O LORD, in your strength how the king is exultant! How great is his joy in the triumphs you bring! To him you have granted his heart’s deepest longing; you answered the plea from the lips of the king.
You welcomed him richly with blessings of goodness; a crown of fine gold you have placed on his head. He asked you for life, and you gave him it freely— abundance of days, that his years should not end.
Through triumphs you gave his renown is exalted, and you have bestowed on him splendour and grace. You surely have granted him blessings eternal; you filled him with joy by the light of your face.
For the king puts his trust in the LORD high above; unshaken he stands through the LORD’s steadfast love.
Your hand will lay hold upon all your opponents; your right hand will seize all the foes in your path. You’ll set them ablaze with your glorious appearance; you’ll swallow them up in the fire of your wrath.
From earth you will utterly wipe out their offspring. They plot wicked schemes, but will never prevail. Because when you aim with your bow at the ready you’ll make them turn back and their courage will fail.
Be exalted, O LORD, in the strength of your arm; we will praise your great might to the sound of a psalm.
You can hear a Free Church sing this to the jolly tune Exultation here.
The Psalms, together with Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, are known as Wisdom Books. Psalm 21 is one of the collection of poems or songs, composed over centuries, that were set to music and sung by Jewish worshippers at home, on the road during pilgrimages to Jerusalem and in the Temple. More than half of the psalms are associated with David (who may have written some of them) while the rest were inspired by him or dedicated to him.
There are many songs of thanks to God. Psalm 21 gives praise for a royal victory. The Psalm is addressed directly to God who has answered the king’s requests for long, lasting life, giving him strength and blessings. The king rejoices in his victory and the crown of gold, fame and majesty that he has received, as a gift from God.
We are reminded, by today’s reading, that we can likewise speak directly to God with our requests for healing, forgiveness, peace of mind or courage to take the next steps in our pilgrim life.
The psalmist petitions for the destruction of God’s enemies. We must put our trust in God to deal with “enemies”, as God sees fit . God will secure our deliverance and, in God, we shall come to know the joy of the divine presence. Psalm 21 speaks of the security that God’s unfailing love brings to the king and so, also, to us in the face of struggles. The strength and persistence that ultimately leads to victory will depend on our turning to God in open, honest prayer.
We may not know when or by whom Psalm 21 was written or the king whose praises to God we read here but we can take his approach as our example to believe and trust in God.
Dear God, we open our heart’s desires to You, asking You to meet our needs and answer our requests, as You see fit. Amen.
Pamela Dowling served as an Elder at the former St. John’s URC, Forest Hill. London.
Sing Psalms (C) Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS