Psalm 21 goes together with Psalm 20 as a cry for help which leads to praising God for His response. Isn’t it wonderful that we have a God who hears us and gets involved in our present circumstances? He’s the Creator and He’s also our sustainer. From his perfect position of power and security He meets us wherever we’re at – whether it be happy days or in the midst of a war. Once we know that the Creator of the universe is our most intimate friend we can find True North in Him anytime life knocks us over. Even kings (the most powerful people) need to rely on God for their strength and so do we.
Psalms 20-21 are within a poetic symmetry of Psalms 15-24. Nine of these psalms revolve around Psalm 19 – the perfect expression of creation and covenant at the centre of God’s presence. By entering His temple (Psalm 15) and trusting, asking, rejoicing and approaching His presence we find that life’s entire story once set in and against the backdrop of the whole creation (Psalms 15; 19; 24) takes on enormous depths of significance – even when we struggle to find faith in deeper waters. In the Old Testament Israel’s victory was synonymous with God’s salvation and the life of the King was often thought to portray a personal role model and channel of God’s righteousness and redemption. David himself was often idealized and generalized to portray a kind of ‘prototypical’ Israelite (“we will rise up” 20:8, “we will sing and praise your might” 21:13). In Psalm 15, David clearly emphasized the value of the Law in establishing righteousness required to enter into relationship with God (being inside the Temple). We live in the blessing of the perfect Passover Lamb (Jesus) so we have confidence in his sacrifice to live in eternal rightness with God every day.
By packaging David’s journey from battle to praise the editors of the psalms have underscored that the joy of salvation proceeds from and exceeds the happiness of present victories. It’s also hard to miss the Messianic beats that are coming with Psalm 22 but that’s for next week…
Reference – Philip Sumpter, The Coherence of Psalms 15-24, Biblica. Vol.94.