This will be the last psalm that I discuss in the series on Prophetic Apocalypse. I may do a couple of posts exploring the overall approach that I’ve used and what it means for us who live in anticipation of the Messianic Kingdom. Not everyone believes that we can go to the psalms and see the Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom. They might suggest that only the apostles themselves could go to the law, psalms, and prophets and apply them to the Messiah. Other may go back to the psalms and see only a spiritual application bypassing the original context of the kingdom being here on earth. I feel that my approach has stayed true to the original context, has been consistent with the way the apostles quoted other OT passages, and can be confirmed with NT revelation.
Psalm 21 has two basic sections. In verses 1-7 we see the nature of the king who will rule forever and ever. In verses 8-12 we see the destruction of the enemies of this king. This psalm does not give us much in the way of specific timelines, but operates more in general principles about the Messiah, who I will refer to as The King in this post because that is how David refers to Him. While David was the king for his day, David knew that The ultimate King would be born of his lineage and sit on his throne. In this psalm, The King of which David writes lives forever and ever in splendor and majesty. This could not be said of David. David must have been writing about another The King who lives forever and ever.
The King rejoices in the strength of the LORD. Sometimes in thinking about The King, we think of a seriousness that might not allow for a smile. Yet The King knows how to rejoice. The King loves the salvation of the LORD. The LORD gives The King whatever He wants. The King asks; the LORD gives. One of the things that the LORD gives The King is eternal life. The King’s authority comes from the LORD. Although this authority to rule is not listed among The King’s requests here in Psalm 21, it is stated in Psalm 2 that authority over the nations is a request of The King to His Father which He grants. The King is someone who trusts in the LORD.
This section contains the prophetic apocalypse. Remember that an apocalypse is a revealing, sort of like throwing back the curtain to see something that we ordinarily cannot see. Prophetic means it is something that is yet to happen. So when God throws back the curtain in this section, we see something in the future that we wouldn’t see unless God revealed it to us.
This revelation here concerns the destruction of the enemies of The King. The hand of The King will find out ALL His enemies. Who is an enemy of The King? It is someone who hates The King. Notice that The King will appear at some point in the future (following ESV). When The King appears at the time of His wrath, He will make all His enemies like a blazing oven. These enemies will be swallowed up in His wrath. So sometime in the future there will be a time of wrath, Psalm 2:12, 110:5. These enemies will have their descendants destroyed.
Something in the way of mercy should be pointed out here. The flood of Noah was a merciful act since it cut short opportunities for more evil and therefore it also cut short more people being born who would never belong to the LORD. To cut off a certain evil people from the earth can be a merciful thing from God’s perspective. That’s what we see here in verse 10. The offspring of these enemies of The King will be destroyed. They will not be allowed to bring forth any more wicked people whose only intent is to corrupt the earth. By destroying these wicked, The King is actually saving the earth.
Another point of interest is that the enemies of the LORD are the ones who provoke The King by initiating an attack against Him. The enemies plot evil and mischief against The King and He responds by destroying them. This is not an instance of The King showing up and arbitrarily slaughtering just anybody in His way. He specifically destroys those who try to attack Him. In short, The King’s wrath is a response to a provocative act of war against Him. Psalm 2, 46, and 94 communicate this same basic truth.
Is there a contradiction between The King finding out His enemies as opposed to the enemies coming against The King? Which is it? Perhaps the way that The King finds out His enemies is that He knows they will come against Him. Perhaps The King only defends Himself against this unprovoked attack at first, but after establishing His rule, He seeks out those who remain at a later point in time. We must remember that these are overarching principles not a strict timeline. The King will eventually find out His enemies. The King will react to this act of His enemies plotting against Him. We can’t determine for certain any timeline from this psalm alone. We must go to other psalms and to the NT.
The above is the OT foundation for the coming of the Messiah in wrath. We can build upon that foundation, but we cannot take away from it or change it. Since there is no strict timeline in this psalm, where do we place this display of The King’s wrath? I suggest we can place it in two places. #1- At Armageddon when Jesus comes in power and glory. #2- Following the Millennium when Gog/Magog gathers and surrounds the beloved city. Both of these displays of The King’s wrath would be consistent with the psalm. Both would stay true to the first section which pictures The King continuing forever and ever in His position of authority.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman