Psalm 45 — LeGrand Baker — foreordinations
This is an early version of my commentary on Psalm 45. For the final version see the chapter in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord.
May 30, 2001
The Psalms, you will recall, are the texts of the ancient Israelite New Year festival. The people in the audience were symbolically participating as though the drama were their personal story. The entire performance was reminiscent of what happened in the Council in Heaven, the creation, the Adam and Eve story, and so on, until the then present time. The then reigning king and queen played the roles of themselves at the Council, of Adam and Eve in the Garden, and so on until they played themselves again in the final coronation scenes.
The 45th Psalm consists of three acts in this great theatrical performance. It takes place very near the beginning of the drama, and depicts events which happened in connection with the Council in Heaven. It is about fore-ordination, and portrays the pre-mortal ordinances and blessings of the then reigning king and queen. It shows their preparations for what appears to be either their pre-mortal marriage, or else a covenant that they would jointly reign when they come to this world. The main characters in these scenes of the play are: 1) the Father-King, Elohim, 2) his wife, the Mother-Queen –this is the only scripture I know where the Mother in Heaven is represented to be speaking. 3) the eternal King of all Israel, Jehovah, 4) the earthly king, and 5) the earthly queen. When I discuss the text of the psalm, my describing the characters will become a bit of a problem. All of the male characters in the drama except the narrator are kings, and all of the female characters are queens. So my simply writing “the king,” or “the King” could get confusing. The people who play the roles of the young king and queen are the humans who reign on earth at the time the festival is performed – whether the king is David or Zedekiah, or anyone in between. The kingly covenant described in the drama is the Davidic covenant. So, for simplicity sake, I shall call the earthly king “David.” But since this discussion is about the probation against adultery, I honestly don’t know whether it would be appropriate to call the earthly queen Bathsheba, so I think I’ll just call her “Janet” instead.
Reading the 45th Psalm is like trying to read Hamlet without any stage directions or any indication of who is saying which lines. All that information has to come from the words which are spoken by the characters in the play. That isn’t as impossible as it sounds. There is a narrator who is clearly identified by the fact that he describes what is happening on the stage. The stage is divided into two parts – on one side is the throne room of the Father-King, and on the other side of the stage is the official residence of the Mother-Queen. The first scene takes place in the throne room of the King. The second scene is in the Queen’s quarters, and the third is back in the King’s throne room. In addition to the narrator, each of the persons behind the other voices can be identified by what they say. (The rest of this paragraph will make a lot more sense if you get out your Bible and look at the psalm as we quickly go through it.) The first voice is that of the narrator, he says he is going to talk about the king (David). V. 2: he does that and says that God (the Hebrew word used there is Elohim) is going to bless the king (David). V. 3-5 is the blessing. V. 6-8: the voice changes. Someone says “thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” It is apparent from the text that the person speaking is the king (David) doing homage to his Kings, first to Elohim then to Jehovah. The easiest way for me to understand this psalm is to envision it as a three act play, and we have just seen act one, it took place in the Elohim’s throne room. We now begin act two with the narrator speaking again, he tells the audience, “the king’s daughters are among thy honorable women.” So our eyes are directed from the throne room to the other side of the stage, where we see the Mother-Queen and her daughter [Janet], together with their attendants. V. 10-12, Now we hear a Mother’s voice say, “Harken, O daughter…” These verses are the blessing, given by the Mother-Queen to her daughter [Janet]. V. 13-15. After her blessing, the narrator speaks again, Through his words, we watch as the young queen [Janet], her Mother, and their attendants go from the women’s side of the stage to the throne room of Elohim. Back in v 9 of our psalm, and continuing through to the end, the entire focus has been on the young queen [Janet]. Now the last two verses are spoken to her. I will discuss who those probable speakers are when we get to that part of the Psalm.
This psalm can be seen as representing a pre-mortal marriage/calling/covenant of the earthly king and queen – for it certainly was something like that – or, it can be understood as a statement about the principle of being a king/priest and a queen/priestess. It most certainly is that as well – and it is that aspect of the psalm on which I wish to focus.
Don’t put your Bible away, because I will write about the individual sections of the psalm, and assume that you will understand their context by using your Bible to keep the flow of the drama in mind.
Act 1, In the throne room of the Father-King, Elohim.
Joseph Smith wrote that the Council in Heaven took place on Kolob.(* see reference below) So the place represented in this psalm’s performance is Kolob; the time is before the world was created; the building in which the action takes place is the Temple; the room in the Temple is the throne room which is the Holy of Holies – I assume that is so because in Solomon’s temple God’s throne was in the Holy of Holies. In this first scene, we are in the presence of Elohim, Jehovah, the king (David), and the other members of the Council. In this psalm, no member of the Council is mentioned except the king (David), but given the importance of the events described, the other members of the Council must also have been present. So in this performance, the people representing the Council are either sitting quietly on the stage, or they were represented as watching from off the stage. I suspect it was the latter. It seems probable to me that at this point, the people who were watching the play are considered as being the members of the Council. If that is so, then, just as the members of the Council would have watched these events as they originally happened in the pre-mortal existence, now the audience in the play – the initiated – watch the re-enactment of those events. If that is correct, the initiated members of the audience consider themselves to be members of the cast in this performance – that is, as they watch, they are not just being entertained, but they consider that each of them were actual participants as witnesses to the events represented on the stage. It is probable that they also considered what was happening on the stage to be a representation of themselves as well.
Verse 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.”
That first voice we hear is the narrator speaking. He identifies himself as the spokesman and scribe who will keep the record of this wedding. The narrator then addresses the king (David) and says,
2a. “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips:”
An ordinance has just occurred which may have included drinking something. This ordinance may have involved only the king (David) – a preparation for the king’s (David’s) blessing which he is about to receive,- or it may have been an ordinance in which the entire audience participated. Since Jehovah had just been anointed King (I’ll soon show you how we know that), it is also possible that the drinking of something may have been a covenant related ordinance by which all of the members of the Council (David and everyone in the audience – each of us if we were watching) acknowledged Jehovah as King and Messiah.
There is also the possibility the words, “grace is poured into thy lips,” did not refer to drinking at all. It may have been an ordinance of a different kind. Let me give you some examples of what I mean. There was an ordinance performed at the Council, where the servants of God were given the words which they were to speak. That ordinance is described in several different ways. In Revelation 10:1-9 “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: …. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.” That passage is explained by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph this way “Q. What are we to understand by the little book which was eaten by John, as mentioned in the 10th chapter of Revelation? A. We are to understand that it was a mission, and an ordinance, for him to gather the tribes of Israel…”(D&C 77:14)
It is apparent that the person who gave John the little book was the Saviour, just as it is apparent that the Saviour gave a similar book to Lehi. “….the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read. And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.” (I Ne. 1:11-12)
Like John, Ezekiel was shown a book and asked to eat it. “And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll [scroll], and go speak unto the house of Israel So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.” (Ezekiel 2:9 – 3:2)
Jeremiah gives a different account of the ordinance. He wrote, “Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9)
Isaiah also speaks of his lips being touched, but he represents the ordinance as a spot of light. “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. “(Isaiah 6:6-8)
It is possible, then, that the phrase, “grace is poured into thy lips” is a reference to “a mission, and an ordinance” which was a specific assignment to the king (David) to represent God as his servant upon the earth.
The Father’s blessing continues:
2b. “therefore [because you accepted this ordinance] God hath blessed thee for ever.”
What follows now is one of the most amazing blessings ever recorded. It takes only three short verses to read it, but it may take me more pages than that to try to explain what it says. The verses read:
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 king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.”
That blessing incorporates in its few words every important concept of sacral kingship – except one — the blessing of a righteous posterity. That idea is reserved to the end of the psalm in a blessings given to the young queen (Janet).
While the nature of sacral kingship is to be both defender and judge, those roles are frequently given separate names. “King” often refers to his duties as defender, while “priest” refers to his role as judge. Thus Christ is both King of Israel and the Great High Priest. Also, the king (David) is both king in the national and international sense, and High Priest in that in ancient Israel he conducted worship ceremonies, used the urim and thummim, and entered the Holy of Holies to speak with God whenever he chose to.
Thus the function of a king/priest is two-fold. 1) As king he is the defender and protector of his people. That means he must be their representative in international affairs, and if negotiation fails, he must be their commanding general. 2) As priest, he is their supreme judge. A judge does three things. a) He condemns and punishes what is wrong; b) he justifies and upholds what is right; c) and he sustains those who do right. That two-fold nature of kingship is as true of the King Jehovah as it is true of the earthly king (David). Jehovah has covenant name-titles which represent those responsibilities. As commanding general he is Lord of Hosts, that simply means master of the armies. As High Priest, he is El Elyon, the Most High God, the God of Abraham, the Eternal Judge, the Saviour, the Redeemer, the “advocate with the Father.” As the deliver of Israel and teacher of Moses, he is I AM, – the One who is sufficient in himself – in that name-title, he is both King and Priest.
In time, when all the enemies of are defeated, Jehovah’s role of commanding general will become inoperative. Similarly, even though the earthly king (David’s) military duties are temporarily very important, they are ultimately tentative.
However, there is nothing tentative about the King’s duty as Judge. That is eternal. For Jehovah, the atoning Messiah, his role as judge extends from eternity to eternity. By his role as judge evil is purged from all creation (It is as judge that he defines evil, as general he eliminates it); by it all except the sons of perdition will be resurrected to some condition of glory; by it the sanctified are sustained in the eternities just as the members of the Council were sustained before. Similarly, the duties of the king (David) as judge never changes. By it he expels evil from his earthly kingdom, sees that justice is done, and rules with equity and mercy. This role is also eternal. Many scriptures suggest that the final criterion for one’s reaching exaltation, and ultimately being among the gods in the Celestial world, is one’s ability to judge righteously and with charity. If one can’t do that, one can’t be there.
In Psalm 45, the blessing given by Elohim to the king (David) emphasizes both aspects of sacral kingship – to be defender and judge – king and priest. The blessing begins with his duties as king – as international leader, defender and military commander.
3 “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.” That is an obvious reference to preparation for war, but to understand what the verse says, one must also ask, What does “thy glory” mean? and what does “thy majesty” mean?
Perhaps the easiest way is to talk about “majesty” first, then come back and see how “glory” fits into that pattern.
The next verse also uses the word, it begins, “In thy majesty ride prosperously…” That seems to suggest that “majesty” does not mean the dignity of his office, but rather it suggests that the word refers to something the king is actually wearing. That idea would be consistent with others in the Old Testament, where the word “majesty” sometimes refers to sacred clothing. Here are three examples:
In Psalm 93 “majesty” seems to refer to royal garments which Jehovah wore. Its use of the phrase, “established of old” is a reverence to the pre-mortal existence; and “the world also is stablished” is a reference to the creation, so we may assume that the context in which this clothing is described is the Heavenly Council. The first two verses of that psalm read: “The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.”
Psalm 104 also speaks of Jehovah being “clothed with honour and majesty.” This is also spoken in connection with the creation: God “stretchest out the heavens like a curtain” Here, Jehovah’s garment is described the same way Adam’s was before the fall – a garment of light. The first two verses of that psalm reads: “Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:”
As Job approaches the veil, he is told that he must put on royal garments before he can know the answer to God’s final question. The Lord’s instructions to Job are: “Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency: and array thyself with glory and beauty.” Then, after giving final instructions about the necessity of being a righteous judge, the Lord adds, “Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.” (Job 40: 10-14)
Returning to Psalm 45:3. “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.” In each of the instances cited above “majesty” is coupled with something else, there are two of them – “honour and majesty,” “majesty and excellency.” In Psalm 45 we have “glory and majesty. In that psalm, the Lord is talking about three things: the sword, “glory,” and “majesty.” “Majesty” is very likely kingly robes. If that is so, then “glory” is also probably something worn. The Israelite High Priest is described as having two kinds of sacred garments, and the Hymn of the Pearl suggests the same thing. It seems reasonable to suppose that “glory” and “majesty” refer to two separate things which the king wears, perhaps an inner garment representing his priesthood, and an outer garment representing his kingship. (One gets that same sort of notion from the story of Captain Moroni, who put on his “armor,” along with his “head plate” (does that mean, flat hat like the high priest wore?), and his “garment,” which is first called his “coat”- suggesting this was an outer robe. On this coat or garment Moroni wrote the covenant title of “liberty.”)
The next verse (Psalm 45:4) reduces all that ever has to be said about the priestly functions of a sacral king into 5 simple ideas. The verse reads:
4. “And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.”
I would like to rearrange that sentence without changing its meaning, then discuss its ideas as they appear in the new arrangement. In the original reading, the king’s riding prosperously was the consequence of his already having truth, meekness and righteousness, so I will just put that idea at the beginning rather than in the middle. The new arrangement would read, “because of truth and meekness and righteousness, ride prosperously in thy majesty ; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible [awesome, majestically wonderful] things.”
I did that to emphasize that the criteria for one’s riding prosperously are: truth, meekness, and righteousness, and the consequence is blessing which is taught by ones own right hand. Lets discuss those criteria one at a time.
I take it that “truth” means the same now as it meant then. Truth is a knowledge of reality. “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” (D&C 93:24) I know of only three ways one can obtain that kind of knowledge. 1) Being a member of the Council and in on the plans when the plans were made 2) being a human who is invited to return to a vision of the Council, so he can be shown what those plans were – a SOD experience as in Isaiah 6, and 1 Ne. 1. If you don’t understand SOD, I explain it later as we go). 3) Being resurrected in the Celestial world and having access to all truth. If that is correct, then the word “truth” here in the 45th psalm, promises that when he arrives on this earth, the king (David) will come to know the decisions of the Council and therefore to know the part he is to play in the eternal scheme of things. The idea that a legitimate king must have been chosen in the Council is a fundamental belief of ancient near eastern religions. (For example, it is the idea, in Alma 12-13, with which Alma convinced Zeezrom that he must not participate in the plot to overthrow the government and its rightful ruler. ) So the first criterion given here for sacral kingship is to have “truth” – which suggests to me, not only knowing the beginning, present, and future, but also knowing one’s place in the beginning, present, and future. That is the first criterion established in this blessing from the Father.
The psalm says the other two criteria are meekness, and righteousness.
The meaning of “meekness” is clearly defined in the Psalms. In Psalm 37:11, we learn, “The meek shall inherit the earth: and shall delight themself in the abundance of peace.” D&C 88:17 says the same thing, that the earth was created so “the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.” The Saviour paraphrased the 37th psalm when he spoke the Beatitude, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” And in the Beatitudes the idea of peace comes after one sees God.
Who the meek are, is clearly described in Psalm 25: it reads:
8 “Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” As we have discussed elsewhere, “The way” usually refers to the sequence of the ordinances, and is often symbolized as the “way” or “path” by which one climbs the “mountain,” (temple) or the way one lives after one comes down from the mountain. There is a subtle, but I think very real differences between teaching “sinners in the way,” and teaching the meek “his way” as described in the next verse. 9 “The meek will he guide in judgment: [“judgement,” I presume is a reference to their ultimate sacral king/priest function] and the meek will he teach his way. [It appears from the verses which follow that to “teach his way” may be a reference to a SOD experience. I will point that out when we get there.] 10 All the paths [temple code word] of the Lord are mercy and truth [reference to his eternal judgeship] unto such as keep his covenant [“covenant,” we will soon be told, is another reference to the SOD] and his testimonies.” [Scholars are not quite sure what “testimonies” mean. Some (Mowinckel, Johnson and others) have suggested that it seems to be something worn – perhaps an stitched copy of the Ten Commandments – that, they acknowledge, is just their guess. In any case, “testimonies” seems to be a reference to something worn which contains a symbol of the covenants one has made.] 11 “For thy name’s sake [another instance of covenant-name being used to represent the covenant itself. The meaning of that phrase would remain the same if the word was changed so it read: “For thy covenant’s sake], O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.”
12 “What man is he that feareth [honors] the Lord? him [the man] shall he [the Lord] teach in the way [same temple code word path] that he [the Lord] shall choose.” 13 “His [the man’s] soul shall dwell at ease; and his [the man’s] seed shall inherit the earth.” [This is the notion of eternal family. Here the seed of the meek, rather than just the meek, shall inherit the earth.] 14 “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him [those who are meek before the Lord]; and he [the Lord] will shew them [the meek] his covenant.” Those words define the “meek” to put everything else in the 25th Psalm into its proper contest. The word “secret” here is translated from the Hebrew word “SOD” or “SODE” if one is using Strong. It refers to the deliberations of a council, and especially to the council’s secret decisions. Many Old Testament scholars believe that as it is used here and elsewhere, it is a reference to the secret decisions made by the Council in Heaven. When one returns to the Council to review those decisions, it is said one has a SOD experience, as in Isaiah 6 where he returns to the Council. That is, he returns to the Council to be re-taught about the assignment he received when he was a member of the Council, and to re-affirm the covenants he made there.
The idea in v. 14 which says “The secret [SOD] of the Lord is with them that fear [honor] him; and he [the Lord] will shew them [the meek] his [the Lord’s] covenant,” fits well with verse 10 where we learned, “All the paths [code word] of the Lord are mercy and unto such as keep his covenant. The literal meaning of the word “meek” is not lost here, but in this context, “meekness” has to do with being meek before the Lord, and has nothing whatever to do with being meek before men. Thus it could be written, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)
Thus, it seems reasonable to conclude that in this context, the “meek” may be defined as those who keep their eternal covenants – keeping on earth the covenants one made at the Council. So in the 45th psalm, the idea that the king rode meekness most probably means, the king kept the covenants he made at the Council. If that is correct, in the phrase, “because of truth and meekness and righteousness,” then “truth” refers to what one learns in the Council, “meekness” refers to one’s keeping the covenants one made at the Council. And “righteousness” refers to how those covenants are kept.
The third criterion for riding prosperously, “righteousness,” is the Hebrew word “zadok” or “zedek.” As far as I can tell it means “High Priestly”- doing the right things, in the right way, using the right words, dressed the right way, in the right place, with the right authority. It is part of the name, Melchizedek. Melchi is king, zeded is righteousness, so it means king of righteousness. Perhaps it may denote King and High Priest – but that’s only my conjecture; I have no authority to cite for that suggestion.
Two statements in the Doctrine and Covenants suggest to me that the powers of a king as described in Psalm 45 closely parallel the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood. These passage are not the same as the statement in the psalm, but the messages seem to be the same. They emphasize the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood in terms of “truth, meekness, and righteousness,” as I have tried to describe them here. The first one reads: “And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries [in the Old Testament “mysteries”would probably be SOD] of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. [SOD experience?] Therefore, in the ordinances thereof [In Isaiah, the word “ordinances” would probably appear as the code word “ways”or “paths”], the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live [It think that is clearly a SOD experience]. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;” (D&C 84:19-23)
The second reads: “The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church – To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries [SOD] of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them [SOD experience], to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn [Council in Heaven], and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. (D&C 107:18-19)
To return to the blessing which the Father-King gives to the young king (David) in Psalm 45. It says, “And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness.”
“Prosperous” is also a code word. The Lord uses it when he talks to Nephi, and I presume its meaning is the same there as it is here.
1 Ne. 2:19-22 “And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands. And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher [king and priest] over thy brethren.” Here, to prosper is the opposite of being cut off from the presence of the Lord. That idea is used the same way elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, but the phrase is “prosper in the land” Just one example is Lehi who explained, “For the Lord God hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” (2 Ne. 4:4)
If that meaning of “prosperous” holds true in our psalm, then “And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness;” literally means something like this, “Ride in the presence of the Lord, because you know the truth of the Council, you keep the covenants you made in the Council, and you act correctly in your highpriestly functions.”
Then the promise is given, “and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible [awesome] things.” That is the same promise which the Lord gave Job: “thine own right hand can save thee.” (Job 40:14) After giving that promise to Job, the Lord taught Job the answer to the final question, and Job responded, “I have heard thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” (42:5)
Now consider the impact of that entire verse without my comments getting in the way: “And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.” Wow! What else is there for one to be taught!!
After the part of the blessing which deals with the king as priest, the Father-King gives the young this final blessing:
5. “Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.”
It is my opinion that this third part of the blessing is not a returning to the first idea of the sword and war, but it is a new idea, not expressed here before. It appears to me to be an absolute assurance that the Lord guarantees that the king (David) will be able receive the promised blessings, and will have the power to keep his own eternal covenants. I see it as a promise that in his (David’s) trying to do so, that even though he (David) will find himself surrounded by enemies, he will remain invincible until his covenants are fulfilled and his mission accomplished. It is the promise that he will be king among kings. It is the same idea which concludes the first chapter of Ephesians, after Paul has talked about our relationship with our Father in Heaven, and the covenants and instructions we received before we left home.
If that is what the blessing means – the powers of political and warlike kingship, the priesthood powers to be a judge, and the absolute assurance of success – then the blessing to this king/priest is complete, and there is nothing left to be added, except a word about his posterity.
After the king (David) has received the blessing from Elohim, we now hear another voice. It appears to be that of the king (David) himself. As I envision the scene on the stage, Jehovah is standing beside Elohim as he gives the young king (David) a blessing. Then, as the hands are removed from the young king’s (David’s) head, he (David) kneels and does obeisance to both his Kings. That is the way it should be: the servant-king bowing before the master-King, and swearing allegiance to him. So we hear the young king (David) first speak to Elohim, then to his own immediate superior, Jehovah.
To Elohim, he (David) says,
6 “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.”
The word, “right” appears to be a symbol of righteous judgement. The Strong definition, (# 4334) is “justice,” “equity.” That is interesting, because if I understand that correctly, then the sceptre of the Father is a symbol of his judging righteously, and not a symbol of military might. I like that, because it is the way I would have expected it to be.
Then the king (David) turns to Jehovah and says:
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, [the God of Jehovah is Elohim] hath anointed thee [Jehovah] with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 8 All thy [Jehovah’s] garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
When High Priests were anointed in Israel, (and we may presume this was true of their kings also) they were dressed in sacred garments and then anointed with special perfumed oil over the garments. The formula for the perfumed oil is given in the Old Testament, along with the command that this kind of oil may be used for no other purpose.
In the verses just quoted, it is apparent that Jehovah had just been anointed in that same manner. When the young king (David) acknowledges that Jehovah’s garments still smell of the fragrant perfumes of the anointing oil, he also gives us the formula by which the sacred oil was perfumed: “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.” This is a very meaningful formula. The oil is, of course, olive oil, the product of the fruit of the olive tree, which in Israel represented the Tree of Life. Myrrh is a perfume made from the sap of a small tree. Aloes is a perfume made from the heartwood of another tree, and cassia is a perfume made from the bark of still a different tree. So Jehovah has been anointed with a sacred oil which represents all the parts of a tree – acknowledgment that Jehovah is the Tree of Life.
Up to this point, virtually everything in Psalm 45 has talked about the young king’s (David’s) role at Council in Heaven. We have heard the blessing given to him by Elohim, and we have seen him express his subservience to both Elohim and Jehovah.
Now the psalm shifts it focus, and the narrator calls our attention to the other side of the stage, where we see the women’s quarters – probably the Queen’s reception or throne room.
The narrator says:
9a “Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.”
This first “thy” is intriguing. It is addressed to someone who is not on the woman’s side of the stage. It might be addressed to the men, but since its purpose is to call the attention of the audience to the women’s side of the stage, it is probably addressed to the audience. This is the best evidence that the audience are actually considered to be members of the Council. If they are our honourable women, then this is not just play-acting entertainment. It seems to be suggesting that the men in the audience are represented as being on the men’s side of the stage and the women present as being on the stage with “the queen in gold of Ophir.”
The second “thy” (“upon thy right hand”) is an address to the young princess who is about to marry the young king (David). It is the same kind of introduction which we found in the narrator introduced him. This princess-queen the woman whom we will call Janet. Janet’s character in the drama is played by the real, then present, queen. She will also play the part of Eve, when the time comes, then herself again, when the king is anointed. Just as the David character is played by her real husband, the then present king, who will soon be playing the part of Adam in the Garden.
So, if addressed to the audience, that introduction might read: “On the right hand side of the princess-queen (Janet) did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.”
The exact location of Ophir is no longer known, but it was probably in east central Africa. It was the source of the finest gold in the ancient world. In our drama, this queen who is dressed in gold of Ophir can only be the Mother-Queen, the wife of Elohim, and the Mother of the princess (Janet).
At this point in the 45th psalm, we hear a new voice, it says, “Harken, O daughter….” That can only be spoken by one of two persons – either the princess’ (Janet’s) Father who is in his throne room on the other side of the stage, or her Mother who is standing beside her. So I assume these words are spoken by the Mother-Queen, the wife of Elohim. The words she speaks are a blessing to the young bride-to-be (Janet) The blessing is strikingly similar to, and yet quite different from the blessing which Elohim gave to the young king (David)
It seems appropriate to me that this, the only place I know of in the scriptures which represents itself to be the words of our Mother in Heaven, should be a blessing to her daughter.
The Mother’s blessing reads:
10 “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;
11 “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship [honor and love] thou him.
12 “And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.”
I wish to examine this blessing as closely as I examined the other one.
The Mother’s blessing begins with instructions. That is not unusual. I suspect there are few Patriarchal Blessings which do not contain a great deal of instruction. In this case the instructions are:
10. “forget thine own people and thy father’s house.”
There is nothing unique about that principle. Adam expressed it from the man’s point of view when he said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh . . . Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:23-24) That is the obvious meaning of the instructions to the young princess (Janet), but given that the time and place of the blessing is the Council, and the event is a preparation for her coming to this world, the instruction may mean something else as well. Among the writings of modern prophets, there is probably none more relevant to our subject than the following editorial written by John Taylor in the newspaper, The Mormon , which he published while he was in New York City. Elder Taylor, then a member of the Twelve, called his editorial the “The Origin, Object, and Destiny of Women.” Because it is very relevant to our subject, and because it is beautiful to read, I quote it in full, rather than only excerpting only a small part of it.
THE “Latter Day Saints” have often been ridiculed on account of their belief in the pre-existence of spirits, and in marrying for time and for all eternity, both being Bible doctrines. We have often been requested to give our views in relation to these principles, but considering the things of the Kingdom belonged to the children of the Kingdom, therefore not meet to give them to those without. But being very politely requested by a lady a few days since, (a member of the church) to answer the following questions, we could not consistently refuse;-viz., “Where did I come from? What is my origin? What am I doing here? Whither am I going? and What is my destiny, after having obeyed the truth, if faithful to the end?”
For her benefit, and all others concerned, we will endeavor to answer the questions in brief, as we understand them. The reason will be apparent for our belief in the pre-existence of spirits, and in marrying for time and for all eternity.
Lady-whence comest thou? Thine origin? What art thou doing here? Whither art thou going, and what is thy destiny? Declare unto me if thou hast understanding? Knowest thou not, that thou art a spark of Deity, struck from the fire of his eternal blaze, and brought forth in the midst of eternal burning?
Knowest thou not that; eternities ago, thy spirit, pure and holy, dwelt in thy Heavenly Father’s bosom, and in his presence, and with thy mother, one of the Queens of heaven, surrounded by thy brother and sister spirts in the. spirit world, among the Gods. That as thy spirit beheld the scenes transpiring there, and thou growing in intelligence, thou sawest worlds upon worlds organized and peopled with thy kindred spirits, took upon them tabernacles, died, were resurrected, and received their exaltation on the redeemed worlds they once dwelt upon. Thou being willing and anxious to imitate them, waiting and desirous to obtain a body, a resurrection and exaltation also, and having obtained permission, thou made a covenant with one of thy kindred spirits to be thy guardian angel while in mortality, also with two others, male and female spirits, that thou wouldst come and take a tabernacle through their lineage, and become one of their offspring. You also choose a kindred spirit whom you loved in the spirit world, (and had permission to come to this planet and take a tabernacle) to be your head, stay, husband, and protector on the earth, and to exalt you in the eternal worlds. All these were arranged, likewise the spirits that should tabernacle through your lineage. Thou longed, thou sighed, and thou prayed to thy Father in heaven for the time to arrive when thou couldst come to this earth, which had fled and fell from where it was first organized, near the planet Kolob. Leave thy father and mother’s bosoms, and all thy kindred spirits, come to earth, take a tabernacle, and imitate the deeds of, those you had seen exalted before you.
At length the time arrived, and thou heard the voice of thy Father, saying, “go daughter to yonder lower world, and take upon thee a tabernacle, and work out thy probation with fear and trembling, and rise to exaltation. But daughter, remember you go on this condition, that is, You are to forget all things you ever saw, or knew to be transacted in the spirit world; you are not to know or remember anything concerning the same that you have beheld transpire here; but you must go and become one of the most helpless of all beings that 1 have created, while in your infancy; subject to sickness, pain, tears, mourning, sorrow and death. But when truth shall touch the cords of your heart they shall vibrate; then intelligence shall illuminate your mind, and shed its luster in your soul, and you shall begin to understand the things you once knew, but which had gone from you; you shall then begin to understand and know the object of your creation. Daughter, go, and be faithful in your second estate, keep it as faithful as thou hast thy first estate.
Thy spirit filled with joy and thanksgiving rejoiced in thy Father, and rendered praise to his holy name, and the spirit world resounded in anthems of praise and rejoicing to the ‘Father of Spirits. Thou bade father, mother, and all, farewell, and along with thy guardian angel, thou came on this terraqueous globe. ‘The spirits thou bad chosen to come and tabernacle through their lineage, and your Head having left the spirit world some years previous.) Thou came a spirit pure and holy, thou hast taken upon thee a tabernacle, thou hast obeyed the truth, and thy guardian angel ministers unto thee and watches over thee; Thou hast chosen him you loved in the spirit world to be thy companion. Now, crowns, thrones, exaltations and dominions are in reserve for thee in the eternal worlds, and the way is opened for thee to return back into the presence of thy Heavenly Father, if thou will only abide by and walk in a celestial law, fulfil the designs of thy creation, and hold out to the end. That when mortality is laid in the tomb, you may go down to your grave in peace, arise in glory, and receive your everlasting reward in the resurrection of the just, along with thy head and husband. Thou will be permitted to pass by the Gods and angels who guard the gates, and onward, upward to thy exaltation in a celestial world among the Gods. To be a Priestess Queen unto thy Heavenly Father and a glory to thy husband and offspring, to bear the souls of men, to people other worlds, (as thou didst bear their tabernacles in mortality,) while eternity goes and eternity comes; and if you will receive it, lady, this is eternal life. And herein’ is the saying of the’ apostle Paul fulfilled, “that the man is not without the woman in the Lord, neither is the woman without the man’ in the Lord.” “That man is the head of the woman, and the glory of the man is the woman.” Hence, thine origin, the object of thy creation, and thy ultimate destiny, if faithful. Lady, the cup is within thy reach, drink ,then the heavenly draught, and live. (John Taylor, editor, The Mormon N.Y. August 29, 1857)
If I had quoted only a few lines from President Taylor’s editorial, they would have been these: “thou heard the voice of thy Father, saying, “go daughter to yonder lower world, and take upon thee a tabernacle, and work out thy probation with fear and trembling, and rise to exaltation. But daughter, remember you go on this condition, that is, You are to forget all things you ever saw, or knew to be transacted in the spirit world; you are not to know or remember anything concerning the same that you have beheld transpire here.” That provides a possible meaning for the instruction, “forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house.” Given the fact that the play which is Psalm 45 represents covenants made in the pre-mortal world in preparation for one’s coming to this world, it is possible that the Mother-Queen’s admonition, “forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house” was about that forgetting. However, it seems more probable to me that the intent of the Mother-Queen’s instruction cannot be separated from Adam’s statement, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
I believe President Taylor’s editorial helps provide the fuller context into which one must put the Mother’s blessing. (The fact that about 3,000 years separate the author of the psalm from President Taylor’s time seems irrelevant to me. If something is true once, it is true again, never mind when it is written.) The editorial also helps explain the meaning of the part of the Mother-Queen’s blessing which reads,
11. “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship [honor, love] thou him.”
I will not pursue that meaning now, because it can best be understood in light of the young king’s (David’s) covenant which appears at the conclusion of the psalm. So I will wait until we get there to comment on it.
The Mother-Queen’s blessing is not only about the her (Janet’s) relationship with her husband. It is also about her own (Janet’s) role as priestess/queen. The last verse of the blessing reads:
12 “And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.”
No doubt, the phrase, “daughter of Tyre” is intended to be more symbolic than real. In Solomon’s day, Tyre was the richest and most powerful city on the eastern Mediterranean coast. Its king, Hyrum, supplied Solomon with both the skilled workmen and the wood from giant trees necessary to build his Temple and palace at Jerusalem. The idea “the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift”makes its point by calling attention to the power and importance of that city. In much the same way, someone in our grandmother’s day might have said “your dresses will be admired by all the women of Paris.” The mentioning of Tyre has the same kind of connotation as the mentioning of Paris. But this is not talking about admiring dresses, it is about receiving “gifts.” That is very different and very important. These gifts are not wedding presents, they are the kind of gift a subordinate king gives to his superior king. These gifts are tribute – an acknowledgment of the queen’s (Janet’s) high state and queenly superiority. The meaning is that the Mother-Queen has just promised the princess-queen (Janet) that she would not only reign in her own country, but that she would be a queen among queens. It is the same blessing which the young king (David) received from Elohim, that he could not be hurt by his enemies – that he would be a king among kings. Like the blessing to the king (David), it is the absolute assurance that the queen (Janet) will be have the power to make a difference and to keep her eternal covenants.
The final part of the Mother-Queen’s blessing reads: “even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.” The Hebrew word translated “favour” is “used in a great variety of applications” (Strong # 6440), and almost all of them have to do with a persons exercising the authority of justice, mercy, and judgement. Here again, the most important function one has on this earth – that of being a righteous judge – is the conclusion of the Mother-Queen’s blessing to her daughter, just as it is the most important part of the blessing her young husband received from his Father.
To review, the Mother-Queen’s blessing to the young queen (Janet) is in all respects but two the same as Elohim’s blessing to the young king (David). The two exceptions are: 1) the Mother’s blessing includes the idea of the sanctity of the marriage relationship, the Father’s did not. [Again, I delay commenting about that until we get to the last verse of the psalm.] 2) The Mother’s blessing leaves out the part about being a protector anda commanding general in time of war. But the other functions of her (Janet’s) being queen are the same as his (David’s) functions of being king. The difference is that she is queen under the umbrella of his protection and he has to provide the umbrella. In both the Mother and the Father’s blessings, each place heavy emphasis on the most important temporal – and eternal – function of sacral kingship – the responsibility, power, and blessings associated with being a righteous judge.
That is not all, we will now watch as the queen (Janet), her Mother, and their entourage leave the quarters of the Mother-Queen, walk across the stage to enter the throne room of Elohim. There the young queen (Janet) will receive a blessing from her Father, and a covenant of devotion from her young husband (David.)
So the next voice we hear in the 45th psalm is that of the narrator. As he speaks, our eyes follow the princess-queen (Janet) as the leave the Queen’s quarters, cross the stage, and enter the Holy of Holies, where Elohim, the young king (David), and the members of the Council (all of us) wait for her. The narrator says:
V. 13-15. “The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee. With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.”
The last two verses of Psalm 45 are spoken to her (Janet) after she enters the Holy of Holies, but as elsewhere in the psalm, the speakers are not identified. To me it is apparent that v. 16 is a blessing from her Father Elohim. It is an addition to, and the necessary conclusion of the blessing the princess-queen received from her Mother. It is not about her (Janet’s) functions as a queen, but is about her blessings as a mother. This blessing is exclusively hers (Janet’s), for there is no parallel idea in the blessing which her Father gave to her young husband (David).
As I envision the portrayal of this drama on the stage, I see the daughter (Janet) entering the Holy of Holies. Her Father, laying aside protocol, walks over to her in affectionate greeting. She, keeping to protocol, kneels before her Father- King. He places his hands upon her head, and gives her this blessing:
16. “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.”
To say that blessing is extremely important would be a severe understatement. Only the queen can make a prince or princess. Only she knows who the child’s father is, therefore it is entirely up to her whether her husband’s heir, the next king, is a true son of her husband or the child of a usurper. (For that very practical, legal reason, in most countries where there was a reigning monarch, a queen’s adultery was high treason for both her and her lover. You will recall, for example, that Queen Elizabeth I’s mother and uncle were executed on those charges.)
Her (Janet’s) importance is best illustrated in cases of polygamy where there were more than one wife (such as with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and Solomon). In those instances, it was the rank of the mother which determined the rank of the child. Only the son of the ranking queen could inherit a crown. The blessing that Elohim gives to his daughter is “…thou mayest make princes in all the earth.”
The last verse of psalm 45 is a covenant. As is true elsewhere in the psalm, the speaker is not identified. This verse may be read as the conclusion of the blessing in the previous verse, but I would be very surprised if it were intended to be read that way. It seems more reasonable to me that this final statement – the happy ever after high point of the play we have been watching — is, as it should be, a covenant of devotion, spoken by the young king (David) to his princess-queen (Janet). It is a marriage vow, but more important, it is his promise that the blessings she has received from her Mother and her Father will be fulfilled because of his (David’s) integrity, rectitude, and love.
17. “I will make thy name be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.”
Here, as elsewhere, the word “name” is covenantal. “Queen” and “priestess” are sacral names. But I suspect that if one is to ultimately discover the meaning, one must go to the Beatitudes which describes the most sacred of all human names: “for they shall be called the children of God” – the name which is the temporal and eternal fulfillment of all promised blessings. In the young king’s (David’s) covenant to his bride – “I will make thy name be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.”- we find the balance – and the meaning of the Mother-Queen’s blessing to her daughter, “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship [honor, love] thou him.” (I understand the eternal nature of this balanced sacral marriage relationship to be symbolically represented by holding hands – the man from within the veil at the time of marriage, but then but then the other side is presented when the woman extends her hand from within her sacred space during prayer.)
Conclusion: If the 45th Psalm represents the ancient Israelite belief in the eternal sanctity of marriage, as it appears to do, then there are a number of conclusions one may draw about what that belief was.
The man had the kingly responsibilities of being a protector, and the High Priestly responsibilities of being a judge. The woman had the queenly authorities derived from his protection, and the High Priestess responsibilities of being a judge. In addition, the woman had the powers of motherhood. It is she, not her husband, who makes her children “princes in all the earth.” The children may inherit from their father, but their identity and birthright as “children” is determined by the word of their mother. In the husband and wife’s responsibilities to each other there is balance. The woman is to “worship” [honor, love] him. He is to “…make thy name be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.”
In a legal, earthly context, if either of them breaks those covenants, the kingdom toters. In an eternal, heavenly context, if either of them breaks those covenants, the consequences are even more severe.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
Footnote: In February 1843, at the request of W. W. Phelps, the Prophet Joseph re-wrote the vision which is the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants in poetry form. It was published in the Times and Seasons, February 1, 1843, and republished in the Millennial Star, August, 1843. The part which I referred to, which identifies the place where the Council was held as Kolob, reads as follows:
For thus saith the Lord, in the spirit of truth,
I am merciful, gracious, and good unto those
That fear me, and live for the life that’s to come:
My delight is to honour the Saints with repose,
That serve me in righteousness true to the end;
Eternal’s their glory and great their reward.
I’ll surely reveal all my myst’ries to them —
The great hidden myst’ries in my kingdom stor’d;
From the council in Kolob, to time on the earth,
And for ages to come unto them I will show
My pleasure and will, what the kingdom will do
Eternity’s wonders they truly shall know.