Psalm 45 – “Message for a Bride and Groom”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist praises a bride and groom and encourages them to act appropriately.

II. Photo
The psalmist comforts the bride: “Take heed, lass, and note, incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and let the king be aroused by your beauty; since he is your lord, bow to him!” (vv. 11-12)

III. Select Verses    
3-6: You are fairer than all men; your speech is endowed with grace; rightly has God given you an eternal blessing. Gird your sword upon your thigh, O hero, in your splendor and glory; in your glory, win success; ride on in the cause of truth and meekness and right; and let your right hand lead you to awesome deeds. Your arrows, sharpened, [pierce] the breast of the king’s enemies; peoples fall at your feet. Your divine throne is everlasting; your royal scepter is a scepter of equity.
8: You love righteousness and hate wickedness; rightly has God, your God, chosen to anoint you with oil of gladness over all your peers.
9-10: All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from ivoried palaces lutes entertain you. Royal princesses are your favorites; the consort stands at your right hand, decked in gold of Ophir.
11-12: Take heed, lass, and note, incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and let the king be aroused by your beauty; since he is your lord, bow to him!
17: Your sons will succeed your ancestors; you will appoint them princes throughout the land.

IV. Outline
1. Superscription
2. Introduction
3-10. Praise/charge to the royal man
11-12. Charge to the bride
13-16. Praise to the bride
17-18. Blessing to the royal man

V. Comment
Psalm 45 has a singer’s introduction (v. 2), a message to a royal man (vv. 3-10), a message to a woman (vv. 11-16), and a blessing (vv. 17-18). While it seems that the psalm was used for a wedding ceremony, the question is “Whose wedding?” The psalm has many allusions to royalty, and Gerstenberger writes: “There are basically three options for interpreting this psalm: (1) as a popular love and wedding song, which addresses bride and bridegroom as ‘queen’ and ‘king’; (2) taken at face value, as a royal wedding song for the time of the Israelite monarchy; and (3) allegorically, as a song of the postexilic community extolling Yahweh’s (or his Messiah’s) betrothal with Israel (see Isa 62:1-5; Ezek 16; 23). Arguments can certainly be adduced in favor of the first and the last hypotheses, but the second possibility seems the most convincing. A singer of the royal court takes part in the official wedding festivities either in Jerusalem or Samaria. He extols bridegroom and bride according to the popular, royal, and mythic concepts that are common in his contemporary culture.” (189)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Craigie, Peter C. “Psalms 1-50” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 19 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1983).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
Photo copied from http://www.lifesabitchbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/crying_bride.jpg

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