First Off…read Psalm 21!
Wow. Psalm 21…read simply on its own…seems off to me. Off because it SOUNDS egotistical. It SOUNDS “self-loving”. It sounds like everything opposite I was ever raised with and or have tried to teach my kids about. King David has been given the “desires of his heart.” (vs 2) He’s been welcomed with “rich blessings” and a “crown of pure gold.” (vs 3) All his enemies are taken out and simply blessings upon blessings have been granted. He has received “eternal blessings” (vs6) AND great “glory” (vs5). While those are right and true and good…it almost sounds like the king is gloating – almost bragging because of this.
So what’s up with that!?
Well – in order to understand what is happening here we actually have to go back and read the previous Psalm (Psalm 20). This (or these) is/are one of those psalms that have a “partner” psalm and thus we need to read the corresponding psalm to understand what is happening. When we do that we can then, hopefully, NOT think that the king is egotistical and bragging. So…do me a favor and read Psalm 20. I’ll wait.
If you recall from our Psalm 20 blog (look about halfway down the blog), David and his people are praying for safety as the king was about to go into battle. In Psalm 20 the king and his people are standing before the Lord and waiting to go to battle but BEFORE they throw-down they lift-up their prayers to God. They get that they aren’t going to put their trust in people or man-made things…or even animals for it is God and God alone that trust is placed. So it’s a psalm that is a prayer request.
Well, if there was a psalm between 20 and 21 it would be a psalm about the battle itself because psalm 21 finds us post battle. The war has been won. The battles have been fought and David stands victorious with his foes being either sent to the hills, overrun, or destroyed. So Psalm 21 is a psalm of victory. And that’s really what we get at the beginning and the end of this psalm – cries of rejoice and victory because of the strength of the Lord…because the victories HE gives.
But I’m still a little disturbed about the gloating going on. Maybe “disturbed” isn’t the right word…then again, maybe it is. Or maybe it isn’t. I’m not sure. Part of me (rather obviously) is annoyed with the way David reacts. Again, this is not the way I was raised. But then again, times are, and were, different. I’m not going to battle for my kingdom and my life. I’m not fighting people who want me dead and to take the crown from my head. I’m not fighting people who are anti-Yahweh. So when my parents schooled me on proper responses to winning it was all in regards to the soccer field, basketball court, tennis court, football field, and baseball diamond. It’s the same things I teach my own kids. Mine, ours, was competition…this was LIFE AND DEATH.
WITH THAT SAID…I simply can’t put my own “feelings” into this text. None of us ever should. The Bible isn’t a collection of stories on how “I would react”…nor are they filled with stories and accounts of how I would do things differently. We have to allow scripture to stand and say what it does…and BE what it is (for more information I have “a little Bible 101” blog I did not too long ago). We must remember that the Bible is about God and what HE is doing…even while others do not respond appropriately. The Bible is about God and His redeeming of his people, his creation, his world, through His Son Jesus Christ who did this via leaving his throne on high and taking the form of a human – Jesus Christ of Nazareth. And if you are anything like me and the millions upon millions upon millions of people around the world…then you just celebrated that birth yesterday (Dec 25th).
With that said, we ALSO must remember that when Christ came into this world he did so via the lineage OF DAVID (David is attributed as the author of this Psalm). As Matthew 1:1-17 tells us there were 14 generations in all from Abraham to David and then 28 generations from David to Christ. Yes! David was the great…great…great (add a bunch more “greats” here….) great grandfather of Jesus Christ.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well…David must succeed, his lineage must go on because that line then runs smack-dab into Jesus Christ. So God must deliver David from his foes for this is the lineage he has chosen to lead to Christ. It’s the lineage that leads to the birth, it’s the lineage that leads to the cross…it’s the lineage that brings salvation.
The more I think about it the more I realize that who am I to say that David’s response is inappropriate or over-the-top?
I’m pretty sure I’d be overjoyed if I had been delivered from death and given life too. Oh wait…we have….