Psalm 48 Commentary

Psalm 48 Commentary

Psalm 48 Commentary
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 
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Psalm 48 Commentary: Let’s turn our attention to Psalm 48.

Psalm 48 is a praise psalm. And the praise of the psalmist is directed toward two entities.

First, the psalmist praises a particular city – Mount Zion – Jerusalem.

But ultimately the psalmist has his praises set on the Lord.

But these two entities – the Lord and Jerusalem – are closely connected in this psalm. And we’re going to discover that the connection comes from the fact that the Lord protects this city – Jerusalem – and the people in it – his people.

And interestingly enough – I think we once more see some subtle foretelling of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ in this psalm – as we have seen in the last few we’ve studied.

So, let’s study Psalm 48.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Superscription

We’ll start with the superscription.

KJV Psalm 48:1 <A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah.>

And there’s not a whole lot to say about that portion of the psalm, so we’ll proceed.

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Lord’s Praiseworthiness

Now, to begin the main section of this psalm, the psalmist declares the great praiseworthiness of the Lord – and he ties the Lord’s praiseworthiness to a specific location – Jerusalem. Verse 1.

Great is the LORD,
and [greatly/certainly worthy] to be praised

And where in particular is the Lord worthy to be praised?…

in the city of our God,
[in the mountain of his holiness/his holy mountain/his holy hill].

So, the Lord is to be praised in this special location. Out of all the locations on the earth, the Lord had chosen to set his name in Israel. And in particular, he’s chosen the capital city of that land – Jerusalem – as a place which holds special significance for him.

Jerusalem is the place where the Temple was constructed – has been constructed several times at this point. It’s the place where the Lord himself – Jesus Christ – served and was crucified for our sin.

It’s the place where Jesus will return – on the Mount of Olives right across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount.

It’s where Jesus Christ will reign on the throne of his father David for one thousand years.

Jerusalem is a special place in God’s program and plan for the world. It has been. It is now. And it will be in the future.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Mount Zion’s Praiseworthiness

And in light of these wonderful facts about Jerusalem, the psalmist transitions from praising the Lord in Jerusalem to praising Jerusalem itself. Verse 2.

2 [Beautiful for situation/Beautiful in elevation/It is lofty and pleasing to look at],
[the joy of/a source of joy to] the whole earth,

is mount Zion, [on the sides of the north/in the far north/resembles the peaks of Zaphon]
the city of the great King.

So, the psalmist praises the appearance of Jerusalem. In particular, he focuses on its height – its elevation.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Elevation

And it is an elevated area. That’s why throughout the Bible, when it speaks of people going to Jerusalem it speaks of the direction traveled as being “up.” People go “up” to Jerusalem. And when they leave Jerusalem, they go “down.”

Jerusalem is lofty. Its situation is beautiful in that sense.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Joy of the Whole Earth

But what do you make of that next statement we read in verse 2? Jerusalem is the joy of the whole earth? … Is it?

Well, I would be hard-pressed to see how Jerusalem could be the joy of the whole earth in the time of this psalm’s writing – back in the Old Testament timeframe. At best, Jerusalem would be a joy to Israel.

And today even, Jerusalem really can’t be said to be the joy of the whole earth. Yes, Jews, Christians, and Muslims revere the place. But what about the Buddhists? What about the Hindus? What about the so-called atheists and agnostics? What about all the world leaders who find Jerusalem to be a powder keg to try to control? For all these groups and more, right now Jerusalem is not a source of joy.

So, perhaps at no time could Jerusalem literally be referred to as the joy of the whole earth…

But it will be some day. There’s a day coming when the Lord himself will return to earth – destroy his enemies – and set up his reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years. At that time, all the nations of the earth will go up to Jerusalem and hear God’s word straight from God-with-us (“Immanuel”) himself!

At that point – in the Millennial reign of Christ – Jerusalem – the city of the Great King, Jesus Christ – will be the joy of the whole earth.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Sides of the North

Now, one last thing needs to be covered in this verse. The psalmist says – according to the KJV – that Mount Zion is on the sides of the north. And we wonder – what does that mean?

Because I can tell you that Jerusalem – as you look at it from the perspective of the geography of Israel – ancient or modern – it’s really not in the north. It’s more central than anything else. And actually, it even tends to be a bit south of the center of the land.

So, how is Jerusalem in the “sides of the north?”

Psalm 48 Commentary: Sides

Well, let me point out that the Hebrew word translated as “sides” is used in 2 Kings 19 to speak of the most distant portion of a mountain. So, let’s translate “sides” in Psalm 48 as “most distant part of…”

Then, it’s the most distant part of what?

Well, the KJV says that it’s the most distant part of “the north.”

What’s that?

Psalm 48 Commentary: North

Well, that word literally means “north.” No surprise there.

But the surprise is that there was a mountain at the time of the writing of this psalm. And this mountain was in modern day Turkey, bordering on Syria. And it was called Mount Zaphon. And zaphon in Hebrew is often translated as “north.” Today this mountain is known by another name – Jebel Aqra or Mount Casius.

Anyway, the significance of this mountain for ancient people in the region of Canaan was that people believed that the Canaanite deity Ba’al and his sister ‘Anat lived on the peak of that mountain. It was a sort of smaller version of Mount Olympus – where the make-believe deities were supposed to have lived. That’s Mount Zaphon – the center of worship for the so-called “Lord” – Ba’al.

But Psalm 48 comes along and declares that that place doesn’t hold a candle to Mount Zion. Mount Zion is where the true LORD has chosen to reside. Mount Zion is truly the city of the great King – greater than Ba’al and ‘Anat. Greater than anything. …

I’d say that makes him worthy of praise, indeed!

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Connection Between the Lord and Mount Zion

And so, we’ve heard that both the Lord and Mount Zion are praiseworthy. But what is the connection between the two?

That’s what the psalmist begins to unfold in verse 3. Here’s the shared connection between the Lord and Mount Zion…

3 God [is known/has made himself known as/reveals himself as] in her [palaces/fortresses]
for a [refuge/stronghold/its defender].

So, what’s the connection between the Lord and Mount Zion? It’s this – that the Lord protects Mount Zion. He’s the refuge or stronghold of this special place on earth.

He was in the Old Testament – when this psalm was penned. And he will be when he comes to it in the person of Jesus Christ.

And of course, it should go without saying – but we need to remind ourselves that God is not concerned about grass and trees and stones. He’s not concerned solely for the geographic area of Jerusalem.

Rather, he’s concerned about Jerusalem for the sake of its inhabitants – in the Old Testament, the Jews. In the future – his people, both Jew and Gentile who are one in Christ.

God is not enamored with land for the sake of mere land. He’s concerned about Jerusalem for the sake of his people.

Psalm 48 Commentary: The Battle

And for this Old Testament psalmist, the Lord demonstrated his concern for his people in a very tangible way. The psalmist apparently had a recent military victory in his mind – which he describes for us in verses 4 through 7.

And as we read this description of past victory – we can also imagine the ultimate victory that the King of the Jews – Jesus Christ – will yet have before he sets up his Millennial reign from this hallowed city.

So, let’s allow the psalmist to set the battle in our minds.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Kings Set to Attack

It begins in verse 4 with the threatening menace of foreign kings who are ready to attack and destroy God’s holy city.

4 For, lo, the kings were assembled,
they [passed by/advance] together.

So, in our mind’s eye – here they come! They’re assembling! They’re advancing!

The kings are coming. And Jerusalem and God’s people need defense.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Defense!

And that’s just what they get starting in verse 5.

5 [They saw it/As soon as they see],
[and so they marveled/then they were amazed/they are shocked];

they [were/are] [troubled/terrified],
[and hasted away/they fled in alarm/they quickly retreat].

So, these assembled and advancing kings see something. What? – we don’t know, yet. So, there’s some suspense as we ask ourselves – what did these terrifying kings see that terrified them so much?

And the psalmist doesn’t answer that yet. Instead, he heaps up the suspense and the fear and terror that these kings are experiencing and expressing in verse 6.

6 [Fear/Panic] [took hold upon/seized] them there, [look at them shake uncontrollably…]
[and pain/anguish], as of a woman in [travail/childbirth].

So, these mighty kings are now reduced to the emotional state of a woman in the midst of delivering a baby – which is to say that they are not at all as frightening as they first appeared to be.

And it’s reported as if it’s a play-by-play. It should make us feel that we’re right there experiencing it as it’s being described.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Reason for Anguish

Now, we’re still left wondering what caused these kings to become so emotionally distressed that they would flee from their original plan to attack Jerusalem.

And I personally think that the answer to that question is found in verse 7.

7 Thou [breakest/shatter] [the ships of Tarshish/large ships]
with an east wind.

Psalm 48 Commentary: East Wind

So, let’s talk about this east wind first.

Picture Israel. To the west you have the Mediterranean Sea. To the right you have miles and miles of sandy dry desert.

So, the wind usually comes from the west – from the sea. And because of that, it delivers cool and moist air and sometimes even rain. Every once in a while, snow.

But when the wind blows from the east, it’s dry and hot. It scorches and kills. In fact, Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interpreted included an east wind that killed his ears of corn.

So, the psalmist is praising God for the fact that this kind of scorching killing menacing wind has come or will come and that it results in the destruction of these ships.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Ships of Tarshish

They’re ships of Tarshish. Or ships that would be large enough to travel from Israel across the sea to ancient Tarshish or probably modern-day Spain.

And the psalmist praises God because he says that these ships have been destroyed by an east wind.

So, let’s think about this.

First of all, we recognize that these ships belong to these kings that are so terrified. And I’m asserting that these kings are terrified because they saw this happen – they saw this east wind come down from the hills of Judea – on which Jerusalem lies – and they saw it smash their boats to bits.

Second, though, I need to confess that I know nothing of a situation like this happening in the Old Testament. If this scenario played out in history – we apparently don’t have it recorded for us.

But third, there is going to be a situation preceding the Millennium in which there will be ships in the vicinity of Israel. And the owner of these ships will be destroyed. And we could probably assume that his ships meet their end too – possibly by an east wind.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Daniel 11

And so, the portion of Scripture I’m referring to is in the 11th chapter of the book of Daniel.

And we’re going to skim through a fairly lengthy section of this chapter and chapter 12 to get an idea of what the author of Psalm 48 might be looking forward to.

KJV Daniel 11:36 ¶ And the king [who’s going to be referred to as the king of the north later…] shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation [of God…] be accomplished: for that [that/what] is determined shall be done.

By the way, of whom is this speaking? This is the Antichrist as we know him from the New Testament.

 37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.

39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.

40 ¶ And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him [this king of the North or the Antichrist…] : and the king of the north [Antichrist…] shall come against him [king of the south…] like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships [same word as we find in Psalm 48 – and we can imagine that these will be large ships or ships of Tarshish – ships that would be able to travel to Tarshish from Israel…] ; and he [probably Antichrist…] shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

41 He [Antichrist, again…] shall enter also into the glorious land [which would include Mount Zion like we’ve been hearing about in Psalm 48…], and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his [Antichrist’s…] hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.

42 He [A.C.…] shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

43 But he [A.C….] shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his [A.C.’s…] steps.

44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him [A. C.…]: therefore he [A. C.…] shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

45 And he [A. C.…] shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain [Mount Zion…]; yet he [A. C.…] shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

KJV Daniel 12:1 ¶ And at that time shall Michael [who’s an angel…] stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy [Daniel’s…] people: and there shall be a time of trouble [the Great Tribulation…], such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

And we’ll stop there.

But this is a part of Scripture that comes as close as any to describing a time when large ships will be in the vicinity of Mount Zion. A time when Mount Zion is threatened by an army and a terrifying leader – a king even. A time when at least the leader who commanded these large ships will be destroyed. A time that immediately precedes the second coming of Jesus Christ to rule in Mount Zion.

So – to return to Psalm 48 – if the large ships are destroyed and that causes the adversarial kings to tremble – then either this is speaking of a time past that has not been recorded for us in the Old Testament. Or it’s speaking of this time to come in Daniel 11. Or – I suppose – both.

But either way, God protects his people. He has in the past. He will in the future. And in the case of this battle that’s been described – his protection is praiseworthy and glorious!

Psalm 48 Commentary: To See and to Hear

And now, it’s one thing to hear that. To hear of God’s glorious protection of his people. But it’s another thing altogether to actually see that in action. And that’s what the psalmist records the people saying in verse 8.

8 As we have heard [about God’s mighty deeds…],
so have we seen [those deeds…]

in the city of the LORD [of hosts/of heaven’s armies],
in the city of our God:

God [will establish/makes secure] it [for ever/permanently].

Selah.

And so, it’s easy to see the ancient Israelites uttering these words after a great military victory in Old Testament times.

And yet, it’s just as easy to see this as a prophecy of what God’s people at the end of the Great Tribulation will be shouting for joy as they welcome their king and ours – Jesus Christ.

And in fact, the wording here makes it more likely in my mind that this is a foretelling of what’s to come. These people are going to say that God establishes Jerusalem “for ever.” He hasn’t done that yet. But he is going to. But there’s going to need to be an Antichrist coming on the scene and being destroyed and Christ coming once more in order for this all to be a reality.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Thinking of God in the Temple

Then – based on what the psalmist has overviewed of God’s protecting his people – he reflects on the fact that in the Temple, people are thinking of this deliverance. Verse 9.

9 We [have thought of/have thought on/reflect on] thy [lovingkindness/loyal love], O God,
[in the midst of/within] thy temple.

And listen – without God’s protection, the Temple doesn’t exist. In fact, God ended up ultimately taking the Temple away from his people for their disobedience – twice!

And there’s going to be another Temple. And it too will be destroyed after the Millennium. But then God himself will be our Temple. And we’ll certainly be thinking of his loyal love – his lovingkindness – his chesed.

And even now – though this building we’re in isn’t a Temple – we are! We are temples as individuals. We’re temples all together as a body of believers. And as we sit as Temples in the midst of a Temple – the Church – I trust that we’re considering God’s love “that will not let you go.” It’s why you’re here tonight. It’s why you’re not on the broad path that leads to destruction. It’s because God has protected you as one of his people.

Think of that tonight even as we go to prayer. That God’s love will not let you go. Ever. Even as he’s literally blowing apart the ships of Tarshish – he’s not going to let anything separate you from his love which is in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Unto the Ends of the Earth

And so, the Lord is utterly praiseworthy. His people think so, for sure. But do you know that there will be a time when God’s praiseworthiness is known “unto the ends of the earth?” Verse 10 insists that this will be the case.

10 [According to/As is/is worthy of] thy [name/reputation], O God,
so is [thy/that you receive] praise

[unto/as far away as] the ends of the earth:
[thy right hand is full of/you execute] [righteousness/justice].

So, God is worthy of the praise he receives from his people. And his reputation of protecting his people ensures that he will receive that praise.

And that protection is little known by those outside of God’s people right now. But a time is coming when that praise and reputation will be known “unto the ends of the earth.” Everywhere!

That will be the case when Christ reigns in Mount Zion.

Psalm 48 Commentary: Mount Zion is Happy

And so, in light of the protection it receives, Mount Zion rejoices! Verse 11.

11 [Let mount Zion/Mount Zion] [rejoice/rejoices],
[let the daughters/the towns] of Judah [be glad/are happy],

because of [thy judgments/your acts of judgment].

So, in the Old Testament, as God protected the cities of Judah and especially Mount Zion – the people rejoiced. And as he protected his people, he judged those who would destroy them.

Psalm 48 Commentary: God’s People Unharmed

And you know – despite the epic battle that is in view in this psalm, Mount Zion’s man-made defenses are not really what protected it. I think that’s the thrust of verses 12-13.

12 Walk [about/around] Zion,
and go [round about/around] her: [encircle it!…]
[tell/count] the towers thereof[./!]

13 [Mark ye well/Consider] her [bulwarks/ramparts/defenses],
[consider/go through/walk through] her [palaces/fortresses];
[that/so that] ye may tell it to the [generation following/next generation].

And what are the people to tell the next generation?

They’re supposed to look at all the defenses in the city. They’re supposed to remember the battle that was about to rage against them. And they’re supposed to notice that the defenses of the city weren’t really what protected them. In a way they weren’t even needed.

Man-made defenses are not what saved Israel or what will save God’s people in the Tribulation.

No, it’s God himself. His people are supposed to take note of the fact that when he protects us, it really is ultimately him – and not any sort of man-made means of defense.

And God’s people in this psalm are being invited to look thoroughly through the city and see that whether they had the walls and defenses or not – God truly protects his people.

And when he does protect his people, we need to take note of that and pass that story on to the next generation.

Psalm 48 Commentary: God Protects and Guides

And why again do God’s people come out unscathed? It’s because of our protecting, guiding God. Verse 14.

14 For this God is our God [who is our defender…] for ever and ever:
he will be our guide even unto death.

And we have this God who protects and guides his people.

And for us – yes – as Luther says – the body they may kill. But as another song goes, the flame shall not hurt thee. And as Scripture puts it – we will not see death. Our bodies will die someday – but if we know God’s Son Jesus Christ we will not even see what it’s like to be separated from God – which is the essence of death.

So, as we pray, let’s look forward to our glorious future with this God who protects his people. And let’s praise this God for his protection in our lives even now and – as the last three words of this psalm proclaim – “even unto death.”

Psalm 47 Commentary

Psalm 47 Commentary

Let’s look at Psalm 47 together for this Psalm 47 Commentary.

In Psalm 47, we are confronted with the following theme: Universal Rejoicing for God’s Universal Reign.

Psalm 47 Commentary: Superscription

So, when we get to this psalm, like many other psalms, we first of all run across a superscription. So, let’s briefly look at that.

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director/music director],
A Psalm
[for/of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites].>

So, Psalm 47 is one of 55 psalms that is addressed to the “chief Musician.”

It’s also one of 57 psalms labeled “a psalm” or in Hebrew mizmor.

And lastly, Psalm 47 is one of 11 psalms that’s attributed to the “sons of Korah.” In fact, the last three psalms we’ve studied – Psalms 44, 45, and 46 have also been attributed to these “sons of Korah.”

Psalm 47 Commentary: Rejoice Ye People!

And so, this psalm that’s intended for use by the chief Musician which was written by the sons of Korah starts by immediately commanding a certain group to commence a certain action in verse 1. Everyone is supposed to rejoice!

KJV Psalm 47:1 O clap your hands, all [ye people/peoples/you nations];
shout [unto/to/out to] God [with the voice of triumph/with the voice of joy/in celebration].

So, this group translated here as “ye people” is found four times in this psalm of 9 verses.

Here in this verse, this group is told to clap their hands in victory and to shout triumphantly.

Now, to whom and regarding whom are they rejoicing? To God!

And God is a central figure in this psalm as he is in the Scripture as a whole. The Hebrew word translated as “God” like we see in this verse appears 8 times in this short psalm. And God’s covenant name YAHWEH is found twice. In the King James Version, the pronoun “he” is used to refer to God five times. God is referred to as “king” or one who reigns 4 times in Psalm 47.

The point is that God the LORD and king is a central figure in this psalm. And he’s a king – not just over Israel. He’s king over all the people of the earth.

However… reality as we know it now doesn’t seem to agree with this declaration – that God rules the whole world. If you were to be bold enough to go out and ask anyone in your neighborhood, “Hey – who’s your king?” they would think you were crazy.

We have no king in this nation in which we live. And even if we did have a king in the USA, he certainly wouldn’t be the king of anyone in another country.

And yet, this psalm declares that God the Lord is king over absolutely everyone…

But again, I return us to our present reality and remind us that God really isn’t even king over his own chosen people – the nation of Israel. They – by-and-large – reject him to this day.

What – then – is this psalm talking about?

There are two possibilities that I think are legitimate.

First, this psalm could be saying that God is king even if his subjects – both Israel and the nations – don’t accept his ruling over them. And I think that’s true. But I do wonder if there’s something more to this psalm than just that.

I wonder about a second possibility…

Do you remember Psalm 46? Nature and the nations being disturbed – but then God comes and finally brings peace to all of them when he sends his Son Jesus Christ to rule the world. The river that makes glad the city of God in the Millennium, etc. And as we studied that psalm, we discovered that Psalm 46 will likely be sung by those who survive the Great Tribulation and enter into the Millennium.

Well, I think this psalm in front of us now – Psalm 47 – is a follow-up to that psalm.

The people enter the Millennial kingdom ruled by Jesus Christ and they look back on what he has brought them through. That’s Psalm 46.

And now, Psalm 47 is a psalm that will be sung by Israel as they realize that God literally rules both them and everyone on earth!

And Israel is rejoicing. And the nations that are subdued under Jesus Christ are rejoicing. And that’s what this psalm is all about. It’s the second Millennial psalm that we’ve come across in the last two psalms we’ve studied!

So, we see that the people – which is likely a reference to the Gentiles who will enter the Millennium from the Great Tribulation – are called on in verse 1 of this psalm to clap and shout with great joy and triumph.

Psalm 47 Commentary: God Rules Everyone

Why? Verse 2. God is ruling them now in the person of Jesus Christ their king!

2 For the [LORD most high/sovereign LORD] is [terrible/to be feared/awe-inspiring];
he is [a/the] great King [over all the/who rules the whole] earth.

And in the Millennium, Jesus Christ will literally and bodily rule from his throne in Jerusalem. We know that from New Testament teaching.

But in this verse here, who does it say will rule the whole earth in the Millennium?

It’s the LORD. Yahweh. Jehovah.

Now, you’re aware of a group that calls itself Jehovah’s Witnesses. And one of their chief purposes for existing is to deny that Jesus Christ is God come in flesh.

But have they not read Psalm 47, verse 2? Because this verse clearly states that the one who will rule over the entire earth is none other than YAHWEH – Jehovah. And we know from the rest of Scripture that it’s Jesus Christ who will rule over the entire earth in the Millennium.

And therefore… Jesus Christ is YAHWEH – Jehovah!

And a group like the JWs or the Mormons or Muslims or liberal Protestants will seek to deny that this is the case. And yet, we have God’s word declaring to us and to them that someday these groups and everyone else will be ruled by God the Son – Jesus Christ – God incarnate. And they will discover what verse 2 tells us – that he is to be feared – he’s terrible in that sense.

Psalm 47 Commentary: How God Will Be King

But again, we must ask ourselves how this is going to happen. Because, once more, we look around and we see God ruling apparently no one.

I mean, he has no throne. Humanity is currently allowed to just do as we please, more-or-less.

So, how is it going to come to pass that Yahweh God is going to be king over not just his people – but over the entire earth?

That’s what verse 3 explains.

3 He [shall subdue/subdues/subdued] [the people/peoples/nations] [under/beneath] us,
and [the nations/nations/countries] under our feet.

And I think what is so interesting is that those very people that we heard about in verse 1 – the ones who are called on to rejoice in God’s ruling over them – they’re going to need to be brought to a place where they are ready and willing to rejoice in that kind of arrangement – of God ruling over them and of them submitting to that rule.

Because it’s not natural for sinful men to joyfully submit to God. And so, God is going to need to do something to make this happen. And that something is the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

And when Christ returns and defeats the enemies of his people – something very interesting will happen. He will subdue those enemies under the feet of his people.

And we need to consider what is usually the reaction of a vanquished enemy? How do defeated opponents usually respond to their triumphing foe? Maybe sorrow, misery, bitterness, vengefulness…

But that’s not how the “people” entering the Millennium will feel. They will do what we’ve already seen them commanded to do. That is, they will rejoice!

They will rejoice to be subdued. Even to be subdued under the power of God’s covenant people will be a joy to them. That’s the way it is when we get rightly related to the God of the universe. There is a joy in submission – a joy in him conquering us, as it were.

Psalm 47 Commentary: Israel Inherits the Land

And in the Millennium, not only will Israel’s enemies be no more a threat to them – indeed, they’ll be worshippers alongside of God’s people! – but also, Israel will be finally given their land that God promised so long ago to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We read about that in verse 4.

4 He [shall choose/chooses/picked out] [our inheritance/a special land] for us,
[the excellency of/the glory of/to be a source of pride for] Jacob whom he [loved/loves].

Selah.

And that land has never been fully inherited by Israel up to this day. But it will be – when Jesus Christ comes to be a king over all the earth.

And to the original Hebrew audience of this psalm – and to the future Jewish recipients of this treasured land – this is such joyful news that the author of this psalm was inspired to add a “selah” – which if that means something like a high point or crescendo – is very fitting for how they’ll feel about finally getting their land in-full after literally thousands of years of collective waiting.

Psalm 47 Commentary: Jesus Ascends the Throne

Well, then verse 5 brings us to the scene of Jesus Christ ascending the throne when he comes to rule the earth.

5 God [is gone up/has ascended (his throne)] [with a shout/amid loud shouts],
the LORD [i.e., has ascended his throne…] [with the sound of a trumpet (shofar)/amid the blaring of ram’s horns].

And so, just picture this glorious scene. Jesus Christ has returned and saved Israel. He has come back with resurrected saints – with you and me, I trust. And here we all are – after millennia of everyone else being on the throne and ruling and doing whatever they think is best and messing everything up and stealing glory from the true sovereign – after all of the sin and death this world has suffered through – ah, now the rightful owner of this place takes his seat for a thousand years.

And he’s going to make everything right. No more injustice. Perfect peace and love and joy. Everyone and everything in total harmony under the loving and kind and powerful rule of our Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ!

Psalm 47 Commentary: Response of Joy

So, how are you going to react when you see this? And I phrase it that way on purpose. You will see this! Do you believe that?

How are you going to react when you see Jesus Christ ascend the throne in Jerusalem?

Well, you and I actually already know how we’re going to respond. Because we’re told in verse 6. This is how you and I will respond when we see Jesus Christ mount his throne in Jerusalem.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises:
sing praises [unto/to] our King, sing praises.

So, do you suppose that when we see Jesus Christ mounting the throne in Jerusalem that we might possibly … “sing praises?” Yes! We’re going to sing praises!

Four times here in this verse alone we’re commanded to do this. We should do this to God in this life – and we will certainly do it when we’re resurrected and witnessing Jesus Christ finally taking what’s rightfully his – the throne from which he will rule over the entire world.

Psalm 47 Commentary: God is the Universal King

And that’s the joyful reality that we’re reminded of in verse 7 – that God the Son will be the universal king.

7 For God is the King of [all the/the whole] earth:
sing ye praises with [understanding/a skillful psalm/a well-written song].

Now, that word translated in the KJV as “understanding” is the Hebrew word maskil. It has to do with skill or wisdom or prudence.

So, the response of the people over which Jesus will rule is and will be to sing skillful praises to him. Praises that take some thought and creativity and contemplation.

We’ll do it in the Millennium when we see his coronation. We should do it now as he rules in our hearts.

Psalm 47 Commentary: God’s Holy Rule

And perhaps an Old Testament Hebrew might think that ruling over the Gentiles – the goyim – and God’s holiness would be mutually exclusive realities. After all, the Gentiles were ceremonially unclean – and unclean in so many other ways in the Old Testament economy.

And yet, God makes it clear in verse 8 that Jesus Christ’s future reign over the entire earth – including Gentiles – will in no way detract from his holiness.

8 God [reigneth/reigns] over the [heathen/nations]:
God [sitteth/sits] [upon/on] [the throne of his holiness/his holy throne].

Christ’s throne will be holy. It will be completely unique. Unlike any other monarch in the history of the world.

Christ will be a just ruler. He has never sinned, he will never sin. He cannot be bribed. He is omniscient. Nothing will escape his notice. He will not persecute good. He will be a terror to evil in the purest way.

His throne and his rule will be completely different – it will be holy.

Psalm 47 Commentary: Jew and Gentile

And in that bright future day when Jesus Christ rules on earth – the reality that we know of in the Church – of Jew and Gentile together in one body – will be fully realized on an international scale according to verse 9.

9 The [princes/nobles] of the [people/nations] [are gathered together/have assembled themselves/assemble],
[even/as/along with] the people of the God of Abraham:

for the [shields/rulers/ones who shield their people] of the earth [belong unto/are under the authority of] God:
he is [greatly/highly] exalted.

So, the psalmist is prophesying that the princes of the people – and I take that as a reference to the rulers of the Gentiles or the non-Jews – well, they gather together with the Jews – the people of the God of Abraham.

Or that could be translated to say that the rulers of the people will gather together as the people of the God of Abraham.

In other words – whereas currently a person is either a Jew or not – in the Millennium there will be the closest of connections between Jew and Gentile. The Gentile people will be either with the people who have worshipped Yahweh for millennia – or the Gentile people will be considered as if they actually were the people who have worshipped Yahweh for millennia.

And that’s because the shields – and those who wield those weapons of war – will belong to God at that point in earth’s history.

And for this reason, God will be highly exalted. And as we wait for these promised realities to materialize, we ought to highly exalt this God – who is our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ – and who will one day cause us and the entire universe to rejoice in his universal reign.

So, as we go to prayer tonight, lets obey Jesus’ admonition to pray that God’s kingdom would come – and that there would soon be Universal Rejoicing for God’s Universal Reign.

Psalm 46 Meaning

Psalm 46 Meaning

Let’s open our Bibles to Psalm 46 to discover the Psalm 46 meaning.

Psalm 46 has been a joy for me to study. And I trust it will be a blessing to you as we go through it.

Studying the psalms has been really enjoyable for me, because there’s always something new. And from lesson to lesson I never know quite what I’m going to discover in my studies that I can then bring to our assembly.

And for the psalm before us right now – Psalm 46 – the real surprise to me has been how applicable this psalm is to a certain time period in the history of the world. And that time period would be the end of the Great Tribulation into the Millennial – the thousand year – reign of Jesus Christ.

And I’ve almost been suspicious that perhaps I’m reading too much into the psalm. And yet, in order to avoid the Millennial implications of this psalm, I would really have to try very hard – really to the point of dishonesty.

So, instead of doing that, we’ll let the Bible speak and receive it as it is and try our best to understand it and rejoice in its truth right now.

So, let’s start by examining the superscription to this psalm…

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director]
[for/a psalm of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites],
[A Song upon/Set to/According to the style of] Alamoth.>

So, this is one of 55 psalms that are addressed to “the chief Musician.” (FYI: The others are 4-6,8-9,11-14,18-22,31,36,39-42,44-47,49,51-62,64-70,75-77,80-81,84-85,88,109,139-140)

This is also one of 11 psalms that are said to be “for the sons of Korah.” (FYI: The others are 42,44-49,84-85,87-88)

But one thing this psalm doesn’t share with any other psalm is this mention of it being “upon Alamoth.” The one other place where that phrase is mentioned is in the context of bringing the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem from Obed-Edom’s house under the reign of King David. There, some men tuned their harps to this style of music. The term literally means “young women” which has made some think that perhaps this was a tune that required high voices – like the voices of sopranos.

And so, this song – that is to be set to this tune of Alamoth for or by the sons of Korah to be performed by the chief Musician – begins like this.

KJV Psalm 46:1 God is our [refuge and strength/strong refuge],
[a very present/he is truly our] [help/helper] in [i.e., times of…] trouble.

So, the psalmist is declaring that in his estimation, he considers God to be his strong refuge.

A refuge is something you can escape to for safety.

And – you know – this world has its refuges. People who reject God can try to take refuge in an altered state of mind through the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Money can appear to be a refuge to those without Christ. It seems to protect people from trouble.

And yet, these refuges will not stand the test. These refuges that men run to in times of trouble will fold – they do fold.

But not God. God is a strong refuge. We can escape to him when we’re in danger and he is there for us.

And that’s because – unlike the world’s refuges – God is able to do something about the things that are troubling us. He is a very present help in trouble.

Well, what kind of trouble are we talking about? What kind of trouble does God provide refuge from?

Nature Disturbed

And that’s where the psalmist is going to point to mankind’s tendency to fear when natural disasters strike in verses 2 and 3 as the particular trouble he’s thinking about.

2 [Therefore/For this reason] [will/do] not we fear,
[though/when] the earth [be removed/should change/shakes],
and though the mountains [be carried/slip/tumble] into the [midst/heart/depths] of the sea;

3 Though the [waters/waves] thereof [roar/crash] and [be troubled/foam],
though the mountains [shake/quake] [with the swelling thereof/at its swelling pride/before the surging sea].

Selah.

Now, if the term selah as some suggest marks a crescendo – then this would be it. Picture what the psalmist is envisioning. Earth, mountains, and waters all in an uproar all at the same time. If you were to find yourself in a situation in which all this was happening at once, you would be terrified.

And yet – even if this terrible combination of events were to be taking shape around you – you and I can feel the strength and the help of our God who is our refuge in times of distress. Even in times of natural disasters.

And this is where we would start to do a disservice to the entire Scripture if we failed to remember that Jesus Christ warned us that there is coming a time when things like what the psalmist just mentioned will happen. There will be great earthquakes. People will be perplexed by the roaring of the sea and its waves. That’s all according to Luke chapter 21.

And Revelation 6:14 describes a scene of the end times in which mountains are moved out of their places.

So, we can look at Psalm 46 and leave it in the realm of metaphor – but we have a good deal of evidence that these kinds of things will literally happen.

And they will happen during the Great Tribulation. And so, I think we’re starting to get the picture that this psalm will be sung by those who enter the Millennium from the Tribulation.

They’ll be joyfully praising God – “He is our strong refuge! He has been to us a very present help in the trouble and tribulation we’ve gone through! In fact, we’ve seen great earthquakes, mountains moving from their places, and the sea roaring – but we could be fearless because of our strong protecting God!

Nature at Peace

Well, moving on, the author of this psalm really seems to enjoy going from one extreme of – on the one hand – chaos and danger and disorder to – on the other – peace and tranquility and serenity – all because of God being our refuge.

And so, we saw the temptation to fear caused by a multitude of natural disasters. And that’s now followed up by a picture of a peaceful quiet river flowing through the city of God in verses 4 and 5.

4 There is a river, the [streams/channels] whereof [shall make glad/bring joy to] the city of God,
the holy [place of the tabernacles/dwelling places] of the [most High/sovereign One].

5 God [is in the midst of her/lives within it];
[she/it] [shall not/cannot] be moved: [i.e., in contrast to the mountains and earth, etc.…]

God [shall help her/rescues it],
[and that right early/when morning dawns/at the break of dawn].

So, what a contrast we have. After the raging of nature – which we don’t fear because God is our refuge – now we have the calm and serene scene of a river flowing through God’s city. And the streams of this river make that city glad. Not anxious and fearful – like the scene we just left earlier. But glad.

And this city is the place which houses these “holy tabernacles” or dwelling places “of the most High.” And because of that “God is in the midst of her.” He dwells there in those tabernacles or dwelling places.

And because of that, this city “shall not” and cannot “be moved.” And it’s that way because God – who’s in the midst of that city – will defend it. He will “help” it “right early.” And that’s a picture of help for this city when morning dawns or when dawn breaks. In other words – right away.

What City is Made Glad?

Now, I think we’re all wondering – what city is the psalmist speaking of? You might assume he’s talking about Jerusalem. After all, that’s where the holy dwelling places of God were in the Old Testament.

And I think that’s right. He’s speaking of Jerusalem.

And yet, there’s one problem with identifying this city as Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has no rivers.

There’s the Jordan River off to the east about 20 miles. But it’s kind of hard to imagine that he’s speaking of that river that’s so far away making glad God’s city.

Let me put it in terms that might be helpful for us. Our church in Whitewater, WI here is 20 miles away from Rock Lake in Lake Mills. It’s about 20 miles away from Phantom Lake in Mukwonago. And it’s about 20 miles away from Geneva Lake in Williams Bay/Lake Geneva. The same distance that Jerusalem is from the Jordan River.

It would be strange to think of Rock Lake or Phantom Lake or Geneva Lake making glad the city of Whitewater. The distance is too great.

And I think the same would hold true for Jerusalem and the Jordan River. They’re just too far away from each other to be correlated like that.

So, how do we make sense of what the psalmist is saying here? He’s saying that Jerusalem will be made glad by a river.

And this is where the Millennial emphasis of this psalm really starts to get unavoidable.

This is a prophetic reference and it’s looking forward to Jerusalem in the Millennium.

Actually, twice in Scripture we hear of a river flowing from Jerusalem. Once in the Millennial Jerusalem and once in the New Jerusalem.

River in Millennial Jerusalem

Millennial Jerusalem is revealed to us in Ezekiel 47. So, let’s turn there.

In Ezekiel 47 we’re in the middle of the prophet Ezekiel being led around by an angelic figure and being shown a future temple – so it can’t be Solomon’s temple, of course, which was in the past from Ezekiel’s time reference.

Further, this temple in Ezekiel is not the temple constructed by the returned exiles after the Babylonian Captivity. Neither is it the temple constructed by Herod the Great.

How do we know that? Well, let’s read what Ezekiel is shown in his vision to see if it sounds anything like these other temples. We’ll read verses 1 through 12 of Ezekiel 47.

KJV Ezekiel 47:1 ¶ Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the [house/temple]; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.

2 Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

3 ¶ And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.

That’s about 1,500 ft east of the Temple Mount which would be right about at the base of the Mount of Olives…

 4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees.

That’s about 3,000 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is the spot where tourists usually stop to take a look at the Temple Mount from a high spot on the Mount of Olives…

Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

By the way, this is about 4,500 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is right on top of the Mount of Olives – really close to the biblical city of Bethphage. Now, water doesn’t flow up mountains. So, how is this water going to be flowing up this mountain? The answer: It won’t. Remember – at the end of the Tribulation, according to Zechariah 14:4, Jesus Christ’s feet will touch the Mount of Olives and split it west to east, creating a huge valley. That’s how this water is going to be flowing east out of the Temple like we’re seeing here…

 5 Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

And this is about 6,000 ft east of the Temple Mount, which is about where the Mount of Olives currently starts sloping down toward the Dead Sea…

 6 ¶ And he said unto me,

Son of man, hast thou seen this?

Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

8 Then said he unto me,

These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

And so, in other words, this water coming from the temple in the Millennium will go east through the new valley hewn into the Mount of Olives – past where it currently starts to descend toward the Dead Sea and it will make the salt water of the Dead Sea non-salty…

 9 And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: [i.e., which currently doesn’t happen in the DEAD Sea – but will in the Millennium…] and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

10 And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi [i.e., which is on the western shore of the Dead Sea – about 23.5 miles southeast of Jerusalem…] even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea [i.e., Mediterranean Sea…], exceeding many.

11 But the [miry places/swamps] [thereof/of the river] and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.

12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for [meat/food], whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof [be consumed/wither]: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for [meat/food], and the leaf thereof for [medicine/healing].

So, Ezekiel sees this vision of a river flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem. This is the Millennial Temple.

And with the water flowing from that Temple changing the Dead Sea into a living sea filled with fish – with fruit trees surrounding the river and the sea – you can understand how this river will “make glad the city of God!”

River in New Jerusalem

But let’s briefly look at the other river that comes from Jerusalem in Revelation chapter 22…

And all the information we have on it is in verses 1 and 2 of Revelation 22…

KJV Revelation 22:1 ¶ And he [i.e., the angel who was showing John all of these things…] shewed me [i.e., the Apostle John…] a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. [i.e., not the Temple, but the throne – Rev 21:22 declares that there will be no Temple in the New Jerusalem…]

2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

OK, so I will say that I think that this river is different from the river in Ezekiel 47.

In Ezekiel 47 the river is coming from the Temple. In Revelation 21 we’re told that there is no Temple and so the river in Revelation 22 is coming from the throne of God – not a physical Temple.

The vision in Ezekiel 47 must relate to the Millennium – when Christ will reign on the earth from Jerusalem. The vision in Revelation 22 – on the other hand – is of a time after the Millennium – after Satan leads one last rebellion against Jesus Christ and is destroyed once and for all.

So, let’s bring this back to Psalm 46. I believe that the river mentioned in Psalm 46 is this river from Ezekiel 47.

Psalm 46 is Unavoidably Millennial

And really, I think we can now see that Psalm 46 is thoroughly Millennial. Now, I’m sure that this psalm was used by ancient Israel as they went to war and had the Lord deliver and protect them from their enemies.

And yet, the Apostle Peter tells us that Old Testament prophets didn’t always know what exactly their prophecies would turn out to be. They searched concerning what time the Spirit of Christ was indicating to them and so forth.

So, it’s entirely possible that the Holy Spirit breathed out through the psalmist here a psalm that is really going to be used in all its glorious meaning in the Millennium when Christ reigns from Jerusalem.

And so, think about it. How does this psalm start? God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in time of trouble. Don’t you suppose that Israel will be declaring this after 7 years of Tribulation and then their sudden deliverance by their God the Lord Jesus Christ?

And because God is our strong refuge we won’t fear – even when the mountains start falling into the sea and the sea is roaring and nature just seems to be going crazy! And isn’t that what Israel will experience in the Tribulation right before the Millennium?

And then – there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. God is in her midst. She won’t be moved. He will protect her. Is this not what Israel will experience in that great Millennial day when God is literally in the midst of her in the person of his Son Jesus Christ?

So, yes, this psalm is thoroughly Millennial in its emphasis – whether or not the psalmist himself even knew it.

Nations Disturbed

And now, we’re going to see the psalmist transition from peace and calm back to thinking of things that are chaotic and out of order. He’s already spoken of how he wouldn’t fear even when nature was out of control. But now in verse 6 he’s going to speak of the nations being out of control.

6 The [heathen/nations] [raged/made an uproar/are in uproar],
the kingdoms [were moved/tottered/are overthrown]:

And this will certainly happen in the Tribulation right before the Millennium.

Nations Subdued

But then God will step-in in the person of Jesus Christ and this will happen…

he [uttered his voice/raised his voice/gives a shout],
the earth [melted/dissolves].

And the emphasis given to God’s voice here is interesting in light of the fact that when Jesus returns in Revelation 19 we’re told that he will slay Israel’s enemies with what? With the sword of his … mouth!

His voice which comes from his mouth melts the earth in Psalm 46. And the sword that comes from his mouth slays the enemies of Israel in Revelation. Notice the connection with his mouth and the destruction of the wicked.

Jesus: The Lord of Hosts

And so, when Jesus comes to finish the Tribulation – he isn’t alone. He comes with the armies of heaven according to Revelation 19:14. He will be the Lord who commands armies – or another way to put it in familiar Old Testament terminology – he’s the Lord of … hosts.

That’s the one who will be with Israel in the Millennium – as they will recognize at that point and as the psalmist foretells in verse 7…

7 The LORD [of hosts/who commands armies] is [with us/on our side];
the God of Jacob is our [refuge/stronghold/protector].

Selah.

Now, Jesus Christ is known as Immanuel – God with us. And here – when Jesus finally defeats his foes and the foes of his people – he’ll be known as Yahweh with us. That’s what they’re declaring here.

And this reality – that Yahweh will be with them is such an amazing fact that they’re not going to say this just once in this short psalm of 11 verses – but they’ll say it twice.

And once again this reality of Yahweh being with them is so amazing that they see to it that they add a selah after stating this amazing new reality for them.

Destruction Marks His Coming

Well, when Jesus – whose name means “Yahweh saves” – comes to physically and spiritually save his people the Jews and usher in his Millennial reign, it obviously won’t be without quite a bit of destruction. He needs to destroy all the numberless armies that have gathered against Israel in those future days.

And so, the psalmist actually looks forward to that reality in verse 8.

8 Come, [behold/witness] the [works/exploits] of the LORD,
what [desolations/destructions] he hath [made/wrought/brought] [in/to] the earth.

And so, yes – Jesus will bring a good deal of destruction with him when he comes to set things right on this earth.

Peaceful Result

And yet, here’s the peaceful result of his violent second-coming…

9 He [maketh wars to cease/brings and end to wars] [unto the end of/through] the earth;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in [sunder/two];
he burneth the chariot in the fire.

So, you might be aware that World War 1 was known as the “War to End All Wars.” And yet, it’s pretty obvious that that war didn’t live up to that ambitious alias.

But there will be a war to end all wars – at least for one thousand years. And it’s called the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation.

And this is an event foretold in both New and Old Testaments. In fact, Isaiah chapter 2 gives us a glimpse into this time when Jesus reigns from Jerusalem. I’ll read verses 2 through 4 of that chapter where the prophet says…

 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

3 And many people shall go and say,

Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths:

for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4 And he [i.e., Jesus!…] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

So, no more war between nations. That will be the reality when Jesus Christ comes to reign on the earth from Jerusalem. That’s what we’re told in the New Testament. That’s what we see in this psalm. That’s what we hear about in Isaiah. It’s all over the Scripture – this blessed reality that is quickly coming!

A Message of Peace

And in light of this reality – that Jesus Christ is coming again and will rule and establish perfect peace and justice on this earth, he has a message for us that’s just as applicable for us as it was for the original recipients of this psalm – in verse 10…

10 [i.e., He says…] [Be still/Cease striving/Stop striving], and [know/recognize] that I am God:
I will be exalted [among/over] the [heathen/nations],
I will be exalted [in/over] the earth.

Folks, it’s certain. Jesus is coming back to this earth. And when he does, every wrong will be made right.

Your crumbling body will be brand new. Where you experience poverty on whatever level, that’ll be taken care of. Your relationships will be in perfect harmony. You will never be hungry or thirsty again. You will never ever again struggle with sin. You will never be confused again. You will never be afraid of violence or war.

It’s coming! Because Jesus is coming.

But he’s not here yet. And these blessings that I’ve just mentioned and so many more aren’t ours… YET!

But they will be. Some day. And so, what God wants us to do right now as we wait for these things is to be still. Be calm. Don’t strive in anxiety and fear.

Instead, know and recognize that Jesus Christ is God. And he’ll see to it that he will be exalted over the nations and in all the earth. And everything will be made right when his kingdom comes.

Trust him to do this in his timing. Be patient. Be calm. Be looking for Christ’s return. He’s coming again and that’s a sure thing.

Jesus is With Us Now

And this one who is coming soon, is even now with us. The psalmist ends by repeating what we’ve already seen in verse 7…

11 The LORD [of hosts/who commands armies] is [with us/on our side];
the God of Jacob is our [refuge/stronghold/protector].

Selah.

And is this not what Jesus promised? That he would be with us always – even to the end of the world.

Jesus will be with us in this world in a special way in the future. And Jesus is with us right now as we serve him.

So, be still. Recognize his sovereignty in your life. And let’s pray with these realities in mind.

Psalm 44 Message / Psalm 44 Commentary / Psalm 44 Sermon

Psalm 44 Message

Open your Bibles to Psalm 44. The 44th Psalm for this Psalm 44 message…

I accidentally skipped this psalm last time and went to Psalm 45. So, we’ll circle back and cover this psalm now.

Psalm 44 is a lament psalm. And in it, we’ll see the psalmist:

1.      Remembering that God performed mighty deeds in the past for his people

2.      Desiring God to perform mighty deeds now

3.      Lamenting God’s recent chastening of his people

4.      Appealing to God that his chastening is not a result of their sin

5.      And then calling on God to again engage in his mighty deeds on their behalf

So, that’s a summary of the flow of this psalm.

Superscription

Now, let’s begin with the superscription of Psalm 44.

KJV Psalm 44:1 <To the [chief Musician/choir director/music director]
[for/of] the sons of Korah,
[Maschil/Well-written song].>

And I have a few facts from this superscription that I think you might find interesting.

First, this is one of 55 psalms that are addressed to this “Chief Musician.” Additionally, Habakkuk 3:19 also references the man who held this position. And so, this “Chief Musician” must be a position rather than a single individual, since he’s referenced through quite a long span of time.

Second, since we’re considering statistics, this psalm is one of 11 psalms that are “to the sons of Korah.”

Third and last – this psalm is one of 13 psalms that – at the beginning of the psalm – tell you that it is a “Maschil” or perhaps a well-written song.

Remembering that God performed mighty deeds in the past

So, moving on from the superscription of this psalm, we’ll now see the psalmist remembering that God performed mighty deeds for his people in the past in verses 1-3.

We have heard with our ears, O God,
our fathers have told us,

Well, what have they heard and what had their fathers told them?

what work thou didst in their days,
in the times of old.

And yet, God’s done a lot of work over the ages. Is there a particular work that they’re thinking of? Yes…

2 How thou didst drive out the [heathen/nations] with thy hand,
and plantedst [them/our fathers];

how thou didst [afflict/crush] the people,
and cast them out.

And so, what event is the psalmist hearkening back to here? That would be when God brought Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua.

And when God did that for Israel, there was a good deal of fighting involved. And yet, the psalmist confesses that the strength of Israel wasn’t what got them the land. Rather, God’s power did that for them.

3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword,
neither did [their own arm save them/they prevail by their strength]:

but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance [i.e., saved them…],
because thou [hadst a favour/were partial] unto them.

So, God performed these mighty deeds in ancient times for Israel – not because they were great – but because he favored them.

And that’s the case for Christians – for this church. The only way we will prevail on a spiritual level is if God decides to favor us. And any success we have won’t be by our own devices – but by his strength at work in us.

Desiring God to perform mighty deeds now

And as is so often the case, a reminder of God’s past mighty deeds grows in us a greater desire to see him perform those kinds of deeds in our own lifetime.

And so, that’s what the psalmist does next. In verses 4-8 he expressed a desire for God to perform mighty deeds right now in his lifetime.

4 Thou art my King, O God[:/!]
[command/decree] [deliverances/victories] for Jacob[./!]

And if God commands deliverances for his people, this is what will happen.

5 Through [the power of…] thee will we [push/drive] [down/back] our [enemies/adversaries]:
through thy [name/strength] will we [tread them under/trample down those] that rise up against us.

And that might sound like the psalmist is proudly boasting of his own strength and the strength of God’s people. But that’s not at all what he’s wanting to communicate. Because he knows that any victory that God’s present-day people have will come about just the same way that God’s people of old experienced victory – by God’s strength.

6 For I [will/do] not trust in my bow,
neither shall my sword save me.

7 But [i.e., rather than saving myself…] thou [hast saved/deliver/will deliver] us from our enemies,
and [hast/will] [put them to shame/humiliated them] that hated us.

And therefore – because the psalmist is expecting God to grant deliverance from enemies and give success…

8 In God [we/I] boast all the day long,
and [praise/we will thank] thy name [for ever/continually].

Selah.

And so, when we go to prayer, we can remember the way that God has worked with his people in times past – both in our church and more broadly wherever he’s given success to his people on the earth.

And at the same time – we can beg him to work the same kind of awesome deeds that he’s proven he can do in times past.

Lamenting God’s recent chastening

And yet, the desire of the psalmist for God to perform mighty deeds in his time like he did in the old days faces one serious obstacle. It’s the fact that God has been chastening the psalmist and his people according to verses 9-16.

9 [But/Yet] thou hast [cast off/rejected], and [put us to shame/brought us to dishonor/embarrassed us];
and goest not forth [into battle…] with our armies.

So, it used to be that the Lord would go with Israel as they conquered the land of Canaan. But at this point in the psalmist’s life that has stopped happening in Israel.

Instead…

10 Thou makest us [to turn back/retreat] from the [enemy/adversary]:
and they which hate us [spoil/have taken spoil/take whatever they want] for themselves.

11 Thou hast [given/handed over] us like sheep [appointed for meat/to be eaten];
and hast scattered us among the [heathen/nations].

And with that statement being made, you wonder if perhaps this psalm was written during the Babylonian exile when Israel was scattered among the heathen.

And yet, since the psalmist has mentioned the presence of “armies” of Israel – the setting of this psalm probably is not the Babylonian exile since Israel wouldn’t have had armies at that point.

So, this psalm must have occurred sometime before the exile to Babylon – and of course sometime after the conquering of Canaan.

It could have happened under the reign of just about any of the wicked kings of either northern Israel or southern Judah – when God would have been displeased with his people and allowed enemies to come in and take things and people captive.

And yet, what we’ll see later in this psalm indicates that the people weren’t being scattered and chastened for their own sin. So, it’s quite difficult to pinpoint the background to this psalm. And were not the only ones to struggle on that point – Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry also don’t really know the setting of the psalm.

So, we’ll proceed.

Now, when a person attempts to get rid of something valuable, he’ll usually try to get top dollar for that thing.

And yet, the psalmist goes on to declare that God gave away his people for nothing.

12 Thou [sellest/sold] thy people [for nought/cheaply/for a pittance],
and dost not increase thy wealth by their price. [You haven’t profited by their sale…]

And so, as a result of God’s giving away his people to their enemies, those very enemies – and, really, anyone who saw what was happening to Israel – were shocked at what God was allowing to happen to them – his own covenant people!

13 Thou makest us [a reproach/an object of disdain] to our neighbours,
a [scorn/scoffing/taunt] and [a derision/insult] to them [they do these things to us…] that [are round about us/live on our borders].

14 Thou makest us [a byword/an object of ridicule] among the [heathen/nations],
a [shaking of the head/laughingstock] among [the people/foreigners]. [i.e., they treat us with contempt…]

And so, as a result of God’s granting defeat after defeat to his people and giving his people over to their enemies, the psalmist is in emotional turmoil.

15 My [confusion/dishonor] is [continually/all day long] before me,
and [the shame of my face/my humiliation] hath [covered/overwhelmed] me,

16 [For/Because of/Before] the voice of him that [reproacheth/ridicules] and [blasphemeth/reviles/insults];
by reason of [i.e., the presence of…] the [enemy and avenger/vindictive enemy].

So, the psalmist has remembered God’s mighty deeds of old.

He has expressed his strong desire for blessings along the lines of what God’s people formerly have enjoyed.

And yet, we just saw the psalmist lament the fact that God has done just the opposite in his case. In the psalmist’s lifetime, God has not delivered his people from their enemies. He’s delivered his people to their enemies!

And that’s why it seems like God isn’t with them anymore. They experience defeat after defeat. Life is hard for them.

And I want to ask – have you experienced something similar to what this psalmist experienced?

Has your family recently in one way or another fallen on hard times – even though in past times God has been gracious to you?

What about your church? How has it been going for us? A little rough, I’d say. And that’s of course an understatement. We’ve had quite a bit of discouragement and defeat over the years.

Or maybe you’re associated in whatever ways with other ministries that have seen God’s rich blessings in times past – but now – despite your great desire for things to be different – those ministries are struggling.

So, I think we all know something of what this psalmist is struggling with.

Appealing to God that his chastening is not a result of sin

And I think that when we express concerns like this about our family or our church or whatever other ministries we’re involved with – that they’re struggling in numerous ways – I think that the immediate reaction of others to this news is something like the response of Job’s three friends to the suffering Job.

That is, Oh! I know why you’re struggling! It’s because of some sin issue or some deficiency on your part or your pastor’s part or the part of your ministry leader or whatever! Looking to place the blame on someone for the apparent withdrawal of blessings from the Lord.

And yet, we’re going to see the psalmist categorically deny that the chastening that God is bringing on his people has anything to do with sin.

And so, in verses 17-22, the psalmist appeals to God that the chastening they’re experiencing is not a result of national or personal sin.

17 All this [is come upon/has happened to] us; [yet/even though] have we not [forgotten/rejected] thee,
neither have we [dealt falsely in/violated] thy covenant [i.e., with us…].

And this verse is one more big reason why I think this psalm was not set during the Babylonian exile. Why? Because the people were in exile in Babylon precisely because of their forgetting God and dealing falsely in his covenant.

So, they’re being chastened without a doubt. And yet – equally undoubted is that – this chastening is not a punishment for sin.

And so, the psalmist continues…

18 Our heart is not turned back, [i.e., we have not been unfaithful…]
neither have our steps [declined/deviated] from thy way; [i.e., not have we disobeyed your commands…]

And so, the actions of the Lord in handing his people over to defeat and not going with their armies and giving them over to their enemies is simply rather unexpected in light of these things not being the result of sin.

19 [Though/Yet] thou hast [sore broken/crushed/battered] us [i.e., leaving us…] in [the/a] place of [dragons/jackals/wild dogs],
and covered us with [the shadow of death/darkness].

And so, the psalmist continues by declaring that if they were guilty of sin then God would make that known.

20 If we [have/had] [forgotten the name of/rejected] our God,
or stretched out our hands [i.e., in prayer…] to [a strange/another] god;

21 [Shall/Would] not God [search this out/find this out/discover it]?
for he knoweth [the secrets of the heart/one’s thoughts].

In other words, God knows everything. And he would know if the people were sinning to the extent that he had to punish them. And yet, that’s not the case here and God knows it. That’s what the psalmist is maintaining.

Well… then… why are God’s people experiencing defeat at the hands of their enemies? This is crucial. Verse 22.

22 [Yea/But/Yet], [for thy sake/because of you] are we killed all the day long;
we are [counted/considered/treated] as sheep [for the slaughter/to be slaughtered/at the slaughtering block].

So, there it is, folks. Did you know that there’s another possibility as to why a family or a church or another type of ministry is experiencing defeat – rather than the pat answer that sin is involved?

Why the defeat? It’s for the Lord’s sake. It’s because of the Lord.

And just like Job and just like this psalmist, we ultimately don’t know why. Why the defeat? We have no clue – except that it’s for the Lord’s sake. He has plans beyond what we can fathom. His ways are higher than ours.

And this is on the mind of the apostle Paul when in Romans 8 he speaks of the worrying and dangerous and deadly things that we might tend to think will threaten to separate us from the love of God.

Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine (not enough to eat), nakedness (not enough to wear), peril, sword. And then Paul points to this passage as a reference. As if to say – do you remember Psalm 44 and how it talks about godly people suffering – but not for their sin???

And then Paul consoles us that we are more than conquerors in all these things through the one who loved us. And you know what? The one who loves us is the one who brings these things on us – persecution, distress, etc. He loves us. And when he sends these things to us, it’s not because he hates us. It’s not even necessarily chastening for sin. It’s all for his sake.

And so, Paul ends Romans 8 with an air of confidence that nothing – none of these things mentioned – will ever separate us from God’s love in Christ.

So, I have a few questions for us.

Has our church gone through hard times? Yes.

Can I or anyone else promise that the hard times are over? Will getting a new pastor – for example – magically end the hard times for our assembly? No.

Should we be at all surprised if harder times actually come? No.

If harder times come, does that mean that we’re separated from God? … No! It doesn’t even necessarily mean that he’s chastening us for sins. All it means is that God has a plan. And he’s enacting that plan for his sake in a way that only he fully understands.

And when it comes down to it, his plans that he works through our sufferings are – in his mind – just a glorious as his mighty deeds of delivering his people. God’s causing us to experience defeat is just as much in his plan as is his giving success in times past.

Whatever God does is right. He is always good.

Calling on God to renew his mighty deeds

And yet – even though we can trust that God’s ways are right and higher than ours – even when they include serious defeats and setbacks – we’re still encouraged to call on God to renew his mighty deeds of old – just like the psalmist does in verses 23-26 to end this psalm.

23 [Awake/Arouse yourself!], why sleepest thou, O Lord?
[arise/Awake/Wake up!], [cast us not off/do not reject us] for ever.

24 Wherefore [hidest thou thy face/do you look the other way],
and [forgettest/ignore] our affliction and our oppression? [i.e., how others are treating us…]

And we need to recognize that the psalmist is expressing the way he feels – not the literal reality of the situation.

What do I mean by that?

Well, does God sleep? No, he doesn’t. He slumbers not, nor sleeps.

Does God reject or cast off his people? No. He will never leave nor forsake us.

Does God hide his face? Does he forget his people’s affliction? No, not in reality.

And yet, this is exactly how the psalmist feels. He feels as though God is asleep – after all, he’s not listening to their cries for help!

He feels like God has rejected them – like God is playing a frustrating game where he hides his face from his people – like God might know what’s troubling his people, but unfortunately he doesn’t really care and so he just ignores them.

And isn’t God glorious for putting up with this kind of talk about himself? He demonstrates his awesome strength by allowing his weak people to probe that strength of his. To question it. To see if it’s really there – like they suspect that it is.

And yet, in the end, we all know – even the psalmist – that God’s power is awesome. I mean, the psalmist began this psalm magnifying what he knows that God did in the past and what he can do even now.

So, the psalmist doesn’t even really personally believe in what he just implied about God. But he’s communicating how he feels about his situation. And God graciously allowed for him to do that.

Because God is very patient with us very weak people. And that weakness is what the psalmist portrays in verse 25.

25 For our soul [is bowed/has sunk] down to the dust: [i.e., we lie in the dirt…]
our belly [cleaveth/pressed] unto the [earth/ground].

So, when it comes down to it, it’s God’s people – not God himself – who is in a position of weakness and neediness.

And so, the psalmist makes one final plea for God to graciously help them according to his mighty power.

26 [Arise/Rise up] [for/be] our help, [i.e., help us!…]
and [redeem/rescue] us [for/because of] thy [mercies’ sake/lovingkindness/loyal love].

So, the psalmist is asking for military victory for Israel here.

But for us in the church, we can identify with being redeemed for the sake of God’s loyal covenant love. And every single one of us who has put our trust in Jesus Christ has been redeemed. Why? Not for our own goodness – but for the sake of God’s mercy – his lovingkindness – his chesed.

And therefore – that being the case – to return to earlier thoughts – what can separate us from the love of God? Not even being treated as a sheep for slaughter. We overwhelmingly conquer through him who loves us.

And so, as we go to prayer – even if we’re experiencing a sense of God-forsakenness – let’s remember that we are not forsaken. God is not done with us yet. He might allow us to be treated like sheep in the line to be slaughtered. And yet, he is still with us working in and among us for his sake.

 

Let’s call on him to again do wonders among us. And let’s rest in the fact that nothing can separate us from his love in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 45 Commentary

Psalm 45 Commentary

Open your Bibles to Hebrews, chapter 1. (For this Psalm 45 commentary)

Psalm 45 in Hebrews 1

The author of Hebrews makes the point immediately in this book that Jesus Christ is God’s final speech. Look at verses 1 and 2.

KJV Hebrews 1:1 ¶ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…

And then the author goes on to speak of this Son and what he’s like and what he’s done.

And what’s he’s like and what he’s done is so glorious that the author can say in verse 4 of Jesus Christ…

KJV Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

And if we need proof of Jesus being better than the angels, that’s what Hebrews gives us for the rest of this chapter. It starts in verse 5…

KJV Hebrews 1:5 ¶ For unto which of the angels said he at any time,

Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?

And again,

I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

And the author of this book will go on to give several more quotes from the Old Testament in which he contrasts the unique position of the Son of God to the secondary and servile position of the angels.

But we want to focus on verses 8 and 9. Let’s read those.

KJV Hebrews 1:8 ¶ But unto the Son he saith,

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:
a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity;
therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee

with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

So, we see that the author of Hebrews clearly states that Jesus Christ – the Son of God – who is better than the angels – was addressed as “God” in the Old Testament.

And do you know what Psalm that quote is taken from? … It’s Psalm 45. And it just so happens that this is the next psalm on our path through studying through the book of Psalms.

So, let’s turn to that Psalm and study it in its context. Psalm 45. …

Superscription/Introduction

To begin, let’s read the superscription of this psalm.

KJV Psalm 45:1

<[To/For] the [chief Musician/choir director/music director]
[upon/according to the] [Shoshannim/tune of “Lilies”],
[for/of/by] the [sons of Korah/Korahites],
[Maschil/a well-written poem],
A [Song of loves/love song].>

So, we gather from this superscription a few things.

The primary fact that we take away from this part of the psalm is that this is a love song. And what we’ll see throughout this psalm is that it’s written on the occasion of the wedding of a Davidic king.

The fact that it’s according to Shoshannim – or “the lilies” gives it a more gentle feel, which is appropriate to a wedding love song.

And it’s a Maschil or probably a well-written psalm for such a momentous occasion.

Preparation for the subject matter

And so, now for the rest of verse 1 we are being prepared for the subject matter to come throughout this psalm.

My heart [is inditing/overflows with/is stirred by] a [good matter/good theme/beautiful song]:
I [speak of the things which I have made touching/address my verses to/say, “I have composed this special song for] the king:

my tongue is [the pen/as skilled as the stylus] of [a ready writer/an experienced scribe].

So, the psalmist is ready to write about this wonderful subject. Our anticipation should be building. Like – What could this good matter be that is so stirring to you heart? What would you like to tell us about with your pen-like tongue??

The beautiful subject

Well, here it is in verse 2 – the beautiful subject that we’ve been anticipating.

2 Thou art [fairer than/the most handsome of all] [the children of men/men]:
[grace is poured into thy lips/you speak in an impressive and fitting manner]:

[therefore/for this reason] God [hath blessed thee for ever/grants you continual blessings].

And I think that throughout this psalm we will be operating on two levels.

The first is that we recognize that this was written for a mere human Davidic king for his wedding procession. He’s on his way to his wedding and this love song has been written to accompany such an exciting and joyful event.

But at the same time, this psalm is thoroughly Messianic. And so, we can see how it relates to Jesus Christ and his bride the Church throughout.

The king was attractive and gracious

So, for verse 2, if we’re dealing on the human-only Davidic king-level, we see a king being praised for his handsome appearance and gracious speech and evident blessing from God.

Jesus is attractive and gracious

But as we look at it from the Messianic perspective, we see a Savior who is both inside and out the most beautiful man to ever live.

We see the man of Calvary whose speech – and whole life – was full of grace and truth.

We see the Nazarene who is – according to Romans 9 – God-blessed forever.

The King encouraged to engage in military exploits

And so, now in verses 3-5 this King is encouraged to engage in military exploits.

3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O [most mighty/mighty one/warrior],
[with/in/appear in] thy [glory and thy majesty/splendor and majesty/majestic splendor].

4 [And in thy majesty ride prosperously/Appear in your majesty and be victorious]
[because/for the cause/ride forth for the sake] of [truth and meekness/what is right] and [righteousness/on behalf of justice];

[and/then] thy right hand shall [teach thee/accomplish] [terrible things/awesome things/mighty acts].

5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies;
whereby [the people/nations] fall [under thee/at your feet].

The king was mighty in battle

And so, it’s easy to see how this kind of encouragement would fit into the life of a human Davidic king. He’s brave and he goes into battle for the protection and safety of his people. He’s their deliverer. And so much of the time, delivery comes as a result of fighting and war.

And so, even at this man’s wedding procession, the people are thinking of him in these terms of being a military hero and protector of his people.

Jesus will be mighty in battle

But if we look at this from a Messianic standpoint, we need to ask ourselves – what will Jesus need to do before he comes to enjoy his full reuniting with his Bride, the Church on earth?

Jesus is going to need to come on his white horse and destroy all the enemies of his people Israel and set up his Millennial Reign wherein his people will reign with him.

There we’ll see truth and meekness and righteous fully carried out in every way.

The King recognized as deity

Now, the next part of the psalm in verses 6 and 7 is honestly quite difficult to see on the merely-human level. Because it’s in these two verses that the King is actually recognized as deity.

6 Thy throne, O God, is [for ever and ever/permanent]:
the sceptre of thy kingdom is a [right/just] sceptre.

7 Thou lovest [righteousness/justice],
and hatest [wickedness/evil]:

therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee
with the oil of [gladness/joy] [elevating you…] above thy [fellows/companions].

And I wondered what Jewish people who don’t receive Jesus as their Messiah do with this verse. And so, I looked at one of their commentaries and they actually changed the word “God” in verse 6 to be “Judge.” And the commentator had this elaborate view of this passage – that it’s actually speaking not of a king but of teachers of the Torah.

Why? That’s because to a Jew who doesn’t recognize that Jesus is both man and God – Davidic King and Yahweh God – there’s not a whole lot he can do with this passage. If he wants to avoid the claims of Christ, then he needs to try to translate himself out of this uncomfortable reality – that in Jesus Christ, all the fullness of deity dwells bodily.

The only alternative to just mistranslating this verse for an unbelieving Jew would be to say that verse 6 is basically an aside to God and that it’s not addressing the King at this point.

And yet, that’s hard to maintain. All the while, the psalmist is speaking of the King. Leading up to verse 6 he’s speaking of him. And then in verse 7 it’s quite clear that he’s still speaking of him.

And so, even verse 6 is addressing this King. And he’s addressed as “God.”

I honestly don’t know how people in the days of this king would have handled these verses that address the King as God.

But I know how we’re supposed to think of it. And, that’s the way that Hebrews 1 portrays it. This is speaking of God’s kingly Son, Jesus Christ, who is God’s last word and who is better than even the super-powerful angels.

The King’s desirableness and luxury

Now, the psalmist goes on to speak in verses 8 and 9 of the King’s desirableness and luxury.

8 All thy garments [smell of/are perfumed with] myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,
[out of/from] the [ivory/luxurious] palaces, [whereby/comes the music of] [they/stringed instruments] have made thee glad.

9 [Kings’ daughters/Princesses] [were/are] among thy [honourable/noble/honored] [women/ladies/guests]:
[upon/at] thy right hand [did stand/stands] the queen [in/wearing jewelry made with] gold [of/from] Ophir.

The king was desirable and luxurious

So, the king’s clothing is perfumed with various scents. And he’s associated with palaces decked in ivory – that perhaps even music is coming from these beautiful luxurious palaces just for him and his wedding day – making him glad.

And those aren’t the only signs of luxury and richness for this king. He has all sorts of noble women attending him in his court.

But the crowning jewel is his queen. And she herself is bejeweled with gold from a place known for its gold – Ophir.

Jesus is desirable and luxurious

And I suppose if we’re extending this to Christ, then perhaps this points to the richness in heaven that he left in order to become poor so that he could make us spiritually rich. It’s like the hymn goes – “out of the ivory palaces into a world of woe – only his great eternal love made my Savior go.

And he came for his queen – his bride – the Church. And in this life we’re poor in numerous ways. And yet, spiritually we are rich. And when we’re with him – not wearing gold maybe – but walking on streets of gold – we will be appreciating the riches given to us by our King forever.

An appeal to the princess on behalf of the king

Now, with the mention of the queen in verse 9, the psalmist goes on in verses 10-12 to appeal directly to the princess – who is soon to be the queen – on behalf of the King.

10 [Hearken/Listen], O [daughter/princess], [and consider/give attention/observe],
and [incline thine ear/pay attention]; [what does she need to hear?…]

forget also thine [own people/homeland],
and thy [father’s house/family];

11 [So shall/Then will] the king [greatly desire/be attracted by] thy beauty: [why should she leave what she knows and do the king’s will?…]

[for/because/after all] he is thy [Lord/master];
[and worship thou/bow down to/submit to] him.

12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift;
even the rich among the people shall [intreat/seek] thy favour.

The princess should leave all and embrace the king

So, this princess who is soon-to-be-married to this king is encouraged to leave and cleave to borrow from Genesis. And actually, there in Genesis, the order is for the man to leave his parents and cleave to his wife. Here it’s reversed. The bride-to-be is encouraged to leave all else behind and join herself in marriage to this all-desirable king.

And if she does that – if she leaves what she knew in order to marry this man, the king would desire her beauty. He himself is the fairest – according to verse 2. But he will see and desire her fairness that is a match for his.

And if she has difficulty leaving what she knows in this life to join the king, she needs to remember that he’s the ruler of this domain. He is her king. She would do well to submit to him.

And if she does, even foreigners from the wealthiest of places – Tyre in this case – will be there to welcome and congratulate her on making the right decision.

The Church should leave all and embrace Jesus

So, let’s apply this to the Church’s relationship to Christ our King.

Christ won’t have competition for our affections. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. You and I as the Bride of Christ must leave what we’ve known and belong to our great King alone.

And you might think sometimes that we’re the only ones who are benefiting from our relationship to Christ and that he himself is fairly ambivalent about it. But he told us that as the Father loved him, he loves us. He has prepared a place for us so that we can be with him forever. He laid down his life for us because we are his friends. He loves us and desires to be with us forever and to see his glory.

And do any of us struggle to be wholly Christ’s? Are we tempted to be lured back to our old way of life like the Hebrews were to whom the book of Hebrews was written?

If so, we need to remember that Christ is our Lord – our master. He has all power on earth and in heaven. Everything – including us – belongs to him. So, let’s act like that’s the case – because it is.

And can you imagine on that day when we reign with Christ in the Millennium and all nations are serving our King? Surely, we will have these foreign nations there with us, bringing their gifts.

Praising the princess to the King

Now, the psalmist turns back to the King and – as if the King needs any encouragement in this area – the psalmist praises the princess back to the King. Just like the psalmist praised the King to the princess, now he does the reverse of that in verses 13-15.

13 The [king’s daughter is/princess looks] [all glorious within/absolutely magnificent] [i.e., within her bridal chamber…]:
her clothing is [of wrought/interwoven with/trimmed with] gold.

14 She shall be [brought/escorted] unto the king in [raiment of needlework/embroidered work/embroidered robes]:
the [virgins/maidens of honor] her [companions/attendants] that follow her [shall be brought unto/are led before] thee [<– Where I get that this is addressed to the king…].

15 [With gladness and rejoicing/Bubbling with joy] shall they [be brought/be led forth/walk in procession]:
they shall enter into the [king’s/royal] palace.

The princess was elaborately arrayed

And so, regarding the bride-to-be of the ancient Davidic king, this is speaking of how elaborate her outfit is as she’s ready to join the king in marriage. And not just her outfit – but her attendants are elaborate in terms of their number and their enthusiasm. And so, these things are praised about this woman to the king.

The Church is elaborately arrayed

And for the Bride of Christ, this again points to our adornment on that day when we’re finally united to Christ our King. Our garments will be bright and clean – they’ll be our righteous acts. We will have no spot or wrinkle or anything like that.

And as for our attendants on that great day, we know that all creation groans and suffers pains until the resurrection of our bodies and our being fully united – face-to-face – to our King. Don’t you suppose that all creation will be ready observers of this future and imminent event?

The continuation of the King’s rule and reputation

And lastly, the psalmist declares the continuation of the King’s rule and reputation in verses 16 and 17.

16 [Instead/In place] of thy fathers shall be thy children, [to carry on the dynasty…]
whom thou mayest make princes [in all/throughout] the [earth/land].

17 I will [make thy name to be remembered/proclaim your greatness] [in all generations/through the coming years]:
therefore shall the [people/peoples/nations] [praise/give thanks to] thee for ever and ever.

The king will continue his reign

And so, for the ancient Davidic king – here the psalmist is looking forward to the fruit of his upcoming marriage – children to take his place and rule in his stead.

And the psalmist promises to make this man’s name be remembered in all generations. But isn’t it interesting that we don’t know the exact identity of this King? Is it David? Is it Solomon? Or Rehoboam? Or…? We don’t know his name.

Jesus will continue his reign

And yet, we know the name of Jesus – still to this day. The world knows his name. And the Church praises him to this day. And it’s the Church that is made-up of so many “people” or “Gentiles” that praise our King forever and ever.

Because the truth of the matter is that we will reign with him. We’ll be made princes in all the earth when our King comes to reign and have his wedding procession and wedding supper with us.

And what a day that will be. And it will most surely come when our Lord the King comes in his beauty.

So, that’s Psalm 45. A hymn for a historical wedding procession. And a hymn that is unmistakably Messianic and pointing us to that future day when the Church – in the words of the song – “eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face.” Looking not at the glory that will just absolutely surround us at that point, but on our King of grace.