Sometimes the introductions to the individual Psalms don’t tell us a lot, but the one at the beginning of Psalm 45 gives us some useful information. It says:
For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil. A wedding song.
The key phrase is “A wedding song.” Which means that this is a very unique psalm. It is given the genre “A Royal Psalm”.
While most psalms are written in praise of the God of Israel, as Creator and Redeemer and Lord, this psalm is written in praise of the king of Israel and his bride to be, the future queen. It is, as it says, written on the occasion of their royal wedding. But there is no hint, whose royal wedding. Maybe, for all royal weddings? It begins:
1 My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skilful writer.
Do you get the feeling that the writer is excited and considering himself privileged to have the responsibility of writing for such a great occasion? He speaks about his poem as a noble theme written for no one less that the king, but he also considers that his words come from someone who qualifies for the job, i.e. a skilful writer!
And so, the praise of the king begins:
Quite a guy! But there is a secret behind the king’s good qualities. Firstly, his lips have been anointed with [God’s] grace, i.e. God has given him the gift to be able to speak words of wisdom from God. Then, secondly, God has blessed you forever, which has then enabled him to be the most excellent of men.
But with the privilege of kingship also comes responsibility and the skilful writer spells them out clearly:
3 Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one;
clothe yourself with splendour and majesty.
4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously
in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
5 Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies;
let the nations fall beneath your feet.
The king was expected to be, among other things, a warrior. If Israel was attacked by an enemy, then the one expected to lead out the army was the king. It is interesting that prior to King David’s infamous fall into sin, it says of him that he was actually not fulfilling that responsibility. In 2 Samuel 11:1 we read that “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab…”. The rest is history and a tragic history at that.
It is also interesting to note that, once the Israelites had taken over the land of Canaan, unlike other powerful nations throughout history, God never expected them to become a conquering nation to take over their neighbour’s lands and beyond. When the king went out to battle it was to defend his land and people, only when they were threatened by other nations. So, the war was to be fought in the cause of truth, humility and justice. In other words, only because the enemy threatened, and always in dependence upon God, witnessing to his holiness and power.
Leadership is a privilege and a responsibility and that is why the Bible says that we should pray for our leaders. Paul to Timothy says:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 2:1)
So, Father, we thank you for those in leadership over us. Thankyou that we can rejoice with them (on occasions like a wedding), and intercede for them as they face decisions that could impact upon us living “peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness.” May the decisions made by our leaders make it possible for “people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” Amen.