The appeal made to the Shepherd, by the sheep led to the slaughter, is heard. Hengstenberg calls it a “matter of fact reply.”
The Shepherd at the bleating of his flock appears to glory to help them; but appears in the character of a Mighty Conqueror. The Lamb is the Lion of Judah.
The title given to this Psalm corresponds to its glorious words and theme. Upon Shoshannim, the lily-instrument, some Temple instrument of music, peculiarly adapted for the celebration of themes that were fresh and bright and beautiful.
This Psalm is for the Sons of Korah and to the Chief Musician. The Chief Singer and the whole choir are gathered to sing. This Maschil calls for great skill from the musicians.
It is the product of David or Solomon, quite possibly for the occasion of marriage festivities in the Royal Court.
It is a song of loves, or rather “of the Beloved”, regarding the Bride. The word is used in Jeremiah 12:7 as a term for Israel as God’s Beloved, God’s Spouse. He the Husband. So it corresponds to Jedidiah, Beloved of the LORD, just as Shulamite does to Solomon.
If so, it is a Song concerning The Bride, as well as concerning The King, the Bridegroom.
“My heart boils with goodly words.
My work is for the King!
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer!” (v1)
Abrupt and fervent surely – the Holy Spirit thus uses the faculties and feelings of the human instrument to indicate the exciting nature of the subject.
“You are beautiful with beauty among the sons of men!”
The verb employed has an unusual form, and might be rendered “Beautiful, beautiful are you” (Alexander).
“Grace is poured upon your lips.”
Everything that is attractive, everything that is graceful in character and form, in feature and expression, is meant by grace. It is not what we usually call by that name; it is a term for what fits with the person and draws the eyes of others to him.
It is thus used in Proverbs 4:9, “She shall give to your head an ornament of grace, a crown of glory shall she deliver to you.” – wisdom so clothing the person with moral beauty.
It is thus, too, in Psalm 84:11 – “The Lord will give grace and glory” – the ornament of beauty, the crown of glory. All this, in full perfection, is found in Messiah’s person; all that is fitted to attract and fix the soul’s gaze; all that is beautiful in excellence; all that is drawing in holiness and majestic worth.
Now comes v3:
“Warrior! Gird your sword upon your thigh” (Horsley)
This is “The Mighty One” whom Isaiah 9:5 calls “The Mighty God.” He is the one who goes forth to victory and yet acts on behalf of meekness and truth and righteousness (See Rev 19:15), or more literally “on behalf of meekness and truth;” the doing which in such a case is “righteousness.” “On his thigh,” we find a name in Rev 19:15 in perfect keeping with this, “King of kings, Lord of lords.”
“Your arrows are sharpened!
The nations fall under you!
Your arrows are in the hearts of the King’s enemies!”
He reaches the Throne, and sits down, his enemies made his footstool. Messiah, thus seated on the throne in visible majesty, is addressed in v6,7, by the name “God”
“Your Throne, O God, is for ever and ever.”
“Your God has anointed you, O God!” (Compare Hebrews 1:8,9, in the Greek and undoubtedly the true rendering of the Hebrew)
Everything is ready for the Marriage: “myrrh and aloes and cassia” (Song 3:6) have been prepared for this day of Espousal, brought out of “palaces of ivory” to help the joy, or in other words, to complete the mirthful arrangements of this day of heavenly gladness.
“Out of the ivory palaces, the sound of the harp, makes you glad” (Tholuck)
The “King’s daughters” who are in attendance, “precious ones” i.e. of high value, seem to be like the “daughter of Jerusalem” in The Song; and especially this portion of the Psalm reminds us of Song 6:8,9. “Threescore queens, fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.”
We suspect that both in that Song and here also, these represent the Angelic hosts. They are natives of that heavenly country – not like The Bride, brought into it from a far foreign land.
The Bride, or Queen, is the redeemed Church, made up of Jewish and Gentile saints, the one Body of the redeemed who are referred to in Hebrews 11:39,40.
In this view we find no difficulties left. “Be it” sings the sweet singer “Be it that your princesses who fill your court are of highest rank, such as are Kingd’s daughters, yet pre-eminent stands The Queen in gold of Ophir! No rival to her! She is honoured, and worthy of honour, above all!”
A pause follows. The Bride is addressed in prospect of this day. It is “Will you not, since this is your glorious destiny, be willing to leave all former relationships? Will you not, O daughter, be as Rebecca going to Isaac? This Mighty One is your Lord; be you as Sarah to Abraham.” (Gen 18:12, 1 Pet 3:5,6)
But the scene is not yet sufficiently set before us. The sweet singer touches his harp again to a lofty strain, to describe the splendour of dominion possessed by the Bride from the Bridegroom.
“The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift.
"The rich among the people shall entreat your favour” (v12)
This tells of the Glorified Church, the Lamb’s Wife, ruling over a subdued world, in the millennial days.
“Tyre” is taken as a sample of Gentile nations, and elsewhere referred to as acting a part in these happy times (Isaiah 23:18); while “the rich among the people” are the Jews in their restored prosperity.
The glorified Church reigns with Christ over the nations upon earth. The glorified Church is with Christ on his throne, wherever that may be, while he rules the people and nations under the whole heaven, Gentile and Jew, Tyre and The People.
“The virgins her companions” are we think the same as in v9 and Song 6:8. These participate in the joy of this scene, even as they sympathised with the birth of the Bridegroom at Bethlehem. As for her she is all splendour, and gold embroidery is her vesture, i.e. the richest and rarest fabric of creation.
And (not to dwell too long on these verses that tempt us to linger at every step), at last comes the final strain. The Queen, or Bride, is addressed in v16. It is, like Genesis 24:60 and Ruth 4:11, the expression of a wish for the after fruitfulness of the Bride.
The Glorified Church, reigning with Christ, is to see her prayers answered and her labours crowned in blessings which shall be poured on Earth in those glad millennial days.
“Instead of your fathers,” those who filled earth in your former days, “shall be your children.” Earth shall have its new generations, generations of holy men – “whom you may make princes in all the earth” – every one fit to be a prince, the weakest among them as David, and the House of David as the Angel of the Lord.
“So shall the nations praise you for ever and ever!”
This ends the loftiest Epithalmium ever sung. It is what Milton would call
“The unexpressive nuptial song.
In the blessed kingdom meek of joy and love.”
It is Earth taught by Heaven to sing heaven’s infinite love to man. It is a prelude to the New Song. Every clause in it is melody, and every thought in it is sublimity; but it is just such as we might expect to be breathed forth when the theme on hand was – Messiah, the Mighty One appearing as King and Bridegroom.