|The Warrior King & His Bride|
This is a “maskil” which can mean a contemplative song or a well-written song. Psalm 44 is another of those laments where the people are feeling that God has rejected them because He has not rescued them from trouble. They’ve searched their hearts and can find no sin, but still God seems to be nowhere to be found. Sometimes we find ourselves in a similar situation—a troubled present after victories in the past, and God is absent—or seemingly so.
In the first 8 verses, the psalmist points out God’s victories for Israel as they came into the Promised Land.
1 – 8
The people of Israel loved to recount God’s wonderful victory of release from Egypt and the giving of the land of Canaan. Do you recount what God has done for you so others can hear it? What a great way to encourage the faith of others and also support your trust in God.
Deuteronomy 4:37-39 Because He loved your fathers, He chose their descendants after them and brought you out of Egypt by His presence and great power, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you in and give you their land as an inheritance, as is now taking place.
God incubated the nation in Egypt until the “iniquity of the Amorites reached its full measure” (Genesis 10:16). The people that occupied that land were among the most evil that ever lived. So God expelled them by His strong hand in this one-time holy war. All the children of Israel had to do was obey God in His sometimes strange ways of waging war (eg: walking around Jericho, sending the worship team out front, etc).
The psalmist recognized that it was not their strength that won the battle, but God’s. So the next section could be a “given this – what gives with our present situation?”
9 – 16
Notice first the honesty here. God knows our feelings, we might as well verbally express them to Him.
Look at all the words for defeat and ridicule that are used here: rejected, humiliated, retreat, hate, plunder, hand us over, eaten, scatter, sell, reproach, mockery, ridicule, laughingstock, disgrace, shame, scorn, reviler. In fact, nearly every Hebrew word for ridicule is used here.
The picture is that for all of the victories God wrought, now that He seems absent and doesn’t go out with them, it has completely turned to defeat. We know this happened several times in Israel’s history but was mostly because of their disobedience to God’s law.
So in the next section, the psalmist claims they are innocent.
17 – 22
So he says: “we haven’t forgotten You”, “we haven’t sinned”, “we haven’t neglected our relationship with you”, and “we haven’t served foreign gods.” At least to the psalmist, the rejection of the Lord was not a result of their sin. And sometimes that is the case. At times God just allows bad things to happen—take Job for example. Sometimes it is for God’s greater purpose that difficulties come into your life though you didn’t deserve them—take Jesus for example. But sometimes we think we have done nothing wrong—but our minds are simply covering for us. So it is a great idea to ask God to search you and reveal anything in your that’s broken that He wants to fix (Psalm 139:23-24).
The idea of “haunt of jackals” (or “dragons”) means a desolate place bereft of friendly people but filled with enemies.
Isaiah picked up the imagery of being “counted as sheep to be slaughtered” when he described the Messiah in Isaiah 53.
So finally he pleads with God to “walk up”!
23 – 26
Notice the end of the plea. The psalmist is not telling God how worthy they are. He is pleading with God based on “Your faithful love.” That’s the Hebrew word checed which means God’s covenant love for His people. That’s always how we should cry out to God—based on His love, not our merit.
So what can we learn from this psalm?
- It’s good to remember what God has done for you
- It’s good to remember that it is God’s strength, not your own, that matters
- Sometimes it’s not your fault (and sometimes it is)
- No matter how desperate, don’t try to solve problems yourself if God tarries
- Focus on what God is doing, not what is going on around you
Notice something else—God seemingly rejected Israel here but not because of their sin. Jesus, as the ultimate Israel, was rejected by God but not for His own sin. This happened so that you would never be rejected by the Lord!
Isaiah 53:4-5 but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
This psalm is a “Royal Wedding Psalm” and was written to be sung by the Levitical choir when a king got married. It also has New Testament application to us as the Bride of Christ.
1 – 2
The psalmist is moved as he sits down to write this song to the king and his bride. He thinks about the handsomeness of the king’s appearance and the wonderfulness of his character. Though Isaiah tells us that in His earthly form Jesus was nothing special (Isaiah 53:2), His true nature is one of incredible beauty both inside and out:
Revelation 1:12-16 I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe, and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool—white as snow, His eyes like a fiery flame, 15 His feet like fine bronze fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters. 16 In His right hand He had seven stars; from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was shining like the sun at midday.
3 – 5
Not only a sight to behold, but also a man of action and authority and power. Jesus’ sword is the words He speaks. He is powerful and no one can stand against Him. But notice what the king is all about: not brutal oppression for the sake of staying in power but for “truth, humility, and justice.” This is no ordinary king—this is a man who will reign with absolute power but in absolute goodness. The kingdom of Jesus will not be a democracy or a republic. It will be a benevolent monarchy—one in which the King is only out for good.
6 – 9
Verses 6 & 7 are used in Hebrews 1:8-9 and are applied directly to the Lord Jesus. Again we see that the scepter of God’s kingdom is one of justice—doing the right thing all the time for everyone. Notice too that loving what is right leads to joy. The culture around us has it backwards. The culture says the road to happiness is just doing whatever feels good. But God knows that His way of thinking is the only way to true lasting joy. Myrrh, aloes, and cassia were expensive fragrances associated with kings. The picture given here is opulence, expense, and beauty. In heaven there won’t be literal gold like here on earth—there they use a gold-like substance for asphalt. But that place and that kingdom will be beautiful in a way that transcends anything we can imagine.
10 – 12
These verses are written to the bride. She is told to change her loyalty from the country she was born in to the King. This is just what we must do when we change loyalty from our kingdom of origin to God’s kingdom. I think it’s wonderful that the king desires the beauty of the bride—but it happens only when she transfers herself to the king—and in our case, the King of Kings then transfers His beauty onto us!
Ephesians 5:25-28 Just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless.
The key here is that the bride “bow down to him, for he is your lord” (vs 11). We cannot just see how beautiful and powerful the King is, we must submit to Him in order to be His bride.
13 – 15
Revelation 19:6-10 Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying:
Hallelujah—because our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun to reign! 7 Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. 8 She was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, "Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!" He also said to me, "These words of God are true."
Revelation 21:1-2 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. 2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
The ultimate Bride of Christ we see in Revelation 21:9-15
Revelation 21:9-14 Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." 10 He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 arrayed with God's glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal. 12 The city had a massive high wall, with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates; on the gates, names were inscribed, the names of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 14 The city wall had 12 foundations, and on them were the 12 names of the Lamb's 12 apostles.
16 – 17
In the final verses the psalmist proclaims the fruit of this marriage will be kings that reign forever. And I love verse 17—we too will make the name of Jesus remembered for all generations and that people will praise our husband forever and ever!
Are you feeling less than beautiful today? God desires your beauty—which is the change of character that comes from belonging to the Messiah, your husband. Did you notice Revelation 19:8? For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. Jesus in your makes you act like God and that is very beautiful indeed to your husband. Rejoice in that today!
Even as we looked back in Psalm 44, and forward to the Bride of Christ in Psalm 45—here in Psalm 46 we also look ahead, to the return of the King to His kingdom and the absolute reign He will have over the earth.
The title of this psalm is difficult. It is “According to Alamoth.” This could either mean “maidens” or “hidden things.” Since we don’t have the song, then it isn’t really helpful for us. What is helpful though, is to recognize who to turn to in times of trouble.
1 – 3
This psalm was probably written after a military victory over one of Israel’s enemies. Verses 1 – 3 stand in stark contrast with Psalm 44:9 where Israel has been seemingly rejected by God. What I love about this is the total dependence on God. When God comes through they rejoice, when he doesn’t they are dismayed. So should our dependence be: if God’s boat sinks we go down with it.
But notice that He is “a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” The Lord said: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). This means we never have to be afraid. In Matthew 14 when Jesus came walking on the water to the disciples who feared that they would drown, He said “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”
With The Lord Jesus in your life you do not need to fear anything—natural disasters or man-made turmoil.
One of the reasons that this psalm reminds me of the return of King Jesus is the imagery here. Revelation 16 talks about incredible weather events, earthquakes, and 100 pound hail. Though the earth gives way, you can still count on Jesus, the rock of our salvation.
4 – 7
It’s likely that there is no specific river being talked about here in connection with Jerusalem, but simply refers to God’s presence. The nation of Israel was assailed on every side but as long as God protected them they could not be toppled. When Yahweh begins to defend His people it is like blow-torch to wax. The “Lord of hosts” here is a military term—God is a warrior for His people.
Here too is another image that reminds me of the second coming. In Ezekiel 47, Ezekiel describes the temple of the coming King. Part of that imagery is a stream that goes out from the threshold of a new temple flowing east. The river gets wider and wider as it flows until Ezekiel can no longer cross it. This river brings life wherever it flows, just as God will restore this earth to what it was at the creation, and restores our souls with living water.
8 – 11
The Israelis celebrated God stopping the armies that came against them. So too, when Jesus returns He will slaughter the forces arrayed against the people of God and will put a stop to all wars. Revelation 19 talks about the sword that proceeds from His mouth—suggesting that all Jesus will have to do is speak and the war will end, like the words of verse 10 here.
Let’s go back and look at three words in verse 1:
Refuge is the Hebrew word mahseh and it refers to a strong secure structure that provides shelter from the elements (Isaiah 4:6). This word was used to emphasize God’s caring watchfulness over His people.
Help, Hebrew ezra means support or assistance for one who is weak, vulnerable, and helpless.
Strength, the Hebrew oz, describes God’s attribute of omnipotence. The word is used to convey security, stability, safety—all found in God alone.
Looking back at these three psalms there is a neat pattern:
Psalm 44—Rejected by God, just as Jesus was rejected so we don’t have to be. It also shows God winning the victory over our enemies, just as Jesus won the victory over sin and death on the cross—singlehandedly.
Psalm 45—The king desires the beauty of His bride who is adorned in beauty—the Bride of Christ brought to be with the risen King
Psalm 46—God the warrior returning to rule and reign
It really is all about Jesus!