Psalm 45:1 (ESV) … “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.”
Psalm 45 is unique, unlike any other psalm. It is a beautiful poem prepared on the occasion of a royal wedding, evoking all the sights, sounds, movement, splendor, and emotion of such an important occasion. It is at the same time a messianic psalm, as the words “O God” in verse 6 and the use of verses 6–7 in the first chapter of Hebrews in reference to Jesus Christ clearly show.
We do not know which earthly king and bride it was originally composed about, though it might fit the marriage of Solomon to the princess of Egypt, as many of the early commentators supposed. Other guesses have been Solomon and a princess of Tyre, Joram and Athaliah, a Persian king and his bride, even—ludicrously in my opinion—Ahab and Jezebel. Yet, even as a hymn depicting the wedding glories of Solomon, the most likely choice, the psalm still seems to require much more for its interpretation, because the language is so exalted. As Alexander Maclaren wisely wrote, “Either we have here a piece of poetical exaggeration far beyond the limits of poetic license, or ‘a greater than Solomon is here.’ ”2 We are to assume, then, that the poet is writing of a specific Jewish king, whose identity is unknown, but that he is also looking ahead and upward to that ideal promised King whose perfect and eternal reign was foreshadowed by the Jewish monarchy.
In a psalm unique among the psalms of the Psalter, we also find a unique introduction (v. 1). In it the poet tells how the theme assigned to him as court poet has stirred his emotions. His is “a noble theme,” and he has been moved to pour all his considerable skill into the effort.
And well he might! This would be a moving challenge if the wedding were only that of an earthly monarch and bride. But as we have seen, it is at the same time a picture of that heavenly wedding in which the divine groom, Jesus Christ, takes the church, his bride, to himself. So this is not only a noble theme; it is the theme of themes. It is the ultimate meaning of all history, the story of the ages. No wonder the poet is stirred as he considers what he is to say in praise of this great King and the advice he is to give to this highly favored bride.
The language in this verse is so unusual that some commentators believe the poet is claiming special inspiration. Herman Gunkel even translates the verse, Mein Herz wallt ueber von begeisterten Worte (“My heart overflows with inspired words”)