When studying the Old Testament it is sometimes easy to become confused regarding prophecies which speak of the promised messiah. For example, in Isaiah 53:2B we read: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” However, when we turn to the Book of Psalms we find a seemingly conflicting statement with clearly messianic significance: “You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever… clothe yourself with splendor and majesty” (Psalm 45:2-3).
A number of explanations have been put forward for this apparent difference of majesty or no majesty, beauty or no beauty – such as the idea these verses are speaking of different aspects of the messiah’s appearance, or that Isaiah was speaking of “outward beauty,” while Psalm 45 speaks of “inward beauty.” That this is not the case can be seen by looking at the context of the verses surrounding Psalm 45:2-3 which are clearly speaking of the external appearance and attributes of the messiah.
In this, and in similar cases, the apparent conflict is easily resolved when we separate the first coming of the messiah from the second coming. The context of Isaiah 53 is clearly one of human life that fits the physical life of Christ: “… he was pierced for our transgressions…” (Isaiah 53:7), etc. Isaiah was speaking of the appearance of the messiah which also matches what we know. When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus was able to slip through the crowds and avoid arrest on several occasions, indicating that he was probably of ordinary appearance and certainly did not stand out as a person of noticeable physical beauty. Isaiah’s words give us a clear reason for his everyday appearance in his first coming.
On the other hand, when we look at the context of Psalm 45 it has reference to the messiah's coming as a conquering king with great majesty and with the nations falling beneath his feet (Psalm 45:4-5). While this description clearly does not fit the first coming of Jesus Christ, it certainly fits the second coming as we see in the Book of Revelation: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns … The armies of heaven were following him … Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations … On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords” (Revelation 19:11-16). When we also compare the description of the “bride” of Christ in Revelation 19:7 with that of the bride of the king in Psalm 45, we see that the connection with the second coming of the messiah in that psalm is complete.
Simple as this principle is, it can resolve many seeming difficulties as we read prophetic scriptures in the Bible. When we are careful to distinguish the humble servant role of the messiah’s first coming from his role as conquering king at his second coming, the apparent conflicts are resolved.