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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 21

Verse 1

The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!

This 21st forms a pair with the 20th Psalm. The blessings there prayed for "in the day of trouble" are here triumphantly acknowledged as already granted. These bright anticipations are based on God's promise to David (2 Samuel 7:16; 2 Samuel 7:24-29; 2 Samuel 23:5-7) that his house and throne should be forever: fulfilled in the Son of David (Psalms 72:5; Psalms 72:15; Psalms 72:17). Psalms 21:1-13.-Yahweh's strength bringing salvation, at the King's desire, is praised (Psalms 21:1-2); the king's crown, glory, and everlasting life derived through trust in Yahweh (Psalms 21:3-7); address to the king, anticipating his triumph (Psalms 21:8-12); closing prayer to God to exalt Himself in His own strength, so as to give His people cause for praise (Psalms 21:13).

In thy strength, O Lord, and in thy salvation. It shall be the element IN which his joy shall have place. "Salvation" means here, in its reference to David primarily, and mainly to Messiah, deliverance from all enemies and final triumph (cf. "thy salvation," Psalms 21:5).

Verse 2

Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.

Heart's desire ... request ... lips. The silent desire of the heart and the spoken request of the lips stand here in contrast. The heart must prompt the prayer of the lips, if prayer is to be effectual. The promise in 2 Samuel 7:16; 2 Samuel 7:24-29, was doubtless the answer to David's prayer; which supposition accords with the expressions of triumphant gratitude which such marvelous grace elicited from him. His "desire" here is, plainly defined as one for 'salvation, strength' (Psalms 21:1), continuance of dominion (Psalms 21:4), 'glory, honour, and majesty,' in his posterity (Psalms 21:5). This psalm assumes the fact of his desire being granted, inasmuch as God bed promised it, (2 Samuel 7:1-29.) The blessing, at once temporal and spiritual, shall be finally realized in Messiah's kingdom.

Selah. The pause calls for devout meditation on the grace of God.

Verse 3

For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head.

Thou preventest - surprisest him with blessings even exceeding his request (cf. ).

Settest a crown. God's promise of the everlasting continuance of the kingdom to David's seed was in David's eyes a crowning of him anew, with a crown of preciousness far exceeding all the glory which he already enjoyed. He was not only an "Abimelech," or King's father, as distinguished from an elective monarchy, but father of a royal and everlasting seed.

Verse 4

He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever.

Life of thee ... for ever and ever - in the person of his seed (cf. 2 Samuel 7:13; also 16; Psalms 89:4).

Verse 5

His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him.

His glory - i:e., through the saving deliverance which thou dost vouchsafe to him. "Thy salvation" is the element IN which His glory is great.

His glory ... honour. The very terms used in Hebrews 2:9 respecting Christ's ascension and sitting at the Father's right hand.

Verse 6

For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.

For ... most blessed for ever - Hebrew, 'thou settest him for blessings forever.' The plural implies the rich fullness of the blessings of which David and his seed should be the center (Genesis 12:2).

Exceeding glad - Hebrew, 'thou hast gladdened him with joy.' The special phrase, "with [ 'et (Hebrew #854)] thy countenance," expresses the fellowship which David had with the Lord's gladdening countenance. The antitypical reference to Messiah's ascension is plain: for the same language is used respecting His ascension in Psalms 16:11, as explained in Acts 2:28; and the same Hebrew expresses 'presence' there as is translated "countenance" here.

Verse 7

For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.

This verse, which speaks both of the King and of THE LORD, forms the transition from the address to God to the address to the king.

For the king trusteth in the Lord. The ground of the confident anticipation concerning the everlasting glory of the king is, that Yahweh is his trust, so that through the mercy (or love) of the Most High he shall not be moved.

Verse 8

Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.

Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies. The people here in faith declare to the king the sure triumph which shall be his over all foes of his kingdom, because of God's promise, (.)

Verse 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.

A fiery oven - burning with the heat of thy wrath at the day of the Lord, which "shall burn as an oven" (Malachi 4:1).

In the time of thine anger - literally, 'in the time of thy countenance' (cf. Lamentations 4:16, margin); the time of the Lord's personal manifestation or presence at His second coming [ parousia (Greek #3952)]. That same "countenance" wherewith the king and his people are "made exceeding glad," consumes like fire his and their enemies (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

Verse 10

Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.

Their fruit ... and their seed - "fruit" - i:e., progeny (Psalms 127:3).

Verse 11

For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform.

Intended evil - against Israel's king. Literally, They inclined, or bent evil upon thee, to throw it down on thee.

Not able - nay, their designs recoil on themselves.

Verse 12

Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them.

Turn their back - literally, 'thou shalt set them for shoulder;' i:e., make them to turn their back. The Hebrew [ shekem (Hebrew #7926)] means, 'the back part of both shoulder-blades'-the back (cf. note, Psalms 18:40).

Therefore - rather, 'For.' (When) ... (thine arrows). So the Hebrew ellipsis is rightly supplied, as appears from Psalms 11:2.

Verse 13

Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.

Concluding prayer and consequent thanksgiving.

Be thou exalted - Let thyself be seen raised with thine own strength for the deliverance of us, thy people, and our king.

Sing and praise. Thereby thou wilt give us cause to exalt thee with our praises (Psalms 18:46).

Copyright Statement
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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 21". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.