?!

We know Who!

This psalm sings us to Jesus.

Who came and battled on behalf of truth and righteousness and did it from a position of deep humility.

He died on the Cross to win our salvation! He humbled Himself to the point of death.

And in doing that, he pierced the hearts of His enemies so that they all fall before His feet.

Jesus’ throne will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of His kingdom. God has blessed Him forever and ever.

Here’s the application:

Love King Jesus.
Long for King Jesus.
And praise King Jesus forever and ever.


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67

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