An exposition: Psalm 20
In this blessed Psalm, David instructs the people on how to pray for their king.
David begins his instructions for the people to pray for protection. Vs 1. May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! Calamity may fall at any time. It may come at whatever hour providence as appointed it, but man is often unaware so it is wise that when these sudden irritations befall a king that His God should be ready at hand to answer him. Furthermore, in that disastrous hour it is imperative that his God is able to protect him. May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! We as civilians and citizen of a democratic state should pray for the welfare of our prime minister even though we may disagree with many of his policies. If we find him to be against the very principles of our religion, we are to pray for him because our Christ as commanded us to pray for our enemies, and to always pronounce a blessing on their wayward head.
Vs. 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion. David tells his people where the source of his protection should spring, namely that help should come from the sanctuary and support from Zion. By sanctuary is meant the holy place, meaning either the tabernacle where the ark was, or from God's own dwelling place in the highest heaven. The sanctuary is to be the place where help is sent to redeem the king. Why from the sanctuary? It is the holy place, it is the place where God dwells and all things which proceeds from the sanctuary can only be to the good of God's friends.
Help is sent from the sanctuary but support is sent from Zion. Zion is a name applied to Jerusalem and in the prophets it is written that the LORD of hosts dwells on mount Zion (Isa 8:18). What better place to receive support than the place where the Almighty dwells. My friends, if there is a choice of where to receive help, I will always choose to receive support from the camp of God with its fifty men than from the palace of Satan with its millions of followers.
After asking God to send help from the sanctuary and help from Zion, we should turn our plea to the ears and mind of God that he should Vs. 3 remember all of the king's sweet offerings and regard with favour all of the king's burnt sacrifices. When a Father detests the gift from his children it is usually due to the fact that the gift brings such indignity and lack of honour to the home. The child displays his lack of care and waywardness, therefore the Father is fit to curse the son and gift. But how happy is the child that realises a marvellous smile on his father’s face when his father accepts his gift. Such a son is happy and departs his Father’s presence with a wide beam. Likewise, it is a good thing for the saint when he comprehends the sunshine of heaven upon their dearth sacrifice. For what does God need who has all the riches of the universe? He needs nothing at all and yet he accepts our contrite sacrifices and offerings!
Vs 4. May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your plans. God is not a genie who blindly grants the desires of the wicked. He is the Almighty God who fulfils the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Hence it is requested that may God give the King whatsoever he has set his heart upon and may God accomplish all the king's desires.
Because of the goodness of the Lord towards the King, the congregation now exhort their own soul Vs. 5 to shout for joy over the king's salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! In all of their excitement they are still prone to declare with a throng and love that may the LORD fulfil all of the King's petitions. Here is a people that love him who is in charge of their government. They have no unscrupulous eye for his ill but a awe-inspiring heart for his affluence. They understand that his success is ultimately because of the favour from heaven, and it is there where they turn their eyes for help. They stay away from the fountain of adultery by not thinking that their king is God but only Yahweh is God alone. We Christians in our sweet fellowship should undertake the same principle in looking for the blessedness of our prime minister, interceding on his behalf for this wicked generation; and for God to himself turn the heart of the prime minister to follow heavens principles. David loved the Lord, therefore his desires were slanted with heavens inclinations, but a man who acknowledges not heaven, the best prayer we can be praying for them is for them to have this delicious heart that would rather spent a day in the courts of heaven than ten thousand pleasurable days on a paradise on earth.
In a previous Psalm (18) David has already said that great salvation God brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever. David in this psalm expresses the same faith. He has listened to the request of his people and being moved by their zealousness for his welfare, he responds with an assurance that is full of delight and surety. David says Vs. 6 "Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand". David's response encourages his people that their prayers are not without hope, that indeed he too believe wholeheartedly that God will answer their petitions. They had previously requested of God that he may answer their prayer from the sanctuary and from Zion. David declares that God indeed will answer from his holy heaven and save him.
Vs 7. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but the Israelites will not be of a fool's faith, for they trust in the name of the LORD their God. The same principle is true of the Christian! Why should one trust in the strength and wisdom of the world rather than on the cross of Christ? For there is no other name by which men can be saved, so why waste precious life on trusting on anything else other than the name of Jesus! Let us not be fools but rather, let us trust in the name of Christ for all things, because the end of the other things are clear, namely that those who trust in those other things Vs.8 will collapse and fall.
Will you trust in your wealth? Wealth perishes. Will you trust in humanity? Humans after a brief period decay. Will you trust in philosophies? Death will make you depart from them. Everything save those anchored in the sea of Christ will perish. Under the canopy of time they will fall and collapse and those who trust in them. But those who stand on Christ and are rooted in him will rise and stand upright. Time will never bury them. Therefore it was wise for these citizens to trust in the name of the LORD their God who is Christ. A shepherd should exalt his flock to forsake idols and always turn and trust in the living God. David encourages his country to do this likewise shepherds should direct their flock’s eyes to the one who sits on the throne in heaven.
Approaching the end of their prayer for the King, the congregation return to their first petition but worded in a different manner. They say with all confidence, Vs.9 O LORD, save the king! If the king is to be saved, it must be by God. No chariots, no Horses but God alone. Even we cannot save the king ourselves, only God can. Here is a humble conclusion for us to note, that if our current ministers in government is to be saved, it will be by God alone. Although we may take part in discussions and petitions, and in arguments, yet our greatest weapon for their salvation is prayer. Our earnest prayers will indicate that truly we are pathetic and God is competent. It is a miserable vision when many have abandoned the secret room of prayer and only provide time to arguments and petitions and works in redeeming their wayward government. These things are good but when prayer is abandoned for these works then one has committed that treacherous sin of idolatry. Only God can save and may he answer you when you call!