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Psalms 45:2-5

Context

45:2 You are the most handsome of all men! 1 

You speak in an impressive and fitting manner! 2 

For this reason 3  God grants you continual blessings. 4 

45:3 Strap your sword to your thigh, O warrior! 5 

Appear in your majestic splendor! 6 

45:4 Appear in your majesty and be victorious! 7 

Ride forth for the sake of what is right, 8 

on behalf of justice! 9 

Then your right hand will accomplish mighty acts! 10 

45:5 Your arrows are sharp

and penetrate the hearts of the king’s enemies.

Nations fall at your feet. 11 

Psalms 45:7-9

Context

45:7 You love 12  justice and hate evil. 13 

For this reason God, your God 14  has anointed you 15 

with the oil of joy, 16  elevating you above your companions. 17 

45:8 All your garments are perfumed with 18  myrrh, aloes, and cassia.

From the luxurious palaces 19  comes the music of stringed instruments that makes you happy. 20 

45:9 Princesses 21  are among your honored guests, 22 

your bride 23  stands at your right hand, wearing jewelry made with gold from Ophir. 24 

1 tn Heb “you are handsome from the sons of man.” The preposition “from” is used in a comparative (“more than”) sense. The peculiar verb form יָפְיָפִיתָ (yafyafita) is probably the result of dittography of yod-pe (יפ) and should be emended to יָפִיתָ (yafita). See GKC 152 §55.e.

2 tn Heb “favor is poured out on your lips.” “Lips” probably stands by metonymy for the king’s speech. Some interpret the Hebrew term חֵן (khen) as referring here to “gracious (i.e., kind and polite) speech”, but the word probably refers more generally to “attractive” speech that is impressively articulated and fitting for the occasion. For other instances of the term being used of speech, see Prov 22:11 and Eccl 10:12.

3 tn Or “this demonstrates.” The construction עַל־כֵּן (’al-ken, “therefore”) usually indicates what logically follows from a preceding statement. However, here it may infer the cause from the effect, indicating the underlying basis or reason for what precedes (see BDB 487 s.v. I כֵּן 3.f; C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs, Psalms [ICC], 1:386).

4 tn Or “blesses you forever.” Here “bless” means to “endue with the power and skill to rule effectively,” as the following verses indicate.

5 tn Or “mighty one.”

6 tn The Hebrew text has simply, “your majesty and your splendor,” which probably refers to the king’s majestic splendor when he appears in full royal battle regalia.

7 tn Heb “and your majesty, be successful.” The syntax is awkward. The phrase “and your majesty” at the beginning of the verse may be accidentally repeated (dittography); it appears at the end of v. 3.

8 tn Or “for the sake of truth.”

9 tc The precise meaning of the MT is uncertain. The form עַנְוָה (’anvah) occurs only here. One could emend the text to עֲנָוָה וְצֶדֶק (’anavah vÿtsedeq, “[for the sake of truth], humility, and justice”). In this case “humility” would perhaps allude to the king’s responsibility to “serve” his people by promoting justice (cf. NIV “in behalf of truth, humility and righteousness”). The present translation assumes an emendation to יַעַן (yaan, “because; on account of”) which would form a suitable parallel to עַל־דְּבַר (’al-dÿvar, “because; for the sake of”) in the preceding line.

10 tn Heb “and your right hand will teach you mighty acts”; or “and may your right hand teach you mighty acts.” After the imperatives in the first half of the verse, the prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) conjunctive likely indicates purpose (“so that your right hand might teach you mighty acts”) or result (see the present translation). The “right hand” here symbolizes the king’s military strength. His right hand will “teach” him mighty acts by performing them and thereby causing him to experience their magnificence.

11 tn Heb “your arrows are sharp – peoples beneath you fall – in the heart of the enemies of the king.” The choppy style reflects the poet’s excitement.

12 sn To love justice means to actively promote it.

13 sn To hate evil means to actively oppose it.

14 tn For other examples of the repetition of Elohim, “God,” see Pss 43:4; 48:8, 14; 50:7; 51:14; 67:7. Because the name Yahweh (“Lord”) is relatively rare in Pss 42-83, where the name Elohim (“God”) predominates, this compounding of Elohim may be an alternative form of the compound name “the Lord my/your/our God.”

15 sn Anointed you. When read in the light of the preceding context, the anointing is most naturally taken as referring to the king’s coronation. However, the following context (vv. 8-9) focuses on the wedding ceremony, so some prefer to see this anointing as part of the king’s preparations for the wedding celebration. Perhaps the reference to his anointing at his coronation facilitates the transition to the description of the wedding, for the king was also anointed on this occasion.

16 sn The phrase oil of joy alludes to the fact that the coronation of the king, which was ritually accomplished by anointing his head with olive oil, was a time of great celebration and renewed hope. (If one understands the anointing in conjunction with the wedding ceremony, the “joy” would be that associated with the marriage.) The phrase “oil of joy” also appears in Isa 61:3, where mourners are granted “oil of joy” in conjunction with their deliverance from oppression.

17 tn Heb “from your companions.” The “companions” are most naturally understood as others in the royal family or, more generally, as the king’s countrymen.

sn Verses 6-7 are quoted in Heb 1:8-9, where they are applied to Jesus.

18 tn The words “perfumed with” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

19 tn Heb “the palaces of ivory.” The phrase “palaces of ivory” refers to palaces that had ivory panels and furniture decorated with ivory inlays. Such decoration with ivory was characteristic of a high level of luxury. See 1 Kgs 22:39 and Amos 3:15.

20 tn Heb “from the palaces of ivory stringed instrument[s] make you happy.”

21 tn Heb “daughters of kings.”

22 tn Heb “valuable ones.” The form is feminine plural.

23 tn This rare Hebrew noun apparently refers to the king’s bride, who will soon be queen (see Neh 2:6). The Aramaic cognate is used of royal wives in Dan 5:2-3, 23.

24 tn Heb “a consort stands at your right hand, gold of Ophir.”

sn Gold from Ophir is also mentioned in Isa 13:12 and Job 28:16. The precise location of Ophir is uncertain; Arabia, India, East Africa, and South Africa have all been suggested as options.



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