Psalms – Chapter 45

A Psalm Fit For a King

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Another “sons of Korach” composition, this time intended to be played on an instrument called the shoshanim, although Rashi tells us that it refers to Torah scholars. This Psalm is a “maskil,” which refers to enlightenment, and it is called a “shir yedidos,” a song of friendship. The commentaries differ on whose love for whom is being expressed (G-d, Torah, Israel, Moshiach, scholars, etc.), though the ideas are not mutually exclusive. We’ll stick with Rashi’s explanation that it addresses scholars.

The author says that his heart has been moved by a good feeling to compose a Psalm fit for a king. His tongue has become as eloquent as a scribe’s pen.

The scholar is more pleasant than other people, whose pursuits are materialistic in nature. G-d’s words can be found in his mouth, for which G-d blesses him. The scholar should prepare his metaphorical sword for the “battle” of Torah. His mastery of Torah is his splendor; may he be victorious in truth and humility!

Continuing the military metaphor, the author says that the scholar’s “arrows” of Torah have been sharpened and nations fall as these words enter their hearts. G-d’s throne is eternal, as is that of the judges who represent His interests on Earth. Because they love righteousness and hate evil, G-d has appointed them to judge.

The scholars are then ascribed a variety of pleasant smelling spices, metaphorical of their deeds. G-d says they will enjoy rewards finer than palaces of ivory. Princesses will visit them and their own queens will be dressed in the finest gold. These princesses are encouraged to leave their pagan ways and follow G-d. The wealth of Tyre will support the scholar.

The true honor of the princess is what’s inside. (This verse is an important one in the concept of modesty.) She comes before the king in embroidered clothes, possibly a reference to the garments worn by the kohanim (priests) officiating in the Temple. Her entourage comes before G-d rejoicing. Worthy sons will succeed their fathers and you’ll see them become leaders of the people. The author says he will praise G-d eternally, and all the nations of the world will follow suit.

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