Psalms 21 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Thanksgiving for victory is the leading motive of this Psalm, which is, as has already been remarked, a companion to Psalms 20. Its occasion need not be looked for in a coronation festival ( Psa 21:3), or a royal birthday ( Psa 21:4). It is quite natural that thanksgiving for victory should lead the poet to speak of the high dignity of the king, and to anticipate his future victories ( Psa 21:8-12).
The exalted language of Psa 21:4-6 has led some interpreters to deny the historical reference of the Psalm, and to regard it as a prophecy of the Messianic King. The Targ. paraphrases king in Psa 21:1 ; Psa 21:7 by king Messiah. Such an interpretation is excluded by the general sense of the Psalm. The language applied to the king is not without parallel in the O.T.; and it is illustrated by expressions in the Assyrian royal Psalms: e.g. “Distant days, everlasting years, a strong weapon, a long life, many days of honour, supremacy among the kings, grant to the king, the lord, who made this offering to his gods” (quoted by Prof. Cheyne). Israel was not uninfluenced by the thoughts and language common to Oriental nations: and if other nations believed that their kings were reflections of the divinity, Israel believed that its king was the representative of Jehovah. Language which startles us by its boldness was used of him: language which was adopted and adapted by the Holy Spirit with a prophetic purpose, and only receives its ‘fulfilment’ in Christ. The Psalm then has a prophetic aspect, and looks forward through the earthly king of whom it spoke in the first instance, to Him who “must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet” (1Co 15:25).
Hence its selection as one of the Proper Psalms for Ascension Day.
The structure of the Psalm is similar to that of Psalms 20.
i. A thanksgiving on behalf of the king for the victory granted to him: addressed to Jehovah and probably sung by the congregation or the Levites (Psa 21:1-7).
ii. Anticipation of future triumphs, addressed to the king, and perhaps sung by a priest (Psa 21:8-12).
iii. Concluding prayer of the congregation (Psa 21:13).
Consult other comments:
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".