Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wedding Exhoration

Psalm 45 is a wedding psalm. It was composed for a royal wedding. And even though this a song, a poetic celebration of a marriage, there are several exhortations that can be drawn from it. But first, just a general point about our celebration today: As most of you know, D--- was baptized last Sunday along with the children that are under the care of D--- and M---. In keeping with that baptism, this wedding today is an act of repentance. Repentance simply means “turning.” D--- has turned from a former life, and he has now submitted himself to King Jesus. And this means that he, like all of us, has begun a life of continual repentance, a life of studying God’s Word and seeking to submit our lives to the rule of Jesus. One of the clear teachings of Scripture is that the marriage covenant is how God intends for men and women to dwell together as family. There is tons of confusion on this issue in our day, but this is simply the fact that at the creation of the world God established the pattern that when a man and a woman were to come together they were to leave their families and become one flesh, and there was to be a public covenant established. There are two reasons for this: first because a public covenant is enforceable. When two people make promises in public, those who hear and observe the covenant promises are called upon to witness the vows and hold them accountable. In our day especially, where far too many men take advantage of helpless and unprotected women, it is absolutely necessary that Christian men honor and protect women by marrying the woman they want to be with. Secondly, there must be a public covenant of marriage because this best reflects the gospel. Paul says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This means that every couple is always preaching a gospel. Every husband or live-in boyfriend is always proclaiming something about Jesus; the only question is what are you proclaiming? Are you proclaiming a false or heretical gospel that Jesus is a coward who is afraid of commitment and is just in it for cheap thrills? Jesus came and died for his people, his bride. He committed himself to us even to the death and he secured our salvation and has promised publicly through his death and resurrection that he will never leave us. And that is what we are doing here today. D--- and M---, you are publicly declaring the gospel today in your words and actions. You are saying that Jesus is King and he has come and given himself to us in his death and resurrection, and therefore as his servants, you are giving yourselves to one another, to die for one another, to sacrifice for one another, and that you will never leave or forsake one another until God has parted you in death.

First, D---, the Psalm begins with the groom. It says that he is fairer than all the sons of men, that there is grace upon his lips, and that God has blessed him forever. You need to understand this day, your wedding day and every day that follows for the rest of your life as God’s blessing you. Today, God is singling you out and exalting you above all the men here present and pouring grace on your lips. What is this blessing that God is bestowing upon you? A wife. The Apostle Paul says that the wife is the glory of the husband. From this day forth, M--- is your glory; she is your crown. And this leads to the next point in the Psalm: Gird your sword upon your thigh. Ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness. And your right hand shall teach you awesome things. This day is a call to battle, D---. Today, you are being coronated; you are being crowned and made a king. Your crown is M---; she is your glory. Therefore, as a king you are called to battle, to rule and reign. So gird your sword upon your thigh, ride forth because of truth, humility, and righteousness. And your right hand shall teach you awesome things. Pursue truth; pursue humility, and pursue righteousness. How must you do this? Not by just winging it, not by just guessing but by immersing yourself in the Scriptures. In Deuteronomy, one of the laws for the kings of Israel was to read the Scriptures daily. You are a king, you have been anointed in baptism, and now you are being crowned with the glory of your wife. Therefore gird your sword upon your thigh, the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and your right hand will teach you awesome things. How? It will teach you awesome things because you are fighting with it. You are called to do battle with your flesh, with all sin, with every attack of the evil one. You are called to defend your wife and your children from sin and evil, and you are called to teach them to do the same. Finally, the Psalmist says that your scepter is to be one of righteousness: love righteousness and hate wickedness. And you must do both. In order to rule your home in righteousness, you must hate wickedness and you must love righteousness. The root of this wisdom is found in the way Jesus taught his disciples to rule: by serving and laying their lives down for others. This is the kind of rule and authority you are being given, D---. Not the kind that barks orders or makes demands. You are being given an authority and rule that dies, that serves, that sacrifices time, energy, and comfort for the blessing and welfare of your wife and children.

M---, the Psalmist then exhorts the bride to incline her ear, to listen, and he commands her to forget her people and leave her father’s house. This is a general exhortation to leave your past behind. Do not leave it in bitterness; do not leave it with a hard heart. Simply receive what God is giving you now with a thankful heart. Rejoice in his goodness to you, give thanks for his mercy and blessing, and cling to your husband. And the Psalmist says, so shall the king greatly desire your beauty. Because he is your lord, worship him. Obviously this does not mean that you are to worship him as we worship God; given the context, it could easily be translated submit yourself to him, respect him, honor him. This is what Paul explicitly says elsewhere. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands… This is your glory, M---. You are D---‘s glory, and your glory is your submission to him. You are exhorted here to submit yourself only to his man and no other; you have left your father’s house and there is no man that you must submit yourself to but this one. This is a great glory and great protection. D--- is your king and your defender; he is your lord. And this is exactly what Peter says that wives are to adorn themselves by submitting to their husbands, even as Sarah did to Abraham by calling him “lord.” This is God’s way of adorning you, glorifying you, and this is why your husband will greatly desire your beauty. Your glory, your beauty, your adorning is your submission to your husband. And the Psalmist says that people will entreat you with gifts and seek your advice and council, and you will be a royal daughter, all glorious in your palace.

And so we have gathered here today with gladness and rejoicing, and we trust that instead of your fathers, your sons shall be made princes in all the earth, and that God will make your name, the name H--- a praise in all the earth. Not because you have some kind of ego problem or you’re power tripping, but because we believe the gospel. Jesus is King, our sins are forgiven, and we have been seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We have all been made kings and priests to God forever. And all authority and power has been given to Jesus in heaven and earth, and in Him, it has been given to us. Therefore gird your sword upon your thigh and ride forth in majesty. You are a King today and forever; you are a Queen today and forever. D---, glory in your crown, for she is your glory. M--- glory in your King, for this is your glory and your beauty. And may the name H--- be known for truth, humility, and righteousness for a thousand generations.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!


non Oedipus said...

Inspiring. But "anointed in baptism"? Where did that come from?

Toby said...

There's a lot that could be said about this (see Peter Leithart's "Priesthood of the Plebs" for an extensive study), but in brief, I was thinking about some of the following: Jesus was anointed in His baptism by the Holy Spirit (Acts. 10:36-37). The Scriptures also say that we have been anointed (2 Cor. 1:21, 1 Jn. 2) and generally refer to Christians as kings and priests (1 Pet. 2:5-10, Rev. 1:6), that is, bearing offices that presuppose anointing. While the Holy Spirit is obviously tied to this anointing, the NT generally associates the Holy Spirit with baptism (Acts 2:38, Tit. 3:5). I would also argue generally that since the name "Christ" means "anointed one," and to be baptized is to be baptized "into" Christ (cf. Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:27), all who are baptized are covenantally joined to the "Anointed One" and thereby share in His anointing.