Theme: Comfort for the King’s Bride
In these lessons we have a description of a royal wedding, but which goes beyond that to point to the Lord Jesus Christ as our Messiah and Bridegroom.
Scripture: Psalm 45:1-17
While the groom has been on his way to the bride’s home with his attendants, the bride has been waiting in joyful expectancy, but also with just a touch of anxiety since the arrival of the groom will mean leaving her family and ancestral home forever. Therefore, in what is surely one of this psalm’s most engaging touches, the writer turns to the bride in a fatherly manner to reassure her that the future is right. There are three parts to his counsel (verses 10-12).
Forget the past. The writer’s first words of counsel to the bride remind us immediately of God’s call to Abraham to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). But this is the same thing Christians are called upon to do. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23), and “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Even allowing for a certain amount of Semitic hyperbole in the last statement, the point is still clear that no human relationships must hold us back from a wholehearted following after Jesus, if we would be his.
Speaking of marriage, the Bible says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife” (Gen. 2:24). If we would be Christ’s bride, we must leave all other loyalties behind. Do you hear this counsel yourself? Can you follow it? Here is the way Walter Chantry makes the application: “It is painful to leave behind mother and father, son and daughter, we are attached to the beauties and friendships of this world. Forget them all! The King will more than make up for all. Some day you will look back upon the parting with temporal things and think your hesitation silly and ill-founded. When you sit in the ivory palace, arrayed in the gold of Ophir, at the right hand of the eternal King, you will wonder what you saw in those former things. You will never regret it. Carry through with your discerning choice. The King must be your one and only love henceforth.”6
Honor (obey) your lord. The second word of counsel from the writer to the bride is to “honor your lord.” The word “honor” here literally means to “bow down.” This is a far cry from the popular and generally immoral love stories that so frequently fill people’s heads today. This is a holy relationship in which the sublime love of the bridegroom for the bride and the humble reverence of the bride for the groom are both beautifully maintained (cf. Eph. 5:22-33).
Chantry writes, “If a marriage union is to endure, the husband must express his love to his wife by tenderly cherishing her as part of his own body, by considerateness, by sharing all the goodness of God in his life with her. She in turn must express love by holding her husband in high esteem and by submitting to him in all things. Thus the church must bow down to Christ both because he is her Lord and Sovereign and because he is her Lord and Husband. Since the bride loves her Lord, it is a pleasant thing to serve his interests. She desires to bring Christ honor, to fulfil his will, to worship his name.”7
Look ahead. The last words of advice this wise counselor has for the bride is to look to what the future holds for her as the bride of this great king, knowing that her choice of him was the right choice to have made. The writer sees three things in her future: first, the love of her king (v. 11); second, the honor that will be given her because of her relationship to him (v. 12); and third, the “joy and gladness” that will be hers with him forever.
Then, having advised her to look ahead, the poet himself looks ahead by returning to his description of the wedding procession. In these verses (vv. 13-15) he describes the bride being led out to the king and then accompanying him, together with their many attendants, back to the king’s palace where they enter with rejoicing.
What is the first piece of counsel the psalmist gives to the bride? What does it mean in the context of her wedding?
How does the bride show honor to the bridegroom, and what are the results?
Reflection: How does each part of the psalmist’s counsel apply to the Christian life?
Application: In what ways do you need to improve on any of this counsel?
6Walter J. Chantry, Praises for the King of Kings (Edinburgh and Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), pp. 100, 101.7Ibid., p. 104.