Psalm 20

The King trusts in the Lord

1 The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!

The name of the God of Jacob protect you!

2 May he send you help from the sanctuary,

and give you support from Zion.

3 May he remember all your offerings,

and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices. Selah

4 May he grant you your heart’s desire,

and fulfill all your plans.

5 May we shout for joy over your victory,

and in the name of our God set up our banners.

May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

6 Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed;

he will answer him from his holy heaven

with mighty victories by his right hand.

7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,

but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.

8 They will collapse and fall,

but we shall rise and stand upright.

9 Give victory to the king, O Lord;

answer us when we call.


Today’s psalm is an example of how the king would petition for the Lord’s favor in battle. Some scholarship suggests that the first half was written before the battle, with the second half praising God for God’s favor upon their victorious return.

This belief that “God is on our side and wants us to win” might make contemporary readers a bit uncomfortable. But like all other royal psalms, this psalm is really more about God than it is about the king. Ultimately the king lives in dependence upon God and God’s loving purposes This psalm should not be seen merely as militaristic; the purpose of the royal psalms is to remind us that God is in control and we are all in submission to God.

So opposing sides of a conflict may both believe that they are “in God’s will” and pray for victory in battle, but in the end it is God’s will, not our own, that will be accomplished. As followers of Jesus we will find ourselves on safer theological ground if our petitions are always grounded in the desire that God’s will be done in the end.

Closing Prayer:

God, when we ask for your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, we seldom consider that there are others who are trying to do your will in ways that look a lot different from ours. As we navigate this world as disciples, give us grace to unite with others based on your desire to work in and through all people. Amen.