Fellow Passengers: Today’s Poetry Passage* (Psalm 45) transports me fifty years back to Liverpool, where the lyricists of love are meeting early one morning for their daily devotional reading and come across this ancient wedding poem. (I’ve been thinking about the Fab Four lately; it was fifty years ago that Paul traded in his guitar for bass and the pre-Ringo group first started playing the Liverpool clubs). So just imagine young Johnny or Paulie combing through a Gideon’s Bible they had swiped from a German hotel during their travels earlier that year, and finding inspiration. Imagine them running across this particular psalm, penned in honor of the nuptials between one of the Kings (Solomon, Jeroboam, Ahab?) and his foreign bride. The poet praises the king’s graceful lips, majestic clothes, sweet fragrance, valiant strength, and his virtues of truth, humility, and righteousness. The bride is given counsel to forget her family and homeland as she makes a new home in the palace. Whether or not she is able to completely cast her past into the sea of forgetfulness we don’t know. Perhaps the best she can do is sing a Lennon/McCartney line to her royal groom: Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about them, in my life I love you more.
Over the centuries, the covenant people began to see this poem in a context larger than the wedding of one of their past kings and a foreign bride. They began to understand it as a messianic song, speaking of the marriage of the people of faith with their coming Messiah. Christians also read the poem in this light, understanding it as a praise song for the wedding of Christ and the church, his bride. With this image in mind, perhaps we could take some liberties with the Liverpool lyrics, and with some slight variations hear them as praise songs to God. I want You everywhere, and if You’re beside me I know I need never care. But to love You is to need You everywhere. . . I don’t wanta leave You now, You know I believe and how. . . I love you, yeah, yeah, yeah. . . I got to get You into my life.
Well, you get the idea. All you need is love. All you need is a good love song. All you need is a good love psalm, praising the one who woos us and weds us to mercy and grace and truth. Now there’s a knot worth tying, good and tight. Something in the way God moves really does attract us like no other lover. And since life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, let’s not hide our love away. Don’t let me down. Carry that weight. (P.S. I love you.)
How about you? Where does this Poetry Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.