Is Israel or the Church the theme of Psalm 45?

What is the application of Psalm 45? Is the Bride mentioned in the Psalm Israel or the Church? How are we to understand the expressions, “unto the king” and “unto thee” in Psalm 45:14?


In order to fully understand Psalm 45, it will have to be accepted that its principal application, so far as the Bride is concerned, is not to the Church but to Israel. The expressions, “King’s daughters,” “the daughter of Tyne,” and “the rich among the people,” etc., are more easily explained when we think of Israel in her future exaltation above the other nations, and acknowledged as Bride by the Lord, in keeping with His promises of Isaiah 54:5; 62:5; Hosea 2:19, 20, etc., than when we think of the Church. Yet there are, no doubt, one or two expressions, such as, “Forget also thine own people” and “raiment of needlework” (as compared with Revelation 19:8, R.V.), which appear to suit the Church better, although they can perhaps be understood of Israel also.
Of course, some take it for granted that if the Church is the Bride, Israel cannot be; and if Israel is the Bride, the Church cannot be; but this is to lose sight of the fact that the term is figurative, and there is no reason why the figure should not be used of Israel in the Old Testament and of the Church in the New Testament. This is the case with other figures, e.g., Israel is the Vine of the Old Testament (Psalm 8o:8, etc.), while the Church in union with Christ is the Vine in the New Testament; Israel is the House in the Old Testament, while the Church is the House in the New Testament (Numbers 12:7; Hebrews 3: 6). Even the term, “Body,” which we usually look upon as the exclusive property of the Church, had been used of Israel in Isaiah 26:19 (where the italics should be omitted).  Moreover, it may be that these early pictures, like the early prophecies of the Messiah’s coming, in which events separated (as we now know) by many years, are joined together as if one—are so worded by the Holy Ghost as to include applications both to Israel and the Church, some details being more suited to the one application, and some to the other. This would be helpful in studying the Song of Songs, of which Psalm 45 seems to be the germ.
I consider this to be a better way of looking at the matter, than to accept the view suggested in Newberry’s Bible, where he distinguishes two women, the “Queen” (Israel), to whom he applies vv. 9-12, and the “King’s daughter” (the Church) to whom he applies vv. 13-15. I could agree that the Israel aspect of the picture is prominent in the former verses, and the Church aspect in the latter; but I cannot see two separate Brides in the Psalm definitely distinguished from one another.
With regard to v. i, I think that the “unto the King” at the begin- fling of the verse, and the “unto thee” at the end of it, refer to the same person. It is only an example of what is very common in the Psalms, in Isaiah 53, and elsewhere, that is, an abrupt change from speaking about the Lord, to speaking to Him. And this speaking to Him is continued into verse 16, which, as well as verse 17, is addressed to the King, not to the Bride, although in our A.V. it looks as if it were.

W.R.