Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
In our journey through the psalms, you may have noticed the immense role that imagination plays. The poets invite us to see the world as they see it, to experience life as they experience it, and to pray to God as they pray to him. Today, as we look at Psalm 21, the poet invites us to imagine God as the king of kings, sitting on his throne in heaven. We celebrate this great unseen king as he helps the earthly king of Israel prosecute military adventures and destroy his enemies.
The heavenly kingdom where God rules is not a democracy. The high king, God, rules over a council of lesser gods (as described in Psalm 82:1), and over the kings on earth. Psalm 21 celebrates the special relationship between this highest God and the king of Israel. Their relationship is based on the covenant, a mutually binding contract, in which the nation of Israel agreed to be a faithful client of God, and God in return agreed to be faithful and loving to Israel and to their king.
The first half of the psalm emphasizes that God is the one who makes the king of Israel successful. The psalm says:
The heavenly King gives military victories. (vv. 1, 5)
The heavenly King places a crown of gold on the earthly king’s head. (v. 3)
The heavenly King gives long life and great joy and rich blessing. (vv. 1, 3, 4)
The heavenly King establishes the earthly kingdom so it will not be shaken. (v. 7)
The second half of the psalm describes the earthly king’s exploits, enabled by his heavenly connections.
The earthly king captures his enemies. (v. 8)
The earthly king foils their plans. (v. 11)
The earthly king makes them retreat in fear. (v. 12)
The earthly king destroys his enemies and their descendants. (v. 10)
Our father, your kingship is a foreign idea to us. In our western democracies, we vote for prime ministers and presidents, who then humiliate themselves chasing after opinion polls and popularity and power. I’m afraid there’s no room for you in our system, God. We have closed our imagination to the idea of a king in heaven, we live under the illusion of political cause and effect, our western civilization marches to the tunes we compose and the drums we beat.
In those rare moments when we pray that you will influence politics on earth, the best we can imagine is a choice between bad alternatives. In Canada we choose between the liberals who incur debt to build “inclusive” social programs; and the conservatives who urge fiscal responsibility and social conservatism. American evangelicals choose between Donald Trump who supports their anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda, and the Democrats who prefer social liberalism, moral relativism, and socialized medicine.
Our father, if you are indeed the king over earthly kings, show us a third way. Surely the world you imagine does not leave us caught on the horns of an evil dilemma. Surely Christ’s kingdom, if we could only see it and live in it, offers a rule of freedom from the culture wars, freedom from the battles of church politics, freedom from the conflict of nations, freedom from our disordered and selfish appetites
Surely Christ’s kingdom gives us freedom to love and serve you in our communities and nations.
Our father in heaven, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.