O Lord, the king rejoices in the strength You give; he takes great delight in the deliverance You provide. – Psalm 21:1 (NET)
The first seven verses of the twenty-first Psalm is an amazing passage of Scripture that can serve to point directly to Jesus, the Lord of all While it is the twenty-second Psalm generally gets far more attention for its part in directing readers to the cross of Christ, from its opening cry of “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (22:1a), through the remainder of the Psalm that seems to point quite explicitly to the ordeal of the cross to which Jesus would be subjected, the twenty-first Psalm deserves similar consideration.
If Jesus could look upon the twenty-second Psalm, seeing Himself and His messianic vocation in that Psalm in order to gain insight into what it was that potentially awaited Him at the end of His human journey and His revolutionary movement, then surely He could have looked at the twenty-first Psalm as that which could have served to strengthen Him for the purpose of taking on that mission.
Because the record of the Gospel narratives has Jesus referring to Himself as the Son of God and the Son of Man, which were both messianic titles that spoke, in general, of Israel, and more specifically, of Israel’s king, it can be surmised that Jesus understood Himself to be the long-awaited Messiah for Israel. Naturally, it would be after the event of Resurrection that His disciples also came to understand that Jesus was the Messiah, making sense of His previously questionable statements about Himself, while also reversing the natural conclusions that would have been drawn following His crucifixion, which was that He had failed in His purpose and cause.
Because of the messianic (kingly) sensibility, Psalms which spoke of the king of Israel could naturally and understandably be a great source of direction, comfort, strength, and encouragement for Jesus. As He looked forward to what it was that He would be and do for Israel, Jesus could quite easily insert Himself into this Psalm, trusting implicitly in the covenant God of Israel and say, “O Lord, the king rejoices in the strength You give” (21:1a). To willingly endure the Roman cross, which was the direction that Jesus would have known that His life and work were taking Him, would take a great deal of strength.
With a confident assurance in the faithfulness of the Creator God, as informed by Israel’s history as recorded in Scripture, Jesus could stand in confident assurance in the deliverance that His God would provide (21:1b). What would be the appearance to be taken by that deliverance? The deliverance in which Jesus would be able to take great delight was the assurance of the deliverance from death. Jesus trusted that, as He took Israel’s curse upon Himself, as Israel’s King and representative, and entered into death (exile from life), that the covenant God of Israel, the One who promised and demonstrated faithfulness to His people whether good or evil (depending on their response to Him), would be faithful to deliver Him, to redeem Him from that exile by granting Him a renewed life on the other side of the grave and of the ghastly and highly demonstrative and definitive means that took Him there.
Of course, because the Creator God’s Messiah was not only Israel’s King, but a King for all nations and all peoples, when Jesus, as the Messiah, entered into death on behalf of Israel, it could also be said that He entered into death (curse, exile) on behalf of all mankind. If that is true, then when He was delivered from death and its curse, so too was all mankind delivered as well, with the proof and seal of that deliverance predicated on the response which causes an individual to believe in Him as Lord of all. From then on, all that would come to be in union with Christ (believing Him to be the crucified and Resurrected Lord of all), would have gained the ultimate victory over death and its corruption.