The previous Psalm was a prayer for king David that God would protect and prosper him. This is a thanksgiving for the success God had blessed him with. Those whom we have prayed for, we ought to give thanks for when the answer comes. In this Psalm there is an eye to the Messiah and the glory of His Kingdom. For to Him certain passages in this Psalm are more applicable than to David. Joy in the Salvation of the Lord.
Psalm 21 – A Psalm of David
The king shall have joy in Your strength, O Lord; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! You have given him his heart’s desire, And have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah For You meet him with the blessings of goodness; You set a crown of pure gold upon his head. He asked life from you, and You gave it to him—Length of days forever and ever. His glory is great in Your salvation; Honor and majesty You have placed upon him. For You have made him most blessed forever; You have made him exceedingly glad with Your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord, And through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Your hand will find all Your enemies; Your right hand will find those who hate You. You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger; The Lord shall swallow them up in His wrath, And the fire shall devour them. Their offspring You shall destroy from the earth, And their descendants from among the sons of men. For they intended evil against You; They devised a plot which they are not able to perform. Therefore You will make them turn their back; You will make ready Your arrows on Your string toward their faces. Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.
Shadows of Christ
Henry says – David here professes that his joy was in God’s strength and in His salvation, and not in the strength or success of his armies. He also directs his subjects to rejoice with him, and to give God all the glory for the victories he had obtained. Yet David’s victories were but shadows compared to Christ’s triumphs over the powers of darkness.
Our Lord Jesus, in His great undertaking, relied on help from heaven, and comforted Himself with the prospect of that great salvation. David’s subjects gave God all the praise that their prayers had been heard (Ps. 21:2): You have given him his heart’s desire. There is no prayer accepted except what is from the heart’s desire. God’s gracious returns of prayer do, in a special way, require our humble returns of praise. When God gives to Christ the heathen for His inheritance, and accepts His intercession for all believers, He gave Him His heart’s desire.
This enlarged David’s soul
God had surprised David with favours, and had much outdone his expectations (PS. 21:3): You prevented him with the blessings of goodness. All our blessings are blessings of goodness, and are not owing to any merit of ours, but purely and only to God’s goodness. This enlarged David’s soul, and endeared him to his God. God’s blessings can come sooner and prove richer than we imagine. They can be given before we pray for them and when we feared the worst, it can then be truly said that He prevented us from that which we feared.
God advanced him to the highest honour and the most extensive power: “You have set a crown of pure gold upon his head and kept it there, when his enemies attempted to throw it off.” Crowns are at God’s disposal. No head wears them but God sets them there, whether in judgment or for mercy.
First a crown of thorns
On the head of Christ, God never set a crown of gold, but first of thorns then of glory. God assured Him of a perpetual Kingdom and did more for Him than He was able either to ask or think. (Ps. 21:4): “When he went forth upon a perilous expedition David asked for his life to be spared. He then put his life into God’s hands, and You not only gave him that, but gave him length of days for ever and ever. God not only prolonged his life far beyond his expectation, but assured him of a blessed immortality in a future state. He further assured him of the continuance of his kingdom in the Messiah that should come from his loins.”
See how God’s rewards often exceed our petitions and hopes. Inferring how rich He is in mercy to those who call upon Him. Christ was dead, indeed, that we might live through Him, but He is alive, and lives forevermore, and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end. Because He lives we shall live also.
A channel of bliss to all mankind
God advanced David to the highest honour and dignity (Ps. 21:5): “His glory is great, far transcending all the neighbouring princes, in the salvation You have worked for him and by him.” The glory which every good man is ambitious of is to see the salvation of the Lord. Honour and majesty You have laid upon him, as a burden which he must bear, as a charge which he must account for. Jesus Christ received from God the Father, honour and glory (2 Pet. 1:17), the glory which He had with Him before the worlds were, Jn. 17:5. And on Him is laid the charge of universal government and to Him all power in heaven and earth is committed.
God had given David the satisfaction of being the channel of all bliss to mankind (Ps. 21:6): “You have set him to be blessings forever”, “You have made him to be a universal blessing to the world, in whom the families of the earth are, and shall be blessed. The spirit of prophecy gradually rises here to that which is peculiar to Christ, for none besides Him is a blessing forever to that distinction that the expression denotes. Of him it is said that God made Him full of joy with His countenance.
It silences all our fears
The Psalmist, teaches his people to look back with joy and praise on what God had done for him and them. He then teaches them to look forward with faith, hope and prayer toward what God would further do for them: The king rejoices in God (Ps. 21:1), and therefore we will be thankful. The king trusts in God (21:7), therefore will we be encouraged. The joy and confidence of Christ our King is the ground of all our joy and confidence.
David’s subjects are confident in the stability of David’s kingdom. Through the mercy of the Most High, and not through his own merit or strength, he shall not be moved. His prosperous state shall not be disturbed. His faith and hope in God, which are the stay of his spirit, shall not be shaken. The mercy of the Most High in His divine goodness, power, and dominion is enough to secure our happiness. Our trust in that mercy should be enough to silence all our fears. God being at Christ’s right hand in His sufferings (Ps. 16:8) and He being at God’s right hand in glory, we may be sure He cannot be moved, but continues forever.
Your hand shall find them
The success with which God had blessed David’s armies gave confidence for the rest which God would give him from all his enemies round about. This is a type of the total overthrow of all Christ’s enemies who would not have Him to reign over them. David’s enemies hated him because God had set him apart for Himself. Christ’s enemies hated Him because they hated the light. But both were hated without any just cause, and in both God was hated, Jn. 15:23-25.
The enemies: intended evil against you; they pretended to fight against David, but their enmity was against God Himself. Those who aimed to dethrone David aimed, in effect, to dethrone Jehovah. What is devised against God’s agents, God takes it as designed against Himself and will take account of it. “They devise what they are not able to perform,” Ps. 21:11. Their malice is impotent, and they imagine a vain thing, Ps. 2:1. “Your hand, O Lord, shall find them out. Even though they be disguised by the pretenses of friendship and though mingled with the faithful subjects of this kingdom. Yet Your hand shall find them out wherever they are.” There is no escaping God’s avenging eye, no going out of the reach of His hand; rocks and mountains will be no better shelter at last than fig-leaves were at first.
All opposing rule shall be brought down
They shall be swallowed up and devoured, Ps. 21:9. It will be an utter destruction (Lk 19:27). Hell is the portion of all Christ’s enemies and is the complete misery both of body and soul. Their fruit and their seed shall be destroyed, Ps. 21:10. The enemies of God’s Kingdom, in every age, shall fall under the same doom, and the whole generation of them will at last be rooted out. All opposing rule, principality and power, shall be brought down. The arrows of God’s wrath shall confound them and put them to flight, levelled at the face of them, Ps. 21:12. That will be the lot of daring enemies that face God.
The fire of God’s wrath will consume them (PS. 21:9). They shall not only be cast into a furnace of fire (Mt. 13:42), but He shall make them as a fiery furnace. They shall be their own tormentors; the reflections and terrors of their own consciences will be their hell. Those who have had Christ to rule and save them, but rejected Him and fought against Him, shall find that even the remembrance of that will be enough. Enough to make them a fiery oven to themselves: it is the worm that never dies.
That He would act
In this confidence they beg of God that He would still appear for His anointed (Ps. 21:13). They ask that He would act for him in His own strength as Lord of hosts and Father of spirits. And so exalt Himself and glorify His own name. “We have but little strength, and are not so active for You as we should be, which is to our shame. Lord, take the work into Your own hands, do it, without us, and it will be to Your glory.” So they would exalt Him: “So we will sing, and praise Your power all the more triumphantly.” The less God has of our service when a deliverance is in the working, the more He must have of our praises when it is worked without us.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The Victory I wrestled with God; He wrestled with me I claimed the fight But His was the victory. Jesus took the battle That I thought was mine Now I claim the victory Through His presence Divine. When I came to Jesus, He proceeded To replace each unworkable part He put joy where there was sadness He gave me a new heart. The victory is now assured. You have made all things new. My mind is still fresh, my heart yet young I lift up my hands to You. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. There is no prayer accepted except that which is from the heart’s desire. I ask that You give me Your heart. May all Your gracious answers to prayer cause a humble return of praise from me. I thank You for all my blessings which are blessings of Your goodness, and not owing to any merit of mine, but purely and only to Your goodness. May this knowledge enlarge my soul, and endear me to You. I have seen Your blessings come sooner and be richer than I had imagined. Thank You that You have often exceed my petitions and hopes. How rich You are in mercy to those who call upon You.
May I look back with joy and praise for all You have done for me. I will look forward with faith, hope and prayer toward all that You will further do for me in the future. I will rejoice in You and trust in You. The joy and confidence of Christ as my King is the ground of all my joy and confidence.
Through Your mercy
Through Your mercy and not through my own merit or strength, shall I not be moved. Let my faith and hope in You be the stay of my spirit, so that I shall not be shaken. Your mercy, divine goodness, power and dominion is enough to secure my happiness. My trust in that mercy enough to silence all my fears.
Father I feel that I have but little strength, and am not so active for You as I should be, which is to my shame. Lord, take the work into Your own hands, do it, without me, and it will be to Your glory. So I will sing, and praise Your power all the more triumphantly. Yet propel me into all You desire for me to do. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
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