Day 25 of my 30-day writing challenge / Summer in the Psalms
A summer sermon and reflection series from the Psalms and linked readings in the Revised Common Lectionary.
Psalm 45 is a wedding song in honor of an unnamed king and princess. Commentators believe it points to the eventual union of the church and Christ, and to the eternal reign of Christ as King. The poetry in the Song of Solomon falls under the same tradition.
The wedding songs in the Psalms and in the Song of Solomon are undeniably beautiful and romantic. But they are also idealized. They don’t reflect what life was probably like for the women who had to live with their kings past their wedding night.
We don’t know which princess and king are being celebrated in this song, but we do know that both David and Solomon, the two most powerful kings of Israel, fell far short of being ideal husbands. Solomon, who today would be referred to in polite circles as a man whore of epic proportions, had 300 wives and 700 concubines. David was comparatively restrained, with at least eight wives and 10 concubines that we know of.
David showed genuine love to some of his wives, but the Bible also shows him rejecting one of his wives after she displeased him. (Reading between the lines, he may have refused sexual relations with her for the rest of her child-bearing years, if not for the rest of her life.) But even a well-loved wife could likely expect only limited attention from a husband who had dozens, if not hundreds, of other women to warm his bed, not to mention a kingdom to run.
Biblical wedding songs may not paint a realistic picture of marriage – but we could say the same about almost any book, tv show, or movie. However, they do point us to an ideal and truth beyond anything we could possibly achieve in our human relationships. Christ really does love the church with an undying, unselfish, faithful, passionate love. As the body of Christ, we are always beautiful to him, always welcome in his arms. It’s the kind of love that most people can only dream about, and it belongs us, forever, as a free gift from the King whose reign will know no end.
What are your favorite words or images of love from fiction or poetry, other art forms, or popular media? In what ways do they reflect Christ’s love for the church?
Think of a time when you felt loved by God. Spend some time remembering that experience and feeling, and carry it with you throughout your day and week.