Psalms 45

PSALM XLV

The contents of this Psalm are generally summed up thus: The

majesty and grace of Christ's kingdom; or an epithalamium of

Jesus Christ and the Christian Church; the duty of this Church,

and its privileges. The Psalm contains a magnificent

description of the beauty, ornaments, valour, justice, and

truth of the Divine Bridegroom; the beauty, magnificence, and

riches of the bride, who was to become mother of a numerous and

powerful posterity. The preamble is found in the title and

verse 1.

The description and character of the Bridegroom, 2-9.

The address to the bride by her companions, 10-15.

A prediction of her numerous and glorious descendants, 16, 17.

NOTES ON PSALM XLV

The title is nearly the same with that of Psalm lxix. and lxxx.

"To the chief musician, or master of the band of those who played

on the six-stringed instruments, giving instruction for the sons

of Korah; a song of loves, or amatory ode; or a song of the

beloved maids." The Vulgate and Septuagint have, For those who

shall be changed, or brought into another state, which some have

interpreted as relating to the resurrection of the just; but if I

could persuade myself that the title came by Divine inspiration, I

would say it more properly belonged to the calling and conversion

of the Gentiles, and bringing them over from idolatry to the

worship of the true God. By some the word shoshannim, is

translated lilies; and a world of labour has been spent to prove

that these lilies mean the saints, Jesus Christ himself, and the

Divine light which is a banner to them that fear him. I cannot

believe that any such meaning is intended, and, consequently, I

cannot attempt to interpret the Psalm after this model. I believe

it to be an epithalamium, or nuptial song, which primarily

respected Solomon's marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh; and

that it probably has a prophetic reference to the conversion of

the Gentiles, and the final aggrandizement of the Christian

Church.

Verse 1. My heart is inditing a good matter] rachash,

boileth or bubbleth up, as in the margin. It is a metaphor taken

from a fountain that sends up its waters from the earth in this

way. The Vulgate has eructavit, which is most literally translated

by the old Psalter: Mi hert ryfted gude word. [Anglo-Saxon] My

heart belcheth.-Anglo-Saxon.

I speak of the things which I have made touching the king]

, literally, "I dedicate my work unto the king."

Or, as the Psalter, I say my werkes til the kyng. This was the

general custom of the Asiatic poets. They repeated their works

before princes and honourable men; and especially those parts in

which there was either a direct or constructive compliment to the

great man. Virgil is reported to have a part of his AEneid before

Augustus, who was so pleased with it that he ordered ten sestertia

to be given him for every line. And the famous Persian poet

Ferdusi read a part of his Shah Nameh before Sultan Mahmoud, who

promised him thirty thousand denars for the poem.

My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.] I shall compose and

speak as fluently the Divine matter which is now in my heart, as

the most expert scribe can write from my recitation. My tung of

maister swiftly wrytand. "That es, my tung is pen of the Haly

Gast; and nout but als his instrument, wham he ledis als he wil.

For I speke noght bot that he settis on my tung; als the pen dos

noght withouten the writer. Swyftly wrytand, for the vertu of

goddes inspiracioun is noght for to thynk with mons study, that he

schewes til other of the purete of heven; that es some for to com

that he wrytes."-Old Psalter.

Verse 2. Thou art fairer than the children of men] By whom are

these words spoken? As this is a regular epithalamium, we are to

consider that the bride and bridegroom have compliments paid them

by those called the friends of the bridegroom, and the companions

or maids of the bride. But it seems that the whole Psalm, except

the first verse, was spoken by those who are called in the title

yedidoth, the beloved maids, or female companions, who

begin with his perfections, and then describe hers. And afterwards

there is a prophetical declaration concerning his issue. We may,

therefore, consider that what is spoken here is spoken by

companions of the bride, or what are called yedidoth in the title.

It would be unauthenticated to say Solomon was the most beautiful

man in the universe; but to the perfections of the Lord Jesus they

may be safely applied.

Grace is poured into thy lips] This probably refers to his

speech, or the gracious words which he spoke. Solomon was renowned

for wisdom, and especially the wisdom of his conversation. The

queen of Sheba came from the uttermost parts of the land to hear

the wisdom of Solomon; and so far did she find him exceeding all

his fame, that she said one half had not been told her: but

behold, a greater than Solomon is here. No man ever spoke like

this man, his enemies themselves being judges.

God hath blessed thee for ever.] This, I am afraid, could in no

sense be ever spoken of Solomon; but of the man Christ Jesus it is

strictly true.

Verse 3. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty] This

clause should be translated, O hero, gird thy sword upon thy

thigh! This, I think, cannot be spoken of Solomon. He was not a

warlike prince: he never did any feats of arms. It has been said

he would have been a warrior, if he had had enemies; it might have

been so: but the words more properly apply to Christ, who is King

of kings, and Lord of lords; whose sword with two edges,

proceeding from his mouth, cuts all his adversaries to pieces.

With thy glory and thy majesty.] Be as war-like as thou art

glorious and majestic. Solomon's court was splendid, and his

person was majestic. These words may be well said of him. But the

majesty and glory of Christ are above all: he is higher than all

the kings of the earth; and has a name above every name; and at it

every knee shall bend, and every tongue confess.

Verse 4. In thy majesty ride prosperously] These words cannot be

spoken of Solomon; they are true only of Christ. His riding is the

prosperous progress of his Gospel over the earth. He uses no sword

but the sword of the Spirit; and what religion, system of truth,

pretended or real, ever made such progress as the religion of

Christ has done, without one sword being ever drawn to propagate

it from the first introduction of Christianity to the present

time? His Gospel is TRUTH, proclaiming HUMILITY, anvah, and

RIGHTEOUSNESS. This, indeed, is the sum of the Gospel; and an

epitome of its operations in the hearts of men. 1. The Gospel is

a revelation of eternal TRUTH, in opposition to all false systems

of religion, and to all figurative and ceremonial representations

of the true religion. It is truth concerning GOD, his NATURE, and

his WORKS. It is truth concerning MAN, his ORIGIN, his INTENTS,

his DUTIES, and his END. It is truth in what it says concerning

the natural, the moral, and the invisible world. 2. It teaches

the doctrine of meekness or HUMILITY; opposes pride and vain

glory; strips man of his assumed merits; proclaims and enforces

the necessity of humiliation or repentance because of sin,

humiliation under the providential hand of God, and humility in

imitation of the character of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout

life. 3. The Gospel teaches RIGHTEOUSNESS: shows the nature of

sin, wrong, injustice, transgression, &c.; works righteousness

in the heart; and directs and influences to the practice of

it in all the actions of life. The Gospel leads him who is under

its influences to give to all their due; to GOD, to his neighbour,

to himself. And it is by the propagation of truth, humility, and

righteousness, that the earth has become so far blessed, and the

kingdom of Christ become extended among men.

And thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.] The

Chaldee is different: "And the Lord will teach thee to perform

terrible things by thy right hand." The Arabic: "And with

admiration shall thy right hand direct thee." The Septuagint: "And

thy right hand shall lead thee wonderfully." To the same purpose

are the Vulgate, Anglo-Saxon, and the old Psalter. The meaning is,

Nothing shall be able to resist thee, and the judgments which thou

shalt inflict on thine enemies shall be terrible.

Verse 5. Thine arrows are sharp] The arrows here may mean the

convictions produced in the hearts of men by the preaching of the

Gospel. The King is God himself; his enemies are sinners of all

sorts. The people, the Jews, thousands of whom were pricked in

their hearts under the preaching of Peter and others. All fall

before Christ; those who received the word rose again by

repentance and faith; those who did not, fell down-all down!

Verse 6. Thy throne, O God, is for ever]

kisacha Elohim olam vaed. "O God, thy throne is for ever, and

eternal!" The word Elohim here is the very first term or name by

which the Supreme God has made himself known to the children of

men. See Ge 1:1; and this very verse the apostle, Heb 1:8, has

applied to Jesus Christ. On this I shall make a very short remark,

but it shall be conclusive: If the apostle did not believe Jesus

Christ to be the true and eternal God, he has utterly misapplied

this Scripture.

The translation in the old Psalter, and the paraphrase will, on

this controverted text, be considered of some importance: Thi

settil God in werld of werlde: wande of ryghtyng wande of thi

kyngedome. Here he loues [celebrates] God Crist ----- of dome. Thi

settil of demyng and of kynges pouste. God es werld of werld for

al that he demes es noght chaunged and that byfalles the, for the

wande that es ceptre and the governyng of thi kyngdom es wande of

ryghtyng, that ryghtes croked men this es the wand of goddes

evenes that ay es ryght and never croked that reules ryghtwis men

and smytes wiked men. The reader will observe a blank space

between the word Crist and of dome: it is the same in the

original. A word has been so carefully erased with the scalpel in

the above place, that not a vestige of a letter is left. From the

following words I should suspect it to have been kynge or lard.

Here he praises God, Christ, king of judgment. However this may

be, it is evident that this ancient commentator understood the

word God to be applied to Christ. I have given the sentence as it

is pointed in the original.

Verse 7. Oil of gladness] As an evidence that all causes of

mourning, sorrow, and death, were at an end; as in the state of

mourning the ancients did not anoint themselves.

I have mentioned above that the author of the Epistle to the

Hebrews, Heb 1:8, 9, quotes Ps 45:6, 7, of this Psalm. I shall

subjoin the substance of what I have written on these verses in

that place:-

"Verse 8. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.-If this be

said of the Son of God, i.e., Jesus Christ, then Jesus Christ must

be God; and indeed the design of the apostle is to prove this. The

words here quoted are taken from Ps 45:6, 7, which the ancient

Chaldee paraphrast, and the most intelligent rabbins, refer to the

Messiah. On the third verse of this Psalm, 'Thou art fairer than

the children of men,' the Targum says: 'Thy beauty,

malca Meshicha, O King Messiah, is greater than the children of

men.' Aben Ezra says: 'This Psalm speaks of David, or rather of

his Son the Messiah, for this is his name, Eze 34:24:

And David my servant shall be a prince over them for ever.'

Other rabbins confirm this opinion.

"This verse is very properly considered a proof, and indeed a

strong one, of the divinity of Christ; but some late versions of

the New Testament have endeavoured to avoid the evidence of this

proof by translating the word thus: 'God is thy throne for ever

and ever;' and if this version be correct, it is certain that the

text can be no proof of the doctrine. Mr. Wakefield vindicates

this translation at large in his History of Opinions; and οθεος

being the nominative case is supposed to be sufficient

justification of this version. In answer to this it may be stated

that the nominative case is often used for the vocative,

particularly by the Attics, and the whole scope of the place

requires it should be so used here; and with due deference to all

of a contrary opinion, the original Hebrew cannot be consistently

translated any other way; kisacha Elohim olam

vaed, 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and to eternity.' It is in

both worlds, and extends over all time, and will exist through all

endless duration. To this our Lord seems to refer, Mt 28:18: 'All

power is given unto me, both in HEAVEN and EARTH.' My throne,

i.e., my dominion, extends from the creation to the consummation

of all things. These I have made, and these I uphold; and from the

end of the world, throughout eternity, I shall have the same

glory-sovereign unlimited power and authority, which I had

with the Father before the world began; Joh 17:5. I may add that

none of the ancient Versions has understood it in the way

contended for by those who deny the Godhead of Christ, either in

the Psalm from which it is taken, or in this place where it is

quoted. Aquila translates Elohim, by θεε, O God, in

the vocative case; and the Arabic adds the sign of the vocative

[Arabic] ya, reading the place thus: [Arabic] korsee yallaho ila

abadilabada, the same as in our Version. And even allowing that ο

θεος here is to be used as the nominative case, it will not make

the sense contended for without adding εστι to it, a reading which

is not countenanced by any Version, nor by any MS. yet discovered.

Wiclif, Coverdale, and others, understood it as the nominative,

and translated it so; and yet it is evident that this nominative

has the power of the vocative: Forsothe to the sone God thi troone

into the world of worlde: a gerde of equite the gerde of thi

reume. I give this, pointing and all, as it stands in my old MS.

Bible. Wiclif is nearly the same, but is evidently of a more

modern cast: But to the sone he seith, God thy trone is unto the

world of world, a gherd of equyte is the gherd of thi rewme.

Coverdale translates it thus: 'But unto the sonne he sayeth:

God, thi seate endureth for ever and ever: the cepter of thy

kyngdome is a right cepter.' Tindal and others follow in the same

way, all reading it in the nominative case, with the force of the

vocative; for none of them has inserted the word εστι is,

because not authorized by the original; a word which the opposers

of the Divinity of our Lord are obliged to beg, in order to

support their interpretation.

"A sceptre of righteousness.-The sceptre, which was a sort of

staff or instrument of various forms, was the ensign of

government, and is here used for government itself. This the

ancient Jewish writers understand also of the Messiah.

"Verse 9. Thou hast loved righteousness.-This is the

characteristic of a just governor; he abhors and suppresses

iniquity; he countenances and supports righteousness and truth.

"Therefore God, even thy God.-The original, διατουτουεχρισε

δεοθεοςοθεοςσου, may be thus translated: 'Therefore, O God,

thy God hath anointed thee.' The form of speech is nearly the same

with that in the preceding verse; but the sense is sufficiently

clear if we read: 'Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee,'

&c.

"With the oil of gladness.-We have often had occasion to remark

that anciently kings, priests, and prophets, were consecrated to

their several offices by anointing, and that this signified the

gifts and influences of the Divine Spirit. Christ, οχριστος,

signifies The anointed One, the same as the Hebrew Messiah; and he

is here said to be 'anointed with the oil of gladness above his

fellows.' None was ever constituted prophet, priest, and king, but

himself: some were kings only, prophets only, and priests only;

others were kings and priests, or priests and prophets, or kings

and prophets; but none had ever the three offices in his own

person but Jesus Christ; and none but himself can be a King over

the universe, a Prophet to all intelligent beings, and a Priest to

the whole human race. Thus he is infinitely exalted beyond his

fellows-all that had ever borne the regal, prophetic, or

sacerdotal offices.

"Some think that the word μετοχους, fellows, refers to believers

who are made partakers of the same Spirit, but cannot have its

infinite plenitude. The first sense seems the best. Gladness is

used to express the festivities which took place on the

inauguration of kings," &c.

Verse 8. All thy garments smell of myrrh] The Asiatics are very

partial to perfumes; every thing with them is perfumed, and

especially their garments. And the ivory palaces mentioned are the

wardrobes inlaid with ivory, in which their numerous changes of

raiment were deposited. Myrrh and aloes are well known; cassia

is probably the bark or wood of the cinnamon tree. These with

frankincense, galbanum and other odoriferous drugs, were and are

frequently used in the perfumes of the Asiatic nations.

Whereby they have made thee glad.] Referring to the effect of

strong perfumes refreshing and exhilarating the spirits.

Verse 9. Kings' daughters were among] Applied to Solomon, these

words have no difficulty. We know he had seven hundred wives,

princesses; and the mention of those here may be intended only

to show how highly respected he was among the neighbouring

sovereigns, when they cheerfully gave him their daughters to

constitute his harem. If we apply it to Solomon's marriage with

the daughter of the king of Egypt, it may signify no more than the

princesses and ladies of honour who accompanied her to the

Israelitish court. Applied to Christ, it may signify that the

Gospel, though preached particularly to the poor, became also the

means of salvation to many of the kings, queens, and nobles, of

the earth. The Chaldee interprets the queen standing at his right

hand, by the law; and the honourable women, by the different

regions and countries coming to receive that law from his right

hand. Perhaps by kings' daughters may be meant different regions

and countries, which are represented as constituting the families

of potentates. Whole nations shall be converted to the Christian

faith; and the queen-the Christian Church, shall be most elegantly

adorned with all the graces and good works which at once

constitute and adorn the Christian character.

Verse 10. Hearken. O daughter, and consider] This is the

beginning of the address by the companions of the bride to their

mistress; after having, in the preceding verses, addressed the

bridegroom; or, rather, given a description of his person,

qualities, and magnificence. Suppose the daughter of Pharaoh to be

intended, the words import: Thou art now become the spouse of the

most magnificent monarch in the universe. To thee he must be all

in all. Forget therefore thy own people-the Egyptians, and take

the Israelites in their place. Forget also thy father's house;

thou art now united to a new family. So shall the king-Solomon,

greatly desire thy beauty-thou wilt be, in all respects,

pleasing to him. And it is right thou shouldst act so; for he is

now become thy lord-thy supreme governor. And worship thou

him-submit thyself reverently and affectionately to all his

commands.

Taken in reference to Christ and the Gospel, this is an address

to the Gentiles to forsake their idolatrous customs and

connexions, to embrace Christ and his Gospel in the spirit of

reverence and obedience, with the promise that, if beautified with

the graces of his Spirit, Christ will delight in them, and take

them for his peculiar people; which has been done.

Verse 12. The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift] The

Tyrians shall pay tribute to thy spouse, and assist him in all his

grand and magnificent operations.

As, at this time, Tyre was the greatest maritime and commercial

city in the world, it may be here taken as representing those

places which lay on the coasts of the sea, and carried on much

traffic such as parts of Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy,

France, the British Isles, &c., which first received the Gospel of

Christ and were the instruments of sending it to all the other

nations of the earth.

Rich among the people] The most powerful and opulent empires,

kingdoms, and states, shall embrace Christianity, and entreat the

favour of its Author.

Verse 13. The king's daughter is all glorious within] This, in

some sense, may be spoken of Solomon's bride, the daughter of the

king of Egypt; and then the expression may refer either to the

cultivation of her mind, or the ornaments and splendour of her

palace. The Asiatic queens, sultanas, and begums, scarcely ever

appear in public. They abide in the harem in the greatest luxury

and splendour; and to this, as its literal meaning, the text may

possibly refer.

Her clothing is of wrought gold.] Of the most costly embroidery:

her palace, and her person, are decorated in the very highest

state of elegance and magnificence.

Spiritually, the king's daughter may mean the Christian Church

filled with the mind that was in Christ, and adorned with the

graces of the Holy Spirit; while the whole of its outward conduct

is pure and holy, ornamented with the works of faith and love, and

always bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit.

Verse 14. She shall be brought unto the king] When an Asiatic

princess is brought to her spouse, she is inclosed in a palakee,

and no part of her person is visible. She is attended by her

principal friends and companions, who follow the palakee, and the

ceremony is accompanied with great rejoicing; and thus they enter

into the palace of the king.

This part of this parabolical Psalm may refer to the glories of

a future state. The Christian Church shall be brought to the KING

eternal in the great day, adorned with the graces of the Divine

Spirit; and thus shall all the redeemed of the Lord enter into the

king's palace-into the everlasting joy of their Lord.

Verse 16. Instead of thy fathers shalt be thy children] This is

the third part, or prophetic declaration relative to the numerous

and powerful issue of this marriage. Instead of the kindred, which

thou hast left behind in Egypt, thou shalt have numerous children.

This cannot refer either to Solomon, or to the daughter of

Pharaoh; for there is no evidence that he ever had a child by

Pharaoh's daughter; and it is very certain that Rehoboam,

Solomon's successor, was not son to the daughter of Pharaoh; nor

did any princes of that line ever occupy a foreign throne; nor by

successive generations ever continue the remembrance of Solomon

and his Egyptian queen. The children mentioned here are generally

supposed to mean the apostles and their successors in the

Christian ministry; founding Churches all over the world, by whom

the Christian name becomes a memorial through all the earth.

Verse 17. Therefore shall the people praise thee] They shall

magnify the heavenly Bridegroom, and sing the wonderful displays

of his love to the Church, his spouse. And the constant use of

this Psalm in the Christian Church is a literal fulfillment of the

prophecy.

ANALYSIS OF THE FORTY-FIFTH PSALM

The type of the Messiah is Solomon; of the Church, especially

of the Gentiles to be espoused, Pharaoh's daughter.

There are three parts in this Psalm:-

I. A preface, Ps 45:1, 2.

II. The body of this Psalm contains two commendations,-

1. Of the bridegroom, Ps 45:3-9.

2. Of the bride, Ps 45:10-15.

III. The conclusion promissory and laudatory, Ps 45:16, 17.

I. In the preface the prophet commends the subject he is to

treat of,-

1. Signifying that it is a good thing; good, as speaking of the

Son of God, who is the chief good.

2. And good for us; for, on our union with the Church, and

Christ's union with that, depends our eternal good.

That the author of this Psalm, and the subject of it, is God:

the psalmist was but the pen to write, for he was full of the Holy

Ghost. Therefore, his heart was inditing, and his tongue followed

the dictate of his heart, and presently became the instrument of a

ready writer, viz., of the Holy Spirit: "My tongue is the pen of a

ready writer."

Thus, having endeavoured to gain over his auditory, 1. By the

commendation of the matter of which he is to treat, viz., that it

is good. 2. That it tends to a good end, viz., the honour of the

King, that is, Christ, the King of the Church: he then enters on

the main business, which has two particulars.

II. 1. He turns his speech to Christ, the King, and commends him

for many eminent and excellent endowments:-

1. His beauty: "Thou art fairer than the children of men."

2. His elocution: "Grace is poured into thy lips."

3. For his valour: "O hero, gird thy sword upon thy thigh."

4. For his prosperity in his kingdom: "In thy majesty ride

prosperously."

5. For his just administration of public affairs. "Ride on,

because of truth, meekness, and righteousness."

6. For his battles and conquests: "Thy right hand shall teach

thee terrible things. Thy arrows are sharp in the hearts of the

king's enemies, whereby the people shall fall under thee."

7. For the stability and eternity of his power: "Thy throne, O

God, is for ever and ever."

8. For his justice and equity: "The sceptre of thy kingdom is a

right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest iniquity."

9. For the fulness of his gifts and graces, beyond all others:

"Therefore God-hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above

thy fellows."

10. For the splendour of his apparel and buildings. "All thy

garments smell of myrrh, &c., out of the ivory palaces." There is

nothing we can call good, great, or excellent; nothing

praiseworthy in a prince; that may not be found in this king.

2. From the bridegroom he proceeds to the bride, which here

means the universal Church; whom he sets forth:-

1. By her attendants; no mean persons: kings' daughters and

honourable women.

2. By her name, title, and dignity: a queen.

3. By her place: she stood on the right hand, the place of

confidence and respect.

4. By her attire and vesture: she stood in a gesture of gold of

Ophir.

In the midst of this great encomium he breaks off and, by an

apostrophe, turns his speech to the Church lest she should

forget herself in the height of her honour; giving her this good

counsel:-

1. "Hearken, O daughter!" mark what Christ saith unto thee.

2. "Consider." Look about, and see what is done for thee.

3. "Incline thine ear." Be obedient.

4. "Forget thine own people, and thy father's house." Leave all

for Christ; leave thy old way, old opinions, and old companions.

5. The consequence of which will be, "The king shall greatly

desire thy beauty."

6. And there is the utmost reason that thou shouldst hear, and

be obedient, and conformable to his will. 1. For, "He is the Lord

thy God, and thou shalt worship him." 2. This will promote thy

interest: "Tyre shall be there with a gift, and the rich among the

people shall entreat thy favour."

This counsel and admonition being ended, he returns again to the

encomium of the spouse, and commends her,-

1. For her inward virtues and endearments: "The king's daughter

(that is, the Church) is all glorious within."

2. For her externals; whether doctrine, morals, offices, which

are, as it were, her clothing: "It is of wrought gold."

3. For her rites and ceremonies,-they are a needlework of divers

colours, in divers Churches.

4. Her maids of honour, virgins; holy and sincere souls.

Believers, pure in heart, life, and doctrine, living in every

particular Church. These, her companions, shall follow her: 1.

These shall be brought to thee (the Church) from all nations. 2.

They shall be brought with joy and gladness, and enter into the

king's palace. Gladly and willingly, shall they enter her courts

here below, and afterwards be received to mansions in heaven.

5. For her fruitfulness. She shall have many children, good, and

great. For the fathers, patriarchs, prophets, and priests, under

the Old Law; apostles, evangelists, and their successors, under

the New; that they may be made princes in all lands. Her officers

are not contemptible.

III. The conclusion which is gratulatory. For this honour the

Church would,

1. Set up a memorial to the honour of the Bridegroom: "I will

make thy name to be remembered in all generations."

2. The praise of the heavenly Bridegroom shall be ever

perpetuated: "Therefore, shall the people praise thee for ever and

ever."

The Christian Church shall ever proclaim the name of Jesus, as

the name alone in which salvation is to be found; and as the

eternal Fountain of all blessings.

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