This is a continuation in our series of expositions and commentary on the Book of Psalms. Today we explore Psalm 21. This is a marvelous psalm and classic example how Jesus and David are both interwoven and intermingled throughout the entire psalm.
Title: To him that excelleth. A Psalm of David.
Psalm 21 is the continuation of Psalm 20. What was prayed for in the prior psalm has been realized here.
Psalm 21 is also typical of many other psalms in that a duel role or story is being told here. Sometimes it is obviously about David and other times it is about Jesus. In either case, this one psalm befits both.
“Many think that it is to be wholly referred to the victories of the Messiah; and it must be owned that there are several expressions in it which apply better to our Lord than to David, or to any other person” (Adam Clarke).
“Probably written by David, sung by David, relating to David, and intended by David to refer in its fullest reach of meaning to David’s Lord” (Charles Spurgeon).
“David was an illustrious type of Christ, so in many of these expressions he may seem to look beyond himself unto Christ, in whom they are more properly and fully accomplished, and of whom divers of the ancient Hebrew doctors understand it” (Matthew Poole)
“Various passages in this psalm are by the Jewish writers understood of the Messiah; as “the King”, in Psalm 20:1 is in the Targum called “the King Messiah” (John Gills)
But within this psalm we see the Holy Ghost in action too.
“David in the person of the people praiseth God for the victory, attributing it to God, and not to the strength of man. Wherein the holy Ghost directeth the faithful to Christ, who is the perfection of this kingdom” (1599 Geneva Bible)
1) The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
David was the consummate and perpetual prayer and praiser of God. But no one spent more time in prayer, mediation and in communication with God than Jesus.
“But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble. Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy” (Psalm 59:16-17)
“David could have given thanks to God in private for the victories and other signal favors which he had received from him; but it was his intention to testify not only that it was God who elevated him to the throne, but also that whatever blessings God had conferred upon him redounded to the public good, and the advantage of all the faithful” (John Calvin).
But if the king referred to here is the Messiah as the Targum states then nothing but praise and edification could possibly proceed from the lips of Jesus. “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49).
2) Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.
Be it Christ, David or you and I the request of our lips will not be withheld.
“The requests of the Saviour were not withheld. He was and still is a prevailing Pleader. Our Advocate on high returns not empty from the throne of grace. He asked for his elect in the eternal council-chamber, he asked for blessings for them here, he asked for glory for them hereafter, and his requests have speeded. He is ready to ask for us at the mercy-seat. Have we not at this hour some desire to send up to his Father by him? Let us not be slack to use our willing, loving, all-prevailing Intercessor” (Charles Spurgeon).
Jesus said, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:11-14).
We are given our heart’s desire because when we are in Christ and Christ is in us, our heart becomes His heart. Anything we could possibly ask while in Christ will be consistent and congruent with Him. Righteousness and unrighteousness cannot coexist in the same heart.
3) For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head.
“Preventest” comes from the word, “qadam“ which means to go before or proceed in time. God knows what we need before we ask. But this is an indication of the effectual and fervent prayer of the Psalmist.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8).
“thou settest a crown“ is probably in reference to Jesus. The crown, the emblem of royalty and divinity is given by God and not by man. It implies choice by God in which there is only one.
4) He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever.
David asked for life and his lineage lives on still today. Jesus asked for life and He defeated death through resurrection and presently sits on the right hand of God. We ask for life through Jesus Christ our Savior, to join Him with the Father.
5) His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him.
“We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the Lord fulfil all thy petitions” (Psalms 20:5)
His glory, whether it is David or Jesus comes from the, “God of our salvation” (Psalm 65:5) Jehovah. God’s honor is laid upon us all as a holy ornament.
God’s glory and honor is great in your salvation. You and I being saved is God’s honor. To repent, to return to him is His great delight. Never believe the devil when thoughts of a cruel and angry God creep in. God said, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye” (Ezekiel 18:32).
6) For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.
The 1599 Geneva Bible footnotes give the meaning of this verse as, “Thou hast made him thy blessings to others, and a perpetual example of thy favor forever.”
The literal translation of the first part of the verse reads, “Thou hast set him for blessings forever.” Jesus is our blessing forever. He is the praise of God in whom He is well pleased. Jesus is a blessing to God because He is a blessing from God to man. The blessing to God and to man is that Jesus did what God had sent him to do.
Jesus said, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost” (John 17:12). This is the greatest blessing of them all. Jesus the Savior and the mediator saving those who are blessed of God for the time appointed.
Jesus is our blessing and example for righteousness and piety without which we would never be acceptable to God. He is our role model, the target to aim for.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21)
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21)
If Jesus was a blessing to others and we are to be like Him then we too must be blessings to our fellow man. “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:30-31)
Emulating Jesus also is consistent with the teachings of Paul and edifying other people.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19)
7) For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.
King Solomon taught us wisely when he said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). When we trust in God implicitly and explicitly then this avails His mercy towards us.
God will not allow his chosen and elect to be “moved”. This is a reference to being overtaken or defeated by the enemy and sin. Our status, stature and being will not be overthrown.
At Gethsemane Jesus told Peter, James and John to “watch” as he went and prayed. This was a warning from the Son of God for them to pay attention, do not slip or overthrown by sin and the enemy. Do not be moved.
“Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak“ (Mark 14:38)
8) Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.
“Thy right hand” is reference to the righteousness and divine power of God and as a shining light righteousness will always reveal sin.
“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)
The Son of God Jesus Christ was the light.
“Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them” (John 12:35-36).
In the above verse from John, Jesus is warning the people to “watch” unless they be “moved” when he says, “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you”.
God’s saints are the light too! “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Mathew 5:14).
9) Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.
“Wicked men are as dry trees, as stubble, as thorns or briers, and are fit fuel for a fiery oven or furnace; by which is meant the wrath and fury of God, which is poured forth as fire; and this has had its fulfilment in part in the Jews at Jerusalem’s destruction; when that day of the Lord burned like an oven, and the proud and haughty Jews, and who dealt wickedly by Christ, were burned up in it, Malachi 4:1” (John Gills).
“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Malachi 4:1).
A fiery oven brings to mind Hell. It also brings to mind many Old Testament accountings such as Sodom and Gomorrah and Jesus, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But saints go through fiery ovens too. Sometimes it is the Father’s chastisement and correction of us. Sometimes we are under some form of a spiritual attack. During these times it, “Teacheth us patiently to endure the cross till God destroy the adversary” (1599 Geneva Bible).
10) Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.
God is in control the devil is not. The fruit and the seed of evil shall be destroyed. The evil, the unrighteous, those who do not choose God will not only be dealt with but what they produce will be as well. Businesses fail, causes terminate, wars cease all through the hand of God against the evil from whence it came.
Unrighteous parents who do not “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6), who breed iniquity only insure their progeny’s fate. Sin is selfish it only thinks of itself. So the man of sin cannot see beyond his own wants and desires dooming his children to an eternity of Hell fire. God and righteousness involves much more than our selves. It affects all in our life.
11) For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform.
The devil hates God and anything to do with the Father. When he sees one of the elect he sees God and it infuriates him. The devils goal is to kill, steal and destroy anything of God.
When the people told Samuel they wanted a king to rule over them like everyone else instead of a God appointed judge it was nothing but the work of the devil in the form of rebellion.
“And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7)
When Jesus sent his 12 disciples out to spread the word he warned them, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
Why did He tell them this? Because Jesus knew that they would be, “hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22) and “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
The devil will always attempt to kill, steal and destroy the very elect. But he will not be able to perform his deeds and/or we will be able to endure whatever may occur. Because the, “Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped… he is the saving strength of his anointed” (Psalm 28:7-8). God is the saving strength. God saving His children is His glory, honor and majesty!
12) Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them.
“The original has in it the thought of the wicked being set as a butt for God to shoot at, a target for his wrath to aim at. What a dreadful situation!” (Charles Spurgeon).
At first glance this verse is quite confusing. How can the enemy have their backs turned yet God fire arrows “against the face of them”? It becomes clear when you realize that the often used word or phrases involving “face” is actually a reference to “presence”.
Evil happens. The unrighteous do have victories. But all is never lost no matter how bad a situation may be or appear to be. For, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
One example in modern times of the hand of God turning the backs of the enemy and readying His arrows to create a miracle against the enemy was the 6 Day War. In 1967 Israel was about to be annihilated and wiped clean off the face of the planet by surrounding nations.
Here are excerpts of the event as told by the The Christian Broadcasting Network.
“Israel found itself outnumbered and out-gunned on three fronts, Egypt to the south, Jordan to the west and Syria to the north. The Soviet Union had poured $2 billion worth of arms into the Arab nations. Israel’s enemies brought twice as many soldiers, three times as many tanks and four times as many airplanes to the battlefield.
The Arab nations surrounding Israel vowed to make the blue Mediterranean run red with the blood of Jews.”
But with everything and everyone against Israel, God made, “Them turn their back” as He readied His, “arrows upon thy strings against the face of them”. The certain defeat of Israel turned into a miraculous victory in just 6 days.
“Many Orthodox Jews and Christians believe the Jewish nation had witnessed a miracle”.
“For evangelical Christians, the Six Day War was a huge moment of seeing God’s Hand intervene on behalf of the Jewish People,” Joel Rosenberg said. “That’s what was so extraordinary, that you had this moment where Arab/Islamic leaders were saying we’re going to throw the Jews into the sea and it looked like another holocaust was immanent. Suddenly, in six days, the Jewish people defended themselves, destroyed their enemies, tripled their land; recaptured control of Jerusalem for the first time in 2,000 years and on the seventh day they rested. That just sounded way too Biblical for evangelicals all over the planet and they rejoiced with the Jewish people.”
13) Be thou exalted, Lord, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.
Nothing belongs to us. It all belongs to God. The harder the attack from evil the harder we should lean on Him. God works through His people, not around them and not for them.
But we should carefully consider the following. Exaltations and praise should not be reserved strictly for times of trouble. We should, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
All the time is a good time to praise the Lord. In so doing elevates our being towards Him and this means we move away from the devil and his world. Praise the Lord for His strength, power and goodness for He is deserving! But that praise will also be a shield and a very present help against the evil to come.
“Joy should always flow in the channel of praise. All the attributes of God are fitting subjects to be celebrated by the music of our hearts and voices, and when we observe a display of his power, we must extol it. He wrought our deliverance alone, and he alone shall have the praise” (Charles Spurgeon).
“Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob” Psalm 81:1).
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