The Love of God and our Feelings

Here we are at the end of our blog series on Psalm 45.  I hope it’s blessed you.  If you haven’t, be sure to read those because they’ve been leading us to this point.  We just found out that because of the love of King Jesus for us, His Bride, we are adorned.  We are completely majestic.

Do you believe that?  I struggle to sometimes.  Many times, I feel like I’m being tolerated by Jesus instead of being his beautiful Bride that causes His pupils to dilate.  But, friend, THAT IS THE TRUTH!  He’s not just putting up with us.  He’s enamored with us!

You may not feel completely majestic.  Sometimes is so hard just to lift you eyes off of your own SHAME, SCARS, WHAT YOU’VE DONE, WHAT’S BEEN DONE TO YOU to see the love in the eyes of your King.  He’s taken all of that on himself. See what the King says about you in Song of Songs. Listen, Christ says this about YOU:

SoS 4.7, 9

You are altogether beautiful, my love;
    there is no flaw in you.

You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
    you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,

The King doesn’t rescue the street girl so that she can just have a clean, well-provided room in his castle.  NO. He rescues her so that he may never be parted from her again. He desires you. He longs to have you with him.

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.

And she doesn’t just want his stuff, remember, she wants HIM!  The Christian doesn’t just want forgiveness or righteousness or to get out of Hell free.  NO NO NO!  WE WANT GOD.  WE DELIGHT IN GOD. WE NEVER WANT TO BE PARTED FROM GOD. HE IS OUR BELOVED, THE LOVER OF OUR SOULS.  HEAVEN, WHATEVER BLESSINGS IT MIGHT HOLD, WITHOUT JESUS, WOULD BE NO PARADISE AT ALL.

He wants us, His Bride, and we want Him!  And because of this marriage, the Sons of Korah, our authors, now speak to the King again:

16 In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
    you will make them princes in all the earth.

What are they saying?  Basically: You and your bride will bear fruit together.  Friends, you were meant to be united with Christ so that HE MIGHT MAKE YOU FRUITFUL.  In fact, this is why creation exists. Jonathan Edwards put it this way:

“The spouse of the Son of God, the Lamb’s wife…is that for which all of the universe was made.” and “God created the world for His Son, that He might prepare a bride for Him to bestow His love upon; so that the mutual joys between this bride and bridegroom are the purpose of the creation.”

Do you believe that?!?!?!  That Jesus might enjoy you!  That the Father might call you to be the Bride who will be joy to His Son!  THAT is the purpose for which the world was created.  Oh, how weak is our faith.  Oh, how hard it can be to believe, and therefore feel this passion of Jesus.

And the Sons of Korah, these men delivered from death, out of the very pit of the earth…men who love the King, who BOIL OVER with affection for Christ, end their song this way:

17 I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

This love they feel for the King will fill the earth!  They will declare this love for ALL who will come to the King, for all the people that God will bring to be a part of the Bride of Christ, His Church!  And that’s evangelism.  Not a grit your teeth and just share.  Not a fearful thing.  But a joyous recounting of how your King found you in the gutter and now calls you magnificent!  It’s not a chore or a duty, but a delight to speak of your lover, your treasure!  I pray that you would believe it and that you’d feel it, because Jesus does.  He’s overwhelmed with affection for His Bride – and that’s you.

Church, get ready to blush…

In our previous posts we’ve seen

  1. The Sons of Korah (SoK), men who deserved death but had reserved mercy wrote Psalm 45 a song to the King
  2. Deep affection that was being communicated to the King, in fact, it is a love song, with words that only a lover would use.
  3. That the King in the Psalm is Jesus and he’s described as smelling like an altar, temple, incense, and dead body.
  4. That King Jesus astonishes us with His, beauty, grace, and power.

Now, the Sons of Korah are about to change the subject…but not really.  This still has everything to do with the goodness of the King, but now we get to see what His goodness is after – what his beauty and grace are seeking to accomplish.

This King that smells like salvation, who loves righteousness and hates evil, and lays his life down…He’s done it all to win a people, more specifically, to win a Bride.  THE KING IS GETTING MARRIED

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.

Who is the bride of King Jesus.  It’s the people of God. It’s the Church…it’s us.  This is consistent throughout the entire Bible. Here are a couple of examples.

JEREMIAH 31.31-32

31 “Behold, the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.

ISAIAH 54.5

For your Maker is your husband,
 the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
 the God of the whole earth he is called.

ISAIAH 62.5

5 As a young man marries a young woman,
 so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
 so will your God rejoice over you.

EPHESIANS 5.32

32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Back here in Psalm 45, in verse 10, speaking to the Queen to be, the Sons of Korah say this:

10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
 forget your people and your father’s house,

God first called his people to himself in GENESIS 12.1.  He calls Abraham and his descendants, Israel, to be his people.  What’s he say there? Leave your country, your people, and your father’s house.  When he calls a people, he calls them away from who they were and what they were IN ORDER TO be with him.  Now, notice this summons:

HEAR, CONSIDER, INCLINE

Notice the repetition.  Hear, Consider, Incline your ear. The Sons of Korah are trying to get her attention – YOUR attention.

Let me ask you: have you left your life without God in order to do life with God?  Have you given up control of your life so that you might have Jesus as King? Or are you clinging to your control, your pretend gods, your sin?  Hear, Consider, Listen. Leave that life and believe in Jesus. Take him as your own.

Now, look at VERSE 11: FOR ME, THIS IS THE CLIMAX!  Why would you ever want to leave your old life?

11     and the king will desire your beauty.

HE DESIRES YOU…LITERALLY this phrase means he “GREATLY DESIRES/YEARNS FOR/CRAVES YOUR BEAUTY”

WOW!  He desires to be with you.  Not like, for instance Zeus or Allah or Shivah – these gods all need something from you.  It was thought that if all of Greece stopped believing in the gods of Greece, that would cease to exist.  The Greek gods desired their people, in a way, and that is NOT at all how Jesus desires you.

In his book, The Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther compares salvation, the Christian teaching of justification by grace through faith, to a marriage between a great King and His bride, a woman of ill repute, a harlot.  For the rest of this post, I’m really going to be leaning on Luther as well as Michael Reeves.

The Great King doesn’t need this woman, but his massive heart is turned to her, he has compassion on her, and his chooses her to be with him as his very bride.

Now, if that’s happened, what does she want of him?  He’s been the first man to ever really love her.  The first man that was safe for her.  To see her and love her for her own sake.  He’s rescued her.  He’s provided for her – safety, sustenance, and affection. What do you think she wants from him?  Gold? A Palace? or…Him? That’s exactly right, her response to his unbelievable love is that she adores him.

11     and the king will desire your beauty.
 Since he is your lord, bow to him.

The word for BOW there is actually the word for Worship.  Jesus loves you, desires you, has set his affection on you, and in response, you worship him.  You adore him. This is exactly what happens in the Song of Songs…the bride of the King says:

SONG OF SONGS 5.16

   he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend,

You see, he moved first…he came to her and set his delight on her…that’s grace.  She couldn’t make herself a queen. Acting more queenly wouldn’t do it. Sipping tea with the pinky out.  That doesn’t make you a queen. She could dress up in a queen’s dress, but she still wouldn’t be one. What’s the only way to become a queen?

Only by His word, only when he looks at her and makes his vows.  “I take you as my bride.”

And in THAT MOMENT, she is queen.  And when she speaks un-queenly, that won’t change the fact that she is the queen.  When she stumbles over her new queenly robes, that doesn’t change the fact that she is queen.  By His Word, because of His great love, she has BEEN MADE queen. But that’s not all…

He also clothes her, or said another way, He makes her beautiful!

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,



“All glorious,” it could also be translated Completely Majestic.  He clothes her with beauty. Specifically, with his very own goodness, his very own righteousness.

We call this the Great Exchange.  When he says, “All that I am is yours and all that I have I give to you.”  All my love, my blessing, my righteousness. They are yours.

And she says to him, “All that I am is yours and all that I have I give you.”  All my brokenness, shame, sin, regrets, and debt.

And he took all of that from her and paid it in full on the Cross, dying the death she should have died so that he might be with her forever.  And he clothes her with his righteousness.

ISAIAH 61.10

I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Now, you may not feel beautiful, and adorned.  I get that.  So please be sure to come back for the next, and final, post in this series on Psalm 45!

Language of a Lover

In my first post about Psalm 45, we discovered that it was written by the Sons of Korah, whom I described as dead men walking, and that this particular Royal Psalm is a love song.  And today I want to begin to dig into the words of this song.  Let’s look at verse 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.

The first thing I want us to notice is the attitude of the writer.  Is this someone who’s disinterested? No, not at all. Are they simply wanting to write an intellectual thesis?  Is this an exercise in diction or grammar? No. It’s a love song, and they, literally, sound “in love.”

In fact, the word there that is translated as “overflows” in the English is the same word used for cooking in a skillet.  John Calvin translated it as “Boiling Over.” Something that can’t be contained, something that can’t be held back. This is affectionate language.  And we see this in the Psalms regularly. Language not just of worship, but of longing, of yearning, of craving. For instance,

PSALM 73.25

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

PSALM 27.4

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
 and to inquire[a] in his temple.

PSALM 42.1

42 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

Those are just 3 examples.  And all of this is the language of a lover.  Imagine if I called my wife, Megan, and said: Whom have I but you?  Who else could I ever want? I want to gaze upon you. I want to be with you. When can I see you?

That’s…whew!  Right!?!?  That’s lover language.  That’s pupils-dilating, heart rate-climbing sort of language.

So, the Sons of Korah are in love.  Well, then, who are they writing about?  Who is the object of their affection?  “I address my verses to the King.”  The King? Hmm. OK, why him? What is it about the King that has so gripped the Sons of Korah?  We’ll look at that in our next post.

Your Grandmother was Nothing…a Puritan Putdown?

I’m reading in Thomas Goodwin these days, and just can’t understand why my brain (and heart really) isn’t as impressive as his.  You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who can unpack in such beautiful and devastatingly logical ways BOTH the great depths of human separation from God and the soaring heights of God’s affection for us.  This week, I read this:

Your body is made of dust, so that was your mother in a manner of thinking; but that dust was made of the first created earth, without form, so that was your grandmother; but that unformed earth was made purely of nothing; so then, nothing was your great grandmother.  That’s your body.  Now for your soul, that was immediately created by God out of nothing, and so by that line, your mother was nothing.  And what was your soul twenty, thirty, or forty years ago, and so many years before?  Plain nothing.*

*Language updated for clarity

Is there lower that we could go?  No, we are nothing.  From dust (and nothingness before that) and to dust.  In ourselves, in our humanity, body and soul, there is an unimaginable gap between us and God.  And yet…

Here’s Goodwin, elsewhere, on how God responds to the gap.  In reading John chapters 13-17, here’s some of what Goodwin observes:

“It is as if [Jesus] had said, ‘The truth is, I cannot live without you, I shall never be quiet till I have you where I am, so that we may never part again; that is the reason of it. Heaven shall not hold me, nor my Father’s company, if I have not you with me, my heart is set upon you; and if I have any glory, you shall have part of it.’”

Whoa!  That’s good stuff, but it’s all the sweeter because we remember how low we are, and therefore how great His love must be to speak this way to the great-grandchildren of nothingness.  In fact, if you haven’t read it yet, go read Goodwin’s The Heart of Christ to get a strong dose of the glorious, passionate love of Christ for His Church.

Psalm 45 – A Love Song Written by Dead Men

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).

Royal Psalms

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.