Out of the Ivory Palaces

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“All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.” (Psalm 45:8)

Psalm 45 is one of the Messianic psalms, quoted as such in Hebrews 1:8-9. The section so quoted (vv. 6-7), which immediately precedes our text, begins with one Person of the Godhead addressing the Messiah also as “God,” whose throne is eternal. Then, He says, “Oh God, . . . thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” The “oil of gladness” was the holy oil used for the anointing of priests and kings and was compounded of a mixture of spices which included myrrh and cassia (Exodus 30:22-25). Since the Messiah had been anointed to be “above his fellows” (first as High Priest, then as King of kings), “all his garments” would bear the sweet aroma of the holy ointment.

At the birth of Christ, His garments were “swaddling clothes,” and the gifts of the eastern wise men included a supply of myrrh and frankincense (Luke 2:7; Matthew 2:11). At His death, they gave Him to drink “wine mingled with myrrh [and] . . . parted his garments” (Mark 15:23-24). Then once again His body was wrapped in linen clothes and anointed with myrrh and aloes (John 19:39-40) for His burial.

The psalmist sees Christ (i.e., “Messiah,” both Greek and Hebrew titles meaning “the Anointed One”) emerging triumphantly from the “ivory palaces.” These mansions with their ivory walls and pearly gates are of shimmering white beauty in the distant heavenly city which will someday descend to Earth (Revelation 21:2, 10-21).

The Lord descended once from these ivory palaces to take on human flesh in Mary’s womb, thence to a burial in Joseph’s tomb. But someday He will again come forth, anointed as eternal King, and then “shall the people praise thee for ever and ever” (Psalm 45:17). HMM