Praying the Psalms: Psalm 20

The people of Israel love their king. They understood that their spiritual and political victories was tied to God blessing his anointed King. Psalm 20 is a royal psalm in which the people sing and pray for their king and for God’s blessing on him. As we study this Psalm we will see that our hope is wedded to the anointed one of God, Jesus the Christ. Praying the Psalms


v 1-5 - The first stanza of this psalm is addressed to the King. The people are praying that the Lord would answer him in the day of trouble and be protected by the God of Jacob. The people want their king to prosper and desire for the hand of God to help him in achieving victory. The people long for their king to be prosperous.

They recognize that their king is a godly king. He is a king who honors the Lord and who gives offerings and burnt sacrifices. The king lives in obedience and in accordance to God’s law. As a result, the people ask God to remember the kings faithfulness in his service and worship.

Israel want their king’s desire to be fulfilled. These are a people who love their king and long for him to be blessed by God. The people know that their prosperity is tied to the prosperity of their king. Their national hopes and dreams are tied to God’s blessing on their king.

As we think about this royal psalm, we can’t quite pray it in the same way. Our hope is not in any earthly kingdom, certainly not the United States of America. Our allegiance is first to the kingdom of God. Yet, it is fitting for us to pray and long for men and women who can lead us in the truth. It is appropriate to long for God’s blessing on our nation, but again these must always be kept in balance. It is easy for us to let our nationalism supersede our allegiance to Christ and his kingdom, making an idol out of country. Christians should pray for their leaders and for God’s blessing, yet always remembering that the Christian hope is not found in a political party, a congressman, or a presidential candidate, but resurrected King, Jesus.

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So the people shout for joy over the salvation that their king gives them and they set up banners celebrating God who gives their king his strength. The concluding plea is “may the Lord fulfill all your petitions!”

v. 6-9 - The second stanza is now addressed directly to the Lord. They affirm that God chooses to bless his anointed King, that God will answer his beloved king and save him with his mighty hand. Here the people recognize the true source of victory, power, and prosperity for which they so desperately long. The source of these things are not in the king himself, but in the Lord.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” This cry should be on our lips as well. Any hope or zeal we have for the furtherance of God’s kingdom is dependent on God himself. As we think about the mission of the church to go and reach sinners with the Gospel, it is easy to trust in our own might. We trust in the ingenuity of our creative ideas. We rely on our reason and powers of rhetorical persuasion. We place our hope in the latest fads or the newest trends that promise to bring ministry success. Sadly, so many of us trust in chariots and horses rather than God. The chariots have evolved into programs and horses have morphed into innovation, but our trust continues to be in man’s strength rather than God’s!

As the redeemed people of God,  purchased by the blood of Christ, we must not trust in man’s might. The singular source of ministry fruitfulness and church growth lies in the power of God. After all, the chariots will collapse and the horses will fall. But we who trust in the Lord will rise and stand upright.

May we not be conned into thinking that it is the power of men that can bring us victory and salvation. Whatever quick-fix, five-step method is marketed today will collapse tomorrow. Those who place their trust in the power of God will continue to stand.

The final verse is a plea to the Lord, “God save the King!” The people rightly recognize and so to should we that the Lord loves his anointed king. Though David was a great king of Israel he is but a foreshadow of the true King of all the earth. A greater son from David would one day be born. Born in Bethlehem like his father David, Jesus is the anointed one of God. He has the right to rule. Jesus is the one who bring about salvation for God’s people and gives us the joy of our salvation. The dereliction of the cross and the shame of his death was not his end. The Lord saves his anointed. He answers his from heaven and on the third day the saving might of God’s right hand raised his son from the grave. May God save the King! He certainly has. He saved him from the throngs of death and Jesus reigns and rules.

Our joy and prosperity is tied and connected to this true king. Our hope, our victory, and our strength is wedded to Jesus. May we too pray for the Kings victory in our life and in our world, knowing that when the King returns his victory will be fully consummated when Jesus returns to establish his kingdom with his bride, the church.

Prayer Guide

  • Pray for your political leaders, that God would lead them to walk and lead in truth.
  • Thank the Lord for providing victory and salvation through his anointed king!
  • Ask the Lord to help you trust in his power, not in the power of chariots and horses.
  • Thank the Lord that he saves his king, and that through Jesus we have the promised victory of resurrected glory!