Psalm 21 is the 21st psalm from the Book of Psalms. It is internally accredited to David. There are 13 verses. In the slightly different numbering system used in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate translations of the Bible, this psalm is Psalm 20.

Psalm 21
Biblia Hebraica Kttel Psalm 20-21.jpg
Psalms 20-21 in Biblia Hebraica Kittel (1909)
BookBook of Psalms
Hebrew Bible partKetuvim
Order in the Hebrew part1
CategorySifrei Emet
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part19

This royal psalm and the previous one are closely related: they are both liturgical psalms; in both, the king is the prominent figure.[1] Psalm 21 is characterised as a psalm of thanksgiving. It focuses on the imagery of a king; the king is often credited with being an example of the moral state of a kingdom in the Old Testament.[2]


Hebrew Bible versionEdit

Following is the Hebrew text of Psalm 21:[3]

Verse Hebrew
1 לַֽ֜מְנַצֵּ֗חַ מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִֽד
2 יְהֹוָ֗ה בְּעָזְּךָ֥ יִשְׂמַח־מֶ֑לֶךְ וּ֜בִֽישׁוּעָֽתְךָ֗ מַ֘ה־יָּ֥גֶל (כתיב יָּ֥גֶיל) מְאֹֽד
3 נְֽנַתְּקָה אֶת־מֽוֹסְרוֹתֵ֑ימוֹ וְנַשְׁלִ֖יכָה מִמֶּ֣נּוּ עֲבֹתֵֽימוֹ
4 כִּי־תְ֖קַדְּמֶֽנּוּ בִּרְכ֣וֹת ט֑וֹב תָּשִׁ֥ית לְ֜רֹאשׁ֗וֹ עֲטֶ֣רֶת פָּֽז
5 חַיִּ֚ים | שָׁאַ֣ל מִ֖מְּךָ נָתַ֣תָּה לּ֑וֹ אֹ֥רֶךְ יָ֜מִ֗ים עוֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד
6 גָּד֣וֹל כְּ֖בוֹדוֹ בִּישֽׁוּעָתֶ֑ךָ ה֥וֹד וְ֜הָדָר תְּשַׁוֶּ֥ה עָלָֽיו
7 כִּֽי־תְשִׁיתֵ֣הוּ בְרָכ֣וֹת לָעַ֑ד תְּחַדֵּ֥הוּ בְ֜שִׂמְחָ֗ה אֶת־פָּנֶֽיךָ
8 כִּֽי־הַ֖מֶּלֶךְ בֹּטֵ֣חַ בַּֽיהֹוָ֑ה וּבְחֶ֥סֶד עֶ֜לְי֗וֹן בַּל־יִמּֽוֹט
9 תִּמְצָ֣א יָֽ֖דְךָ לְכָל־אֹיְבֶ֑יךָ יְ֜מִֽינְךָ תִּמְצָ֥א שׂנְאֶֽיךָ
10 תְּשִׁיתֵ֚מוֹ | כְּתַנּ֥וּר אֵשׁ֘ לְעֵ֪ת פָּ֫נֶ֥יךָ יְ֖הֹוָה בְּאַפּ֣וֹ יְבַלְּעֵ֑ם וְתֹֽאכְלֵ֥ם אֵֽשׁ
11 פִּרְיָֽמוֹ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ תְּאַבֵּ֑ד וְ֜זַרְעָ֗ם מִבְּנֵ֥י אָדָֽם
12 כִּֽי־נָט֣וּ עָלֶ֣יךָ רָעָ֑ה חָֽשְׁב֥וּ מְ֜זִמָּ֗ה בַּל־יוּכָֽלוּ
13 כִּֽי־תְשִׁיתֵ֣מוֹ שֶׁ֑כֶם בְּמֵֽיתָרֶ֥יךָ תְ֜כוֹנֵ֗ן עַל־פְּנֵיהֶֽם
14 ר֣וּמָה יְהֹוָ֣ה בְּעֻזֶּ֑ךָ נָשִׁ֥ירָה וּֽ֜נְזַמְּרָה גְּבוּרָתֶֽךָ

King James VersionEdit

(To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.)

  1. The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
  2. Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.
  3. For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head.
  4. He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever.
  5. His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him.
  6. For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.
  7. For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.
  8. Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.
  9. 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.
  10. Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.
  11. For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform.
  12. Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them.
  13. Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.


Commentary by the theologian John Calvin relates this psalm to the belief that God had appointed a succession of rulers on Earth, starting with David and eventually leading to the messiah, who Calvin identified as Jesus. Calvin also implies that this psalm does not refer to a specific king, but to all kings.[4] The Jerusalem Bible identifies both messianic and eschatological themes, and commends the application of this psalm to the idea of "Christ the King".[5] Verse 9, the time of thine anger in the King James Version, the day that you appear in the Jerusalem Bible, and the reference to a blazing furnace "suggest a more ... eschatological perspective".[6]

Commentator Cyril Rodd notes that "the situation to which [the psalm] refers is not clear". He identifies four possible occasions for its composition or use:

  • before a battle
  • after a victory
  • at the king's coronation
  • at an annual celebration of the king's accession.[7]

The New Revised Standard Version specifies that it is a psalm of "thanksgiving for victory".[8]


In the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer, this psalm is appointed to be read on the morning of the fourth day of the month.[9]

This psalm has been used as the name of the church ministry known as "Psalm 21 Church" or "Psalm 21 Kingdom Heritage", in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Indonesia since 2004.[10]

Verses 1-4 are used as the source material for the anthem "O Lord Make Thy Servant Elizabeth" by William Byrd.[11]

Musical settingsEdit

  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier set around 1675, one Prière pour le Roi "Domine in virtute tua", H.164 for 3 voices, 2 treble instruments, and continuo.


  1. ^ Kirkpatrick, A. F., (1906), Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Psalm 20, accessed 10 October 2021
  2. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim, page 38
  3. ^ "Tehillim - Psalms - Chapter 21". 2019. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  4. ^ Calvin, John. "Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 8: Psalms, Part I". Sacred Texts. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  5. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966), footnote a at the start of Psalm 21
  6. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966), footnote b at Psalm 21:9
  7. ^ Rodd, C. S., 18. Psalms in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 373
  8. ^ Psalm 21:NRSV: NRSV heading
  9. ^ Church of England, Book of Common Prayer: The Psalter as printed by John Baskerville in 1762, pp. 196ff
  10. ^ "Psalm21 Kingdom Heritage Community". Retrieved 2016-12-09.
  11. ^ "Byrd W - O Lord make thy servant Elizabeth". The Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 27 May 2020.

External linksEdit

  • Psalm 21 in Hebrew and English - Mechon-mamre
  • Psalm 21 King James Bible - Wikisource