By Mark Robinson
Psalm 45 is a glorious psalm extolling the virtues of the king and his glorious triumph over his enemies. It is majestic in its grace, solemn in its pronouncements, and exhilarating in its promises as it reaches the peak of hope for the war torn, suffering people of Israel. How fitting this psalm is after the previous psalm that vividly describes the suffering of the people of Israel meted out by the hands of their and God’s enemies.
This psalm does not speak of the kings of Israel. They were more often than not unrighteous. Even the best, such as Hezekiah, never ascended to the lofty heights of the king described here. The kings of Israel could be moved by jealousy, tempted by bribes, cowered by the armies of the enemy, and wooed by the gods of this world. Not so with this king. He is the promised One of Israel, the Messiah who was to come. Jewish commentators of old, although confused in many aspects about this king, recognized this one to be Messiah.
“Radak and Ibn Ezra (v. 2) maintain that this song was dedicated to the Messiah.”1
“The Midrash and the commentaries relate this psalm to several individuals described in Scripture. At first Abraham was universally ostracized for his teachings, but he was later acclaimed as the leading citizen of the world. At first David was vilified and pursued, but he was finally accepted as ruler and king. At first Messiah will be challenged, but he will ultimately become the universal sovereign.”2
“This refers to the all-inclusive excellence of the Messiah, of whom the prophet says: (Isaiah 52:13) Behold my servant shall be enlightened, he shall be exalted and lifted up and he shall be very high (Ibn Yachya)…Accordingly God has blessed you for eternity. The kingdom of Messiah shall endure forever (Meiri).”3
Wedded together in this psalm is the unsurpassed beauty of the humanity of Messiah with the transcendent glory of eternality. He is described as being fairer than all men, but the One who inhabits the eternal throne. He is said to prosper because of truth, meekness, and righteousness but through his power all enemies fall.
The writer of this psalm is anxious to share about this king. His heart is “inditing” or “gushing” to tell about this king. He is like a fountain of water bubbling up, ready to burst forth and overflow. He describes his “tongue as that of a pen of a ready writer.” He cannot hold back his thoughts about this king. The king is his heartbeat, the words on his lips, the focus of his affections, the desire of his heart, and the purpose of his life.
Consider this psalm, at least the first seven verses, in light of your focus and affection. Is this king as central to your life as it was to the writer of this psalm? Do you bubble over with joy to tell others about this king, as this writer does? Is your heart so in love with this king that you, like this writer, can say you are ready to speak about this king at any time? If not, perhaps you will be moved in this direction upon reflection and meditation on the words of this writer.
1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.
6 Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
In verses two through four one is struck by the uniqueness of this king. When we are told he is “fairer” than all the children of men, we are confronted with the reality there is no one like him. His beauty surpasses that of all who have ever lived. Not outward beauty, but an inward excellence that radiates his countenance and character to such an extent that to meet him is to stand in awe at his surpassing excellence.
There is no way to miss the source of his incomparable beauty. It is clear the root of his excellence comes from God. There is no miserly portioning of grace. Grace has been poured into his lips, and abundantly bestowed upon him. He has been blessed of God forever.
This king is full of glory and majesty. Explanations of these Hebrew words include “grandeur (i.e. an imposing form and appearance), beauty, comeliness, excellency, glorious, glory, goodly, honour, and majesty.” He is a striking figure in countenance and presence.
As striking as his countenance is, one is struck by what ultimately makes him successful. He prospers because of truth, meekness, and righteousness. He is not capable of telling a lie or deceiving. As Isaiah 53:9 says, “…neither was any deceit in his mouth.” And 1 Peter 2:21-22 speaks of Jesus as Messiah who, “…suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”
Also, his meekness surpassed that of all men. Don’t confuse meekness with weakness. He was in no way weak, but had a compassion and gentleness that attracted people to him.
Coupled with truth and meekness was an unsurpassed righteousness. In fact, he knew no sin. He was, and is, the only way we can have a relationship with God. He met all of God’s standards of righteousness that through him we can be righteous before a holy God. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
He loved righteousness and he hated wickedness, we are told in verse seven. No other person who has ever lived can make this claim with 100% perfection. At times, perhaps most times, we hate wickedness and love, or at least desire, righteousness. But the children of men have the absolute inability to practice this without fail. He alone has this ability, and that is why “God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” He is God’s anointed, or, in more common terminology, God’s Messiah. And he is greater than all other men.
He is unparalleled among humanity. This king is like no other child of men.
The writer of this psalm introduces us to a facet of this king that is impossible to escape. It matters not whether one reads it in Hebrew or in English, the same truth is taught. Yes, this king is a man – glorious, majestic, righteous, meek, the embodiment of truth – but, he is much more. He is God. The Holy One of Israel. The everlasting God, Jehovah, the sovereign of the universe.
One may question how God could be a man. But the language is clear. It is unavoidable.
“Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever…”
“…God, thy God, hath anointed thee…”
In the minds of many, and certainly Jewish people, Messiah is only, although uniquely, a man. The Scriptures tell us something different though. This may be a paradox to some, but it is the teaching of the Word of God, and Psalm 45.
The king of psalm 45 is said to be God and his throne eternal. We are told that God hath anointed God, the one who is king.
The clear teaching of Scripture is there is only one God. In Deuteronomy 6:4 we learn, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.” Known to Jewish people as the S’hema, which is the Hebrew word for Hear.
Psalm 45 is not the only place in the Jewish Scriptures we are faced with the conundrum of “two” Gods. In Psalm 110:1 we read: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” David is the writer of Psalm 100 and his Lord is God. “Jehovah (LORD) said unto God.”
We also find this in Isaiah 48:12-16 where the speaker is the LORD (Jehovah), and then we are told in verse 16 that the “Lord GOD, and his spirit, has sent me.” The me is the speaker, Jehovah, and has been sent by Jehovah.
Since the Bible is clearly monotheistic (teaching only one God) we must embrace the truth that God is a unique Oneness. A plurality in unity.4
The Messiah is more than a man, he is also God. No, man did not become God, but, rather, and importantly, God became a man.
Messiah ben David
Messiah is referred to in Jewish literature as the son of David (ben David). This is because he is recognized as the king of Israel who will ultimately destroy the enemies of Israel. This psalm speaks of this when we are told he will have a sword and arrows and use them to destroy his enemies. In the Jewish community, those who accept the Hebrew Scriptures as the word of God recognize a Messiah who must do battle.
“In consonance with his opinion that this psalm describes Messiah, Radak understands the sword as a real weapon. Although the prophets always portray the Messianic era as a time of universal peace, this tranquility will be achieved only after the terrible war of Gog and Magog…During this cataclysmic confrontation, the Messiah’s martial skills will be his splendor.”5
We may not be far from this time of Messiah’s victory over His and the Jewish people’s enemies. The day is coming as certain as the sun rises in the morning. We need to remember, though, He first came with grace, and meekness, and righteousness to provide redemption for Jew and Gentile. If you embrace Him as your Savior, you will one day be with Him when He reigns.
It is no wonder that the psalmist was overflowing in his desire to speak about this king. He is the eternal God of the Universe, unique among men, and the future destroyer of the enemies of God and Israel.
He is the Hope of Israel and the world!
1. Tehillim, Artscroll Tanach Series, Vol. 2, Rabbi Avroham Chaim Feuer, Commentary on Psalm 45, pg. 560, 1978
2. ibid pg. 559
3. ibid pg. 562, 563
4. Jewish Awareness Ministries has a 16 page booklet by this writer titled “One God or Three?” and a book by Stan Rosenthal with the same title. Contact Jewish Awareness Ministries for information on obtaining these or order them through our website, www.jewishawareness.org.
5. Tehillim, ibid pg. 564