Psalm 21

Psalm 21[a]

Thanksgiving for Messianic Blessings

1 For the director.[b] A psalm of David.

2 O Lord, the king rejoices in your strength;
your victories fill him with great joy.[c]
3 You have granted him the desire of his heart[d]
and not withheld from him the request of his lips. Selah
4 You welcomed him with choice blessings[e]
and placed a crown of pure gold upon his head.
5 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.[f]
6 He has achieved great glory through your victory;
you have bestowed upon him splendor and majesty.[g]
7 You have conferred everlasting blessings[h] on him;
you gladdened him with the joy of your presence.
8 For the king places his trust in the Lord;
through the kindness[i] of the Most High he will not fall.
9 [j]Your hand will lay hold of all your enemies;
your right hand will overcome all your foes.
10 On the day when you appear,[k]
you will cast them into a fiery furnace.
The Lord’s anger will engulf them,
and fire will consume them.
11 You will blot out their descendants from the earth
and rid the human race of their posterity.[l]
12 They have devised wicked schemes against you,
but, plot though they may, they will not succeed.
13 For you will force them to retreat
when you aim your bows at them.
14 Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength;[m]
we will sing and praise your power.


  1. Psalm 21:1 One would have a poor understanding of feasts if one did not allow chants to intermingle desires and reality. On a feast, the king appears to share the privileges of God: authority, long rule, and majesty, for the Lord has blessed and established him to save his people from their foes. The history of Israel will more than once give the lie to this ideal figure of the monarch. The Church sees therein the traits of Jesus Christ, King and Savior of the People of God; in him resides the blessing for the whole world. The psalm continued to be sung in Israel even when the kingship ended after the sixth century A.D.—but this time concerning a future Messianic King.
    By a very simple spiritual transposition, this psalm enables us to sing of the divine blessings granted to Christ, especially his Resurrection, and to hope for his complete and decisive triumph over his enemies (the devil, sin, and death).
  2. Psalm 21:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 21:2 King and people offer praise to the Lord for the victory that they have achieved over their foes through God’s strength.
  4. Psalm 21:3 Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
  5. Psalm 21:4 You welcomed him with choice blessings: as you once welcomed Abraham (see Gen 12:2) and Joseph (see Gen 48:20). Placed a crown . . . upon his head: alludes either to his own crown reinforcing his kingship after his victory or to the crown of the king that he had defeated (see 2 Sam 12:30). This verse is eminently applied to the Messiah (see Pss 45:4; 72:17; 2 Sam 7:29; 1 Chr 17:27).
  6. Psalm 21:5 The king asked the Lord for life and received length of days forever and ever (see 1 Ki 1:25, 31, 34, 39; Dan 2:4; 3:9).
  7. Psalm 21:6 Glory . . . splendor and majesty: like those of the heavenly King (see Ps 96:3).
  8. Psalm 21:7 Everlasting blessings: this phrase may refer to blessings of enduring value or an unending number of blessings. Your presence: God’s favor, which is the greatest cause of joy inasmuch as it is the supreme blessing, leading to all others.
  9. Psalm 21:8 Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5.
  10. Psalm 21:9 The king’s future victories are described as certain because of the Lord’s action.
  11. Psalm 21:10 The expression on the day when you appear, (literally, “on the day of your face [judgment]” see Ps 34:17; Lam 4:16), and the mention of the fire are eschatological themes (see Ps 2:12; 2 Sam 23:7; Isa 30:33; Hos 7:7; Mal 3:19).
  12. Psalm 21:11 The foes of the king will have no descendants to make war on him.
  13. Psalm 21:14 The word strength in the concluding verse connects the theme with the opening verse: “O Lord, the king rejoices in your strength” (v. 2), and we will offer you our praise.

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