The Final Victory of the Messianic King: Psalm 21


September 10, 2017

A note to readers: Today’s post is part of a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Psalms, beginning to end, by focusing on a Psalm each Sunday. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.

Psalm 21 (NIV)

The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!

You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.[b]
You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, for ever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken.

Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
your right hand will seize your foes.
When you appear for battle,
you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and his fire will consume them.
You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
their posterity from mankind.
Though they plot evil against you
and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
You will make them turn their backs
when you aim at them with drawn bow.

Be exalted in your strength, LORD;
we will sing and praise your might.


This is one of the great coronation psalms of the Bible, which celebrates God’s presence with his people as symbolized by the righteous King. The king is the picture of joy as he celebrates the victories God has granted to him (vs. 1). He sits on the throne with a crown of pure gold and revels in God’s answered prayers and his graciousness in granting him a long life (vs. 2-4). The psalmist celebrates the certainty of the king’s victory over all his enemies (vs. 8-12).

However, the psalm ends not with us gazing at the king, but gazing at the power and majesty of God himself: “Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might” (vs. 13). The psalm powerfully moves from the type of the perfect king to the archetype of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him, i.e. Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). In the end, even the greatest king on earth is but a dim reflection of the enthroned King of Glory.

Christ alone has vanquished all the principalities and powers arrayed against us. He alone holds the power to judge the nations of the earth. He alone sits on the throne in final power and authority. He alone rules and reigns in righteousness. This is our great hope! As Christians, we celebrate the ascended and exalted Christ who now sits at the right hand of the Father. Praise God for our risen and exalted king!


Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.