Morning Prayer: Ps. 45 | Gen 15:1-11, 17-21 | John 5:1-18
Evening Prayer: Ps. 47, 48 | Heb. 9:1-14
Psalm 45 is a psalm quite nearly begging for a typological or anagogical reading. The literal sense of the psalm is nearly devoid of religious content – the note in my Bible suggests that it was likely an ode for a royal wedding – yet when read figuratively, given its resonance with Christian tropes of heaven as marriage-feast and the marriage relationship as figure for the relationship between Christ and the Church, it is rich indeed. Indeed, such a reading of this psalm goes back to the beginning of the Church — Hebrews 1:8-9 refers verses 7-8 of the psalm to Jesus. The King, in this allegorical reading, is Jesus Christ, “anointed” by God; the princess is the Church — so the psalm can be read to depict the relationship between Christ and the Church, or better yet, the final entry of the Church Triumphant into heaven at the end of days: “with joy and gladness they are brought, and enter into the palace of the king.” The point here is not that the psalm is really about Christ and the Church, but simply that it can be and has frequently been read as such. Indeed, such a reading strategy has been key to Christians making devotional use out of the psalms, and is particularly helpful in finding religious value in some of the more difficult ones (the history of monastic interpretation of Ps. 137:9 strikes me as a particularly good example of this). I wonder what the scholarship is on early Protestant interpretive strategies for dealing with the Psalms. On one hand, Protestants, especially Reformed ones, made great liturgical use of psalmody, yet Protestant suspicion of Catholic scriptural hermeneutics and focus on the “plain sense” of scripture seems like it would limit their interpretive options. Something to look into, at any rate.
Update: Turns out that the vast majority of the Christian tradition would have strongly disagreed with the notion that the literal sense of Psalm 45 is short on religious meaning! See The Literal Sense is a Tricky Thing.