Psalm 21#sn Psalm 21. The psalmist praises the Lord for the way he protects and blesses the Davidic king.
For the music director; a psalm of David.
1 O Lord, the king rejoices in the strength you give;#tn Heb “in your strength.” The translation interprets the pronominal suffix as subjective, rather than merely descriptive (or attributive).
he takes great delight in the deliverance you provide.#tn Heb “and in your deliverance, how greatly he rejoices.”
2 You grant#tn The translation assumes the perfect verbal forms in v. 2 are generalizing, stating factually what God typically does for the king. Another option is to take them as present perfects, “you have granted…you have not refused.” See v. 4, which mentions a specific request for a long reign. him his heart’s desire;
you do not refuse his request.#tn Heb “and the request of his lips you do not refuse.” (Selah)
3 For you bring him#tn Or “meet him [with].” rich#tn Heb “good.” blessings;#sn You bring him rich blessings. The following context indicates that God’s “blessings” include deliverance/protection, vindication, sustained life, and a long, stable reign (see also Pss 3:8; 24:5).
you place a golden crown on his head.
4 He asked you to sustain his life,#tn Heb “life he asked from you.” Another option is to translate the perfect verbal forms in v. 4 with the present tense, “he asks…you grant.”
and you have granted him long life and an enduring dynasty.#tn Heb “you have granted him length of days forever and ever.” The phrase “length of days,” when used of human beings, usually refers to a lengthy period of time (such as one’s lifetime). See, for example, Deut 30:20; Job 12:12; Ps 91:16; Prov 3:2, 16; Lam 5:20. The additional phrase “forever and ever” is hyperbolic. While it seems to attribute eternal life to the king (see Pss 61:6-7; 72:5 as well), the underlying reality is the king’s enduring dynasty. He will live on, as it were, through his descendants, who will continue to rule over his kingdom long after he has passed off the scene.
5 Your deliverance brings him great honor;#tn Or “great glory.”
you give him majestic splendor.#tn Heb “majesty and splendor you place upon him.” For other uses of the phrase הוֹד וְהָדָר (hod vÿhadar, “majesty and splendor”) see 1 Chr 16:27; Job 40:10; Pss 96:6; 104:1; 111:3.
6 For you grant him lasting blessings;
you give him great joy by allowing him into your presence.#tn Heb “you make him happy with joy with [i.e., “close by” or “in”] your face.” On the idiom “with your face” (i.e., “in your presence”) see Ps 16:11 and BDB 816 s.v. פָּנֻה II.2.a.
7 For the king trusts#tn The active participle draws attention to the ongoing nature of the action. in the Lord,
and because of the sovereign Lord’s#tn Traditionally “the Most High’s.” The divine title “Most High” (עֶלְיוֹן, ’elyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. Note the focus of vv. 8-12 and see Ps 47:2. faithfulness he is not upended.#tn Another option is to translate the imperfect verbal form as future, “he will not be upended” (cf. NRSV “he shall not be moved”). Even if one chooses this option, the future tense must be understood in a generalizing sense.
8 You#tn The king is now addressed. One could argue that the Lord is still being addressed, but v. 9 militates against this proposal, for there the Lord is mentioned in the third person and appears to be distinct from the addressee (unless, of course, one takes “Lord” in v. 9 as vocative; see the note on “them” in v. 9b). Verse 7 begins this transition to a new addressee by referring to both the king and the Lord in the third person (in vv. 1-6 the Lord is addressed and only the king referred to in the third person). prevail over#tn Heb “your hand finds.” The idiom pictures the king grabbing hold of his enemies and defeating them (see 1 Sam 23:17). The imperfect verbal forms in vv. 8-12 may be translated with the future tense, as long as the future is understood as generalizing. all your enemies;
your power is too great for those who hate you.#tn Heb “your right hand finds those who hate you.”
9 You burn them up like a fiery furnace#tn Heb “you make them like a furnace of fire.” Although many modern translations retain the literal Hebrew, the statement is elliptical. The point is not that he makes them like a furnace, but like an object burned in a furnace (cf. NEB, “at your coming you shall plunge them into a fiery furnace”). when you appear;#tn Heb “at the time of your face.” The “face” of the king here refers to his angry presence. See Lam 4:16.
the Lord angrily devours them;#tn Heb “the Lord, in his anger he swallows them, and fire devours them.” Some take “the Lord” as a vocative, in which case he is addressed in vv. 8-9a. But this makes the use of the third person in v. 9b rather awkward, though the king could be the subject (see vv. 1-7).
the fire consumes them.
10 You destroy their offspring#tn Heb “fruit.” The next line makes it clear that offspring is in view. from the earth,
their descendants#tn Heb “seed.” from among the human race.#tn Heb “sons of man.”
11 Yes,#tn Or “for.” they intend to do you harm;#tn Heb “they extend against you harm.” The perfect verbal forms in v. 11 are taken as generalizing, stating factually what the king’s enemies typically do. Another option is to translate with the past tense (“they intended…planned”).
they dream up a scheme,#sn See Ps 10:2. but they do not succeed.#tn Heb “they lack ability.”
12 For you make them retreat#tn Heb “you make them a shoulder,” i.e., “you make them turn and run, showing the back of their neck and shoulders.”
when you shoot your arrows at them.#tn Heb “with your bowstrings you fix against their faces,” i.e., “you fix your arrows on the bowstrings to shoot at them.”
13 Rise up, O Lord, in strength!#tn Heb “in your strength,” but English idiom does not require the pronoun.sn The psalm concludes with a petition to the Lord, asking him to continue to intervene in strength for the king and nation.
We will sing and praise#tn Heb “sing praise.” your power!