PSALM 21 OVERVIEW
Subject. The title gives us but little information; it is simply, To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David. Probably written by David, sung by David, relating to David, and intended by David to refer in its fullest reach of meaning to David's Lord. It is evidently the fit companion of Psalm Twenty, and is in its proper position next to it. Psalm Twenty anticipates what this regards as realized. If we pray today for a benefit and receive it, we must, ere the sun goes down, praise God for that mercy, or we deserve to be denied the next time. It has been called David's triumphant song, and we may remember it as The Royal Triumphal Ode. "The king" is most prominent throughout, and we shall read it to true profit if our meditation of him shall be sweet while perusing it. We must crown him with the glory of our salvation; singing of his love, and praising his power, The next psalm will take us to the foot of the cross, this introduces us to the steps of the throne.
Verse 1. The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord. Jesus is a Royal Personage. The question, "Art thou a King then?" received a full answer from the Saviour's lips: "Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this purpose came I into the world, that I might bear witness unto the truth." He is not merely a King, but the King; King over minds and hearts, reigning with a dominion of love, before which all other rule is but mere brute force. He was proclaimed King even on the cross, for there, indeed, to the eye of faith, he reigned as on a throne, blessing with more than imperial munificence the needy sons of earth. Jesus has wrought out the salvation of his people, but as a man he found his strength in Jehovah his God, to whom he addressed himself in prayer upon the lonely mountain's side, and in the garden's solitary gloom. That strength so abundantly given is here gratefully acknowledged, and made the subject of joy. The Man of Sorrows is now anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Returned in triumph from the overthrow of all his foes, he offers his own rapturous Te Deum in the temple above, and joys in the power of the Lord. Herein let every subject of King Jesus imitate the King; let us lean upon Jehovah's strength, let us joy in it by unstaggering faith, let us exult in it in our thankful songs. Jesus not only has thus rejoiced, but he shall do so as he sees the power of divine grace bringing out from their sinful hiding places the purchase of his soul's travail; we also shall rejoice more and more as we learn by experience more and more fully the strength of the arm of our covenant God. Our weakness unstrings our harps, but his strength tunes them anew. If we cannot sing a note in honour of our own strength, we can at any rate rejoice in our omnipotent God.
And in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! Everything is ascribed to God; the source is thy strength and the stream is thy salvation. Jehovah planned and ordained it, works it and crowns it, and therefore it is his salvation. The joy here spoken of is described by a note of exclamation and a word of wonder: "how greatly!" The rejoicing of our risen Lord must, like his agony, be unutterable. If the mountains of his joy rise in proportion to the depth of the valleys of his grief, then his sacred bliss is high as the seventh heaven. For the joy which was set before him as he endured the cross, despising the shame, and now that joy daily grows, for he rests in his love and rejoices over his redeemed with singing, as in due order they are brought to find their salvation in his blood. Let us with our Lord rejoice in salvation, as coming from God, as coming to us, as extending itself to others, and as soon to encompass all lands. We need not be afraid of too much rejoicing in this respect; this solid foundation will well sustain the loftiest edifice of joy. The shoutings of the early methodists in the excitement of the joy were far more pardonable than our own lukewarmness. Our joy should have some sort of inexpressibleness in it.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The last Psalm was a litany before the king went forth to battle. This is apparently a Te Deum on his return. J. J. Stewart Perowne, B.D., in the "Book of Psalms: a New Translation, with Introduction and Notes," 1864.
Whole Psalm. The prayer which the church offers up at the conclusion of the preceding Psalm now issues in a hymn of praise, the result of a believing view of the glory which is to follow, when Messiah's sufferings are ended. This is one of the beautiful songs of which we find many in Scripture, prepared by the Holy Spirit to awaken and enliven the hopes and expectations of the church while she waits for the Lord, and to give utterance to her joy at the time of his arrival. The theme is Messiah's exaltation and glory, and the time chosen for its delivery is just the moment when darkness covered the earth, and all nature seemed about to die with its expiring Lord. Scripture deals largely in contrasts. It seems to be suitable to the human mind to turn from one extreme to another. Man can endure any change, however violent and contradictory, but a long continuance, a sameness either of joy or sorrow, has a debilitating and depressing effect. R. H. Ryland.
Whole Psalm. "After this I looked... and behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne." Revelation 4:1-2 . Such may be considered as the description of this Psalm, after the foregoing prayer. "He who in the preceding Psalm," says St. Jerome, "was prayed for as having taken the form of a servant, in this is King of kings, and Lord of lords." Isaac Williams.
Whole Psalm. I am persuaded that there is not one who consents to the application of the preceding Psalm to Christ in his trouble, who will fail to recognise in this, Christ in his triumph. There he was in the dark valley -- the valley of Achor; now he is on the mount of Zion; there he was enduring sorrow and travail; now he remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a spiritual seed is born into the world; there he was beset with deadly enemies, who encompassed him on every side; but here he has entered upon that which is written in Psalms 78:65-66 , "Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach." Hamilton Verschoyle.
Whole Psalm. As you have already observed in the heading of this Psalm, it is said to have been composed by David. He wrote of himself in the third person, and as the king. He penned the Psalm, not so much for his own use, as for his people's. It is, in fact, a national anthem, celebrating the majesty and glory of David, but ascribing both to God -- expressing confidence in David's future, but building that confidence upon God alone. Samuel Martin, in "Westminster Chapel Pulpit," 1860.
Verse 1. Thy strength... thy salvation. So you have two words, "virtus and salus," strength and salvation. Note them well; for not virtus without salus, not salus without virtus, neither without the other is full, nor both without Tua Domine. In virtute is well, so it have in salute after it. For not in strength alone is there matter of joy, every way considered. No, not in God's strength, if it have not salvation behind it. Strength, not to smite us down, but strength to deliver; this is the joyful side. Now turn it the other way. As strength, if it end in salvation, is just cause for joy, so salvation, if it go with strength, makes joy yet more joyful; for it becomes a strong salvation, a mighty deliverance. Lancelot Andrews (Bishop), 1555-1626, in "Conspiracie of the Goweries."
Verse 1. In thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice. Oh, it is good rejoicing in the strength of that arm which shall never wither, and in the shadow of those wings which shall never cast their feathers! In him that is not there yesterday and here today, but the same yesterday, today, and for ever! For as he is, so shall the joy be. Lancelot Andrews.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. The joy of Jesus and of his people in the strength and salvation of God.
Verse 1-2. The doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ contained in the text, may be considered under three heads:
- As an answer to prayer.
- His joy therein -- even in the resurrection.
- As a necessary appendage to this -- our own individual concern in his glory and in his joy.