Saturday, March 14, 2009

Psalm 45 – The “Winsome” One and THE Union

Weddings are generally always momentous occasions with the giving of two single people to each other in making a union that no other person is to separate. This is because it is sealed and blessed by God. After all, our weddings are one of the four most sacred activities we’ll ever undertake--together with our births, the birth’s of our children, and our death’s.

This leads us to ponder a beautiful and poetic psalm, rich in vocabulary about the king, the Bride-Groom. This is a very special psalm; it is suggesting forward to Christ’s Wedding with the Church in the final analysis. So important is this psalm that A.W. Tozer believed that if we needed to strip the Bible away to two chapters that speak about the coming of Christ, these would be Psalm 45 and Isaiah 53 (the suffering servant Messiah).[1]

Key Vantage Points in the Psalm

The Psalmist – spectator, participant, worshipper

The psalmist speaks in first person as a spectator and participant at the Wedding initially in verse 1, and then as faithful conveyor of the message of the King’s life and “memory” in the final seventeenth verse. This provides for us an inclusio, bookending the psalm. The psalmist transmits the mood of worship throughout the middle verses.

He or she is pensive and expectant, in the lead up to the Wedding. The sort of state the church must be in as she watches in patient alertness for her Bride-Groom to appear.

The King – splendorous and majestic; true, humble and right – the essence of uncreated wisdom

Verses 2-4 speak in glowing terms of the King’s familial line, genome, character and attributes. These charismatic words speak forth of the King’s grace and winsomeness. He has a way with words, speaking about his inherent wisdom.

He is the “most excellent” and “more beautiful” than anyone or anything ever was, is, or is to come. He is the Man for the time; for the “hour” no less. The Septuagint (a.k.a. LXX) has compounded the allusions here with Greek horaios kallei; the very suggestion that he is ‘timely,’ ‘seasonable,’ in his ‘prime,’ and in full bloom, as well as being ‘well regarded,’ ‘better’ than, and ultimately ‘productive’ i.e. fruitful and mature.[2]

Putting the entire above paragraph together in description of the King, it could be said he is ‘the most regarded and beautiful person of this present hour, more than the “sons of all humanity”’ speaking in the eternal present tense--thus God has blessed him forever.

The reign of this Majesty is based on their perpetual role to call all creation to truth, humility and righteousness.[3] The King is the right Way.

The Wedding Feature Itself – the culmination of all things

It’s a day that everyone’s prepared for, and like all weddings, it arrives suddenly as all things in time inevitably do. All that is prepared can be used--that which is not ready gets left aside. All that is good, pure and right gains entrance to the courts where the ceremony will take place. There’s not a blemish in sight; everything has been made right.

The Church – the radiant bride

Verses 10-11 speak not only of the bride’s dedication to the King, but it also calls forth the church to leave worldliness for a complete love and faithfulness of, and toward, her betrothed, the eternal King and Saviour. Like Israel, all of its attentions should be on the Lord that is its God. There is no room for any sense of infidelity.

The central and directing verse of the entire psalm is verse 11. The Amplified has it, “So will the King desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, be submissive and reverence and honor Him.” The LXX has it, “Because the king has desired thy beauty, for he is thy Lord,” speaking of a very personal and monogamous deity. He cannot accept anything less than full observance, for he is a jealous God.

It is, after all, marriage. Our Suzerain God is wholly faithful; we are to be as wholly devoted as his vassal. We adore each other, though from different viewpoints. And this is sacrosanct heavenly care and worship all rolled into one, as the blessed Union becomes a spiritual one-flesh ideal. In the perfect sense, nothing could interrupt it, nothing.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] A.W. Tozer, The Worship Driven Life, The Reason We Were Created – Ed. James L. Snyder (London: Monarch Books, 2008).
[2] See Wesley J. Perschbacher (Ed.), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), p. 218, 445.
[3] Perhaps there are allusions here to John 14:6 and Philippians 2:5-11.

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