Psalm 21: Lessons From David Regarding Reasons to Praise Jesus

Introduction: Psalm 21 expressed David’s gratitude for his answered prayers in Psalm 20. Yet, it also represented David’s praise for the Messiah’s future deliverance. Through David’s psalm, God reveals seven reasons to praise Jesus, your Messiah. Jesus offers you His: (1) salvation, (2) answered prayers, (3) sovereignty, (4) faithfulness, (5) justice, (6) protection, and (7) joy.

First, David praised God for delivering the Jews in battle and for his salvation. You can also praise Jesus for His deliverance and your eternal salvation. Second, David praised God for answering his prayers by giving the Jews victory in battle. You can also praise Jesus for answering your prayers. Third, David praised God for promising his heirs a kingdom that would last forever. This pointed to Jesus. He will rule over all for eternity. You can praise Jesus because He uses His sovereignty for good. Fourth, David trusted God, and He praised God for His faithfulness. You can also trust Jesus and praise Him because He is also faithful to keep His promises. Fifth, David praised God for His perfect justice. You can also praise Jesus because His divine justice is also perfect. Sixth, David praised God because His will could never be thwarted. You can also praise Jesus for His protection when you do His will. Finally, David praised God for the tremendous joy that He felt because of God’s mighty deliverance. You can also praise Jesus for the powerful joy that comes from His deliverance and your eternal salvation.

1. Salvation: Praise Jesus For His Deliverance and For Your Eternal Salvation. Ps. 21:1.

  • David praised God for the joy of His salvation. After God answered David’s intercessory prayers by delivering the Jews in battle, David praised God for the joy of his deliverance: “Praise for Salvation. For the music director. A Psalm of David. 1 Lord, in Your strength the king will be glad, and in Your salvation how greatly he will rejoice!” (Ps. 21:1). David praised God for the Jews’ victory. But he also praised the Messiah: “The King whose conquest David describes in Ps 21 is the King he blessed with the prayers of Ps. 20. Just as Peter described David doing in Acts 2:30-31, David prophetically looks forward to the career of His descendants whom God promised to enthrone. Jesus is the blessed King who experienced God’s goodness in Ps. 21:3-7 (MT 21:4-8), and when He returns Jesus will be the agent of Yahweh’s wrath whose conquest of his enemies 21:8-12 (MT 21:9-13) psalms. Ps. 21:1-2 (MT 21:2-3) says King Jesus will be glad in Yahweh’s strength, when Yahweh gives Him all His desires and requests, and as 21:13 (MT 21:14) describes, God’s people will celebrate and sing psalms over the display of God’s power in Him.” (James M. Hamilton Jr., Evangelical Bible Theology Commentary Psalms (Vol. I: Psalms 1-72) (Lexham Academic 2021) p. 276).

  • Salvation comes through Jesus. In Jesus’ day, the Sadducees doubted the existence of an afterlife. Yet, David repeatedly praised God as the source of his “salvation” (Ps. 21:1). “Salvation belongs to the LORD; may Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah” (Ps. 3:8). “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation, . . . He gives great salvation to His king, and shows faithfulness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” (Ps. 18:46, 50). “The LORD is their strength, and He is a refuge of salvation to His anointed.” (Ps. 28:8). “But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble.” (Ps. 37:39). “GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head on the day of battle.” (Ps. 140:7). This salvation included the promise of living forever with God in heaven: “It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for the LORD commanded the blessing there—life forever.” (Ps. 133:3). Job professed faith in his Redeemer: “Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, He will take His stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25). Your redemption is only possible through God: “I, only I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.” (Is. 43:11).

Praise Jesus, the King of Kings, for the free gift of salvation that He offers1

  • Jesus is your Redeemer. Jesus is your Redeemer who offers you salvation: “and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”’ (Rev. 7:10). “She will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21). “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim. 2:5). Are you singing praises to Jesus for your deliverance and your eternal salvation?

2. Answered Prayers: Praise Jesus for Answering Your Prayers. Ps. 21:2.

  • David praised God for answering his prayers. David had just prayed for God to grant the Jews’ prayer for victory: “May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill your whole plan!” (Ps. 20:4). Here, he thanked God for answering his prayers for the Jews to prevail in their battle: “You have given him his heart’s desire, and You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah” (Ps. 21:2). David’s praise also pointed to Jesus. Jesus is the one who answers your prayers when you pray correctly, and He is worthy of your praise.

Praise Jesus for answering your prayers when you seek Him with faith2

  • When you do God’s will, He will answer your prayers with the desires of your heart. David revealed that God will grant the desires of those who desire to do His will and fear Him: “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4). “He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry for help and save them.” (Ps. 145:19). Jesus will hear your prayers when you ask according to His will and not your own: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 Jo. 5:14).

  • The effective fervent prayer of the righteous can accomplish great things. Jesus wants you to pray fervently and in faith: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (Ja. 5:16). David was one of many great intercessory prayer warriors (2 Sam. 24:17). Others included: Abraham (Gen. 18:23), Moses (Ex. 32:11-14; Nu. 14:18-22; 16:21-24), Samuel (1 Sam. 12:23), Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:21-22), Elisha (2 Kgs. 6:17), Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 19:15), Josiah (2 Chr. 34:21), Jonah (Jo. 1:12), Nehemiah (Neh., 1:6, 11; 4:4, 9; 5:19; 6:9, 14; 13:14); Ezra (Ezra 9:6-13), the Apostles (2 Tim. 1:3; Col. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 3:10), and Jesus. Through faith, you are part of Jesus’ holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). As His appointed priest, you too have the power of intercessory prayer. Are you praying as an intercessor for those whose in need?

  • Unanswered prayer results from either impatience or one of several sins. Many times, a prayer will not appear to be answered only because we lack the patience for God to answer it in His timing. For example, Abraham had to wait 25 years for God’s promise of an heir with Sarah to be fulfilled. Unanswered prayer can also be the result of one of several sins: “Unanswered prayer should be regarded as a warning signal that there may be a problem in one or more of the following reasons for unanswered prayer. - Not abiding in Jesus (John 15:7) - Unbelief (Matthew 17:20-21) - Failure to Fast (Matthew 17:21) - A Bad Marriage Relationship (1 Peter 3:7) - Not Asking (James 4:2) - Selfish Praying (James 4:3) - Disobedience (1 John 3:22) - Not Praying in God’s Will (1 John 5:14-15) - Unconfessed Sin (James 5:16) - Cold, Passionless Prayer (James 5:16-18; 2 Kings 20:5) - Prayerlessness and Lack of Persistence in Prayer (Luke 18:1-7; Psalm 55:17) - Sin Against Others (Matthew 5:23-24) - Lack of Unity (Matthew 18:19) - Not Praying in the Name of Jesus (John 14:13-14) - Pride (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, Proverbs 3:34) - Lying and Deceitfulness (Psalm 17:1) - Lack of Bible Reading and Bible Teaching (Proverbs 28:9) - Trusting in the Length or Form of Prayer (Matthew 6:7). Our prayers are not answered as if the avoidance of these things earns or merits God’s response, or if He is in debt to us if we do not do them. Yet they are clearly hindrances to answered prayer.” (David Guzik on Psalm 21) (italics original).3

3. Sovereignty: Praise Jesus Because He Uses His Sovereignty for Good. Ps. 21:3-6.

  • David praised God that his crown would pass to his descendants forever. Following his victory, David praised God for his blessings. This included his heir’s eternal Covenant: “For You meet him with the blessings of good things; You set a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked for life from You, You gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. His glory is great through Your salvation, splendor and majesty You place upon him. For You make him most blessed forever; You make him joyful with the joy of Your presence.” (Ps. 21:3-6). God blessed David with a crown of gold (Ps. 21:3) when he defeated his enemies: “Then he took the crown of their king from his head; and its weight was a talent of gold, and it had a precious stone; and it was placed on David’s head. And he brought out the plunder of the city in great amounts.” (2 Sam. 12:30; 1 Chr. 20:2). His crown symbolized his dominion over the Promised Land. This again pointed to Jesus. He will receive a crown signifying His sovereignty over everything.

Praise Jesus, the eternal King of Kings, who shares His blessings with you4

  • David sang songs praising the future rule of the Messiah. David praised God for the future inheritance of authority that God promised to his descendants: “Ask it of Me, and I will certainly give the nations as Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as Your possession.” (Ps. 2:8). “I will clothe his enemies with shame, but upon himself his crown will gleam.” (Ps. 132:18). “You will prolong the king’s life; His years will be like generations. He will sit enthroned before God forever; appoint faithfulness and truth that they may watch over him.” (Ps. 61:6-7). “Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” (Ps. 8:5; Heb. 2:7).

  • Jesus is the Messiah and heir to God’s Covenant with David. David spoke of the King who would reign “forever and ever.” (Ps. 21:4). This referenced the promised Messiah. God promised David an eternal dynasty: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’ (2 Sam. 7:16). Daniel repeated this promise: “But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and take possession of the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.’” (Dan. 7:18). Jesus was born into the line of David (Matt. 1:1). He came to fulfill God’s covenant with David as the eternal King of Kings: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Lk. 1:33; Rev. 19:16). If you have faith, you can also give thanks that you will live under His reign.

  • Jesus will receive full authority over the nations. Just as God signified David’s authority with “a crown of pure gold on his head” (Ps. 21:3), Jesus’ authority will be confirmed with similar crown: “Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, with a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.” (Rev. 14:14). He will reign with full authority over the nations: “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”’ (Rev. 11:15). “The one who overcomes, and the one who keeps My deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations;” (Rev. 2:26).

  • God is sovereign and in control over all history. God has controlled events throughout history to fulfill His plans for mankind. He can control the heart of any leader or individual to fulfill His plans: “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Prov. 21:1). Daniel explained: “It is He [God] who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” (Da. 2:21). “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Is. 40:15). “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” (Is. 40:17). “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; . . .” (Is. 9:3(a)). “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). Even when evil surrounds you, do you trust that God is in control?

  • Praise Jesus because He uses His sovereignty for good. You can give thanks that Jesus uses His power over everything to cause all things to work together for His greater good: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28). We may never know the reasons for our suffering. But we can rest assured that Jesus has a greater plan.

4. Faithfulness: Praise Jesus Because He is Faithful to Keep His Promises. Ps. 21:7.

  • David thanked God for His faithfulness and rewarding his trust. David gave two reasons for God’s blessings: (1) his trust in God and (2) God’s faithfulness to keep His Word: “For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the faithfulness of the Most High he will not be shaken.” (Ps. 21:7). David trusted in God instead of his military strength (Ps. 20:7). God also kept His Word that David’s kingdom would survive and have no end. This also pointed to Jesus. He put His trust in God the Father when He was led to die at the cross. He is also faithful to keep every promise that He has made in His Word.

Praise Jesus that no trial can keep Him from keeping His promises5

  • Put your trust in God when you are under attack. David trusted in God, even when he could not have known the outcome of the battle: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7). “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13). “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.” (Ps. 31:24). “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6). Even when it appears that evil is prevailing, you should still trust God: “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” (Lk. 12:4). The only person that you are to fear is God (Prov. 1:7). And the fear of the Lord is hating evil (Prov. 8:12). Even when evil seems to be prevailing everywhere, do you trust God?

  • Give thanks for Jesus’ faithfulness. You can also thank Jesus that He is faithful to keep His promises: “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24). Among His many promises, Jesus is faithful to keep His promise to never forsake His people: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6; 4:31; Heb. 13:5; Is. 43:25). You can also give thanks that His faithfulness is not conditioned upon our faithfulness: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13; Nu. 23:19). Have you given thanks that Jesus will not use your sins to void any of His many promises to you?

5. Justice: Praise Jesus Because His Divine Justice is Perfect. Ps. 21:8-10.

  • David praised God for his divine justice. David also praised God that He would be just and fair in judging His enemies and those who embraced evil: “Your hand will find all your enemies; Your right hand will find those who hate you. You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger; the Lord will swallow them up in His wrath, and fire will devour them. 10 You will eliminate their descendants from the earth, and their children from among the sons of mankind.” (Ps. 21:8-10). When Saul pursued David, David spared Saul’s life on two occasions (1 Sam 24, 26). David left vengeance to God (Dt. 32:35). You can also leave vengeance to God, and Jesus will one day judge all evil.

  • Jesus will rule with divine righteousness and perfect justice. Jesus is the King of Kings (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 1:5; 17:14; 19:16). He sits on an eternal throne (Rev. 3:21). His future reign will be righteous: “Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.” (Ps. 51:14). And His rule will also be just. “Your throne, God, is forever and ever; the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice.” (Ps. 45:6; 110:2; Heb. 1:8). Because He will one day right every wrong, you never need to take justice into your own hands (Ro. 12:19).

  • Jesus will judge God’s enemies. David promised that the King of Kings would eliminate God’s enemies (Ps. 21:8-10). God the Father has given Jesus full authority to judge evil: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” (Jo. 5:22). For those who reject Jesus’ mercy, they will be judged according to their own deeds: “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matt. 16:27). “For He repays a person for his work, and lets things happen in correspondence to a man’s behavior.” (Job 34:11; Ro. 2:6). “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to reward each one as his work deserves.” (Rev. 22:12). Most would not like to think of themselves as wicked. Yet, without Jesus, every person faces the judgment. “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” (Ro. 2:5).

  • Jesus’ perfect justice includes mercy. Some are troubled by God’s judgment. Yet, God would not be “just” if He ignored evil. God also gives us these prophesies to warn everyone. He does not want any to perish: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). As a just and loving God, Jesus’ perfect justice also includes mercy: “A Psalm of David. I will sing of mercy and justice; to You, LORD, I will sing praises.” (Ps. 101:1). Anyone who repents and confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior can be forgiven (Jo. 3:16). Are you spreading the good news (Matt. 28:16-20)?

6. Protection: Praise Jesus For His Protection When You Do His Will. Ps. 21:11-12.

  • David praised God because he would be protected when he did God’s will. Although David faced many strong opponents, he never feared when he obeyed God’s will: “11 Though they intended evil against You and devised a plot, they will not succeed. 12 For You will make them turn their back; You will take aim at their faces with Your bowstrings.” (Ps. 21:11-12). David suffered losses when he disobeyed God. Yet, when he prayed and followed God’s will, his enemies were always defeated in battle. This again foreshadowed Jesus. The devil repeatedly tried to prevent Jesus from becoming the Messiah. Yet, his plans always failed, and Jesus never needed to fear the devil’s attacks.

  • You never need to fear when you are doing God’s will. David knew that he could petition the King of Kings because he had the faith to know that God was with him: “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6). “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10). “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7). If you are doing God’s will, you never need to fear.

  • God is also a shield for those who do His will. When you trust God to follow His will, He becomes your refuge and your shield when you are attacked: “As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is refined; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” (2 Sam. 22:31). “For You bless the righteous person, LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Ps. 5:12). Believers are told to put on the armor of God: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11). This is only possible when you take refuge in God by doing His will. Are you going into battle against the enemy with the full armor of God?

7. Joy: Praise Jesus for the Powerful Joy That Comes From His Salvation. Ps. 21:13.

  • David was overcome with joy because of God's powerful deliverance. David never took God’s deliverance for granted. Thus, he sang God’s praises with heartfelt joy: “13 Be exalted, Lord, in Your strength; we will sing and praise Your power.” (Ps. 21:13). David’s joy over God’s powerful deliverance foreshadows the joy that believers will experience because of Jesus’ salvation: “Since this psalm is a royal psalm, it also has application for David’s greater son, Jesus the Messiah. He asked for life and restoration to glory when facing His enemies (John 17), and He received them through the resurrection and exaltation. He has been crowned in glory and blessed forever. As the perfect human He trusted in God with a faith that could not be shaken; as the divine Son He is fully able to defeat all wickedness, which He will do when He comes again as our glorious King. His coming victory over the world is the victory that all believers anticipate with joy.” (Allen Ross, A Commentary of the Psalms: Volume 1 (1-41), Kregel Academic (2011) p. 519). Like David, you should also respond with worship and praise.

Praise Jesus for the joy He brings in your life6

  • Jesus offers you joy through the Spirit on Earth and in heaven. Paul described the joy of heaven as something beyond what humans have seen or experienced (1 Cor. 2:9). “And the redeemed of the LORD will return and come to Zion with joyful shouting, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Is. 35:10; Is. 60:2). Yet, you also don’t need to wait until you get to heaven to be filled with joy. Jesus offers you an abundant life now: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jo. 10:10). The abundant life that He offers includes the peace and joy that only the Holy Spirit can provide: “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Ro. 14:17). “[I]n Your presence is fullness of joy;” (Ps. 16:11; 21:6). Joy is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Ro. 14:17; 15:13; Phil. 2:17(b)). When you suffer pain, do you seek out the joy of the Spirit?

  • Worship Jesus who is sovereign and uses His power to deliver you. As our example, the psalmist repeatedly praised God for His amazing power and worshiped Him: “May you be blessed of the LORD, maker of heaven and earth.” (Ps. 115:15). “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps. 124:8). “May the LORD bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth.” (Ps. 134:3). He deserves your praise because He uses His amazing power to deliver you from sin and redeem you to be with Him: “Or has a god ventured to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, just as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?” (Dt. 4:34). You should respond by singing His praises: “And they will sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.” (Ps. 138:5). “They will burst forth in speaking of Your abundant goodness, and will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.” (Ps. 145:7). Jesus paid the ultimate price to free you from bondage and offer you an eternity of joy. Are you singing His praises, and is your joy evident to others?

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