The Book of Psalms Chapter Twenty Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
He Hears And Answers
Verse 1: "May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!" David cries out to the Lord in this Psalm, though it is actually God's Holy Spirit calling out to us through David. The Holy Spirit is Himself God, and lives outside of the time and space we occupy. Like the gardener doesn't live in the garden but responds to its needs, the Holy Spirit reaches from eternity to nurture this garden we call "humanity." This Psalm is a prayer, as most of them are, and it is God's prayer for you and me. God will lead you in prayer, just as He leads our lives, especially as to those who will listen. "Trouble" does come, and it's important to be joined with God's Holy Spirit in prayer when it happens. His prayer is for our security, our safety, and you can look for additional evidence that God the Spirit prays for each of us in places like Romans 8:26.
Verse 2: "May He send you help from the sanctuary and support you from Zion!" In addition to the Holy Spirit, the Risen Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is also intensely praying for you and me, as we find in Romans 8:34-35. Does this mean we will be exempt from trouble in this world? Sigh—the answer to that question is sadly—No—and it's important to read the whole of Scripture about any subject, rather than just pick and choose. You can read a report about God's people in Psalm 44:22—"For Your sake we are killed all the day long..." In a quote by George MacDonald that is sometimes attributed to C.S. Lewis, MacDonald said, “Never tell a child, ‘you have a soul.' Teach him, 'You ARE a soul; you HAVE a body.’" Jesus said, "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:26). History is littered with the bones of our spiritual ancestors, and yet as Jesus said, the faithful will live forever. God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are praying—You have "support... from Zion"—and your help is both now and forever.
Verse 3: "May He remember all your meal offerings and find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah." It's easy to conclude that the "sanctuary" of Verse 2 merely refers to the now-destroyed Temple in Jerusalem, but it's so much more. In Revelation 11:19, we learn that the true Temple of God, including the ark of the covenant, always has been in heaven. The earthly temple and ark were parables, copies given to help us understand. The "meal offerings" and "burnt offering" of this verse were instituted by God for His people Israel, just as God leads His people today into activities designed to draw us closer to Him. Our religious activities do not make us right in the sight of God, but He is delighted when we, His little ones, try to please Him. Your outward religious activities and mine may differ, but we are the same through faith in Christ Jesus. It is our Lord who makes us "acceptable" in the sight of God.
Verses 4-5: "May He grant you your heart’s desire And fulfill all your counsel! 5 We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions." What do you want in life? The Lord, who is a Father to us, His little ones, is pleased when we ask Him for help in some manner and receive what we think we want. That's why He said, "Ask and it shall be given be given to you..." (Matthew 7:7). But again, the Good Parent knows that what you want is often not what you need, and what you want can easily conflict with the needs of somebody else. That's the reason for the qualification in 1 John 5:14-15—"If we ask anything according to His will... we know we have the requests..." The answer to your prayer may be right for all concerned and yet not what you expected... our "heart's desire"—we didn't even know we needed it, but receiving it makes us "sing for joy."
Verse 6: "Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand." The term "His Anointed" in this verse reaches into eternity and refers to God the Son, who later became one of us, died for us and saved us from our sinful ways. Those who place their trust in Him are also "anointed" for salvation and for entry into God's will for us. You and I have a lot in common with electrical appliances. You can compare us to a radio or television set that comes equipped with an electrical cord and a plug to fit into the electrical socket in the wall with its power. What if we, the radio, instead want to run free with all the other radios who aren't plugged in? In that case, we would never become what we were designed to be. To say "yes" to the Lord is to become plugged into the Holy Spirit of God. We receive His power, and yet, as we grow in the grace of our Lord, we may sometimes find that our "radio" is tuned to the wrong station. He answers you, saves you by His Mighty "Right Hand," and you gradually become attuned to the right "station" that is intended especially for you.
Verses 7-8: "Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. 8 They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright." Some boast in their abilities with fists, others brag about skills in management or what is considered the ability to simply—think; and all too many among us trust in money. Countries boast of atomic bombs or a system of government. We place our trust in the Lord, the One who is the "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Physical might does not last, as you can see in the ruins of past civilizations. Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great and other notable leaders may be remembered for now, but it does not help them at all. And recalling them does nothing personally for you or me, either. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is risen from the dead, and the faithful of all times and places are made alive because of His gift of life to us. "We have risen and (stand) upright"—in Him.
Verse 9: "Save, O Lord; May the King answer us in the day we call." Jesus Christ is "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16). He is the One who answers when we call. "Save, O Lord," we cry, and that is what He does and has done for you and me. Through faith in the Lord, we are "plugged in" to the real power that comes from God Himself. The Lord is God. He hears, sees, answers and He is yours when you trust in Him.
Father, I surrender. I thought I could live in my own strength, my own ways, but it didn't work out. I need You, Lord Jesus, and I trust in You now. I am Yours. Please forgive me for the times I have gone my own way. I place my faith in You. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.