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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 21

Verses 1-7


Psalm 21 continues the subject of Psalm 20. Both psalms belong together. They are both about God’s anointed King. Psalm 20 is a prayer for the King’s victory (Psalms 20:2). Psalm 21 sings of and celebrates the victory that has been won (Psalms 21:1-Exodus :).

The psalm begins with the joy of the King (Psalms 21:1) and ends with the joy of the remnant (Psalms 21:13). Psalms 21:2-Joshua : are a psalm of thanksgiving; Psalms 21:7 speaks of the example of the King’s confidence, which is followed in Psalms 21:8-2 Kings : by the confidence of the remnant.

Reward for the King

For “for the choir director” (Psalms 21:1) see at Psalm 4:1.

For “a Psalm of David” see at Psalm 3:1.

David, “the king”, knows that victory is a gracious gift from the LORD, which he owes to His power (Psalms 21:1). A victory is not due to his own strength or military acumen (Psalms 20:7). The achieved victory means that God has given him His salvation. Of this “he rejoiced”.

Here we also hear the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, speaking, who is glad and rejoices in all His victories because therein becomes visible what Yahweh has done. It is here about the final victory, about the time when God has put all the enemies of the Lord Jesus under His feet (Psalms 110:1-Deuteronomy :). We also hear here the voice of the remnant. The Spirit of Christ works in the remnant the feelings that correspond to the feelings of Christ.

In the previous psalm, the remnant prayed that the desire of the heart of the Messiah will be fulfilled (Psalms 20:4). That desire is perfectly consistent with the will of God. By the Spirit, the remnant now says that Yahweh has given that desire to the Messiah and has not withheld “the request of his lips” from Him (Psalms 21:1-Exodus :; cf. John 12:27-Hosea :).

Having trusted in God, after His victory – which He achieved on His own, without help from others (Isaiah 63:5-Joshua :) – God immediately approaches Him with rich blessings (Psalms 21:3; cf. John 13:31-Jonah :). This recalls the blessing with which Melchizedek blessed Abraham after his victory over the kings of the east (Genesis 14:18-Proverbs :).

Also, God gives Him a beautiful crown of pure gold on His head (Hebrews 2:9). By this He guarantees the continuation of the kingship of David. What He gives to His Son retains eternal its value. The Son has earned and received the eternal kingship promised to Him (Luke 1:32-Micah :).

God has also given His Messiah the long life that the Messiah desired of Him (Psalms 21:4). This is life with a “length of days” that has no end (Isaiah 53:10). It is life “forever and ever”. This is the life given to the Lord Jesus in the resurrection in response to His supplication in view of His impending death (Hebrews 5:7). God speaks of this to David when David wants to build a dwelling place for Him. God then promises that He will give David a house and a kingship to which there will be no end (2 Samuel 7:16).

The Messiah is then given glory, splendor and majesty (Psalms 21:5), features peculiar belonging to God (Psalms 96:6; Psalms 104:1). They are given to Messiah here when entering His kingdom. Yet He need not wait for the actual fulfillment in the realm of peace. For they are already given to Him by God in His glorification with God (Hebrews 2:9). It is not seen here as a reward for His atoning death, but for His victory over His enemies, who are also God’s enemies.

The greatest blessing of all is the great blessing of gladness in God’s presence (Psalms 21:6). Psalms 21:3 speaks of rich blessings. These have to do with the place of honor He has received. Here God expands on that by saying that He has made His Son “most blessed forever”. This being made most blessed is the blessing with which He was blessed and that He is also a blessing to others (cf. Genesis 12:2). Thus He has given us the glory that the Father has given Him (John 17:22). This is an indescribable blessing to us.

What God says to His Son here rejoices Him with joy. That joy takes its root in the presence of God. When He says “in Your presence”, He is saying that He finds the greatest possible satisfaction in the presence of the Father. His presence is beyond all (cf. Psalms 17:15).

The Messiah confirms His dedication to Yahweh by expressing His trust in Him (Psalms 21:7; Hebrews 2:13). We see here that the basis of all the blessings that the remnant, and we too, may share with the Lord Jesus is His dependence on God. He has always trusted that the LORD is with Him and that He will fulfill all His promises made to Him.

Because of the structure of Psalm 21, Psalms 21:7 is in the middle of the psalm. Psalms 21:1 is a reflection of Psalms 21:13 and Psalms 21:2-Joshua : are the reflection of Psalms 21:8-2 Kings :.

The response to the Messiah’s trust in Him is that “the Most High” upholds Him by His lovingkindness, so that He will not be shaken. Here it is not strength – that is already contained in the name “Most High” – but lovingkindness or favor. Because of His trust, the Most High looks upon Him in lovingkindness and acts with Him on that basis. This simultaneously preserves Him from being shaken.

As has been noted many times, the word “lovingkindness” is the translation of the Hebrew word chesed. That word implies that God is faithful to His covenant. We know from the New Testament that God can be faithful to it on the basis of the work of the Mediator of the new covenant, Christ, because He paid the price.

Verses 8-13

Judgment on the Enemies

In order for the full blessing to be enjoyed, it is necessary for all that are in rebellion against God be judged by the Conqueror of Calvary. In Psalms 21:8-1 Chronicles :, the remnant is speaking to the King. This is about trusting in the victory that the King, Christ, achieves over the enemy, whereby the King puts His trust in the LORD and the LORD does not shame His trust.

God is performing His work of deliverance with respect to the remnant Himself and does so in and through His Messiah. In the last verse of this section, Psalms 21:13, we see this clearly. There they ask the LORD to redeem them by His strength and power, while the Messiah has that strength and power. The cursing and extermination of the enemy are part of God’s faithfulness to His covenant. We see this, for example, in what God says to Abraham: “The one who curses you I will curse” (Genesis 12:3). By this He is saying, as it were: ‘The one who despises you, I will destroy.’

There is no doubt about God’s power and that of His King over the enemies. His “hand”, and specially His “right hand” as a picture of power, will know how to find His enemies, that is, those who hate Him (Psalms 21:8). No enemy can hide from Him un-findable. He will seize them in their most hidden hiding place and place them in the light of His judgment.

He will make them “as a fiery oven” as soon as He shows His face to them (Psalms 21:9). Here God reveals His wrath. He is furious, as it were. That will happen “in the time” of His “anger”, or the time of His presence, that is the time “when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-Ruth :). Then He shows His face. He is “the LORD” Who “will swallow them up in His wrath”. “The fire shall consume them”, nothing of them will remain on earth.

Not only will they themselves perish in judgment, but also “their offspring”, literally “their fruit” and “their descendants” He will be “destroy from the earth, … from among the sons of men” (Psalms 21:10). They will have no successors in evil. There will be no remnant of them left through whom evil could have progressed or revived. Evil has been eradicated radically, that is, root and all. Truth and righteousness will triumph and never be trampled on again. Messiah reigns and He is the Friend of truth and righteousness which will be upheld by Him in a perfect way.

In Psalms 21:11 the reason for the judgment is mentioned, which we see from the word “though” with which the verse begins. Judgment comes because of the “evil” they have “intended” against the LORD and His Anointed (cf. Psalms 2:2). This is not about evil deeds, but about devising a plot in their hearts. It proves that they are sinning deliberately, premeditatedly. Several times in the Gospels we read that the leaders were plotting evil against God’s Anointed (Matthew 12:14; Matthew 26:4).

They have “devised a plot”. They do not want Him to be King over them (Luke 19:14). Therefore, they have devised all kinds of things to put Him to death. But nothing came of their cunning plan. It proves their folly to do anything against Christ. They devise it all in their pride, while being blind to the fact that “they will not succeed”. If they finally succeed in putting the Lord Jesus to death, it will not be because of their scheming, but because He delivers Himself to them, because it is God’s time for it.

They will not be able to carry out their plans to thwart God because God turns the tables. It is not the Messiah Who is their target, but they are God’s target (Psalms 21:12). He will “make them turn their back” and “aim with” His “bowstrings at their faces”. That He is aiming His bow at their faces means that they are on an advance in His direction. He is not lying in ambush, but is attacking them head-on, with the result described in the preceding verses.

The psalm ends with a prayer that the LORD will exalt Himself in His strength and the promise of the remnant that they will then sing and praise His power (Psalms 21:13). The King began in Psalms 21:1 by praising the power of the LORD. Then the song of victory sounded.

The song of victory was sung in faith trusting in the LORD. He will do what He promises and fulfill it in His anointed King, Who trusts in Him perfectly. The remnant shares in that confidence and in the certainty that it will be as it was sung. The LORD has helped and it is also certain that He will continue to help.

Yet it still comes down to trusting in faith, because the enemies may be considered defeated for faith, but they are still there. Therefore, the knowledge that things will eventually be all right does not make prayer unnecessary. In fact, this certainty cannot endure in any other way than through prayer alone. This prayer of faith that the remnant prays is therefore completely appropriate.

What matters in the end is that the LORD is glorified. Thus, this psalm ends with the heartfelt desire to exalt Him. This corresponds to the prayer: “Hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9).

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 21". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.