In our previous posts we’ve seen
- The Sons of Korah (SoK), men who deserved death but had reserved mercy wrote Psalm 45 a song to the King
- Deep affection that was being communicated to the King, in fact, it is a love song, with words that only a lover would use.
- That the King in the Psalm is Jesus and he’s described as smelling like an altar, temple, incense, and dead body.
Now we want to look more deeply at WHY the Sons of Korah are so crazy about Jesus. Let’s start back in Verse 2.
2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.
That first line is striking. Dudes don’t describe other dudes that way any more. Is that manhood? YES, this is absolutely the MOST MASCULINE inclination you could ever have. This is no mere mancrush! The SoK aren’t just praising him for a great fastball, big biceps, or an impressive intellect.
Friends, this is serious. Right now, how do you feel about Jesus. When Bible translators throughout the centuries have tried to capture this in English language, they’ve really struggled! Our language can’t capture the height of beauty that is being communicated.
- KJV – Thou art fairer than the children of men
- Chaldee – Thy beauty, O King Messiah, is above that of the sons of men
- Mudge – Thou art wonderfully fair beyond the sons of men
- Alexander – Beautiful, beautiful art thou above the sons of men
- ESV – You are the most handsome of the sons of men
- NASB – You are fairer than the sons of men
Those last two, newer translations really seem to fall flat, don’t that. Now, when William Plummer, 19th century scholar, tried to capture the point of this passage, listen to what he said:
In true religion, everything turns on our views of Christ, v.2. What do we think of him? Is he in our opinion and thinking incomparable? Do we regard him as “fairer than the children of men?” Is he, or is he not the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely? If you don’t love him, if you don’t admire him, if you wouldn’t, in a fair trial, die for him, you are not his. Luke xiv. 26, 27, 33.
So again: How do you feel about Jesus? Don’t tell me you’re just not an emotional person. I use to say that…I invented that. Let’s not fool ourselves. How we feel about Jesus is a striking indicator of the reality and quality of our faith.
So, what was it about Jesus that the SoK wanted to highlight?
Grace was on his lips! Grace! He came to us with grace. We are so broken, but he has healing. We are vicious to each other, but he’s tender. We get angry, defensive, and mean at the drop of a hat, but he is patient. Notice what the Gospels say:
And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. LUKE 4.22
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth, for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. JOHN 1.14, 17
He wasn’t just being nice…he was bringing the very goodness of God, the word and presence of God to us. He was the very embodiment of the grace of God. The kindness and tender compassion of God.
Children ran to him, prostitutes found him to be the safest place they’ve ever known, people wanted to be with him. They all found in him the answers to their deepest longings: how can I be right with God? How can I know peace? How can I have God as my very own?
But, it gets better There’s more good news. He brings grace, but he also came with a Sword…wait, what?!
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.
So, they also praise the King because he comes with a sword. Does that seem shocking to you? I think part of the reason we find that shocking is because we continue to say things like: “God is loving, but he’s also just.” As if those things are opposed to each other. Or “God is merciful, but he’s also holy.” Statements like that show how far from the Bible we’ve strayed.
God’s love is not opposed to his holiness, justice, or wrath. No, God IS LOVE. This is 1 John 4.16. This is what he is like at his core. In fact, John says if you don’t love, it’s certain that you don’t even know God because to know Him changes you and makes you loving. God is love, at his core, and so EVERYTHING he does flows out of that, even wrath
God’s wrath isn’t opposed to his love. No, Michael Reeves says it this way: wrath is what happens when a loving God encounters evil. Wrath is the loving response to evil. And we actually know this instinctively…
Imagine going outside in a few minutes and as you step out the door you see a man abusing a little child. How would you respond? How OUGHT you respond. What would loving behavior look like? If you see it and turn a blind eye to it – you are not loving. If you see it and say, “well, we all have our struggles” then you are not loving. Love would do everything it could to bring an end to evil. It will judge it. And it will bring holy consequences against it. The King has a sword…hallelujah.
Let’s look a little more closely at this loving war that the King is waging:
4 In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
What would you ride in the Ancient Near East? A motorcycle? A segway? No, a chariot, and this king rides to victory on a chariot of truth, meekness, and righteousness. He goes to war against evil by means of truth, meekness, and righteousness. This is a different sort of King altogether. He’s not a dictator simply hellbent on maintaining control. He’s not Allah simply looking to make the world submit.
This King is the truth.
He is meek.
He is our righteousness.
What does he smell like? He smells like salvation for sinners!
The Psalm is about to change gears. We’re about to find out something exciting: The King is getting married!