Choosing to Refuse
(8) Your hand will find out all your enemies. Your right hand will find out those who hate you. (9) You will make them like a fiery oven at the time of your appearance. Yahweh will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. (10) Their offspring you will destroy from the earth and their descendants from among the sons of men. (11) Though they intend evil against you, though they devise a plot, they will not succeed, (12) for you will make them turn their back (flee) when you aim at their faces with your bow strings. (13) Be exalted, Yahweh, in your strength! We will sing and praise (you for) your power.
The scourges that fall upon the enemies of Yahweh, described in the second half of Psalm 21, are just as terrible as the king’s blessings, described in the first half, are wonderful. Their doom is inevitable (vs. 8). Their punishment will be agonizing (vs. 9). They face certain destruction (vs. 10) and humiliating defeat (vss. 11 & 12) in the powerful hands of a wrathful God. For those who may have wondered what it will be like to face God’s judgment, these verses offer a memorable description.
Note the ways in which David gives emphasis to his message. He first uses repetition, “your hand will find out...your right hand will find out” (vs. 8). He then employs synonyms, “fiery oven...his wrath and fire” (vs. 9) and “offspring...descendants” (vs. 10). Finally, a clever juxtaposition, “turn their back...aim at their faces,” closes out his depiction (vs. 12). Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon title, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” could hardly be a more appropriate summary of what these verses describe.
I. What Yahweh will do to his enemies (8-12)
II. How Yahweh should be praised for his power (13)
For defeating and destroying all those who oppose him Yahweh will be eternally praised.
This psalm sets forth two alternative lifestyles. Either we choose the way of loyalty to Yahweh and experience his blessing (vss. 1-7) or we choose the way of rebellion and experience his wrath (vss. 8-12). This should be a no-brainer, something we need not ponder before reaching a decision. However, the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants are either ignorant of the fact that they actually have a choice or are unwilling to acknowledge the God who created and designed them for fellowship with himself. This turns them into his enemies and sets them on a path that will inevitably lead to their spiritual destruction.
In 1678, John Bunyan published his famous allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress. The story begins with Pilgrim setting out on a journey to reach heaven from his home in the city called Destruction. Bunyan describes the neighbors’ responses in these terms: “Some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return…two [even] resolved to fetch him back by force.” To those who tried to lure him back, Pilgrim offers this invitation: “Go along with me.” Their reply: “What! and leave our friends and our comforts behind us?” They refuse to consider the long-term consequences of their choice. A passage like the second half of this psalm gives us a sense of the blessings we forfeit and the wrath we will inevitably incur if we, like Pilgrim’s neighbors, refuse to follow the path of pilgrimage that leads us to our heavenly home.