Tag Archives: Psalm 45

Love Song

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The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
in many-colored robes she is led to the king;
    behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.

Psalm 45:14 (NRSVCE)

How on earth could you put together an anthology of the lyrics of 150 songs and not have at least one love song in it?

Today’s chapter, Psalm 45, is the lone love song in the book of Psalms. It was penned for the wedding celebration between the King and the princess of another nation who was being married as part of a political alliance between the two countries. The thought was that one king wouldn’t attack another king if that king was a son-in-law. It also meant that you had a family member who had eyes and ears on what was going on within a rival’s palace. This was a common diplomatic practice throughout history even into the last century. If you look at a chart of European royal families it looks like a spider’s web with all the crossing and intersecting lines. Even Queen Elizabeth married her own cousin.

The song is written from the perspective of the bride looking at her groom and singing of how handsome, strong, and powerful he is. The song’s climax is the bride and her virgin bridesmaids walking into the king’s palace and the very next verse is a promise to bear the king many sons (which was a sign of strength and succession), and also a little racy because it alludes to what’s going to happen once she enters the king’s chambers.

The chapter is also interesting from how it was used in history. After the Hebrews returned from exile in Babylon, psalm 45 was considered a messianic psalm pointing to the messiah who would come and ascend the throne of David. That is interesting because marriage was used by Jesus repeatedly as a metaphor when discussing His second coming and the climactic apocalyptic event known as “the Day of the Lord.” The metaphor is that Jesus will come back like a bridegroom to be united with all believers, collectively and metaphorically referenced as the bride.

In my podcast series The Beginner’s Guide to the Great Story (I know, I know. I have two episodes left, and I will get a Wayfarer Weekend podcast done this weekend I promise!), I mention that God’s language is metaphor precisely because it can be layered with meaning. When I was a young man attending a fundamentalist Bible college I told to interpret passages like today’s psalm only in terms of its spiritual, prophetic meaning. I mean, we wouldn’t want young people in hormonal overdrive thinking about what’s going on in the king’s bed chamber.

Along my journey, I came to realize that this is not a case of “either or” but “both and.” Yes, there is messianic metaphorical imagery in the song, but that’s not why it was written. It was written as a love song to celebrate a beautiful princess entering the palace and the bed chamber of the king. Man, woman, wedding, love, expression of love, life, pro-creation. That’s beautiful. That’s holy.

[cue: Barry White]

Want to Read More?

Click on the image, or click here, to be taken to a simple, visual index of all the posts in this series from the book of Psalms.

There is also a list of recent chapter-a-day series indexed by book.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

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tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Catch and Release

Catch

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 45

Listen to me, O royal daughter; take to heart what I say.
    Forget your people and your family far away.
Psalm 45:10 (NLT)

When it comes to family, I have come to believe that our life journey is a never ending process of separation and union. We get this picture at the very beginning of God’s Message when it says a man will leave his father and mother, the woman will leave her home, and the two will become one. Two individuals separate from their respective family systems. They cut the apron strings. They join together in spiritual, emotional, relational, and functional union and begin the process of establishing their own family system.

Release

I have observed over time that many (if not most) conflicts and struggles in our lives, marriages, families, and communities can be traced back to a failure to get this process right. The system becomes over protective and possessive of the individual, and refuses to let the child go. The individual becomes to dependent on the system or the system becomes dependent on the individual. There is a refusal (often an unconscious one) to fully separate. Subsequent union with another individual can’t successfully be accomplished because one or both individuals are still entangled in their respective family systems.

Separation is not, however, alienation. It was never intended to be. As an individual, differentiated from my family system in a healthy way, I am now even more capable of returning and creating a new and different union with my family which is critical for that family system’s growth and continuous development. I am able to help the system continue the never ending process of refinement because I can approach it with a new, objective and healthy perspective.

From the time our daughters were young, I can best describe my approach to fatherhood as: “catch and release.” I sought to captivate my daughters’ with my love, but it was always with the knowledge and intention that I was preparing them for Father God to captivate them with His perfect love, and perhaps for another man who might someday captivate them and take them away from me. Despite my strong desire to cling and not let go, I realized that this was the way God designed it. For a critical stretch of their own journeys I was there to catch them in their stumbling and falling away. I was also there to constantly instill in them the truth that they were lovable, valuable and capable of more than they felt or knew, and to release them into the world to discover the truth of it for themselves. My job was to release, to launch, and to let go with the knowledge that they would return to me as even more capable individuals and we would both be the better for it.

Believe me, I have not been perfect. But then again, neither have my children, or my wife, my parents, my siblings or my in-laws. The process of separation and union inherently creates conflict, but my wife reminded me yesterday that conflict is not a bad thing. Conflict is a healthy part of the process of both individual and relational definition and development. It is the inescapable reality of living together and walking this journey together as imperfect people in a fallen world. Our shortcomings and failures in the process are a constant reminder of our need of both receiving and extending grace and forgiveness. We separate a loved one from their failures and embrace them with unmerited love. Separation and union. Catch and release.

Into this day, the process and the journey continue.