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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Psalms 21

Verses 1-13

“The king shall joy in Thy strength, O Lord; and in Thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice.” In other Psalms we have seen the blessed Lord walking through this earth in lowly subjection to the Father. Now we see Him, the risen One, ready to take His great power and reign as He will in God’s appointed time, rejoicing in the deliverance that came when God raised Him up from the dead. And the Psalmist says, “Thou hast given Him His heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of His lips.” What was the heart’s desire of the Lord Jesus? What was it that took Him to that cross, that took Him through Gethsemane, that sustained Him in those hours of darkness? The Apostle Paul tells us. He says, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). What was that joy? It was the joy of having you and me together with Him in the glory. What an amazing thing-His heart’s desire was to have us with Him in heaven! That is what Isaiah means when he pictures the awful agony of the Cross and then says, “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). The word “travail” refers only to one kind of suffering, and that is to the pangs of birth. And so Isaiah says, His awful agony on the Cross was the means of giving us life, of bringing salvation to us. “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” “Thou hast given Him His heart’s desire.” He is now at God’s right hand in the glory, and there will be millions through eternity who will owe everything to His precious blood. That will be the fulfillment of His heart’s desire. The Psalmist has rather in view the kingdom on earth, but we may think of both.

“Thou preventest Him with the blessings of goodness: Thou settest a crown of pure gold on His head.” We sing, “Crown Him,” but the fact of the matter is, we are not going to crown Him. Of course what is meant is that we will participate in His coronation, but it is God the Father who crowns Him. Men crowned Him once. They put upon Him the fruit of the earth that was cursed. God said to the earth, when Adam had sinned, “Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth” (Genesis 3:18), and they put a crown of thorns on the head of my Saviour. But God has torn away the crown of thorns, and we read, “Thou settest a crown of pure gold on His head. He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest it Him, even length of days for ever and ever.” He was going to death but counted on God the Father to raise Him and to give Him “length of days for ever and ever,” and so we have resurrection blessing for all who trust Him.

“His glory is great in Thy salvation: honour and majesty hast Thou laid upon Him. For Thou hast made Him most blessed for ever: Thou hast made Him exceeding glad with Thy countenance. For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High He shall not be moved.” See how the humanity of our Lord again shines forth. He came into this scene as Man; He went to the Cross as Man; as Man He committed His soul to the Father, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46); as man He went down into death, but now God the Father has raised Him from the dead, and He is come forth in resurrection glory in a life that can never again be destroyed, that can never come to an end, life for ever and ever. And now until that glad day when He yields up the kingdom to the Father He is still the subject One, He is still serving the Father as He is seeking to bring men to Himself and preparing the way for His coming glorious kingdom. When at last everything has been subdued to God He will deliver up the kingdom to the Father.

In verses 8 to the end of this Psalm we have Messiah reigning and the effect of that reign upon man here on earth. When He descends in power and glory to take the kingdom He is going to root out, we are told, all things that offend, and so we read, “Thine hand shall find out all Thine enemies: Thy right hand shall find out those that hate Thee.” What a sad thing to think that after all the infinite love and grace that God has shown to the world through the Lord Jesus Christ there are still myriads of men who hate Him, who have no desire to be reconciled to Him. And when He comes again in power and glory He is going to destroy the wicked out of the earth, that a kingdom of righteousness may be set up in this very scene. “Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of Thine anger: the Lord shall swallow them up in His wrath, and the fire shall devour them.” Now turn to a New Testament passage that touches on exactly this same thing. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 6-10, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest.” When God recompenses tribulation to His enemies He will give rest to His own. “To you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power, When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” This is the day when the kingdom is to be introduced, and it begins with the Lord taking vengeance on His enemies.

In the third chapter of Malachi’s prophecy we read of a group in the last days to whom the things of God are precious; and when Israel will be going through the time of Jacob’s trouble this little group will come together to search His Word and to wait upon Him, and He says of them, in verse 17, “And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” Spare them from what? from the judgment that is coming upon men. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not” (verse 18). Now in chapter 4 we read, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall bum them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” What a complete destruction of all the wicked in that day, the day of Jehovah’s power. But now see the blessings for the righteous. It is of people who will be living then on this earth that He speaks. “But unto you that fear My name [and He is speaking to men of Israeli shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” I have often had some of these materialists come to me and point to a scripture like this and say, “You tell us that the Bible teaches the eternal conscious punishment of those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And I say, “Yes, terrible as it is I find it in my Book, and I dare not teach men anything else.”

“But look,” they say, “in this passage it says that in the day of judgment the Lord is going to consume them root and branch and they will be ashes. Well, then, there won’t be anything left.”

But he is not speaking here of the final day of judgment, the great white throne; he is speaking of a judgment that is going to take place on this earth when King Messiah returns to reign, and the wicked on the earth shall be destroyed with the brightness of His presence, burning up root and branch, that is, father and son, and the righteous will be spared to enter into the millennial kingdom and all that will be left will be ashes. That has to do only with the body. You cannot burn a soul or a spirit to ashes. Suppose that you had been there the day after Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, when fire had come down and burned up those cities. Suppose Abraham had gone down there, he could have walked the streets of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the wicked, the bodies of the wicked, would have been ashes under his feet. This has nothing to do with their souls. It is a judgment here on this earth. Look at those people who died so long ago. Are they annihilated”? What does Jesus say? He says, speaking of the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, “I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” “For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Matthew 11:22; Matthew 11:21Matthew 11:21). They were ashes under the feet of the righteous, but they are coming up in the day of judgment. Their spirits, their souls were not ashes and even their bodies are going to be raised from the dead, and they will stand in the day of judgment. And so this judgment is that which takes place on the earth when the Lord Jesus will be revealed “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God.”

“Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of Thine anger: the Lord shall swallow them up in His wrath, and the fire shall devour them. Their fruit shalt Thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.” The generation of the wicked is blotted out in order that righteousness may reign for a thousand wonderful years. “For they intended evil against Thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform. Therefore shalt Thou make them turn their back, when Thou shalt make ready Thine arrows upon Thy strings against the face of them.” The Lord is represented here as coming from heaven with a mighty army and like a bowman putting His arrow to the bow and His enemies fleeing before Him when He descends to deal with them in judgment.

The Psalm closes with an ascription of praise, “Be Thou exalted, Lord, in Thine own strength; so will we sing and praise Thy power.” Oh, what a day it will be when wickedness will no longer be permitted to have the ascendency.

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 21". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.