John T. Willis

Friday, September 26, 2014

Yahweh Blesses a Faithful King and Destroys His Enemies--Psalm 21

The superscription of Psalm 21 is brief: "To the leader. A Psalm of David." This gives no information for the content of this psalm. Psalm 21 does not allude to a specific event, but rather deals with a general issue facing every king of Israel. On the one hand, the earthly king must TRUST in Yahweh alone. On the other hand, when the king trusts in Yahweh, Yahweh overthrows any of his enemies. Psalm 21 naturally falls into two parts. The composer of this psalm is not the king, because he refers to the king in the third person. He is probably a priest or a prophet or a member of the king's court. Throughout this psalm, the composer consistently addresses Yahweh in the second person singular.

I.  The Psalmist praises Yahweh for blessing the earthly king of Israel. Psalm 21:1-7.
     a. The psalmist begins with exuberant voice: "In YOUR [Yahweh's] strength the [earthly] king [of Israel] rejoices, O Lord." The king greatly exults in Yahweh's help. 21:1.
     b. The poet proclaims that Yahweh answers the prayers of the king: rich blessings, a crown of fine gold of his head, life, and length of days "forever and ever." The term "forever" in the Bible occasionally means "endless time," but MOST passages in the Bible have in mind "a long period of time in contrast to a short period of time." An excellent example of the use of "forever" is 1 Samuel 1:22, in which Hannah uttered this prayer:
      "As soon as the child [Samuel] is weaned, I will bring him,
        that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there FOREVER."
Later, 1 Samuel 1:28 makes clear that "forever" means "as long as he lives." 21:2-4.
     c. The psalmist declares that Yahweh BESTOWS [gives] the king "glory" and "splendor" and "majesty" and "blessings" and "joy." None of this comes from the king, but ONLY from GOD!!! 21:5-6.
     d. The reason for all this is that the king TRUSTS in Yahweh, not in himself, and thus through the STEADFAST LOVE [Hebrew--hesed] of Yahweh the king will not be moved. 21:7.

II. Yahweh will DESTROY and SWALLOW UP his enemies. Psalm 21:8-13.
     a. The composer suddenly turns from talking about the earthly king to talk about his enemies. He assures the king that he will "find out" all his enemies, those who hate him. The verb "find out" means something like "defeat." The king will be like a "fiery furnace" against his enemies, not because of his own power, but because Yahweh will SWALLOW them up in his wrath and fire will consume them. 21:8-9.
     b. The poet continues to assure the king that he will DESTROY the descendants of his enemies. When his enemies PLAN evil and DEVISE mischief against the king, they will not succeed. Instead, the king will put them to flight and aim at their faces with his bows. The king here is like an archer who shoots arrows to defeat his enemies. 21:10-12.
     c. The psalmist concludes by praising Yahweh for his strength and power. 21:13.

Share YOUR concepts and beliefs and reservations and expressions and feelings with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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