Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O mighty one

Psalms 45: 3-5

Some Muslim writers claim that Psalms 45 refers to Muhammad, and they quote in particular the third, fourth and fifth verses of that Psalm as having a direct reference to him. The words run as follows, ‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O mighty one, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride on prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies, whereby the people fall under thee.’

If the reader will study carefully the whole Psalm in which this passage is found, he will see that it has no reference whatever to Muhammad. 12 In its primary application it probably had reference to the marriage of King Solomon to a foreign princess. Such a marriage is actually recorded in the first Book of Kings, where we read that, ‘Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David’ (1 Kings 3:1). But if this Psalm 45 be studied with attention it will be seen that it has a much deeper signification, and points to one, much greater than Solomon, who was possessed in some mysterious way of a divine nature. Thus in the sixth verse—a verse which, it may be remarked, Muslim writers usually discreetly omit to quote—that one is addressed in these terms, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.’ This one sentence is sufficient to prove the groundlessness of the claim that the Psalm refers to Muhammad, for it is acknowledged by all that the latter never claimed divinity. On the other hand, there is the clearest evidence in the Injil that the Psalm does refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom Muslims honour with the titles ‘Word of God’ and ‘Spirit of God’. 13 Thus we read, ‘But of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever’ (Hebrews 1:8). This passage from God's word makes it clear that the Psalm is Messianic in character, the ‘bride’ being the Christian Church. This idea of the Christian Church as the bride of Christ is found repeatedly in Scripture, and thus helps to corroborate our view of the Psalm we are discussing. For example, the Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian Church says, ‘For I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 11:2). And again in the record of the visions of the Apostle John we read that, ‘I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband’ (Revelation 21:2).

Muslim controversialists in arguing against the Messianic character of this Psalm point out the reference to swords and arrows and ask in triumph whether Hazrat Isa was ever a man of war —as if this question settled the whole matter. 14 They apparently forget that even the word sword may be used with a spiritual signification. As a matter of fact it is so used in the Injil. Thus the Apostle Paul urges his converts in their fight against ‘the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’ to take ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ (Ephesians 6:17). How well the Lord Jesus Christ used this sword is evident in the account of His great temptation by Satan as recorded in Matthew 4, when to every suggestion of the evil one He replies by quoting the written Scriptures, and thereby repels his every onslaught.

12. The Psalm has reference to a divine Being.

13. The lnijil quotes the Psalm as Messianic.

14. See also, Revelation 19:11-16, where, in the future, Jesus comes as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.