This week’s posts feature a devotional by guest author Daryl Cox. He brings us his thoughts on Ps 45 with the Scent of a King: Reflecting the Reality of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. The first of the Scent of a King series relates the psalm to Christian choice and character.
Many psalms have a title or superscription, later added by an editor. The superscription denotes authorship or dedication and type of psalm. From the Psalm 45 superscription, you learn the psalm is contemplation from the guild of the sons of Korah, a school of musicians, cued to the tune of the Lilies.” It is a “song of loves.”
The ancient Israelites connected to God in worship through the psalms. Every psalm type has a specific purpose and illustrates function in the life of Israel. Scholars refer to Ps 45 as a royal psalm. In fact, the psalm is one of nine from this type with the purpose of emphasizing how God works through the office of king. A royal psalm was not intended for someone to sing at a wedding, rather “to be sung at the celebration of Israel’s kingship as God endowed it.”
If this royal psalm’s purpose is to celebrate God as He works through the office of king, then what was its function? At first glance, the psalmist appears to celebrate a royal wedding (45:10-16). Look closely at the Psalter passage in context, though, and you see more. Psalm 45 in the context of 42 to 50 reveals a that time frustration from Israel over its captivity and later celebration of the deliverer to an all time fulfillment of the Messiah as the Deliverer for Israel and the nations (cf. Heb 1:4-9).
Insofar as a that time sequence, Ps 43-44 show a plea for redemption from individual and collective captivity for a nation, Ps 45 responds to this plea with the divine King who defeats the enemy and Ps 46 promotes the theme of Zion theology and brings to life visualization of God, the Creator. You also discover a range of feelings on the part of the Israelites. The psalm types crescendo emotionally from a woeful tone in a psalm of lament (42, 44), to affirmative in royal (45), then predictive in Songs of Zion (46, 48), celebrative with enthronement (47), gratefulness for wisdom (49) and last, renewed with affirmation (50).
On the other hand, in an all time application, the author of Heb 1 connects the messianic nature from the Old Testament in Ps 45 to the New Testament by validating Jesus’ deity and humanity (1:8-9); showing His superiority over angels (1:4-5); worshipping Him as the Son (1:6) and identifying Him as God and Lord who created all things.
The devotion highlights the latter all time function, messianic testimony in Ps 45. In addition to a venue for worship, the Psalter further serves as means for teaching. The Scent of a King series examine the psalm with both purposes in mind. The first devotion, Reflecting the Reality of Christ’s Death and Resurrection, focuses on Christian choice and character.
“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad” (Ps 45:2-8 KJV).
The Christian life is a reflection of the life of Christ lived in and through us. Our lives are no longer ours to live as we please. We must live in loyalty and service to our Lord Jesus Christ. His life must be lived through us to reflect to the world the reality of His death and resurrection. God’s purpose and will only can be fulfilled in a life consecrated to Him.
The psalmist writes about Jesus Christ (cf. Heb 1:8 The Son of God), beginning with adoration to the King. He describes the King as fairer (more wonderful, beautiful) than all the children of men (Ps 45:2). Why? Jesus is God in flesh, the Called and Chosen One. Also human, Jesus lived His life here on earth as a man. He chose righteousness over iniquity (45:4). When Jesus chose righteousness, He put Himself in place to receive/ enter His calling as Prophet, Priest and King. As a result, He is anointed with the oil of gladness (the Holy Ghost) above His fellow peers (45:7).
Believers in Jesus will be confronted with choosing God’s will over Satan’s for their life through the trials of life. The result for selecting God’s way can range from new levels of joy and peace to greater levels of service for the Kingdom of God. Excellence in character will be the reward for those who continuously elect righteousness over iniquity.
As we further look at the passages about the King, the last verse (45:8) is very interesting. The psalmist writes about the Messiah’s garments. The aromas of myrrh, aloes and cassia surround Him. The first and third items were components used to create the holy anointing oil used in tabernacle and temple worship (Ex 30:22-25). The oil and its scent were not to be used in Israel for any purpose other than the priesthood sanctifying a man as a servant of God. The Holy Ghost sanctifies and makes us acceptable to God. Our behavior progressively changes to please Him.
The Messiah’s character, pictured as garments, reflects the anointing oil. Christian character reveals the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in our life, showing forth the reality of the resurrected Christ in us. Let us continue to choose the will of God above the ungodly ways of the world. Let us choose to build our relationship with God above all else that we might reflect the life of Christ by the Spirit of God from within.
To follow Jesus’ example of selecting righteousness over iniquity will take us to new levels of excellence and favor. Sin brings disgrace to our life. Righteousness brings growth, favor, honor and elevation. While God desires that we enjoy the life He has given us, we should make our goal to know and please Him. Choosing Him above all else brings gladness, wisdom and character. This is the true reflection of the life of Jesus in us. This is the life of the King.
Pastor Daryl Cox,
All Nations Leadership Institute
How does a kingship reading of Ps 45 influence how you apply this psalm today?
 These are descendants of Korah. (Korah had rebelled against the leadership of Moses and Aaron (Num 16-17). Second Chronicles 20:19 describes these descendants as singers in the temple choir.
 This type of poem is an epithalamium, a song or poem celebrating a marriage.
 Wycliffe Dictionary says that evangelical scholars use the term messianic psalm, which means “wholly or in part predict the sufferings and the reign of a future divine-human king.” Ralph L. Smith, Wycliffe Bible Dictionary (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 1425.
 Fee and Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), Loc 3732.
 William VanGemeren, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 347.
 Daniel Segraves, The Messiah in the Psalms: Discovering Christ in Unexpected Places, 1-72 (Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press, 2007), 160.
Photo credit: St. Slyvestor.org