Reading through the Bible together
This psalm closes the loop, completes the cycle of prayer and response, request and answer that was begun in Psalm 20. This is a psalm that was used in the aftermath of victory; a victory that was the subject of petition in Psalm 20. God’s will had been followed, the prayers for victory had been offered, conquest had been experienced. Now God’s people were faithful, very faithful, in coming back to God and offering Him the praise and thanksgiving for the success that had been experienced. It is instructive for believer to know that the job is not completed when the prayers for victory have been offered and the battle has been won. There is yet more to be accomplished. What is that? There is need of specific, deliberate thoughtful thanksgiving and praise to God. This Psalm appropriately outlines after battle essentials. The Psalm comfortably divides into three sections: thanksgiving for the King and his victory (vs. 1-7), thoroughness in insuring a lasting victory (vs. 8-12), and a final praise to God alone (v. 13).
A. Thanksgiving Given for Victories Realized in the Past (vs. 1-7)
B. Affirmations ascertained that Successes are Comprehensive and Enduring (vs. 8-13).
C. Singular Thanksgiving for Successes Past, Present and Future to God Alone (v. 13).
1. Victory Has a Pre and Post Component: Psalm 21 closes what was opened by Psalm 20. The chariots and horses of the King’s enemies were powerless against God’s strength (see Ps. 20:7). God’s deliverance had previously been anticipated (Ps. 20:5, 6, 9), now it is realized. Psalm 20 is the victory in God expected; Psalm 21 is the victory in God realized. These two Psalms compliment each other and need to be understood, practiced, evaluated, and repeated. If we get victories through Christ and then fail to give God glory and mishandle those victories then we show ourselves to be unworthy of future victories. We need to be good stewards of the end as well as the beginning of the prayer process in order to do exploits for God. The message of the 20th and 21st Psalms speaks as clearly today as it did when it was written.
2. Success is More than Winning: This Psalm reminds us that victory, success and its attendant ramifications are more than just fighting of the battle and bringing home the wealth. It is much more. Let us asked ourselves: What happened? How did we do what we did? Were there lessons to learn? What self-corrections need to be made? Most important it is recognizing that God is the source of the victory and thereby He deserves full praise and recognition for the battle that was won and for the progress that was made. Psalm 21 say that the credit for every victory should be ascribed to God. Then there should be recognition of the partnership between the divine and the human. Thus the opening words of Psalm 21: The king shall have joy in Your strength, O Lord; and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips (verse 1-2).
3. Glory is Giving God Credit: Giving all glory to God is not easy because we want the glory for ourselves. Psalm 21 makes it clear that God deserves all the glory. God should get the glory because He is the cause of anything good and noteworthy. Furthermore, it is beneficial and character building for us to ascribe all glory to God. Psalm 21 describes how we may go about that process. With every breath we breathe, every word we speak, every ministry we perform, the glory belongs only to God, not just some of the glory, but all of the glory; not most of it, all of it; not even 99.9% of it, all the glory belongs to God and to Him alone. Because of God’s providence and sovereignty let us allow Psalm 21 and other Bible passages encourage us to consistently give God glory. (See texts on the Glory of God: 2 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 4:7-18; Colossians 1:27; Revelation 4:11; Matthew 6:13; 16:27; 24:30; Romans 11:36; Psalm 72:18; Psalm 19:1; Psalm 97:6; Psalm 8:1; Psalm 29:3; Psalm 24; John 12:28; Isaiah 43:7).
4. Start Strong and End Strong: Then there is this matter of being sure that we finish well the task that we start. That we finally and thoroughly complete the task or victory that is set before us. Verses 8-12 admonish the King to finish every task with consummate thoroughness. He is admonished to end the enterprise with the elegance deservant of a King; a King who knows how to end things well. We are not to be like King Joash who went to Elisha desiring victory over the Syrians. When Elisha told him to strike the ground to show his faith in God’s power to help him, he did so only three times instead of five or six times, thus showing his lack of a robust faith (2 Kings 13:14-19). Whatever we do for God, we should do it with all our might (Eccl. 9:10). Victory should be all inclusive, definitive, and terminal. Complete the task before you, end it well and then give God all the praise and glory.
5. Three Ways on Giving God Glory:
1) Only to God’s Glory: All music should have no other aim than the glory of God and the soul's refreshment; where this is not done there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub.
2) Paralyzed Athlete Brings Glory to God: Dennis was a professional football player. As an up-and-coming superstar for his team, it was predicted that he would help his team to win. Then tragedy struck. Dennis collided with another player and his spinal cord snapped. In a split-second, his football career ended. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Everything he had planned for his life came to an end. The world watched and listened as Dennis told the media that Christ was his source of comfort in his time of tragedy. The doctors announced to the media that Dennis may never walk again. But Dennis was not ashamed of his faith and brought glory to God as he told the media that with God's help, he would some day walk again, whether sooner or later.
The Brightest Star: In July 2010, the University of Sheffield's Department of Physics and Astronomy announced that they had discovered the brightest star ever found in the universe. While the size of the star is only about 265 times that of our sun, its brightness is greater. It’s not just twice as bright as our sun, not 10 times, not a hundred times, not a thousand times, and it's not even a million times brighter. It is ten million times brighter than our sun!
I would like to suggest that it is “The Jesus Star,” for among those who have born witness to the light of God's glory, none have shined brighter than He. Jesus Himself declared, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16). And just as with this newly discovered star, He is the brightest star in our universe. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
Delbert W. Baker