Psalm 45:4

This psalm is one of those which set forth in glowing terms the glory and majesty of the King of kings, the Anointed One, who should come into the world. "It is a psalm of the theocratic kingdom, the marriage song of the King." It is a song of the highest order, which, according to its title, was for the chief musician; set to "Shoshannim," a word which, we are told in the margin (Revised Version), means "lilies." This, however, does not throw much light on the matter. Furst is more helpful when he tells us that Shoshannim is a proper name, and denotes one of the twenty-four music-choirs left by David, so called from a master named Shushan. The introduction to the psalm, which is found in its first verse, is much more striking than would appear from the translation in either the Authorized Version or the Revised Version. It may be rendered," My heart is boiling over with a goodly theme: I speak: my work is for a King: may my tongue be as the pen of a ready writer!" Here we have a striking illustration of the words of the Apostle Peter, "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" this fervour of spirit, urging on the worker as by a power beyond himself to write of "the King," is one of the ways in which the sacred writers were "moved." And there is no reason for refusing to acknowledge the far-reachingness of this psalm, as setting forth beforehand, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the grandeur of our victorious Lord To no one, indeed, but Jesus, can we apply the epithets which are herein used. That a King "higher than the kings of the earth" is foretold in Scripture is certain (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 2 Samuel 23:2-5; Psalm 2., 72., 79., 110.). So that it is no wonder to find that such is the case in this psalm, The main difficulty in the psalm - in fact, the only serious one to believing critics - is the fact that the entire passage vers. 10-15 is based on a custom which in the psalmist's time was not only familiar to Orientals, but was even honourable in their eyes, though it would not be deemed so in ours. It would be a coveted honour among maidens to be among the well-beloved ones of an honourable king; for though the queen-consort was the principal wife, yet she was by no means the only one on whom the king bestowed his affection. Even David had six wives. He was not thought the worse of for this. The Law of God did not sanction it, but society did. Hence, though this psalm shoots far ahead to a beauty, a glory, and a majesty beyond the sons of men, yet the ground-plan of its symbolism is found in the usages of Oriental courts at their best. If it was then deemed a high honour for maidens to be among the beloved of a king, how much greater would be the honour of those who should be brought in the far-off times to place their whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, at the absolute disposal of him who would be "King of kings, and Lord of lords"! We may gather up under four heads the main features of this sublime prophetic forecast. In doing so, however, it behoves us to take the Christian expositor's standpoint, and to carry forward the dim and suggestive words here given us, to the fuller and clearer setting of New Testament unfoldings.

I. HERE IS A KING FORESEEN, UNIQUE IN HONOUR AND RENOWN. That the sacred writers were familiar with the thought of a King who should come into the world, surpassing all others, we have seen above; this is shown in the passages to which reference has already been made. But even if such passages were fewer and less clear than they are, the amazing combination of expressions in the psalm before us is such, that to none other than the Son of God can they possibly be applied with any semblance of reason. But as we think of him, every term fails in place. Let us take each expression in order. There are no fewer than twelve of them.

1. There is beauty. (Ver. 2.) A beauty beyond that of the sons of men. This points to one who is above the race. And verily the beauty of the Lord Jesus is one of his unnumbered charms. He is the "chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely."

2. Grace is poured into his lips (ver. 2). How true was this of Jesus (Luke 4:22; John 1:14)! Grace was also ever pouring out from his lips.

3. The fullest blessings descend continually upon him (ver. 2; cf. John 3:34).

4. There are the glory and majesty of royal state (ver. 3). For "with" read "even" ('Variorum Bible'). The sword to be girded on his thigh as for war (see Delitzsch) is his glory and his majestic state. With these he will go forth, conquering and to conquer.

5. His cause is that of truth, meekness, and righteousness. (Ver. 4.) No other king ever combined these in perfection, nor even at all. "Meekness is about the very last thought associated with earthly kings (but see Matthew 11:29).

6. His progress would be marked by terror as well as by meekness (ver. 4; Psalm 65:5; Romans 11:22; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Revelation 1:7).

7. His arrows would be sharp in the hearts of his enemies (ver. 5), and the peoples (plural, Revised Version)would fall beneath him. He should have universal sway, and not over Israel only.

8. He should be God, and yet be anointed by God. (Vers. 6, 7.) How enigmatical before fulfilment! How fully realized in our Immanuel, in him who is at once God and man, David's Son, yet David's Lord!

9. His throne should be eternal. (Ver. 6.) Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (cf. Hebrews 1:8, 9).

10. His sceptre should be a sceptre of righteousness. (Vers. 6, 7.) This is preeminently true; so much so that even those who acknowledge him as Lord, and who have yet been destitute of righteousness, will be rejected (Matthew 7:22, 23).

11. He would receive a higher anointing than that of others (ver. 7; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18). 12. Associated with his coming would be fragrance, music, and joy (ver. 8, Revised Version). Surely the gladness and song that gather round this King surpass all other gladness and all other songs that earth has ever known. No widow's wail, no orphan's sigh, attend on the conquests of this King. He conquers but to save. And the joy! oh, how great! Joy among the saved (1 Peter 1:8). Joy among the saints (1 John 1:4). Joy among the angels (Luke 20:10). Joy in the heart of the Father and the Son (Luke 15:32). Joy for ever and ever (Isaiah 35:10). What a magnificent forecast, hundreds of years beforehand! Who dares to deny the supernatural with such a fact before him?

II. HERE IS THE KING'S BRIDE. (Ver. 9.) What can the psalmist mean by the bride of such a King, but the Church of his love (see Ephesians 5:23-32)? The following features, if worked out, would greatly exceed the space at our command.

1. She forsakes her Father's house, to be joined to this King, and leaves all her old associates behind her (ver. 10).

2. She is wedded to him (ver. 11, "He is thy Lord").

3. She is devoted to him (ver. 11).

4. She is decorated with finest gold (ver. 9), and is at the place of honour by his side.

5. Her attendants should come from the nations, with their offerings of devotion (ver. 12).

III. HERE IS THE KING'S OFFSPRING. (Ver. 16.) The sacrifice which the bride had made for the sake of the King shall be more than recompensed by her having children, who should gather round her, and who should become "princes in the earth" (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6).

IV. HERE IS FORETOLD THE KING'S UNIVERSAL AND ENDLESS PRAISE. (Ver. 17.) Though the verse seems to be addressed immediately to the bride, evidently the carrying forward of the name to generation after generation is an honour chiefly of the King, and results from the bridal union. And the praise which shall accrue will be from the peoples (Revised Version), from all the nations; and this praise will be for ever and ever (Psalm 72:17). "Christ's espousing unto himself a Church, and gathering more and more from age to age by his Word and Spirit unto it, his converting of souls, and bringing them into the fellowship of his family, and giving unto them princely minds and affections wherever they live, are large matters of growing and everlasting glory" (Dickson). Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever." - C.

And in Thy majesty ride prosperously.

1. It is called "the word of truth."(1) As opposed to error and false doctrine, whereby Satan endeavours to blind and ruin souls.(2) As opposed to the dispensation of grace which the Church enjoyed under the Mosaic economy (John 1:17).(3) By way of eminency in regard it is the most excellent, sweet and desirable truth (Psalm 19:10).(4) In regard of its effects upon the hearts of those who believe it. The solid belief of the Gospel is not only accompanied with an inward change upon the understanding will and affections, but also with newness of life and conversation.

2. "The word of meekness."(1) In regard of Him whose word it is (Matthew 11:29; Zechariah 9:9).(2) From the manner in which it was delivered to us by Christ and His apostles.(3) In respect of its design and the end which through the Divine blessing it reaches among men.

3. "The word of righteousness."(1) On account of its purity and holiness.(2) Because it contains a revelation of the righteousness of God our Saviour, which is the alone ground of a sinner's access to, and acceptance in the sight of an holy and just God; yea, the leading design of the Gospel, in subordination to the glory of its Author, is to proclaim that righteousness to sinners; to set it before them as the sure foundation of all their hope and confidence (Isaiah 46:12, 13).(3) In respect of its effect. It is by looking into the glass of the Gospel by faith that the good work of likeness and conformity to Christ is begun in regeneration, and is carried on to perfection (2 Corinthians 3:18).


1. The unhinging and removing the whole fabric of ceremonial institutions.

2. Our Lord has made terrible work upon the kingdom and interests of Satan by means of the Gospel.

3. The preaching of the Gospel by our Lord and His apostles was followed with terrible consequences to His ancient people, to whom it was first published, because of their unbelief in rejecting the compassionate counsel of God against themselves.

4. Another of the terrible things our Lord Jesus has performed by means of the Gospel is the inroads He has made upon the kingdom and power of Antichrist.

5. Our Lord Jesus performs terrible things upon the hearts and consciences of obstinate sinners by means of a dispensation of the Gospel.


1. We may infer that the Gospel is a subject very glorious and excellent.

2. We may infer how much the Gospel ought to be esteemed by all who enjoy it in purity; and the great sin of despising and neglecting it.

3. We may see the great need all who enjoy a dispensation of the Gospel have to exercise a constant dependence upon the power and grace of Christ, in order to their profiting by it.

4. We may see from this subject that our Lord Jesus is not only succeeding in the management of the affairs of His kingdom of grace, but hastening to finish the mystery of God in the Church; He is riding in the Gospel-chariot with great celerity.

5. We may see with what holy diligence it concerns all the hearers of the Gospel, to improve their day of grace and merciful visitation.

6. We may see matter of trial and examination. Try what acquaintance you have with the designations given to the Gospel in the text, in your experience.

7. We may see matter of comfort to believers. It may comfort the heart of every child of God to consider that the Captain of salvation is making way for His second coming and the accomplishment of the promise, which will crown His felicity (John 14:2, 3).

8. We may see matter of reproof and terror to all the scoffers of the last times.

9. We may infer matter of exhortation.(1) We exhort all who have experienced the power of Divine grace upon their hearts, and known the joyful sound of the Gospel in truth, to bless a God of infinite love and grace for sending the Gospel to them, and that not only in word, but in the demonstration of the Holy Spirit.(2) As for you, who, though you are enjoying a dispensation of the Gospel, have never yet experienced the salutary effects of it upon your hearts, we exhort you to consider the great misery of your present condition.

(T. Bonnet.)

Because of truth and meekness and righteousness.
Poetry is the language of the soul; for the soul is the seat of all deeper, purer, diviner feeling. Till the spirit is touched and stirred to her very depth and inmost self there can be no poetry. A man may be set down in the very midst of Nature's life and loveliness, amid her fields, and flowers, and streams, and mountains, and even her wildest grandeur, but if he has no communion with the soul of Nature, he can have nothing to say. He may imitate her language, but he has no real voice. Now, the poetry of the Bible is the Bible of poetry. You may find the language of feeling in other books, but this is the book of feeling. It is the utterance of the soul in its deepest moods. It lets you into the very heart of humanity. An inspired apostle has applied a certain portion of this psalm to the Redeemer of man.

I. THAT THE CONQUEST OF OUR WORLD BY CHRIST IMPLIES RATHER ITS REDEMPTION THAN ITS SUBJUGATION, Man has been so brought under the yoke by the power of evil that his nature is comparatively enslaved. The spirit is enthralled by the flesh. The higher nature by the lower. Bondage is mistaken for freedom. The will of God is to reverse all this, to bring back man to his original condition. And to accomplish this Christ came. His life must be sacrificed to effect our deliverance, and He gave it up willingly and without reserve. Though we are taken from under the yoke of an enslaving bondage, our redemption does not place us above law, or take us from the sphere of its influence. We are under law to Him who hath redeemed us. As His freemen we owe Him our allegiance and submission.

II. THAT HE WHO IS TO EFFECT THIS CONQUEST IS REVEALED TO US AS INVESTED WITH ATTRIBUTES CORRESPONDING TO THE GRANDEUR OF HIS ENTERPRISE. He is clothed with might, majesty and glory. Of these perfections, as they are united in the Godhead, we have many striking manifestations. See the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. Or the prophet describing the calamities which God was about to inflict on the enemies of His Church and people, represents His brightness as the light, and burning coals going forth at His feet, and at whose descent the everlasting mountains were scattered, and the perpetual hills did bow, while His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise! How different from all this outward and gorgeous splendour is the calm and silent majesty of the same august Being, when He is represented as saying" Let there be light, and light was!" Or when you hear him reveal His ineffable name to Moses — "I am that I am!" So in reference to the Saviour. It is in the quiet word of His power, as when He stilled the tempest, yet more in the deep tranquillity of His own soul, that we see His glory. His might lay in 'His purity, His majesty in His meekness, His glory in His benevolence. There is no power equal to that of goodness, and there is nothing which goodness may not achieve.

III. THAT NOTHING COULD BE MORE SIMPLE OR APPROPRIATE THAN THE MEANS OR INSTRUMENTALITY BY WHICH THIS CONQUEST IS TO BE ACHIEVED. Just as the purpose of the Redeemer corresponds with the benevolence and the righteousness of His character, so the means by which that purpose is to be carried into effect beautifully correspond with the calm and dignified composure of his own soul. Having, like a true hero, girt His sword upon His thigh, He is seen riding forth prosperously and in triumph. Victory waits upon His every step. And this not as the effect of force, but as the result of truth. The Conqueror of the world is the world's Great Teacher. Full of grace and truth, He came to reveal the love of God, and the way of life. He asks for no blind, unmeaning homage, and therefore He floods the mind with light. He wants no unwilling surrender, and therefore He fills the heart with love. We see, then, how it is that in the Conqueror of the world meekness is combined with truth. The dove at His baptism told what manner of reign His was to be. It was the gentleness of Christ as a teacher of truth that made Him great. It is a striking fact that Christianity makes no provision for those cases in which it fails in its professed results. Other systems reserve to themselves the freedom of changing their ground and of adapting their expedients to the ever-varying conditions of society; but the Christian system disdains any such policy. Whether it be introduced into countries where civilization sits high-throned and regnant, or into regions where we meet with only uncultured and barbarous tribes, it is the same thing. While it possesses all the elements of universal adaptation, it knows nothing of expediency. It refuses to be thrown into any Procrustean bed, and have its dimensions determined by the caprice of men. It is through all time the same and immutable. The reason is obvious. Its failures are not due to itself but in those to whom it is addressed, or in the agency through which we seek to diffuse it.

IV. THAT THE PROGRESS OF THIS CONQUEST WILL ARREST THE ATTENTION AND AWAKEN THE JOY OF THE WHOLE MORAL CREATION OF GOD. Heaven is interested in earth. But what ate we doing to help forward the reign of Christ? Have we submitted ourselves to Him? Only so can we really help or share in its final joy.

(R. Ferguson, LL. D.)

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