May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!
Psalm 20 is a kingship psalm. It's probably not one we will memorize or see on a bookmark. (Psalm 23 is coming up soon!) The more natural choice for this weeks blost would have been Psalm 19. It's great! But I chose 20 because it got me thinking about King David, his role and the role of the kings in Israel, God's people, and all of us being under the authority and care of Jehovah.
I picture this is a prayer being spoken over troops as they are being sent out to battle against one of the neighboring peoples. David, up above them in some way, speaking blessings over them, "May God ..." He is entrusting his men to the Lord and reminding them who is really in charge of the people, their protection, and the land. Then he moves on to his personal confidence that God will give him victory because he is the Lord's anointed. This is not arrogance. David is confident and settled in the calling God has on his life as the anointed King of Israel. He knows the one in whom he trusts and from whom the victory must come. He also knows that the battles aren't about him or Israel, but about the Lord and his soverignty. (Keep in mind that when Israel went into battle apart from the Lord's leading, they were routed!)
This psalm reminds us as twenty-first century readers that God is still sovereign over all nations and all lands. He is in his "heavenly sanctuary" still hearing our prayers and still as trustworthy to be faithful to his promises as he was with Israel and her King.
As you worship this week, whether this morning in a church building or later in the week when you're out and about, rejoice in the Lord that he has drawn you away from trusting in whatever your heart is tempted to trust for victory, to trusting in the name of the Lord your God. In fact, here's an idea for an exercise: You might not be a warrior going off to batte, but in your field and community what are you tempted to trust in other than the Lord? Often I am convinced if I can just put together the best routine and schedule, all will be well. My gods are my accomplishments and ability to be in control. I could rephrase that verse Some trust in calendars and some in atomic habits, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Sounds silly, but it's the truth. (And, of course, the baseline is me trusting in myself. Lord, have mercy!)
If you belong to Christ, (God's ultimate anointed one), you too have been chosen and called to be part of God's people. Contrary to public opinion, we are not warriors that need to take back anything for God; that wasn't Israel's task either. They were called to love and obey the Lord, becuase he loved them and rescued them from Egypt, and by being his they would be a light to the nations. We are as dependent as the troops of Israel on God's rescue and direction in our lives as individuals and the Church. And we are just as prone to idol worship as the people of Israel. (Check out I Cor 10:11-13.)
May the Lord use Psalm 20 to minister to us this day, brining conviction of sin and confidence in his love and care for his Church. The Lord gave victory to the King of kings, Jesus! He answers us when we call! Like David, we can rise up and stand firm in him, with humble rejoicing, confident prayers, and hopeful anticipation of his continued victory over sin and death, in our individual lives and in all creation.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Only the Lord can come out on top agains such foes! We surrender to him; he fights our enemies. He has secured the victory and is securing it. What a God!
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