Psalm 21 Mercy Feat

Questions: What is our heart’s desire? Will God grant it? Do we deserve it? Can we deserve mercy? Is that fair? Is it real? Is it good* “Read More” to pursue answers in the Psalms.

Lord, speak to me through your Spirit and your Word, your Body and your Blood;
that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.

Psalms 21

The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!

This is one happy king! Yet, the impressive thing is that the king is not rejoicing in himself, but in God, because:

Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.

As I’m sure if said before, God typically gives us our desire when he knows that i) it is good for us, and ii) it will draw us closer to him (rather than substitute for him). Which may be the same thing…

So, what is the desire that He granted? God:


preventest him with the blessings of goodness

* settest a crown of pure gold on his head

* gavest [life to] him, length of days for ever and ever

* honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him

* hast made him most blessed for ever

* hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance

That may not match my list of “heart’s desires,” but I sure wouldn’t turn it down! So what did David do to deserve all this?

He asked life of thee… For the king trusteth in the LORD

Hmph. I was expecting something, say, heroic. As in, “because David did all these valiant feats for God, therefore God blessed him.” But that’s not it at all. David i) asked, ii) trusted, and iii) thanked God. That’s it.

Is that really the secret of obtaining your heart’s desire? Well, maybe. It is perhaps more accurate to say that David:

i. asked for life-giving things from God
ii. grounded his requests in a sure belief about God’s true character
iii. humbly depended on God in a way that led to exuberant gratitude

In other words, it wasn’t David’s achievements that led to God blessing Him, but the entire attitude of the way he sought the blessing. This not only shaped the kinds of requests he made, it shaped him into a fitting vessel to profit from the blessing. It is all about character — but not so much strength of character, as realized weakness and dependence!

One thing David depends on God for is His mercy:

and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.

Which seems just a little contradictory, given that David also depends on God not showing that mercy to His enemies:

Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.

What follows isn’t pretty, so I’ll gloss over that to the justification David gives for this differential treatment:

For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, [which] they are not able [to perform].

I must admit, at first glance this sounds like a pretty superficial argument: it is easy to merely assert that our enemies are also enemies of God, and that is why He did (or should) crush them. On the other hand, it begs the question: what if it was true? What if those people really were enemies of God? What if God’s wrath was completely justified because they really had set themselves as the opponent of everything that was good? And David really was on God’s side?

Put another way, what if mercy is really only applicable to someone who submits? I have a theory that the “Universal Moral Imperative” (UMI) is “to submit to the best authority we know.” Moderns argue endlessly about whether it is better to submit to reason (objectivists), society (relativists), or emotion (romanticists), but from this perspective they all start from the same meta-agreement about the UMI.

If that’s true — and reality is ultimately a reflection God’s character — then it would explain why David received mercy, and his enemies did not; because David submitted to same highest authority they rebelled against.

And if that is true, then the really challenge is not to get God on our side, but to places ourselves on His side. Not through mere rhetoric or posturing, but through a deep understanding of God’s character (praise), a total submission of our will to His (surrender), and trusting that:

Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, [when] thou shalt make ready [thine arrows] upon thy strings against the face of them.

In other words, waiting expectantly for God’s reality to surface, so that we can begin the cycle of praise all over again:

Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: [so] will we sing and praise thy power.



God, I praise thee; for you are good, and your mercy endures forever. I am so grateful that the way we submit to you is by embracing everything that is best, and letting go of our self-righteousness and pride (which destroy me even as I cling to them). Father, cultivate in me the sacraments of praise, surrender, and waiting, that I might rest on your side; the side that was pierced for me. In Whose name I pray, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title, about how we ‘achieve’ mercy, is an allusion to the Tabernacle’s mercy seat.