March 29 – Psalm 20
While you’re reading Psalm 20 to get ready for group, read over Psalm 21 too. These psalms are a set, with 21 thanking God for answering the requests of 20. Especially now, as we keep praying for the Lord to end the COVID-19 crisis, it’s helpful to remember that there will be a time to thank God for delivering us.
As always, when we read scripture we need to keep track of the pronouns. In this psalm the “you,” which in a Psalm is typically God, is actually King David. That gets clearer once you get to verse 6, “the Lord saves his anointed,” considering kings were often called “the Lord’s anointed,” (1 Sam. 24:6) and verse 9, with its direct plea for the king. The speaker, on the other hand, is the congregation, the people of Israel. So, “may the Lord answer you,” is Israel appealing to God on behalf of their king.
Now that’s super interesting considering the congregation didn’t write this song. David did. He put these words on the lips of the congregation so they could ask for his deliverance. How aware of his needs must he have been to do this? He wanted them to pray for his help and support, he wanted them to shout for joy over his salvation. How moving it is, how human, to think that mighty king David wanted to enlist his community in beseeching God for his most desperate needs.
While David has the congregation ask for an answer, protection, help, support, etc., these are all facets of deliverance from whatever crisis he had in mind. He wanted to make it through. And you don’t ask for help from someone you think will never help you. As much as this psalm takes place in a prayer to God, such that we don’t get to see God’s response, look at what it says about God that these things would be asked of him (and that he would give them in Psalm 21). “Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed.” (20:6) We can ask for salvation because it’s something God will give.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (20:7) You can replace chariots and horses with whatever you want, maybe whatever you spend most of your time, money, or energy on, and that’s the kind of verse that reads you. But think, David, the guy who owns all the chariots and horses, gave those words to his people. He didn’t want them to trust in his military might (even though he wanted to win battles) because he didn’t want them to think that salvation is only determined by military might. He totally could’ve filled this psalm with propaganda and pointed his people to his own strength as king. Instead he pointed them to God’s strength.
If you read 1 & 2 Samuel you’ll see that David didn’t really stay back from a fight (and the one time he did it ended poorly, 2 Sam. 11). Even though David didn’t trust in horses, he didn’t keep them in the stable either. I think seeing that overlay of Psalm 20 with David’s life is incredibly relevant to the current crisis. We know that God, and only God, is responsible for any deliverance we experience, either temporal or eternal. Instead of a spirit of fear, we have a spirit of power and love and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7). So then we can get in the fight against COVID-19 confident of God’s desire to save, being generous to our community, respecting boundaries that keep others safe, and waiting patiently knowing that God will answer from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. (20:6)
And just like the congregation was praying on behalf of David for deliverance, we have a clear opportunity in this crisis to pray on behalf of others. Let’s beseech God that COVID-19 would be eradicated. And let’s jump in where we can, especially locally. We have local needs posted on our serve site, all of which can be contributed to while maintaining social distancing measures, and more are getting added daily. Would you bring this up to your group in the announcement below?
Questions for Discussion
This shorter discussion is optimized for virtual gatherings. Check our virtual gathering tips post for ideas on how to run your virtual meetings (last updated March 25).
• Announcement: Local needs related to the COVID-19 crisis are being added to our serve site daily – vintagenc.com/serve
• Can someone read Psalm 20 for us?
• What stands out to you from this psalm?
• What does this psalm tell us about God?
• How could this psalm guide our prayers right now?