Psalm 21: The Coronation of the King

This is the Psalm that almost ended my relationship with the Psalms.

I mean, I’ve made songs out of some pretty difficult Psalms, but this one almost did me in. No, it didn’t have hateful imprecations. (I’m looking at you, 137:9!) It didn’t have laundry lists of historical events. (It’s okay 105, that stuff is important.) Psalm 21 was just…uninspiring. (Am I allowed to say that?)

The Psalm is composed of two broad sections. The first establishes that the king was anointed by God and relies on God for strength and victory. This is no small thing in a theocracy–the fortunes of the people are tied to the fortunes of the king. The second section basically says, “God will kill all our enemies.”

For months, I studied the Psalm and wondered how I could recast this for today. It finally occurred to me that the Psalm could be understood through a Christological lense. In Psalm 21, a great king is celebrated. In Israel’s context, the first great king is David and the final king will be the Messiah. Things began to fall into place. Christ is the King of kings who sits at God’s right hand and has all authority on heaven and earth. Read this way, the felling of foes in the original Psalm can be understood as Jesus enduring the crucifixion and claiming the final victory in the resurrection.

This theme of crowning Jesus and celebrating his victory makes this song appropriate for Christ the King or Ascension Sunday.

1. The coronation of the King
in matchless majesty
resounds throughout the earth and heaven,
and spreads from sea to sea.

The One who reveled in God’s strength
and waited on God’s grace
has now been crowned the King of kings,
a never-ending reign.

2. This King has known his people’s pain,
the rage of enemies.
Though humbled for a time, he rose
to claim the victory.

Your people sing to you, our King,
exalted in God’s might.
For now you reign eternally,
enthroned with God on high.

Those who trust in God Almighty
find a love that is unfailing.

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