Psalm 21 is about a battle won and a battle yet to be won. Verses 1 to 7 are directed to the Lord and the psalmist gives thanks to the Lord for giving victory to the king in the past. Then verses 8 to 13 are directed to the king and the psalmist looks forward to a time in the future when the king will win another victory over his enemies.
Verses 1 to 7
Let’s look at verses 1 to 7 and the battle won. The psalmist begins by saying how the king rejoices in God’s strength and in the victories which the Lord gives to him. And so, this is a psalm of joy: joy in the Lord who had given the king the strength required to win a great victory. In verse 2 he proclaims that the Lord has given the king the desire of his heart and has not withheld the request of his lips. This connects with the previous psalm. In Psalm 20, the psalmist prayed to God on behalf of the king who was about to go into battle against his enemies. And the psalmist asked the Lord in verse 4 of Psalm 20 to give the king the desire of his heart and to make all his plans succeed. So, the king had planned out what he would do and how he would fight against his enemies. And the psalmist prayed for him in Psalm 20, asking the Lord to make his plans successful and to give him the desire of his heart, which was victory. And now, in Psalm 21, the psalmist gives thanks to the Lord for giving the king the desire of his heart and for giving him the victory he so desired. So, the Lord has heard and answered the psalmist’s prayer.
According to verse 3, the Lord bestowed great blessings on the king and the Lord placed a victor’s crown on his head. The king asked the Lord for life. So, before he went into battle, the king bowed before the Lord and asked the lord to preserve his life and to keep him safe on the battlefield. And the Lord heard and answered him, and instead of cutting his life short on the battlefield, the Lord gave him length of days: a long life forever and forever. Through the victories which God gave to the king, the Lord has give the king glory and splendour and majesty. In other words, the Lord has honoured and exalted the king. According to verse 6, the blessings of the Lord on the king are eternal. And the Lord has made the king glad by bringing him into the presence of the Lord where there is joy.
And why has the Lord helped and blessed the king? Well, verse 7 gives us the answer and explains to us why the Lord was so willing to help the king. It’s because the king trusted in the Lord. Do you remember again Psalm 20? In Psalm 20 the psalmist said that some trust in chariots and some trust in horses. We were to imagine kings in the past, boasting about the size of their army and their cavalry, trusting in those things for success. So, some trusts in chariots and horses, but the king trusted in the name of the Lord his God. And so, according to Psalm 21, because the king trusted in the Lord, relying on him for strength and protection, the Lord heard and answered him and gave him the victory he so desired. And through the unfailing love of the Lord, the king will not be shaken. That is, because of the Lord’s steadfast love, because of his unchangeable love for his people, the king will not be moved, but will stand firm forever.
Verses 8 to 13
Verses 1 to 7 are about a victory won. In Psalm 20, the psalmist prayed for the king who was going out to the battle field. Now, in Psalm 21, the psalmist gives thanks to the Lord because the Lord preserved the life of the king and granted him victory.
Verses 8 to 13 are about a battle yet to be won. In these verses, the psalmist is not addressing the Lord. He’s now addressing the king. And so, in verse 8, the psalmist says to the king:
Your hand will lay hold of your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes.
The king has won a victory, but there are more enemies to face and to conquer. Nevertheless, the psalmist is confident that the king will overcome his enemies. He refers in verse 9 to a time when the king will appear. Presumably he’s referring to a time when the king will appear before his enemies. He will confront them. And when that day comes, he will make them like a fiery furnace. In other words, they will be destroyed as if in a fiery furnace. And according to the rest of verse 9, the king is the instrument of the Lord, by which the Lord swallows his enemies in his wrath and consumes them with fire. The fire that will consume them may be literal fire: the king may set their towns and cities on fire. Or the fire that will consume them may be figurative, referring to the burning anger of the Lord which is directed against them. In any case, the king is the Lord’s agent, the one through whom God works to destroy his enemies. And so, according to verse 10, the king will destroy their descendants from the earth. They will be wiped out completely and none will be left to attack the king ever again. And though the enemies plot evil against the king, and though they devise wicked schemes, they will not succeed. And they won’t succeed, because the king will make them turn their backs when he aims at them with his drawn bow. So, when the king attacks them, they will turn and flee. Despite all their evil plots and wicked schemes, they will not be able stand up to the power of the king.
Verses 1 to 7 were about a battle won. Most of the verbs were in the past tense. But verses 8 to 13 are about a battle yet to be won. Most of the verbs are in the future tense. But since the psalmist is confident that the Lord will work through the king and give him success, he says right at the end that they will sing and praise God’s might. They will praise him, because victory is inevitable.
Verses 1 to 7 were about a victory won and they foretell the victory which Christ our King won whenever he was raised from the dead. King Herod and Pontius Pilate together with the Jews and Gentiles in Jerusalem conspired against the Lord’s Anointed King and they put him to death by nailing him to the cross. And after he died, he was buried in the ground. And for a time, it seemed that the Lord’s Anointed King had been defeated and that his life had been taken from him. But then the Lord our God raised his Anointed King from the dead and exalted him to the highest place, far above his enemies. The Lord our God brought his Anointed King into his presence in glory, where there is joy forevermore, and where he was crowned with glory and honour and given resurrection life forever. The Lord Jesus trusted in God his Father, because as he died, he committed himself into the hands of his Heavenly Father. And his Father was faithful to him and did not abandon him to the grave or let him see corruption, but raised him up victorious.
And so, the Lord Jesus, God’s Anointed King, has already won a great victory, because he was raised victorious over the grave. And by laying down his life on the cross, as the perfect sacrifice for sins, he has done what was necessary to deliver his people from the condemnation we deserve for our sins. And from his throne in heaven, he is rescuing his people from the tyranny of the Devil and bringing them into his own kingdom of grace where there is the hope of everlasting life.
But there’s still a final battle for him to fight, because the Devil is still at work in the world, doing his worst to destroy Christ’s church by persecution and by temptation. And all over the world, unbelieving men and women are still in rebellion and they refuse to yield to Christ the King and they spend their days doing what is evil. And so it will continue until the day when God’s Anointed King appears in glory and with power. And on that day, he will destroy the Devil and all who sided with him against the Lord Jesus Christ and his church. He will destroy them once and for all, because the Devil will be thrown into the lake of fire and all who sided with him will be sent away from the presence of the Lord to be punished forever for their wickedness. But all of Christ’s people will be brought into the world to come to reign with him forever and to rejoice in his victory.
Whoever believes in God’s Anointed King will share in his victory. And so, we will sing and praise the Lord for his might and for the victory he has won through Christ the King. And we will live with him and we will reign with him forever and forever. And so, do remember the words of Psalm 2?
Kiss the Son. Kiss the Son lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way.
In other words, submit to Jesus Christ the King. Yield your life to him, because it’s by yielding our life to Christ the King that we receive everlasting life in his everlasting kingdom.