The close of the second book of the Psalter concludes with this doxology:
Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.
Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen. (Psalm 72:18-19)
Our sense of forever is tempered by our fleeting existence in this world. Forever for us is the next forty or fifty years. We might have some small sense of what it will be like for our children to live on past our moment but our scope still remains limited.
Recognizing our limited historical frame of reference, we seek to have a positive effect on the world while we are here. The prayer at the center of this psalm is for the strength of the king, that he might have a positive effect and bless the people under his care. As we read these verses through modern eyes we find them strange without a human monarch that rules our lives. For the Christian however, we can see glimmers of the glory of our Holy King, Jesus.
Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.
he will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.
The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness.
he will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy;
he will crush the oppressor. (vv 1-4)
Are we faithful to pray for these qualities in our human leaders? Do we seek to embody them in ourselves?
Grace and peace to you.
image by lel4nd
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever. (vv 1-2)
Psalm 45 draws our attention because of its shift in focus. This is not a prayer or plea to God as the preceding entries have been. Instead, it is a song in praise of a Royal on his wedding day. Our view of the psalter is expanded and its application to all of life is made more apparent.
The voice of the first verses also gives us a new appreciation for the author of the song. He is an ‘expert scribe’, similar to profession of Ezra (Ezra 7:6). The scribe is not simply a transcriber of words. He is a learned fellow, observing and cataloging the traditions, literature, and practices of his community. In the instance of this psalm, it appears that he has composed this loving tribute orally and speaks it to the King himself. We will now be more aware of his hand in the rest of the psalter as we continue our exploration.
The application of this psalm has expanded through the ages. This was read as a Messianic text in later Jewish practice and others have found it to be speaking allegorically of the relationship between God and His people. Many have struggled with verses 6 and 7 as the King is referenced as God:
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. (vv 6-7)
In the context of the time, modern readers must appreciate that King was seen as divinely appointed by God and possessed a special relationship because of the selection. This is not to be read as an ascendency to divine status nor as idolatry. The author of Hebrews found in these verses the perfect words to speak of the Son of Man and His person and office (Heb 1:8-9). Christians have interpreted this psalm as a song of love between Christ and His church, a beautiful application of beautiful words.