The Marriage of Heaven and Earth: Psalm 45

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Psalm 45 (NIV)

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
    as I recite my verses for the king;
    my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

You are the most excellent of men
    and your lips have been anointed with grace,
    since God has blessed you forever.

Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one;
    clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
In your majesty ride forth victoriously
    in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
    let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies;
    let the nations fall beneath your feet.
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
    a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy.
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
    from palaces adorned with ivory
    the music of the strings makes you glad.
Daughters of kings are among your honored women;
    at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.

16 Your sons will take the place of your fathers;
    you will make them princes throughout the land.

17 I will perpetuate your memory through all generations;
    therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

The whole creation begins and ends with a marriage. The creation of the world begins with Adam and Eve, who become the progenitors of the whole human race. The consummation of the ages, time, and all earthly history will culminate in another great wedding, the wedding of Christ and his church, known as the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6–9). This is not only the symbolic wedding of earth and heaven that all of church history anticipates, but it is the reminder that the end of the world is really the beginning of a new and even more glorious chapter for the people of God. Just as the creation of Adam and Eve into a one-flesh relationship marked the beginning of the whole history of humanity, so the marriage of Christ and his church will mark the beginning of the New Creation.

Psalm 45 foreshadows this great theme. On its most basic level, it is a song written to celebrate the marriage of the king to his bride. But on a deeper level, it reminds us that marriage has always been a sacrament—i.e., an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. The anticipated marriage between heaven and earth was foreshadowed in many smaller ways, like the giving of the law, or the building of the temple with the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. But in the end, it cannot be found in stone tablets or the impressive architecture of the temple. In the end, it had to be personal: the Lord of glory stepping into time and space, known as the incarnation. Incarnation means “in the flesh.”

The book of Hebrews begins by recalling all of the past ways that God has spoken to his people. But now, at the climax of the ages, he has sent his Son into the world. Hebrews 1 breaks into a cacophony of praise dedicated to the celebration of the incarnation. The praise begins with a quotation from Psalm 45: “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy” (Heb. 1:8–9, quoting Ps. 45:6–7). In its original setting in the Psalms, the king is only the symbol, regent, or representative of God. But in Hebrews it is clear that Jesus fulfills this early symbol because he is God in the flesh, and even the Father in heaven addresses Jesus as God! In Jesus Christ, God himself steps into human history and becomes the bridge that finally unites all of heaven and earth into one great consummation of praise!

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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