Psalm 21 and Genesis 49.8-12
All children are taught how to write a story based on a story mountain. At its simplest characters are introduced and a scene set, a problem arises and then a solution occurs followed by a conclusion. In a sense Psalms 21 and 22 combine to form a story mountain in the mountain range of the salvation story. They are royal psalms, focusing on the king. They follow a common poetic pattern of parallelism where the first line’s meaning is repeated in the second line with a shift in emphasis. ‘May he grant you your heart’s desire
And fulfill all your plans.’ v4
For verses 7 and 8 a variation of parallelism is used called Antithetical Parallelism, where the second line contrasts with the first.
‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
But we trust in the name of the Lord our God.’ v7
The scene is set, the people and probably the priests are praying for their king (David) before an unknown battle. They pray for the king because he represents the people. The characters are the people, priests, the king, the enemy and the Lord. The problem is the threat of a foreign power against Israel.
The opening verse, ‘May the name of the God of Jacob protect you’ v1 appeals to Jacob’s prophetic blessing, ‘The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall come.’ Gen 49.10 This blessing applies to David as being in the line of Judah and also as a messianic type. It is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus not only through his death and resurrection but also on his return and the final Victory, Judgement and Restoration. Revelaton chps 19-21
The meaning of verse 7 takes on a fresh perspective in the New Testament. Despite various attempts in history Christ’s victory in bringing personal salvation to the nations has never been by military might.* Might mostly serves to raise resistance rather than win over people’s hearts. Rather the New Testament way is to come in weakness but in the name of the Lord. Stephen pioneered the way, following in the sacrificial footsteps of his Lord. He has been followed by myriads since. God’s words to Paul were, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 2Corinthians 12.9 It is not the solution on the story mountain that David’s Israelites were expecting but it is the way of the cross.
The Cross Has the Final Word.
*Personal salvation is a separate issue to national salvation and whether or not it is possible to conduct a righteous war.