As a writer, I’ve been musing over the enigmatic verse tagged as the first one of Psalm 45 ---
My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
I’ve been wanting to emphasize to my fellow Christian writers the importance of speaking the gospel of Christ in our writing, of communicating the Word of God, and always having our content be in accordance with the Scriptures. If we don’t do it, who will? But instead of me jumping into this topic directly and writing a personal exhortation, maybe it’s better to simply reflect on the Scriptures as an example of what I am talking about. Thus, Psalm 45:1 seems like a good place to camp out for a few moments.
An overflowing heart
The heart is the place where our real selves exist. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (ESV). If you’ve ever listened to a speaker rattling off dull facts or a politician regurgitating his well-scripted party line ad nauseam, you know how unimpressive it is. But when someone speaks from their heart, we usually know it. They may stutter and stumble, but we are all ears. That’s because we sense they are speaking from a deep place. This is where the writer of this psalm found himself --- in a good contemplation, like the “burning fire” (Jer. 20:9) in the prophet Jeremiah’s heart that could no longer be contained.
A good theme
This psalm is one of many which are said to be messianic. They speak much of the person of the coming king, the Anointed One, Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself stated dogmatically that the Old Testament Scriptures were about Him, including the Psalms (Luke 24:27, 44). But certain psalms seem to speak of Him more poignantly than others. Psalm 45 is one of them. The writer of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews quotes this psalm as he begins his letter, seeking to convince his audience that Jesus Christ is all that the Scriptures portray Him to be. He is better than angels and the One they should unabashedly worship and adore:
But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter
of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness
and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil
of gladness more than Your companions” (Heb. 1:8-9; cf. Ps. 45:6-7).
It was the Spirit of Christ within the Old Testament writers who stirred them to write of Him even though they themselves had little comprehension of the full magnitude of what they were writing (see I Peter 1:10-12). The good theme is the person of the great King, King Jesus.
I recite my composition
This good theme naturally became the subject of his writing and his speaking. “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Mat. 12:34). The psalmist felt compelled to recite, to speak verbally, of his “composition concerning the King.” There may have been a more immediate reference to King Solomon and his glorious wedding which was unfolding. But the Bible does not allow us to stop there. This king was “fairer than the sons of men” and God has blessed Him forever (Ps. 45:2). The praise goes far beyond the royal King Solomon for “the people shall praise You forever and ever” (Ps. 45:17). King Jesus was a man, but also more than a man. He was the unique God-man, the only Son of God. Is there a fairer person in the universe for us to speak and write about?
My tongue is the pen
Here lies the strange intermingling of verbal and written communication. Is one method better than the other? I say, no. Both speaking and writing have their advantages and weaknesses. There is a dynamic in oral speech which cannot be fully manifested in written speech. It can be the dynamic of immediate, Spirit-filled, human personality (see I Peter 1:12). The speaker’s entire body is often used to project the meaning intended. Voice intonation can parlay the exact emphasis needed. But even the best oral messages can be lost on us not long after they are received. Our memories are faulty. But with writing, though intonation and use of non-verbal cues are absent, there is nonetheless a certainty and permanence to the communication. The Apostle Peter referred to Scripture as being more stable, firm, reliable than even the audible voice of God from heaven (see II Pet. 1:19). One can mull over written words often and garner benefit from them. And one can spread them to others. Hence, the beauty of the Scriptures themselves as they’ve come to us in such varied form in sixty-six books. But even now, our creative writing can have this power of certainty and permanence. Our writing will not rise to the level of being divinely inspired, of course; but nevertheless, our penned or typed words can have a lasting impact, especially when they are built on the everlasting truth of Scripture.
Of a ready writer
The word, “ready,” here has the meaning of quick, skillful. The psalmist was ready to not only speak words of the king but to write them down for the benefit of others. My fellow Christian writers, I hope you have obtained a sense of how great our calling is. We have the privilege of thinking deeply about our great Lord Jesus and then allowing our hearts to overflow onto our papers and screens. God has given us creative abilities and there is an infinite number of ways we can utilize these skills in our writing. But at the end of the day, may our compositions contain much of the King, the One who is “fairer than the sons of men.”
(Verses quoted are from the NKJV unless indicated otherwise.)