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Psalm 21: We Will Sing and Praise Your Power

Many commentators agree that Psalm 20 and 21 are companions. In Psalm 20 the people asked God for help before going into battle and this Psalm reveals the people thanking God for giving them the victory.

Battle imagery lies at the heart of much of the Old Testament. The reason for this is simple: Israel lived in a hostile world where her position was constantly challenged by external threats. The wars of conquest, of which there were many, were "holy wars" bearing the judgment of God against idolatry.  While those wars were “holy wars” of God’s judgment against idolatry, they were also for the expulsion of the demonic presence behind those idols (cp. Deut. 32:15-17).  Therefore, the battles Israel fought were the battles of God against the powers of darkness.

In Psalm 20 the people had asked God to give their king his “heart’s desire” and here they acknowledge God had granted him the desire of his heart (victory).  The military victory which the king won in battle was the victory which God in His might had granted. 

David described a symbolic scene of God’s favor upon him: God met him with a solemn blessing—the pronouncement of victory and success—and a crown of pure gold that He placed upon his head.  The crown is the headpiece of a king. The following verses (vv. 5-12) indicate that David is praising the Lord for the rich blessings of His covenant with him (2 Sam. 7).  Israel had prayed for the Lord to answer their king’s request for protection in the battle (20:1) and God graciously answered the nation’s plea throughout the war by protecting David.

Notice verse 7: For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved.”  The Hebrew word for “Most Hight” is “Elyon” which emphasizes God’s uniqueness and His supremacy above all others.  It reminds us He is the Creator of heaven and earth and the Owner of all. He is not merely mighty, but Almighty. The Psalmist declared: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).  It is no wonder that King David was successful as God’s king over Israel.  Observe that in v 8 and 9, God, the Almighty, will know His enemies and they will be cast into a fiery oven in the time of His anger (cp. 2 Thess. 1:7-10). 

Just as Israel prayed for their king to be victorious, we should pray for our national leaders.  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:1-4).

Many believe that this Psalm is Messianic in nature and that could be true.  In the New Testament, Jesus comes as the Warrior-King, taking David's throne, doing battle with the demonic powers who hold this world captive. He comes to cast out the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31). He sent out His disciples with authority to expel demons (Mark 3:15).

In Jesus Christ we have the fulfillment of all this beautiful Psalm. Our Lord assaulted sin on the Cross. He defeated death by giving Himself to it and then triumphing over it. In destroying death, He also destroyed Satan's weapon to keep us in lifelong fear and bondage.

While Jesus went to Jerusalem to suffer and die, that tells only half of the story.  The Hebrew writer tells us that Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame (Heb. 12:2).  But Christ is risen and has ascended into great joy.  At His right hand are pleasures forevermore; fullness of joy is there (Ps. 16: 11). The faithful servant is invited to enter his Lord’s joy (Matt. 25: 21, 23).

This is a Psalm of thanksgiving in response to the victory God granted in response to the prayer offered in Psalm 20.  We should always thank God for His blessings, including specific answers to our prayers.  If you want to have a close relationship with God, it is important to thank Him for the blessings you receive. This might be as simple as remembering to thank God when you are feeling good or actively enjoying a blessing. However, you should also look for ways to be grateful to God even when times are difficult.

The ultimate way to show gratitude to God is to devote your life to Him. Paul wrote: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (I Thess. 5:16-18).  In urging the Thessalonians to “pray” and to “give thanks” (5:17–18a), Paul is giving advice he himself modeled (cf. 1:2; also 2:13; 3:9–10, 11–13; 5:23; 2 Thess. 1:3, 11; 2:13, 16–17).  Paul was convinced that in all circumstances God was at work on behalf of his people (Rom. 8:28), he could therefore urge the Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances.”  This is true because of the benefits we receive when going through some trial.  “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”. (James 1:3-4 NLT) God promises that in our pain, in our brokenness, he will be near. 

Therefore, in every difficulty of life, regardless of how difficult the trial, we can give God thanks because His purpose is bigger than any problem I may have.  He will provide the power I need to overcome the problem and I can grow through the experience if I allow God to help me.