A Scepter of Equity
Weddings these days are full of “adaptations.” It is not unusual for those of us who officiate weddings to be surprised with the addition of a reading, poem, or speech that is not part of our normal written liturgy. Sometimes these inclusions enhance the moment….sometimes they don’t. The best of these for me was when a sister read a beautiful poem called These are the Hands about the meaning and beauty of marriage. The worst was a time when I was told that the best man would do a “reading,” and instead he spent about ten drunken minutes talking about the groom’s bawdy behavior in college. He did acknowledge that the bride outshone all those previous girlfriends, however. Yes, this happened during the ceremony, not the reception. I just stood there with my mouth open. After that, I have been careful to ask to see the “readings” before we start. Lord, have mercy!
Our unusual Psalm today is thought to be written as a wedding reading. The king is getting married, and a poem has been written to mark the event:
Psalm 45 (New Revised Standard Version)
My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
2 You are the most handsome of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
The psalmist then waxes eloquently about the king being a god, yet anointed by God with the oil of gladness. The writer of Hebrews later connects these verses with Jesus as the messiah, and many commentators see a foretelling of the coming Jewish messiah in these words:
Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
If we connect the dots from this writing to Jesus, one of the things that stand out the most is the phrase “scepter of equity.” The king’s scepter is a visual representation of his power. He points it, and people respond by doing his bidding. So what does it mean to have a scepter of equity?
Merriam-Webster defines equity as : justice according to natural law or right: specifically, freedom from bias or favoritism.
That sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it? He, who invited a prostitute, working class men, immigrants, women, non-Jews, and even a lowly TAX COLLECTOR to follow him surely is the king of equity.
As people who live under the rule of his scepter, do we offer equity in his name? Are our churches, synagogues, temples, and cathedrals places of inclusion or exclusion? Would Jesus feel welcome in our homes?
These are important considerations for us as we collectively wait for Jesus to return. As we pray “Come, Lord Jesus, come,” we need to be sure our places of worship and our homes are ones that would actually welcome him in.
May we be preparing our hearts and homes for Jesus, and all whom Jesus loves. Come, Lord Jesus, come!