Psalms 20

PSALM XX

A prayer for the king in his enterprises, that his prayers may

be heard, his offerings accepted, and his wishes fulfilled,

1-4.

Confidence of victory expressed, 5, 6.

Vain hopes exposed; and supplication made for the king. 7-9.

NOTES ON PSALM XX

It is most likely that this Psalm was penned on the occasion of

David's going to war, and most probably with the Ammonites and

Syrians, who came with great numbers of horses and chariots to

fight with him. See 2Sa 10:6-8; 1Ch 19:7. It is one of the

Dialogue Psalms, and appears to be thus divided: Previously to

his undertaking the war, David comes to the tabernacle to offer

sacrifice. This being done, the people, in the king's behalf,

offer up their prayers; these are included in the three first

verses: the fourth was probably spoken by the high priest; the

fifth, by David and his attendants; the last clause, by the high

priest; the sixth, by the high priest, after the victim was

consumed; the seventh and eighth, by David and his men; and

the ninth, as a chorus by all the congregation.

Verse 1. The Lord hear thee] David had already offered the

sacrifice and prayed. The people implore God to succour him in

the day of trouble; of both personal and national danger.

The name of the God of Jacob] This refers to Jacob's wrestling

with the Angel; Ge 32:24, &c. And who was this Angel? Evidently

none other than the Angel of the Covenant, the Lord Jesus, in whom

was the name of God, the fulness of the Godhead bodily. He was the

God of Jacob, who blessed Jacob, and gave him a new name and a

new nature. See the notes on the above place in Genesis.

Verse 2. Send thee help from the sanctuary] This was the place

where God recorded his name; the place where he was to be sought,

and the place where he manifested himself. He dwelt between the

cherubim over the mercy-seat. He is now in Christ, reconciling

the world to himself. This is the true sanctuary where God must be

sought.

Strengthen thee out of Zion] The temple or tabernacle where

his prayers and sacrifices were to be offered.

Verse 3. Remember all thy offerings] The minchah, which is here

mentioned, was a gratitude-offering. It is rarely used to signify

a bloody sacrifice.

Burnt sacrifice] The olah here mentioned was a bloody sacrifice.

The blood of the victim was spilt at the altar, and the flesh

consumed. One of these offerings implied a consciousness of sin in

the offerer; and this sacrifice he brought as an atonement: the

other implied a sense of mercies already received, and was offered

in the way of gratitude.

David presents himself before the Lord with offerings of both

kinds.

This prayer of the people is concluded with Selah, which we have

taken up in the general sense of so be it. Hear and answer. It

will and must be so, &c.

Verse 4. Grant thee according to thine own heart] May God give

thee whatsoever thou art setting thy heart upon, and accomplish

all thy desires! This was probably the prayer of the high priest.

Verse 5. We will rejoice in thy salvation] We expect help from

thee alone; it is in thy cause we engage; and to thee, as our war

is a just one, we consecrate our banners, inscribed with thy name.

It is said that the Maccabees had their name from the inscription

on their banners; which was taken from Ex 15:11,

mi camochah baelim Yehovah, "Who is like unto

thee, O Lord, among the gods?" The word being formed from the

initial letters M, C, B, I, Ma Ca B I,

whence Maccabeus and Maccabees.

The words of this verse were spoken by David and his officers;

immediately after which I suppose the high priest to have added,

The Lord fulfil all thy petitions!

Verse 6. Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed] These are

probably the words of the priest after the victim had been

consumed; and those signs had accompanied the offering, which were

proofs of God's acceptance of the sacrifice; and, consequently,

that the campaign would have a successful issue. David is God's

anointed; therefore, he is under his especial care. He will hear

him. David must continue to pray, and to depend on God; else he

cannot expect continual salvation. David has vast multitudes of

enemies against him; he, therefore, requires supernatural help.

Because of this, God will hear him with the saving strength of his

right hand.

The HAND of God is his power, the RIGHT hand, his almighty

power; the STRENGTH of his right hand, his almighty power in

action; the SAVING strength of his right hand, the miraculous

effects wrought by his almighty power brought into action. This is

what David was to expect; and it was the prospect of this that

caused him and his officers to exult as they do in the following

verse.

Verse 7. Some trust in chariots] The words of the original are

short and emphatic: These in chariots; and these in horses; but we

will record in the name of Jehovah our God. Or, as the Septuagint,

μεγαλυνθησομεθα, "we shall be magnified." Or, as the Vulgate,

invocabimus, "we shall invoke the name of the Lord." This and the

following verse I suppose to be the words of David and his

officers. And the mention of chariots and horses makes it likely

that the war with the Ammonites and Syrians is that to which

reference is made here; for they came against him with vast

multitudes of horsemen and chariots. See 2Sa 10:6-8. According

to the law, David could neither have chariots nor horses; and

those who came against him with cavalry must have a very great

advantage; but he saw that Jehovah his God was more than a match

for all his foes, and in him he trusts with implicit confidence.

Verse 8. They are brought down and fallen] They were so

confident of victory that they looked upon it as already gained.

They who trusted in their horses and chariots are bowed down,

and prostrated on the earth: they are all overthrown.

But we are risen] We who have trusted in the name of Jehovah are

raised up from all despondency; and we stand upright-we shall

conquer, and go on to conquer.

Verse 9. Save, Lord] This verse was spoken by all the

congregation, and was the chorus and conclusion of the piece.

The verse may be read, Lord, save the king! He will hear as in

the day of our calling. The Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic,

Arabic, Anglo-Saxon, read the verse thus: Lord, save the king! and

hear us whensoever we shall call upon thee. The Syriac reads

differently: The Lord will save us: and our king will hear us in

the day in which we shall call upon him. This refers all to GOD:

while the others refer the latter clause to DAVID. Lord, save

David; and David will save us. "If thou preservest him, he will

be thy minister for good to us." This appears to be the easiest

sense of the place, and harmonizes with all the rest.

ANALYSIS OF THE TWENTIETH PSALM

This Psalm is a form of prayer delivered by David to the people,

to be used by them for the king, when he went out to battle

against his enemies.

In this Psalm there are the following parts:-

I. A benediction of the people for their king, Ps 20:1-4.

II. A congratulation or triumph of the people after the victory,

supposed to be already obtained, Ps 20:5-8.

III. A petition, Ps 20:9.

I. The benediction directed to David's person. The particulars;

that he may have,

1. Audience in his necessity: "The Lord hear thee in the day of

trouble."

2. Protection: "The name of the God of Jacob defend thee,"

Ps 20:1.

3. Help and strength in battle: "Send thee help-strengthen

thee;" which is amplified, 1. By the place: "Help from the

sanctuary;" 2. "Strength out of Zion."

4. Acceptance of his person; testified by the acceptance of his

offerings and sacrifices, Ps 20:3.

5. Answers to his petitions: "Grant thee according to thy own

heart, and fulfil all thy counsel," Ps 20:4; which is plainly set

down in the next verse: "The Lord fulfil all thy petitions,"

Ps 20:5.

This benediction being ended, they persuade themselves that the

prayer of it shall be granted, because it will redound to God's

glory; and they will be thankful, and honour him for the victory.

1. "We will rejoice in thy salvation." Or Do this, "that we may

rejoice."

2. "In the name of our God will we set up our banners." We will

enter the city joyfully, with displayed banners, which we still

erect as trophies to the honour of God.

II. Now follow the congratulation and triumph of their faith:

for they give thanks as for a victory already obtained; as to

their faith it was certain. Before they prayed for audience and

protection: here they testify they are certain and secure of

both.

1. Of protection: "Now know I that the Lord will save," &c.

2. Of audience: "He will hear from his holy heaven."

3. Of help: "With the saving strength of his right hand,"

Ps 20:6.

The certainty they had of this victory proceeded solely from

their confidence in God. And this they illustrate by an argument

drawn a dissimili: they were not like others who trust more to

their arms than to their prayers; more to their numbers than to

God.

1. "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;" as the

Ammonites, 2Sa 10:6.

2. But we do not so: "We will remember the name of the Lord our

God; the Lord of hosts, mighty in battle." Arms may be used by

good or bad men; but the difference lies in the object, the end,

and the confidence. A bad cause cannot have God's concurrence: a

good cause will have his countenance and support.

3. And therefore the success was according to the confidence. 1.

They who trusted in their arms, &c., are brought down, and fallen.

2. We who trusted in the Lord our God, are risen, and stand

upright, Ps 20:8.

III. The third part contains a short ejaculation, and is the sum

of the Psalm.

1. "Save, Lord!" Thou alone canst save us: in thee, and in none

other, do we put our trust.

2. "Let the king hear us." We propose to continue in prayer and

faith; therefore, when we call, let the king, the Messiah, which

thou hast set on thy holy hill, Ps 2:6, hear us. Or, according

to another arrangement of the words: 1. Lord, save our king. Make

him wise and good, preserve his person, and prosper his

government; that we may have peace in our time, and secular

prosperity. 2. Hear thou us when we call. Let us have also

spiritual prosperity, that we may perfectly love thee, and

worthily magnify thy name.-[Anglo-Saxon] "O thou Lord, health give

the king."-Anglo-Saxon.

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