Was Jesus handsome according to Psalm 45:2?
They crux to this answer will no doubt depend on how one interprets the psalms and Sacred Scriptures.
For example, when reading the Gospel of St. John (John 1:26), John the Baptist speaks about Our Lord with the vague words as follow:
John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.” - (John 1:26 NKJV)
I always thought and still do that Jesus was very handsome, but in his appearance there was nothing to make him stand out. Jesus blended in with his fellow Jews in a very ordinary way, perhaps even covering up his features as often seen in Christian art.
Do the Psalms speak of the physical beauty of Jesus, our Messiah? Possibly, but it is impossible to determine in an absolute sense.
THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY
Psalm 45:2 - Psalm 45:7.
There is no doubt that this psalm was originally the marriage hymn of some Jewish king. All attempts to settle who that was have failed, for the very obvious reason that neither the history nor the character of any of them correspond to the psalm. Its language is a world too wide for the diminutive stature and stained virtues of the greatest and best of them, and it is almost ludicrous to attempt to fit its glowing sentences even to a Solomon. They all look like little David in Saul’s armour. So, then, we must admit one of two things. Either we have here a piece of poetical exaggeration far beyond the limits of poetic license, or ‘a greater than Solomon is here.’ Every Jewish king, by virtue of his descent and of his office, was a living prophecy of the greatest of the sons of David, the future King of Israel. And the Psalmist sees the ideal Person who, as he knew, was one day to be real, shining through the shadowy form of the earthly king, whose very limitations and defects, no less than his excellences and his glories, forced the devout Israelite to think of the coming King in whom ‘the sure mercies’ promised to David should be facts at last. In plainer words, the psalm celebrates Christ, not only although, but because, it had its origin and partial application in a forgotten festival at the marriage of some unknown king. It sees Him in the light of the Messianic hope, and so it prophesies of Christ. My object is to study the features of this portrait of the King, partly in order that we may better understand the psalm, and partly in order that we may with the more reverence crown Him as Lord of all. - MacLaren's Expositions
The theme of Christ’s beauty goes back to sermons by St. Augustine of Hippo, while being now supported by St. Thomas Aquinas and Jacques Maritain.
ON THE WEST FRONT of the thirteenth-century cathedral of Amiens, there is a carved stone figure of Christ standing on evil beasts in serene majesty, and it is called ‘le Beau Dieu’. The idea of presenting Christ as both beautiful and sovereign may typify the sensibility of the Middle Ages. But the theme of Christ’s beauty goes back to sermons by St Augustine of Hippo, to the awesome and victoriously beautiful Christ in the Book of Revelation, and to his identification elsewhere in the New Testament with the radiantly beautiful Lady Wisdom of the Jewish Scriptures. Augustine provides one of the finest statements of this theme when commenting on a love song, on the royal wedding song that we know as Psalm 45:
He then is beautiful in heaven, beautiful on earth; beautiful in the womb, beautiful in his parents’ arms; beautiful in his miracles; beautiful under the scourge; beautiful when inviting to life ... beautiful in laying down his life; beautiful in taking it up again; beautiful on the cross; beautiful in the sepulchre; beautiful in heaven.
This eloquent passage from Augustine takes one ‘from heaven to heaven’—that is to say, from Christ’s pre-existent life ‘before’ the incarnation to his ‘post-existent’ life when risen from the dead. At every stage in that story, beauty characterizes Christ, even when he is laying down his life on the cross. Augustine’s comments provide a framework for reflecting on Christ’s beauty, and for doing so out of the communicative wealth of the Scriptures. But first let me take a stand on what I understand by beauty. Even a provisional account can help us to explore the life of meaning in the biblical texts.
Drawing on St Thomas Aquinas, Jacques Maritain described beauty as follows:
For beauty three things are required: in the first place, integrity or perfection (integritas sive perfectio), for whatever is imperfect is eo ipso ugly; in the second, proportion or harmony (proportio sive consonantia); in the third, clarity (claritas), for there is a splendour in all objects that are called beautiful.
These three qualities of beauty—an exquisite flawlessness, a harmonious proportion, and a radiance—point to what we perceive in beautiful objects. They have a proper completeness; they display a perfect shape and order; and they enjoy a ‘luminosity’, or the right balance of colour and light through which they stand out appropriately. We rejoice in the ‘radiant form’ of some person, or delight in the ‘splendid’ performance of a symphony or a great drama.
What I have just said raises the crucial issue of part- icipation in what is beautiful. Beauty attracts us, evokes our wonder and joy, and arouses a flood of delight and inconsol- able longing. We fall in love with beauty, sing its praises, and want to stay in its pres- ence. When Solomon succ- umbs to the beauty of Lady Wisdom, he wants to live with her forever: ‘When I enter my house, I shall find rest with her; for companionship with her has no bitterness, and life with her has no pain, but gladness and joy’ (Wisdom 8:16). At the same time, there is a mysterious quality to beauty which points beyond its mere visible expression, and leaves us asking: Where does that radiant loveliness come from, and why does it affect me in the way that it does? The mystery of beauty involves a depth of meaning which can never be exhausted. The significance of a beautiful person, a great piece of music, or a radiant painting cannot be plumbed and expressed once and for all, as the classic love poetry of the world has always witnessed. Even the masters of language lose their struggle with words and lapse into silence before the lovely object of their love. The impact of beauty is not only lasting but also total. Our whole existence is illuminated by what is beautiful.
At the same time, the experiences of reacting to what is beautiful and participating in it leave us with the question: is beauty something ‘sensible’, something we take in through our bodily senses? Is beauty to be met only in something which is material and wonderfully proportioned, materially speaking? Augustine wrote of God as ‘the Beauty of all things beautiful’.
The answer to that question is no. There is a beauty beyond what we can sense. God is utterly perfect, harmonious and radiantly splendid, that Beauty itself which perceptible earthly beauty reflects and in which it participates. St Gregory of Nyssa understood God to be not only beautiful but also the very essence and archetype of beauty (De Virginitate, 11.1-5). Centuries later St Bonaventure wrote about St Francis of Assisi moving from created reality to contemplate the most beautiful, beloved and wholly desirable God:
In beautiful things he saw Beauty itself, and through [the divine] vestiges imprinted on [created] things he followed his Beloved everywhere, making from all things a ladder by which he could climb up and embrace him who is utterly desirable.
What Augustine, Gregory and Bonaventure wrote about the beauty of God is firmly based in the Bible. - The Beauty of Christ
Le Beau Dieu, Amiens Cathedral
The Beau Dieu (literally “handsome God”) is the image of Christ that occupies the top half of the pillar dividing the central portal to Notre-Dame of Amiens. He stands atop an image of Solomon, is flanked by the apostles, and is crowned by a magnificent tableau of the Last Judgment in the tympanum above his head. As a look at the whole west front of the cathedral shows, the image of Christ makes an impressive focal point as the building is approached. Well above the pilgrim’s head, the tall Christ is framed by the ascending arches and gables, whose lines point the eye up through the gallery of kings to the towers and the heavens above.