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Psalm 21

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Praise for Deliverance Joy In the Salvation of the Lord Thanksgiving After the King's Victory in Battle
(parallel with Psalm 20)
Praise for Victory For a Coronation Ceremony
MT Intro
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
       
21:1-6  21:1-2 21:1-7 21:1-2 21:1-2
  21:3-4   21:3-4 21:3-4
  21:5-7   21:5-6 21:5-7
21:7-13     21:7-9b  
  21:8-12 21:8-10   21:8-10
      21:9c-12  
    21:11-12   21:11-12
  21:13 21:13 21:13 21:13

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Psalm 20 and 21 may be connected. Psalm 20 is the liturgical prayer for victory in battle and Psalm 21 is a liturgical welcoming of the King and soldiers home in victory.

 

B. Notice the possible strophes. By comparing the strophe divisions from various English translations a person can ascertain how many main truths are expressed in a psalm.

1. NASB  — 2

2. NKJV — 5

3. NRSV — 4

4. NJB — 6

Obviously it is difficult to be certain of how to identify strophes. There is often no textual marker. Modern students must

1. check the parallelism

2. check the Hebrew beat pattern

3. check related subject matter (every strophe has one major subject)

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 21:1-6
 1O Lord, in Your strength the king will be glad,
 And in Your salvation how greatly he will rejoice!
 2You have given him his heart's desire,
 And You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah.
 3For You meet him with the blessings of good things;
 You set a crown of fine gold on his head.
 4He asked life of You,
 You gave it to him,
 Length of days forever and ever.
 5His glory is great through Your salvation,
 Splendor and majesty You place upon him.
 6For You make him most blessed forever;
 You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence.

21:1 Note the synonymous parallelism between "in Your strength" and "in Your salvation."

The term (BDB 447, feminine singular) translated salvation has several possible connotations.

1. prosperity — Job 30:15

2. deliverance/help — 2 Sam. 10:11; 1 Chr. 19:12; Ps. 22:1

3. salvation — Gen. 49:18; Ps. 3:2,8; 14:7; 35:3; 53:6; 62:2; and many more

4. victory — Exod. 15:2; Ps. 20:6; 21:1,5; 44:4; 68:20-21; 118:14,15,21

YHWH is our great hope and there is no other! In light of this, faithful followers (in this context, the King) will continue to

1. be glad — BDB 970, KB 1330, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 9:2

2. rejoice — BDB 162, KB 189, Qal imperfect, cf. Ps. 9:14

 

21:2 This verse seems to link to Ps. 20:4 and is connected to the King's prayer for military victory.

Notice the two parallel perfect verbs (i.e., completed action).

1. has given — BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect

2. has not withheld — BDB 586, KB 602, negated, Qal perfect

 

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"request"
NJB"prayer"
LXX"wish"
NEB"ask"

The word (BDB 77, KB 92) is found only here in the OT. It seems, in context, to refer to a ritual liturgical prayer before a battle, possibly in the tabernacle/temple.

▣ "Selah" See note at Ps. 3:2 and Introduction to Psalms, VII. Some commentators feel it denotes a point in the liturgy where there is a transition to another liturgical act (i.e., praise, song, sacrifice, another liturgy read, bowing, etc.).

21:3-6 These are the actions of YHWH on behalf of the King.

1. meet him with the blessings of good things (i.e., YHWH Himself welcomes the victorious king)

2. set a crown of fine gold on his head (i.e., a reaffirmation of kingship or the liturgical transfer of the battle helmet for the royal crown)

3. gave him his prayer for life (i.e., victory in battle)

4. placed upon him

a. splendor (BDB 217)

b. majesty (BDB 214) — these are descriptions of YHWH (cf. 1 Chr. 16:27; Ps. 45:3; 96:6; 104:1; 111:3), but because of YHWH's image in mankind, they share these attributes (cf. Ps. 8:5)

5. make him blessed for a long life (‘olam must be interpreted in context, see Special Topic at Ps. 9:5; a literary parallel would be "long live the king," cf. 1 Sam. 10:24; 1 Kgs. 1:25,31,34,39; Dan. 2:4; 3:9)

6. make him joyful in Your presence

It is not just the King who is the recipient of YHWH's actions, but through him all the covenant people.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 21:7-13
 7For the king trusts in the Lord,
 And through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken.
 8Your hand will find out all your enemies;
 Your right hand will find out those who hate you.
 9You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger;
 The Lord will swallow them up in His wrath,
 And fire will devour them.
 10Their offspring You will destroy from the earth,
 And their descendants from among the sons of men.
 11Though they intended evil against You
 And devised a plot,
 They will not succeed.
 12For You will make them turn their back;
 You will aim with Your bowstrings at their faces.
 13Be exalted, O Lord, in Your strength;
 We will sing and praise Your power.

21:7 "the king trusts in the Lord" This is an affirmation of the king's faith orientation (BDB 105, KB 120, Qal active participle, cf. Ps. 4:5; 9:10; 13:5; 22:4,5,9; and many more). The king has strength, joy, and deliverance only through YHWH.

▣ "the lovingkindness of the Most High" The special covenant term, "lovingkindness" (hesed, BDB 338, see Special Topic at Ps. 5:7) means YHWH's covenant loyalty. YHWH is always faithful, the King and the nation will be also, if they continue to "trust" (BDB 105, KB 120) in Him (cf. Ps. 125:1). Nehemiah 9 is a record of YHWH's faithfulness and Israel's unfaithfulness!

For "Most High" (Elyon, BDB 751) see Special Topic at Ps. 1:1, B.

NASB, LXX,
JPSOA"he will not be shaken"
NKJV, NRSV"he shall not be moved"
TEV"he will always be secure"
NJB"will keep him from falling"

The verb (BDB 556, KB 555, Niphal imperfect) means "totter," "shake," or "slip." It can be used in several senses.

1. place on the throne

2. security in life

3. godly lifestyle

To see the different senses see Ps. 10:6; 15:5; 16:8; 21:7; 30:6; 62:2,6; 112:6; Pro. 10:30; 12:3. There is stability in YHWH but not in a fallen world.

21:8-12 These verses describe what YHWH (i.e., through the king's army) will do if the king and people stay faithful.

1. power over your enemies

2. your enemies will be destroyed

3. your enemies and their descendants will be cut off and disappear

4. your enemies will not succeed in their plans (i.e., to plan against YHWH's king and covenant people is to plan against Him, cf. Ps. 21:11a; Ps. 2:1-3; 83:1-5)

5. your enemies will retreat in battle

Some scholars (AB) see these verses as describing YHWH's actions in battle on behalf of His covenant king and people.

▣ "hand" This is a Hebrew idiom of the power to act. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND at Ps. 7:3-4.

21:9 "The Lord will swallow them up" This verb (BDB 118, KB 134, Piel imperfect) is an idiom for complete destruction (cf. Job 2:3; 10:8; 19:3; 28:7; Lam. 2:2,5,8).

21:13 This verse concludes the Psalm with commanded praises of YHWH.

1. Be exalted — BDB 926, KB 1202, Qal imperative, cf. II San. 22:47; Ps. 18:46; 46:10; 57:5,11; 108:5

2. We will sing — BDB 1010, KB 1479, Qal cohortative

3. We will praise — BDB 274, KB 273, Piel cohortative

 

▣ "Your strength" This mantra begins the Psalm (cf. Ps. 21:1) and closes (cf. Ps. 21:13) the Psalm. God is the chief character of the Bible. It is His book; it is about Him!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. How are Psalm 20 and 21 related?

2. Does verse 4 imply eternal life?

3. List the military imagery in verses 7-13.