TO THE CHOIRMASTER: ACCORDING TO THE LILIES. A MASKIL OF THE SONS OF KORAH. A LOVE SONG.
1 “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. 2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever. 3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! 4 In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! 5 Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you. 6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; 7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;” (Psalm 45:1–7 (ESV)
The title of Psalm 45 is significant. To begin with, it is the first Messianic Psalm to be studied which was not written by King David. Rather, it was written by the Sons of Korah. Who were these musicians?
The Sons of Korah were member of the Tribe of Levi, of the division of Kohath (Ex. 6:18, 21). Their ancestor, Izhar, was a member of the priestly family and was related to Moses and Aaron. The rebellion led by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram against Moses and Aaron ended with the death of many members of the Korahite family (Num. 16:31–35). Only those who did not participate survived (vs. 11). They settled around Hebron in the Levitical cities (Num. 26:58).
The Korahites were known as temple singers, according to the superscriptions of Psalms 42, 44–49, 84–85, and 87–88. David put them in charge of the musical service in the house of the Lord after the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem (1 Chr. 6:31–33). They also acted as temple gatekeepers (I Chron. 9:19; 26:19) and bakers of sacrificial cakes (I Chron. 9:31). They are mentioned as singers during the celebration of Jehoshaphat’s victory over Ammon and Moab (2 Chr. 20:19).”
Psalm 45 is a love song. Perhaps it is even more appropriate to identify it as a wedding song. There are no other wedding psalms in the Psalter. A close parallel would be King Solomon’s love poetry in Song of Songs.
Psalm 45:1-7 focuses on the righteousness of the King of Israel. Most likely, King David is the ideal monarch the Sons of Korah have in mind. However, even David could not perfectly embody all the descriptions given. Therefore, the psalm foreshadows a greater King of Israel; greater even that either David or his son Solomon. That King is the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the greater King of Israel because He is also God incarnate (Heb. 1:8-9).
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “David’s throne, because it was established and preserved by God, could rightly be called God’s throne, and that is exactly what we find in Psalm 45 (see 2 Sam. 7). Since the throne of Israel was the throne of the Lord, the king was expected to be a model of the One who loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Ps. 45:6–7a; see Deut. 17:14–20). When this was true, the Davidic king enjoyed an anointing from on high with the oil of gladness (Ps. 45:7b), a successful reign that brought joy to the kingdom and its citizens.”
“Christ ensures that David’s throne is the throne of God, for Jesus the son of David is the incarnate Lord of all (John 1:1–18). The bride depicted in Psalm 45:10–17, therefore, is a type of the bride of Christ, namely, the church. Like the foreign queen of ancient Israel, we can be joined to the Savior as His beloved spouse if we forsake all other gods and lovingly submit to Him alone (Acts 17:22–34). When we do so, we will be beautified by our Husband.”
Saint Augustine of Hippo comments on this psalm, giving this message to believers: “Thy God is ‘thy King,’ thy ‘King’ is also thy Bridegroom. Thou weddest to thy King, who is thy God: being endowed by Him, being adorned by Him; redeemed by Him, and healed by Him. Whatever thou hast, wherewith to be pleasing to Him, thou hast from Him.”
1 What Child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ, the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!
2 Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.[Chorus]
3 So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.[Chorus]
Soli deo Gloria!