The nation in Psalm 20 is on the brink of war. Before leading his troops off into battle, King David has come to offer sacrifices. A multitude of loyal subjects is there to wish him success. In verses 1-5 we hear them praying that the Lord will protect him and give him victory. Encouraged by his people’s prayers, the king expresses confidence that Jehovah will intervene of his behalf (v. 6). His confidence overflows to the people, and their prayers now mixed with the assurance of deliverance (vv. 7-9).
The People’s Prayer
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; May He send you help from the sanctuary, And strengthen you out of Zion; May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah
May He grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose.
We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. (Psalm 20:1-5 NKJV)
On the eve of battle, the people look to the LORD to answer the king in the coming battle by turning back the enemy in crushing defeat. When they chant, “May the name of the God of Jacob defend you,” they remind us that the name of God stands for the Person Himself. Three times in Psalm 20 we find reference to that beautiful name:
- May the name of the God of Jacob defend you (v. 1).
- In the name of our God, we will set up our banners (v. 5).
- We will remember the name of the Lord our God (v. 7).
Williams aptly alliterates these allusions as:
- The Defending Name.
- The Displayed Name.
- The Delivering Name.
May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion; (Psalm 20:2 NKJV)
The source of the desired aid is specified. The sanctuary in Zion was the dwelling place of God on earth, and so it was reasonable to expect help from the sanctuary and support out of Zion.
This aspect of their intercession acknowledged God’s symbolic presence in the ark that David had recaptures and installed in the tabernacle (sanctuary) in Jerusalem (Zion).
The people prayed for God’s power to uphold, support, and sustain the king by granting him powers of leadership, character, reasoning, and decision making as the battle progressed.
May He remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah (Ps. 20:3 NKJV)
The king’s faithful obedience in bringing offerings and burnt sacrifice is presented as a special reason why the Lord should remember him with favor. If the king’s leadership in battle was to be strong, his spiritual life must be strong. So the people prayed for their spiritual well-being of their commander.
May He grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. (Psalm 20:4-5NKJV)
The king’s desire was that the Lord should crown his plans and purpose with success. Here his loving people pray that this will indeed be the outcome of the battle. They are already thinking of a great victory celebration, with hilarious joy and excitement as the news announced and with banners whipping and snapping in the breeze in tribute to the name of their God.
The King’s Response
Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. (Psalm 20:6 NKJV)
Buoyed by the prayerful interest of his people, the king rejoices in the knowledge that the LORD will indeed send all needed help from His holy heaven and intervene with spectacular displays of His infinite strength.
The People’s Confident Prayer
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stand upright. Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call. (Psalm 20:7-9 NKJV)
On behalf of the nation, David confessed his trust in God: some trust in chariots and some in horses (today, some trust in money and some in man’s help) but we are confident in the name of the LORD our God.
David realized that, ultimately, “the battle is not yours, but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15). Those who trusted in their weapons instead of God would be brought to their knees and fall in defeat. But those who believed in God would rise against the enemy and stand firm in victory.
With this peace of mind, the people once again ask the LORD to give victory to the King, thereby answering their prayers for deliverance.
Conclusion Of Psalm 20
Napoleon Bonaparte, the famed French military leader, was once asked, “is God on the side of France?”
Intoxicated with the power of his success, he retorted, “God is on the side that has the heaviest artillery.”
Later this little dictator boasted, “I make circumstances.” But that was before the battle of Waterloo.
In 1815, Napoleon’s army advanced across Europe into Belgium to face the armies of Britain and Russia where, in spite of his superior weaponry, he lost both the battle and his empire. This humbled dictator was unseated from his throne and was exiled to the barren island of St. Helena. Napoleon changed his perspective about God and history.
Quoting the words of Thomas a Kempis, this once proud man acknowledged, “Man proposes, but God disposes.”
Napoleon’s falls is a valuable lesson for everyone. God is sovereign, and he rules over the affairs of all people, from the greatest to the least. And this is the lesson that all of us must learn.
God controls human history and destinies, and he is guiding them to their appointed end. God’s sovereignty must be the confidence of all believers when faced with the opposition of spiritual forces.
GOD IS GOD, AND VICTORY BELONGS TO HIM!
Declaration Of Faith
I do not put my trust in the things of the world to provide my security and protection in life. My bank account is not my security, and my house is not my shelter, nor do worldly weapons provide my protection. My trust is in the name of the Lord Most High. He is my refuge, my shield, and my unfailing provision. All other things will be brought down and crushed, but in the power of His name, I rise up and stand steady as an immovable rock.
Have a beautiful and blessed day!