Psalm Reading: Psalm 45
For Sunday, Sept. 2 , 2012—Ordinary 22
How helpful is it to believe in a story which perpetually promises that God will make everything better in the future?
Sing it, Boys!
Hey, we have another great hit by the Sons of Korah; this one is a love song, written for the royal wedding of a certain King of Israel and his bride from Tyre. Sing it, boys.
Or maybe it is not written for an actual king. There is much debate about whether this is a occasional praise song for a specific king or if this is a metaphorical king, but as with any good pop song lyrics, they can sound like they’re talking about anyone or more specifically our special someone.
The writer of Hebrews quotes the Psalm in the first chapter, applying the lyrics to Jesus. In the opening of the letter the author constructs an argument as to why Jesus is greater than the angels and is actually the Son of God.
Many Biblical interpreters have taken their cue from the epistle quote and read Psalm 45, itself, as a messianic hymn. Verses 6 and 7 are often referenced to make the case, “Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever. Your royal sceptre is a sceptre of equity; you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you.”
It does sound like the author is praising a God-like king. Maybe I get that impression from the writer referring to the king as God!
While it is common among other ancient peoples to deify their kings; it is unheard of in the Hebrew Bible. This has led some rabbis in the history of interpretation to also read this as a messianic Psalm.
From either a Christian perspective reading Jesus back into the Psalm or rabbis seeing it as praise for a future messiah, the sentiment is the same—an anointed one who is powerful and just, not to mention very handsome, will come in the future to establish his rule and make everything all right.
The messianic hope for Israel envisioned a savior that would establish justice and return restore the nation. The Christian claims that the savior has already come to redeem the world, but that he will come back to really establish justice and redeem the world completely.
The Hardest Question
Messianic hope always leaves me a little with a little pause. Maybe it is the hardest pause.
From an outside perspective, one might ask, if Christians believe that the savior will come and redeem the world, but also that the savior already came once, why didn’t he redeem the world then? How helpful is it to believe in a story that always promises that God will make everything better in the future?
I prefer a faith story that tells me about transformation right now.