Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Shoshannim--literally, "Lilies," either descriptive of an instrument
so shaped, or denoting some tune or air so called, after which the
Psalm was to be sung (see on
title). A song of loves, or, of beloved ones (plural and
feminine)--a conjugal song. Maschil--(See on
title) denotes the didactic character of the Psalm; that it gives
instruction, the song being of allegorical, and not literal,
import. The union and glories of Christ and his Church are
described. He is addressed as a king possessed of all essential
graces, as a conqueror exalted on the throne of a righteous and eternal
government, and as a bridegroom arrayed in nuptial splendor. The Church
is portrayed in the purity and loveliness of a royally adorned and
attended bride, invited to forsake her home and share the honors of her
affianced lord. The picture of an Oriental wedding thus opened is
filled up by representing the complimentary gifts of the wealthy with
which the occasion is honored, the procession of the bride clothed in
splendid raiment, attended by her virgin companions, and the entrance
of the joyous throng into the palace of the king. A prediction of a
numerous and distinguished progeny, instead of the complimentary wish
for it usually expressed (compare
Ru 4:11, 12),
and an assurance of a perpetual fame, closes the Psalm. All ancient
Jewish and Christian interpreters regarded this Psalm as an allegory of
the purport above named. In the Song of Songs the allegory is carried
out more fully. Hosea
treats the relation of God and His people under the same figure, and
its use to set forth the relation of Christ and His Church runs through
both parts of the Bible (compare
Isa 54:5; 62:4, 5;
Mt 22:3; 25:1;
&c.). Other methods of exposition have been suggested. Several Jewish
monarchs, from Solomon to the wicked Ahab, and various foreign princes,
have been named as the hero of the song. But to none of them can the
terms here used be shown to apply, and it is hardly probable that any
mere nuptial song, especially of a heathen king, would be permitted a
place in the sacred songs of the Jews. The advocates for any other than
the Messianic interpretation have generally silenced each other in
succession, while the application of the most rigorous rules of a fair
system of interpretation has but strengthened the evidences in its
favor. The scope of the Psalm above given is easy and sustained by the
explication of its details. The quotation of
Ps 45:6, 7
(Heb 1:8, 9),
as applicable to Christ, ought to be conclusive, and their
special exposition shows the propriety of such an application.
1. An animated preface indicative of strong emotion. Literally,
"My heart overflows: a good matter I speak; the things which I have
inditing--literally, "boiling up," as a fountain overflows.
my tongue is the pen--a mere instrument of God's use.
of a ready writer--that is, it is fluent. The theme is inspiring and
language flows fast.
2. To rich personal attractions is added grace of the lips, captivating
powers of speech. This is given, and becomes a source of power and
proves a blessing. Christ is a prophet
3, 4. The king is addressed as ready to go forth to battle.
Re 1:16; 19:15).
glory and . . . majesty--generally used as divine attributes
(Ps 96:6; 104:1; 111:3),
or as specially conferred on mortals
perhaps these typically.
4. ride prosperously--or conduct a successful war.
because of--for the interests of truth, &c.
meekness . . . righteousness--without any connection--that is, a
righteousness or equity of government, distinguished by meekness or
right hand--or power, as its organ.
shall teach thee--point the way to terrible things; that is, in
conquest of enemies.
5. The result.
people--Whole nations are subdued.
6. No lawful construction can be devised to change the sense here
given and sustained by the ancient versions, and above all by Paul
Of the perpetuity of this government, compare
Ps 10:16; 72:5; 89:4; 110:4;
7. As in
the divine nature is made prominent, here the moral qualities of the
human are alleged as the reason or ground of the mediatorial
exultation. Some render "O God, thy God," instead of
God, thy God--but the latter is sustained by the same form
and it was only of His human nature that the anointing could be
oil of gladness--or token of gladness, as used in feasts and other
times of solemn joy (compare
1Ki 1:39, 40).
8. The king thus inaugurated is now presented as a bridegroom, who
appears in garments richly perfumed, brought out from
ivory palaces--His royal residence; by which, as indications of the
happy bridal occasion, He has been gladdened.
9. In completion of this picture of a marriage festival, female
attendants or bridesmaids of the highest rank attend Him, while the
queen, in rich apparel
stands ready for the nuptial procession.
10, 11. She is invited to the union, for forming which she must
leave her father's people. She representing, by the form of the
allegory, the Church, this address is illustrated by all those
on, which speak of the people of God as a chosen, separate, and
peculiar people. The relation of subjection to her spouse at once
accords with the law of marriage, as given in
Ge 3:16; 18:12;
1Pe 3:5, 6,
and the relation of the Church to Christ
The love of the husband is intimately connected with the entire
devotion to which the bride is exhorted.
12. daughter of Tyre--
denotes the people. Tyre, celebrated for its great wealth, is selected
to represent the richest nations, an idea confirmed by the next clause.
These gifts are brought as means to conciliate the royal parties,
representing the admitted subjection of the offerers. This well sets
forth the exalted position of the Church and her head, whose moral
qualities receive the homage of the world. The contribution of material
wealth to sustain the institutions of the Church may be included
(compare "riches of the Gentiles,"
13. the king's daughter--a term of dignity. It may also intimate,
with some allusion to the teaching of the allegory, that the bride of
Christ, the Church, is the daughter of the great king, God.
within--Not only is her outward raiment costly, but all her apparel
is of the richest texture.
wrought gold--gold embroidery, or cloth in which gold is woven.
14, 15. The progress of the procession is described; according to
the usual custom the bride and attendants are conducted to the palace.
Some for the words--
in raiment of needlework--propose another rendering, "on variegated
(or embroidered) cloths"--that is, in the manner of the East, richly
wrought tapestry was spread on the ground, on which the bride walked.
As the dress had been already mentioned, this seems to be a probable
15. shall they be brought--in solemn form (compare
Job 10:19; 21:22).
The entrance into the palace with great joy closes the scene. So shall
the Church be finally brought to her Lord, and united amid the
festivities of the holy beings in heaven.
16. As earthly monarchs govern widely extended empires by viceroys,
this glorious king is represented as supplying all the principalities
of earth with princes of his own numerous progeny.
17. The glories of this empire shall be as wide as the world and
lasting as eternity.
therefore--Because thus glorious, the praise shall be universal and
perpetual. Some writers have taxed their ingenuity to find in the
history and fortunes of Christ and His Church exact parallels for every
part of this splendid allegory, not excepting its gorgeous Oriental
imagery. Thus, by the dresses of the king and queen, are thought to be
meant the eminent endowments and graces of Christ and His people. The
attendant women, supposed (though inconsistently it might seem with the
inspired character of the work) to be concubines, are thought to
represent the Gentile churches, and the bride the Jewish, &c. But it
is evident that we cannot pursue such a mode of interpretation. For,
following the allegory, we must suspend to the distant future the
results of a union whose consummation as a marriage is still distant
In fact, the imagery here and elsewhere sets before us the Church in
two aspects. As a body, it is yet incomplete, the whole is yet
ungathered. As a moral institution, it is yet imperfect. In the final
catastrophe it will be complete and perfect. Thus, as a bride adorned,
&c., it will be united with its Lord. Thus the union of Christ and the
Church triumphant is set forth. On the other hand, in regard to its
component parts, the relation of Christ as head, as husband, &c.,
already exists, and as these parts form an institution in this world,
it is by His union with it, and the gifts and graces with which He
endows it, that a spiritual seed arises and spreads in the world. Hence
we must fix our minds only on the one simple but grand truth, that
Christ loves the Church, is head over all things for it, raises it in
His exaltation to the highest moral dignity--a dignity of which every,
even the meanest, sincere disciple will partake. As to the
time, then, in which this allegorical prophecy is to fulfilled,
it may be said that no periods of time are specially designated. The
characteristics of the relation of Christ and His Church are
indicated, and we may suppose that the whole process of His exaltation
from the declaration of His Sonship, by His resurrection, to the
grand catastrophe of the final judgment, with all the collateral
blessings to the Church and the world, lay before the vision of the