Friday, January 2, 2015

Giving Glory Where It Is Due

Have you ever wanted to shout in triumph for how the Lord works?  King David has a similar desire in the words of Psalm 21.  Considered by some to be a song of battle triumph, this psalm has been called a Te Deum on the king’s return* as David extols YHWH for His working in the king:
O Lᴏʀᴅ, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
It was through the Almighty’s enabling that salvation had been gained, and David desired to express his overflow of gratitude and praise.  He does not stop with the expression of praise but explains how the Lord has provided to merit such laud:
  • Answered prayer (v. 2) – given him his heart’s desire … not withheld the request
  • Prosperity (v. 3) – meet him with rich blessings … crown of fine gold
  • Life (v. 4) – you gave [life] to him … length of days
  • Honor (v. 5) – glory is great … splendor and majesty
  • Blessing (v. 6) – most blessed forever … glad with the joy of your presence
  • Contentment (v. 7) – the king trusts … he shall not be moved
All these the king has received according to the Lord’s goodness, and because they have been received, they can be dispersed to all in whom the king desires to show favor.

David then addresses his words to the king and what he will deliver to his enemies:
  • Discovered (v. 8) – Your hand will find out all your enemies; … those who hate you
  • Consumed (v. 9) – as a blazing oven … swallow them up … fire will consume
  • Destruction (v. 10) – You will destroy their descendants … and their offspring
  • Failure (v. 11) – Though they plan evil … though they devise mischief, they will not succeed
  • Dread (v. 12) – put them to flight … aim at their faces with your bows
While going through this psalm in my reading, I was struck by the fact that David never refers to himself as the recipient of all the Lord’s blessings, nor as the instrument of vengeance on the enemies: all references are third person.  David wants to remove himself as the individual benefactor and judge, but whoever holds the office of king can rightfully consider himself in the same light, assuming he walks in the light of the Lord.  As well, this psalm is looking forward to David’s promised Son:
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.  When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.  And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.  Your throne shall be established forever.  (2 Sam 7:12-16)

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.  I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.  (Rev 22:16)
Messiah will establish the throne forever as the builder of David’s house and only legitimate heir.  It is the Lord Jesus alone to whom the words of the psalm sufficiently apply and in whom is the ultimate fulfillment.  Only God Himself who can accomplish both the promise and realization.  Understanding this, David completes the psalm the same way he begins—with glory to God alone.
Be exalted, O Lᴏʀᴅ, in your strength!  We will sing and praise your power.
I leave the last word with Theodoret of Cyrus from his Commentary on the Psalms:
Not for being lowly is God exalted, nor does He receive what He does not possess.  Instead what He possesses He reveals, so it was right for the psalmist to say: Your exaltation is revealed in Your ineffable power, which we shall continue to celebrate and sing, recounting Your marvelous works.  (21.13)

*  J. J. Stewart Perowne, Commentary on the Psalms, Kregel, 232

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