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Mizmor 021 - A King's Gratitude

(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: (ב) ה' בְּעָזְּךָ יִשְׂמַח מֶלֶךְ, וּבִישׁוּעָתְךָ מַה יָּגֶל מְאֹד:
(1) For the musician, a mizmor by David. (2) Hashem, a king rejoices in Your strength, and in Your yeshuah how greatly does he exult!
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 7]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 021 - A King’s Gratitude
In Mizmor 021 King David celebrates the first major step in the founding of his kingdom after a long period of struggle. In the mizmor he expresses his gratitude to Hashem and appeals for help in defeating the enemies that are preventing the kingdom from being firmly established throughout Eretz Yisrael.
Navigating Tehillim. The mizmor is a logical follow-up to Mizmor 020 in which David demonstrates the opportunity and privilege of calling upon Hashem in times of crisis when a yeshuah is desperately hoped for. In Mizmor 021 he teaches us how to react when the long-sought yeshuah comes.
One of the distinctive aspects of Mizmor 021 is its emphasis on David’s role as king. Being a king means having great power and having the opportunity to achieve great things. But every king is vulnerable to the corruption of power. Mizmor 021 celebrates a high point in David’s life, and he uses this occasion to avoid letting it go to his head. Although he has surmounted great obstacles to get where he is, he emphasizes that whatever strength he appears to have is Hashem’s strength. David has been given the opportunity to succeed because of his bitachon (trust in Hashem) and it is with bitachon that he asks Hashem to help him in the future.
Historical Background
This mizmor was composed shortly after King Shaul died and David was accepted as king by the people of Yehudah (Shmuel II 2). Immediately upon assuming his role as king, David’s fledgling kingdom came under attack by the armies of the Plishtim. The mizmor celebrates David’s success in fighting them off. He was gratified by this major step in the establishment of his kingdom, but he knew that many challenges lay ahead.
Navigating Tehillim. The threats that David faced in overcoming the threats to his newly established kingdom are described in Mizmor 002.
Exploring the Mizmor
The mizmor has two parts, each of which addresses the relationship between Hashem and David, the king that He has anointed. In the first part David celebrates the yeshuah that he has just experienced. He acknowledges that although he is now a king, he knows that his power comes from G-d.
In the second part of the mizmor David appeals to Hashem for victory over his remaining enemies. But because of his close relationship with Hashem he no longer feels it necessary to refer to himself at all. Instead he simply appeals to Hashem to defeat all of Hashem’s enemies, for after all David’s enemies are also the enemies of G-d.
PART 1. CELEBRATING THE RELATIONSHIP. David celebrates his relationship with Hashem and acknowledges that he owes his achievements to Him. As a sign of David’s complete submissiveness to Hashem he refers to himself simply as a king (verse 2). David concludes this part of the mizmor by stating why he was found worthy of Hashem’s blessing. The reason is that the king trusts in Hashem (verse 8).
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: (ב) ה' בְּעָזְּךָ יִשְׂמַח מֶלֶךְ, וּבִישׁוּעָתְךָ מַה יָּגֶל מְאֹד: (ג) תַּאֲוַת לִבּוֹ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ וַאֲרֶשֶׁת שְׂפָתָיו בַּל מָנַעְתָּ סֶּלָה: (ד) כִּי תְקַדְּמֶנּוּ בִּרְכוֹת טוֹב תָּשִׁית לְרֹאשׁוֹ עֲטֶרֶת פָּז: (ה) חַיִּים שָׁאַל מִמְּךָ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ אֹרֶךְ יָמִים עוֹלָם וָעֶד: (ו) גָּדוֹל כְּבוֹדוֹ בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ הוֹד וְהָדָר תְּשַׁוֶּה עָלָיו: (ז) כִּי תְשִׁיתֵהוּ בְרָכוֹת לָעַד תְּחַדֵּהוּ בְשִׂמְחָה אֶת פָּנֶיךָ: (ח) כִּי הַמֶּלֶךְ בֹּטֵחַ בַּה' וּבְחֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן בַּל יִמּוֹט:
(1) For the musician, a mizmor by David. (2) Hashem, a king rejoices in Your strength, and in Your yeshuah how greatly does he exult! (3) You have granted him his heart’s desire and You have not refused him the request of his lips, Selah! (4) Because You presented him with blessings of good. You placed on his head a crown of pure gold. (5) He asked You for life; You granted it to him, length of days forever and ever. (6) Great is his esteem because of Your yeshuah. You have conferred upon him majesty and splendor. (7) For You have set him [with ] blessings forever. You have delighted him with the intense joy of Your Presence. (8) For the king trusts in Hashem and in the kindness of the Most High he will not falter.
PART 2. A PLEA FOR VICTORY. David now calls upon Hashem to destroy the remainder of His own enemies, which are also David’s enemies.
(ט) תִּמְצָא יָדְךָ לְכָל אֹיְבֶיךָ יְמִינְךָ תִּמְצָא שֹׂנְאֶיךָ: (י) תְּשִׁיתֵמוֹ כְּתַנּוּר אֵשׁ לְעֵת פָּנֶיךָ ה' בְּאַפּוֹ יְבַלְּעֵם וְתֹאכְלֵם אֵשׁ: (יא) פִּרְיָמוֹ מֵאֶרֶץ תְּאַבֵּד וְזַרְעָם מִבְּנֵי אָדָם: (יב) כִּי נָטוּ עָלֶיךָ רָעָה חָשְׁבוּ מְזִמָּה בַּל יוּכָלוּ: (יג) כִּי תְּשִׁיתֵמוֹ שֶׁכֶם בְּמֵיתָרֶיךָ תְּכוֹנֵן עַל פְּנֵיהֶם: (יד) רוּמָה ה' בְּעֻזֶּךָ נָשִׁירָה וּנְזַמְּרָה גְּבוּרָתֶךָ:
(9) May Your hand find all Your enemies; may Your right hand find those who hate You. (10) May You deal with them like a fiery furnace at the time of Your anger. May Hashem swallow them in His wrath and let a fire consume them. (11) Obliterate [Amalek’s] works and their possessions from the earth, and their seed from mankind. (12) For they have planned evil against You; they have schemed [though] they are without the ability to execute. (13) Because You isolate them. With Your bow You aim directly at them. (14) Be exalted, Hashem, in Your strength! We will sing and chant the praise of Your might.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. CELEBRATING THE RELATIONSHIP.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד:
This song has been prepared for the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ , who will perform it. It is a mizmor composed by David  מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד .
(ב) ה' בְּעָזְּךָ יִשְׂמַח מֶלֶךְ
Hashem, an earthly king rejoices in Your strength  ה' בְּעָזְּךָ יִשְׂמַח מֶלֶךְ . His success comes from You. You have anointed him and endowed him with strength and the confidence he needs to defeat his enemies.
וּבִישׁוּעָתְךָ מַה יָּגֶל מְאֹד:
And in Your yeshuah how greatly does he exult — וּבִישׁוּעָתְךָ מַה יָּגֶל מְאֹד ! Because of his trust in You, the king rejoiced even before the yeshuah but now that it has come, he is filled with exultation!
(ג) תַּאֲוַת לִבּוֹ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ 
וַאֲרֶשֶׁת שְׂפָתָיו בַּל מָנַעְתָּ סֶּלָה:
Without his having to even ask, You have granted him his heart’s desire — תַּאֲוַת לִבּוֹ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ , the fundamental ability to serve You. And You have not refused him the request of his lips  וַאֲרֶשֶׁת שְׂפָתָיו בַּל מָנַעְתָּ , to be able to serve You at an ever higher level of purity and holiness, Selah — סֶּלָה !
(ד) כִּי תְקַדְּמֶנּוּ בִּרְכוֹת טוֹב
The king rejoices because — כִּי , even before he had any dreams of rising to such an exalted status, You presented him with blessings of good fortune  תְקַדְּמֶנּוּ בִּרְכוֹת טוֹב  when Shmuel anointed him. Your blessings are basis of all his success.
תָּשִׁית לְרֹאשׁוֹ עֲטֶרֶת פָּז:
You placed on his head a crown of pure gold — תָּשִׁית לְרֹאשׁוֹ עֲטֶרֶת פָּז  as a sign of Your enduring confidence in the royal house of David.
(ה) חַיִּים שָׁאַל מִמְּךָ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ
The king asked You for life — חַיִּים שָׁאַל מִמְּךָ ; he asked to be spared from destruction at the hands of Shaul. You granted it to him — נָתַתָּה לּוֹ .
אֹרֶךְ יָמִים עוֹלָם וָעֶד:
Once the immediate danger had passed, the king asked You for a long life and You granted him length of days  אֹרֶךְ יָמִים , to be extended forever and ever — עוֹלָם וָעֶד  by worthy children to take his place.
(ו) גָּדוֹל כְּבוֹדוֹ בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ
The king’s esteem in Yisrael has grown and become great — גָּדוֹל כְּבוֹדוֹ  because of Your yeshuah — בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ . You have made the king prevail in battle against his enemies and a large part of the Jewish nation has accepted him as their king.
הוֹד וְהָדָר תְּשַׁוֶּה עָלָיו:
You have conferred upon him — תְּשַׁוֶּה עָלָיו  the holy majesty  הוֹד  of royalty, and as a result he has become feared and respected. In addition, You have conferred upon him the splendor  וְהָדָר  of ethical and moral purity.
(ז) כִּי תְשִׁיתֵהוּ בְרָכוֹת לָעַד
Why does the king rejoice? Because You have set him — כִּי תְשִׁיתֵהוּ  to be a source of blessings forever — בְרָכוֹת לָעַד , even beyond his own lifetime, so that future generations will bless their children to be like him.
Furthermore, even during his own lifetime You have delighted him with the intense joy of experiencing the light of Your Presence — תְּחַדֵּהוּ בְשִׂמְחָה אֶת פָּנֶיךָ .
(ח) כִּי הַמֶּלֶךְ בֹּטֵחַ בַּה'
All this came about because instead of trusting in his own wealth and mightthe king trusts in Hashem — כִּי הַמֶּלֶךְ בֹּטֵחַ בַּה' . Thus, he has proved himself worthy of leading Hashem’s nation.
וּבְחֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן בַּל יִמּוֹט:
And because he trusts in the kindness of the Most High — וּבְחֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן , he will be blessed and will not falter — בַּל יִמּוֹט .
PART 2. A PLEA FOR VICTORY.
(ט) תִּמְצָא יָדְךָ לְכָל אֹיְבֶיךָ 
יְמִינְךָ תִּמְצָא שֹׂנְאֶיךָ:
May Your hand find all Your enemies — תִּמְצָא יָדְךָ לְכָל אֹיְבֶיךָ ; may Your right hand find those who hate You — יְמִינְךָ תִּמְצָא שֹׂנְאֶיךָ .
(י) תְּשִׁיתֵמוֹ כְּתַנּוּר אֵשׁ לְעֵת פָּנֶיךָ 
ה' בְּאַפּוֹ יְבַלְּעֵם וְתֹאכְלֵם אֵשׁ:
May You deal with them as one assembles wood in a fiery furnace  תְּשִׁיתֵמוֹ כְּתַנּוּר אֵשׁ at the time of Your anger — לְעֵת פָּנֶיךָ . Then when they are all in one place, may Hashem swallow them in His wrath — ה' בְּאַפּוֹ יְבַלְּעֵם , and let a fire consume them — וְתֹאכְלֵם אֵשׁ .
David refers to Hashem’s anger here in the third person (His wrath) because he is calling upon Hashem to suppress the attribute of mercy that appears most prominently to him when he addresses Hashem directly.
(יא) פִּרְיָמוֹ מֵאֶרֶץ תְּאַבֵּד 
וְזַרְעָם מִבְּנֵי אָדָם:
Amalek is Your most wicked enemy. Obliterate their evil works and their possessions from the earth — פִּרְיָמוֹ מֵאֶרֶץ תְּאַבֵּד , and obliterate their seed from mankind — וְזַרְעָם מִבְּנֵי אָדָם .
(יב) כִּי נָטוּ עָלֶיךָ רָעָה 
חָשְׁבוּ מְזִמָּה בַּל יוּכָלוּ:
For they have planned evil against You — כִּי נָטוּ עָלֶיךָ רָעָה . Even though they are without the ability to execute, they have schemed against You  חָשְׁבוּ מְזִמָּה בַּל יוּכָלוּ ; for they hope to destroy Your anointed king.
(יג) כִּי תְּשִׁיתֵמוֹ שֶׁכֶם 
בְּמֵיתָרֶיךָ תְּכוֹנֵן עַל פְּנֵיהֶם:
Why are they unable to do what they intend? Because You isolate them  כִּי תְּשִׁיתֵמוֹ שֶׁכֶם  so that they are a target for destruction. With the power of Your bow You aim directly at them — בְּמֵיתָרֶיךָ תְּכוֹנֵן עַל פְּנֵיהֶם .
(יד) רוּמָה ה' בְּעֻזֶּךָ 
נָשִׁירָה וּנְזַמְּרָה גְּבוּרָתֶךָ:
Be exalted, Hashem, in Your strength — רוּמָה ה' בְּעֻזֶּךָ . Continue to apply the strength that You used to save Yisrael! We will rejoice in Your strength; we will sing and chant the praise of Your might — נָשִׁירָה וּנְזַמְּרָה גְּבוּרָתֶךָ . Thereby Your Name will be sanctified in the world.
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah to Hashem.
Tefillos for Life - Your Gratitude .
[21:2] STRENGTH. – ה' בְּעָזְּךָ יִשְׂמַח מֶלֶךְ – “Hashem, a king rejoices in Your strength.” If you have succeeded in overcoming a challenge, celebrate your achievement in gratitude to Hashem, for what appears to be your strength is actually His strength.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[21:3] HEART’S DESIRE. – תַּאֲוַת לִבּוֹ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ – “You have granted him his heart’s desire.” Strive to be able to serve Hashem at an ever higher level of purity and holiness.
[21:8] BITACHON. – כִּי הַמֶּלֶךְ בֹּטֵחַ בַּה' וּבְחֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן בַּל יִמּוֹט – “For the king trusts in Hashem and in the kindness of the Most High he will not falter.” Even if you have acquired wealth and power, don’t neglect your complete trust in Hashem. If you rely only upon Him you can hope to maintain your status and be able to continue to do good with your wealth.
Tefillos for Life - Your Berachah.
[21:5] A LONG LIFE. – חַיִּים שָׁאַל מִמְּךָ נָתַתָּה לּוֹ אֹרֶךְ יָמִים עוֹלָם וָעֶד – “He asked You for life; You granted it to him, length of days forever and ever.” Ask Hashem to grant you a long life so that you can live out your days in serving Him.
Tefillos for Life - Your Yeshuah.
[21:9] ENEMIES. – תִּמְצָא יָדְךָ לְכָל אֹיְבֶיךָ יְמִינְךָ תִּמְצָא שֹׂנְאֶיךָ – “May Your hand find all Your enemies; may Your right hand find those who hate You.” If you are threatened by evil men, ask Hashem to take action against them, for they are His enemies.
Tehillos for Life - Public Acclaim.
[21:14] STRENGTH. – רוּמָה ה' בְּעֻזֶּךָ נָשִׁירָה וּנְזַמְּרָה גְּבוּרָתֶךָ – “Be exalted, Hashem, in Your strength! We will sing and chant the praise of Your might.” Inspire others through song to recognize the power of Hashem.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א - רש"י, המאירי
ב - מצודות, נר לרגלי
ג - אבן עזרא, נר לרגלי
ד - מלבי"ם
ה - רש"י, מלבי"ם
ו - רד"ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ז - רד"ק, מצודות, באר אברהם
ח - רד"ק, מלבי"ם
ט - רד"ק, מצודות
י - באר אברהם, נר לרגלי
יא - רש"י, מלבי"ם
יב - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, באר אברהם
יג - רד"ק, מצודות
יד - אבן עזרא, מלבי"ם