Book 2: Psalm 45 of 72 – the Wedding

The chapter title is “For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil. A wedding song.”  There is something special about this particular psalm – as it is a wedding song, a wedding march.  Charles Spurgeon observes:

The many titles of this Psalm mark its royalty, its deep and solemn import, and the delight the writer had in it. To the Chief Musician upon Shoshannim. The most probable translation of this word is upon the lilies, and it is either a poetical title given to this noblest of songs after the Oriental manner, or it may relate to the tune to which it was set, or to the instrument which was meant to accompany it. We incline to the first theory, and if it be the true one, it is easy to see the fitness of borrowing a name for so beautiful, so pure, so choice, so matchless a poem from the golden lilies, whose bright array outshone the glory of Solomon. For the sons of Korah. Special singers are appointed for so divine a hymn. King Jesus deserves to be praised not with random, ranting ravings, but with the sweetest and most skilful music of the best trained choristers. The purest hearts in the spiritual temple are the most harmonious songsters in the ears of God; acceptable song is not a matter so much of tuneful voices as of sanctified affections, but in no case should we sing of Jesus with unprepared hearts. Maschil, an instructive ode, not an idle lay, or a romancing ballad, but a Psalm of holy teaching, didactic and doctrinal. This proves that it is to be spiritually understood. Blessed are the people who know the meaning of its joyful sound. A Song of loves. Not a carnal sentimental love song, but a celestial canticle of everlasting love fit for the tongues and ears of angels.

Why “lilies”?  Spurgeon goes on to explain:

“Upon Shoshannim, “or upon lilies. It will be remembered that lilies were an emblem of purity and loveliness, and were introduced as such in the building of Solomon’s temple (see 1Ki 7:19,22,26 2Ch 4:5); and the church is compared in the Canticles to a “lily among thorns.” So 2:2. The Psalms which bear this title, “upon lilies, “are the present, the sixty-ninth, and the eightieth (compare Ps 60:1-12); and all these contain prophecies of Christ and his church. The sixtieth is a parallel to the forty-fourth, and represents her supplicating appeal to God, and Christ’s victories. The sixty-ninth displays the victories gained by Christ through suffering. The eightieth is also parallel to the forty-fourth and sixtieth, a plaintive lament of the church in distress and a supplicating cry for deliverance. All these three Psalms are (if we may venture to use this expression) like the voice of the “lily among thorns.” That there is, therefore, some reference here to the spiritual meaning of the word (Mynvs), or lilies, in this title, seems at least to be probable.

Similarly, Matthew Henry comments:

Some make Shoshannim, in the title, to signify an instrument of six strings; others take it in its primitive signification for lilies or roses, which probably were strewed, with other flowers, at nuptial solemnities; and then it is easily applicable to Christ who calls himself the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys, Cant. ii. 1. (Song of Songs 2:1) It is a song of loves, concerning the holy love that is between Christ and his church. It is a song of the well-beloved, the virgins, the companions of the bride ( 14), prepared to be sung by them.

So the lilies are a representation of Christ – but more importantly, as in Song of Songs 7:2 and Leviticus 23:9, the lilies are a representative of the resurrection specifically, the sheaf of the Feast of Firstfruits.  So this chapter describes that victorious wedding march between the Bridegroom and the Bride. 

Indeed, the opening verses are clamors of praise – the author’s heart overflowing with a pleasing theme (v.1), willing to write and praise (v.1) Christ as the most handsome of the sons of men with grace at the tip of his lips (v.2).  God the Father has blessed Him forever, the Anointed and Chosen One (c.f. Isaiah 42).  This is the Son who is dressed in mighty warrior garb (v.3), in full splendor and majesty (vv.3-4), and His enemies are struck in the heart (v.5).  In Spurgeon’s words:

Would to God that our Immanuel would come forth in the chariot of love to conquer our spiritual foes and seize by power the souls whom he has bought with blood. 

It is not David’s throne, nor Solomon’s throne, which shall last forever and ever, for they are but shadows and types – even the psalmist knows that it is Christ, the Second LORD, whose throne shall last forever and ever (v.6).  This is a throne built on righteousness and uprightness (v.6), with robes covered in the fragrant spices, smells and awesome senses from myrrh, aloes, and cassia (c.f. Proverbs 7:17; Song of Songs 4:14; John 19:39), at his right standing the queen in the famous gold of Ophir (1 Chronicles 29:4; Job 28:16; Isaiah 13:12).  Indeed, Spurgeon observes:

Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Jesus as Mediator owned God as his God, to whom, being found in fashion as a man, he became obedient. On account of our Lord’s perfect life he is now rewarded with superior joy. Others there are to whom grace has given a sacred fellowship with him, but by their universal consent and his own merit, he is prince among them, the gladdest of all because the cause of all their gladness. At Oriental feasts oil was poured on the heads of distinguished and very welcome guests; God himself anoints the man Christ Jesus, as he sits at the heavenly feasts, anoints him as a reward for his work, with higher and fuller joy than any else can know; thus is the Son of man honoured and rewarded for all his pains. Observe the indisputable testimony to Messiah’s Deity in verse six, and to his manhood in the present verse. Of whom could this be written but of Jesus of Nazareth? Our Christ is our Elohim. Jesus is God with us.

And the remaining verses are directed to the queen, “the church which shares her LORD’s honour and happiness, [as] he sets her in the place of dignity, he clothes her wit the best of the best” (Spurgeon on Psalm 45, Treasury of David) – v.10 – hear, O daughter, leave your father’s house (v.10) and seek the LORD your King (v.11) who desires your beauty.  Even the people of Tyre will seek the queen’s favour with gifts (v.12), so glorious is the queen, the princess, with golden robes (v.13).  Is this not a picture of the Shulammite maiden, the bride of Christ, the Church – covered in many-coloured robes coming to the Son with joy and gladness (v.15)?  Such a beautiful wedding psalm of Christ and His Bride covered in His glory, shining on all nations as the enemies are struck down with precision. 


Book 2: Psalm 45 of 72 – the Wedding