Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
The New Testament encourages us to pray for those in authority over us, so that we might live peaceful and quiet lives (1 Timothy 2:2). The Bible recognises that the welfare of a nation is tied to the effectiveness of those in government. A nation will struggle to progress under weak or corrupt rulers, while just and competent governments bring peace and prosperity.
Psalm 20 explores the relationship between the king, who is the Lord's anointed, and his people. The psalm opens with the people praying for the safety and success of their king (vv. 1-4), who appears to be about to go out into battle (v. 5). They are praying for him because the victory of the king is their victory. When the Lord hears their prayers and makes all the king's plans succeed (v. 4), then the whole nation will rejoice, because they, too, will ″rise up and stand firm″ (v. 8).
Verse 6 is likely the king responding to the prayers of his people. He is confident that God will grant success to His anointed. Back in Psalm 2 we first met the Lord's anointed, or messiah. God had appointed him ruler over his people, and guaranteed him victory over his enemies (Psalm 20:6-8). We saw that while these words were written about King David, their true fulfilment was in his descendant, the Lord Jesus. ″The Lord gives victory to his anointed″ (20:6) foreshadows how God would protect Jesus and ultimately give Him all authority (Matthew 28:18).
The psalm concludes with the people confessing that their trust is in God's power and not in human strength (Psalm 20:7).
The songs of the book of Revelation, like Psalm 20, rejoice in the triumph of the king. Paradoxically, the true king, Jesus, won His battle by being slain. The saints in heaven rejoice because they share in His victory; ″You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth″ (Revelation 5:10).
Our King will march out in battle one more time, leading the armies of heaven when ″with justice he judges and wages war″ (Revelation 19:11-18). Since He is the Lord's anointed, we know God will give victory to this king (Psalm 20:9). We know He will answer us when we call, and our prayer is, ″Come, Lord Jesus.″
How should we be praying for those the Lord has placed in authority over us?
What are some of the ″horses″ and ″chariots″ that we can be tempted to trust in, rather than ″the name of the Lord our God″ (Psalm 20:7)?