A Meditation upon Psalm 20
Let it be understood from the outset that Christ’s people are not waging a physical war. As He did not fight His enemies with a sword but with words of truth and gracious deeds, so His followers must love their enemies in the world. Now read on.
This psalm is not what it appears to be at first. It may sound like a sweet, simple blessing that we could pronounce over our children as they go off to college: “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” But nearly everything about that interpretation is wrong. This is not a prayer asking God’s blessing on human plans. It is not an uncommitted invocation that we can bestow and forget. There is nothing innocuous or human or uncommitted about it.
It seems that David wrote this prayer to be used in the liturgy of the Hebrew people for a very specific purpose. This psalm was an invocation of blessing recited by the people of God over their king before he went to war. Notice that the recipient of the blessing is the anointed one, and it is his aspirations for the nation, not his people’s desires, which are being affirmed.
The people of Israel also constituted the army of God, so this is, moreover, the benediction of the army upon its general. In that context it is not merely a blessing – because the success of the king’s plans depended greatly upon the commitment of his army, it is also a pledge, their pledge of allegiance. What an encouragement it must have been to David on the eve of battle to hear this prayer for his well-being and for the triumph of the kingdom, to hear the declaration of his fighting force to do their utmost to achieve the victory.
We, too, are the army of God’s Anointed. When Christ rides out to battle on that last, great day of trouble, “with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers” (Rev 17:14). And in the meantime, we do battle every day in His name with fear, temptation, sin, suffering and Satan. If we do not recognize those battles, like sleeping disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, then they are already lost to us. But if we meet them prayerfully, they are already won. This psalm is our pledge to take up the banner of Christ, to honor His sacrifice, to follow His lead and to realize His objectives. It’s not God’s job to bless our plans – it’s our job, as the army of God, to bless His plans. This psalm is not asking for good weather, a better job or another child. It proclaims our willingness to wage war for the sake of God’s agenda, to do brave things because they are His things. Look around at what God is doing in your life, your church, and the world today. It’s your job to join His campaign. Let Psalm 20 be your prayer of blessing upon the King’s plans. Our King is worthy of our blessing and deserving of our pledge.
1. Are you more likely to ask God to bless your plans or to seek to be a blessing to God’s plans?
2. What battles do you see being fought in God’s name right now? Is there a role for you in some of those struggles?