Theme: In Praise of King Jesus
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
In a psalm unique among the Psalter, we also find a unique introduction (v. 1). In it the poet tells how the theme assigned to him as court poet has stirred his emotions. His is “a noble theme,” and he has been moved to pour all his considerable skill into the effort.
And well he might. This would be a moving challenge if the wedding were only that of an earthly monarch and bride. But as we have seen, it is at the same time a picture of that heavenly wedding in which the divine groom, Jesus Christ, takes the church, his bride, to himself. So this is not only a noble theme; it is the theme of themes. It is the ultimate meaning of all history, the story of the ages. No wonder the poet is stirred as he considers what he is to say in praise of this great King and the advice he is to give to this highly favored bride.
The language here is so unusual that some commentators believe the poet claims special inspiration in this verse. Herman Gunkel even translates it, Mein Herz wallt ueber von begeisterten Worte (My heart overflows with inspired words).”4
The main body of the psalm begins with praise of the divine King and bridegroom, who is Jesus (verses 2-9). If these words were written of a mere earthly king, they would need to be understood as conventional court flattery. But as a description of him who is “the fairest of ten thousand” they are only the smallest part of what needs to be said. There is something of a natural sequence in these themes.
The King’s character. The divine King of this beautiful wedding ode is called “the most excellent of men” (v. 2), which leads some scholars to observe that in the ancient world the chief praiseworthy characteristics of a monarch were physical attractiveness and gracious speech or words. So what is new? These are exactly the characteristics that get politicians elected to high office today. But it would be a mistake to limit this phrase to physical attractiveness. In fact, in a list of praiseworthy attributes, mere physical attractiveness would come fairly low in God’s scale, far behind such traits of character as “truth, humility and righteousness,” which are mentioned in verse 4. Jesus excels in all these desirable characteristics. There is no good quality, no grace that is not found to the highest possible degree in him.
The King’s words. When Jesus was on earth he spoke with authority and charm, so much so that when his enemies sent soldiers to arrest him, the soldiers returned, saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). On another occasion, when the masses of the people were deserting Jesus and he challenged the twelve, asking if they wanted to leave too, Peter replied for all of them, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). When he was on earth, the words of Jesus had power to still the storm, send demons from those who were possessed, restrain enemies, and draw men and women who were trapped by sin to faith. They still do today.
How is the introduction also unique?
List and describe the first two themes of this psalm. How is Jesus the perfect example of them?
Reflection: How does the truth, humility, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ contrast with what the world considers to be valuable character traits?
For Further Study: To learn more about how Jesus is the bridegroom of his church, download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “The Bride and the Bridegroom.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
4Cited by H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 354.