Scripture reading – Psalm 20

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Some have described Psalm 20 as a “National Anthem” for Israel, but surely it should be the prayer of all who call upon the LORD. Today’s psalm was David’s intercessory prayer and an appeal to Israel to pray and call on the LORD “in the day of trouble” (20:1). I suggest it is also an exhortation for believers of every generation to intercede with God for their nation and leaders. (As in the past, the amplifications of words in our text are those of this shepherd.)

Psalm 20:1-2 – The LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] hear thee in the day [time] of trouble [adversity]; the name [fame; renown] of the God [Elohim; the Mighty God] of Jacob defend [strengthen] thee; 2  Send thee help [aid]from the sanctuary [holy place], and strengthen [support; sustain] thee out of Zion [the site of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount];

The setting and events that inspired Psalm 20 are not stated. However, understanding David was the author, it seems the king was appealing to Israel to pray and call on the LORD in a time of imminent war (20:1). If Israel was facing an adversary, surely the king dared not go to war without knowing that the LORD would go before him (20:2).

Psalm 20:3-4 – “Remember [think of] all thy offerings [sacrifices], and accept thy burnt sacrifice [offering]; Selah [lit. Pause to think]. 4  Grant [Deliver] thee according to thine own heart [mind], and fulfil [accomplish] all thy counsel [advice; purpose].”

Confident the battle was the LORD’s, David called on the nation to worship Him and prayed He would accept their sacrifices and hear and answer their prayers (20:3-4).

Psalm 20:5 – “We will rejoice [sing; shout] in thy salvation [deliverance], and in the name [fame; renown; reputation] of our God [Elohim; the Mighty God] we will set up our banners [flags; battle standard]: the LORD[Eternal God; Jehovah] fulfil [accomplish] all thy petitions [request; desires].”

Even before the battle was fought, the people anticipated victory and believed the LORD would bless the king with victory. They promised to shout to the LORD for joy and that He alone would be the object of their praise (20:5a). They were ready to unfurl their banners (the flags carried into battle). They believed the LORD would hear their prayers and answer their petitions—that is faith. (20:5b)

Psalm 20:6 – Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed [the king was God’s anointed]; He will hear him from his holy heaven [for God reigns over His creation from heaven’s throne] with the saving strength of his right hand.

David’s faith inspired him to face his enemy, confident the LORD had heard the prayers of His people and would save him, “His anointed” (20:6). God was mighty and with “his right hand” (from a human perspective, the hand that is the strongest), He would save the king in the battle.

Psalm 20:7 – 7Some trust in chariots, and some in horses [horsemen; the calvary]: But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

I fear men and nations go to battle with adversaries and give little thought to the power of prayer or the providence of God. Soldiers and nations put faith in their armory and weapons of war (chariots and horses). David, however, urged the people to “remember the name of the LORD our God” (20:7). In earlier devotions, we observed that the “name” of the LORD embodied all of His divine attributes.

Psalm 20:8-9 – 8They [the enemies of God’s people] are brought down [defeated] and fallen [vanquished]: But we [Israel] are risen, and stand upright [confident of victory]. 9Save, Lord [Jehovah, save]: Let the king [the LORD; the Sovereign of heaven] hear us when we call [shout His name].

Closing thoughts –

I suggest there are three spiritual lessons we should take from Psalm 20.

First, that the LORD hears and answers prayer. The king prayed the LORD would go before them into battle (20:1-2). How different our nation and world would be if our leaders called upon the LORD in times of trouble and did not place their faith in weapons of war. Remember, the God of heaven hears and answers prayers.

Second, we should pray and assure our leaders of our prayers. Israel assured David they would pray for the LORD to grant him wisdom and bless his strategy for the battle. Blessed is the nation whose leaders call on the LORD and whose people uphold them in prayer.

Finally, God’s people should put their faith in His grace and blessings.  Even before the battle was waged, the people planned to celebrate the victory. They were confident the LORD heard and would answer their prayers.

On a personal note: Hanging in my home office is a print of General George Washington praying in the woods during America’s Revolutionary War. The print complements the story of a farmer walking through the woods near Valley Forge when he hears a voice. Drawing near, he found General Washington on his knees, his cheeks wet with tears, praying to God. That farmer was said to have returned home and assured his wife that the United States would win her independence from England. When the farmer’s wife asked how he could be so sure, he answered, “Because I heard Washington’s prayer.”

I close with Paul’s exhortation to Timothy that we should pray for all in authority.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 – 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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