Psalm 21 Sermon From June 2013 Prayer Service “Searching for a Crown of Gold”
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday June 5th 2013: Season of Pentecost, Psalm 21.
O LORD, in Your strength the king rejoices,
and in Your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart's desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
For You meet him with rich blessings;
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.
His glory is great through Your salvation;
splendor and majesty You bestow on him.
For You make him most blessed forever;
You make him glad with the joy of Your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Your hand will find out all Your enemies;
Your right hand will find out those who hate You.
You will make them as a blazing oven
when You appear.
The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath,
and fire will consume them.
You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
and their offspring from among the children of man.
Though they plan evil against You,
though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
For You will put them to flight;
You will aim at their faces with Your bows.
Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength!
We will sing and praise Your power.
(Psalm 21 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Psalm 21 starts out saying “O LORD, in Your strength the king rejoices, and in Your salvation how greatly he exults! You have given him his heart's desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. For You meet him with rich blessings; You set a crown of fine gold upon his head.” You set a crown of fine gold upon his head. Psalm 21 is a prayer of thanksgiving following battle. Written by King David, it returns thanks for the salvation of his life in the face of death on the battle field. Now can we find this battle in the Bible? There is an account from Scripture of David receiving a golden crown following a heated battle. Following the death of the child conceived in adultery with Bathsheba and the birth of their second son Solomon, whom God loved, David was contacted by his nephew Joab, the commander of his army, who sent him word saying, “I have fought against Rabbah; moreover, I have taken the city of waters. Now then gather the rest of the people together and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take the city and it be called by my name.” So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah and fought against it and took it. And he took the crown of their king from his head. The weight of it was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone, and it was placed on David's head. And he brought out the spoil of the city, a very great amount.
How much is a talent of gold? It’s about 75lb (Approximately 35kg), so today’s market value for the gold alone, in this crown, would be something in the neighbourhood of 1.49 million to 1.62 million depending on how many Carats it was. This was most likely a ceremonial crown and not one you would wear daily, because of the cost and the weight of it. It was both precious and a symbol of authority in the region. As a point of comparison the St. Edward the Confessor crown worn by our Queen Elizabeth II at her Coronation, which was recently featured at the 60th anniversary of her Coronation, weighs 4lb 12oz (approximately 2.2kg).
At Rabbah, David himself fought in the battle, and as we noted last month, as we looked at Psalm 20, there is always a good chance that a man in battle will die: even a king, if he goes out and fights alongside his men. David put his life into God’s hands whenever he went into battle; David put his trust in God, and the people put their trust in God. Before the battle they pray for David’s safe return and for the blessings that come with success in battle: The gold crown would be one of these successes. When you read about the battles King David fought during this time there is frequent accounting of the gold that is brought into the treasury of Israel. Later when Solomon, David’s son, builds the temple there is a tremendous amount of gold needed to finish the project. Where did all the gold come from? It came from victories like this one fought in Rabbah. “You have given him his heart's desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. For You meet him with rich blessings; You set a crown of fine gold upon his head.” One of David’s desires, which we heard about in last Sundays sermon, was to build a temple for God and we see God answering David’s prayer with these victories by providing the raw materials needed for Solomon, David’s son, to build the temple.
Are Psalms 20 and 21 just about winning victories in battle, or just about the spoils of war? Or just about having your king ride back alive and not return dead? Or is there more to this? Because of Christ Jesus’ death Saint Paul says “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” He continues saying, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Christian life is one that is centred on more than conquering in earthly battles, more than gaining earthly treasures. Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
In the resurrection we are promised a crown, but is it a 75lb crown of gold, with a precious gem fixed into it, or is it a better crown than that? What kind of crown do you seek? Jesus says, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. ... Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” When Jesus the Good Shepherd appears on the last day Saint Peter says that “you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” Saint James says “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” Saint Paul anticipating his future death says with confidence, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day,” This is promised not just to people like Peter and James and Paul, this is promised to you too, Saint Paul continues saying, “and not only to me but also to all who have loved [Jesus’] appearing.” In Christ you have a crown of life, and crown of glory, a crown of righteousness. You are crowned with Jesus’ life, with His glory, with His Righteousness.
For this reason we can be thankful when we or our loved ones escape death, when we or our loved ones recover from sickness, when we or our loved ones recover from injury, when we or our loved ones are spared sudden death, because we know that even if we were to die, even if they were to die, with faith in Christ Jesus (who defeated death) we Christians will have life and have it to the full, we will have eternal life, a crown that will never fade and as Saint Paul says nothing can separate us form it.
David rejoiced in the strength of God’s salvation, both with an eye on the present help he received in battle and with an eye on the eternal victory that lay before him in Christ Jesus. The Psalm concludes with a description of eschatological proportions, a vision of the last day, when the final and everlasting judgment upon the wicked will be dealt out by God. “Your hand will find out all Your enemies; Your right hand will find out those who hate You. You will make them as a blazing oven when You appear. The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, and fire will consume them.” The first thing we might think of when we hear those words would be hell, the lake of fire, the eternal place prepared for the devil and his angels where the wicked will go on the last day in the final judgment, but there is another thing to contemplate here. The wrath of God has been poured out already, the wrath of God has already come into the world; before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed in the garden saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” The cup of God’s wrath which was drank down to the dregs at the Cross by Jesus became the payment for your sin, because to drink it was to be judged. The wrath that you should have received Jesus received for you, and because He was not found wanting, He has given you the crown of everlasting life and in exchange He took the crown of thorns, He took death so you could have life: life in Him.
What does this mean? It mean that, on the one hand, for those who have no faith in Christ Jesus, who hate Him and who take no joy in His appearing, the wrath poured out at the cross will be confirmed in them on the Last Day. On that day they will have their lack of faith confirmed and the judgment we hear about in Psalm 21 will come to its final resolution. On the other hand, on that day the “steadfast love of the Most High” will guarantee that you, with King David, “shall not be moved” your Trust will be made perfect, on that day. On that day your faith will receive its final confirmation.
In these days, right now, we can think on the words of Saint Paul when he says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life? More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Psalm 21 abounds in this rejoicing. If you have failed to rejoice in this, if you have wavered in your trust, if you have focused on earthly treasure over and above the true treasures found in Christ Jesus, take heart, there is forgiveness for you, just as there was forgiveness for King David in his failings. Remember where we falter God does not, the love of Jesus for you is steadfast, the victory won for you is eternal, the salvation He gives you is for life everlasting, the crown of His righteousness which you receive in Him will never fade. Rejoice, the battle is over; the victory is yours in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
 2 Samuel 12:1-25
 2 Samuel 12:27-30
 Gold was $46.50 (CAD) per Gram at 24 Carats and $42.63 (CAD) per Gram at 22 Carats on June 5th 2013.
 1 Chronicles 22:11-19 David says to Solomon, “Now, my son, the LORD be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the LORD your God, as he has spoken concerning you. Only, may the LORD grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the LORD commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed. With great pains I have provided for the house of the LORD 100,000 talents of gold, a million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for there is so much of it; timber and stone, too, I have provided. To these you must add. You have an abundance of workmen: stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and all kinds of craftsmen without number, skilled in working gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Arise and work! The LORD be with you!”
David also commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying, “Is not the LORD your God with you? And has he not given you peace on every side? For he has delivered the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the LORD and his people. Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the LORD.”
 Romans 8:37-39
 Matthew 6:19-21
 Revelation 2:10
 1 Peter 5:4
 James 1:12
 2 Timothy 4:7-8
 John 11:25-26
 John 10:10
 Revelation 19:20
 Matthew 25:41
 Matthew 26:39
 Isaiah 53:5-6
 A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, Northwestern Publishing House 2004, John F. Burg, pg 273.
 Romans 5:6-11