A WEEKLY WALK THROUGH THE PSALMS
This psalm seems to have been written either for the anniversary of a king’s coronation or for a king’s birthday. While Psalm 20 was a prayer before battle, Psalm 21 is a hymn after a successful battle: “In thy strength the king rejoices, O Lord.” Clearly, before the conflict the king had gone to God in prayer: “Thou hast given him his heart’s desire and has not withheld the request of his lips.” When prayer is the beginning, then thanksgiving can be the ending. It is hard to be thankful for that which we believe has come only from us. Prayer helps us place the experiences of our lives in the hands of God; prayer helps us place our trust in the Lord (vs. 7).
The second part of this psalm reminds us that there are some parts of the Old Testament that don’t always fit with the words and spirit of Christ. It sounds more like vengeance than anything else – and while vengeance may make us feel good, it is not how Christ has called us to respond. The wholesale slaughter talked about here, unfortunately, reminds us too much of our world today – some things never change, I guess. Such slaughter, in addition to an act of vengeance, was intended to guard against the ability of the enemy to ever retaliate. But this is not how Christ would have the world to think.
There are, however, words of hope in this psalm. The message is that the plans of evil will not ultimately succeed. Yes, evil can be strong in the world, but the one truth that God has given us to proclaim and cling to, is that God is with us, and God is stronger. Remember the words of Martin Luther: “Though hordes of devils fill the land all threatening to devour us, we tremble not, unmoved we stand; they cannot overpower us. This world’s prince may rage, in fierce war engage. He is doomed to fail; God’s judgment must prevail! One little word subdues him.” Luther saw the same thing in his time; Luther believed the same thing in his time.
So, whenever we face difficulty from within or without, prayer should be our first response too. We should acknowledge the evil and the temptations for what they are – and when they are held up next to Christ, they are really shown for what they are. The truth is, when all is said and done, we are dependent upon God from start to finish. While doing everything we can, we should always pray: “Rise up, O Lord, in thy might”. Then, in God’s grace, the end of our story will be singing too: “We will sing and praise thy power!”
Let us Pray: God Most High, you have given us life on this earth, and you meet us with the richness of your grace. Crown us with your greatest blessing, the fullness of eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.