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Long Live the King!

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 20–21

In this life, we strive against sin, Satan, and an ungodly world. But we can march into the spiritual battle confident of victory if we are trusting in and faithfully following our victorious King.


Long Live the King!

Psalms 20–21

I have no doubt today that I’m talking to believers in the middle of trouble, conflict, or some kind of danger or difficulty. Maybe today you are realizing that there is no way around it, and God is going to have to take you through it. Well, beloved, these next two psalms will arm you with what you need for the conflict ahead.

Psalm 20 is a prayer before the battle, and Psalm 21 is praise after the battle.[1] And both point us to our victorious Lord and King. 

Here in the first verse of Psalm 20, David immediately prays a prayer that is essentially for you, as you enter the conflict. He writes, “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!”

If you have an open Bible in front of you at the moment, you might want to circle the words, “the name of God.” Three times in this psalm, David refers to the name of God.

God’s name speaks of everything He represents. First John 5:13 says that those who believe in His name have eternal life. To believe in His name is to believe in His nature, His divine attributes, and God the Son’s death and resurrection—everything that His name represents about Him.

Then, here in verse 5 David writes, “May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God, set up our banners!” The congregation is trusting in the name of the Lord. They are waving their banners.

When the nation of Israel marched out to battle, they marched according to their tribes, and each tribe had its own distinctive flag, or banner. Numbers 2:2 refers to this practice.

Each tribe had a special emblem used in their tribal banners. They chose colors and designs that I am sure were beautiful. It must have been a magnificent sight to see the Israelites arrayed for battle and marching under these colorful flags. But as they march out to defend their nation, the song David is teaching them to sing here is all about trust in the name of the Lord.

The third refence to the name of God is in verse 7, where David writes, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

David might be reminiscing here on that moment he faced Goliath. David had bravely walked down into the valley of Elah to face this giant.

I have stood just above that same valley and could just imagine young David descending toward Goliath. And as he moved toward him, David shouted, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear . . . but I come to you in the name of the Lord” (1 Samuel 17:45).

So, David is telling his people now, as they march out against armies with state-of-the art weapons—chariots and horses—“Let’s fly the banner of faith and sing, ‘We trust in the name of the Lord our God.’”

As we move into Psalm 21, the king and his army are returning from battle as victors. Now this is really a coronation psalm. The last verse of Psalm 20 says, “Lord, save the king!” and Psalm 21 will essentially give the shout, “Long live the king!” And by the way, many nations in our world have used these psalms in the coronation of their kings.

Now here in chapter 21, the king has a crown of gold set upon his head. We read, “You set a crown of fine gold upon his head. He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever” (verses 3-4).

So, this sweeps us into the coronation ceremony of royalty. And let us not miss this—it also looks forward prophetically to the eternal reign of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. Let me tell you, beloved, the kingdoms of this world experience only a taste of what David is writing about here.

The immediate context, however, refers to all the pomp and circumstance of earthly kings. Bible scholars believe that Psalm 21 probably was written for, and then sung during, the coronation of King David and at the coronation ceremony of future kings. This psalm became Israel’s national anthem in a way—a psalm of thanksgiving to God.[2]

And this is David’s personal testimony as well. In verse 7 he writes, “For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.”

That’s another way of saying, “Long live the king! Let his reign last a long time! Let him be given”—as verse 5 tells us—“splendor and majesty.”

One of my favorite authors was born in Great Britain nearly a hundred years ago. He writes about the customs of crowning an English king. After the king is dressed in his royal robe, after the royal ring is placed on his finger, symbolizing the marriage of the king with his kingdom, and after the crown is placed on his head by the archbishop, the people shout, “God save the king!” And that shout echoes throughout the cathedral.

Trumpets begin sounding, and the great guns at the Tower of London boom out so that all of England knows the new king has been crowned. Just before taking his seat on the throne, the king is presented with a copy of the Bible. All the princes and dignitaries then come and swear their allegiance to the new king. And once that ceremony of loyalty is completed, a choir rises to sing a selection of Scripture put to music—it could even be this psalm of David. With that, the people begin to shout and chant again, “Long live the king!”[3]

This is all a little foretaste of the coming millennial kingdom, when all the redeemed will shout and sing to Jesus, “Long live the King!”

The book of Revelation tells us that Jesus Christ will reign during that thousand-year kingdom on earth, which follows the tribulation period. His capital city will be Jerusalem. The people and nations of the world who refused the Antichrist and accepted the true Messiah will enter this glorious kingdom, and they will come to pay their respects and give their worship and praise to the King of Kings. Who knows? We might all be singing these very psalms at that coronation ceremony of King Jesus.

Frankly, I don’t think we can even imagine the splendor of the Lord’s coronation ceremony on that day. It will be glorious. The kings of all the nations of the world who have trusted in Christ during the tribulation period and have entered into that glorious millennial kingdom will come and swear their loyalty to Him (Revelation 21:24).

We will be there along with all the redeemed on that grand occasion as Jesus begins His reign on earth. We may well be shouting, “Long live the King!” And we will know in our hearts that He will indeed live and reign forever!

Now let me remind you that we can all begin rehearsing for that grand day, and we can start today. We can sing in our hearts and live out through our lives the meaning of these coronation psalms. “Lord Jesus, You are my Lord and my King. Reign and rule as King in my heart and in my life today.”

[1] John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms: Volume One (Loizeaux Brothers, 1988), 160.

[2] Ibid., 161.

[3] Ibid., 163.

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