Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Did you know? (Psalm 45 and the King's Wedding)

... that Psalm 45 calls the king of Judah "God" in the middle of a psalm celebrating his wedding?

Part 1: Getting a Sense of the Context
Verse 1 announces that the psalm is about the king, which--duh--anyone hearing it when it was written would have immediately understood to be about the guy that was their king.

Verse 10 addresses a woman, who is told to forget her father's house.  Verse 11 tells us the king thinks she's hot.  In verse 13 we find out she is a princess, and in verse 14 she is led to the king, with many maidens following her.  Then verse 16 tells us the king is going to have some children who will become successful princes.

No question what the most likely interpretation of this psalm in its historical context is.  The king's getting married, and this is a wedding psalm.  To think that an audience at the time this was written would think anything different is to be an incompetent exegete, incompetent at inductive Bible study.

Part 2: The King as god
So now we take this clear context and go back to verses 6-7.  "Your throne, O God, endures forever..."  Following the train of thought from the beginning of the psalm to this point, the king is clearly addressed as "god," following standard practice of the Ancient Near East considering kings as representatives of the gods, as divine sons (cf. 2 Sam. 7:14, which is about Solomon in context).  Indeed, verse 7 goes on to distinguish the king as god from God as the king's God.  The king is thus only god in a somewhat derivative and somewhat figurative sense.

Part 3: Christ as God
Hebrews 1:8-9 then, as the NT regularly does, read these verses with a "fuller sense" and redirects them in relation to Christ, who of course is God for Hebrews in a greater sense than the king is god in Psalm 45.

Did you know?

1 comment:

π² said...

I remember when I first read Psalm 45 as a teen, thinking it was cool that there was a wedding song tucked away the the book of Psalm. It gave it that human touch. Maybe if I ever get to perform a cosplay wedding with a Renaissance theme, I'll use that as my homily text.