Psalm 45 - overcomer - The Messiah and His bride
Witness Lee said that this was the greatest of the 150 psalms.

This has been the most difficult psalm for me to translate to date.

The church in this psalm:
1. The King's sharp arrows, who convict the King's foes v5
2. The King's companions who share in His annointing with the oil of exultant joy, making the King joyful v7-8
a. The palaces of ivory, the local churches v8
b. me, the individual Christian v8
3. daughters of kings, the King's precious possession v9
4. the queen at the King's right hand in gold v9
5. a daughter who sees and hears and leaves all for the King v10
6. a daughter of God the King, all glorious within, whose clothing is embroidered with gold and is of needlework  v13-14
7. virgins following the daughter of God the King v14
a. her children who will rule on the earth v15

Tune: The psalm heading says "upon the water-lillies", which tells me it should be a light, tender, beautiful and spring-like melody. The heading also says the tune should be lovely. Verse 1 tells me that the tune should be quick.
I first tried tune #1098 Our hearts are overflowing - Lowell Mason (1792-1872) because another Psalm 45 song was written to that. I put the psalm to that tune, but could not get it to feel inspired.
Then I tried the tune of my favorite song on the divine romance, "As lily growing out of a bramble bush" by Howard Higashi. However, I was not able to put the psalm to this tune, as the tune is rather complicated to me.
Then I used the current tune, and the words were able to flow.

heading - "Water-Lilies" - The word is used 8 times in Song of Songs. A lilly is tender in contrast to thorns (SS 2:2) like the Lord's lips (SS 5:13). There are 3 other "lily" psalms beside this one (Ps 60; 69; 80). Ps 69 is about sufferings coming as a flood of water, out of which David blossoms as a water-lilly.
Besides Song of Songs and Psalms headings, the word is used in Hos 14:5 for Israel to blossom like a water-lilly, and as an ornament atop the pillars of the temple (1Ki 7:19,22) and on the brim of the brass sea (1Ki 7:26;2Ch 4:5).

"giving understanding" - Hebrew Maschill. There are 13 Maschil psalms, see Ps 32.

"loveliness" - the word here is feminine and plural, so it refers to God's people, not to the Messiah. The only other feminine plural usage is in Ps 84:1, where it refers to the Lord's tabernacles.
 
v1 - No writers block, nor searching for the right word, which won't come. The words just flow.
Sometimes when I work on a psalm, the words do not come, and sometimes they flow easily. When the words do not come the result is not inspiring to me. When the words do flow, I still need to check them against the Bible text, and make corrections.
 
v2- The Messiah is the perfect Man. His beauty is that He expressed God through His humanity (John 1:18; Zech 11:7,10).

"made firm" - the verb is used for pouring molten metal to give it a solid shape (1Ki 7:23; etc), for making firm (Job 11:15; 2 Sam 15:24) and also for pouring out (Lev 21:10; etc). Through the 1st coming of the Messiah, grace was made real as it poured out through His lips (Joh 1:14-17;Titus 2:11).

God blessed the Messiah forever so that the Messiah could be a blessing to all mankind by the grace from His lips.
 
v3- "Your sword" is in apposition to "Your glory and Your splendor". The Messiah's sword is His glory and splendor. That sword is the word of God.

The thigh symbolizes strength for moving.
It also could be translated as "side" (Exo 40:22; etc.)
 
v4- The word, "meekness", indicates that this must refer to the New Testament age of grace where Christ's splendor prospers by the preaching of the gospel (Rev 6:2).  In the New Testament age, the word is of meekness, but at His second coming Christ will not be meek.

Lit. ride on upon the word of truth and meekness, righteousness. There is "and" connecting truth and meekness, but none connecting meekness and righteousness. This is unusual because in Hebrew normally either there is "and" connecting all items of the list or there is just 1 "and" connecting the 2nd-to-last item with the last as in English. The MT text has dashes: upon-word-truth and meekness-righteousness indicating a joining of the words "meekness" and "righteousness". Stone Tanach translates it "righteous humility", or it might mean "meekness of righteousness". Neither of these renderings do anything for me. The MT dashes are not part of the inspired text. I think the meaning is that "righteousness" is in apposition to "word of truth and meekness". That is, the word of truth and meekness is the word of righteousness. This is the word Jesus spoke in the gospels and that is prosperred through the preaching of the gospel.
This same structure is in v8 in "myrrh and aloes, kesya".

The "fear-inspiring things" are the sharp arrows in the next verse that convict people. The King's "right hand" is where the queen (v9) is, which is the church, His body. The Lord's main purpose is to build up the church.
 
v5 - This verse is written strangely. Literally it says, "Your arrows sharp, peoples under You (or in place of You) fall in the heart of the foes of the King." Why is the phrase "peoples under You fall" inserted between "arrows sharp" and "in the heart of the King's foes"?
I think the reason is that the sharp arrows are the peoples. In the New Testament age, the sharp arrows are the Christians who convict the hearts of the King's foes with the word of truth, meekness and righteousness and their own living according to that word.

The word which I translated "in place of Thee" could also mean "under Thee". The word is also used in v16, where it means "in place of".

"fall" - The word often means to die a violent death. The gospel has been furthered the most by martyrs and those who suffer for the gospel or for righteousness.
 
v6 -  The King is God, yet He is distinct from God in the next verse.
 
v7 - "Righteousness" = "truth" + "meekness" from v4.

 "O God, Your God" - The King is God, yet there is God above Him. This is the mystery of the Triune God. There is one God, yet He is 3 in 1.
 
v8 - This is a very hard verse to translate.
The 1st part of the verse says literally, "Myrrh and aloes, kesya all thy garments." I think the "Myrrh, aloes and kesya" are components of the "oil of great joy" in the previous verse. This is different than the anointing oil in Exo 30.
Myrrh signifies the sweetness of the Lord's death.
Aloes in the Bible is a completely different plant from the cactus, aloe vera. From Biblical usage, it was a tree and was aromatic (Nu 24:6; Pr 7:17; So 4:14). The Lord Jesus' body was anointed in burial with much myrrh and aloes (Jn 19:39-40).

Kesya is a quite different word than "Cassia" in Exo 30. It is only used here in the plural and in Job 42:14 in singular, where it is the name of one of Job's beautiful daughters whom the Lord gave to him after his great tribulation. The root of the word means "scraping" (Lev 14:41; Isa 44:13; similar in meaning to Job 2:7-8).


Lit. Myrrh and aloes, kesya all thy garments. This is the same unusual structure as v4 in that there is "and" connecting myrrh and aloes but no "and" connecting kesya. I think it means that kesya here (different word than Exo 30) = myrrh + aloes. Because of the striking parallel to v4, there must be some connection between the word of truth and meekness, righteousness, with the components of the annointing oil of exultant joy composed of myrrh and aloes, kesya. At minimum, the word of truth and meekness, righteousness is a basis for the annointing oil of exultant joy. "Truth" is not just doctrinally true, but also honest.

The 2nd 1/2 of the verse is more difficult:
It says literally: from (or more than) ivory palaces, from (or more than) me, they make you joyful.
The problem is with the Hebrew word, minni, which means "from me" or "more than me" or sometimes just "from".  Since "from me" or "more than me" doesn't seem to make sense, modern translations translate it as "musical instruments", but there is no ground for this. Goldingay says "Minni is apparently an apocopated plural", which means that it is the word in Ps 150:4 with the last letter, Mem, missing.  The problem I have with that explanation is that there are no other instances of "apocopated plural"'s in the Old Testament.
KJV translated minni as "whereby", but the word never has that meaning. Stone Tanach translated minni as just "from", which meaning it can have, but that forced them to translate the verb which follows it as a noun, "those which gladdened you." The word is a verb, "gladdened you", and cannot mean "those who gladdened you". This just shows that the Stone Tanach does not agree with the "apocopated plural" guess and made their own best guess.

Since there is no alternative that respects the integrity of the text, I think it should be translated the only way it can be translated, which is "from me" or "more than me".  I translated the preposition as "above", which is the same meaning as "more than" because that is how the same preposition is translated in the preceding v7 (Heb 1:9). In verses 7-8, the preposition, min, is used 3 times, modifying "Your companions" in v7, "ivory palaces" in v8 and "me" in v8. The only other use of the preposition min in this psalm is in v2, where it also means "more than."

Verse 8 ends with "make You joyful". This goes back to "oil of great joy" in the previous verse, v7.  This means that v8 is a restatement of v7 with different details. The "Myrrh and aloes, kesya" are the Holy Spirit, which is the oil of exultant joy in v7.  Christ is clothed with this Spirit of exultant joy.
The "palaces of ivory" and "me" are details of "Your companions" in v7. The "palaces of ivory" are the local churches (1 Pet 2:5), living as a royal priesthood in resurrection (1Pet 2:9). The oil of great joy is poured out on the churches, but to a less extent than on Christ. Then the oil of joy is poured out on believers individually, "me", but less than is poured out corporately on the churches. The joy of the Holy Spirit in the churches and in the individual believers comes back to Christ making Him joyful.

There is a hymn, "Ivory Palaces," by Henry Barraclough on this verse. He wrote it based on a sermon by Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman. This hymn was a favorite of George Beverly Shea.
 
v9 - The daughters of kings are the individual believers who are the King's companions in v7, inhabit the ivory palaces in v8, and are represented by "me" in v8. The phrase "of kings" indicates their royalty. The "kings" are other believers in the church who raised them up.
We, Christians, should live in a royal way as the King Jesus did, honoring all men, though we may be poor.

The queen is the corporate church. She is the King's companions in v7, and she is the daughters of kings in this verse.

She stands at the King's right hand, signifying that she is 2nd to Christ in His kingdom. She is higher than angels. The word "stands" here, means to "to take one's position, to be set over something, established."

Gold signifies God's divine holy nature. She lives a holy manner of life in all things, a life that matches Christ (1 Pet 1:15-16).
 
v10 - "understand" is literally "see".
The daughter here is an individual believer. She needs to hearken, see and incline her ear to the following speaking in order to become a daughter of a king to compose the King's preciousness, His queen.

That she must forget her own people means she must be a gentile.
 
v11 - In order for the King to desire our beauty, we must forget, to some extent, our own people and relations. These are not necessarily bad, but may be very good, but they do not match Christ. We are closer to those who love Christ than to our natural relations and race.
 
v12 - The daughter of Tyre and the rich of the people are some of the peoples that will praise the King's bride in v17.
 
v13 - "The King" here must be God, not the Messiah, because she is going to marry the Messiah. Christians are never called sons or daughters of Christ but of God.

Within she is all glorious (Eph 5:27).

Her clothing signifies her manner of life, which is holy and righteous. Both the queen, the church corporately, and the daughter individually, are clothed in gold. This clothing is the work of the oil of exultant joy, the Holy Spirit (v8).
 
v14 - The needlework raiment is her righteousnesses that she lived out (Rev 19:7-8).
The virgins are other people she brought to the Lord or helped to live a holy life by the Lord. The helping is mutual.
 
v15 - The King's palace is the church, whereas the palaces of ivory in v8 are the local churches. This takes place whenever a Christian is saved. We become part of the church, which is the King's palace.
 
v16 - The vowels of the Hebrew text make the 2nd person pronoun here masculine, referring to the King, but this does not make sense. The King did not lose His fathers, but the believers did in v10. Also, Christians are never considered the children of Christ, but of God and of the church (Gal 4:26). (Heb 2:13 does not refer to Christ's begotten children, but to God's children given to Christ, as indicated by both the Greek and Hebrew words for "children" and the context in Hebrews.) Since the vowels here are not part of the inspired text, I think they are mistaken here, and the 2nd person pronouns refer to the daughter.
The exhortation to the daughter to forget the house of her father, and the consolation here "in place of your fathers", indicates that this is part of the exhortation to the daughter.

Since she is at the right hand of the King, she will ordain her children as princes in all the earth.
 
v17 - the "I" here is God speaking. The 2nd person pronoun in this verse, "your name" and "praise thee" should be the daughter from the previous verse.

updated 8/13/2014
-copyright Steve Miller 2/4/2012