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Psalm 45

To the bride and groom

Love is at the core of who we are and why we’re here. Yet in the busyness of life, we can so easily forget to love—especially, to love our divine Lover. But what gives our lives meaning is far too vital to forget.

A love song. A descendants of Korah psalm.

1 My heart overflows with beautiful thoughts
that I pour out in song to the king.
My tongue now puts them into words
with all the verve of a gifted writer’s pen.

2 You are the most excellent of men
your every word a gift of grace.
God has bestowed eternal blessing on you!
3 Strap your sword to your side
Defender, glorious and majestic!
4 Ride on to triumph
in the cause of truth, humility and justice
your strength performing dread deeds.
5 Your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of your enemies
making nations fall at your feet.
6 Your throne, O God, will endure forever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of justice.
7 Because you love justice and hate evil
God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of joy
exalting you above your peers.

8 All your robes breathe of myrrh, aloes and cassia.
Wafting from ivory palaces
the music of lutes delights you.
9 With the daughters of kings as guests of honor
your queen stands on your right
glittering in Ophir’s purest gold.

10 Listen, princess bride, take my words to heart:
forget your people and family of origin.
11 Let the king be ravished by your beauty.
Bow before him for he’s your lord.
12 The people of Tyre will court your favor with gifts
the rich and the powerful with lavish wealth.
13 The princess, makes her entrance
in a dazzlinggold-threaded gown.
14 Arrayed in the richest brocade
she’s led in to the king
her bridesmaids in her train.
15 They all enter the king’s palace
filled with joy and delight.

16 In place of your ancestors
you’ll have children
whom you’ll make rulers[1] over all the earth.
17 I’ll make your name renowned through all generations
with nations praising you forever and ever.

Much about this psalm strikes us as thoroughly Middle Eastern. The king, for example, is Commander-in-chief. And his bride must leave her family and—deriving her royal position from her husband—bow before him.[2] Other aspects aren’t typically Middle Eastern at all. Instead of being a law unto himself, this king defends humility, not just truth and justice.[3] And a national leader who humbly submits and answers to God is equally radical even in the West. When the psalm addresses the king as “God,” it doesn’t mean the king is divine, but only that David’s royal dynasty represents God to his people and rules in his stead.[4] Also, the psalm points ultimately to David’s “greater son,” Jesus, who does indeed reign over the earth as God.

Beyond being a royal wedding song, the psalm speaks to the whole theme of love and marriage and more besides. Since it pictures an ideal marriage, Jews have traditionally used it as a wedding song. But since the king points to the promised Messiah, we can take his bride as picturing the bride of Christ. Thus, modelling our relationship to Jesus, the psalm invites us to forsake all others, submit to Christ and “be ravished” by him.

I’m never free, Lord, till I submit to you. So help me to renounce every competing loyalty. I’m never chaste unless you ravish me. So captivate me with your beauty that I may embrace you and your cause with wild abandon. Grant me humility that I may become like you. Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on these powerful words:

Your throne, O God, will endure forever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of justice!


[1] In Middle Eastern style, this is literally, “sons whom you’ll make princes.”

[2] In fact, this happened in reverse at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation when Prince Phillip was required to bow before her, to acknowledge her sovereignty.

[3] Verse 4. Even bad rulers claim to be on the side of justice and truth. But very few rulers make humility something they aspire to, and that’s especially true in the Middle East and other honor-shame cultures.

[4] Verse 6. Similarly, Exodus 4:16 says that Moses will be “like God” to Pharaoh, while Exodus 7:1 goes farther, saying literally, “I have made you God to Pharaoh.” Mark Futato, The Book of Psalms (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2009) 166, n.2.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.