Of Gods and Kings (Psalm 21, Weekly Word)

Read Psalm 21`

This is a Psalm from King David, celebrating the strength of God and all God has done for him.  When I read this in light of Jesus, I admit I have trouble with it.  I mean, every successful king, or political leader, throughout history has credited some god or God for his success.  From Nebuchadnezzar to Napoleon, Alexander the Great to Queen Victoria and all of our presidents, the line of powerful leaders is that the gods have put them there.

How do we read this when we know that Jesus redefined victory – that Jesus identified with the poor and weak.  Jesus did not consider King Herod or Emperor Augustus or Pontius Pilate to be blessed by God.  The early Christians were consistent in warning against the seduction of political power.  Christians today ought be just as wary when every political leader desires to portray his platform as blessed from God.

So yeah, my skepticism towards our current political climate and my understanding of Jesus makes me uncertain what to read about Psalm 21.  But maybe the answer lies back in my Sunday School class – David was uniquely chosen by God.  David was also a broken man with many failures, but he confessed them.  David was a great man, but not the greatest man for that title belongs to Jesus.  Jesus is the greater David.

As Christians, our temptation may be to admire David but we are called to be Christ-like.  Since this Psalm speaks of the king, and is thus political, it is also worth noting we should call on our leaders to be Christ-like.

I also see a warning for leaders here.  Any leader who reads this and says, “yup, I’m about where David was” is already wrong.  The sort of trusting in God that this Psalm speaks of only works with a level of humility rarely seen in modern politics (or any politics throughout history, for that matter).  May we be cautious in ascribing any current leader the attributes of David, let alone Jesus.

What do you think?

**I recently began sending the students in CSF a brief reflection on a Psalm each Friday.  My hope is that it will provide them with some motivation to read scripture.  I have enjoyed meditating on the Psalms, and I look forward to taking the next few years to get through them all!  I decided it might be worthwhile to post the weekly devos here, so if you happen to read this, I pray it is helpful.  Enjoy.

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