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! (Psalm 20)
– Ascribed to David
– The first part (vss. 1-5) is a plea or prayer: “May the Lord” do these things
– The second part is an affirmation of what David knows to be true
– David expresses confidence that will do what the first part promises or asks
– Is “the king” specifically a reference to David?
I am always intrigued by the promises that God will bring victory to those who call upon him. Human experience seems to fly in the face of such affirmation. Do we receive the desires of our hearts? Do we find victory? Often not. Many a follower of Jesus has died with unfulfilled hopes and unrealized dreams. So what are we to make of the “May’s” in the opening lines of the Psalm?
Most of what I read on this Psalm sees these words (the “may’s”) as the people’s prayers for the king with the ending verses his reply. What this tells me is that God is often more interested in our aspirations for others, our hopes for their being blessed. In a sense we are blessed not because we ask for blessing or deserve it – but because of those who bless us!
One of my favorite people is Marlena Graves who Tweeted today “We have to cultivate this thought & posture when relating to others: “How can I bless you?” We dare not curse others through words/presence.” The first part of this has really stuck with me today. How do I seek in every interaction to bless others? The conclusion of her thought is along other lines of course. But I need to adopt this risky approach – to seek the blessing and good of others first.
O Lord, your Son gave himself for others. He humbled himself and you lifted him above every other name and person. May I follow in his path using these words of David as my guide. May I call for those around me to be blessed, to seek the good of my neighbor more than my own. And I trust in you for my part and my blessing. And for some other to bless me in your name. Amen.