Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 21:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back - God can in a moment strike the most powerful and numerous army, even in the moment of victory, with panic; and then even the lame, the army which they had nearly routed, shall take the prey, and divide the spoil.

Against the face of them - Thou shalt cause them to turn their backs and fly, as if a volley of arrows had been discharged in their faces. This seems to be the sense of this difficult verse.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back - Margin, “Thou shalt set them as a butt.” The word back also is rendered in the margin “shoulder.” The word translated “therefore” means in this placer or, and the rendering “therefore” obscures the sense. The statement in this verse in connection with the previous verse, is, that they would not be able to “perform” or carry out their well-laid schemes, “for” or “because” God would make them turn the back; that is, he had vanquished them. They were going forward in the execution of their purposes, but God would interpose and turn them back, or compel them to “retreat.” The word rendered “back” in this place - שׁכם shekem - means properly “shoulder,” or, more strictly, the “shoulder-blades,” that is, the part where these approach each other behind; and then the upper part of the back. It is not, therefore, incorrectly rendered by the phrase “thou shalt make them turn “the back.”” The expression is equivalent to saying that they would be defeated or foiled in their plans and purposes.

When thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings - Compare the notes at Psalm 11:2. That is, when God should go forth against them, armed as a warrior.

Against the face of them - Against them; or, in their very front. He would meet them as they seemed to be marching on to certain conquest, and would defeat them. It would not be by a side-blow, or by skillful maneuver, or by turning their flank and attacking them in the rear. Truth meets error boldly, face to face, and is not afraid of a fair fight. In every such conflict error will ultimately yield; and whenever the wicked come openly into conflict with God, they must be compelled to turn and flee.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The psalmist teaches to look forward with faith, and hope, and prayer upon what God would further do. The success with which God blessed David, was a type of the total overthrow of all Christ's enemies. Those who might have had Christ to rule and save them, but rejected him and fought against him, shall find the remembrance of it a worm that dies not. God makes sinners willing by his grace, receives them to his favour, and delivers them from the wrath to come. May he exalt himself, by his all-powerful grace, in our hearts, destroying all the strong-holds of sin and Satan. How great should be our joy and praise to behold our Brother and Friend upon the throne, and for all the blessings we may expect from him! yet he delights in his exalted state, as enabling him to confer happiness and glory on poor sinners, who are taught to love and trust in him.