Psalm 20 - May the LORD Hear and Answer

INTRODUCTION: The MPN devotionals were originally targeted for the "Men's Prayer network", but this one is dedicated to my wife, who is one with me in Christ. She brought this Psalm to my attention, as she saw it as a lovely prayer. I wrestled with it for many hours before I could make it my own, and came to a point of saying to myself, "I will not let you go until you bless me". I have struggled for many hours over most of the MPN's because I want to compare scriptures, and try not to be led by primarily preconceived ideas. Only the LORD knows whether I am even partially successful with that goal. A composite paraphrase of Psalms 20 follows, with comments, and other quoted scripture taken from the KJV Bible.

NOTE: Even though my normal pattern of preparation of Bible studies is to alternate categories, Psalms 20 led me to stay in the Psalms for Psalms 33 - Rejoice in the LORD, as the next MPN to be distributed.


Psalms 20:1 [in composite paraphrase]

1 To the chief musician. A psalm of David. May the LORD hear and answer in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob set you up on high for protection;

COMMENTS: "To the chief musician" indicates that David intended this psalm for corporate worship, and this includes the idea that the thoughts herein will be reviewed numerous times, to impact numerous worshipers. The various translations I examined in study, provide the sense that Jehovah not only hear, but respond, in answer to the implied call in a time of distress or trouble: and his response is to set you upon a high place of protection. This is accomplished by the power in the very name of the God of Jacob (or of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) - the God of the living, not the dead. Matthew 22:31-32 "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." The name of the eternal God has power sufficient even unto imparting eternal life, therefore protecting us forever from the enemy called death. Our hope and trust in the very name of God, is mentioned in scripture as early as the end of Genesis chapter two, as we are told that men began to call upon the name of the LORD, as Seth continued the line of Christ after Abel's murder. Genesis 4:26 "And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos {or Enosh}: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD." We see Abraham, the progenitor of a chosen people, "calling" in Genesis 21:33 "And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God." This "calling" on the everlasting God, could also be referred to as proclaiming his name: for the Hebrew word is translated in the KJV as various words such as call, cried, read, proclaim, and named. Some other verses embody the value of our trust in his protection by his name. Psalms 5:11 "But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee." Psalms 9:10 "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Psalms 124:8 "Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth." So Christian, proclaim the name of the LORD with joy and thanksgiving because our salvation is made certain by the eternal God who made heaven and earth!


Psalms 20:2 [in composite paraphrase]

2 Sending help from the sanctuary, and support out of Zion.

COMMENTS: Our help comes from the sanctuary (a good Hebrew word), which is the holy place of our God. No matter the form or appearance of our help, if we truly trust in the LORD, our help comes from his sanctuary, and from the earthly or heavenly Jerusalem. Joel 2:32 "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call." Over a span of centuries, the LORD made preparation of an identifiable location for his earthly sanctuary, which was a shadow of the heavenly one. Genesis 22:2 "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." Exodus 15:17-18 "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever." 2 Chronicles 3:1 "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite."

Christ brought the more perfect temple in his appearing, Hebrews 9:11 "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;", and Jerusalem is still a focus for the Christian, albeit in another realm, Hebrews 12:22-24 "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."


Psalms 20:3 [in composite paraphrase]

3 May he receive all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice; pause and reflect.

COMMENTS: After praising the LORD as the source of help, now the thoughts of the psalmist turn to our action demonstrated in offerings and sacrifices. Then, it is good to pause for a time and reflect on these thoughts of why we worship, and how the sacrifices speak more of the God we honor, than of the act of our sacrifice to him. Any thing we sacrifice comes from him, and the faith to offer them to a holy God, also comes from him. This certainly should cause us to pause for reflection. Selah.


Psalms 20:4 [in composite paraphrase]

4 Grant from your heart, and fulfill your counsel.

COMMENTS: After the pause, the psalmist is moved to entreat the LORD to give from his heart, not because of our offerings and sacrifices, and any value they could have to him. Those sacrifices demonstrate our trust and obedience; they meet no need for the LORD. Psalms 50:10-12 "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof." And all that he grants to us, fulfills his own counsel, borne of his mercy. Psalms 33:11 "The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations." Psalms 73:24 "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." Proverbs 19:21 "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand." Isaiah 40:13 "Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counselor hath taught him?" Isaiah 46:10 "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" Ephesians 1:11 "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" Hebrews 6:17-19 "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:"


Psalms 20:5 [in composite paraphrase]

5 We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our standard; the LORD accomplishes petitions.

COMMENTS: Now we should begin to rejoice as we are carried by this progression of thought, if we desire to have a life lived under the name of the LORD, like those who carry a standard or flag into battle, identifying the sovereign they serve. The LORD accomplishes the petitions we bring to him, so we should bring them in confidence, by his name. The true and living God has the name above all names, and we can express it in various ways as he prescribes in his word. Exodus 3:13-15 "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." Psalms 148:13 "Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven." Isaiah 54:5 "For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called." Jeremiah 31:35 "Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:"

And here is a little extra emphasis on the rejoicing in his name, because it progresses to the first appearing of our Savior. Psalms 13:5 "But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation." Psalms 35:9 "And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation." Psalms 40:16 "Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified." Psalms 70:4 "Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified." Isaiah 61:10 "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." Habakkuk 3:18 "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Zechariah 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." Philippians 2:9 "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:"


Psalms 20:6 [in composite paraphrase]

6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.

COMMENTS: David brings the king of the present (himself at the writing) together with the coming king (messiah, son of David) as the spirit carries him through his praise. The anointed can refer to the earthly king established by God, or it has the meaning of the Hebrew word, which is translated in Daniel (twice), as messiah. The father does indeed hear the son from heaven as he performs his work of salvation. And as in verse two of this psalm, we see again that our help comes from the sanctuary of heaven. We must be very careful not to abandon our trust in the king of eternity, to place it in the temporal one of the present time. 1 Samuel 12:12 "And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king." And in the next two verses from 1 Samuel, we see that God was gracious even to allow an earthly king for Israel, if the hearts of the people would remain pure, 13 "Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! And, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you." 14 "If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God: " but the blessings are conditional on obedience, just as for past generations, as the next verse says, 15 "But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers."


Psalms 20:7 [in composite paraphrase]

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will not forget the name of the LORD our God.

COMMENTS: So, even when the LORD's blessing provides strong national leadership, and mighty armies, our trust must not be in those things, which we can see. We must remind ourselves that it is the LORD our god who provides and protects. Jonathan was a man like-minded with David, and that is why their souls could be knit together. 1 Samuel 14:6 "And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few." Hear what the prophet says about misplaced trust, Isaiah 31:1 "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!" Hezekiah was a king of Judah who faced an overwhelming military threat, but he turned to the LORD, and parallel accounts appear in 2 kings 19:14-19, and Isaiah 37:14-20 "And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only." Overnight, 185,000 of the enemies of Israel died without one action by Hezekiah's men, as his prayer was toward the honor of the LORD, not just safety for his kingdom. But the victory may not always be in this earthly realm, so we should have the same unshakable faith as did the three Hebrews in the land of their captivity. Daniel 3:12 "There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Daniel 3:17-18 "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Daniel 3:28 "Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God."


Psalms 20:8 [in composite paraphrase]

8 they are brought down and fallen: but we are risen and set upright.

COMMENTS: In this life, the Christian and the non-Christian experience those things, good and bad, which are common to man; but the believer is risen with Christ, and the unbeliever will go down to the pit. Colossians 3:1-2 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."


Psalms 20:9 [in composite paraphrase]

9 Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.

COMMENTS: The psalm began with a request to the LORD to hear and answer. So, save LORD, because salvation is your business alone. We know that you are the true sovereign, and are sure that you do hear us when we call. Psalms 24:10 "Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah" Psalms 145:1 "<<David's Psalm of praise.>> I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever." Isaiah 44:6 "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God." Jeremiah 10:10 "But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation." Zechariah 14:9 "And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one."

And our King came in the flesh, very quietly, but God lead worshipers to him, Matthew 2:2 "Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." Then when his time had come, he accepted worship as the king of glory, Luke 19:35-40 "And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." But even his disciples did not understand this entry of the king into Jerusalem as it was happening. John 12:15-16 "Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him." And through the writings of the apostles, and the faith granted by the LORD, we now know our king of eternity, and praise his holy name. The scriptures provide the best closing thoughts for this study. Psalms 61:8 "So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows." Psalms 72:19 "And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen." 1 Timothy 1:17 "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen."


The complete Psalm for review, before the prayer

Psalms 20 [in composite paraphrase]

To the chief musician. A psalm of David. May the LORD hear and answer in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob set you up on high for protection; Sending help from the sanctuary, and support out of Zion. May he receive all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice; pause and reflect.

Grant from your heart, and fulfill your counsel. We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our standard; the LORD accomplishes petitions. Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will not forget the name of the LORD our God. they are brought down and fallen: but we are risen and set upright. Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.


--- Reflections in prayer ---

LORD, may you hear and answer me in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob, and my god, set me up on high for protection; Sending helpfrom the sanctuary, and support out of Zion. Receive, LORD, all my offerings, as I am cleansed by the sacrifice you made in my behalf. Selah.

Grant from your heart, and fulfill your counsel; and I will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of my Savior Jesus I will set up my standard; because you LORD, accomplish petitions brought to you. Now I know that the LORD saved his anointed; you heard Christ from your holy heaven with the saving strength of your right hand, and because of him, you will hear me also.

Some trust in themselves, and some trust in national security, but I will not forget the name of the LORD my God. Those with false trust are brought down and fallen, but all who trust only in you are risen and set upright. So save, LORD: let the King of kings, hear me when I call! Amen and amen.

Published 3 June 2004, first issued 6 March 2003