GOD’S SAVING STRENGTH
Father, may I trust that when I reach for strength, you’ll give it; when I ask for wisdom, you’ll provide it. Thank you Lord.
Read PSALM 20
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
6 Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.’1
In its original context this is a royal psalm used perhaps in a liturgy before the troops went out to battle. It is similar in structure to 2 Chronicles 20:5–19.2 The king would have brought burnt offerings (v 3) and these had an atoning function.3 Since the entire animal was burned up, it was also an expression of wholehearted commitment to the Lord. Meanwhile, the people prayed for God’s help for the king (vs 1–5) and it was likely that a priest brought a word from the Lord to encourage him. Verse 6 is possibly a description of this, or the king may be speaking here in response to the message. Finally, the people answer with an expression of trust (vs 7,8) and conclude with a last prayer that mirrors the opening lines (v 9).
The key aspect of this psalm is what David has been practicing all his life: turning to God for help. He knew well that he was defenseless and vulnerable, exposed to betrayal and vastly outnumbered by Saul’s men. Yet, as the prayer makes clear, what matters is not military power (horses and chariots gave armies an advantage over the infantry), but God’s strength (vs 6,7). While Saul and the Philistines looked to physical prowess, superior weaponry and more soldiers to win, David consistently sought the Lord.
In our context, the battle may not be fought on a physical plain with armies and weapons, yet we, too, face challenges. Some fight illnesses, others wrestle with addiction or temptations, yet others are confronted by conflict in relationships. Whatever our particular battles, seeking God and thereby acknowledging our own limits is key. It is also critical that we maintain our relationship with the Lord through confession of our known sins and committing ourselves to the Lord in faithful living.
Are you facing challenges today? Thank God that his grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in weakness.4
Mighty God, in the battles of life, I know I quickly look to worldly solutions. Forgive me Lord, and may I look first to you and receive your overcoming strength and power.
1 Zech 4:6 2 Peter C Craigie, Psalms 1–50, Thomas Nelson, 1983, p185 3 Lev 1:4 4 2 Cor 12:9
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