The heading of this psalm titles it “a love song.” In actuality, it is a royal wedding song. When read in its entirety, the psalm elaborates on the fine clothing of the bride and groom: robes fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia for the king; gold-woven robes for the princess. I suppose this is a bit of a Bible version of a royal wedding that people around the world might watch for entertainment. The pageantry of a royal wedding draws us in, and we get a chance to imagine a very different life as we gaze at stunning characters carrying out ancient traditions.
Verse 7 illuminates an aspect of an ancient royal wedding we might not see today. The psalmist proclaims that God has anointed the bridegroom—the king. We have not read or seen this in photos of royal weddings in People magazine!
The proclamation of the king as “anointed” shapes how Christians read this psalm. The Hebrew word for anointed can also be translated “messiah,” and the Greek word can be translated “Christ.” Ancient Israel identified many leaders as anointed, but for Christians our true anointed one is Christ. Because of this and because it is odd to have a psalm simply about a king, some Christians interpret Christ as the king in this passage. The New Testament begins this tradition. Hebrews 1:8-9 quotes Psalm 45:6-7 and demonstrates how early Christians made this psalm their own. The author of Hebrews simultaneously shows Christ’s relationship to God and claims this psalm as about Christ rather than simply a secular king—Christ is anointed to bring God’s reign and loving righteousness to the earth.

God of all, love comes in your Anointed One. May we worship him in truth. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

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Lectionary Week
August 27 – September 2, 2018
Scripture Overview

The poetry of Song of Solomon is thick with romantic imagery, and most scholars agree that these lines mean what they say on the surface; they are written from the author to the beloved. Psalm 45 echoes the refrain of admiration and desire. Such desire is not wrong if it is awakened at the proper time, as the author of Song of Solomon says elsewhere. James argues that ethical living is done not in word but in deed. True religion is not putting on a show but displaying mercy and controlling the tongue. Jesus rebukes some of the religious leaders in Mark on this very account because they talk of obedience to God but do not live it out. What we say and what we do should match.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13. The narrative poetry of Song of Solomon invites us into the Bible in a way that differs from other texts. How does God speak to you through this poetry?
• Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9. Intimate human love can reflect God’s love. How do your relationships honor the gift of love?
• James 1:17-27. How do you bring God’s love to those who need it?
• Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. Are you simply going through the motions of faith, or is your heart close to God?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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