Psalm 45 is unique in several ways, beginning with the title. It is the first of only four psalms to use have been written with the style or tune of “Lilies” (Psalms 60 and 69 by David and Psalm 80 by Asaph are the others). Outside of these psalms, the term “lilies” has limited use in the Old Testament: 1 Kings (3 times), 2 Chronicles (once, a repeat of 1 Kings 7:26), Song of Songs (8 times), and Hosea (once). 1 Since each of these uses the lily flower as a reference of beauty, it may indicate that this was a beautiful song, and verse one reveals that the writer was proud of his composition. The context of the psalm, recounting a bride being escorted to the king in extravagant clothing and jewelry, may indicate that this was a wedding song written for that occasion (as the title reads in the NIV).
The song itself starts with verse two and is primarily a song of adoration for the king. Which king is being described is difficult to determine, but the similarities between this psalm, the Song of Songs, and the rest of the Old Testament makes Solomon a strong choice. In verse two the king is described as handsome, well-spoken, and under God’s blessing. The fact that he was not wearing his sword, but was said to put it on for the wedding, makes it seem he was not naturally a warrior (Psalm 45:3-4), which Solomon was not. This would be similar to a Marine officer wearing his dress uniform complete with sabre, even if he no longer sees combat action. Psalm 45:5-7 describes the king’s love of justice. The writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 45:6-7 in Hebrews 1:8-9 to describe Jesus’ eternal throne. The king of Israel was a representative of God’s throne on earth. Psalm 45:9-10 show the wealth available to the king.
Psalm 45:10-11 was directed to the bride rather than the king. The psalmist encouraged her to forget her homeland (possibly Tyre, Psalm 45:12, another hint that this was Solomon) and choose to submit to and serve her husband. If she did this, the king would be enraptured with her.
The final stanza (Psalm 45:12-17) pointed the king’s attention to various parts of the procession. Wealthy foreigners from Tyre (in-laws?) led the way with gifts to buy his alliance. Then the lovely bride walked down the aisle, radiant in her wedding gown and jewels. She was followed by her attendants, “bubbling with joy.” The psalmist concludes with a reminder of the greatness of the king’s dynasty that would come through an abundance of sons. This was an indirect reminder of God’s promise that the dynasty of David and Solomon would never end (2 Samuel 7:8-16).
- The Hebrew word shushan translated “lily” is also used once each in Daniel and Nehemiah and 18 times in Esther for the name of the Persian capital city, Susa. ↩