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The Pulpit Commentaries The Pulpit Commentaries
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 45". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tpc/ psalms-45.html. 1897.
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 45". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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THIS psalm is regarded by some as a simple epithalamium, or nuptial hymn, composed to honour a royal wedding, and sung as part of the wedding ceremony, at the marriage of some king of Israel or Judah. The marriage of Ahab with Jezebel, and that of Jehoram of Judah with Athaliah, have been specially suggested; also Solomon's marriage with an Egyptian princess. But the imagery of the psalm is altogether too exalted, and its phrases too peculiar (Psalms 45:2, Psalms 45:6, Psalms 45:11, Psalms 45:16, Psalms 45:17), to suit any mere earthly marriage—not to mention that a mere epithalamium would never have been admitted into the Psalter. Hence most critics are driven to allow, however unwillingly, that the psalm is in some sense Messianic. It is certain that such was the view of the Hebrew Church, of the Septuagint interpreters, dud of the early Christians generally. It is placed beyond a doubt, so far as believers in inspiration are concerned, by the reference to the psalm in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:8, Hebrews 1:9). Still, however, there remains the question—Is it absolutely and wholly Messianic, or did the author take some human event as the basis of his description, and give it a Messianic colouring? On the whole, we incline to the former view, and regard the writer as consciously depicting, not an actual, but an ideal, scene, one which floats before his mind as a thing to be realized at some future time, when Messiah shall be wedded to his bride, the Church, and establish his dominion over all the world, and reign over all the nations of the earth gloriously.
The psalm consists of two main portions—an address to the bridegroom in eight verses (Psalms 45:2-9), and an address to the bride in six (Psalms 45:10-15); with an introduction and a conclusion, the latter comprised in two verses, the former in one verse only.
Title of the psalm. The psalm has an unusually long and complicated title. First, it is addressed, like so many others, to the precentor, or chief musician, the head of the tabernacle choir. Next, it is said to be "upon lilies," which is not very easy to understand. Lilies were, no doubt, viewed as sacred flowers, and were largely used in the ornamentation of the temple (1 Kings 7:19, 1 Kings 7:22, 1 Kings 7:26). They are also mentioned in the titles of three other psalms (Psalms 60:1-12; Psalms 69:1-36; Psalms 80:1-19.), but with what intention is wholly uncertain. A questionable exegesis connects the "lilies" of the present title with the "king's daughter" and the "virgins" of Psalms 45:13, Psalms 45:14; but there is no mention of "virgins" in the other psalms said to be "upon lilies." Further, the psalm is assigmed "to the sons of Korah," like Psalms 42:1-11; Psalms 44:1-26, and others, who may probably have been the writers. Fourthly, it is called "Maschil," i.e. "an instruction." Fifthly, it is said to be "a song of loves," which seems to be a reference to the subject-matter.
My heart is inditing a good matter; literally, bubbleth with a good matter—is so full of it that the matter will burst forth. I speak of the things which I have made touching the king; or, I utter that which I have composed concerning the king. My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. It is noted that only "psalms of high and solemn import" have formal exordia of this kind, announcing the intention of the writer.
Thou art fairer than the children of men. It has been argued that a description of the Messiah would not lay stress on his personal beauty. But in the Song of Songs the personal beauty of the bridegroom, whom so many critics regard as the Messiah, is a main point (Song of Solomon 5:10-16). A perfect man, such as Messiah was to be, must needs be beautiful, at any rate with a beauty of expression. In calling his bridegroom "fair beyond the sons of men," the writer at once gives us to understand that he is not a mere man. Grace is poured into thy lips; rather, grace is poured out on thy lips (Hengstenberg, Cheyne, Kay). The gift of gracious expression and gracious speech has been poured upon him from on high (comp. Song of Solomon 5:16, "His mouth is most sweet"). Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. The gifts bestowed upon him show the Divine favor and blessing, which, once granted, are not capriciously withdrawn.
Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty; i.e. array thyself as a warrior, for thou wilt have enemies to conquer, and wilt need a sword against them (see Psalms 45:4, Psalms 45:5). With thy glory and thy majesty. There is no "with" in the original. Some think his sword is called Messiah's "glory and majesty." Others supply "put on," as implied in the "gird" of the first clause, and translate, "Put on thy glory and thy majesty;" i.e. show thyself in all the majesty and glory that naturally belong to thee. This is quite in accordance with the context.
And in thy majesty ride prosperously; literally, and in thy majesty go forth, ride. The riding intended is probably riding in a chariot. Because of truth and meekness and righteousness; rather, because of truth and meek-tempered righteoushess (Kay); i.e. for the purpose of vindicating truth and righteousness in the case of those who outrage them. Righteousness, however, to be really righteousness, must be combined with meekness (comp. Zephaniah 2:3). And thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. It is the right hand wherewith the warrior strikes; and at each blow it opens to the striker terrible experiences, and thus may be said to "teach him terrible things."
Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. The original is more graphic. It runs, "Thy arrows are sharp—the peoples fall under thee—(they are) in the heart of the king's enemies." All the enemies of Messiah shall one day be chastised, and fall before him.
Thy throne, O God. So the LXX; the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:8), the Chaldee paraphrase, and, among critics, Rosenmuller, Hengstenberg, Kay, Professor Alexander, and Canon Cook. The renderings proposed by Gesenius, Ewald, and the anti-Messianic school generally are wholly untenable, as Hengstenberg has clearly shown. The psalmist's intention is to address the King, whom he has already declared to be more than man (Psalms 45:2), as "God." Is for ever and ever. A dominion to which there will never be any end. This is never said, and could not be truly said, of any earthly kingdom. When perpetuity is promised to the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:13-16; Psalms 89:4, Psalms 89:36, Psalms 89:37), it is to that throne as continued in the reign of David's Son, Messiah. The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre; literally, a sceptre of rectitude (comp. Psalms 67:4; Psalms 96:10).
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness, therefore, etc. God will only commit rule and authority over his Church to one who will rule justly—one who loves righteousness and hates iniquity. Messiah is alone perfect in righteousness, and therefore entitled to rule. Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Some moderns translate, "Therefore, O God, thy God hath anointed thee," etc.; but the rendering of the Authorized Version is maintained by Dr. Kay, Professor Alexander, and our Revisers. The anointing intended is that outpouring of glory and blessedness on Messiah which followed upon his voluntary humiliation and suffering (comp. Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 2:9).
All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia; literally, myrrh and aloes [and] cassia are thy garments. The "and" before "cassia" appears in four manuscripts, and in all the ancient versions. The garments are so impregnated with spices as to seem made of them. Out of the ivory palaces. "Ivory palaces" are mentioned in 1 Kings 22:39 and Amos 3:15. We must understand "palaces adorned with ivory." Whereby they have made thee glad. So Hengstenberg, Kay, Professor Alexander, and others. But most moderns render, "Out of the ivory palaces stringed instruments have made thee glad."
King's daughters were (rather, are) among thy honourable women. The marriage scene now begins to open upon us. The bridegroom has been depicted in all his glorious majesty. The bride has now to be brought forward. She comes, accompanied by a train of attendants—"honourable women," or, noble ladies" (Kay), many of whom are "kings' daughters". It must not be expected that all the details of the scene shall have exact equivalents in the spiritual marriage which it represents. Upon thy right hand did stand (rather, stands) the queen in gold of Ophir; i.e. in a vesture richly embroidered with gold thread (comp. Exodus 28:5-8). "Gold of Ophir" was known, not merely to David (1 Chronicles 29:4), but even to Job (Job 28:16). The "right hand" of the king was the place of honour. We find it assigned by Solomon to the queen-mother, Bathsheba (1 Kings 2:19).
Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear. The psalmist, having introduced the bride to our notice in Psalms 45:9, proceeds to address her, and to describe the glories of her person and of her entourage. First of all, he bids her "hearken," "consider," and "incline her ear," i.e. reflect deeply on the new relation in which she is about to be placed, the new sphere which she is entering, the new duties which she will have to discharge. She must give herself wholly to her Lord and Spouse; she must have no thought for any one but him. Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house. She must break with all associations and bends and relationships that would separate between her and her King, forget the past in the present, cease to Judaize, and be wholly Christ's.
So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty. Devotion to her Lord will win her his tender regard, and make her other charms and graces please and delight him. For he is thy Lord; i.e. thy Lord and Master, entitled to thy utmost love and obedience, nay, to thy "worship "—therefore, Worship thou him. Worship, in a certain sense, is due from every wife to every husband; but the Church's worship of Christ is worship in the absolutely highest sense (Revelation 5:6-14).
And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift. Heathen nations shall be attracted to Christ and his Church, shall bring their offerings, and make submission, and humbly sue for favour. Tyro is taken as a type of heathen states and cities generally (comp. Isaiah 49:18-23; Isaiah 56:6-8; Isaiah 60:3-14). Even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour. (On the wealth of Tyre, see Isaiah 23:2-8; Ezekiel 26:12, Ezekiel 26:16; Ezekiel 27:3-33; Ezekiel 28:13, etc.)
The King's daughter is all glorious within. The "King's daughter "of this passage can be no other than the bride herself—the" queen" of Psalms 45:9. As among her attendants some were "kings' daughters" (Psalms 45:9), so she could be no less. She is "glorious," not only without, in her robe of" gold of Ophir," but also and especially within—in the inner chamber of the heart—where she is indeed "glorious," through the sanctifying presence of God's Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:26, Ephesians 5:27). Her clothing is of wrought gold (comp. Psalms 45:9, and the comment ad loc.).
She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework; i.e. in garments richly embroidered. Such were known to the Hebrews from the time of the Exodus (Exodus 28:4, Exodus 28:39), and were worn by princeases in David's day (2 Samuel 13:18). Brides were commonly "led" into the presence of the bridegroom. The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee (comp. Psalms 45:9). A virgin train follows the bride as she is led to the palace of the bridegroom, for a royal bride necessarily had her attendants. These symbolize the Gentile converts that should attach themselves to the original Church, and follow that Church into Christ's presence.
With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought. A bridal train could not but be a festive one. Joy and gladness naturally characterize the procession of the nations out of darkness into God's marvellous light. They shall enter into the king's palace; i.e. be received into the heavenly dwelling-place.
Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children. In conclusion, the psalmist once more addresses the bridegroom. "Instead of thy fathers" according to the flesh—the princes of the royal house of David'' thou shalt have children" sons still more conspicuous—apostles, martyrs, confessors—a glorious and goodly company. Whom thou mayest make princes; i.e. rulers and governors of the Church—in all the earth.
I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations. I, the psalmist, with my "pen of a ready writer," will so sing thy praise that thy name shall always he had in remembrance; and therefore—because of my words—shall the peoples—i.e. all the nations of the earth—praise thee for ever and ever. There is here, mixed with the praise of Messiah, a certain amount of self-glorification; but perhaps the "son of Korah," who had composed so noble a poem, may be excused for somewhat "vaunting himself."
"Thou art fairer than the children of men." Immense learning and ingenuity have been expended in the attempt to find some historic occasion for this psalm—some Jewish original of these royal portraits, the king and the bride. Solomon has naturally been thought of, as a type, Calvin thinks, of Christ; but the description does not suit him. Even Jehoram and Athaliah, Ahab and Jezebel, have had their advocates. The great Jewish commentators take the psalm as a prophecy of Messiah. Psalms 45:6, Psalms 45:7, quite inapplicable to Solomon, are in Hebrews 1:8, Hebrews 1:9 applied to Christ. We need not, therefore, bewilder ourselves in a fruitless quest, but may at once see our Saviour in these joyful and adoring words.
I. PROPHECY IS HERE CLOTHED IN POETRY, AND DECKED WITH ALLEGORY. The question, therefore, arises—How far may this description be understood of our Savior's personal presence, when he lived as Man among men? The four Gospels contain no single descriptive trait. Some ancient Jewish writers strangely held that Messiah would be a leper, because Isaiah speaks of him as "smitten" (Isaiah 53:4). Some Christians have seemed to find pleasure in supposing our Lord signally devoid of manly beauty. Calvin more reasonably explains Isaiah 53:2 of the absence of worldly pomp and regal state. Bacon, noting that few great men have been eminent for personal beauty—though there are some remarkable exceptions—says, "That is the best part of beauty which no picture can express; no, nor the first view of life." This kind of beauty—the soul speaking through the countenance—is what we cannot suppose absent in our Lord Jesus. We may gather from the Gospels that he had a more than princely nobleness, and a surpassing charm of graciousness. When men came into his presence they were impelled to fall at his feet. Yet little children ran at his call to nestle in his arms. Busy men, when he said, "Follow me," left all and obeyed. The wretched and perishing recognized in him their Deliverer. Jesus alone among men grew from infancy to the prime of manhood with mind and body untainted with sin. It is not said "fairest of men," but "fairer than the children of men;" he is not merely pre-eminent, but alone. "The temple of his body was a fit habitation for "the fulness of the Godhead." Bred to active toil in the pure mountain air, he had a frame capable of immense exertion. He could be heard by thousands in the open air. After a day of toil, not only speaking for hours, but by his intense sympathy taking on himself the burdens of suffering and sorrow he lifted from others, he would climb some mountain with the free step of a mountaineer, and spend the night in prayer. Even in his last inconceivably awful sufferings, we see no evidence of bodily weakness. After the agony of Gethsemane, the sleepless night of insult and torture, the terrible Roman scourge, and six hours on the cross, our Saviour's last words were uttered "with a loud voice," and he expired not from exhaustion, but from a broken heart. Add to all this that in his heart dwelt love, such as no other ever held; and that behind the veil of his human nature was the majesty of indwelling Deity. Who can suppose that the countenance of Jesus was a mask to hide that grace and glory, not a mirror to reflect it?
II. THE BEAUTY OF WHICH ALL OUTWARD GRACE, MAJESTY, LOVELINESS, IS BUT THE SHADOW, BELONGS IN TRANSCENDENT MEASURE TO THE LORD JESUS. The lost "image of God," defaced lineaments of which only remain in our ordinary human nature, reappears in him in full perfection (John 14:9). We read in him all that most concerns us to know concerning God—his character and bearing towards ourselves. The amazing claim made by the Bible (unheard of elsewhere) that man was made in God's likeness, seems contradicted by the whole current of our world's history. But who can deny that no lower style fits the life and personal character of Jesus? (Some of the strongest testimonies are from professed unbelievers.) In the most admirable characters great excellence is commonly balanced by corresponding defects. But what excellence or virtue can you find in him, either falling short of the highest vigour or strong at the expense of some other? What is his chief feature? Love? But not at the cost of the severest truth, the strictest justice. Holiness? Yet he was the Friend of sinners. Benevolence? But you can no more imagine him weakly indulgent, or imposed upon, than deaf to any real cry of need. Would you see the glory of the sunbeam? You must not gaze on the sun itself, but on the flowers, leaves, meadows forests, hills, clouds, ocean, which his light clothes with their endless variety of colour and beauty. So the beauty of our Saviour's character is to be read in the hearts he drew to him, the lives he changed and hallowed, the characters he moulded, the homes he blessed, the love he inspired; in the track of life he has left—he only—in our dark world. But you need the open eye (Isaiah 53:2; John 1:14; John 9:39). An unbeliever may admire his portrait in the Gospels, as he would a character in fiction. But to those who seek and trust him, Jesus reveals himself (John 14:21-23; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 Peter 2:7).
HOMILIES BY C. CLEMANCE
The glories of the eternal King.
This psalm is one of those which set forth in glowing terms the glory and majesty of the King of kings, the Anointed One, who should come into the world. "It is a psalm of the theocratic kingdom, the marriage song of the King." £ It is a song of the highest order, which, according to its title, was for the chief musician; set to "Shoshannim," a word which, we are told in the margin (Revised Version), means "lilies." This, however, does not throw much light on the matter. Furst £ is more helpful when he tells us that Shoshannim is a proper name, and denotes one of the twenty-four music-choirs left by David, so called from a master named Shushan. The introduction to the psalm, which is found in its first verse, is much more striking than would appear from the translation in either the Authorized Version or the Revised Version. It may be rendered," My heart is boiling over £ with a goodly theme: I speak: my work is for a King: may my tongue be as the pen of a ready writer!" £ Here we have a striking illustration of the words of the Apostle Peter, "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" this fervour of spirit, urging on the worker as by a power beyond himself to write of "the King," is one of the ways in which the sacred writers were "moved." And there is no reason for refusing to acknowledge the far-reachingness of this psalm, as setting forth beforehand, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the grandeur of our victorious Lord To no one, indeed, but Jesus, can we apply the epithets which are herein used. That a King "higher than the kings of the earth" is foretold in Scripture is certain (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 2 Samuel 23:2-5; Psalms 2:1-12; Psalms 72:1-20; Psalms 79:1-13; Psalms 110:1-7.). So that it is no wonder to find that such is the case in this psalm, £ The main difficulty in the psalm—in fact, the only serious one to believing critics—is the fact that the entire passage Psalms 45:10-15 is based on a custom which in the psalmist's time was not only familiar to Orientals, but was even honourable in their eyes, though it would not be deemed so in ours. It would be a coveted honour among maidens to be among the well-beloved ones of an honourable king; for though the queen-consort was the principal wife, yet she was by no means the only one on whom the king bestowed his affection. Even David had six wives. He was not thought the worse of for this. The Law of God did not sanction it, but society did. Hence, though this psalm shoots far ahead to a beauty, a glory, and a majesty beyond the sons of men, yet the ground-plan of its symbolism is found in the usages of Oriental courts at their best. £ If it was then deemed a high honour for maidens to be among the beloved of a king, how much greater would be the honour of those who should be brought in the far-off times to place their whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, at the absolute disposal of him who would be "King of kings, and Lord of lords"! We may gather up under four heads the main features of this sublime prophetic forecast. £ In doing so, however, it behoves us to take the Christian expositor's standpoint, and to carry forward the dim and suggestive words here given us, to the fuller and clearer setting of New Testament unfoldings.
I. HERE IS A KING FORESEEN, UNIQUE IN HONOUR AND RENOWN. That the sacred writers were familiar with the thought of a King who should come into the world, surpassing all others, we have seen above; this is shown in the passages to which reference has already been made. But even if such passages were fewer and less clear than they are, the amazing combination of expressions in the psalm before us is such, that to none other than the Son of God can they possibly be applied with any semblance of reason. But as we think of him, every term fails in place. Let us take each expression in order. There are no fewer than twelve of them.
1. There is beauty. (Psalms 45:2.) A beauty beyond that of the sons of men. This points to one who is above the race. And verily the beauty of the Lord Jesus is one of his unnumbered charms. He is the "chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely."
2. Grace is poured into his lips (Psalms 45:2). How true was this of Jesus (Luke 4:22; John 1:14)! Grace was also ever pouring out from his lips.
3. The fullest blessings descend continually upon him (Psalms 45:2; cf. John 3:34).
4. There are the glory and majesty of royal state (Psalms 45:3). For "with" read "even" ('Variorum Bible'). The sword to be girded on his thigh as for war (see Delitzsch) is his glory and his majestic state. With these he will go forth, conquering and to conquer.
5. His cause is that of truth, meekness, and righteousness. (Psalms 45:4.) No other king ever combined these in perfection, nor even at all. "Meekness" is about the very last thought associated with earthly kings (but see Matthew 11:29).
6. His progress would be marked by terror as well as by meekness (Psalms 45:4; Psalms 65:5; Rom 11:22; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Revelation 1:7).
7. His arrows would be sharp in the hearts of his enemies (Psalms 45:5), and the peoples (plural, Revised Version)would fall beneath him. He should have universal sway, and not over Israel only.
8. He should be God, and yet be anointed by God. (Psalms 45:6, Psalms 45:7.) How enigmatical before fulfilment! How fully realized in our Immanuel, in him who is at once God and man, David's Son, yet David's Lord!
9. His throne should be eternal. (Psalms 45:6.) "Thy throne, £ O God, is for ever and ever" (cf. Hebrews 1:8, Hebrews 1:9).
10. His sceptre should be a sceptre of righteousness. (Psalms 45:6, Psalms 45:7.) This is preeminently true; so much so that even those who acknowledge him as Lord, and who have yet been destitute of righteousness, will be rejected (Matthew 7:22, Matthew 7:23).
11. He would receive a higher anointing than that of others (Psalms 45:7; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18). 12. Associated with his coming would be fragrance, music, and joy (Psalms 45:8, Revised Version). Surely the gladness and song that gather round this King surpass all other gladness and all other songs that earth has ever known. No widow's wail, no orphan's sigh, attend on the conquests of this King. He conquers but to save. And the joy! oh, how great! Joy among the saved (1 Peter 1:8). Joy among the saints (1 John 1:4). Joy among the angels (Luke 20:10). Joy in the heart of the Father and the Son (Luke 15:32). Joy for ever and ever (Isaiah 35:10). What a magnificent forecast, hundreds of years beforehand! Who dares to deny the supernatural with such a fact before him? £
II. HERE IS THE KING'S BRIDE. (Psalms 45:9.) What can the psalmist mean by the bride of such a King, but the Church of his love (see Ephesians 5:23-32)? The following features, if worked out, would greatly exceed the space ,at our command.
1. She forsakes her Father's house, to be joined to this King, and leaves all her old associates behind her (Psalms 45:10).
2. She is wedded to him (Psalms 45:11, "He is thy Lord").
3. She is devoted to him (Psalms 45:11).
4. She is decorated with finest gold (Psalms 45:9), and is at the place of honour by his side.
5. Her attendants should come from the nations, with their offerings of devotion (Psalms 45:12).
III. HERE IS THE KING'S OFFSPRING. (Psalms 45:16.) The sacrifice which the bride had made for the sake of the King shall be more than recompensed by her having children, who should gather round her, and who should become "princes in the earth" (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6).
IV. HERE IS FORETOLD THE KING'S UNIVERSAL AND ENDLESS PRAISE. (Psalms 45:17.) Though the verse seems to be addressed immediately to the bride, evidently the carrying forward of the name to generation after generation is an honour chiefly of the King, and results from the bridal union. And the praise which shall accrue will be from the peoples (Revised Version), from all the nations; and this praise will be for ever and ever (Psalms 72:17). "Christ's espousing unto himself a Church, and gathering more and more from age to age by his Word and Spirit unto it, his converting of souls, and bringing them into the fellowship of his family, and giving unto them princely minds and affections wherever they live, are large matters of growing and everlasting glory" (Dickson). Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever."—C.
HOMILIES BY W. FORSYTH
The Kingship of Christ.
The unerring instinct of the Church has interpreted this psalm of the Messiah. Each Jewish king, in a sense, foreshadowed the true King. Of Solomon it might be said, in a special manner, that he was a type of the true King; but take him "in all his glory," and he was only a type dim and imperfect. "A greater than Solomon is here." Mark—
I. THE PERFECTNESS OF HIS CHARACTER. Christ's excellence is moral. All that was "fair" in others was but the broken fragments of the mirror. In him we see the perfection of beauty. Others might be "fair" in some things, and not in others, but in him all that is true and beautiful and good shines forth in harmony and fulness. "He is altogether lovely." And the excellence of Christ is not only human, but Divine. The glory of God shines in him He is the perfect King because he is the perfect Man; and he is the perfect Man, because "in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." His perfections, therefore, not only command the homage of all hearts, but they are unchanging and unchangeable as the glory of God.
II. THE SPLENDOUR OF HIS ACHIEVEMENTS. In the ancient monuments of Egypt and Assyria we see kings represented as going forth to conquer, and their enemies falling before their arrows. Such is the picture here. But the picture is relieved from all terrors and gloom. The King who conquers here conquers because he is also a Prophet, and because his cause is the cause of right and truth. His sword is "the Word of God." His arrows are the arrows of righteousness. His victory is the victory of love. "Grace" is in his lips. "Truth and meekness" mark his progress. "The people fall under" him—fall to rise again in dignity and strength.
III. THE BLESSEDNESS OF HIS REIGN. (Verses 6-9.)
1. The righteousness of his administration.
2. The happiness of his subjects.
3. The perpetuity of his kingdom.
The kingdoms of this world have no permanence. They contain within themselves the elements of decay. Kings and kingdoms pass away.
"Sceptre and crown must tumble down,
And in the grave be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade."
But it is otherwise with the kingdom of Christ. It is "for ever and ever."—W.F.
Fathers and children.
We may consider three things.
I. THE CHANGES OF LIFE. The fathers come first, then the children. There is a constant succession. We see the same on the earth. The sun and moon and stars are the same that have been from the beginning, but the scarred face of the earth indicates change. The year has its seasons. Fields white unto harvest to-day will be bare to-morrow. The leaves fade, and others come in their places. So it is in life. Go where you will, the cry is, "Your fathers, where are they?" (Zechariah 1:5). This throws great responsibility upon the living. They stand between the past and the future. From the fathers they have received much, and of them the children require much. They are the "heirs of all the ages," and they are bound to hand down, pure and entire, to those who come after, the glorious inheritance they have possessed.
II. THE COMPENSATIONS OF LIFE. When the fathers are taken, we are ready to regard it as a calamity. If one fails who stood high in Church or state, we cry in our grief like David when Abner was slain, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" (2 Samuel 3:38). But God's hand is in these things. There is compensation. If the fathers go, it is that the children may take their places. The line is never broken. The order which God has fixed continues. If Moses dies, Joshua takes his place. If Elijah is carried into heaven, his mantle falls upon Elisha. If Stephen is martyred in the midst of his labours, God has a chosen vessel in preparation, to take up his work, and carry it out in nobler ways than he could have done. So it is still. Though there be breaks and interruptions and intervals when things were dark, yet the law holds good. Let us take heed. The future is the outcome of the present. We are sowing in the hearts of our children the harvests that are to be. Let us do our duty towards those who are to come in our place, and leave results to God. "0 Church of God," said Augustine, "think not thyself abandoned, because thou seest not Peter, nor seest Paul. Seest not thou through whom thou wast born; out of thine own offspring has a body of 'fathers' been raised up to thee."
III. THE DISTINCTIONS OF LIFE.
1. Their source is Divine. We say the sovereign is the source of honour. So it is in the higher things. True honour is from God only, and he gives it to those alone whom he has "made" to be worthy (John 1:12).
2. Their character is princely. When God makes princes, he makes princes in reality. He gives not only place, but power; and not only power, but the highest honours (Genesis 32:28; 2 Timothy 1:7; Revelation 1:5). What Gideon's brethren were in appearance they are in reality (Judges 8:18).
3. Their influence is world-wide. Wherever they are known, they are honoured. What was true of the twelve is true in a measure of all Christ's servants (Matthew 19:28). As Samuel Rutherford said with his last breath, "Glory dwelleth in Immanuel's land."—W.F.