Psalm 43-45, 49, 84-85, 87: Betrothal

ringsLet’s focus on Psalm 45 this morning. It is a very unique Psalm, in fact some commentators say that there is no other Psalm like it. Let’s be honest, it’s quite beautiful and nice to read. Great language, a wonderful story about a bride and a groom and their wedding celebration. A love story. We all need one of them from time-to-time (yes guys, a love story will not hurt you).

Let me give you a quick rundown of this Psalm. In ancient times, marriages were elaborate affairs. They started with a betrothal, which was a serious affair. In fact, once betrothed, a man and woman were considered married, they just hadn’t shared a bed yet. It took an act of divorce to break a betrothal. Betrothals of course meant the paying of a dowry of some by the grooms family.

When the wedding finally arrived, it was an even more elaborate affair. The grooms party would arrive at his house, they would all prepare the property and the groom for the wedding celebration. The attendants of the bride would gather at her house, helping her into her finest clothes and jewelry, and then she would wait. The groom and his attendants would process to the brides house, and then there would be a grand procession as both wedding parties escorted bride and groom back to the grooms house where there would be a wedding feast; a feast that could last as long as one or two weeks (depending on the status and wealth of the groom’s family).

This framework is important as we read Psalm 45 because it follows that format. The author gives a short introduction (verse 1). Then we see the King coming for his bride in verses 2-9. Verses 10-12 find the bride preparing herself for her groom and getting some wedding day advice. In verses 13-15 the bride is led out to meet the groom and the procession makes its way to the grooms house for the celebration.  The final verses are a word of blessing from the author to the couple.

It is likely that this Psalm was written to a specific bride and groom, although their exact identity is of some contention. It is pretty commonly understood that the groom was Solomon, although it is possible that it could apply to one of David’s marriages. The uniqueness of Psalm 45 goes beyond the fact that it is a wedding psalm, it is also a Messianic Psalm. The grandeur of the words, the picture painted of this King and his bride goes beyond a simple wedding song for an earthly king.  In all, there are only about 5 Psalms where most or all of the material points to Jesus Christ (Psalm 2, 16, 22, 110 and 45).  There are other Psalms that refer to Jesus in an element or two(Psalm 8 and 40 are examples), but Psalm 45 is among those that are understood to point directly to Jesus.

This Psalm is unique among those 5 because it talks about Jesus as the groom receiving his bride. We know, from New Testament writings and theology, that the Bride of Christ is the church. Here we have the first instance of that imagery. Spend some time in this Psalm.

Consider the description of the King. Consider what the Psalmist has to say about the King’s character, the King’s words, the King’s victories, and the King’s wedding itself.

Consider the words of advice to the bride; forget the past, honour the Lord, look ahead with anticipation.

Consider the authors final blessing in light of the hope we have in the return of Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 1:7). Consider the way the author speaks of his own dedication to the King, of his own praise to the King and his own work to point the nations to honour the King.

A beautiful Psalm to start your day!

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Chronicles 3-5

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