335 – Psalm 21 – Be Exalted

Psalm 21:11-13 (NKJV)

11 For they intended evil against You;

They devised a plot which they are not able to perform.

12 Therefore You will make them turn their back;

You will make ready Your arrows on Your string toward their faces.

13 Be exalted, O [yhwh], in Your own strength!

We will sing and praise Your power.

We talked about verse eleven last time, but I’ve included it here to provide a bit of context. Of course, to truly keep what we are studying in context requires reading all thirteen verses. As a quick aside, I find the Psalms one of the easiest books to keep passages in context. The reason is, unlike other books of the Bible, each chapter is actually a stand-alone passage. Each Psalm is a song that was added to the collection at some point.

Let’s do a little exploration beginning at verse twelve. I’m sure we are all aware that the word “therefore” indicates cause and effect. Some action was performed by someone that “caused” or triggered the event that is about to be described. Fitting that into the passage we are studying, In the above verse, YHWH’s enemies intended evil against Him, therefore….

The sentence fragment, “Therefore You will make them turn their back”, is hard for us to understand because we don’t normally talk like that. What does it mean? This is where consulting various translations helps. Sometimes looking up a word in the source language lexicon isn’t sufficient, we need the comparative expertise of the translators. Let’s look at verse twelve in the Lexham English Bible to see how they render the phrase in question.

Psalm 21:12 (LEB)

12 For you will turn them to flight;h

you will aim arrows on your bowstrings at their faces.

The Lexham English Bible puts little brackets around a phrase when they’ve made a translation that communicates the original idea well, whereas we would be lost if they translated exactly the source language text. In this example, if you were to click on the superscripted “h” you would see, Literally “make them a shoulder”.

Thanks to the Lexham English Bible the passage is now understandable. YHWH’s enemies will turn around and run away from Him because He is pointing His bow and arrow at their faces! 

The Psalmist completes this song to YHWH with verse thirteen. We use the word “exalted” all the time in Christian circles but I wonder if we really understand what it means in this context. Using Logos Bible Software I looked up the word. It’s the Hebrew word transliterated ruma and it means “be high above”.

King David is acknowledging that YHWH is “high above”, or so much higher than His enemies by His own strength. It is an acknowledgment that YHWH is the most powerful being in the universe. His strength is uncontested. What is David’s reaction as he ponders the power of YHWH? “We will sing and praise Your power.”

As I consider this Psalm it occurs to me that Praise for YHWH is never coerced. Though “praise YHWH’ is often an imperative in the scriptures those imperatives are actually presented as an encouragement or reminder to YHWH’s people to praise Him because of what He has done and who He is. As I examine the Psalms I find the “sacrifice of praise” to be a natural end result of acknowledging and depending upon YHWH. He truly is worthy of all Praise, Worship, and Adoration.

Psalm 100 (NKJV)

     100:title       A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

           1       Make a joyful shout to [YHWH], all you lands!

           2       Serve [YHWH] with gladness;

    Come before His presence with singing.

           3       Know that [YHWH], He is God;

    It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

    We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

           4       Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,

    And into His courts with praise.

    Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

           5       For [YHWH] is good;

    His mercy is everlasting,

    And His truth endures to all generations.



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