Psalm 20: May He Answer!
January 21, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
This is a prayer of blessing, and in particular a prayer of blessing for the king. In our day and age, we are so used to being suspicious of people in authority that it is hard for us to imagine asking God to bless the authority figures of our community, church, and nation. But yet so God commands. We are to pray for all those in authority (1 Tim. 2:2).
In the economy of God, a good leader befits a good people, a blessed leader conceives a blessed people; too often we get the leaders we deserve. And if you are frustrated by your leaders, then do the one thing that will make the most difference: not to complain about them but to pray for them. Perhaps you are especially frustrated this morning by your political leaders, or the leaders of some other institution of power and authority in the world. Would you this morning pray for all those in authority, and even use this prayer that God would bless them? The prayer is that God would answer the king in the day of trouble.
Having sweet times of intercession is all well and good when the going is easy, but what about when all chaos breaks loose? Then especially we need answers to prayer. It is a prayer for protection. Leaders are vulnerable for they are visible, and as none of them are perfect they are liable at least to vicious criticism and sometimes also to physical violence. They need to be protected. They need help too, says this psalm. A position of great authority is beyond the strength of any mere mortal. Secular rulers call it luck; they know that events cannot entirely be shaped by them. We know it is Providence. At any rate, all need the help of God to rule well.
The prayer is that the heart’s desires would be fulfilled. The assumption is that these desires are good. Certainly, there are rulers—the Hitlers of this world—who we would not pray that their hearts’ desires would be fulfilled. But for a ruler like David, who has visions for the blessings of God’s people and the restoration of their captured lands, who sees what must be done and longs for it in prayer: for them, let us ask that their desires be fulfilled. For when that happens, all rejoice. “We” shout for joy over “your” salvation (20:5). There is a love bond between a servant leader and the people he serves, such that the one’s flourishing is the other’s joyful rejoicing.
Looking ahead to the answer to these prayers, the psalm then celebrates that now he knows that God saves the LORD’s anointed. The ultimate anointed is the Christ. And so this prayer must ultimately be used for the extension of Christ’s “anointed” kingdom.
If you are facing untold trouble this morning, note well where we are to put our trust. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (20:7). The prayer is not that we do not ever use chariots or horses (cars or other practical means of getting things done). The prayer is that we do not trust in such things.
The man who trusts in money fears when it is gone and lives in sleepless fear that it might be gone. The man who uses money for God’s kingdom’s advance is not bound by money and does not fear its demise. God will provide one way or another. He is careful and practical, but not enslaved and in bondage. He is free. For he trusts in God, not in “chariots.” “They”—those who trust in chariots—“collapse and fall, but we”—those who trust in God—“rise and stand upright” (20:8).
And so, “O LORD, save the king!” (20:9). We pray for rulers and all those in authority this morning—that their rule might be good and servant-like for the end of providing peace and godly order that there may be an environment conducive for the gospel to flourish. “May he answer us when we call”!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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