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Psalm 20

Psalm 20, Summary Handout. Pray with confidence in the LORD

Tod Kennedy

Theme of Psalm 20

Both the congregation and King David confidently pray that Yahweh, the God of Jacob, will give the King victory in the upcoming battle, and they all confidently expect victory because chariots and horses cannot succeed against the name of Yahweh.

Summary Psalm 20

This psalm was likely sung by Israel and King David before he led his army into battle against strong armies that depended on horses and chariots. It is a liturgical song with part sung by the assembled Israelites and part sung by the king. In it they express confidence in the name of Yahweh. The congregation and even David had gathered before the LORD, probably in the sanctuary of that day. He had offered the meal offerings and the burnt offering. The congregation prayed. David prayed. Then the congregation concluded with the final confident plea to the LORD. This psalm invokes the LORD (Yahweh, Psa 20.1), the name of the God of Jacob (Psa 20.1), the name of our God (Psa 20.5), the LORD (Psa 20.5), the name of the LORD, our God (Psa 20.7), LORD (Psa 20.9). Name focuses on the person. This psalm also uses these words: from the sanctuary (Psa 20.2), from Zion (Psa 20.2), from his holy heaven (Psa 20.6), strength of his right hand (Psa 20.6). These highlight the person and attributes of the God of Israel. For confident prayer one must pray to the one personal and capable God. This was true for King David and the gathered Israelites. They knew to whom they prayed. This is true for us now. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We know to whom we pray.              

Outline Psalm 20

  1. Psalm 20.1-5. The congregation confidently prays that the LORD (Yahweh), the God of Jacob, will protect King David and answer his prayer for victory.
  2. Psalm 20.6-8. King David announces that the LORD (Yahweh) will deliver him and his army because the name of the LORD is stronger than chariots and horses.
  3. Psalm 20.9. The congregation then prays that LORD (Yahweh) will save the king, but now it is a pray of great confidence because victory is by the name of the LORD.

Comments

  1. Psalm 20.1-5. The congregation confidently prays that the LORD (Yahweh), the God of Jacob, will protect will protect King David and answer his prayer for victory.
    • Psalm 20.1. The immediate plea is for an answer from the LORD. The name of the God of Jacob tells us that the name captures the attributes and the works of a person. Israel had a great history to recall, a history of continued rescue, help, and provision from God. See Numbers 6.22-27 where the LORD instructed Moses to have Aaron invoke the name of the LORD to bless Israel.
    • Psalm 20.1-2. The requests are for security high above danger, help from the sanctuary, support from Zion. God makes his presence known in the sanctuary and the sanctuary is in Zion, David’s stronghold (2 Sam 5.1-7). David had already brought the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6.12-18).
    • Psalm 20.3. The king had a history of making the appropriate offerings, possibly the offerings before going to battle.
    • Psalm 20.4-5. The continued prayer and confidence in God’s victory. The banners identify relationship. See Numbers 2.
  2. Psalm 20.6-8. King David announces the LORD (Yahweh) will deliver him and his army because the name of the LORD is stronger than chariots and horses.
    • Psalm 20.6. David knows the prayer is answered. The LORD will save him from heaven (Psalm 11.4). The right hand stands for God’s power.
    • Psalm 20.7-8. The name of the LORD, the God of Israel is more powerful and more dependable than chariots and horses, which were the normal military power of the day. See Exodus 14, chariots and horses of the Egyptian Pharaoh at the Red Sea; Judges 4, Jabin, king of Canaan, and Sisera, his commander, had iron chariots which they used to oppress Israel for twenty years; Isaiah 36.1-9, where Rabshakeh, Sennacherib’s commander, offered Hezekiah 2000 horses, and also taunts the Israelites by saying they cannot rely on Egypt for chariots and horseman to help them. See Psalm 33.16-17; 1 Samuel 13.5; 1 Samuel 17.45; Proverbs 21.31; Isaiah 31.1; Jeremiah 17.5-8; 2 Chronicles 32.8. These passages teach that the LORD defeats military might. Israel under David will be victorious.
  3. Psalm 20.9. The congregation then prays again that LORD (Yahweh) will save the king. This is a prayer of great confidence because victory is by the name of the LORD.
    • The Hebrew text has “save” hiphil imperative expressing a wish or request, and “may the king answer” qal imperfect, jussive to express a wish. This is prayer to LORD Yahweh and it reflects faith in the LORD.

So what for us or lessons from Psalm 20

  1. The LORD is stronger and more reliable than any army or any person. Ultimately our destiny rests in the LORD, not in any human power. This was and is true for Israel and is true for all believers.
  2. The person to whom we pray is LORD Yahweh, the God of Jacob. His name identifies who he is and what he can do. He is our God just as much as he is Israel’s God. He is the creator, the authority, the king of all creation. We should have confidence in him.
  3. Pray with confidence that God will provide for his people in the best way, Israel in this psalm and we as his church people today.
  4. Biblical doctrines that stand out in this Psalm with example Scripture are
    • The character or essence of God (Exodus 3.10-17; 34.5-7; 117), 
    • Prayer (Psalm 50.15; Ephesians 1.16-23; 3.20),
    • Faith (Proverbs 3.5-6; Hebrews 11.6 and the chapter)
    • Salvation-deliverance in trouble (Psalm 72.12-15; 143.9).