25 March 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Lent:
25 March 2022 (Psalms 45)

The Annunciation depicted in the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Gibraltar … 25 March is the Feast of the Annunciation (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, one of the welcome celebrations during the Season of Lent. Before this day begins, I am taking some time early this morning (25 March 2022) for prayer, reflection and reading.

During Lent this year, in this Prayer Diary on my blog each morning, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 45:

Psalm 45 is sometimes known by its opening Latin words, Eructavit cor meum. In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate, this psalm is numbered as Psalm 44.

Psalm 45 is described in the superscript: ‘To the leader: according to Lilies. Of the Korahites. A Maskil. A love song.’ This is one of the royal psalms and was composed by the sons of Korah on the shoshanim, either a musical instrument or the tune to which the psalm should be sung.

This psalm has been interpreted as an epithalamium or wedding song, written to a king on the day of his marriage to a foreign woman, and is one of the royal psalms. It has been called ‘A Royal Wedding Song,’ ‘The Celebration of the Marriage of a King,’ ‘A Nuptial Song of a King,’ ‘An Ode for a Royal Marriage,’ ‘A Wedding Benediction,’ and so on.

Some commentators suggest that Psalm 45 is the only example of profane poetry in the Psalms and was composed and sung by a minstrel or cult prophets on the occasion of the marriage of the king.

Modern scholars have two radically different views among about the nature of Psalm 45. Jewish tradition sees this psalm as a general prayer for the end of the exile and the coming of the Messiah. Some say this psalm is dealing with an actual king, not with an ideal, future Messiah, although we cannot say who this king was. Others say that there is a long tradition, both in the synagogue and in the church, that this psalm deals with the future. A third interpretation says the psalm applies it to some literal king of Israel, but agree some of the language was later applied to Christ.

If Psalm 45 is a wedding song for the marriage of a king of Israel, who was the king in this psalm, and who was the princess he was marrying?

Some suggest Solomon and Pharaoh’s daughter; others suggest Ahab and Jezebel, the marriage of King Jehoram of Judah marriage to Athaliah.

The psalm is often organised in this way:

1, Verse 1, the introduction;
2, Verses 2-9, address to the King;
3, Verses 10-14: address to the Bride;
4, Verses 16-17, the conclusion.

‘In many-coloured robes she is led to the king’ (Psalm 45: 14) … an Italian bride arrives for her wedding in Amalfi (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 45 (NRSVA):

To the leader: according to Lilies. Of the Korahites. A Maskil. A love song.

1 My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

2 You are the most handsome of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you for ever.
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your glory and majesty.

4 In your majesty ride on victoriously
for the cause of truth and to defend the right;
let your right hand teach you dread deeds.
5 Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.

6 Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever.
Your royal sceptre is a sceptre of equity;
7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honour;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.

10 Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear;
forget your people and your father’s house,
11 and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him;
12 the people of Tyre will seek your favour with gifts,
the richest of the people 13 with all kinds of wealth.

The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
14 in many-coloured robes she is led to the king;
behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.
15 With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.

16 In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
17 I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations;
therefore the peoples will praise you for ever and ever.

Today’s Prayer:

The USPG Prayer Diary this week has a particular focus on ‘Lingering Legacies’ and remembering the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary this morning (25 March 2022, the Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary) invites us to pray:

Today we pray for the strength to follow the calling of the Lord. May we embrace unexpected events and trust in God.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

‘With joy and gladness they are led along’ (Psalm 45: 15) … a wedding dance is re-enacted at a Turkish floorshow in Kusadasi (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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