For the music director; according to the tune of “Lilies;” 2 by the Korahites, a well-written poem, 3 a love song.
45:1 My heart is stirred by a beautiful song. 4
I say, “I have composed this special song 5 for the king;
my tongue is as skilled as the stylus of an experienced scribe.” 6
45:6 Your throne, 7 O God, is permanent. 8
The scepter 9 of your kingdom is a scepter of justice.
1 sn Psalm 45. This is a romantic poem celebrating the Davidic king’s marriage to a lovely princess. The psalmist praises the king for his military prowess and commitment to justice, urges the bride to be loyal to the king, and anticipates that the marriage will be blessed with royal offspring.
2 tn Heb “according to lilies.” “Lilies” may be a tune title or musical style, suggestive of romantic love. The imagery of a “lily” appears frequently in the Song of Solomon in a variety of contexts (see 2:1-2, 16; 4:5; 5:13; 6:2-3; 7:2).
3 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. See the note on the phrase “well-written song” in the superscription of Ps 42.
4 tn Heb “[with] a good word.” The “good word” probably refers here to the song that follows.
5 tn Heb “my works [are] for a king.” The plural “works” may here indicate degree, referring to the special musical composition that follows.
6 tn Heb “my tongue [is] a stylus of a skillful scribe.” Words flow from the psalmist’s tongue just as they do from a scribe’s stylus.
7 sn The king’s throne here symbolizes his rule.
8 tn Or “forever and ever.”
sn O God. The king is clearly the addressee here, as in vv. 2-5 and 7-9. Rather than taking the statement at face value, many prefer to emend the text because the concept of deifying the earthly king is foreign to ancient Israelite thinking (cf. NEB “your throne is like God’s throne, eternal”). However, it is preferable to retain the text and take this statement as another instance of the royal hyperbole that permeates the royal psalms. Because the Davidic king is God’s vice-regent on earth, the psalmist addresses him as if he were God incarnate. God energizes the king for battle and accomplishes justice through him. A similar use of hyperbole appears in Isa 9:6, where the ideal Davidic king of the eschaton is given the title “Mighty God” (see the note on this phrase there). Ancient Near Eastern art and literature picture gods training kings for battle, bestowing special weapons, and intervening in battle. According to Egyptian propaganda, the Hittites described Rameses II as follows: “No man is he who is among us, It is Seth great-of-strength, Baal in person; Not deeds of man are these his doings, They are of one who is unique” (see Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 2:67). Ps 45:6 and Isa 9:6 probably envision a similar kind of response when friends and foes alike look at the Davidic king in full battle regalia. When the king’s enemies oppose him on the battlefield, they are, as it were, fighting against God himself.
9 sn The king’s scepter symbolizes his royal authority.