Faithlife Sermons

The King's Glory and the Bride's Beauty

Summer Psalms 2019  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:47
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The church is to magnify the glory of Jesus Christ by our glad submission to His glad sacrifice.

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A couple of weeks ago Jodee and I (like a lot of people at this time of year) celebrated our wedding anniversary. (June is the month for weddings, after all—how many of you were married in June?) Our wedding was right here in this sanctuary—many of you were there that day. I don’t know if I can remember exactly who was here—I know it was packed—but my memories are pretty much just centered on one person in particular!
It’s a peculiar irony in our culture here in 2019 that, as much as marriage itself is under very real attack, weddings have never been more popular! In fact, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. these days is almost $34,000! Contrast that to the cost of a wedding a generation or so ago—Mom and Dad were married at the West Liberty Baptist Church and had their reception in the basement! And isn’t it interesting that those weddings that cost a few hundred dollars have lasted 50 years or more, and these days a wedding that costs more than a new car only last about 8 years, on average!
Our culture’s marriages are so fragile because we have turned away from God’s commands concerning marriage—that marriage is to be between one man and one woman for life. We began by rebelling against the “for life” portion of that command, and then against the “one man, one woman” portion of that command (and are already laying the groundwork for our rebellion as a people against the one man one woman command!)
And so we need not only to pay attention to what God says about marriage in His Word, we need to submit to Him! It is important for us to see that here in this psalm (which is a wedding psalm, by the way—the only wedding psalm in the entire book!), that there are only two verses that contain any sort of command—look at verses 10-11:
Psalm 45:10–11 ESV
10 Hear, O daughter, and 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.
The bride is called in the strongest possible terms to pay attention to the King (“hear”, “consider”, “incline your ear”), to forget her people and her father’s house, and to bow to her King.
This psalm was written as a wedding song, to be sung at the marriage ceremony between a king and his bride—many commentators understand it to be written of Solomon’s marriage to an Egyptian princess:
1 Kings 3:1 ESV
1 Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem.
But Matthew Henry dissents, noting that the King is described in verses 3-5 as a great military conqueror—
Psalm 45:3–5 ESV
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! 4 In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! 5 Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you.
Which Solomon was not—that sounds more like David!
But whatever the original context of this psalm, all of the commentators agree that it refers to far more than an ordinary marriage:
This psalm is a description of Christ’s marriage to His Church
I say this because of verses 6-7:
Psalm 45:6–7 ESV
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; 7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
This is far beyond a description of a mere mortal, isn’t it? The inhabitant of the Throne is God Himself—and yet God is His God as well! In fact, we have very good authority for saying that this psalm is about Jesus Christ Himself: because the original commentator on this passage—the writer of Hebrews—specifically quotes this passage in his opening statement on the deity of Jesus:
Hebrews 1:7–9 ESV
7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
So this psalm not only teaches us about the way a bride should love her husband and a husband his wife—this psalm teaches us how the Bride of Christ, the Church, is to love her King! So what I aim to show you this morning from Psalm 45 is that
The Church is to magnify the glory of Christ by our glad submission to His glad sacrifice.
The psalmist splits up this psalm into two sections—Verse 1 is an introduction to the psalm:
Psalm 45:1 ESV
1 My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
In the original language (and the 1611 King James Version), the psalmist says his heart “bubbleth up” with a noble theme—like a fountain overflowing with exuberance and joy over the glory of the King and the beauty of His bride.
In verses 2-9 the psalmist describes the King preparing to receive His bride—putting on His royal robes and preparing His palace to welcome her in. And in verses 10-17 the psalmist turns his attention to the bride as she prepares to go out to meet her Husband.
Let’s look at each section, starting with verses 2-9. The psalmist is praising

I. The Glory of the King: Glad Sacrifice

The glory of the King is in His glad sacrifice. In verses 3-4 the psalmist praises Him for His courage in going out to war for the sake of truth. Look at verses 3-4:
Psalm 45:3–4 ESV
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! 4 In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
The King is glorious because He gladly sacrifices for truth. (Ps. 45:3-4)
He doesn’t keep His head down or keep quiet, He’s not afraid to wade into the battle “for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness!
The King is not “meek” before men, afraid to speak for the cause of truth and righteousness (obedience to God’s Law)—He is meek before God, and is willing to be at odds with the entire world for the sake of submitting to His truth.
The King is glorious because He gladly sacrifices for truth, and
The King is glorious because He gladly sacrifices for goodness. (Ps. 45:6-7)
Verses 6-7:
Psalm 45:6–7 ESV
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; 7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
The King loves righteousness and hates wickedness—again, He is willing to go to war against wickedness for the sake of goodness, and the psalmist praises Him for it.
In verse 8 we see the King preparing for His Bride’s arrival by filling His palace with beauty:
Psalm 45:8–9 ESV
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 honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
He is preparing for His bride’s arrival with beauty—beautiful surroundings (ivory palace), beautiful music (stringed instruments to make them glad) and even beautiful fragrances (myrrh, aloes, cassia). He has prepared for His queen to be adorned in the gold of Ophir—Ophir was a region south of Egypt known for the purity and costliness of its gold. The idea the psalmist wants to put across here is that
The King is glorious because He gladly sacrifices for beauty. (Ps. 45:8-9)
The King has spared no expense for His queen! He delights in her so much that he has spent lavishly on beauty to surround her with.
And this is why the Psalmist is praising the glory of the King—because of His glad sacrifice for the sake of truth, beauty and goodness. He is eager to spend Himself for truth, He gladly reigns to defeat evil for the sake of goodness, He delights in beauty for the sake of His bride.
And, in fact, as the psalmist moves on to address the bride in verses 10-11, he says that the king not only delights in preparing beauty for His bride, He delights in making her beautiful as well:
Psalm 45:10–11 ESV
10 Hear, O daughter, and 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.
The glory of the King is in His glad sacrifice,

II. The Beauty of the Bride: Glad Submission

I mentioned earlier that there are only two verses in this psalm that have any sort of command in them—the psalmist has praised the King, and now as he turns to the Bride, he immediately calls her to do three things:
First, the psalmist says that
The Bride gives her attention to the King (Ps. 45:10a)
—look at how many ways the psalmist says it: Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear! He wants her to see the glory of her Husband, to consider His glory—His glad sacrifice for the sake of truth, beauty and goodness—and to listen to Him!
The Bride gives her attention to the King, and
The Bride gives her heart to the King. (Ps. 45:10b)
The psalmist tells her: Don’t look longingly back on your past life in your father’s house! Don’t constantly compare your new life with your husband with your old life when you were growing up! (If this really was a psalm celebrating the marriage of Solomon with an Egyptian princess, then this is a very strong statement that she must leave behind her father’s gods as well!)
In verse 11, the psalmist says that
The Bride gives her obedience to the King. (Ps. 45:11)
“Since He is your Lord, bow to Him!” And she is not to do this grudgingly or resentfully—she is to gladly give herself in submission to her King. We see that in verses 13-15:
Psalm 45:13–15 ESV
13 All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. 14 In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her. 15 With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.
They don’t follow the Bride into her husband’s palace saying, “You poor thing! You’re in for such a miserable, oppressed life!” No—they are overjoyed for her! In verse 13, when the psalmist describes “the princess in her chamber”, putting on her wedding gown, he says that her robes are “interwoven with gold”—the “gold of Ophir” that her Husband has purchased for her! He has called her out of her idolatry, He has given her beautiful raiment to wear, and He has prepared a beautiful place for her to come and be with Him forever!
And not only this, but the psalmist goes on to say that the King has promised His Bride eternal glory as well! Verses 16-17:
Psalm 45:16–17 ESV
16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. 17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.
Again, if we have Solomon’s marriage to the Egyptian princess in view here, look at what this psalm is saying: That the sons that the Bride bears to the King will take over the place of her father’s throne (in Egypt), and in all the earth! In other words, the psalmist is saying that your Husband’s Kingdom will grow to take over all the kingdoms of the earth! His dynasty will take over the world! (Again—no mere mortal or earthly kingdom can make such a claim!) And so, in light of this amazing, supernatural glory—the glory of this King who delights to sacrifice His strength for truth, beauty and goodness—the Bride is called to gladly submit to Him!
Beloved, we see here in this wedding psalm the glory of the King in His glad sacrifice for His Bride, and the beauty of the Bride in her glad submission to Her King. This psalm is God’s pattern for

III. Our Glad Sacrifice and Submission

First of all, as it relates to marriage, we learn from this psalm that true masculinity gladly sacrifices for the sake of truth, beauty and goodness, and true femininity responds with glad submission in love and respect.
It is no accident that the New Testament repeatedly calls wives to submit to their husbands:
Ephesians 5:22 ESV
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
and for husbands to love their wives:
Ephesians 5:25 ESV
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Turn with me to that passage in Ephesians 5 (p. 978)—what we see here is just what we see in Psalm 45: the King gladly sacrificing for the sake of the Bride, and her glad submission to Him:
Ephesians 5:25–30 ESV
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
Husbands, you are called to love your wives as Christ loved His Bride, the Church. And how did Christ love His Bride? He sacrificed for her—giving Himself up for her to make her holy. Husbands, your relationship to your wife is commanded to be one of giving yourself up for her—spending yourself for the sake of the beauty of her holiness by leading your family in worship, living truthfully with her without deception or selfishness, shielding her from the evil of this world with your own life, if necessary.
And never forget that
The greatest evil you are called to protect your wife from is the evil of your own sin.
And wives, you are called to submit to your husbands “as to the LORD”. Now, how do you submit to the LORD? Do you “submit” to Him by complaining about His sacrifice for you, or by reacting with suspicion or disregard for His love for you?
Now, of course submitting to Christ is different than submitting to your husband, isn’t it? After all, Jesus has never failed to love you perfectly—He has never sinned against you—but your husband certainly has, hasn’t he? But I think that what Paul is saying here (and what we see in Psalm 45) is not that wives are only to submit to their husbands when they are perfectly Christ-like. But it does mean (among other things) that
Wives consider and recognize the sacrifices their husbands do make, and acknowledge them!
Every act of submission that we carry out for one another—wives to husbands, church members to leaders, children to parents—every time we submit to one another we do it out of grace for one another! And this is where the pattern of sacrifice and submission that is set for us in Psalm 45 and echoed in Ephesians 5 flows outward to our whole lives, that
We gladly sacrifice for and submit to one another just as Christ did for us.
One of the most astonishing verses in all of Scripture is found in Luke 2:51, where it says that as a child, Jesus
Luke 2:51 ESV
51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
Jesus Christ, the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, God Himself in human flesh, submitted to His sinful, failing parents! Sister, if your sinless Savior could submit to imperfect, inconsistent parents, you can submit to your imperfect, inconsistent husband! Son or daughter, if 12-year-old Jesus could submit to His parents when He really did know better than them, you can too! Church member, if Jesus could obey His parents and honor and respect them even though they made mistakes and failed to perfectly serve and obey God, you can honor and respect your flawed, imperfect church leaders! And when you submit, you are also submitting to King Jesus’ command—and He will see it and reward it!
You may have noticed over the years that I tend to address you during sermons as “Beloved”. Do you know why I do that? Part of the reason is that I really do love you dearly—but I want you to understand that I call you “Beloved” because that is what your King calls you! I want you to hear this Psalm and understand that you are the Bride the psalmist describes! I want you to see here that your Husband loves you dearly!
Church, your King strapped on His sword and went to war for you, laying down His life to redeem you from the false idols of your past into His truth! He placed Himself between you and the righteous wrath of His Father, shielding you with His own body and bearing the brunt of that agony so that He could give you His own goodness and righteousness! He took away your tattered, filthy rags of your own past and clothed you with the purest white raiment of His righteousness, woven through with gold finer and more costly than any earthly alloy because it was purchased with His own blood! And He has spent the past two thousand years delighting to prepare His palace to receive you, His Bride! He has spent two millennia filling it with light and joy and music and fragrance and feasting to last for all eternity!
So, Church, give your attention to Him! Hear and consider the words of the One who loves you so, incline your ear to hear every word that He has spoken to you in His Word! Cherish His Word, read it, listen to it, memorize it, treasure it! Give your heart to Him—turn away from all of those false promises of your past, those idols of money, sex and power that you used to bow to—give your heart to the One who loves you more than they ever would! And give your obedience to Him—let your gratitude and joy for His glad sacrifice fuel your glad submission to Him in the way you love your wife, the way you submit to your husband, the way you sacrifice for your children, the way lay down your life for your brothers and sisters in Christ, the way you fight for truth, beauty and goodness in a culture gone mad with lies, ugliness and evil!
And someday, when your King has everything just right, He will come for you! And there will be a great shout, like the thundering roar of a cosmic ocean, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns! Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure… Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev. 19:6-9)!
The King is coming for His Bride—and the Scripture tells us that when He comes for His Bride, He will strap on His sword one more time, for the sake of truth and righteousness—but His days of meekness and gentleness will be over.
Revelation 19:11–16 ESV
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
His arrows will be sharp in the heart of His enemies on that day, and the peoples will fall under Him. He will establish that Kingdom with a scepter of uprightness, a kingdom that loves righteousness and hates wickedness—and the only righteousness that will stand in that Day is the righteousness that comes from Him!
So do not tell yourself that your garments will be clean enough to wear to that feast! Do not let yourself believe that your own righteousness will stand on that Day! The King is coming, and He says
Revelation 22:12–14 ESV
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
Revelation 22:17 ESV
17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
Don’t try to enter that banquet hall in your street clothes! Don’t try to wash your robes white enough to stand in that kingdom! The Spirit of the King invites you, His Bride the Church invites you: Come! Come and drink the water that He offers you—there is no price, because He paid for it with His own blood! There is no end to the delight He will take in washing you, freeing you, cleansing you from your sin and rebellion, if you will only come! Listen, consider, incline your ear—forget the rebellion of your past, bow to your King and He will rejoice in your beauty! Come—and welcome!—to your King, Jesus Christ!
Hebrews 13:20–21 ESV
20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Questions for Reflection:

For men: How can you demonstrate “glad sacrifice for the sake of truth, beauty and goodness” in your life? At home? At your work? In your marriage? What one thing can you do this week to gladly sacrifice yourself for the sake of others?
For women: What does it mean in your life to respond to sacrificial strength with glad submission? What can you do this week to intentionally model that happy obedience “as unto the LORD”? In your home? In your work? In your marriage?
Husbands and wives: For this next week, take a moment every day to ask yourself: “What would Christ’s relationship with His Bride, the Church, look like if my words and my attitude toward my spouse were the pattern? If Jesus treated His Church the way I treat my wife? If the Church submitted to Christ the way I submit to my husband?”
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