By Michael Smith
A Reading from Psalm 45
1 My heart is stirring with a noble song;
let me recite what I have fashioned for the king;
my tongue shall be the pen of a skilled writer.
2 You are the fairest of men;
grace flows from your lips,
because God has blessed you for ever.
3 Strap your sword upon your thigh, O mighty warrior,
in your pride and in your majesty.
4 Ride out and conquer in the cause of truth
and for the sake of justice.
5 Your right hand will show you marvelous things;
your arrows are very sharp, O mighty warrior.
6 The peoples are falling at your feet,
and the king’s enemies are losing heart.
7 Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever,
a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom;
you love righteousness and hate iniquity.
8 Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
9 All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes, and cassia,
and the music of strings from ivory palaces makes you glad.
10 Kings’ daughters stand among the ladies of the court;
on your right hand is the queen,
adorned with the gold of Ophir.
11 “Hear, O daughter; consider and listen closely;
forget your people and your father’s house.
12 The king will have pleasure in your beauty;
he is your master; therefore do him honor.
13 The people of Tyre are here with a gift;
the rich among the people seek your favor.”
14 All glorious is the princess as she enters;
her gown is cloth-of-gold.
15 In embroidered apparel she is brought to the king;
after her the bridesmaids follow in procession.
16 With joy and gladness they are brought,
and enter into the palace of the king.
17 “In place of fathers, O king, you shall have sons;
you shall make them princes over all the earth.
18 I will make your name to be remembered
from one generation to another;
therefore nations will praise you for ever and ever.”
The psalm appointed for Morning Prayer depicts a royal wedding between the king and his bride. Some scholars believe the psalm to literally be a secular song about a Davidic king and his bride, but Jewish and Christian traditions have long understood it as a celebration of the wedding of the messianic King with Israel and later the Church. In fact, the psalm is quoted in the book of Hebrews as a reference to Jesus: “Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (Heb. 1:8-9).
A typological interpretation of Psalm 45 sees Christ as the King and the Church as his Bride. It is my understanding that for Davidic kings the “queen” was not his wife, but rather his mother. Therefore, the queen at the king’s right hand, “adorned with the gold of Ophir” is the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.
In this psalm the bride is described: “All glorious is the princess as she enters; her gown is cloth-of-gold. In embroidered apparel she is brought to the king.” In the eschatological wedding of the Lamb in the book of Revelation, the bride is “clothed with fine linen, bright and pure, for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev. 19:8-9).
Today is a good day to think about the impending nuptials of Christ the King and the bride’s fair linen wedding garment we are in the process of fashioning.
Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for 15 years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans, La.
The Diocese of Masasi – The Anglican Church of Tanzania