“All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.” (Psalm 45:8-9)
Often, when you read the Bible, there’s a top level of meaning –the plain and simple– and then a deeper subtext that catches you unawares, and sometimes takes your breath away. For example, when you read Psalm 45:8-9, it seems to be describing a royal wedding, and describing in Hello magazine detail the various cosmetic preparations.
Here comes the bridegroom, first, and all his “robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.”
And here comes the first pause, because these are burial spices. Remember when the women went to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning? They carried with them “a quantity of spices–myrrh and aloes–in order to wrap the body of the Lord” and preserve it in its death. So why are these same spices mentioned in relation to the wedding?
Perhaps there’s a deeper truth that somehow out of death comes the fragrant incense that makes the scene of the wedding glorious? This is certainly the point of Ephesians 5:25 when Paul says that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. He died for it. He went into the bonds of death for us. Why? In order that He might present to Himself a glorious church, a beautiful bride, without spot or blemish or any such thing.
And there’s more. We read the description of the wedding location. It’s in “palaces adorned with ivory,” and there’s a band, too, so that “the music of the strings makes you glad.” There’s a place ready, and it’s spectacular! Doesn’t this recall Jesus’ words to His disciples before the cross? He said to them, “I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). That place is being prepared now. It is a place of beauty and glory beyond any possible description. These terms used here are simply a way of suggesting to us what it is like: ivory palaces filled with music and gladness with a rejoicing company around. It reminds me of that old Keith Green lyric: “In six days you created everything, but you’ve been working on heaven two thousand years.”
Words cannot convey the rich splendour of all that is to come.
And here comes the bride: “At your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.” But don’t forget that in the oriental custom, of course, it was the bridegroom himself who paid for the bridal garments. It was presented to her, so that she might be presented to him.
And who is it that is preparing us for this day, for this sharing of life together? It is He who is preparing us. He has clothed us with His own righteous golden robe.
Gold, in Scripture, is always the picture of deity, and this is a hint of what Peter speaks of: You may participate, he says, in “the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Do we really grasp this? Jesus Christ is blending our lives with His and giving us all His position and all His privileges. All that belongs to Him belongs to us. One of the things that is most seriously wrong with the church today is that we forget the privileges we have. We do not reckon on them, we do not think about how tremendous they are. Yet here stands the bride, ready to join Him, dressed in the gold that He has provided.
It’s all done! It’s all prepared!
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
Lord Jesus, You are our beautiful King, and we long for you like a bride longs for her husband. Thank You for adorning us in Your own righteousness that we might dwell with You forever.
(Drawn partly from Ray Stedman sermon )