Psalm 21 - overcomer - The King shall joy in Thy strength
The 13th Psalm to the overcomer. This has been the hardest Psalm for me to enjoy so far. At first there seems to be little humanity in it, but after memorizing and singing it for a week, I love it.
I find that when I revisit this psalm after having not sung it for a long time, I have to sing it many times in order to enjoy it.

This Psalm and the previous one contain the mystery of the Godhead: Jehovah and the King being one, yet distinct. This Psalm reveals the central role of the King in God's salvation (verses 1 & 5). The first 7 verses of the Psalm reveal the King being made all the blessings in God's salvation through His human living and resurrection.
The 2nd part of the Psalm reveals the completion of God's salvation at the time of the King's (2nd) coming. Although the Psalm does not explicitly state that this is the King's 2nd coming, it must be because it is after the verses concerning Christ's human living and resurrection. The Psalm also reveals the Lord's purposeful foreordination in His salvation, including the events at His 2nd coming.

There are no direct requests in this Psalm, but whatever Jehovah gives the King, are good things for us to ask for ourselves and we enjoy a part of too (Heb 1:8; Jn 16:13-15).
v1 - The strength of the Father is not only the King's strength, but also His joy. The strength of the Lord is our joy, and the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8:10).
We joy in the LORD's strength, but even more exceedingly in the LORD's salvation. In God's salvation, the King exceedingly magnifies the Father by a human life that perfectly expresses Him (John 1:16-18; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 1:2-3; Col 2:9). The Father is magnified even more through the millions of believers saved by the King (Phil 1:19-21; Jer 33:15-16; Rev 21:10-11)
This psalm emphasizes joy (vv1, 6) and strength (vv1,13). When I sing this psalm I am filled with both.
v2 The King's heart's desire and request of His lips was not for His welfare on earth but for God's people who are on earth, in whom was all His delight (Ps 16:2-3; 2:8). It may be that His heart's desire was for the saints who were on earth at that time, Israel,  (Ps 16), and the request of His lips was for the Gentiles all the way to the uttermost parts of the earth (Ps 2). His intercession for God's people on earth is in the previous Psalm, Psalm 20.
v3 - A striking thing about this short Psalm is that the Hebrew verb sheeth is used 4 times in it (verses 3, 6, 9, 12). It means "set, ordain, establish, or appoint". It is used in v3 for Jehovah appointing a crown of pure gold for the King's head, where it is intensive (piel). In v6, Jehovah ordained the King to be blessings forever in His salvation. In v9 the King has ordained His foes to be like a fiery oven. In v12, the King has ordained His foes to be a shoulder for the cords of His tabernacle. I think the meaning of the verb in all these cases is that God foreordained these things for His wonderful salvation.

The Father gave Jesus this crown at His ascension (Phil 2:8-10). He is wearing this crown when He returns ( Rev 14:14).
v4 - The Lord Jesus always had eternal life, but as a man, He asked to be resurrected. (Heb 5:7; Ps 16:10; 61:6; Isa 53:9-10).
v5 - Because He lives forever (v4), the Lord is the cause of eternal salvation (Heb 5:9) in this verse. He is able to save us to the uttermost because He is always living to intercede for us (Heb 7:24-25). His intercession for us is in the previous Psalm, Psalm 20.

The Father did not just crown Christ with honor and majesty (cf Hebrews 2:9), but He uplifted honor and majesty to be fitting to give to Christ.
v6 - The King Christ doesn't just bless us. The Father ordained Him to be all the blessings of the new covenant (Gal 3:14). How many blessings He is to us in God's salvation! (Isa 9:6-7;42:6-7; 49:5-8; Jer 23:5-6; Hag 2:7-9; Mal 3:1-3; Matt 1:23; 2:6; John 1:29; 6:35, 48-51; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7-14; 11:25-26; 14:6; 15:1,5; Rom 9:5; 10:4; 1 Cor 1:30; 5:7, 21; 10:4; 11:3; 12:12; Eph 2:14-20; 5:23; Col 1:12-19; 3:11; 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; 13:20; 1 Pet 2:6, 25; 5:4; Rev 1:17-18; 2:8, 18; 3:7, 14; 5:5-6; 17:14; 19:11-16; 21:22-23; 22:12-13)

The Father's presence gives the Son and us exceeding great joy (Ps 16:11, Heb 1:9).
v7 - Trusting in the Father caused the King to be fully in the Father's presence. Trusting in the Father, along with the Father's mercy cause the King to never be moved away from the Father's good pleasure. It is the same with us. (Ps 16:8,11)
v8 - verses 8-12 of the Psalm take place at Lord's 2nd coming (v9). In these verses, the 2nd person pronoun "You" switches from referring to the Father to refer to the King. This is proven by verse 9b, "Your coming".
v9 - Christ foreordained His foes at the end of the age to be like a fiery oven. They will kill many people and do much destruction (Rev 9:14-19). The expression is similar to that referring to the 144,000 Jews destroying the nations that attack them (Zech 12:6), except that what the 144,000 do is self-defense against armies much stronger than they, and what the foes of the King do in Psalm 21:9 is massacre of the defenseless.

"wrath" is literally "His wrath"
"coming" is literally "presence". This corresponds to the Greek word parousia used in the New Testament to mean the Lord's 2nd coming.
v11 - "Thee they planned to uproot" is literally "They planned evil against Thee".
At the Lord's 2nd coming the nations under the beast will attack the Lord to His face (Rev 17:13-14; 19:19).
v12 - This verse most literally says:
"For You have ordained them to be a shoulder for Your cords. You made ready before their faces."
Most translate the 1st part as "You made them turn back". There is no ground for this. "Shoulder" never means "turn back". Also this nullifies the meaning of the word "ordained" which is a salient feature of this Psalm. Another translation is "You made them to be a butt", but "shoulder" never means "butt".

Just about all translate the 2nd part of the verse as, "You made ready Your arrows upon Your strings against their faces." Again there is no ground for this. The word "cords" never means "bowstrings". It always means the cords of the Tabernacle or of a tent. "Arrows" is not in the text.

"You ordained them to be a shoulder for Your cords" means that God made use of them to accomplish His purpose to pull tight His cords to make His dwelling place, which is His people, tightly knit one to another, and to enlarge them (Isa 54:1-5;). This is the reason that these foes imagined their delusionary plot against the King, and the reason they could not execute it. He foreordained these persecutors to make His people ready (Jer 10:20-22; Matt 18:6-7; Luke 17:1-2; Matt 26:24; Mark 14:21), causing us to not love this world and to drop insistence on our petty and excluding differences of doctrine, practice and leadership-preference. At the end of the age, the Lord's bride, His people, is ready for all the universe to see (Heb 8:1-2; John 14:2-3; 1 Cor 2:7-9; Heb 11:16; Rev 19:7; 21:2-3).
cf. Luke 2:30-31
v13 - "sing and adore" is literally "sing and psalm".

-copyright Steve Miller 2008
written 9/27/2008