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David Dicksonís commentary on Psalm 45


David Dickson was a Presbyterian minister who was born in 1585 in Glasgow, Scotland. He was an only child, and one asked of the Lord by religious parents who had been childless for many years. Mr Dickson was first a pastor at Irvine in Ayrshire, where under his ministry “multitudes were convinced and converted” despite the fierce persecution under Prelacy. A very close and familiar friend of James Durham, one result of their friendship was the excellent “Sum of Saving Knowledge” which is usually bound with the Westminster Confession and the Catechisms. In the 1640’s he became a minister in Glasgow and professor of theology; in 1649 he moved to Edinburgh to be minister and professor at the college there until his death in 1662.




To the chief musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil. A song of loves.


Laying aside what useth to be spoken here of Solomonís marrying Pharoahís daughter, and of some typical things therein, (tending to the extenuation of Solomonís fault,) as conjectural and serving nothing to the advantage of that marriage, presuppose the conjecture held, both concerning the occasion, and also what might seem typical in it; because similitudes taken from, and types made of, what thing soever God pleaseth, serve to make clear what the Spirit will have taken up about Christ, or about any spiritual antitype, from being sinful, as, by the type of Agar, and of the brazen serpent, and of Jonahís punishment, and sundry other similitudes and parables set down in Scripture appeareth. But we are sure this psalm is a song, describing the mystical marriage of the Messiah, Christ Jesus our Lord, and his church, wherein Christ the bridegroom is praised, ver. 1-9; Ė and the church his spouse is instructed in her duty to him, ver. 10-15; Ė and the end of the song declared to be the everlasting praise of Christ, ver. 16, 17.


Concerning the inscription, that this psalm is altogether spiritual and holy, appeareth, first, by this, that it is directed to the public minister of Godís worship, to be made publicly use of in Godís public praises: to the chief musician, for the sons of Korah; secondly, it is entitled Maschil, a song to give instruction to the church of God, concerning the majesty and the grace of the kingdom of Christ, and the duty of the church, and the spiritual blessings of the believers; thirdly, it is a part of divine scripture, ranked among the psalms, and acknowledged by the church of the Old Testament for such; fourthly, the testimony of the apostle, applying it directly as the word and speech of the Father to the Son of God, Christ Jesus, Heb. i. 8; fifthly, the matter and words of the psalm, which cannot be verified in any person save in Jesus Christ alone; sixthly, the plurality of loves here spoken of, to show unto the reader the excellency of the love of Christ, or the love of God to us in Christ Jesus; wherein the perfection of all loves that ever were heard tell of, is surpassed; it is a song of loves.


1. My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.


This verse is a commendation given to this song by the Spirit of God, by way of preface. 1. It is a good matter. 2. It is inspired; the Spirit of the Lord making the heart filled with his presence, to be boiling in the inditing of it. 3. It is of Christ the King. 4. It is the poem of the inspired prophet, made ready to express what is furnished by the Spirit, for the edification of the church in all ages. Whence learn, 1. The knowledge of the love of Christ to his church, and of his espousing her, is the sweetest subject, the matter of the most glad tidings that ever sinners heard of, and worthy indeed to be called a good matter. 2. The heart, acquainted with this sweet and saving knowledge, will be more ready to communicate what it knoweth, than able to express itself; the heart will be as a spring well, a boiling pot, according to the measure of the Lordís presence in it. 3. The theme of the praises of the believing soul is Christís person, clothed with offices for the salvation of souls; for the main subject of the song is touching the king. 4. When the heart is full of gracious affection, the tongue will be loosed to praise God, so as others may be edified: out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak heartily; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.


2. Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.


3. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.


4. And in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.


5. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the Kingís enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.


6. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.


7. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.


8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.


9. Kingsí daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.


In the description of the excellency of Christ, the very true Son of God, there are set down sundry points of glory. 1. No beauty among men is comparable to the beauty of Christ, who is not only the fairest of ten thousand for wisdom and holiness, and whatsoever virtue can be named, as he is man; but also, as he is God, he is the resplendency of his Fatherís glory, the Holy One of Israel, of whose glory the whole earth is full, by whose beautiful righteousness and power the deformity of sin and misery of his own is taken away in part, and shall be removed fully; therefore justly it is said of him, thou art fairer than the children of men. 2. Christ, by the doctrine which he delivereth, is able not only to discover sin and misery, and the true way of delivery from the same by grace, and to direct a man in the way of salvation by grace, but also graciously and powerfully to persuade a man to embrace it: grace is poured into thy lips. 3. Christ, as man, is furnished, abundantly and above measure, for communicating the blessing to his hearers invincibly and infallibly, and for making his doctrine effectually powerful to salvation to whomsoever he will; for therefore, or to this purpose, God hath blessed him forever. 4. Christ is furnished to subdue and conquer and bring in so many as he pleaseth under subjection unto his kingdom; he hath his sword, even the rod of his mouth, his word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, which no man can withstand. 5. He goeth not abroad to conquer or subdue without this his sword, which is his word; it is always with him ready to be drawn forth, and to be thrust into the soul and conscience of the hearer with whom he mindeth to deal: his sword is girded upon his thigh. 6. Christ is almighty, and so able to make good all that he speaketh, and to make his word of precept, promise, and threatening effectual unto the errand for which it is sent: he is most mighty. 7. Where he is pleased to open his word and discover himself what he is, they that sit in darkness see a great light of his own glory as God; a shining light, a glorious light, making open the deep counsel of God and mystery of menís salvation: gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory. 8. Where he pleaseth to show himself, there the stateliness of a mighty monarch is seen, the sovereignty of the rule of heaven and earth is seen, able to shake with fear and awe of his greatness; with his glory there is majesty, or stately magnificence. 9. The wheels of Christís chariot, whereupon he rideth when he goeth forth to conquer and subdue new converts to his kingdom, are majesty, truth, meekness, righteousness, manifested in the preaching of his gospel; majesty, when the stately magnificence of his person and offices is declared; truth, when certainty of all that he teacheth in Scripture is known; meekness, when his grace and mercy are offered to rebels; and righteousness, when justification by faith in his name is clearly set forth. 10. Christ goeth no voyage in vain, he cometh not short of his intent and purpose, but doth the work for which he cometh, preaching the gospel: in his majesty, truth, meekness, and righteousness he rideth prosperously. 11. Christ can do what he will; he can do terrible things, to make his enemies tremble and his friends reverence him with holy fear, having omnipotency in him to work by, as ready as a man hath his right hand to employ; let him but will to have anything done, and it shall be done; he hath not long to advise what he is able to do, as men consult with their ability whether they be so powerful as to effect what they intend or would have done: thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. 12. Albeit he needeth no admonition to do what he is doing or will do, yet loveth he to have his children furthering the advancement of his kingdom, showing unto him what they would have done, and praying unto him that his kingdom may more and more come, as the form of speech indited by the Holy Spirit importeth: gird thy sword, ride thou prosperously, &c. 13. Christ in his conquest is to meet with his enemies, of whom some will openly oppose him, some will feignedly profess subjection, but will not heartily submit themselves unto him, but stand aloof and at a distance, being far from him in their hearts when with their lips they draw near hand unto him; both these are here called the Kingís enemies. 14. Such as do not draw near unto him in their heart, he can and will send messengers of wrath into their heart, threatenings which shall be executed, terrors which shall be followed with judgments, and judgments which shall end in their destruction, sudden and unexpected; how many or how strong soever they seem to be, they shall not stand before him nor be able to hinder his conquest: thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the Kingís enemies, whereby the people fall under thee. 15. Christ Jesus, the promised Messiah, was revealed to the church of Israel to be the very true eternal God, that their faith and ours might have satisfaction, and a solid ground to rest upon, in the all-sufficiency and infinite worthiness of the promised Redeemer; as the apostle, Heb. i. 8, confirmeth unto us, citing to this purpose this very text, thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. 16. Christ shall not want a church, from generation to generation; let persecutors do their worst, he shall reign as King, and sit on his throne in his church, giving forth his laws, and executing them, oppose him who will: thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever. 17. The sceptre of Christís kingdom, which is the gospel, or the word of God in Scripture, whereby he gathereth his subjects and ruleth them, and the manner of his governing his people by the rule of his law and discipline, are most just and equitable; a righteous sceptre, whereby the subjects may be instructed in all righteousness, and may be justified and made righteous: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 18. The holiness and righteousness of Jesus Christ, both as he is God and as he is God incarnate, are so essential to his person and employment, that his rule of government and administration of his affairs in his kingdom cannot be but right, as for direction, and punishments of the disobedient: thou lovest righteousness and hatest iniquity. 19. As Christ is very God, so is he very man in all things, except sin, like unto us whom he calleth, Psal. xxii. 22, and Heb. ii. 12, his brethren, and here his fellows, sharemen and partakers of all that is given to him, and joint-heirs with him, Rom. viii. 17, and by reason of making covenant in our name with the Father, and by assuming our nature, according to the tenor of the covenant, God becometh his God and our God, and he, in our name, as man, receiveth the gifts of the Holy Spirit without measure, for fitting him, as he is man, to manage his kingdom in righteousness effectually; for it is said, therefore, or to that intent, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness. 20. The gifts and grace of the Holy Spirit, spoken of here in terms of oil, (employed for figuring menís furnishing unto their calling, and enabling of kings and priests unto their offices, and employed also in the entertainment of honourable guests invited to a feast,) are so bestowed on believers, joint-heirs with Christ, as Christ is not degraded from his sovereignty by his partnersí exaltation; for of Christ it is said, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 21. As the attendants of great persons are refreshed by the smell of their ointments and perfumed garments, so are Christís attendants refreshed with the consolations of Christís Spirit perfuming all his outward ordinances, wherein, as in his garments, he showeth forth himself to his church more comfortably than any perfume or odoriferous spice can set forth: all thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia. 22. Not only the heavens, where God showeth forth his glory to souls of just men made perfect, but also all the places where his honour dwelleth, all the meetings of his church where he showeth himself in his ordinances to a spiritual eye, are all of them most glorious and stately palaces; for there is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and there is the beauty of holiness, whence cometh forth the smell of his graces in his ordinances, as out of ivory palaces. 23. It is savoury and well-pleasing to Christ when his people find pleasure in him and are refreshed by his blessing upon the public ordinances; for thereby they have made thee glad, saith the psalmist to Christ. 24. Albeit the catholic [universal] church, consisting of true converts or real saints, be but the one and only true spouse of Christ, yet particular visible churches, consisting of saints by calling, by obligation, by profession, and common estimation, their own or others; some of them being true saints indeed in the spirit, some of them but counterfeits and saints in the letter only, are in number many, as they are dispersed for time and place wherein they live, and make up sundry incorporations and ecclesiastic consociations in parishes, towns, countries, and kingdoms, as the Lord giveth them occasion, opportunity, or possibility, to make use of one another for communion of saints; in this respect, I say, they are many, and therefore the true spouse, the true church, consisting of true converts, (whose praise is of God, to whom only they are certainly known, and not of men,) being but one, is compared to the queen; but the particular churches, whose collections and consociations are known to men, being many, are compared to ladies of honour which serve the queen; of this sort it is here prophesied, that the most renowned cities, countries, provinces, and kingdoms, should be professed attendants of Christ the bridegroomís honour, and professed servants of his church, and promoters of the honour, estate, and welfare of his spouse: kingís daughters among thy honourable women. 25. Albeit our Lord will allow a place of honour and room in his own court unto visible churches, in their several consociations, greater and smaller, for that service which they may do in order to the gathering in of the elect into the inner court of nearest spiritual communion with him, yet it is the universal invisible church which he considereth his spouse; she is the queen who hath access unto him, to be in highest honour beside him: upon thy right hand did stand the queen. 26. As the whole society of true saints reverently attend the will of the Lord, that every one of them in their place may honour the Lord; so are they all highly honoured of the Lord, and adorned with whatsoever may make them glorious; for the ornaments put on by Christ, such as adoption, justification, sanctification, with all other relations tending to their felicity, are here compared to the finest gold: the queen doth stand at his right hand in gold of Ophir.


10. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy fatherís house;


11. So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him.


12. And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour.


13. The Kingís daughter is all-glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold.


14. She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needle-work: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.


15. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the Kingís palace.


This is the other part of the psalm wherein the Spirit of the Lord speaketh to the true church militant, and directeth her in her duty; and encourageth her by sundry inducements to follow the Lordís direction. Whence learn, 1. As because there is spiritual love and respect between God and his church, therefore the covenant and the spiritual communion between Christ and his church are compared to a marriage; so, because the derivation of all spiritual life, grace, and motion which the church hath, is from God, and dependeth on him; therefore the church is compared to a daughter; hearken, O daughter, and ver. 13, she is called the Kingís daughter. 2. The way and order of bringing the church to her duty, is by hearing of his word, consideration of what is taught, and subjection of her spirit to the obedience of faith; hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear. 3. Because even the true members of the church, whose praise is not of men but of God, are in this life entangled in affection to their old ways and corruption of manners; therefore every one hath need to renounce and forget more and more his old lusts and enticements of the world, which is a very true fruit, and necessary evidence of their hearing in faith; forget also, saith he, thine own people, and thy fatherís house. 4. The more we renounce and abandon our lusts and sinful inclinations in obedience to God, the more are we beautified with holiness, and are acceptable to God in our endeavours; forsake thy fatherís house, so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty. 5. Christ hath all right unto our service, and by creation, redemption, and covenant, we are absolutely bound to serve and honour him in all things; he is thy Lord, and worship thou him. 6. When the church honoureth Christ he will honour her, and make the noble and potent in the world submit themselves to her and seek communion with her, and to esteem the meanest true member of the church, more blessed than riches or honour can make any man; the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift: the rich among the people shall entreat thy favour. 7. The glory of the true kirk [church], and of every true member thereof is in things spiritual, not discernible by the uptaking of the natural man; for what is outwardly professed, is inwardly studied unto sincerity by them who worship God in spirit and in truth; and the graces wherewith she is adorned, as knowledge, faith, love, hope, zeal, courage, sobriety, patience, are not the object of outward beholders, but most beautiful in the eyes of a spiritual discerner, and in the eyes oh Him that seeth in secret: the Kingís daughter is all-glorious within. 8. Whatsoever inherent graces the saints have, and how beautiful soever they be; yet they have need of a garment which may hide their imperfections, and beautify them before God; to wit, the imputed righteousness of Christ, the husband of the church, who only hath this garment to sell, Rev. iii. 18; and though it be bought without money and without price, yet it is very rich, for whatsoever either nature or art can furnish to set it forth, is but a shadowing similitude of it; her clothing is of wrought gold. 9. Though the marriage of Christ and his church be bound up, and the hand-fastening be past, and tokens of love be given to the bride, yet the full solemnity of the complete marriage is delayed till a set time, that the particular members and the whole church may be perfected. The time of the brideís being brought to a constant habitation with Christ, is at the Lordís appointed time; to wit, at the death of every particular saint, and of the whole church together at the day of our Lordís second coming; the day is coming, wherein she shall be brought unto the King. 10. Albeit now there be many imperfections of the saints, which Christís imputed righteousness hideth, yet in the day of the churchís being brought into the presence of God, to be with him for ever, she shall have no imperfection, spot or wrinkle, or want of any thing which may perfect her glory in all respects. She shall put on immortality and incorruption, and her very body of flesh shall be made conformable to the glorious body of our Lord Jesus; she shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needle work: wherein the height of artifice and of natureís materials are joined, as the fittest similitude which can express this inexpressible glory. 11. The same shall be the glorious state of particular saints, and particular congregations, which shall be of the whole church universal; whereof as every true congregation and particular saint therein is a part, and have contributed their service in their time to the good of the whole church, as handmaids to their mistress: so shall they share in the glorious reward; the virgins, her companions shall be brought unto thee, saith the psalmist unto Christ. 12. Great shall be the joy of men and angels in the general meeting of the whole church, all being gathered together by the angels, who have lived from the beginning of the world to the ending thereof, and all received into the fellowship of God in blessedness to endure for ever; with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought, they shall enter into the Kingís palace.


16. Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.


17. I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.


The two last verses may be applied both to the bride the true militant church, and to the bridegroom Christ Jesus, the King of saints. As it is applied to the church, learn, 1. The saints have no ground of gloriation in their progenitors according to the flesh, of whom they draw nothing but what is polluted with sin; but all the glory of the church is rather in her children which she bringeth forth by the gospel unto God: instead of thy fathers shall be thy children. 2. What any member of the church seemeth to lose in the world by forsaking thereof and coming to Christ, it is made up to them by Christ in spiritual respects, if not also in temporal blessings when God seeth fit; instead of thy fathers shall be thy children. 3. The true children of the church are indeed the excellent ones of the earth, and princes indeed, wherever they live, in comparison of all other men who are but the beastly slaves of Satan; thy children are princes in all the earth. 4. The true church shall be honourable, and honoured by her kindly children in all generations, because of the estimation which God putteth upon her in his holy Scripture; I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore the people shall praise thee.


These verses may also be applied more pertinently to the bridegroom Christ Jesus, for whose praise the whole psalm is composed, ver. 1. Of whom only the words can be verified fully, as only capable of what is ascribed directly to the person spoken unto here, and cannot well be ascribed to Solomon and Pharaohís daughter in their marriage; because partly Solomonís marriage with outlandish women is marked among his faults, and so can hardly be esteemed to be honoured with this song delivered to the church for her perpetual instruction; partly because in the inscription there is not so much as mention of Solomonís name, either as type or resemblance of this marriage of Christ and his church; and partly also because what is here spoken, hath little typical verity answering to it in the history of Scripture concerning Solomonís marriage, or children of Pharaohís daughter. And lastly, this song is set down not in a typical manner, but in a simple similitude of the marriage of a king and queen indefinitely, whose marriage useth to be the most glorious of all earthly marriages, and fittest to lead us up to that incomparably glorious spiritual marriage of Christ and his church. In which consideration, from these words, learn, 1. Christ draweth not glory from his progenitors according to his flesh, but giveth being, and gracious being, to such as he regenerateth by his word and Spirit, to be his children; and so it may be said to Christ, instead of thy fathers shall be thy children. 2. The excellency of Christís children, and their princely disposition above the rest of mankind unregenerate, is of Christís making; he only it is, of whom properly it may be said, thou shalt make thy children princes in all the earth; for, he hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father. 3. By the Spirit that indited this psalm, and all other Scriptures, Christís name shall be holden forth and remembered from age to age, while the world lasteth: I will make thy name, saith the Spirit, to be remembered to all generations. 4. Christís espousing unto himself a church, and gathering more and more from age to age by his word and Spirit unto it, his converting souls, and bringing them into the fellowship of his family, and giving unto them princely minds and affections wherever they live, are large matters of growing and everlasting glory unto his majesty; for in regard of this point, and what is said before in this psalm, he addeth as the close of all, therefore shall the people praise thee.  



A COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS, by David Dickson. Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985. pp 255-265.