Length of Days
(H) For the director of the choir, a psalm of David. (1) Yahweh, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! (2) You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips, (Selah) (3) for you go before him with rich blessings. You place a crown of pure gold on his head. (4) He asked you for life, and you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. (5) His glory is great because of your salvation. Splendor and majesty you have bestowed upon him, (6) for you have made him most blessed forever. You make him glad with the joy of your presence, (7) for the king trusts in Yahweh, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Several words are repeated for emphasis: “the king” along with “Yahweh” (vss. 1 & 7), “salvation/deliverance” (vss. 1 & 5), “rejoice/make glad” (vss. 1 & 6), and “forever” (vss. 4 & 6). These verses in the first half of Psalm 21 overflow with expressions of abundance in describing how God has blessed the king. Consider all that God has done for him: bestowed on him strength, given him salvation, answered his prayers, given him rich blessings including a gold crown, granted him eternal life, increased his splendor and majesty, blessed him with his presence, and established him in his steadfast love. What more could David say in praise of Yahweh for the lavish treatment he has received?
I. The king rejoices in Yahweh’s strength and salvation. (1)
II. The king recounts all the blessings he has received. (2-6)
III. The king rests in his relationship with Yahweh. (7)
Yahweh pours out his blessings on the ruler who fully trusts in him.
While this psalm represents David’s personal expression of gratitude to Yahweh, it also voices the praise of all whom Yahweh blesses abundantly and protects in all their ways. While we may never wear a crown of gold on earth, we are promised crowns as rewards when we reach the heavenly realms. While some of us may not live for many years, we are promised an eternal dwelling place with God once our earthly lives come to an end.
Eternal life for those who are in right relationship with God is a truth not fully developed in the Old Testament. Only after Christ’s resurrection and the revelation given to the New Testament writers regarding the nature of eternal life do we begin to grasp what this means for the believer. In the writings of the apostles we learn that once we have been identified with Christ in his crucifixion, we will forever be identified with him in his resurrection life, an existence beyond time and space in the realm of the eternal.
The emphasis on “forever,” especially the phrase “forever and ever” (vs. 4), points to a never-ending existence in the presence of the one who dwells outside time. Yahweh’s name literally means, “I am that I am” or “the eternally self-existent one.” Those who belong to him, who are the recipients of his gift of life, can rely on the promise the Apostle John expressed this way: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn. 5:11-12).
While we live here on earth, trapped in time and space, we struggle to grasp with our finite minds what eternity will be like. We can only look forward to something far better, far greater, far more wonderful than anything we have experienced here on earth. Paul whets our appetite for eternity when he tells us: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).