David writes about joy often in the psalms. Here he is expressing much happiness because God has done marvelous things for him. The power of God saved David from his enemies and God’s promise that the unknown shepherd from Bethlehem would become king of Israel was fulfilled.
His success is well documented in 2 Samuel. And now we are reading of David’s assessment of those achievements: God gets all the credit. Note how God is the subject of sentence after sentence.
You have granted him the desire of his heart (v. 2a)
You welcomed him with rich blessings (v. 3a)
You placed a crown of pure gold on his head (v. 3b)
You gave him a long life (v. 4)
You have bestowed on him splendor and majesty (v. 5b)
When you think of your own accomplishments, who gets the credit? Certainly our culture is obsessed with awarding ourselves. Our education system is based on regular and even daily recognition for success. Oh how we love to praise our children for their academic pursuits! Extra-curricular activities also provide a plethora of opportunities for honor, whether it be athletics, music and even non-competitive activities. The list goes on and on.
Certainly we should encourage our young people to strive for excellence. And there should be a place for honoring one another. Along the way, however, let’s not forget to teach our children how to recognize the role that God plays in our achievements.
David provides a wonderful example for us to follow, beginning with the most basic acknowledgment: “the king rejoices in your strength” (Psalm 21:1). When we start each day, may we keep this all-important truth in mind: every breath and every step is the direct result of the strength of God at work in me.
How easy it is to forget this! That’s why I like the English Standard Version’s translation of Psalm 21:1a – “in your strength the king rejoices.” It’s the same six words, but note how the order is different than the NIV. God’s power is front and center. God’s power is first and foremost.
Recognizing God as the source of our strength is a simple thing, yet we often overlook it in the busyness of life in the 21st century. I encourage you to take time every day to thank God for His enabling to do even the most mundane tasks.
Cultivate the habit of offering up this prayer of thanksgiving throughout the day: “Lord, thank you for giving me the strength to do this today. In your strength I rejoice.”