Sunday, April 8, 2018

The King Trusts in the Lord

In your strength the king rejoices, O Lord, and in your help how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold on his head.
He asked you for life; you gave it to him— length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your help; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
You bestow on him blessings forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them like a fiery furnace when you appear. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them.
You will destroy their offspring from the earth, and their children from among humankind.
If they plan evil against you, if they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
 
—Psalm 21
Psalm 21 is another royal psalm, extolling the faith of the king and the power of God to uphold him. I think I could easily gloss over this particular psalm without too much thought, but suddenly it occurs to me that that would be dangerous. I live in a time and place where my own country's leader is being extolled by supposed believers as though he were somehow anointed by God for the job he's been given. Can this psalm be used to justify such hero worship?

But no, it certainly cannot. Though others might claim a divine mandate for a crude and faithless leader simply because he grants them access to the halls of power and upholds some of their own goals, God's blessing here is contingent upon the leader's own faith. This psalm has 13 verses, and so verse 7 lies at its numerical center. I might argue that it lies at the center of its theological message as well: For the king trusts in the Lord...The psalm culminates in the exaltation of God, and so should my life, whether I am great or small, rich or poor, powerful or humble. 

Be exalted, O God, in your strength, and may my strength depend on you, may my trust be in you alone, and may blessings be dependent solely on my faithfulness to you. Amen.