- For the music leader. To the tune of “Lilies.”1 An enlightening psalm2 of Korah’s family.3
Wow, what a king
- 1 I’m deeply moved, and I’ll share my thoughts.
I’ll recite them in lyrics to the king.
I’ll raise my voice as a poet would,
Using my mouth instead of a pen.
- 2 You are the best of us,
the most beautiful kind of a person.
Elegance, grace, and charm flow from your lips.
You’ll always have God’s blessing.
- 3 Strap on your sword, mighty hero.
Suit up in splendor and glory.
- 4 Ride to victory, your majesty.
Defend truth, protect the meek, and save the godly.
Use your power to do great things.
- 5 Send your sharp arrows flying
Straight into the hearts of enemy kings
So their people will fall at your feet.
- 6 Eternal God put you on the throne.
So, the power of your reign is for justice.
- 7 You love what’s good and hate what’s bad.
So, God chose you above all others.
And with oil he joyfully anoints you king.
- 8 Your royal robes add fragrance,
Aromas of myrrh, aloe, and cassia.
Music rises from palaces laced in ivory,
As the humming harps make you smile.
- 9 Honored ladies in your wedding party
Are noble daughters of the kings.
And at your side, your strong right hand,
Stands the queen in gold of Ophir.4
Advice for the new queen
- 10 A word of advice, my queen.
Please let me borrow your ear.
Let go of your people
And your father’s home.
- 11 Let the king enjoy your beauty and charm.
May he delight in your obedience
To him as your master.
- 12 A priceless robe from Tyre will be your gift.
The rich try to get on your good side.
There’s excitement at the wedding
- 13 Our princess, the bride, has a beautiful soul.5
And a gown embroidered in gold.
- 14 In these beautiful clothes she is led to the king
With her friends following closely behind.
- 15 Excited, happy, and showing it
Here come the ladies stepping into the palace.
- 16 Now in place of your father
You’ll have sons.
As you’ll appoint them as rulers,
Princes in the land.
- 17 May people to come remember your name6
And forever give thanks for who you are.
The original Hebrew word is shoshannim. It means “lilies,” but not necessarily the flowers. Some scholars say it might refer to lily-shaped trumpets or to some other instruments.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. “An enlightening psalm” is a guess. The original Hebrew word is maskil (mass-KEEL). Scholars say they aren’t sure what it means. They say they don’t even know if the word refers to the lyrics or the music. Maskil sounds a bit like another Hebrew word, askilkha, which means “let me enlighten you.” Some scholars associate maskil with a root word, sakal, which generates a lot of words with various meanings such as: thoughtful, instructive, wise, and proper. One theory is that the word relates to both lyrics and music. It could, for example, describe the lyrics as “thoughtful” and the music as a harmony fit for that theme.
Korah was a musical family in the tribe of Levi, one of the 12 tribes that made up the original nation of Israel. Levite families worked as priests and worship leaders and assistants for the Jewish nation.
It’s unknown where Ophir was. But it was famous for producing the finest gold. King Solomon imported gold from Ophir (1 Kings 10:11). A broken piece of pottery found near Tel Aviv and dated to the 700s BC, a couple centuries after kings David and Solomon, confirm that Ophir was a location from which gold was exported. The fragment reads “30 shekels…gold of Ophir for Beth-Horon.”
The Hebrew is tough to translate. That explains why just about every Bible translation takes it in a different direction. Educated guesses one and all, often springing from context clues.
Funny, the writer never mentioned the king’s name, as far as anyone seems able to remember. But then, the song would work for any king. And for the wedding of any man who felt as lucky as a king to get to marry a wife like his.