A Prayer For The Future
May the Lord answer you (David) in the day of trouble!May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high [and defend you in battle]! May He send you help from the sanctuary (His dwelling place)And support and strengthen you from Zion! May He remember all your meal offeringsAnd accept your burnt offering. Selah. May He grant you your heart’s desireAnd fulfill all your plans. We will sing joyously over your victory,And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;He will answer him from His holy heavenWith the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses,But we will remember and trust in the name of the Lord our God. They have bowed down and fallen,But we have risen and stood upright. O Lord, save [the king];May the King answer us in the day we call.
The Scottish playwright James Barrie wrote, “ The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story and instead writes another. His saddest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”
Barrie laid his finger on what produces so much sorrow in our lives: the gap between intention and reality. However, Psalm 20 bids us trust our future to God. Celebration rather than sorrow waits on the other side of our present difficulty.
What do we know about the future?
The prayer of David tells us that we are not to ask the Lord to answer if we encounter distress but when. All of us will encounter the distresses of life that cause us to feel overwhelmed by things or circumstances that are greater than our ability to deal with.
David uses an interesting phrase in his prayer: “the God of Jacob.” No doubt he knows the life story of Jacob. All of Jacob’s life was filled with distress. George Wood says, “He knew the agony of dashed expectations, deferred pleasure, alienation, loneliness, grief, and insecurity. God never gave him quick solutions, but permitted him to pass through a process of hardship which refined and purified him.”
From Jacob would come the twelve tribes of Israel who wold have a special relationship with God. No person who has or will accomplish great things will do so without experiencing distress. Most people’s greatness and accomplishments aren’t recognized in their lifetime. Most of the time it’s only after they die and history has time to know and reveal them, does their work become celebrated.
We, like those in the Bible aren’t immune from heartbreaks, but we know that God will bring us through the trial. What had the potential to destroy us will not because the Lord has kept us. Both Jacob and David teach us that we must not ever give up on life nor God.
David focuses his prayer for help toward the sanctuary and from Zion- the dwelling place of God. George Wood describes the prayer’s direction this way: “God’s headquarters is aware of your need. From His very seat of power, the order has gone out: ‘Give help to My Saint. She is drowning in deep trouble. Whatever is necessary to save her, do it. Commit our finest battalions, our best armaments. Get to her quickly. She cannot hold out much longer. Rescue and turn the tide of battle for her.’”
When we turn our prayers toward heaven, this is the response and the back-up support we can expect from the throne of God.
In the times of distress, we find that quite often the devil makes his appearance and whispers, “Is there anyone that really cares what happens to you? You’re in this by yourself and all your good counts for nothing.” Nothing can be farther from the truth. God remembers every time we have dedicated ourselves to Him. He is always aware and takes notice of our “sacrifices” and “burnt offerings.” Every step we have taken to come to Him in surrender in our hearts is remembered.
I’m sure that every parent has stood beside the bed of their child as they lay sleeping. That sleeping child may be unaware of the parent’s presence, but nevertheless they are being watched over. It is the love the parent has for that child that moves them to watch over, and it is the love that God has for us that moves Him to watch over us even when we may not be aware that He is. We rest in peace and security in the Father’s care because of His love and awareness of us.
Psalm 20 reveals David expressing assurance of victory even before the battle begins. In every contest, high morale is critical.
Although the enemies of David appeared to hold an advantage with dreaded war machines, chariots armed with scythes that mowed down men like the grass, yet with just foot soldiers and more importantly, God’s help, David captures chariots and horses. David had learned-and we need to learn- to say, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
We may not feel that we have what we need in our present distress. But we should never overestimate the strength of the enemy nor underestimate the power of God.
Scripture tells us that Jesus defeated sin, death, the grave, and the devil. There is no situation greater than our God for if He overcame all this, then we can count on Him to give us strength to pull us through every trial and need.
David says that when we win the victory, we “will lift up our banners in the name of our God. Every regiment has its banner that is more than just a piece of colored cloth flying from a pole. It has its insignia identifying h the regiment and often has patches signifying battles fought and victories won. The saints of God lives are like banners flown filled with patches from the perilous times that God has brought them through. Paul encouraged Timothy and us to continue to “fight the good fight” so that we will have a splendid banner to wave.
David closes Psalm with a reminder that our fate is inextricably linked to the wellbeing of our Leader: “O Lord, save the king! Answer when we call!” Our prospects of a bright future are secure when we serve and love King Jesus.
Dr. John Thompson