Having recently rewatched Selma, I’ve had rods on my mind. The way the officers used their batons (among other weapons) as rods of undeserved wrath on nonviolent protestors has been burned on my brain. The present context where racist police brutality has been on the forefront only serves to highlight the way the King of Kings and Lord of Lords uses the rod.
Psalm 45 begins on a happy note as a wedding song. While it may have signified an actual wedding between two high-ranking people, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit indues it with deeper meaning as an analogy between Christ, the groom, and His bride, the church.
The first half of the Psalm (verses 2-9) paints a portrait of the groom beginning with “You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever” (Psalm 45:2). The second half (verses 10-17) paints a picture of the doting bride, beginning with “Hear, O daughter, and consider, and include your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty” (Psalm 45:10).
After having introduced the sweet-lipped, strong-armed groom, the writer begins to talk about his manner of ruling. Thus, the rod enters the wedding psalm as something used righteously in the hand of the righteous one. The Hebrew word shebet translated scepter literally means rod or club.
In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!…Your throne, O God is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of righteousness. (Psalm 45:2-4 & 6).
Unlike the batons used to beat law-abiding protestors, this baton is a symbol of security and justice. The lacing together of humility and meekness with strength and justice should shock us because they are so rarely found living in unison. However, in Christ, the King, they are inextricably bound together. The King who rode into Bethlehem meekly on a donkey proclaiming peace (Matthew 21:1-11) will return on a white horse ready for the final judgement of all evil (Revelation 19:11-16).
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war… He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:1:11 & 15-16).
Our husband and king is not an ivory-tower bystander who only reads about injustice. He led the charge on injustice by showing his great power expressed in unthinkable humility first on the donkey then finally on the cross. Though He was the one who from all eternity had wielded the rod of uprightness, He was beaten and bloodied by weapons used unjustly on himself.
He fully and completely understands and hates injustice. And soon and very soon, He will return ready to finish the battle that has already been won. In his forever rule and reign in the New Heavens and the New Earth, weapons will be smelted into tools for construction like plowshares. Rods will no longer be used as tools of shame and racism.
Until then, we are called to be his bride who shares his love for uprightness and hatred for wickedness.
When we understand the altogether perfection of our groom, it is a fitting response to be ready to leave everything to be altogether his. His loves become our loves, His hatreds become our hatreds. He holds the rod and we proudly wear the ring of His covenant love,
Since he is your lord, bow to him. (Psalm 45:11).
We are called to be ready to leave all that is familiar and ingrained us by our families and shaping cultures to be one with our glorious groom. He sets the standards. We do the bowing and leave the blessing to him. We forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13-14), we take on the nature of our groom and become the aroma of his coming kingdom.