Rev. E. Anderson
Reading Psalm 20
Text vv1-5 NIV
EMPHASIS: Six times the NIV uses the word ’may’ in the first five verses and the word ‘may’ is indicative and suggestive of the thought and idea, ‘wish.’ It appears that in this sacred song, penned by the psalmist, he is sending forth his best wishes in the form of a real heartfelt prayer to and for those who are in a relationship with God. He is taken up with the thought and exercise of wishing things which will be a tremendous blessing to those who are in accord with the Lord. A ‘wish’ truly is a deep longing, a great desire, an expression of wholesome prayer and faith, an anticipation of a beautiful and beneficial order, a pure sentiment etc.
- It is always best and good to be in a mind and mood where there is the simple expression of desire for the good and blessedness of others. This psalm is a revelation of the gracious and generous attitude of the psalmist towards God’s elect people. David, having known and experienced the grace and goodness of God in multiple ways was in the place where he wanted to see all the subjects of the kingdom significantly blessed by God. He was concerned that they should known in outstanding measure the fulfilment of God in terms of blessing. He reveals his occupation and motivation of being. He is lifted out of the syndrome of evil and inspired to see everything of a good nature occurring for all.
- It is always wise, noble and right to extend best wishes in and through God. They must essentially be linked with Him. David knew that he could not bring such great desires to pass but he knew that, as they were addressed to Jehovah, He was present and sufficient to effect the same. They were not the vain expressions of ‘good-luck’, just hoping vainly that some of these things would be realized. They were communications of earnest faith and anticipation because he knew that such could come to pass through God. They were no formal sentiments but something that had been inborn in him by the grace and purpose of God. He wanted the best for all men and that could only come about through God.
- Note what the best wishes are expressed by the psalmist. He is absolutely full of genuine good in a number of directions. It is not singular but plural and each one of significance and worth. It is not just one blessing that he has in mind and heart but a number of choice things and experience he wants to see manifest. There has to be that which is evident and indisputable of a God-ward character and ministry. The impression created, as a result of those wishes coming to fruition is that God has been active, achieving the best for all. It is apparent that they have come personally and powerfully into effect.
1/. WITH REGARD TO PERSONAL PRESERVATION AND PROTECTION
There is due concern with respect to the need of assistance when dangers confront and threaten the individual. David was aware of the fact that life and limb required safeguarding especially when faced with possible catastrophe, ruin and devastating circumstances. His own life called for remarkable divine intervention and he could bear testimony to the numerous evil factors he had faced and come through by God’s grace and aid. There is a call for ‘God’s preservation order’ on us.
- Life holds situations and experiences of a disturbing order that can produce untold distress v1 – “when you are in distress.” The unexpected occurs bringing with it fears, traumas, anxieties, pressures that can tear apart, pulling to pieces and making the person utterly distraught. Some things happen suddenly, when people are least prepared, and they can be shattered mentally and emotionally. It reduces to anguish of such a nature that all the faith, inspiration and sense is knocked out of life and there is abject depression. Life is against and no one can help.
Illustration: Jacob - Gen.42: 36; Job
- There is a faith-knowledge that in such desolating conditions that one can wish the best in and through God. The opening declaration focuses attention on the Lord and reveals that He has a personal interest in such circumstances. If true prayer is entered into when such overtakes, He is there to listen and make positive response. He wills to move in on the distressing situations and prove His presence, worth and help. He has an answer for the heart rending and breaking experiences. Instead of being pulled apart, one can be made, even in the crushing situation, because of His input. David states in v2 “Send thee help…….” The name of God stands for God Himself and He is able to bestow all that is required to bring a person through.
- He has remarkable ways of intervening and to make the exercise and experience profitable. In the case of Jacob, it was not to be his undoing and the destruction of his family, rather, things were to be to the total advantage of himself and the elect household. God was to assure him that he could go to Egypt because there were some wonderful surprises and blessings in store for him – Gen. 46: 1-4. Even Joseph, David and others have discovered that “all things” (such includes the painful lots and loads) do work together for good. God supports and reinforces so that there is no collapse.
2/. WITH REGARD TO PERSONAL WORSHIP
Best wishes need to appertain with regard to those who would be true worshippers of Jehovah. If there is to be a very positive and powerful relationship with God then what is shown by the worshipper to and before God must be absolutely right and good. When it comes to the matter of sacrifices and offerings to God then essential things must be present if the worship is to be acceptable and the individual truly blessed.
- Sacrifices and offerings that were given by the worshippers were to be indicative of their appreciation and acknowledgement of God. It was the way by which they could signify to Him their love and respect for Him. It was also representative of the truth that there was a desire to live within a close relationship with Him and to enjoy the blessing of His presence and good will. This was how David saw the matter of rendering sacrifices etc. to the Lord. It was not a meaningless ritual to Him. He was always glad to approach the Lord as a worshipper and give in fulness of appreciation – c.f. 2 Sam.24: 24.
- In the remembrance and acceptance of sacrifices and offerings there would be the approval of those who so gave to God (and God knew when this was the case – Cain and Abel. Also c.f. Mal.1: 6-14), then they could expect right treatment from Him by way of response. It has to be recognized that sacrifices alone are not enough to warrant the pleasure of the Lord (c.f. Isa.1: 11-20; 43:22-24). In the full acceptance of the offering there is the receiving of the person and that person is in good standing with Him in favour. Arising out of the good and wholesome relationship, there can be nothing less than untold blessing. The prospects could not be better. What is rendered to the Lord must be the best coming from the best of motive and the end results end in the best from Him. As the standing is right everything comes right and blessed.
3/. WITH REGARD TO DESIRE AND PURPOSES
This is a great wish to be expressed with regard to others. David does not profess to know everything about others but he can voice a conviction of worth concerning them. He does know that God knows all there is to know about them and can commit them into His oversight for a demonstration of His ability.
- The Lord is totally conversant with the inward and secret desires of His people. That which has never been voiced or expressed to others He is in full knowledge of. That which a person wishes could be brought to pass and yet dare not let it escape the lips, He is fully tuned into and can do something about. The birth, growth and strength of that concealed yearning is taken into full account by Him. That which has been generated in the hidden parts is known and is acted upon by the Lord (c.f. Ps. 38: 9). There are conditions in this direction but when fulfilled then comes the realization of these great longings -–c.f. Ps. 37: 4; 145: 19).
- The Lord is concerned about bringing success to our plans, ventures and endeavours v4 – “and make all your plans succeed.” The best way for this to come to about is to make sure that all our intentions, purposes and schemes are submitted to the Over-planner, making certain that they fit in to His supreme will. If we desire the best wishes of God and His help, then it is only right that He should be consulted from the beginning so that what is envisaged He can approve of and bless. Sensitivity to his mind and procedures of living and working result in great profit. It is good and wise to throw out anything that God would not and cannot put His hand to.
There is little doubt that God desires that not only should we make a go of life and work, He wants more than anything else that there should be success and achievement. As far as He is concerned, in relation to His own enterprises, they are to be profitable. All His promotional exercises end in success. With His blessing and backing there is every reason to believe and expect great results.
Illustration: (c.f. Gen. 39: 3) Ethel Walters “God does not sponsor flops.”
4/. WITH REGARD TO PRAYER – v5
It is always a good thing to wish one another well with respect to one’s prayer life. It is surely a desirable thing to know and enjoy tremendous answers to prayer. One of the great thrills of life is to receive answers in the realm of prayer.
- There is implicit in these words of encouragement and inspiration the stimulus to pray. A provocation comes from the psalmist to put the believers in the mood, line and activity of supplication. His reference to requesting God is surely indicative of the desire that, first of all, there should be a readiness to look to God with regard to current needs and demands. He wishes basically that in them there will be a desire to bring everything to God in prayer. The fact that he highlights prayer indicates that he wants the believers to pray and have confidence in God concerning the issue.
No limited is to be placed on what is to be petitioned for. There is the impression created that all comes within the region of prayer. All your requests would somehow suggest that it is possible to bring all matters to him. Paul enlarges upon this in Phil. 4: 6 by stating that the believer should not be anxious about anything. There is something that can be done: “In everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests….”
- There is expressed the conviction that God is able to answer every prayer and situation. The fact that he says: “May God grant” is expressive of the fact that he believed God was able to meet any prayer, no matter how great or small, and answer fully. The omnipotence of God assures that He is well able to move in and work in response to prayer in all generations. God has not only ordained the life of prayer, He purposes to act personally and powerfully in response. If there is one thing that gives Him pleasure, it is the gratifying of His people in this area – (c.f. Elijah 1 Kings 18; Hannah 1 Sam. 1 & 2).
- The wishes of David made so long ago under divine inspiration can be truly be fulfilled today
- It is essential that the divine nature be in us so that we seek the divine blessedness of others on every front.
- Learn to live in the expectancy of the goodness of God flowing at a greater rate within life.
- We have been birthed by God into His family to know and enjoy His desires coming to pass in the way of blessing.