A Multiplex Approach to Psalm 45 -- By: Richard D. Patterson

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 06:1 (Spring 1985)
Article: A Multiplex Approach to Psalm 45
Author: Richard D. Patterson

A Multiplex Approach to Psalm 45

Richard D. Patterson

A balanced use of grammar, literary analysis, history, and theology used to analyze Psalm 45 reveals that the psalm is a Liebeslied. The psalm is found to be one of the Royal Psalms, although the precise Sitz im Leben cannot be determined. The structure of the psalm follows an Ab/B pattern, the first part speaking of the King and the second part of the Queen. While the psalm has reference to any king in the Davidic line, its full application is found in Christ and his bride, the Church.

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Psalm 45 is a unique psalm. The ancient heading attached to the psalm informs the reader that it is a שיר ידידת, “a song of (tender) love,” or perhaps, as Delitzsch insists, “a song of holy love.”1 One might think that such a psalm would be easy to understand. However, perhaps due to the intimacy of the subject matter, both the historical setting and, at several points, the understanding of the text itself have puzzled scholars of all ages. As Craigie laments, “Both the analysis of the Psalm and its translation…are subject to some uncertainty.”2

Methodologically, this study follows what might be termed contextual exegesis—a procedure that makes full and balanced use of grammar, literary analysis, history, and theology. This multiplex approach is directed not only to the proper understanding of the canonical context, but also to a valid application to the contemporary context of the modern reader or hearer. An arduous, yet not unpleasant task, the method has much in common with what Walter Kaiser, Jr.

calls “syntactical-theological exegesis,”3 or with what E. Smick, following Oehler, terms “the historico-genetic method of Old Testament theology.”4 In a similar vein, see the work of D. Stuart.5

The Setting of the Psalm

Literary Style

Psalm 45 is rich in literary features. Expositors generally concede that this ancient Liebeslied or love poem is a wedding song. Unlike the typical classical epithalmium, however, no ante-chamber chorus is utilized here, its place being assumed by the lyricist himself. In addition, if certain elements of the translation suggested below are correct, part of the psalm may be v...

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