For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
It being the 20th of September, here’s Psalm 20:
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.
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!
What is this Psalm about?
This Psalm of David comes in two halves – the first is a blessing, or prayer, whilst the second is more direct praise. To tease the latter out, verses 6-9 explain and celebrate the character of the God who is being beseeched in verses 1-5. The first part is hopeful – and it’s couched in the language of a prayer request, or perhaps a blessing. For generations God’s people have prayed the Psalms – and this is one perhaps particularly to pray for yourself, or for someone you need to pray for. The second part emphasises the character of God, and the confidence of faith.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
The framework of this Psalm teaches us that we can bring requests to God – he is a God to whom we can intercede. The detail of the Psalm fleshes out ways in which he responds to request – with a focus on God’s name being powerful (v1, 5, 7). We can also see that God chooses and uses specific people in specific ways – God is a relational God, with a plan, partnering with people.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
This Psalm gives us a model for prayer and a framework for praise. There are helpful reminders – ‘some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God’ being particularly helpful to challenge our perception of what strength is. The simple fact that we can bring requests to God is a good and important thing – and an encouragement to do so.
A prayer from Psalm 20:
Why not try praying verses 1-5 for yourself? ‘May the Lord grant all these requests’, Amen!