The Wedding of the King (Psalm 45:14-19)

Published on Sunday, 13 August 2017 11:29
Psalm 45 celebrates beforehand some of the significant activities of the Messiah. The author was guided to say who the Messiah is – he is both God and man. He also writes his song from the point of view of the Messiah’s enthronement, which we know occurred when Jesus ascended to heaven following his resurrection. The psalm does not mention all the important events that follow on from the enthronement. In the main, two activities are mentioned – his warfare and his wedding.

The story is told of an incident in the life of St Columba when he reached Inverness and was attempting to convey the gospel to King Brude. It happened one evening when Columba and his friends were singing their evening hymns. Several local Druids tried to stop the praise. In response, Columba sang Psalm 45 and did so in such a way that the king and the people were struck with amazement and fear. Columba was known as an excellent singer and his voice could be heard one thousand yards away. While we may not be able to sing the psalm with the same ability as him, we can sing it with the same understanding.

The drawing of the king (vv. 10-12)
The psalmist describes the expectation of the King in these verses. She is asked to listen to what he has to say and then respond to the information. Her response will involve separation from her past, satisfaction for the King, and devout submission to him. What does this all involve? Here are six suggestions.

The warfare of Jesus in the psalm is depicted under the imagery of a swordsman and an archer. We suggested that the sword he uses is the gospel by which he pierces the hearts of sinners, and both the sword and the bow are connected to what he does. As an archer, he fires arrows into the hearts of his enemies, and we suggested several such arrows such as comprehension of reality, conviction of sin, contrition for sin, slaying of self-confidence and challenge to trust the Saviour. At the time, those affected don’t realise it, but what the king is doing is finding sinners who will eventually make up his bride. This a reminder that those who will come to the wedding have all been wounded by the Beloved.

Yet they do not resent the wounding once they have realised why it took place. The reason for this is that the King also makes them wise. As Paul reminded the Corinthians whom Jesus had wounded, he was made unto them wisdom, among other blessings. Becoming wise is the same as becoming enlightened and the matters in which they become enlightened are all to do with salvation. They discover who Jesus is and what he did for sinners. The instruction comes to them from the Bible, a book that they find they can understand. Many are the insights they begin to appreciate as they read its pages. The One who wounded them becomes their teacher and remains so forever.

The outcome of becoming wise is that the wounded become worshippers of the King. They engage in worship because they realise his greatness. The Bible tells them that he is the Creator and Upholder of the universe, and that he does so continually merely by the power of his word. They also discover that he has loved them for a long time, far longer than the years in which they have been in existence. In fact, he has loved them eternally, which means that he has always loved them. There has never been a moment when his omniscient heart has not been focussed on them. Moreover, they hear that he who wounded them in his gospel was wounded for them so that there would be a gospel to declare.

The worship in which they engage affects their entire life. It is not just what they do on Sundays, although the gatherings with God’s people in which he is worshipped are very precious to them. Nor is only what they do when they engage in activities such as Bible reading and prayer, although they are important as means of fellowship with the King, whether done privately or with others. In reality, their worship extends to the whole of their life, and one way by which the Bible speaks about this lifestyle is by calling it their walk. Walk implies at least two ideas – progress and destination. They are travellers and they are making their way to the wedding and there is only one road that will take them there. This road, the Bible says, is the narrow way. Sometimes it goes uphill, and the path is tough, yet they keep going because it is the only way to the wedding. At other times, the road is easier, but they still walk on.

As they make their way along the narrow path they remain watchful because they know that there are enemies beside it waiting to attack them. Sometimes they get wounded by those enemies (the world, the flesh and the devil) and when they do they discover that such wounds are not like the wounds of the King. Instead they have no good purpose and instead are designed to destroy them. Often, they confess, the troubles they find are because of their own carelessness and sinfulness. As they travel, they discover the importance, indeed the necessity, of walking with their eyes fixed on their destination, the wedding.

The path they are on is observed by others who sometimes wonder why they are walking on a different road. This gives them the opportunity of witnessing about what they are doing. They tell those who ask that they are on this road because they are going to a wedding. Since the time they were wounded by the King they sense his drawing. His wisdom, their worship, the walk on the narrow way, the watchfulness and the witnessing all say to them that the wedding is nearer now than it has ever been. And when they receive such reminders their hearts become glad and they long even more for the great occasion. They know that one day it will happen and they will find themselves there.

The psalmist also points out that their privilege in knowing the King will lead others to ask them for advice. In the picture in the psalm, people from faraway Tyre would seek the favour of the one chosen to marry the King. Is this not a picture of the situation described by Peter when he said that people will ask believers about the hope that they have in Jesus?

The delight of the King (vv. 13-15)
We are used to events called the wedding of the year or the wedding of the decade or even the wedding of the century. In contrast to all of them, the wedding we are thinking about is the wedding of the ages. There will never be another one like it. What makes this wedding so special? Here are three reasons. First, it was prophesied – there are many references to it in various books of the Bible. Those books were written at different times, but they share the desire for this wedding to arrive. Second, it involves more than two people – the Bride numbers a figure that no can count, drawn from all periods of history and from all people of the earth. Third, it is permanent; in fact, it is the only permanent marriage. All others are located in time, but this one lasts for eternity.

In the psalm, the author moves quickly from the days of preparation for the wedding to the actual day itself. His words now focus on the moments prior to the marriage. Of course, the picture of the wedding is only an illustration of what will take place when Jesus and his people meet. There are other pictures in the Bible of this occasion, such as a family gathering after being apart or travellers reaching their destination after a long journey or seamen coming to the harbour after a storm.

Concerning the customs of the time, the stage described here was when the bridegroom came to where the bride was resident to escort her to his home. She is depicted as waiting for him in her chamber and after he arrives she and her bridesmaids make their way with him to the marriage festival that will take place in the palace. What features of that glorious day are depicted here? I would suggest that there are four.

The first suggestion is that she is royal – she is said to be a princess or a king’s daughter (v. 13). It would be unusual for an earthly monarch not to marry a person of royal rank. What rank belongs to the Bride of Jesus? They are the sons of God. Even as the apostle John says in 1 John 3:2: ‘Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.’ After all, it is a royal wedding. At one time, the members of the Bride of Jesus did not belong to the family of God, but had to be brought into it one by one. But all of them will be family members when the wedding day comes.

The second feature of the Bride is that she is robed; in fact, she has more than one robe, and what marks the robes is that they are multi-coloured. Clothes pointed to status, and we are told that hers are laced with gold, which indicates that her attire is very valuable. Perhaps the colours came from many jewels that would be attached to the robes and which would glint and sparkle in the light. The obvious idea is that of splendour to behold and gaze on. What will believers be like on this amazing day when the wedding comes? We are told that they will be glorified. Whatever else is indicated by the splendour of the attire, the state of being sinless and Christlike is what glorified means. It is impossible to imagine the beauty of glorification because it is beyond our ability now to do so.

The third feature is that they are rejoicing. In order to convey the amount of happiness that they have, the psalmist uses two words to express it – joy and gladness. Of course, in the poem the King and the Bride are now together, having left the palace where she had been staying, and are making their way with their friends to his palace. It is a very happy procession. Obviously, the joy they have is mainly connected to them being together. It is the joy of perfect communion as they and he enjoy one another’s presence. Perhaps he was telling her what is in his palace.

The fourth feature is that they reach the King’s palace, but in the poem we don’t go in with them. We are taken to the door, as it were, almost like the travellers in the Pilgrim’s Progress whom we watch entering the Celestial City. What is beyond the door is greater than can be described by those living on this side of it. We can ask, ‘What is the palace of the King? What is the royal residence in which Jesus and his people will live in together forever?’ The answer to that question is the new heavens and new earth, the place where he and they will dwell endlessly.

What should be our response to the information we have received about the wedding? We should imitate the psalmist in the closing verses when he resolves to speak about the King and endeavour to bring glory to him. The psalmist did it in the way that was open to him, and we have to do it in the ways that are open to us. May we do so, and then one day find ourselves in the wedding party of the King of kings.

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