1 May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
5 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.
6 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.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!
Psalm 20 is a royal request asking that God continue to protect the anointed King, to provide victory. There is an underlying understanding that this anointed one, or messiah, is leading the people in God’s ways. Psalms like this, that were originally intended as a request on behalf of human kings, were later interpreted as prayers to send an anointed king to rescue God’s people. Remember, these Psalms were recited, sang and prayed for hundreds of years before Jesus.
In the times of these writings, a king served as God’s agent in the world. It was the job of the king to remain faithful in God’s ways and lead the people in doing the same. If you read the Old Testament, you will often see the introduction of a king with a phrase that either says, “did what was wicked in the Lord’s sight” or “did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight.” It is noted as the most important fact about each king or ruler listed in the sacred texts. If a king followed God, he was a good king, if he did not, he was not a good king.
The first half of this Psalm is a request for protection. It is about defense of Israel, not about attacking other nations. And it is the faithfulness of the king that is emphasized, not the weaponry or battle plans.
The second half of Psalm 20 is anticipatory in nature. The Psalmist has faith that God will grant victory, but it is important that the people continue to place their trust in the Lord, not weapons.
I am mindful as I read this that Jesus conducted himself in the way of Psalm 20. He trusted fully in God and did not use weaponry, an army, or force. Instead, Jesus submitted to his enemies. He trusted God would provide victory, even as he hung dying on a cross.
What does this Psalm teach us about victory in God?
Dear Lord, teach me to hear, lead me to see and guide me to heed your words. Let these words from the Psalms infuse my soul. I trust you, Oh Holy One. I submit fully to your will for my life. Lead me on the path of righteousness and forgive me for the ways may I fail. May your grace be born anew for me each day. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.