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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
Psalms 21

 

 

Verses 1-13

EXPOSITION

Psalms 21:1-13 is generally regarded as a companion composition to Psalms 20:1-9, being the thanksgiving after the victory for which the preceding psalm was the supplication. It consists of three parts:

Psalms 21:1

The king shall joy. The future is used to give the idea of continuance, "The king rejoices, and will go on rejoicing." In thy strength, O Lord; i.e. in the strength that thou puttest forth to help and protect him (comp. Psalms 20:6). And in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice: God' s "salvation" had been confidently anticipated (Psalms 20:5, Psalms 20:6, Psalms 20:9), and has now been experienced.

Psalms 21:2

Thou hast given him his heart' s desire (comp. Psalms 20:4, "Grant thee according to thine own heart"). And hast not withholden the request of his lips. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The deliverance from his enemies, which David had earnestly desired in his heart, he had also devoutly requested with his lips (Psalms 20:1, Psalms 20:5). Selah. The pause here may have been for the presentation of a thank-offering.

Psalms 21:3

For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness; i.e. thou givest him blessings before he asks, and more than he asks.. "The blessings of goodness" is pleonastic, since a blessing cannot be otherwise than a good. Thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head. It is remarked that David, as the result of one of his wars, did actually take the crown of the conquered king, which was a crown of gold, from off the king' s head, and place it upon his own head (2 Samuel 12:30); but this is scarcely what is intended here. As Hengstenberg observes, "The setting on of the crown marks the bestowment of dominion," not in one petty ease only, but generally, and is scarcely to be altogether separated from the promises recorded in 2 Samuel 7:12-16.

Psalms 21:4

He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever. The "life" intended cannot be ordinary human life, since in David' s case this certainly did not continue "for ever and ever." We must understand the psalmist to have asked for continuance in his posterity, and this was guaranteed him in the message which God sent him by Nathan (2 Samuel 7:13, 2 Samuel 7:16). In the full sense the promise was, of course, Messianic, being fulfilled only in Christ, the God-Man, who alone of David' s posterity "liveth for ever."

Psalms 21:5

His glory is great in thy salvation. David' s glory exceeds that of all other living men, through the "salvation" which God vouchsafes him. That salvation is partly temporal, consisting in deliverance from his foes; partly of an unearthly and spiritual character, arising out of his relationship to the coming Messiah. It is from the latter point of view, rather than the former, that it is said, Honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him.

Psalms 21:6

For thou hast made him most blessed for ever; literally, for thou settest him to be blessings for ever. Thou makest him, i.e; to be a perennial source of blessings to men. As all mankind were blessed in Abraham (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18), i.e. in his seed, so were they all blessed in David' s seed. Thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance; i.e. with thy favour and protection, so frequently and so markedly extended to him.

Psalms 21:7

For the king trusteth in the Lord. This is at once the ground and the result of God' s favour to him. God favours David because of his trust, and David trusts in God because of his favour. The result is that, through the mercy (or, loving-kindness, Revised Version) of the Most High he shall not be moved (comp. Psalms 15:5; Psalms 112:6). The words appear to denote a conviction, as Professor Alexander says, that David "would never be shaken from his standing in God' s favour." This conviction we may well conceive him to have felt, and to have regarded as one that might fittingly be expressed by his subjects, in whose mouth he placed it. But such a conviction is not always borne out by events, and David confesses elsewhere, that, at any rate, once in his life, after he had said, "I shall never be moved," God "hid away his face from him," and he "was troubled" (Psalms 30:6, Psalms 30:7).

Psalms 21:8-12

In this second portion of the psalm, the people address themselves to David, anticipating future glories for him. "Having shown what God would do for his anointed, the psalm now describes what the latter shall accomplish through Divine assistance" (Alexander). Past success is taken as a guarantee of victory over all other enemies.

Psalms 21:8

Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies; i.e. "shall reach them, attain them, punish them". Thy right hand (the hand of greater power) shall find out those that hate thee; and, of' course, punish them severely.

Psalms 21:9

Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of his anger. Some suppose a reference to the event mentioned in 2 Samuel 12:31, "He (David) made them (the Ammonites) to pass through the brick-kiln.;" but the expression "fiery oven" is probably not intended to be taken literally, but metaphorically. Severe suffering is continually compared in Scripture to confinement in an oven or furnace (see Deuteronomy 4:20; 1 Kings 8:51; Isaiah 48:10; Jeremiah 11:4; Ezekiel 22:18, Ezekiel 22:20, Ezekiel 22:22; Malachi 4:1). And we may best understand the present passage to mean simply that in the time of his anger David would subject such of his enemies as fell into his hands to very terrible sufferings. (See, as showing what extreme severities David did sometimes inflict on captured enemies, 2 Samuel 12:31 which is to the point, as also is 1 Kings 11:15,1 Kings 11:16.) The Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. The metaphor is followed up, with the addition that what was previously attributed to David alone is here declared to have the sanction of God.

Psalms 21:10

Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth; i.e. their offspring or progeny. Joab, by David' s orders, remained in Edom "until he had cut off every male" (1 Kings 11:16). And their seed from among the children of men. The second clause, as so often, re-echoes the first; without adding anything to it.

Psalms 21:11

For they intended evil against thee. Their destruction is brought upon them by their own selves. They plot against the people of God, and thus provoke God to anger, and cause him to deliver them into their enemy' s hand. It does not matter that they can effect nothing. The "intention" is enough. They imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform. The inability is not so much from a deficiency of strength in themselves, as from the opposition offered to their schemes by God. The best-laid plans an powerless, if God wills to baffle them.

Psalms 21:12

Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back; literally, their neck (comp. Is. Psalms 18:40). The meaning is simply, "Thou shalt put them to flight." When thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them. The Authorized Version, by supplying "when" and "thine arrows," expresses what the psalmist has left to the intelligence of the reader. The psalmist says, "Thou shalt put them to flight; thou shalt make ready upon thy strings against the face of them, no doubt meaning that the discharge of arrows would produce the hasty flight, but not saying it.

Psalms 21:13

Be thou exalted, Lord, in thine own strength. The psalm, as already remarked, ends, as it began, with the praise of God. "Be thou exalted" means, "Be thou lifted up, both in thyself, and in the praises of thy people" (comp. Psalms 18:46; Psalms 46:10). So will we sing and praise thy power. We, at any rate, will do our part to exalt thee. Our tongues shall ever sing of the great deeds thou doest for us.

HOMILETICS

Psalms 21:2

The triumph of victory.

"Thou hast given him his heart' s desire." We seem to hear in this psalm the trumpets and harps and shawms of the temple, and jubilant voices of Levites praising God for some great victory. Joy-bells are rung and Te Deum laudamus chanted because the king has come home in triumph. The psalm is closely connected with the preceding one. There we see the king going forth to war, consecrating his banner and trusting his cause to God. The Church prays, "The Lord hear thee … grant thee according to thine own heart" (Psalms 20:1-4). Here it triumphs in victory, and praises God as the Hearer of prayer. Whether the psalm refers to some special victory of David or any of his successors; or whether it be applied to Christ and his kingdom, the practical spiritual lessons we may draw from it are the same. One of the greatest Jewish commentators says, "Our ancient doctors interpreted this psalm of King Messiah; but against the heretics (Christians) it is better to understand it of David" (Rashi, quoted by Perowne). Take up briefly the leading thoughts which the text naturally suggests.

I. DESIRE IS THE MAINSPRING OF LIFE. Could the infinite multitude of desires, good or bad, transient or constant, noble or base, loving or selfish, which at this moment agitate human hearts, all cease, and be replaced by dull apathy, hope and effort would die. The whole busy drama of life would come to a dead stand, like an engine stopping when the fire is burnt out. Because so many of these desires are either wrong or ill-regulated, the word "lust"—often used in our English Bible, originally meaning simply "pleasure" or "desire "—has come to have an ill meaning. St. James puts his finger on these ungoverned discordant desires as the source of all the strife that disturbs the world (James 4:1, James 4:2). If all hearts submitted their desires to reason and God' s law, the world would be one vast peace society. Vexatious litigation and unfair competition would be unknown.

II. Therefore OUR HEART' S DESIRE IS THE TEST OF OUR CHARACTER. Not what a man says and does, but what he would like to say and do, if he could and dared, decide his character. "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." From the momentary wish, too unreasonable or too languid to stir us to action, to the deep steadfast purpose which rules a life, our desires mark us for what we are, and mould us to what we shall be. Find what it is you deeply and habitually desire, and you have the key to your characters (Proverbs 19:22).

III. DESIRE IS THE SOUL OF PRAYER. If we do not present to God our heart' s desire, we do not pray. Words without desire are not living prayer, only a dead form. Desire without words may be the truest, highest kind of prayer (Romans 8:26). Here is the peril of even the best forms of prayer. Their benefit is that they help to put our best desires into better words than we could find for ourselves; and by the power of association, as well as aptness, quicken our desires and instruct us what we ought to desire. Their danger is that we may mistake form and habit for life and spirit—a danger not confined to set forms. Extempore prayer may be as heartless and lifeless as a Tartar prayer-mill. Our own private prayers may degenerate into dead forms. Every earnest Christian (I suppose) is aware of this danger. When men came to our Saviour, his question was not "What have you to say?" but "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?" What is thy heart's desire?

IV. The whole world of human desire is OPEN TO GOD' S EYE. Heart-secrets are no secrets to him (Jeremiah 17:9, Jeremiah 17:10). The silent wish that flashed to the surface of consciousness, soaring up into light, or plunging, like a guilty thing, into darkness—God saw it; sees it still. The passionate longing, so timid yet so strong that the heart would die sooner than betray it, is to him as though proclaimed with sound of trumpet. No wish so sudden, strange, ambitious, as to take him by surprise. No lawful desire but he has provided for its satisfaction, either in creatures or in his own uncreated fulness. And unlawful desires are so, not because he forbids anything really good for us, but because they mean our harm, not happiness. This perfect Divine knowledge of all our desires, and of the wisdom or unwisdom of granting them, is not confined, remember, to the moment when we become conscious of them, or present them in prayer. They are foreseen. For the most part—perhaps, if we knew all, in every case—an answer to prayer implies preparation. Our prayer for daily bread is answered out of the fulness of last year' s harvest—the fruit of all harvests since corn was first reaped and sown. This abyss of Divine foreknowledge utterly confounds our intellect; yet to doubt it would be to doubt if God is God. Why then, with this boundless knowledge—foreknowledge—of all our desires and the conditions of their fulfilment, has God appointed prayer? Why does his Word show it to us as the very heart of religion? Partly, we may venture to say, because God delights to answer prayer. If not, it would scarcely be true—at least intelligible—that "God is love." Partly because blessings are doubly, nay, tenfold, precious when they come in answer to prayer; a strong help to faith, a spur to hope, an assurance of God' s love, and powerful motive to love (Proverbs 13:19). But supremely (I venture to think) in order that what is deepest, innermost, strongest, in our nature—our "heart' s desire"—should bring us closest to God; make us intensely feel our dependence on him; be consecrated, being offered to him in prayer.

V. Thank God, OUR HEART' S DESIRES—how large, lofty, pure, reasonable, soever—ARE NOT THE MEASURE OF GOD' S GIVING; do not circumscribe his willingness, any more than his power. He is "able to do exceeding abundantly," etc. (Ephesians 3:20). If men' s desires are like the sea, his mercy is the shore. His chiefest, "his unspeakable Gift" came in answer to no desire of human hearts or prayer from human lips. "God so loved" a prayerless, thankless, godless "world, that he gave his only begotten Son." This Gift has given us a new measure of expectation (Romans 8:32). What is more vital, it has opened a new fountain of desire in our hearts, and thereby enlarged, deepened, exalted, the whole scope of our life. Desire to be like Christ, to glorify Christ, to be with Christ,—these three give to life a new meaning, purpose, hope. If these be our heart' s desires, they are secure of fulfilment, because they are in agreement with God' s most glorious Gift, his most merciful purpose, his most precious promises. Here, as everywhere, our Saviour has left us an example, that we should follow his steps. We know what the supreme consuming desire of his heart was John 4:34. In the midst of life and usefulness, he longed for death; not as an escape from this world, but as the accomplishment of his destined work (Luke 12:50; John 10:17, John 10:18). "For the joy," etc. (Hebrews 12:2). In your salvation and mine he sees "of the travail of his soul" (Isaiah 53:1-12 :24).

CONCLUSION. We are furnished with a practical test—first, of our desires; secondly, of our prayers. Our desires (we said) are the index to our character. Will they fit into our prayers? Are they such that we can come with boldness to the throne of grace through the blood of Jesus, and say, "Lord, all my desire is before thee" (Psalms 38:9; Isaiah 26:8)? Prayer (we said) is living, real, worth offering, only as it is the utterance of our desires, the pouring out of our heart. Are our prayers such a true outbreathing of our "heart' s desire" ? Suppose, when you have joined in some high-toned hymn, or prayed in the earnest words of some ancient saint, a voice from heaven were to ask, "Do you mean what you say?" would it be for good or ill, here and hereafter, if God indeed granted your heart' s desire?

HOMILIES BY C. CLEMANCE

Psalms 21:1-13

A royal thanksgiving for answers to prayer. (For a day of national thanksgiving.)

We fail to see, in the structure of this psalm, sufficient indications of its being the counterpart of the preceding one, to lead us to call it a Te Deum, to be sung on returning from battle as victor. It would equally well suit other occasions on which the grateful hearts of king and people desired to render praises in the house of God for mercies received; e.g. Psalms 21:4 : would be equally adapted to the recovery of the king from sickness. Its precise historic reference it is, however, now impossible to ascertain; but this is of comparatively small importance. That the psalm is meant for a public thanksgiving is clear; and thus, with differences of detail in application thereof according to circumstances, it may furnish a basis for helpful teaching on days of national rejoicing over the mercies of God. We must, however, carefully avoid two errors in opening up the hid treasure of this psalm. We must not interpret it as if its references were only temporal, nor as if we lost sight of the supernatural revelation and of the Messianic prophecies which lie in the background thereof; nor yet, on the other hand, may we interpret its meaning as if the religious knowledge or conceptions of Israel' s king were as advanced as the thoughts of Paul or John. E.g. "His glory is great in thy salvation." If we were to interpret this word "salvation" as meaning, primarily, the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, we should be guilty of an anachronism. Its first meaning is, rescue from impending trouble or danger. This, however, may be regarded as prophetic of the triumph awaiting the Church' s King; but our exposition will be sure and clear only as we begin with the historic meaning, an& then move carefully forward. The prayers and thanksgivings of a people cannot rise above the level of inspiration and revelation which marked the age in which they lived. We, indeed, may now set our devotions into another form than that which is represented by verses 8-12; and, indeed, we are bound so to do. For since revelation is progressive, devotion should be correspondingly progressive too. So that if the remarks we make on the psalm are in advance of the thinkings of believers in David' s time, let us remember that this is because we now look at all events and read all truth in the light of the cross, and not because we pretend to regard such fulness of meaning as belonging to the original intention of the psalm. There are here six lines of exposition before us.

I. HERE IS THE RECALL OF A TIME OF TROUBLE- OF TROUBLE WHICH GATHERED, ROUND THE PERSON OF THE KING. (Verse 1.) We cannot decide (nor is it important that we should) what was the precise kind of anxiety which had been felt. The word "life" in the fourth verse may indicate that some sickness had threatened the life of the king. The word "deliverance" and the allusions to "enemies' rather point to peril from hostile forces. Either way, when a monarch' s life is threatened, either through sickness or war, the burden is very heavy on the people' s heart. The first cause of anxiety was felt in Hezekiah' s time; the second, often and notably in the days of Jehoshaphat.

II. THE TROUBLE LED TO PRAYER. We gather from the contents of the psalm that the specific prayer was for the king' s life, either by way of recovery from sickness or of victory in war. Note: Whatever is a burden on the hearts of God' s people may be laid before God in prayer. Prayer may and should be specific; and even though our thought, desires, and petitions in prayer may be very defective, still we may tell to God all we feel, knowing that we shall never be misunderstood, and that the answer will come according to the Father' s infinite wisdom, and not according to our defects; yea, our God will do abundantly for us above all that we can ask or think. Hence we have to note—

III. THE PRAYER BROUGHT AN ANSWER. The trust of the praying ones was not disappointed (cf. verses 2-7). The jubilant tone of the words indicates that the prayer had not been barely, but overflowingly answered. God' s good things had gone far ahead of the petitions, and had even anticipated the king' s wishes and wants (verse 3). "Life" had been asked; and God had granted "length of days for ever and ever." This cannot refer to the personal earthly life of any human king; the meaning is that in the deliverance vouchsafed there had been a new confirmation of that "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure," wherein God had promised to establish David' s throne for ever (Psalms 61:6; Psalms 132:11-14). Dr. Moll says, £ "I find here the strongest expression of the assurance of faith in the personal continuance of the life of those who hold fast to the covenant of grace in living communion with Jehovah." Yea, the old Abrahamic covenant has been again confirmed. "Thou hast made him to be blessings for ever". So that this deliverance thus celebrated in Hebrew song is at once a development of God' s gracious plan, and the answer to a king' s and a people' s prayer! "Thou settest a crown of pure gold upon his head" (verse 3; cf 2 Samuel 12:30).

IV. NEW ANSWERS TO PRAYER INSPIRED NEW HOPE (Verse 7.) "Through the loving-kindness of the Most High he shall not be moved" (cf. Psalms 23:6; Psalms 63:7). He who proves himself to be our Refuge to-day, thereby proves himself our Refuge for every day.

V. THE PROVIDENTIAL INTERPOSITIONS IN ANSWER TO PRAYER AFFORDED NEW ILLUSTRATIONS OF GOD' S WORKS AND WAYS. (Verses 8-13.) God is what he is. He remains "the same, yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." But he cannot seem the same to his enemies as to his friends; the same events which fulfil the hopes of his friends are the terror and dread of his foes. This general principle is always true: it must be (verse 10); and side by side with the Divine provision for the continuance of good, there is the Divine provision for shortening the entail of evil. But we are not bound in our devotions to single out others as the enemies in whose overthrow and destruction we could rejoice. At the same time, it is but just to the Hebrews to remember that they were the chosen people of God, and from their point of view, and with their measure of light, they regarded their enemies as God' s enemies (see Psalms 139:22). The way David sometimes treated his foes can by no means be justified. £ The views of truth which God' s people hold are often sadly discoloured by the conventionalisms of their time; and David was no exception thereto. We may pray for the time when Zion' s King "shall have put all enemies under his feet," and even praise him for telling us that it will be so. But we may surely leave all details absolutely with ]aim.

VI. THE EVER-UNFOLDING DISCLOSURES OF WHAT GOD IS MAY WELL CALL FORTH SHOUTS OF JOYOUS SONG. (Verse 13.) When we have such repeated illustrations of God' s loving-kindness, mercy, and grace, we can feel unfeigned delight in singing of his power. What rapturous delight may we have in the thought that-

"The voice which rolls the stars along

Speaks all the promises;"

that the same Being who is most terrible to sin, is infinitely gracious to the sinner, and. that to all who trust him he is their "exceeding Joy"!—C.

HOMILIES BY W. FORSYTH

Psalms 21:1-13

Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

This psalm concerns the king. But the question is which king? It may have been David. There is much that might apply to him. Perhaps on his recovery from some sickness, or on his return from some signal victory over his enemies, or on the occasion of his birthday or some great anniversary, David and his people may have rejoiced before the Lord with the voice of joy and praise. But a greater than David is here. If the psalm in part is true of David, it finds its highest and most complete fulfilment in David' s Sou and Lord, and in the glorious salvation which he has accomplished for his people. We know that Jesus is a King. As a King he was announced by Gabriel (Luke 1:32); as a King he was worshipped in his cradle by the Wise Men (Matthew 2:11); as a King he was rejected by the Jews, persecuted by the chief priests, and crucified by Pilate (John 19:19). And as a King he rose from the dead, was received up into glory, and now rules in power in heaven and upon earth (1 Timothy 6:15). To this day and everywhere Jesus receives royal honours—his people say as with one voice and one heart, in the words of the ancient hymn, "Thou art the King of glory, O Christ!" The burden of this psalm may be said to be, "Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King."

I. BECAUSE OF HIS FAVOUR WITH GOD. (Psalms 21:1-3.) Other kings have been honoured of God, but none like Jesus. From the cradle to the cross we find continual proof and token of the favour of God towards him (Luke 2:52; Luke 9:35; John 3:35; John 8:29). The secret was in the perfect accord between the Father and the Son, and the absolute and complete surrender of the Son to do his Father' s will. What was said of the land of Israel, and still more tenderly of the house of the Lord, is true in the higher sense of God' s dear Son, "Mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually" (Deuteronomy 11:12; 1 Kings 9:3).

II. BECAUSE OF THE GREAT SALVATION WHICH HE HAS ACCOMPLISHED. (Psalms 21:1, Psalms 21:5.)

1. This salvation was very dear to him. It was "his heart' s desire."

2. This salvation was obtained by a stupendous sacrifice. "Life" (Psalms 21:4). We may take the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane as the true interpretation of this passage (Matthew 27:38 44). There we see Jesus in an agony. There we see him "asking life," thrice, with strong crying and tears. And there we see him submitting, with the truest faith and love, to the holy will of God, which decreed that he should die that sinners might be saved (Matthew 27:53, Matthew 27:54; John 10:17, John 10:18; Hebrews 2:14, Hebrews 2:15).

3. This salvation has secured inestimable benefits to mankind. (Psalms 21:6; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Corinthians 5:15; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:4-6.)

III. BECAUSE OF THE SURE TRIUMPH OF HIS CAUSE AND KINGDOM. (Psalms 21:7-13.)

1. Certain. (Psalms 21:8.) Might here is right. God' s word is pledged, and what he has promised he is able to perform. The King' s strength is still in God, and through him all opposition shall be overthrown.

2. Complete. (Psalms 21:9-12.) The same power that is able to crush and confound the foe is arrayed in defence of God' s people. The end is as the beginningpraise. It is like an anticipation of the song of Moses and the Lamb of the Apocalypse (Revelation 15:3).—WF.

Psalms 21:4

Prayer.

What is true of Christ is true, in a sense, of his people. Here we learn—

I. THE TRUE NATURE OF PRAYER. It is the desire of the heart (Psalms 21:2). This is frequently taught by doctrine and fact in Holy Scripture. Words are of the mouth, thoughts are of the heart. "Words without thoughts never to heaven go." It is asking of God for things agreeable to his will. While there is real "asking," there is also loving trust and acquiescence. God' s will is aye the best will.

II. SOME LIGHT AS TO THE MANNER IN WHICH GoD ANSWERS PRAYER.

1. By giving what is good. "Life."

2. In a higher sense than we thought of. "For ever."

3. In such a way as shall be for the greatest benefit to others as well as to ourselves. "Blessings"

(cf. Paul, "more needful for you," Philippians 1:24). Hence faith is confirmed. Our hopes as to the future are sustained. Our hearts are soothed amidst the disappointments and trials of life, by the assurance that all is well. We ask "life" for ourselves; and God gives what he sees best. We ask "life" for our friends. Some child or loved one is in peril of death. We plead for him. We entreat that he may be spared. We continue with "strong crying and tears" to pray that his life, so precious and so dear, may be prolonged. But in vain. He dies. We are troubled. We mourn in bitterness of soul, as if God had forgotten to be gracious. But when we look at things aright, we find comfort. God has answered us in his own way. He knows what is best. Your little one has gone quickly to heaven. Your darling boy has been taken to a nobler field of service than earth. The "desire of your eyes" has been caught up into the glory of God. There they await us. Love never faileth. The fellowship in Christ endures for ever.—W.F.

HOMILIES BY C. SHORT

Psalms 21:1-13

Thanksgiving for prayer answered.

Close connection between this and the previous psalm—that a prayer for the king; this a thanksgiving that the prayer has been answered. The people speak to God (Psalms 21:1-7); then (Psalms 21:8-12) they speak to the king; then in Psalms 21:13 they speak again to God. The occasion of the psalm has been disputed. Some think it is a birthday ode; some, a coronation hymn; and others, a thanksgiving for victory in battle. Let us take it first—

I. AS A BIRTHDAY ODE. "He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever."

1. This notwithstanding his sin. Which was thought in the Hebrew mind to forfeit length of days. His long life, therefore, was a special act of God' s salvation (Psalms 21:1, Psalms 21:4, Psalms 21:6).

2. His long life had been made a prosperous one. (Psalms 21:2.) His heart' s desire had been granted him. How few can say this of a long life! How few feel that they have grasped the greatest good in life!

II. A CORONATION HYMN. (Psalms 21:3, Psalms 21:5.) "Thou forestallest, or surprisest him with choicest blessings; thou settest a crown of gold upon his head." "Honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him."

1. This highest earthly honour was to represent God. He was God' s vicegerent to the nation. The Lord' s anointed, who stood on earth for God in heaven; the image of the invisible King. This ought to be the idea still of all the highest earthly offices—king, statesman, teacher.

2. But the grandest crown is that of supreme moral influence. That is Christ' s crown; he is King of men, not by physical force, but by spiritual power. And this is our brightest crown when we can influence men supremely for their good.

III. THANKSGIVING FOR VICTORY IN BATTLE. (Psalms 21:8-12.) This may be the bearing of the whole strain of the psalm. Then from his previous victories it is prophesied in the eighth and following verses that he shall gain the victory in all future battles.

1. Trust in God is the source of all our strength in our conflicts. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith—not a passive, but an active faith.

2. Former victories show us that we can, if we will, conquer in all future conflicts. By taking unto us "the whole armour of God."—S.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 21:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/psalms-21.html. 1897.

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Thursday, December 5th, 2019
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