Reading through the Bible together
Psalm 20 and 21 are a powerful combination of what is known as Warfare Psalms. Psalm 20 is the affirming song that was sung before a battle and Psalm 21 is the celebrating song that was sung after a battle. The former was stated in anticipation of what God was going to do for His people and Psalm 21 was stated in celebration of what God had done. Within the center of God’s will was the assurance that God could be counted on to protect and provide for His people, that He was willing and capable to deliver the outcome that His people needed. There was to be no doubt and hesitation, but a strong confidence to lift the spirit of the military action.
God was the Commander-in Chief over the King who was the general and leader over the soldiers who went out to battle. The beauty of this Psalm is the concept of God’s presence and victory even before the battle had begun. As long as God’s people were obedient and faithfully called on His name they had a right to believe in His providence and presence. This confidence resulted in a spirit that manifested itself in a rock-solid assurance that was contagious.
The ingredients of victory are applicable to believers today. There is the reality of the great controversy between good and evil, the reliance on the promises of God and His Word, and the obvious trust and statement of belief in a victorious outcome. Victory is what God’s people desired and sought back then and it is what God’s people desire and seek today. The culture and period of time are different but the principles of engagement remain the same. Let God’s people voice and implement the same principles enunciated in Psalms 20 and 21 as they go forward to engage in warfare against principalities and powers (see Ephesians 6:10-18).
Intercessory Prayer: In verse 1 we are reminded of the power of intercessory prayer. As leadership is engaged in or is about to engage in enterprises on behalf of God, faithful believers are needed to pray for victory on their behalf. When believers pray with knowledge according to the Word of God, then they are to expect great things to happen. This same principle applies when believers face personal trouble and distress. They seek God in prayer, individually and corporately. As we call on the name of God, quoting His Word and claiming His promises, we have every right to claim victory as did the Israelites of old.
Sanctuary Strength: This reference about help coming from the sanctuary where God is ministering on our behalf is very instructive. There is a sense of certainty with these focused and specific prayers—there is knowledge of where God is and what He is doing. We have a Friend in high places and He is concerned with us and our welfare. He is also interested in our heart’s desires and our cherished purposes as they coincide with His divine plan. We can have confiidence that He will see us through to a good end.
Leadership: When writing this Psalm, David doubtless got inspiration from Joshua, one of the early leaders of Israel, who left an example of how to fight on behalf of God. About battles waged on behalf of God’s people see: Patriarchs and Prophets (pages 510-511).
Power Sentences: Psalm 20 contains a number of expressions that God’s people can effectively adopt when engaging in spiritual warfare:
1) We have an available source of strength for tough times. ”May the Lord answer in the day of trouble” v. 1.
2) The sanctuary that is accessible is God’s headquarters for assisting His followers. “May He send you help from the sanctuary” v. 2.
3) Our investments in God’s kingdom is an asset in times of trouble. “May He remember all your offerings” v. 3.
4) God is sensitive to our desires and purposes. “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire… fulfill all your purpose” v. 4.
5) There is power in the name of Jesus both as inspiration and motivation. “In the name of our God we will set up our banners!” v. 5.
6) The believer can move and act with rock-solid confidence. “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed” v. 6.
7) Believers have a decidedly different approach to warfare than the people of the world. “Some trust in chariots and horses; but we will remember the Lord our God” v. 7.
8) The outcome can be claimed by faith even before the battle is commenced. “They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stand upright” v. 8.
Victory Assured: As an elderly janitor waited patiently until the students finished playing their game in the gym. He sat there reading his Bible. One day a student asked him what he was reading. The man answered, “The book of Revelation.” Surprised, the student asked if he understood it. “Oh, yes,” the man assured him. “I understand it.” The student asked, “What does it mean?’ Quietly the janitor answered, “It means that Jesus is gonna win!’”
Delbert W. Baker