The Heart's Desires
Psalm 21 Lynne McCarthy 2/18/22
Observe: David’s passionate praises for God’s strength in victory over his enemies explode because God [has] given him his heart’s desire, and [has] not withheld the request of his lips (2). Thanksgiving is the foundation of this psalm for God’s graciousness in answering the king’s prayer.
Verses 3-7 continue this joy. God has met him with all His goodness. David didn’t have to hunt or plead for His presence or His resident goodness; God in His graciousness brought it to him. A commentator writes regarding David’s crown of gold: “… he waited for God to place it upon his head.” In waiting, David recognized the glory and majesty he enjoyed was of God, not of himself.
God will deal with his enemies and David lists how this will happen (11-13). Burning in fire (9; see Daniel 13, Revelation 19), the arrow in the face (12), wildly contrast to gold crowns and delirious joy. David trusts God’s justice and faithfulness in His judging. God exalts His own strength; He needs no one to do this. David and his people will continue to praise His power (13). Somehow, it’s a royally happy psalm!
Interpret: This is part two of a “royal psalm” with the image of a joyful, victorious king throughout; a Messianic psalm; certainly, a thanksgiving psalm. Psalms 20 and 21 run together: a request in Psalm 20:5: May Yahweh fulfill all your requests becomes a reply in Psalm 21: You ... have not denied the request of his lips (2b), a third-person ask and response to answered prayer. David wrote this song for the children of Israel as he goes into battle: May He give you what your heart desires (20:4) with the answer to that prayer: You have given him his heart's desire (21:2). These Psalms are antiphonal -- prayer request; response; request; response.
But it’s in David’s exaltation of Messiah, from beginning to end, that we read this Psalm. Jesus’ image is throughout: crowned with glory and honour, He lives forever (length of days), is faithful in judging and victorious over sin and death. Trust in God is David’s response to His responses (7). God’s unfathomable goodness comes to us In Jesus.
Apply: How do we determine our hearts’ desires? Inner urges, callings that don’t go away. A casual remark like a flare placed by the Lord to get our attention. A Scripture verse that sets up a longing, maybe a chain of events. Something we’ve always wanted to do for Him and others, and the Lord effects His plan in His time. Prayer preparation followed by thanks is significant to this determination.
God brings His goodness to us. And as we receive such undeserved goodness, ‘Thank You!’ runs like a holy tape loop in our minds and hearts.
If we read this Psalm on these two levels – Davidic and Messianic – God’s grace causes our praise and thanks for all He has done for us as we ask, wait, listen – and thank. We can be as excited as David!
Ask: Really, what is my heart’s desire? I hardly know, so I wait for Your heart’s desire worked out in my life. Would You give me the patience to wait, Lord?
Pray: Lord, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed, give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by these we, being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness. Through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. (BCP)
Sing: Psalm 21: My Soul among Lions Song of the King https://youtu.be/UJOTKHDHYZM
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.