Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 45

To the bride and groom

Love is at the core of who we are and why we’re here. Yet in life’s busyness, we can easily forget to love—especially, to love our divine Lover. But love is too vital to forget.

A love song. A descendants of Korah psalm.

1 My heart overflows with beautiful thoughts
poured out in song to the king.
My tongue now puts my thoughts into words
with all the verve of a gifted writer’s pen.

2 You are the most excellent of men
your every word a gift of grace.
God has bestowed eternal blessing on you!
3 Strap your sword to your side
glorious and majestic defender!
4 Ride on to triumph
in the cause of truth, humility, and justice
your strength performing marvelous deeds.
5 Your sharp arrows
pierce the hearts of your enemies
making nations fall at your feet.
6 Your throne, O God
endures forever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of justice.
7 Because you love justice and hate evil
God, your God
has anointed you with the oil of joy
exalting you above your peers.

8 All your robes
breathe of myrrh, aloes, and cassia.
Wafting from ivory palaces
the music of lutes delights you.
9 With the daughters of kings
as guests of honor
your queen stands on your right
glittering in Ophir’s purest gold.

10 Listen, princess bride
take my words to heart:
Forget your people and family of origin.
11 Let the king be ravished by your beauty.
Bow before him for he is your lord.
12 The people of Tyre
will court your favor with gifts
the rich and the powerful with lavish wealth.

13 The princess makes her entrance
in a dazzling gold-threaded gown.
14 Arrayed in the richest brocade
she’s led in to the king
her bridesmaids in her train.
15 They all enter the king’s palace
filled with joy and delight.

16 In place of your ancestors
you’ll have children
whom you’ll make rulers over all the earth.
17 I’ll make your name renowned
through all generations
with nations praising you forever and ever.

Distinctly Middle Eastern in flavor, this psalm presents the king as Commander-in-chief and his bride, who derives her royal position from him, bowing before him. In other respects, the psalm is not typically Middle Eastern at all. Instead of being a law unto himself, this king defends humility. While kings often claim to be on the side of justice and truth, kings in the honor-shame cultures of the Middle East don’t aspire to humility as this king does. (Of course, a national leader who humbly submits and answers to God is equally radical in the West.)

In addressing the king as “God,” the psalmist may mean two things simultaneously. It likely means that David’s successors represent God on earth. Just as God told Moses, “I have made you God to Pharaoh” (Ex. 7:1), so all of David’s successors were in a sense “God” to their people and the surrounding nations. However, the psalm also points beyond David’s immediate successors to his ultimate successor, his “greater son,” the Messiah, who would reign over the earth in God’s stead. So, the psalm’s description of the ideal king is a description of the Messiah.

Beyond its being a royal wedding song, the psalm speaks to the whole theme of love and marriage, which is why Jews have traditionally used it as a wedding song. But since the king points to the promised Messiah, we can also take his bride as picturing Christ’s bride, the Church. Thus, modelling our relationship to Jesus, the psalm invites us to forsake all others, submit to Christ, and “be ravished” by him. Our reigning under him flows always from our intimate relationship to him, not vice-versa. Thus, we enter his presence with joyful celebration.

I’m never free, Jesus, till I submit to you, nor ever chaste unless you ravish me. Help me renounce every competing loyalty. Captivate me with your beauty that I may embrace you and your reign with wild abandon. Grant me humility and joy in your service. Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on these powerful words:

Your throne, O God
endures forever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of justice.


Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.