New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 20:1 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David- It's possible to understand this Psalm as composed when David came to the tabernacle to offer sacrifice before going to war. The people pray for him in :1-3, then in :4 the High Priest speaks; then David and the people in :5; then once the offering has been burnt, the High Priest in :6, then :7,8 by David and his soldiers; and then :9 as a chorus by all present. It seems Ps. 21 is a psalm of thanks forr the victory given; and I note on Ps. 21:1 that this may have specifically been the victory over the Ammonites which David was given by grace right after his sin with Bathsheba.

May Yahweh answer you in the day of trouble. May the name of the God of Jacob set you up on high-
The intention of David's Psalms were to share his experience of God's grace and salvation with others. This Psalm is very clear- David is saying 'May this be true for you as it was for me'. And this is really the basis of all our witness. It was David who had been answered in his 'days of trouble', and set on high (Ps. 20:1). His desire was fulfilled- for this verse of the Psalm clearly was reapplied to the "day of trouble" of the Assyrian invasion (s.w. Is. 37:3) and also to the Babylonian traumas of the exiles (s.w. Jer. 16:19; 30:7; Nah. 1:7; Hab. 3:16). See on Ex. 25:8.

Psa 20:2 send you help from the sanctuary, grant you support from Zion-
The perception was that God lived in the sanctuary, perhaps symbolized by the shekinah glory there. This Psalm was written therefore after the ark had come to Zion. See on Ps. 80:1.

Psa 20:3 remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah-
As noted on :1, success in the war and answer to prayer was thought to depend upon the offering of sacrifice. After the sin with Bathsheba, David was to mature in his understanding- that salvation and God's operation with His people is by grace and not because He desired sacrifice (Ps. 40:6; 51:16,17).



Psa 20:4 May He grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfil all your word-
It is God's word which is fulfilled, but if His word dwells in us, then our word becomes His word (Jn. 15:7); progressively, therefore, as we grow in Him and His word, we have an ever more impressive experience of answered prayer because our desires, the things we pray for, are in line with His desires and word.

Psa 20:5 We will triumph in Your salvation, in the name of our God, we will set up our banners-
The setting up of banners implies going out to war; see on :1.

May Yahweh grant all your requests- This may be the response of the priest or the people to the confident prayer in the first half of the verse.

Psa 20:6 Now I know that Yahweh saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven, with the saving strength of His right hand-
The sanctuary was seen as "heaven" on earth, located then in Zion (:2). The conception was that there was a little place on earth where God was king, heaven on earth. The Lord later develops this idea; the kingdom of heaven is to become the kingdom of God on the entire earth, not just a small spot on mount Zion.


Psa 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust the name of Yahweh our God-
As noted on :1, this is relevant to prayer before going into battle- when apparently disadvantaged by obedience to the Mosaic command not to use horses and chariots. Solomon’s obsession with large numbers of horses and chariots (2 Chron. 1:14) was a marked contrast to these words of one of David’s songs which Solomon must have often hummed to himself. He knew this, but the knowledge resided in just one part of his brain- in reality, he went ahead and did the very opposite.

Psa 20:8 They are bowed down and fallen, but we rise up, and stand upright-
This was a prayer before going into battle (:1); but David exemplifies the command to believe that prayer is answered even before it is (Mk. 11:24).

Psa 20:9 Save, Yahweh! Let the King answer us when we call!-
David was the king, but he and the people are taught in this song (see on :1) to believe that Yahweh is their ultimate king, and David was merely reigning on His behalf.