and redeem us for thy mercies' sake; not for the sake of her integrity and faithfulness; nor for her sufferings for Christ's sake; but for his grace and mercy's sake, which is the source and spring of redemption or deliverance, both temporal and spiritual; and to that the saints ascribe it, and not to any merit of theirs, or works of righteousness done by them.
(s) "auxilium nostrum", Cocceius, Gejerus.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 45
To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves.
There are some things in this title we have met with already in other psalms; as the direction, "to the chief Musician, for the sons of Korah"; and one of its names, "Maschil". The word "shoshannim", according to Kimchi and Ben Melech, is the name of a musical instrument, on which this psalm was sung; an instrument of six strings, as Junius: but Aben Ezra thinks it was the first word of a song, to the tune of which it was sunny; though others are of opinion that it points at the persons, the subjects of this psalm, and may be rendered, "concerning Shoshannim"; that is, as the Targum interprets it, "concerning those that sit in the sanhedrim of Moses": and Jarchi's note is, "for the glory of the disciples of the wise men", comparable to lilies; for so this word signifies, and may be translated, "concerning the lilies" (t); that is, concerning Christ and his church, who are manifestly the subject of this psalm, and are compared to lilies, Sol 2:1. This psalm is called "a song of loves", an epithalamium, or marriage song, setting forth the mutual love of Christ and his church; or "a song of the beloved ones" (u) or "friends"; of Christ, who is the beloved and friend of his church; and the church, who is the beloved and friend of Christ; see Isaiah 5:1; and the word here used being in the feminine gender, some have supplied the word "virgins", and render it thus, "a song of the beloved virgins" (w); sung by them on account of the marriage between Christ and his church, who are the companions of the bride, mentioned in Psalm 45:14, and friends and lovers of the bridegroom; see Sol 1:3. The writer of this psalm is not mentioned; it was not written by the sons of Korah, as say the Targum and Syriac version; but most probably by David, though not concerning his son Solomon, as some have thought, who, though wiser than all men, is never said to be fairer; nor was he a warrior, as the person is represented; nor was his throne and kingdom for ever and ever; nor he the object of worship; nor was his marriage with Pharaoh's daughter so commendable a thing; nor is she ever praised, as the queen herein mentioned is: but the person who is spoken of is the Messiah, as is owned by several Jewish writers: the Targum interprets Psalm 45:2 of the King Messiah; and Ben Melech says, he is meant by the King in Psalm 45:1. Aben Ezra observes, that this psalm is said concerning David, or concerning the Messiah his son, for so is his name, Ezekiel 37:26; and Kimchi expressly says, it is spoken concerning the Messiah; and Arama affirms, that all agree that it treats of him.
(t) "de liliis", Tigurine version. (u) "canticum amicarum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "amatarum", Cocceius. (w) "Dilectarum sen de dilectis Christo virginibus", Michaelis; "a song of the well beloved virgins", Ainsworth.
I speak of the things which I have made touching the King; the King Messiah; the King of the whole world, and of the kings of it, and of the saints in it; over whom he reigns in a spiritual manner, and in righteousness; concerning whom this psalm or poem was composed by David under divine inspiration, and which he here delivers:
my tongue is the pen of a ready writer; or as (z) one; such an one as Ezra was, Ezra 7:6, that writes swiftly and compendiously; suggesting, that as he was; full of matter, he freely communicated it, being moved by the Holy Spirit, who spake by him, and whose word was in his tongue; which made him so ready and expert in this work. The allusion is to scribes and notaries, and such like persons, that are extremely ready and swift in the use of the pen. The word for "pen" is derived either from which signifies "to fly" (a), and from whence is a word used for a "flying fowl"; yet we are not to imagine that here it signifies a pen made of a bird's quill, as now in common use with us: for this did not obtain until many hundred years after David's time. It seems that Isidore of Seville, who lived in the seventh century, is the first person that makes mention of "penna", a "pen", as made of the quill of a bird (b), but rather the pen has its name in Hebrew, if from the above root, from the velocity of it, as in the hand of a ready writer; or rather it may be derived from "to sharpen", in which sense it seems to be used, Ezekiel 21:15; and so a pen has its name from the sharp point of it: for when the ancients wrote, or rather engraved, on stone, brass, lead, and wood, they used a style or pen of iron; see Job 19:24; so when they wrote on tables of wood covered with wax, they used a kind of bodkin made of iron, brass, or bone; See Gill on Habakkuk 2:2; and when upon the rind and leaves of trees, and on papyrus and parchment, they made use of reeds, particularly the Egyptian calamus or reed; and the word here is translated calamus or reed by the Targum, Septuagint, and all the Oriental versions. Now as the Jews had occasion frequently to copy out the book of the law, and other writings of theirs, their scribes, at least some of them, were very expert and dexterous at it; but whether the art of "shorthand" was to any degree in use among them is not certain, as it was in later times among the Romans, when they used marks, signs, and abbreviations, which seems to have laid the foundation of the above art, and had its rise, as is said, from Cicero himself, though some ascribe it to Mecaenas (c): and in Martial's time it was brought to such perfection, that, according to him, the hand could write swifter than a man could speak (d).
(x) "ebullit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth. (y) "Eructavit", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Munster. (z) So the Targum, Tigurine version, Gejerus, & Michaelis. (a) Vid. Kimchi Sepher Shorash. rad. (b) Origin. l. 6. c. 13. (c) Vid. Kipping. Antiqu. Roman. l. 2. c. 4. p. 554. (d) "Currant verba licet, manus est velociter illis; nondum lingua suum, dextra peregit opus", Martial. Epigr. l. 14. ep. 189. of the origin of shorthand with the Romans, and among us, with other curious things concerning writing, and the matter and instruments of it, see a learned treatise of Mr. Massey's, called, "The Origin and Progress of Letters", p. 144. printed 1763.
grace is poured into thy lips; by which is meant the matter of his speech, or the Gospel preached by him; these words of grace, as Kimchi on the text expresses himself; or gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, Luke 4:22. The Gospel of the grace of God was given him to preach; it was put into his mouth, and that in great abundance; it was given at sundry times and in divers manners, and by piecemeal, to the prophets before him; but it was poured into his lips, and he was abundantly qualified for preaching it, by having the Spirit without measure given him; and so was poured out in a graceful manner, with great authority, and as never man before him spake, in doctrines of grace, gracious invitations, precious promises, excellent prayers, and even words of eternal life; see Sol 5:13;
therefore God hath blessed thee for ever; or, "because (e) God hath blessed thee for ever"; in his human nature, with the grace of union to the Son of God, and with all the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God; and as Mediator, with all spiritual blessings, with grace and glory for his people. Hence all his comeliness, grace, and gracefulness.
(e) "eo quid", Tigurine version; "propterea quod", Musculus, Piscator; "quia", Gejerus.
with thy glory and thy majesty; which may be connected either with the phrase "and most mighty", and so be expressive of the glory and majesty of Christ, as the mighty God; or with his sword, as an emblem of his authority and majesty as a King, and may denote the glory of his Gospel and of his power; or may point at the end of his girding his sword upon his thigh, which was to show forth the glory of his majesty, or to obtain honour and glory: though the word "gird" may be supplied and repeated, and so make a distinct proposition, "gird with thy glory and thy majesty"; which was done when he was raised from the dead, and had glory given him; was crowned with it, and had the glory put upon him he had with his Father before the world was.
because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; either because he himself is "truth", the truth of all types, promises, prophecies, and doctrines; or because of the Gospel of truth which comes by him; or on account of his truth and faithfulness in fulfilling his own engagements, and the promises of his father: and because of the "meekness" which was so apparent in him, in taking upon him the form of a servant; in his marriage to sinners, and conversation with them; in ministering: to his disciples; in his conduct towards his enemies; and in seeking not his own glory, but his Father's: and because of "righteousness", the holiness of his nature, the purity of his life and actions; and because of the righteousness he is the author of to his people, and of his righteous administration of his offices, especially as a King;
and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things; or thy power, which the right hand is a symbol of, shall perform terrible things; as it did in the work of redemption, by conquering and destroying the enemies of his people, and of himself; and as it does in the conversion of men, which makes terrible work in their consciences, as the instances of the three thousand, of Saul, and of the jailer show; and as it has in his judgments on his enemies the Jews, in the utter ruin of their nation, city, and temple; and will do on all the antichristian powers in the latter day. The Targum paraphrases it,
"the Lord shall teach thee to do terrible things with thy right hand (f).''
(f) "Dextra mihi Deus", &c. Virgil. Aeneid. 10. prope finem.
whereby the people fall under thee: acknowledge themselves sinners; fall down at his feet; humbly implore his grace and mercy; submit to his righteousness; depend on him alone for salvation; adore him, and give him the glory of it, as well as become subject to his laws and ordinances. This is to be understood of those who are God's covenant people, whom he has given to Christ, and he has redeemed by his blood; and particularly the Gentiles, who were not a people, but now openly are, in distinction from the Jews, the enemies of the King Messiah.
the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre; meaning either the Gospel, which is the golden sceptre of mercy and grace, stretched out and held forth for the encouragement of sensible sinners; and is a sceptre of righteousness, as it directs to the righteousness of Christ for justification, and encourages works of righteousness to be done by men: or rather the righteous administration of Christ's government is meant, the sceptre being an emblem of dominion and government, Genesis 49:10.
and hatest wickedness; which was manifest not only by his inveighing against it and dehorting from it, and by his severity exercised towards delinquents; but by suffering for it, and abolishing it, and by chastising his own people on account of it;
therefore God, thy God; or "because (g) God", thy God; who is the God of Christ, as Christ is man; who prepared and formed his human nature, supported it in suffering, and glorified it, and to whom Christ prayed, and whom he believed in, loved, and obeyed as such:
hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows; who though he is called God, Psalm 45:6, and is truly so, yet was not anointed as such, but as man and Mediator, to the office of Prophet, Priest, and King; and not with material oil, but with the Holy Ghost, his gifts and graces; see Acts 10:38; called "the oil of gladness", in allusion to the use of oil at feasts and weddings, for the delight and refreshment of guests, and particularly of the oil of lilies, "olcum susinum", so some (h) translate it; well known to the Hebrews, who inhabited Syria and Palestine, where red lilies grew, of which this was made, and had in great esteem; and because of its effects in the human nature of Christ, filling it with alacrity and cheerfulness to go through the work he came about. This unction rotors to the time of his conception and birth, and also to the time of his baptism; and the phrase, "above thy fellows", denotes the abundance of the Spirit's grace, his having it without measure, and in a transcendent manner to any of the sons of men, even his own people; for these, and not angels, nor the princes of the earth, are meant, neither of which are his fellows; but the saints, who are of the same nature with him, of the same family he is the head of, of the same dignity through him, being made kings and priests by him, partakers of the same Spirit and grace; and will be companions with him, and sit on the same throne with him to all eternity. The Targum, in the king of Spain's Bible, begins the verse thus;
"But thou, O King Messiah, because thou lovest, &c.''
(g) "propterea quod", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Piscator, Gejerus; "quia", Rivet. Noldius, p. 727, No. 1730. (h) Vid. Schacchi Elaeochrism, l. 1. c. 27. & 28.
out of the ivory palaces; see Sol 7:4; meaning the places from whence these garments were taken, the wardrobe; or from whence Christ came, and where he appears; as heaven, the palace of the great King, from whence he came down, whither he is gone, and from whence he is expected again; and the human nature of Christ, in which he tabernacled on earth, and was pure and clear from sin; and his churches, which are his temples and palaces, where he grants his presence. Or it may be rendered, "more than the ivory palaces" (i), and so be expressive of the excellency of Christ's garments above them; and denote the purity of his human nature, the spotlessness of his righteousness, and the comeliness of his people;
whereby they have made thee glad; or, "wherein" or "from whence" (k); in which palaces, the churches, the saints make Christ glad, by speaking of his glory; by ascribing glory to him; and by the exercise of grace upon him, with which his heart is ravished, Sol 4:9. Or "for which" (l); garments of salvation, and robe of righteousness; they being clothed with them, and rejoicing in them, cause joy and gladness in Christ: or "more than they", or "theirs that make thee glad" (m); meaning his fellows and their garments, his being more odorous than theirs.
(i) "prae palatiis eburneis", Cocceius, Gejerus. (k) "unde", Montanus, Musculus, Muis, Noldius, p. 629, No. 1664. (l) "Propter quod", Muis. (m) "Prae iis", Junius & Tremellius; "magis quam eorum", Piscator; so Ainsworth.
upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir; by whom is meant the church, whose title is a "queen", being the bride, the Lamb's wife: wherefore, because he is King, she is queen; for this title she has not of herself; it is founded not in her own right, but upon her relation to Christ, being married to him; and so is expressive of relation to him, union with him, and of privilege and dignity through him; she sharing with him in all he has, even in his kingdom and government, reigning with him, and on the same throne: her being "on his right hand" shows the honour she is advanced unto; yet "standing" may denote subjection to him as her Lord and head; and being so close by him may suggest her fidelity and inviolable attachment to him, and strict adherence to his person, cause and interest; as well as her protection from him, being held and upheld by his right hand; and her reception of favours from thence, and her enjoyment of his presence, at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore. Her dress is "gold of Ophir": a place famous for gold; See Gill on 1 Kings 9:28; with which the clothes of great personages used to be embroidered; so Esther is said (q) to put on her royal apparel, adorned with the good gold of "Ophir": here it means, that the queen's or church's clothing was of wrought gold, as in Psalm 45:13, and intends the righteousness of Christ, with which she is arrayed, comparable to it for its richness, purity, lustre, glory, and duration.
(n) "inter noblies tuas", Tigurine version. (o) Heb. "pretiosas", Piscator; so Ainsworth. (p) In "pretiositatibus tuis", Montanus, Gejerus; so some in Vatablus. (q) Targum Sheni in Esther v. 1.
forget also thine own people and thy father's house; Christ is to be preferred before natural relations; converted persons are not to have fellowship with carnal men, though ever so, nearly related; former superstitions, Whether Jewish or Heathenish, are to be buried in forgetfulness; sinful self, and righteous self, are to be denied for Christ's sake; and the world, and all things in it, are to be treated with neglect and contempt by such who cleave to him. The Targum interprets this of the congregation of Israel hearing the law, beholding the wonderful works of God, and forgetting the idolatrous practices of their ancestors.
for he is thy Lord; not only by creation, but by redemption, and in right of marriage, as well as on account of other relations he stands in to her, as Father, Head, King, and Master; and it is her privilege that he is her Lord, as well as her duty to own the relation; since, though he is a sovereign Lord, he is no tyrannical one, but governs with gentleness, and he has all power to protect her, and all fulness to supply her wants; and on account of his being her Husband, Lord, and Head, he has a right of worship from her, as follows;
and worship thou him; both internally, by the exercise of faith, hope, and love upon him; and externally, by praying to him, praising of him, and attending on all his ordinances, and doing everything in a religious way, in his name, according to his word, and by his authority; and such worship should be in spirit and in truth, in sincerity, and without hypocrisy, in righteousness and true holiness, and with reverence and godly fear.
even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour; either such as are rich, in a literal sense, both among the inhabitants of Tyre, who were a very wealthy people, Isaiah 23:8; and among other Gentiles, especially in the latter day, when kings shall be the church's nursing fathers, and bow down to her, Isaiah 49:23; or such who are so in a spiritual sense, enriched by Christ with all spiritual blessings, and who are particularly rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom; these shall "entreat the favour" of the queen the church; not pray unto her, or worship her in a religious way; for God is only the object of such worship; but do those things by which they would show that they valued her friendship, and would gain her good will; as also acknowledge any former injury done her by them, and entreat her forgiveness; and particularly desire to have communion with her, and share in her prayers.
her clothing is of wrought gold; this is different from internal grace, which is sometimes spoken of as a clothing, 1 Peter 5:5; since that is designed in the preceding clause; and yet this does not intend the outward conversation garments of the saints, which, though ornamental, are not so glorious as to be said to be of wrought gold; and yet not the robes of immortality and glory are meant; but the robe of Christ's righteousness, which he has wrought out for his church, the Father imputes unto her, and bestows upon her, and faith receives at his hand, and puts it on as a clothing, to appear in before God; and this may be said to be "of wrought gold"; because rich and valuable, splendid and glorious, substantial and durable.
(r) "honorata", Junius & Tremellius; "glorificata", Gussetius, p. 362.
the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee; such who are betrothed as chaste virgins to Christ, who strictly and chastely adhere unto him, love him in the singleness of their hearts; are incorrupt in faith and worship, and of pure and upright conversations; see Revelation 14:4; these are the "companions" of the church, who are partakers of the same grace, enjoy the same privileges, and share in the common salvation; and, as they are partners together in sufferings, they will be in glory: these "follow" the footsteps of the flock, walk after the church in the path of doctrine and duty; are followers of her, as she is of the Lord, in the word and ordinances, and in the exercise of faith and patience; these, even everyone, shall be brought unto the King, not one shall be lost, or left behind: whither they shall be brought, and the manner in which, are expressed in Psalm 45:15.
they shall enter into the King's palace; into heaven, the palace of the King Messiah, the King of kings and King of saints; where are mansions preparing for them, suitable to their high birth and character, as the daughters of a king; and where they shall enter, not merely to see it and go out again, but to dwell in it with their Lord, Head, and Husband, for evermore; and that as in their own palace, upon the foot of their relation to Christ, interest in him, right and meetness by him.
whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth; these children are princes, being the sons of a King; they look like princes, and have the spirit of such; they are treated as princes, fed, clothed, and attended on as such; and are, as princes, heirs of a kingdom: but then, they are not so originally, they are "made princes"; not by themselves, but by Christ, and who even makes them kings and priests unto God and his father: and that "in all the earth"; not with respect to earthly things: they are not made the princes of this world; but while they are on earth they are translated into the kingdom of Christ, and have a kingdom which never can be moved; and besides, they shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years: moreover, this may have respect to the several parts of the world where they shall be, even in all parts of the world, especially in the latter day; see Isaiah 43:5.