One last psalm before we begin our Lenten Adventure!
And a glorious psalm it is!
Not often do we get a peek into how holy men were inspired by the Holy Spirit
to write the Scriptures, but here we get a glimpse.
The psalmist is so taken with what God has impressed on his heart,
that “his heart bursts its banks,”
breaking forth from his pen.
I am so excited for you to meet Lucy, for I LOVE LUCY!
Sometimes people ask me,
“Are you afraid to go into the prisons?”
I tell them,
“Oh, I wish you could go with me and meet
these women. These are women who have been so strengthened
by the ministry of Discipleship Unlimited.
An army of volunteers is discipling them, and they, like Lucy,
soak it up like a man dying of thirst in the desert.
Their hearts bursts their banks and that beauty spills forth.
Well, now you can come with me.
My son J. R. and his friend Eric filmed the women and me
last November for He Calls You Beautiful.
Now J. R. and his wife Dianne are editing the video. (Pray for them, please!)
This is the first I’ve seen of their work — and I am excited.
Lucy’s testimony has that same sense of
joy bursting forth from her heart that you see in Psalm 45.
Both are reflecting on this noble theme.
And what is that?
Jesus is our Bridegroom,
who rejoices over us and is coming back for us!
And Lucy’s sisters are cheering her on,
like the “daughters of kings” in Psalm 45,
who rejoice with the bride.
I know we have a few men who silently follow this study, so if you are still with us, I want to acknowledge that this metaphor is easier for women, but meant for you too.
This Metaphor is Meant for Men Too
Men can relate to Jesus being their Good Shepherd, to the Friend who is closer than a brother; and to the Father who cherishes His children – but to the Bridegroom? I was talking to one group of men about “a kiss from the King, (Song of Songs1:2) and one man rolled his eyes and quipped: “Dee, I think I’ll take a hug.” And yet, just as both men and women are sons of God, both men and women are the bride of Christ. Women don’t want to miss being sons, for it means we too receive the inheritance — an inheritance that in biblical days was given only to sons. (And I am saddened that some Bible translations have changed “sons” to children, for we are “sons!”) And men don’t want to miss being the bride of Christ, for Christ rejoices over them too. And indeed, Christ is not just coming back for women. Michael Card told me that he didn’t want to be so sexualized that he missed the beauty of this metaphor for him. When he thought about how deeply he cherished his wife Susan, it thrilled him to realize Christ cherishes him like that.
So let us dive into this beautiful Psalm, and be so encouraged in doing so!
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Read Psalm 45 in its entirety and share what stands out to you and why.
3. Read Hebrews 1:8-9, which quotes this psalm. Who does the author of Hebrews say this psalm is about?
For those of you who were not with us when we studied the Songs, the parallels between Psalm 45 and the Song are abundant, which caused Jonathan Edwards to confidently state that the Song of Songs is also about Christ.
Tuesday: The Most Excellent of Men
4. What insight does Psalm 45:1 give you into how the Spirit of God inspired the writers of Scripture?
5. How do you reconcile Psalm 45:2 a with Isaiah 53:2?
In the Song of Songs she calls him “the fairest of ten thousand. Psalm 45 calls him “the most excellent of men.” In the Song she says, “his lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh,” the psalmist says “grace is poured upon your lips.” When Jesus was on earth, they said, “No one ever spoke like this man!”(John 7:36)
6. Share a verse from the Word who became flesh that has given you grace, has been like liquid myrrh to your soul.
Wednesday: The King is Coming in Majesty
Prepare your heart with this:
7. Describe this Bridegroom/King coming in majesty according to Psalm 45:3-8.
8. Compare the above to Song of Songs 3:6-8. What similarity do you see?
9. Now compare Psalm 45:3-8 with Revelation 19:11-16. What similarity do you see?
10. The Bride has enemies, enemies who have persecuted her, shed her blood, martyred her loved ones — but one day, the King is coming in justice. What thoughts do you have concerning this? (Some of you are in most difficult of situations because of the enemy, so I pray this ministers to you.)
In the wedding in the Song, the groom is perfumed with frankincense and myrrh, a most unusual fragrance for a bridegroom. Likewise, the bridegroom of Psalm 45 had robes fragrant with myrrh. Michael Reeves of England says, “Frankincense was used to anoint the high priest, and myrrh was used to anoint bodies – so the King arrives for his wedding day smelling like a dead high priest…” How strange — unless you realize that this symbolizes how Christ, our high Priest, died that we might be cleansed and beautiful in His sight. As Tim Keller says of Psalm 45, “he doesn’t love us because we are lovely, but in order to make us so, by grace.”If my confidence in His love rests on my goodness, my confidence is as shaky as a house of cards. But if my confidence in His love rests on His grace, then I stand on the solid rock, as sure of His unfailing love each morning as I am that the sun will rise. And if we are sure of His love, not in just an intellectual sense, but with all our hearts and souls, then we will do what he asks, both in the Song and in Psalm 45.
11. In what does your confidence that you are loved rest? Be honest!
Thursday: Hear, O Daughter!
In the Song, he asks her to come away with him. Likewise, in Psalm 45, he asks her to leave her father and mother and cleave to him, to “forget her people and her father’s house.” As in earthly marriage, this doesn’t mean that we abandon our families, but that now, there is a new priority, and spiritually speaking, this means we first seek Christ and His righteousness all through the day. Our chief end each day should be to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. As A. W. Tozer observed, the reason some get set free and some do not is correlated with their predominant desires. If our predominant desires are for things other than God, we will never be set free – but if our predominant desire is to glorify God and experience His presence, we will indeed experience a joy and a freedom that those who cling to other things can never know.
12. What would you say is your predominant desire in life, and each day? And how might that be related to setting you free or keeping you in bondage?
13 Compare Psalm 45:10. What do you think this means?
14. Compare the above with Matthew 10:39. What light does this shed on Psalm 45:10?
15. Write a prayer for your own heart based on the above.
Friday: Rescuing Sexual Intimacy
Not only is the bride’s wedding dress beautiful, she is glorious within. Some have worked hard to spiritualize this, saying this is talking about the Temple, or the chamber she is in, or her sparkling personality or character. In the same way many ancients spiritualized the Song of Songs, saying, for instance, that her two breasts must mean the Old and New Testaments! But not all ancients tried to avoid the earthly part of the metaphor. Many think the Puritans were prudes, but that is a false characterization. They were not called Puritans because they had negative feelings about the gift of sexual intimacy, but because they were Reformers, seeing the need to purify the church from philosophies and practices that diminished the purity of the gospel. Puritans often wrote eloquently and passionately about the beauty of the marriage bed. Puritan Jonathan Edwards criticized those who avoided the earthly meaning of the Song of Songs, calling it a “bad construction,” and likewise criticized those who tried to spiritualize this description that the bride “was all glorious within.” Of this he writes:
… where there is mention of the beauty of the bride’s clothes, and her being “glorious within,” where setting aside the allegory, or mystical meaning, what is most naturally understood as the most direct meaning would see to be, that she had not only glorious clothing, but was yet more glorious in the parts of her body within her clothing, that were hid by her clothing.
Indeed, God created a woman’s body to be glorious, and surprises us by using the way a bridegroom rejoices over his bride as a metaphor for how He rejoices over us! It’s almost too good to believe, but just as the Adam broke out into song when a naked woman was presented to him, our God rejoices over us. And the very fact that God uses the marriage bed as a metaphor for His rejoicing over us,helps to rescue and redeem it from the world’s filth.
17. What comments do you have on the above? (The way your version translates this may show the translator’s prejudice, for in the Hebrew it is simply “she is glorious within.”)
18. How do you think God views sexual intimacy?
19. If you were with us when we studied The Song of Songs, can you remember why Ellen Davis said that marriage and the marriage bed is the least inadequate metaphor for our relationship with Christ?
20. What is your take-a-way and why?
 Jonathan Edwards, Journal Entry 507, 1756, as reported in: http://feedingonchrist.com/jonathan-edwards-on-christ-and-the-song-of-songs/