Friends, I hope you’re 2019 is off to a grand start. And what better way to start the blog year than discussing a Royal Psalm. Of course, this isn’t just any Royal Psalm. Yes, the King is front and center like the other Royal Psalms, but Psalm 45 differs markedly in terms of author, tone, content, and heart. It’s a beautiful Psalm, though can give us trouble if we don’t know what’s going on, so let’s dig in. Today, I just want to introduce the Royal Psalms, Psalm 45 in particular, and the author(s).
On the one hand, Royal Psalms seem to be directed to earthly rulers, instructing them in how to rule with truth, mercy, justice, and equality. On the other hand, it becomes clear in these Psalms that God’s plan, ultimately, IS NOT to have merely good human rule – that we’d have simply good people leading us – but that God Himself would come and be our King. That God himself would come and put an end to injustice, to suffering, to kings, prime ministers, emperors and presidents, and be our GOOD King. And Psalm 45 really is focused on that second piece. It’s not going to pretend that any government of this world can give us what we need, but that Jesus, himself, is our King and His reign is, indeed, good.
PSALM 45 INTRODUCTION
So, let’s look at Psalm 45. Before we get into the words of the Psalm, let’s look at the the title and author information. Now, I’m looking at the ESV and the first line up there reads, “Your Throne, O God, Is Forever.” Does yours say that? Ignore that…OK. That’s just added by some wonderful Crossway staff person as an attempt to describe the topic or a key verse in the Psalm. It’s not actually part of the Psalm itself, in the Hebrew. But, the rest is a part of the actual Psalm. It is an English translation of the Hebrew text, and so I want to look at a couple of things with you there.
SONS OF KORAH
First, I want to call your attention to the authors of this Psalm. It is written by the Sons of Korah. There are several Psalms written by them, but who are they? Who are these Sons of Korah? Well, in the book of Exodus (the second book of the Bible), we meet a man named Korah…he was a cousin of Moses. And in the 4th book of the Bible, Numbers, in chapter 16, we find out that Korah didn’t like that God has appointed Moses to be his spokesman to all of Israel and had appointed Aaron as the high priest of Israel. So, Korah, along with a couple of buddies, mobilized a group of about 250 people to institute a revolution, a coup. God chose Moses and Aaron, Korah said, “no thanks…God must have gotten it wrong.”
They were going to take control, by force. So the Lord told the rest of the Israelites to separate from Korah and his goons, including their relatives who had all banded together against the Lord. So, we read in verse 32: “And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods.” Whoa!
But, get this, in Numbers 26:11, we get a summary of this story and it ends with this line: “But the sons of Korah did not die.”
And that’s it. It doesn’t explain it. It doesn’t elaborate. And if we don’t reflect on it, it’s just an 8-word sentence that flies in one ear and out the other, but in reality, it’s HUGE! They were spared. They didn’t die. If you were in their family, that would be your favorite verse of all time. Not John 3.16, but Numbers 26.11!!!! So, here we are in Psalm 45, and we encounter a group of men who, for all intents and purposes, should be dead. Men, who therefore understand what it means to encounter the mercy of God. These are dead men walking. And let’s look at what they choose to write…what’s that say there in the header? What sort of song are they writing? A love song.
Interesting! This is a love song. Men who should be dead…who have been graciously spared by God are writing a love song. And it’s the content of that song that we’ll start to explore in the next post.