Psalms 20 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Psalm 20
Pulpit Commentary
<> The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;
Verse 1. - The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble. The people intercede for their king in a "clay of trouble" or "distress," when danger impends, and he is about to affront it. They are made to ask, first of all, that God will hear the king's prayers, which are no doubt being silently offered while they pray aloud. The Name of the God of Jacob defend thee. (On the force of the expression, "the Name of God," see the comment upon Psalm 7:17.) "Jacob's God" - a favourite expression with David - is the God who made him the promise, "I will be with thee, and I will keep thee in all places whither thou goest" (Genesis 28:15). "Defend thee" is scarcely a correct rendering. Translate, exalt thee.
Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion;
Verse 2. - Send thee help from the sanctuary. "The sanctuary" here is undoubtedly the holy place which David had established on Mount Zion, and in which he had placed the ark of the covenant. God's help was always regarded as coming especially from the place where he had "set his Name." In the original it is, "Send thy help" - the help thou needest and prayest for. And strengthen thee out of Zion; rather, support thee.
Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah.
Verse 3. - Remember all thy offerings. (On David's offerings, see 2 Samuel 6:13, 17; 2 Samuel 24:25; 1 Chronicles 15:26; 1 Chronicles 16:1; 1 Chronicles 21:28; 1 Chronicles 29:21.) It is not to be supposed, however, that David ever sacrificed victims with his own hand, or without the intervention of a priest. And accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah. It is a reasonable conjecture that the "Selah" here marks a "pause," during which special sacrifices were offered, with a view of entreating God's favour and protection in the coming war (Hengstenberg).
Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.
Verse 4. - Grant thee according to thine own heart; i.e. whatever thy heart desireth "in connection with this expedition, all that thou hopest from it, all that thou wouldst have it accomplish." And fulfil all thy counsel; ¢.e. make all thy plans to prosper.
We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions.
Verse 5. - We will rejoice in thy salvation. David's" salvation" is here his triumph over his enemies, which the people confidently anticipate, and promise themselves the satisfaction of speedily celebrating with joy and rejoicing. And in the Name of our God we will set up our banners. Plant them, i.e., on the enemy's forts and strongholds. The Lord fulfil all thy petitions. A comprehensive prayer, re-echoing the first clause of ver. 1 and the whole of ver. 4, but reaching out further to all that the monarch may at any future time request of God, The first part of the psalm here ends, and the people pause for a while.
Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.
Verse 6. Now know I. The employment of the first person singular marks a change in the speaker, and is best explained by supposing that either the high priest or the king himself takes the word. The offering of the solemn prayer (vers. 1-5) and of the sacrifices (see the comment on ver. 3) has been followed by a full conviction that the prayer is granted, and the triumph of David assured. What was previously hoped for is "now known." That the Lord saveth (or, hath saved) his anointed (comp. Psalm 18:50). He will hear him from his holy heaven; literally, from the heaven of his holiness. With the saving strength of his right hand. God will hear him, i.e., and, having heard him, will help and defend him "with the saving strength of his right hand."
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Verse 7. - Some trust in chariots, and some in horses. The enemies of David towards the north - Syrians of Zobah, and Maachah, and Damascus, and Beth-Rehob - were especially formidable on account of their cavalry and their chariots. David on one occasion "took from Hadarezer, King of Zobah, a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen" (1 Chronicles 18:4). On another he "slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots" (1 Chronicles 19:18). His own troops appear to have consisted entirely of footmen. But we will remember the Name of the Lord our God. Our trust, i.e., shall be in the Lord, who has commanded our kings "not to multiply horses" (Deuteronomy 17:16).
They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.
Verse 8. - They are brought down and fallen; but we are risen, and stand upright. Confident of the result, the speaker represents it as already achieved. He sees the enemy bowed down to the earth, and fallen; he sees the host of Israel erect and triumphant. All stands out clearly before his vision, as though he were an actual spectator of the fight.
Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.
Verse 9. - Save, Lord! This punctuation is adopted by Delitzsch, Kay, Professor Alexander, Hengstenberg, and our Revisers; but is opposed by Rosenmuller, Bishop Horsley, Ewald, Hupfeld, Cheyne, and the 'Speaker's Commentary.' It has the Hebrew Masoretie text in its favour, the Septuagint and Vulgate against it. Authorities are thus nearly equally balanced on the point; and we are at liberty to translate either, "Save, Lord: may the King hear us when we call!" or, "O Lord save the king: maybe hear us when we call (upon him)!" On the whole, perhaps, the former is preferable (see the arguments of Professor Alexander, 'Commentary on the Psalms,' p. 94).

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