May 19: Psalm 21

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May 19: Psalm 21

The strength of the King

Common meter double 86.86 D             Forest Green (I Sing the Mighty Power of God), p. 70                                                                                                   Ellacombe (Hosanna, Loud Hosanna), p. 130

The king in Thy great strength, O Lord, shall very joyful be;

And in Thy saving help he shall rejoice most fervently.

For Thou upon him hast bestowed his earnest heart’s desire,

And Thou from him didst not withhold the good he did enquire.

For Thou wilt meet him with Thy gifts of blessings manifold,

And Thou has set upon his head a crown of purest gold.

When he requested life of Thee, Thou life to him didst give;

Such length of days Thou gavest him he evermore shall live.

In Thy salvation he is great, and glorified is he;

And Thou upon him hast bestowed most glorious majesty.

For Thou wilt ever set on him the blessings of Thy grace,

And Thou wilt cause him to be filled with joy before Thy face.

Because the king trusts in the Lord, through cov’nant love that’s proved,

Through grace of Him Who is Most High, the king shall not be moved.

God’s hand shall reach to ev’ry foe who is thine enemy,

And thy right hand shall find out all who hate thee needlessly.

For thou wilt make them blaze as fire in presence of thy power.

The Lord shall swallow them in wrath; the fire shall them devour.

Their offspring thou wilt strike from earth, their seed from sons of men.

Their evil plans, their cunning plots against thee are in vain.

For thou wilt make them turn their back; thou wilt thine arrows place

Upon thy strings, in readiness to fly against their face.

In Thine omnipotence, O Lord, exalt Thyself on high;

Then we shall sing; with psalms of praise Thy might we glorify.

Psalm 21 begins: “O Lord, the King will rejoice in Your strength, and greatly will He exult in Your salvation.” This is the rejoicing of “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). The paschal victory is God’s response to Christ’s own prayer: “You have given Him His heart’s desire, nor have You denied Him the request of His lips.” And for what did Jesus pray during His Passion? “He asked life of You,” answers our psalm. And what sort of life? The mere survival of His earthly body? Hardly. The object of Jesus’ prayer was, rather, the total life that stands forever victorious over death, the eruption of the divine life into the world by reason of His own passage through death to glory. The true eternal life is not a simple continuation of man’s earthly existence. It is something new altogether: “He asked life of You, and You gave Him length of days unto ages of ages.” This is the divine life given in the Resurrection. This eternal life is joy forever in God’s presence. By reason of His Resurrection, says this psalm, Jesus reigns as King.  Many lines of this psalm are devoted to the enemies of Christ, who are enemies of Christ precisely because they are the enemies of humanity. That enemy called sin, overcome by the atoning grace of His blood. That enemy called death, which He trampled down by His own death. That enemy called hell, which found itself unable to hold the Author of life. Psalm 21 thus celebrates the victory of Him who proclaims: “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the Keys of Hades and of death” (Rev. 1:17-18). (Reardon, p. 39-40)

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