Psalm 21:1-3

1. The king will rejoice in thy strength, O Yehovah! and in thy salvation how greatly will he rejoice! 2. Thou hast given him the desire of his heart, and hast not denied him the request of his lips. Selah. 3. For thou wilt prevent him with blessings of good, thou wilt set a crown of gold upon his head.1


1. The king will rejoice in thy strength, O Jehovah! David could have given thanks to God in private for the victories and other signal favors which he had received from him; but it was his intention to testify not only that it was God who elevated him to the throne, but also that whatever blessings God had conferred upon him redounded to the public good, and the advantage of all the faithful. In the beginning of the psalm the believing Israelites express their firm persuasion that God, who had created David to be king, had undertaken to defend and maintain him. It therefore appears that this psalm, as well as the preceding, was composed for the purpose of assuring the faithful that the goodness of God in this respect towards David would be of long duration, and permanent; and it was necessary, in order to their being established in a well-grounded confidence of their safety; to hope well of their king, whose countenance was as it were a mirror of the merciful and reconciled countenance of God. The sense of the words is:Lord, in putting forth thy power to sustain and protect the king, thou wilt preserve him safe; and, ascribing his safety to thy power, he will greatly rejoice in thee. The Psalmist has doubtless put strength and salvation for strong and powerful succor; intimating, that the power of God in defending the king would be such as would preserve and protect him against all dangers.

In the second verse there is pointed out the cause of this joy. The cause was this:that God had heard the prayers of the king, and had liberally granted him whatever he desired. It was important to be known, and that the faithful should have it deeply impressed on their minds, that all David's successes were so many benefits conferred upon him by God, and at the same time testimonies of his lawful calling. And David, there is no doubt, in speaking thus, testifies that he did not give loose reins to the desires of the flesh, and follow the mere impulse of his appetites like worldly men, who set their minds at one time upon this thing, and at another time upon that, without any consideration, and just as they are led by their sensual lusts; but that he had so bridled his affections as to desire nothing save what was good and lawful. According to the infirmity which is natural to men, he was, it is true, chargeable with some vices, and even fell shamefully on two occasions; but the habitual administration of his kingdom was such that it was easy to see that the Holy Spirit presided over it. But as by the Spirit of prophecy the Psalmist had principally an eye to Christ, who does not reign for his own advantage, but for ours, and whose desire is directed only to our salvation, we may gather hence the very profitable doctrine, that we need entertain no apprehension that God will reject our prayers in behalf of the church, since our heavenly King has gone before us in making intercession for her, so that in praying for her we are only endeavoring to follow his example.

3. For thou wilt prevent him. The change of the tense in the verbs does not break the connection of the discourse; and, therefore, I have, without hesitation, translated this sentence into the future tense, as we know that the changing of one tense into another is quite common in Hebrew. Those who limit this psalm to the last victory which David gained over foreign nations, and who suppose that the crown of which mention is here made was the crown of the king of the Ammonites, of which we have an account in sacred history, give, in my judgment, too low a view of what the Holy Spirit has here dictated concerning the perpetual prosperity of this kingdom. David, I have no doubt, comprehended his successors even to Christ, and intended to celebrate the continual course of the grace of God in maintaining his kingdom through successive ages. It was not of one man that it had been said,

"I will be his father, and he shall be my son,"
(2 Samuel 7:14;)

but this was a prophecy which ought to be extended from Solomon to Christ, as is fully established by the testimony of Isaiah, (Isaiah 9:6,) who informs us that it was fulfilled when the Son was given or manifested. When it is said, Thou wilt prevent him, the meaning is, that such will be the liberality and promptitude of God, in spontaneously bestowing blessings, that he will not only grant what is asked from him, but, anticipating the requests of the king, will load him with every kind of good things far beyond what he had ever expected. By blessings we are to understand abundance or plenteousness. Some translate the Hebrew word bwj, tob, goodness;2 but with this I cannot agree. It is to be taken rather for the beneficence or the free gifts of God. Thus the meaning will be, The king shall want nothing which is requisite to make his life in every respect happy, since God of his own good pleasure will anticipate his wishes, and enrich him with an abundance of all good things. The Psalmist makes express mention of the crown, because it was the emblem and ensign of royalty; and he intimates by this that God would be the guardian of the king, whom he himself had created. But as the prophet testifies, that the royal diadem, after lying long dishonored in the dust, shall again be put upon the head of Christ, we come to the conclusion, that by this song the minds of the godly were elevated to the hope of the eternal kingdom, of which a shadow only, or an obscure image, was set forth in the person of the successors of David. The doctrine of the everlasting duration of the kingdom of Christ is, therefore, here established, seeing he was not placed upon the throne by the favor or suffrages of men, but by God, who, from heaven, set the royal crown upon his head with his own hand.

1 The Hebrew word is zp, paz, denoting fine gold, the purest gold, the same word which is used in Psalm 19:10.

2 Reading "blessings of goodness;" that is, the best or most excellent blessings.