let the King hear us when we call; for not God the Father is here meant, though he is an everlasting King, the King of kings; and who hears his people, when they call upon him, and while they are calling; yet he is rarely, if ever, called "the King", without any other additional epithet; whereas the Messiah often is, as in the next psalm, Psalm 20:1; and prayer is made to him, and he hears and receives the prayers of his people; and, as Mediator, presents them to his Father perfumed with his much incense; for he is a Priest as well as a King.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 21
To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David. This psalm was either written by David; and therefore called a "psalm of David"; or it was written, as it may be rendered, "for David", by some other person, on account of his victories and triumphs; or rather "concerning David" (s); that is, concerning the Messiah, the son of David, as Kimchi says some expound it; or concerning the Messiah, who is called David, Ezekiel 37:24; and Jarchi observes, that their Rabbins interpret it of the Messiah; but, says he, it is right to explain it, moreover, of David himself, for an answer to the heretics (Christians) who err in it; and various passages in this psalm are by the Jewish writers understood of the Messiah; as "the King", in Psalm 20:1 is in the Targum called the King Messiah; Psalm 21:4 is in the Talmud applied (t) to him; Psalm 21:3 are in Zohar (u), and in the Midrashes (w), interpreted of him; and many Christian writers understand the whole of him; which is right: though Theodoret thinks it was penned on the account of the health of King Hezekiah, and his restoration from his disease; which is not likely.
(s) "pro Davide, vel de Davide", Vatablus. (t) T. Bab. Succah, fol. 52. 1. Vid. Nachman. disput. "cum fratre Paulo", p. 36. Ed. Wagenseil. (u) In Numb. fol. 68. 3. 4. (w) Midrash Tillim apud Viccars. in loc. & in Galatin. l. 3. c. 9. Bemidbar Rabba, fol. 212. 4. & 218. 1.
and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice? meaning either his own salvation by the Lord, from all his sorrows and troubles, and out of the hands of all enemies, being in the presence of God, where is fulness of joy, Psalm 16:9; or else the salvation of his people by him, which Jehovah appointed them to, secured for them in the covenant of grace, sent Christ to work out for them, applies by his Spirit, and at last puts into the full possession of: Christ rejoices at the effectual calling and conversion of his people, when salvation is brought near unto them; and especially at their glorification, when they shall be in the full enjoyment of it; then will they be his joy, and crown of rejoicing: this is the joy that was set before him, which made him go so cheerfully through his sufferings and death for them, Hebrews 12:2; the reasons of this joy are, because of the great love he bears to them; the interest and property he has in them; his undertakings for them, as their surety, to bring them safe to glory; his purchase of them by his blood; his intercession for them, that they might be with him to behold his glory; and, last of all, because of his Father's glory, his own glory, and the glory of the blessed Spirit, which are concerned in the salvation of these persons.
and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Whatever he asked in the council and covenant of peace was granted; he asked for all the elect, as his spouse and bride; these were the desire of his heart and eyes, and they were given him; he asked for all the blessings of grace for them, and all grace was given to them in him; he asked for glory, for eternal life, and it was promised him; and not only the promise of it was put into his hand, but the thing itself; see Psalm 2:8, 1 John 5:11; and Psalm 20:4; whatever he requested of his Father, when here on earth, was granted; he always heard him; that memorable prayer of his in John 17:1 is heard and answered, both in what respects himself, his own glorification, and the conversion, sanctification, union, preservation, and glorification of his people; whatever he now desires and requests in heaven, as the advocate and intercessor for his saints, is ever fulfilled; which is an instance of the great regard Jehovah has unto him, and may be considered as a reason of his joy in him.
Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.
thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head; which is expressive of his victory over all enemies, sin, Satan, and the world, death and hell; and of his being possessed of his throne and kingdom; and has respect to his exaltation at the right hand of God, where he is crowned with glory and honour: and this crown being of "pure gold" denotes the purity, glory, solidity, and perpetuity of his kingdom; this is a crown, not which believers put upon him by believing in him, and ascribing the glory of their salvation to him, or what the church, called his mother, has crowned him with, Sol 3:11, but which his father put upon him, who has set him King over his holy hill of Zion, Psalm 2:6; compare with this Revelation 14:14. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions read "a crown of a precious stone"; and so Apollinarius; and seem to refer to the crown set on David's head, which had precious stones in it, 2 Samuel 12:30; Josephus (x) says it had a sardonyx. Fortunatus Scacchus (y) fancies the topaz is meant, and that the Hebrew text should be read "a crown of topaz"; mistaking the sense of the word "phaz", which never signifies a topaz, but the best gold, pure solid gold.
(x) Antiqu. l. 7. c. 7. s. 5. (y) Elaeochrism. Sacr. l. 3. c. 40. p. 1003.
even length of days for ever and ever; the life he has for himself as man is what will ever continue; he will die no more, death will have no more dominion over him; he will live for evermore, and that to make intercession for his members, Romans 6:9; and the life which is granted them at his request is an everlasting one, both as to body and soul; for though they die as other men, they shall live again in the resurrection of the just, and never die more, but shall be like the angels in heaven; and as for the second death, that shall not harm them, nor have any power over them; they will live and reign with Christ for ever.
honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him; which is to be understood not of the honour and majesty of his divine nature, which are essential to him, and not laid upon him by any; nor of the glory which the saints attribute to him on account of their salvation by him; but of that which his Father has put upon him, and lies in the introduction of him into his glory after his sufferings and death, and resurrection from the dead; in exalting him at his right hand above all creatures and things; in giving him all power in heaven and in earth; in putting all the gifts of the Spirit into his hands, which he receiving gave to men, and in ordaining him Judge of quick and dead.
thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance; the glorious presence of God in heaven; Christ having done his work on earth ascended to heaven, where he was received by his Father with a cheerful countenance, was made to sit down on the same throne with him, being well pleased with his obedience, righteousness, and sacrifice; and being now in the presence of God, in which is fulness of joy, and at his right hand, where are pleasures for evermore, the human nature of Christ is filled with an excess of joy; the words may be rendered, "thou hast made" or "wilt make him glad with joy (a), with thy countenance"; see Psalm 16:11.
(z) "posuisti vel pones eum benedictiones", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; so Ainsworth, Cocceius, Gejerus. (a) "laetificabis eum in laetitia", Pagninus, Montanus, Michaelis; so Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus.
and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved; God the Father is the most High; Christ is called the Son of the Highest, and the Spirit the power of the Highest, Luke 1:32; there is mercy with him, which is a ground of hope and trust, in his people, and also in the Messiah; see Psalm 89:28; and some versions make the mercy of the most High to be what the King Messiah trusts in, reading the words (b), "for the King trusteth in the Lord, and in the mercy of the most High"; but the accent "athnach", which distinguishes the propositions, will not admit of it; but the sense is, that because of the mercy, grace, goodness, and faithfulness of God in making and keeping his promises, Christ would not be and was not moved from his trust and confidence in the Lord; nor shall he even be removed from his throne of glory on which he sits; nor from the glorious and happy state in which he is: nor will it ever be in the power of his enemies to displace him; for these in time will be destroyed by him, as the following words show.
(b) So Genebrard, Muis,
thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee; this is the same with the former clause, and is repeated for the further certainty and greater confirmation of the thing; and "the right hand" is mentioned as expressive of the mighty power of the Lord. The Chaldee paraphrase renders it, "the vengeance of thy right hand".
in the time of thine anger, or "of thy countenance" (d); not his gracious, but his angry countenance; when he shall put on a fierce look, and appear as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and stir up all his wrath;
the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath; not that they shall be annihilated; their souls remain after death, and their bodies after the resurrection; and will be tormented with the fire of God's wrath for ever and ever; the phrase is expressive of utter ruin, of the destruction of soul and body in hell; see Psalm 35:25; Jarchi takes it to be a prayer, "may the Lord swallow them up", &c.
and the fire shall devour them; that is, as the Targum paraphrases it, the fire of hell; or, however, it designs the wrath of God, who is a consuming fire; or that fiery indignation of his, which shall devour the adversaries; which comes down upon them either in temporal judgments here, or in their everlasting destruction hereafter.
(c) Vide Aben Ezram in loc. (d) "vultus tui", V. L. so Sept. Aethiop. Gejerus, Muis, Ainsworth; "faciei iratae tuae", Junius & Tremellius; so Michaelis.
and their seed from among the children of men; see Psalm 37:28; which must be understood of such of their seed, and offspring as are as they were when born; are never renewed and sanctified, but are like their parents; as the Jews were, their parents were vipers, and they were serpents, the generation of them; and were the children of the devil, and did his works: now these passages had their accomplishment in the Jews, when the day of God's wrath burnt them up, and left them neither root nor branch, Malachi 4:1; and in the Pagan empire, when every mountain and island were moved out of their places, and the Heathen perished out of the land, Revelation 6:14; and will be further accomplished when the Lord shall punish the wicked woman Jezebel, the antichristian harlot, and kill her children with death, Revelation 2:23; see Psalm 104:35.
they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform; not the death of Christ; that was indeed in itself a mischievous device of theirs, but that they performed, though they had not their end in it; they expected his name would then perish, and they should hear no more of him: but rather it respects his resurrection from the dead, they could not prevent, though they took all imaginable care that them might be no show of it; and when they found he was really raised from the dead, they contrived a wicked scheme to stop the credit of it, but in vain, Matthew 27:63; and Jews and Gentiles, and Papists, have formed schemes and done all they can to root the Gospel, cause, and interest of Christ, out of the world, but have not been able to perform it.
when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them; that is, direct the arrows of his wrath and vengeance right against them; see Psalm 7:11.
(e) Kimchi & Ben Melech in loc. (f) "ponis eos metam", Cocceius; "humerum", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus; "velut tumulum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.