* This post is adapted from a lecture to a ladies’ group in Louisiana given by Grace Church member, Dr. Julia Bickley.
Christ, Our Delight
Have you ever thought about how we delight in the simplest of things? Maybe a gift from a friend or loved one, or maybe even something we buy for ourselves. What about Amazon packages? We have all ordered something from Amazon, and received it with delight, even though we knew what the package contained! My grandfather says, “a day without an Amazon package is a day without sunshine!” Yes, we delight in many things. The Christian, however, must find his deepest of delights and joys in the Person of Jesus Christ. Let us find that delight in Christ, as we consider FIVE attributes of the Son of God in Psalm 45.
Psalm 45 According to the New Testament
If you will notice the header that many Bibles contain above various Psalms, you will see this one is described as a Maskil – which is a musical term. That lets us know today, along with the fact that it says it was “of the Sons of Korah” that this Psalm was an actual hymn for worship at the temple. The Sons of Korah are the men David put in charge of the song service in 1 Chron. 6:33, 37. Therefore, when we read throughout this Psalm, imagine this being a hymn sung in worship in the temple. Take a moment to read the entire text.
Many commentators and study Bibles put forth the idea that Psalm 45 may have been about the wedding ceremony of either David or Solomon, while others hold it as completely Messianic. The Pulpit Commentary says we “regard the writer as consciously depicting, not an actual but an ideal scene, one which floats before his mind as a thing to be realized at some future time, when Messiah shall be wedded to his bride, the Church, and establish his dominion over all the world, and reign over all the nations of the earth gloriously.” Matthew Henry, in his commentary, also agrees with a Messianic interpretation noting, “This psalm is an illustrious prophecy of Messiah the Prince: it is all over the gospel, and points at him only, as a bridegroom espousing the church to himself and as a king ruling in it and ruling for it.”
Our ultimate persuasion lies not in what men say about this Psalm, however, but in how the New Testament references Psalm 45. We can be certain that this Psalm finds its ultimate fulfillment in the person of Christ as Hebrews 1:8-9 says, “But of the Son he says,” and then the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 45:6-7. Without a doubt then, the ultimate subject of Psalm 45 is Jesus Christ!
Looking at verse 1, we see the Psalmist, in great anticipation of his Messianic theme speaking with strong emotion. He says “My heart overflows” – his heart is boiling up, and boiling over, because he is so inspired by the theme of delight at the king he is describing that his language flows fast.
Let’s look at that king and find delight for our souls! It says first that Jesus is…
Handsomest of Men – vs. 2
The term “most handsome” – literally means that He is the most fair, or most beautiful of the “sons of Men” – or the sons of Adam [lit. Hebrew].
If you recall Isaiah 53, though, it says in verse 2 that “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him.” What is it about this man, Christ, that is most fair, most beautiful, most handsome? We see that Christ is beautiful because of His grace. Verse two says “grace is poured upon your lips.” Luke 4 is a testament or fulfillment of this verse literally. Jesus takes the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, read in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Three verses later, Luke 4:22 says, “all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.”
Are we not encouraged by the grace, the favor, poured out from Jesus when he heals the paralytic and says to him, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” when Jesus says, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Or consider the grace poured upon the lips of Christ in Matthew 11 as He said to them and to you even today, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Christ is made lovely to us as we examine His heart of grace and therefore His words saturated with grace. But not only is Jesus the handsomest of men, He is the…
Hero of God’s Army – vs. 3-5
Verses 3-5 speak to us about a man of war. What a contrast from that which we just considered, the man who is handsome to us because of the grace poured out from his lips. Verse three speaks of how He is to “Gird (his) sword on (his) thigh” – literally, the idea is that one would buckle on a sword to get ready for war. He is referred to as the “mighty one” – conveying to us that he is a hero, a champion, who, full of “splendor and majesty” rides out in power, and vigor, and is “victorious” like that of a king, fully decorated in the pomp and circumstance of a king riding on horseback in victory.
Verse four uses phrases like “let your right hand teach you awesome deeds” equating this Hero with God, who in the Old Testament constantly accomplished victory by the power of His right hand. You see that phrase over and over in Exodus.
Verse five lets you know that this hero of God’s army fully judges with the iron head of a spear, piercing them in the heart of His own enemies. And all the races, inhabitants, citizens, peoples of the land who are His enemies collapse and fall under Him.
Many Scriptures present this idea of Christ as the hero of God’s army. You can go all the way back to Genesis 3:15 where the promise is given from God to Eve that her offspring will crush the head of the serpent. Or think on Joshua 5:13-15, when the pre-incarnate Christ appears before Joshua with his sword drawn in His hand. Joshua asks him, “are you for us or for our adversaries?” The Lord responds, “No, but I am the commander of the army of the Lord” and Joshua fell on his feet and worshiped him.
Or surely even more so, we are reminded of Revelation 19:11-16: “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.” It goes one to say, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”
Thinking of Jesus as the hero of the army of God might make the phrase, “hero worship” come to mind. Have you ever thought about how you participate in hero worship? Is there another human on this earth who you excessively admire? Charles Spurgeon comments on this: “Jesus is the truest of heroes. Hero worship in his case alone is commendable. He is mighty to save, mighty in love. Our precious Christ can never be made too much of. Heaven itself is but just good enough for him. All the pomp that angels and archangels, and thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers can pour at his feet is too little for him. Only his own essential glory is such as fully answers to the desire of his people, who can never enough extol him.”
Jesus is the handsomest of men; and He is the hero of God’s army. But thirdly, He is…
Holy King – vs. 6-7
The Jewish people had been promised a king, so it is no wonder that the mediation of the Psalm turns to the future king who will reign forever. Genesis 49:10 shows us this promise in a blessing Jacob gave to his sons – “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
And in 2 Samuel 7:12-13, the Lord said to David through the prophet Nathan, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
Therefore, Psalm 45:6 begins by describing Jesus as a holy king as it references His throne. The idea is that of an eternal throne, a seat of honor, that continues forever and ever. This reminds of us Revelation 4 and 5, where all creatures, the 24 elders, and all mankind fall down and worship and say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come!”
His kingship is also described by the fact that He holds a scepter. This is a rod or a staff that speaks of a king’s royal dominion and notice that it is a scepter of righteousness – His dominion and reign is one of fairness, justice, and goodness. Jesus is holy in that He loves righteousness and He hates wickedness. He loves what is honest, what is right, what is pure; and He scorns wrong doing and any point of breaking of His holy law. Verse 7 also speaks of the anointing of Christ and His kingly robes. We know the NT teaches that Christ was anointed of God, and in certain instances on earth, His garments were fragrant with spices, as mentioned in verse 8.
Listen as Spurgeon describes Jesus as the King who loves righteousness and hates wickedness; he says, “Christ Jesus is not neutral in the great contest between right and wrong: as warmly as He loves the one He abhors the other. What qualifications for a sovereign! What grounds of confidence for a people! The whole of our Lord’s life on earth proved the truth of these words; His death to put away sin and bring in the reign of righteousness, sealed the fact beyond all question.”
We should consider Spurgeon’s words of how the whole of our Lord’s life on earth proved the truth that He loved righteousness, hated wickedness, and was an anointed King as verse 6, 7, and 8 teach us.
He is the king who was worshiped by lesser kings from the orient with myrrh. He is the king who was anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism and declared to be the one in Whom God was well pleased. He is the king of meekness and humility and righteousness of the sermon on the mount. He is the king who rode into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey. He is the king who was anointed for His death by Mary with precious, expensive oil. He is the king who, loving righteousness lived the life that God requires of me and you fulfilling the righteous law of God. He is the king, who hated wickedness so much so, that He died the just death that we deserved saying “IT IS FINISHED;” He was the holy king who was buried in the cloths fragrant with myrrh and aloes provided by Joseph of Arimathea. And He is the resurrected, reigning King who says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” But there is more! He is the coming king of whom Revelation 11 boldly says, “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”
Jesus is THE HOLY KING! But not only that. He is the…
Husband of the Bride – vs. 9-15
This is a very detailed section of the psalm, extending for at least 6 verses. It is important for us to glean the main truth of this section: the presentation of a holy bride to the holy King is an event of GREAT JOY. This event is described in poetical terms, such as in vs. 9: “At your right hand stands the queen.” At the king’s right hand signifies that she is regarded highly by Him and she is arrayed in the gold of Ophir – a region known for having the purest gold of all. This idea of a pure and holy bride is reiterated in verses 13-14 when she is presented with golden robes, and in many-colored robes is led along with great rejoicing to Christ, the Husband of the bride.
This joyful event described in verses 8-9 goes hand in hand with the royal wedding of Revelation 19 where the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place. It is through that Scripture and ones like Ephesians 5 where we come to understand that Jesus has a people, whom He has given His life for, so that they might be to the praise of His glorious grace, that He might wash, cleanse, sanctify, and present to Himself a bride in splendor, without spot or wrinkle, that she might be holy and without blemish before Him.
Have you ever considered, dear friend, that in Christ, you are on a road to the ultimate, in the truest sense of the word, the ultimate of weddings? Consider how women dream and plan out their wedding day! Many a female has devoted significant thought to their own wedding day and what it would look like. I must ask, do you dream of THIS COMING WEDDING DAY? Have you ever thought about life being a trajectory toward this single moment in time, when you and all of God’s sons and daughters will be presented literally to Christ without spot or blemish, as Revelation 19:6-9 teaches?
Contemplation of such a wedding begs a response. What is the response of this bride? In verse 10, she is told: “forget your people and your father’s house and the king will desire your beauty.” She is instructed therefore to cleave to Christ. He is to be our foremost concern, the preeminent One of our life. Is this not like Jesus’ own command in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
But not only is the response of the bride to cleave, but it is to submit to His Lordship: “Since he is your lord, bow to him.” Leonard Ravenhill, a famous preacher of revival once said, “And God wants some men who are really drunk, intoxicated with the Spirit of God, who have a love life with the Lord Jesus that He can ask anything of you and you’ll do it.” Does that mark your Christianity? Do you cleave to Christ, forsaking all others, and bow to Him as Lord? Is Jesus your Lord and Master? If He says to you, go and give your life amongst the poor of India and die unknown for the sake of the Gospel, are you willing to say, Yes, Lord? If He says to you, go and spend some of your savings to adopt a child from South America, to show forth the love of God and how you are adopted in Christ, are you willing to say, Yes, Lord? Oh, that we would cleave to Christ. Oh, that we would bow to Him.
But finally, we see that He is…
Hope of the Nations – vs. 16-17
In verse 16, we read the phrase, “In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth.” The idea presented in this verse is that the forerunners of the faith – the Old Testament saints will be followed by New Testament saints. As Spurgeon puts it, “The ancient saints who stood as fathers in the service of the Great King have all passed away; but a spiritual seed is found to fill their places…. The line of grace never becomes extinct.”
Christ is the hope of past believers and the hope of future believers; and there is a promise that they all will be “princes in all the earth.” This has an eschatological ring to it. It reminds us of Revelation 5:10, “you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Or of Revelation 20:6, which states, “but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”
Verse 17 goes on. It says, “I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever.” God, the Father, through the working of God the Spirit, going forth in the power of the Gospel of God the Son, will cause the name of Jesus to be made known, remembered and praised. For all peoples, for all lifetimes, forever and ever. And all races, kindreds, peoples, and citizens will praise, confess, give thanks, and celebrate Jesus Christ for the perpetuity of time. His praise will never cease through endless ages.
Think on this – the saints of the Old Testament, having this psalm as a hymn of worship, though with veiled eyes, were worshipping the promise of the Holy King, who is the Handsomest of men, the Hero of God’s army, the Husband of the bride, and the Hope of the nations. And we should delight in how God has further revealed these five attributes of His Son through the entire New Testament. Share Christ with every person you meet, so that peoples, and tribes, and tongues – nation upon nation – may praise and delight in Him as well.